David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

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Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

SEO tactics for reputation management

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

There is nothing more precious than your reputation. What happens when one jealous ex-lover, disgruntled employee or unsatisfied customer decides to get nasty and post something snarky on the Internet about you. And horror of horrors, it shows up #4 at Google or Yahoo when somebody searches for your name or your business name?
That’s when you need an SEO campaign for reputation management. While every campaign is unique, there are a few key steps you should take.

  1. Make sure your own website comes up first.If you have more than one website, first and second is even better.
  2. Maximize the reach of your website(s); optimize two pages on each to show up in the results.
  3. Analyze those positive web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could have an extra page optimized for your name.
  4. Analyze which positive web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could be pushed above any negative pages through changes to the pages or through link-building.
  5. Analyze those neutral web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could be made positive.
  6. Analyze those negative web pages already in the top 20 for your name and determine which ones could be made positive.
  7. Create, optimize and promote profile pages at popular user-generated content websites, such as Squidoo, MySpace and StumbleUpon.
  8. Create blogs in your name. If your main SEO goal is how your name or business name comes up in the search engine, host your blog at BlogSpot and/or WordPress.

Depending on your unique situation, there might be numerous other tactics you can use, as well. This list should help you get started if you want to do it yourself, or if you wish, we can help you with your online reputation management SEO campaign.

 


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NoFollow “Neutered” Links On Wikipedia Are Now Pink!

Friday, May 9th, 2008

It was not all that long ago that I wrote how Wikipedia should be spanked for using the NoFollow attribute on all external links. 

NOFOLLOW BACKGROUND

Just by way of history, NoFollow is an attribute the search engines approved to help combat blog comment link spam.  The problem was that so many bloggers were too lazy to moderate comments, that tons of spammy links were being created in blog comments around the world and this was skewing search engine results.  NoFollow neuters any link it is applied to, so bloggers were encouraged to place it on any links they could not vouch for. 

So many blogging programs made NoFollow the default setting for external links.  For instance, this blog uses WordPress, and I had to apply the DoFollow plugin to un-neuter comment links.  Most bloggers have no clue about this and unwittingly act as agents of Web neutering.

However, the opposite problem has since happened, that billions of legitimate links have the NoFollow attribute applied to them, since most bloggers are not even aware of the NoFollow attribute.  And then Wikipedia, one of the top authorities who weighs its external links more carefully than anyone, applied the NoFollow attribute to all external links.  Arguably, by removing the most carefully scrutinized links on the Internet from the search engine algorithms, Wikipedia has skewed the search results as much as any spammy blackhat SEO tactic ever could.

And I still say they should be spanked.  :)

FIREFOX PLUGIN

Now you can easily see NoFollow links, whether created by laziness, unawareness or nastiness.  This is very helpful when deciding the SEO value of any participation on the Web.  Needless to say, SEO is a factor in much of what I do online, so these tips can come in handy. In fact there are two ways, one of which worked on my computer and one of which did not.  Both require FireFox, which is a very handy browser for SEO work.

The first way is by a handy little hack, which has worked for a lot of people, but for some reason it does not like me.  The hack is good because it can be manually controlled in all sorts of way (except, obviously, by me).  TDavid explains the Firefox NoFollow highlight hack quite well here.  Cheerfully, he seems to be even less of a fan of Wikipedia’s NoFollow chop-chop than I am!

The other way, which worked well on my computer, is a plugin called SearchStatus, which, among other handy tools, makes all NoFollow links show up pink in my FireFox browser window.  Here is a screenshot to show you just an example.  This is from a page from — you guessed it! — Wikipedia.  Click the image for a larger view.  See how pink it is?

Wikipedia, consider yourself spanked!

 


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More on Blogs, RSS and SEO

Friday, May 9th, 2008

A couple days ago I wrote about how blogs are good for SEO.  Today, I would like to offer one additional reason.

RSS.

RSS helps your SEO efforts in two ways.  First, you can submit your feed to RSS-specific directories, and that of course brings a number of links to yet another page on your domain.  That is good, especially for a new website that lacks the credibility to be referenced in blogs and portals, and lacks the link-juice most link-exchange partners seek.  One caveat is that some RSS directories will accept only tried and true feeds, so you might have to go back a year later when you have proven yourself.

In addition to the link-juice that RSS offers, if your content is good and you take your blog seriously, those RSS directories should generate traffic.  The number of people who take advantage of RSS feeds is small, but these are Internet diehards.  These are people with voracious appetites for information and are more likely to buy over the Internet than the typical surfer.   Many of them are bloggers themselves who use RSS as a means of gathering research and ideas quicker than by surfing.  Exposing your blog feed to them is a great way to build the best links of all – natural ones that your website earns because of its superior content.

Content alone won’t win the SEO battle.  But content publicized can.  And RSS is a means of publicizing.

 


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Why blogs are good for SEO

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Just a few reasons why a blog is a great tool for SEO.

  • Fresh content – the search engines love that.
  • Growing website – the search engines love that, too.
  • Multiple variations of keywords to attract highly-targeted long-tale searchers.
  • Highly relevant pages from which to link into the main pages of your website.
  • Keeps you in touch with your topic, not just the technicalities of SEO.
  • You can submit your blog to blog-specific directories, providing extra link love.
  • You can easily trade content, not just links.
  • Assuming you can generate even a modest amount of traffic for your blog, you can get links to individual posts through social bookmarking (especially if you have a tool like TheBookmarketer at the bottom of each post, as I do).
  • Blog open doors to real-people networking on the Internet, and that is always helpful when it comes to link-building and other forms of collaboration, such as blogrolls and webrings.

There are probably a few dozen more reasons why blogs are good for SEO, so why not post your favorite reasons in the comments section below?

 


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Deep Links in Bloggeries

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

With all the tempting examples of silly things we see on the Internet, not to mention pure stupidity, it is sometimes easy to overlook those who do things right.  Such an example is Bloggeries Blog Directory .  This is a mid-priced paid directory specifically for blogs.

First, they give you a link in the category listings, as 99% of directories do.

Then, they give you a details page, which maybe about 2% of directories do.  This is nice, because it is a page that is totally optimized for your website.  If the page has any link juice at all, it is a good page to have a link from.  This blog is listed here: David Leonhardt’s SEO Marketing Express.

Third, they offer deep links.  Now you have surely heard me expound upon the benefits of deep linking.  Directories I am involved with, such as WV Travel and DevDream, not only feature listings on multiple pages, but also include the option of up to three deep links for each listing.  Well, Bloggeries have outdone me on this.  Look at our listing again, and you will see they offer three deep links, and they also include links to our most recent posts across the middle of the page, thanks to the magic of RSS.

On top of that, they have a forum that is quite busy and one incentive to participate is that they provide backlinks in your signature line plus a link to the post you wrote (which is a great enticement for people to visit your blog, so write provocative titles!)

This really was not intended to be a review of Bloggeries, as much as another chance to talk about deep links.  But I suppose plans change.  :-)

 


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SEO Results Are Not Predictable

Friday, April 4th, 2008

How long does it take to see results from SEO efforts?  This, roughly, is a question that almost every potential client asks.  Similar questions have been asked: 

  • How long does it take for grass to grow?
  • How far is “over there”?
  • How big is big?

As soon as you make an SEO-related improvement to a page, you have results…well, at least as soon as Google finds the change, indexes it and feeds it into the calculations that go into ordering web pages for the search term in question.  But moving form #1,893,027 to #1,783,446 at Google is not “results” in terms of what we usually think of.  In fact, moving to #31 is not even results if you check the top-30 rankings for your web page, although it is a sign that your SEO campaign is working and should continue to work if you keep plugging away.

A better question, would be how long it takes to get into the top 10, or the top 5 or the #1 spot for a particular search term.

Unfortunately, this is also hard to predict, especially as one gets closer to the top.  I try not to even provide an estimate past top-10, because it is hard to honestly do this.  There are just so many factors to consider, even if we assume the search engine algorithms, which we can only guess at, don’t change in the meantime:

  • How well optimized the top 10, 20 or 30 web pages already are.
  • How much effort the top 10,20 or 30 web page owners are putting in
  • How successful you will be at attracting links

There is also this little matter of how the search engines like to mess with our minds.  Like one client who has been for the past several days bouncing back and forth between position #2 and position #13, and at this moment is at #1 for its top search phrase.  I suspect it will settle around #8 to #10 in a few days, but who knows?

Predicting success is a tricky think in SEO as in any other sport.  We have a strong team, but at what point in the year do we know we will make the playoffs and how far will we get this season?  That is a question one can answer only with hindsight.

 


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Official Google Blog: Making search better in Catalonia, Estonia, and everywhere else

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I was reading the official Google blog about how they are making searching more user friendly in Catalonia and Estonia…but really, these were just examples, and what they are doing is just us applicable to New York or Melbourne.  Using an Estonian example, they show how someone looking for a barber would be also considered to be looking for a barbershop.  In other words, Google is working more and more on understanding the meaning of what we search for, not just the words.

For those of us who are searching, this reduces the guesswork of which words the website owners have chosen to use.  For those of us who want Google to recognize the meaning of our wbe pages, it means we have to be more holistic in our explanations.  The text welcoming visitors to the barber’s website should also include words like barbershop, shave, cut, hair, stylist, etc.  It means to worry a little less about keywords and a little more about all-the-possible-keywords your visitors might be using when they think about your products, servicess or topics.

Those of us in the business have known this was coming, and some of us have suspected for a while that Google has been slowly getting better at understanding meaning, alternate spellings and alternative searches (Try searching for metal bending to see what I mean.)  But this talk from Google sends a pretty clear message that they are serious about it and moving forward at a good clip.  And can Yahoo and the rest be far behind? 

Read more about Google’s meaning-based search results

More on multilingual SEO services

 


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Link Exchanges: It’s not the size of the PR, but how you use it

Friday, February 8th, 2008

If you plan to haggle over PageRank with me…goodbye.

That’s right, I have kicked the habit.  The size of your PageRank doesn’t impress me any more.  PageRank surely is still real, but an individual page’s PR can often shrink or grow so that neither you nor I can really know its real size.

  • The Toolbar PageRank has always been at best an approximation. 
  • Pages that show with PR3 or PR4 in the Google Directory are now often showing PR0 (PR Shrinkage)
  • Whole sites are now showing PR0, even while they continue to rank as well as when their pages showed PR3 – PR4.
  • Increasingly link-pages or directory-style pages are showing PR0, sometimes after showing PR3 or PR4 just a week earlier.
  • The gray bar used to mean a page was not cached in Google – a sure sign of a penalty or a brand new page.  No longer.  Many pages with PR are now displaying the gray bar.
  • Toolbar PageRank is dead!

Until very recently, I was assuming that the Toolbar was only showing false negatives – that if a page showed PR4 it was a pretty good bet that the PR of that page is at least PR4.  But recent observations have lead me to question this assumption, and perhaps I am jumping the gun, but I believe the toolbar is now showing false positives, too.

What I look for in a link exchange

Rather than PageRank, I look for a few other key items on the page where my client’s link will appear:

  • Most importantly, I want to know the page is cached by Google.  Not only is that absolutely vital for the link counting with Planet Earth’s most important search engine, but it is a fairly good indicator of whether other search engines and real human beings will find the page, too.  Not cached?  I won’t even look at any other factors.  This is the show-stopper
  • Is the page relevant to my topic?  If not, it had better be superb in every other area.
  • Is the page relevant (optimized) to my search phrases?  Again, if not, it had better be superb in every other area.
  • Is this page optimized for words like “link exchange” or “reciprocal links”?  Why not just type “SLEAZE” in big bold letters across the top of the page?  And don’t think the search engines can’t read words like “link exchange” or “reciprocal links”.  This is another factor that comes pretty close to being a show-stopper, too.
  • Is the page part of some automated link machine script?  Let’s face it, you don’t want to send the search engines a message that, “Hey, I can’t get real links from real people who just love my site, so instead I found an automated script to keep me warm at night.”  This is usually a show-stopper, too.
  • Once I see that a page is cached and passes the four eyeball tests above, it’s time to get critical.  The first thing I look for is a page that can easily be found.  If the page is one of 50 categories in a directory whose main page is linked only from the home page, that’s not a very good sign. Two clicks deep, and sharing link-juice with 50 categories?  I don’t think so.
  • I also check that the page is not the last in a series of pages that link one from the other…that’s how many clicks deep from the home page?  Never go to dance with someone if she’ll make you stand in line to dance.
  • I like a page that is either directly linked to from the home page or is linked to from a page that is in the sitewide template.  From an internal linking perspective, this tells the search engines that the page actually counts.  And you want your link to count.
  • Of course, I also look at the quality of the website overall.  Is this a website that likely carries a lot of trust value?  Does it rank well for similar search terms to the ones I am targeting?  Is the link directory full of all sorts of totally unrelated categories, perhaps some of them even unsavory?  If this website sleeps around too much, be careful what you might catch.
  • Is the page a content page?  I can forgive a number of other items for a genuine link in the midst of a page of text.
  • Is my link last on a page with 500 links?  I really prefer pages with 50 or fewer links, but if there are more, I am fine with having our link added near the top of the list, but not at the bottom.

Tell me you have a high-trust website and a linking page that is well linked internally, relevant to my search phrases and clean from the flotsam that shouts out “sleaze”.  But don’t tell me your page has bigger PageRank than mine.  It’s not the size that counts; it’s how you use it.

 


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Title Tag Clinic for Training Websites

Friday, February 1st, 2008

If you run training sessions, courses or classes in various cities at various times, let me give you a secret weapon that will help you fill your seats.  This secret weapon is also great for how-to-authors or anyone else who tours.

I just got off the phone with a client who runs training sessions in various cities.  We were looking at how her website ranked for various local searches related to her type of training in a couple cities where she will be over the next couple months.  In one case, we searched on Google for:

topicname training cityname

Her website came in at #6, with a title tag of:

topicname cityname

Of course, the first recommendation I gave was to add the word “training” to the middle of the title tag, which would probably vault the page to at least #3 in Google’s rankings.  So the title tag would read as follows:

topicname training cityname

OK, so far this is all common sense.  But my second recommendation is not something any SEO class will teach you.  It was to add something to her page’s title tag that would most likely ensure she got more targeted click-throughs than Google’s #1 or #2 listing above hers, without having to grab the top spot. 

Studies have shown that typically 40% of searchers click on the #1 listing in the search engine results.  This is true across all engines and to some degree or more across various types of searches.  And yes, it is true equally for people who look at other listings, even for those who scroll down and look at listings #9 and #10; they tend to return to the top and click on the #1 listing, perhaps because there is a subconscious sense of authority that comes from being Google’s top pick.

But who are the 60% of people who do not click on the #1 result?  Here are a few suggestions (maybe you can add to this list):

  • People who see that the #1 result is not at all what they are looking for.  For example, some people searching for “pursuit of happiness” might be looking for the band, some for the constitution, some for a self-help website.  So many searchers will scroll to find the top ;listing related to their topic.
  • People who have already been to the #1 listing and did not find what they wanted there.
  • People doing research or price comparisons and want to visit many websites for more information.
  • People who feel the #1 listing looks spammy from the outset.
  • People who see something so totally laser-targeted to them, that they skip over the top few results and click directly on that link.

The recommendation I gave my client was to add something to her title tag that would convert the majority of searchers into this last group.  Before I tell you what it is, you must understand the thought process of someone looking for a training session.  They are looking for a local session; they don’t want to travel to Chicago or London or Toronto.  They are looking for something now; their contemplating time is over and now they are searching because now they want to sign up.

So here is how I recommended my client set up her title tag for pages announcing upcoming, scheduled courses:

topicname training cityname month year

Even if very few people search by date, imagine that you are searching Google, Yahoo or whatever engine by location and up pops the results with a bunch of typical generic listing titles and you notice in the title of the fourth listing that there is a class or training session not only in your city but coming up next month.  Bang – you have just diverted a lot of traffic from the #1 listing that is vaguely about training to a listing that offers specifically what the searcher is looking for.  More importantly, you have just diverted the traffic that is holding money in its hand, ready to buy.

Like I said….secret weapon! 

 


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SEO tetsimonial – Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

When you get accolades from your clients, it’s worth sharing…and it’s not every day that an SEO company gets the kind of accolades that we have received this morning: 

Il y a aussi le fait que nous sommes, tout simplement, les premier sur Google, c’est tout un exploit qui mérite d’être félicité. Bravo à notre notre companie de référencement!. Il faut que vous sachiez que c’est d’une importance capitale”

If you don’t read French, trust me that these are mighty fine words to put spring in our step.  Or, you might try using one of those (ugh!) free translation websites.  The English would probably say something about how we roast warthogs in the bathtub, but you get what you pay for..

 


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