David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

How to chose a link partner

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Most webmasters are at a total loss when they try to decide whether to do a link exchange.  In fact, they are so lost that they rely on how much green is showing on the notoriously inaccurate Google Toolbar.

Here is my top-5 list of how to decide if a link exchange is worthwhile.

1. The page is cached by Google.  That is the drop-dead bottom line.  If it is not cached, Google can’t find it.  And Google is the biggest search engine by far.  If Google can’t find it, chances are that Yahoo, Ask and MSN can’t either.  And chances are that real people won’t land on the page or navigate to it.

2. Relevance. The page should not be optimized for “links”. “link exchange” or “resources”, unless are searches you are targeting in your SEO efforts.

3. Relevance.  The page should be relevant for the specific words you are targeting.  In other words, the title tag and the heading should include at least one of the main words of the search you are targeting.

4. Relevance. The page should be on topic, regardless of specific words.  If it is full of totally unrelated websites, the search engines can see that it is just a collection of random links.

5. If you can get a link on a content page, or where yours is the only external link on the page, you have struck gold!

 


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Reciprocal link heresy

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Let’s go hunt us a sacred cow today, OK?  Specifically, the sacred cow that all links must be reciprocated. 

There are a number of software programs you can purchase that can periodically make sure that all your link partners retain their links to your website so that you can notify them, warn them, threaten them and remove their links if they have removed yours.

Others spend time double-checking by hand.

Is this money well spent?  Is this time well spent?

No.

First, you have gained nothing by removing the links of those few who have reneged on their end of the bargain.  You have not increased your link popularity.  You have not gained additional PageRank.  You have not increased your website’s trust, relevance, content, number of pages or any other indicator that will lead to higher rankings.

Second, you have just spent money buying software that could have been spent elsewhere.  Or you have spent time checking backlinks that could have been spent creating them.

Third, you might even be doing yourself a disservice by making every outbound link on your resources page a reciprocated one.  The search engines are pretty clever.  They can detect when 100% of your outbound links are reciprocated.  They can detect when 100% of your links are part of a triangular linking pattern.  Do you think they are impressed with that?  My logic is that it is to your advantage if over time some of your link partners reneg and you have less of a pattern (remember that when it comes to linking, patterns should be avoided, for they indicate to the search engines that the links are contrived).

So, with apologies to everyone hocking link-checking software, my recommendation is to not waste another minute of the precious few God gave you checking up on your link partners.  A nice hike in the mountains would be a much better investment for your business…and of course for you!

 


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Hidden Text Trick

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Every wonder how that image-only home page can outrank you for some pretty important search terms.  The typical advice you will get on forums and in articles is that it is all in the links – that the high-ranking page has more, better and more relevant links pointing from other web pages. 

But there might be something more sneaky and nefarious going on.  Check the source code.  Are there hundreds of words of text that do not appear on the page?  If so, go back to the page.  Where can they be, you can’t see them and there is no scrollbar to scroll any farther.  You highlight the page to see if any hidden text shows up and all of a sudden the page starts scrolling.  You see plenty of text.  And technically it’s not hidden, but it is tucked away where nobody would think to view, because the webmaster has deactivated the scrollbar.  Pretty sneaky.  But is this hidden text?

Technically, the text is very clearly visible, so it is not technically hidden.  On the other hand, a manual review of this site would reveal that there is spiderable text placed where most visitors would not know how to find.  I am willing to bet that a hidden text penalty would be issued to such a page.   

My advice is to report your competitor to Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask right away.  And don’t even think about doing the same thing…because someone else might report you both! 

 


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Inbound links – better to own than to rent

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I like this post saying Don’t Buy Rent Links

Julia Kristiva makes a great arguement for creating content, going through the costs and revenue, and how the website benefits from the content.  In this example, she references a useful tool created for a client.  But articles, data, case studies, ebooks, and other useful content can have the same effect.

I have never been a big fan of buying (“renting”, actually) links.  Just as with home ownership, it’s better to own than to rent.  If you own something that people want to link to, you effectively own the links.  But if the links are a result only of your monthly payment, your are renting. 

It’s the difference between a cost and an investment.

 


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How to learn SEO

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I am being pressed to tell someone how he can quickly learn SEO. 

“OK, so if they want to have their site optimized, what would be a going price for that? And what are the details of having this done? Can I find out these answers by going to your site?”

This line of questioning is not unusual from someone interested in an SEO quick start.  However, my response…

The price depends on what they need to have done and how competitive the markets they are chasing are.  And on who is doing it.  One SEO quoted $80,000 for a job that I thought should run around $10,000 to $20,000.  Or you can go offshore and easily get your website’s reputation hacked up for a mere $3000.

Although there are certainly plenty of items common to almost all SEO projects, again it depends on the website, the company and the market.  It’s a lot like marketing a book…there is not one size that fits all.  It’s not for nothing that you could spend weeks on end reading the numerous forums where SEO is debated and still not come out knowing what information is right and what is not, let alone what information applies to your situation and what does not.  If you really want to learn SEO, the SEMPO course is the place to start, at least to avoid making serious mistakes and getting the basics down, then experience will be a good teacher over time.

Sorry, there is no simple answer and no out-of-the-box process.  If there were, then everyone would apply it and there would be 1000 websites in the top 10 for every search term.  Since there can be only 10, it is almost by definition the things that are new and original and above what everybody else is doing that really make the difference.

 


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Optimize for misspellings

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Your PPS is cute, what with the “translaters” !  :o)

That was part of a query I received from a lady needing translation of a French medical document into English.  She was refering to the following paragraph from my “free lance englishfrench translaters” page.

P.P.S.: If you came searching for a free lance frenchenglish translater or free-lance englishfrench translaters, you won’t be the first to make a little spelling booboo. That’s OK; it’s our job to make sure that your final translated text is error-free.

This is just a cute way to get a few misspellings tactfully into the text of the page.  When someone searches for “free lance translater”, their real intention is to find a “freelance translator”, so including the text on the page is one good way to help them find hwat they meant to type, not what they actually typed.

Is this appropriate?  Are we tricking the search engines?  Not at all.  We are helping people find what they want.  It is always wise to include as many variations of a word as possible.  It is for that reason that writing naturally makes sense.  Writing just for a keyword, say “Freelance French English Translator” would not sound right.  Variations of these words should also appear on the page, such as “translation” and “translators” and maybe “translating”.

Including misspellings is another way of covering the various combinations of searches people might eb undertaking

 


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Geography based directories

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Have you ever noticed that some directories have a two-track navigation?  You can drill down to the appropriate category.  And you can also drill down to the apporpirate location. 

When submitting your website to such directories, always drill down as low as you can in the geography are.  Even if you are submitting a website that services the world, submit at the city level.  Even if the lowest level is not yet indexed by Google or yahoo or MSN. Here is why…

 Suppose you submit your website to http://www.wv-travel-directory.com/directory/0-world/187-cheap-air-travel/view.html .  You will get a link on that page.  If you take advantage of the deep linking opportunities (this directory allows three deep links, in addition to the home page URL), you will get 4 links all on the same page.

Suppose however, that you drill all the way down through http://www.wv-travel-directory.com/directory/10-north-america/187-cheap-air-travel/view.html , http://www.wv-travel-directory.com/directory/25-united-states/187-cheap-air-travel/view.html , http://www.wv-travel-directory.com/directory/316-new-york/187-cheap-air-travel/view.html , http://www.wv-travel-directory.com/directory/802-new-york-city/187-cheap-air-travel/view.html and submit your website at http://www.wv-travel-directory.com/directory/807-manhattan/187-cheap-air-travel/view.html .  I am, of course, assuming your offices are in Manhattan.  You get a link on the page you submitted to, plus on all the parent pages…all those pages you just navigated through.  Count them: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6.  Six links, and if you submitted three deep links for your listing, each of those links also shows up on six pages, so you get a total of 24 links.

 


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Google still tops

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Who is the biggest search engine in the market?  That’s the one thing everyone agrees on: Google.  But beyond that, there are some significant differences in the data.  For instance, Nielson says that Google accounts for 54% of US searches, whereas Hitwise says they account for 64%.  That’s a big difference, although part of it might be explained byNielson separating out Google-based AOL’s marketshare at almost 6%. 

 Hitwise also gives a 3-point edge to Yahoo

The really big difference, however, is with MSN.  According to Hitwise, it has fallen by a third since last year to just under 8% of the market.  However, Nielson gives MSN a 13% market share.  In either case, the questions raised in 2006 of whether a rising Ask would surpass a falling MSN in 2007 seem to be laid to rest, as MSN commands over double the marketshare of Ask in both ratings.

What does this mean for you and your SEO plans?  Google is still where the big traffic lies.  Yahoo no longer commands close to a third of the marketshare – more like one fifth.  Don’t ignore MSN.

 


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Cheery Contract

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Second post today, but I can’t resist.  We have just signed another client for our freelance ghostwriting services, and this is what the client had to say when the ink was dry:

 I have to say in all my years of business I’ve never seen a contract quite so cheery!

Well, what do you expect from The Happy Guy Marketing.  Indeed, the contract is to protect everybody, not threaten them.  (Personally, I think it was the company logo – that 3-D smiley face – that made the contract seem so cheery.)

But this is a good time to discuss branding.  People react very differently to our branding.  Some think that “Happy Guy” is too light and fluffy…not ready for the big time.  Others find it refreshing.  In a business (SEO) where clients often come after having had a bad experience with a previous SEO, a name like The Happy Guy Marketing tells them right away that we are easy to deal with.  And generally, if you don’t make me eat Brussels sprouts, we are!

 


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SEO Software – just say NO!

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Over at my favorite SEO forum, High Rankings, somebody asked for recommendations about SEO software.  The consensus response was, “Yes, don’t do it.”

But that response deserves a little more explanation, some of which was also posted at the forum.  There are two reasons why SEO software should be avoided.

Avoid SEO software for link-building.  What doe Google and company look for in links?  They are looking for recommendations.  They seek a sign that a web page is considered a good reference on a certain topic.  They are looking for natural links, not contrived ones meant to alter their results. 

What does automation do?  It creates patterns – patterns that are not natural, but contrived. What is the one strength that computers have that mere mortals like you and me and Paulina Rubio do not have?  The ability to sort through almost infinite data in almost no time at all and recognize patterns. Using SEO software is like posting a neon sign that reads, “Yoohoo! We’re trying to mess with your results.”

Think your SEO software can fool the Google algorithm?  Hmmm.

Avoid SEO software, because this is a sport.  I know a lot of web folks are techies who are used to the scientific principle that if you take certain steps, you will get certain results.  Repeat the same steps, get the same results.  SEO is not like this.  If a thousand people all repeat the same steps, there will not be 1000 websites in Google’s top 10 for “Paulina Rubio lyrics”.  There will still be just 10 results.

In any competition, the goal is not to duplicate what everybody else is doing.  The goal is to do more than everyone else.  To do better than everyone else.  And, if possible, to do what nobody else though of. It’s OK to study the competition.  It’s OK to study others who are not competitors.  It’s OK to take the best of what each of them is doing, but then you have to go out and do the very best you can.  No me-too software program will do that for you.

All that being said, I do use some software for SEO purposes. 

I use Internet Explorer to view websites (Yes, IE is software.)

I use Roboform to prefill forms for directory and article submissions.  But note that I manually edit important things like “title” and “description”.  Roboform just saves me from having to misspell my own name hundreds of times a day.

I use Keyword Discovery to help research the best search terms for my clients (It’s a web-based application, but it counts as software).

And of course, I use Word to compose articles and news releases, to edit source code and to do plenty of additional tasks.

And let’s not forget WordPress, which I use to blog about SEO.  :-)

So software, yes.  Software to automate SEO, no.

 


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