David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

REVIEW: Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service

Apr 26, 2011 - filed under bookmarking, linking, social media 1 Comment
 

Each social bookmarking website distinguishes itself in some way. OK, so that’s not totally true, but most of the good ones do. Brian over at BlogEngage has built on something original to that platform, an optional program called the Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service. The banner ads, like the one below, bill it as an “Adsense Sharing Program”.

 

Memberships, RSS, Blog Engage

However, I am not going to review the Adsense aspect of it, but some of the other benefits, for several reasons.

  • I think there are several much more exciting aspects to the program.
  • As you know, I am not really one of the monetization folks – best leave that aspect to someone who is, like Justin Germino
  • I haven’t tested the program long enough to have much to comment on the Adsense aspect.

The Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service is optional

Let it be noted that the service is optional. Of the 2000-plus active users of BlogEngage, I would guess that a few dozen have signed up for the service. BlogEngage is one of the best social bookmarking websites, in my opinion, and was just recently promoted to top line at The Bookmarketer .

The service does cost money. It is not expensive, but some bloggers are counting their revenues in the cents-per-week range, and obviously they will be more hesitant to sign up.

And it is only for bloggers. Indeed, BlogEngage is only for blog posts, as the name implies. Got the world’s funniest video? Put it in a blog post if you want to see it at BlogEngage. Created a life-saving app? Blog about it first, then submit it at BlogEngage.

Cool benefits of the Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service

Automatic submission. Once you write your blog post, that’s when the hard part comes. You have to pull up all your social sharing websites and submit your post. Well, not all – through the RSS service, BlogEngage automatically grabs your post and submits it (under your account, so you are still the submitter).

Extra vote. Do you spend what seems like a ridiculous amount of time cajoling friends to vote for your social submissions and retweet or like or thumbs up your posts so that they get more exposure? Well, at BlogEngage it takes eight votes to “pop” (at which time your posy gets home-page exposure and becomes a DoFollow link) – and the RSS service votes once. When you have voted, that makes two votes already, saving you from wearing down your cajoling muscles.

More links from more domains. All RSS submissions are automatically syndicated to Blog Serp, Top Blogged, RSS Leak, Blogger Ink and Blogger Tag. This means more DoFollow links, as these are automatically published, even if they don’t get enough votes on BlogEngage.

Better promotion. BlogEngage also auto-tweets and autoshares on FaceBook all RSS Service submissions, making it easier to garner the votes required to “pop” and also spreading the word about your blog posts.

Contest Sponsorship. This is brand spanking new… ” All our Gold membership customers and above will automatically be added into our guest blogging contests as sponsors.” That means fame, fortune and links. OK, maybe not fortune, but if fame and links can earn you a little extra money, I though I would slip the fortune in there for you.

And of course, there is the Adsense sharing, which I promised not to address. I won’t even mention it. Just forget that you read this line.

Five levels of membership

 

Memberships, RSS, Blog Engage

There are five levels of membership to choose from, the lowest costing just $1.99/month. The highest – a premium enterprise service if you run multiple blogs – costs $19.99/month. The gold membership I mentioned earlier costs $4.88/month. If you blog daily or almost daily, it is a worthwhile expense.  You can learn about the differences between the plans directly at the Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service page.

 


This post was featured in the That Girl Is Funny Blog Carnival.

Animate Thy Blog

Mar 16, 2011 - filed under blogging, writing 2 Comments
 

Animate your blog.  No, not that kind of “animate”.  I’m not talking about Flash or GIFs or even video.  I am not talking about animation.

I am talking about animals.

an•i•mate (n-mt)
tr.v. an•i•mat•ed, an•i•mat•ing, an•i•mates
To fill with animals.

Before you go thinking that I’ve gone Noah on you, consider this question: “How do you engage your blog readers?” posed by Brian Belfitt at SEOMKT.

My response to that post (visible in the comments) was “all over the place”, according to Brian.  And he is right.  I reflected upon what I tend to do across the various blogs I write, and I realize that I like to “animate” them.  This may or may not be an approach you want to follow; it is one of many ways to add a little colour to your blog.

Real Animals In Imaginary Settings.

squirrelLet’s start with the approach I think works best.  Do you remember the cartoon “The Far Side”?  Gary Larson made a career of switching role of humans and animals.  People somehow relate to animals playing human roles.

I would be proud if I had even a fraction of Larson in me, I suppose, since I wrote about “Five Animals Teach Us Less-wasteful Dining Habits“.  Not only does the theme put animals in the role of humans, but three of the illustrations do, too.

Real Animals In Real Settings.

monkeysinhottubOver at the Hot Tub Covers Blog, I wrote about “Monkeys Love Hot Tubs“.  This is a more real approach, almost science.  We put together a video montage of Japanese Macaques enjoying their own hot tub (hot springs).  Again, we try to humanize the animals by characterizing their actions in human terms.  (No monkeys were harmed in the filming of this blog post.  And nothing needed to be staged.) This might not work with every blog, but if it does, it can really add some colour for your readers.

Imaginary Animals in Imaginary Settings.

bugs2What’s an Imaginary animal?  Daffy Duck.  Under Dog.  Rocky and Bullwinkle.  Thestrals and Blast-ended Skrewts. I wrote “The Bugs Bunny Guide to Linkbuilding” right here on this blog.  Bugs is imaginary, of course, and the world of linkbuilding and SEO is pretty imaginary most of the time (and certainly some of the advice Bugs shares with us is somewhat unreal).  This post is based on the concept of “What would Bugs Bunny do?”, drawing on real-life quotes form this imaginary animal. People really enjoyed this post.

Imaginary Animals in Real Settings.

tigger1This one is a bit tougher to do, since Rocky and Bullwinkle have only once been caught on film in the real world – when filming their movie a few years ago.

But Kevin at Out Of Your Rut did manage to venture into the Hundred Acre Wood capture this live interview of “Eeyore and Tigger on Stock Investing Risk“.  (OK, so some people might suggest the stock market is no more real than SEO, but I had to place this here for symmetry.)

Maybe you’re not an animal type of blogger.  But maybe you are.  I hope this gives inspiration for a few colourful posts.  Whether you use my definition of the word “animate” or simply use the meaning “to make more lively”, may you leave this post prepared to animate thy blog.

Look what’s popping up on Google News these days

Feb 28, 2011 - filed under bookmarking, marketing, reputation, social media 4 Comments
 

Those people who use social bookmarking to promote their content have long debated the merits of various sites. Usually the analysis follows the lines of…

“Well, I get more traffic out of SBsite X, but barely anything out of SBsite Y.”

“Yeah, but it take only 4 votes to pop on SBsite Y.”  *See below for definition of “pop”.

“Hey, does anybody know on which site the links are DoFollow?”

“On both, I think, but only if you pop.”

Well, here’s a new reason to use social bookmarking websites.  We have been helping a client with a campaign to end penny production in Canada.  This is all about visibility, engagement, differentiation and cresting an identity in a niche that is otherwise pretty bland – credit card applications.  Of course, we put the story on a number of social bookmarking websites.  The story sat on Kirtsy for a few days.  Then it popped.  Among my next Google Alerts for “Canada penny” came the post on Kirtsy and a related post on PFbuzz, as well.  Interestingly, the post on PFbuzz had popped three days earlier.  I am not sure what this means.

What I do know is that Google News is picking up more stories from social bookmarking websites, specifically when the stories pop.  This really is not surprising – a story popping is a great way to distinguish the cream from the crap.  But this does appear to be new, at least the first time I see it happening.

POP your stories

What are some of the most important things you need to do for your stories to pop?

  • Make sure the story is good quality.  That means substantive.  That means original ideas and new information.  That means well written.
  • Make sure all your submissions are quality.  You will develop a reputation, and when people see your avatar, they will pay attention.
  • The title is important.  Make sure it’s enticing so that people want to check it out.
  • Vote for other people’s stuff.  Yes, people will return the favor.  Nobody votes for stuff left by a hit-and-run marketer.
  • Comment on other people’s stuff.  It’s a great way to get noticed. Make sure your comments are substantive and add to the discussion – you want to be noticed as someone of interest, not as a pest.
  • Invite some friends to join the community.  Not only are they your natural supporters, but others will appreciate that you have helped grow the community.
  • Don’t be shy to ask for help.  That’s what Twitter is for: “Can you please check out my latest sub at SBsite X?  Votes, comments, shares appreciated.”

“Pop” stands for “popular”.  Stories that are voted “popular” usually pop to the front page of social bookmarking websites.  On many sites this is called being “published”.

Google Lets Evil People Block Your Domain

Feb 17, 2011 - filed under blogging, Google, personalized search, rankings, sticky seo, website conversion 13 Comments
 

Yeah, I thought that title would grab you.  Google announced a new extension to its Chrome browser, an extension that could truly rock the SEO World.  The extension does two things:

  1. It enables searchers to block domains from search results.
  2. It tells Google what domains have just been blocked.

chromeSays Google anti-spam spokesman Matt Cutts, ” If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.”

This blog post will tell you exactly how to preserve and enhance your search engine rankings in a world where users can send explicit feedback (this Chrome extension is neither the first tool for explicit feedback, nor will it be the last; but it might just be the most powerful, so far).

I should make it clear that I was always a big believer is both explicit and implicit user feedback.  The search engines would be fools not to pay attention to which sites please their visitors when serving up sites to new searchers.

It was just over two years ago that I released Sticky SEO, essentially detailing how you can keep more visitors longer on your website, going deeper into the site.  For the most part, this means pleasing more visitors even more than you already do, since that is what Google looks for.

So what do you do with this Chrome extension?  Well, you want to please your visitors so that they don’t swear, curse and block your domain.

PROBLEM # 1: FREE LOADERS

Searching for free tattoos?  Probably not.
Searching for free tattoos?
Probably not.

There are a lot of people searching for free stuff on the Internet.  You don’t give your stuff away free, but the “free loaders” show up at your website.  “What?  They want a million bucks to dig a hole to China?  I want someone to do it for free.  Bloody rip-off scammers.  Block, block, block.”

There are probably not too many people searching for “dig a hole to China” and expecting free service.  Nor are there many people expecting to get new shoes for free.  Nor gourmet coffee or gift baskets.  Nor metal buildings or intercontinental pipeline installation.  Not even free tattoos or body piercing. But there many niches that include freebie searchers,  for example…

  • website templates
  • resume help
  • music downloads
  • ringtones
  • online games
  • learn Spanish

How do you make sure that people searching for freebies don’t block your website when they discover that you are one of those evil profit-seeking cannibals who wants to feed your family?  You give them what they want, of course.  You add something free to your site.  You give them a free option, or you link to a free option.  Somehow, you make sure you please them.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Well, she should have said that.

PROBLEM # 2: GENERALISTS

Let’s say you sell a very specific item or service that is part of a bigger niche, but people don’t search all that specifically.  In Sticky SEO, on page 14 (until I eventually get around to updating it), I tell the tale of a client who wanted to revamp its website back in 2006.  They sold commercial fitness equipment, but their clients would search just for “fitness equipment”.  The problem was that ten times as many people looking for home gyms also searched for “fitness equipment”.

Life would be easy if people searched for “home fitness equipment”  or “commercial fitness equipment”, but life wasn’t meant to be easy.  What would they do about all this traffic from generalist searchers?

Please them, of course.  Remember what your mother said?  “You can never go wrong being nice to someone.”  Like I said, she should have said that…especially if she knew Google was going to give all those people an easy way to block your domain and tell Google your site sucks.

How to please those generalists?  No point in reprinting page 14 here.  You can read it for yourself.  (Hey, it’s a free download.  Did you think this was a sneaky sales pitch or something?)

Your evil competition wants to eat you.

Evil competitors want Google to eat you.

PROBLEM # 3: EVILDOERS

Yes, the world is an evil place if you look at it right.  Google’s motto is “Do no evil” (or something like that.  But they never said anything about not arming your competition to do evil, did they?  How much do you want to bet that across the Internet’s freelancer markets there will be an SEO arms trade: “100 domain blocks for $15 – from separate IPs in over 20 countries”?  Maybe for $25, who knows?

So how do you deal with that?  No inbound link is supposed to hurt your rankings, so that your competition can’t spam you out of the search results.  But what if a coordinated group of offshore outsourcing in China and India and Greenland gang up on you?

Sorry, I don’t have an answer for you on this one.  But I am sure Matt Cutts will be asked about it sooner or later, and maybe he will have an answer.  Hopefully.

BlogEngage and Blokube added to TheBookmarketer

Feb 07, 2011 - filed under bookmarking, social media 3 Comments
 

Once again, we’ve improved The Bookmarketer by adding two new sites that I have been using quite a bit lately (high time they were added).

TheBookmarketer is a blogger’s best friend, making it easy for readers to spread the word about blog posts they like. Two lines of code posted into the template for single posts, and they have instant access to post a link and recommendation to your blog on 75 websites. In addition to popular social bookmarking websites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, OldDogg and Delicious, your blog posts can now be easily added to these more recent social bookmarking gems.

blogengage-header

BlogEngage is a vibrant new community of bloggers that is more of a community than most social bookmarking sites, perhaps because its user base are strictly bloggers, who tend to be very networking-friendly folks. What impresses me most about this is the attention that Brian, who runs the site, gives to the members. I really must tell this story….

About a week ago, I got an email from Brian. He was concerned about some irregular voting patterns and wanted to know if I had created shadow accounts to vote up my submissions. Of course, I had not; I run multiple Twitter accounts, but I do not have multiple accounts at any voting sites. Brian had highlighted several accounts that had voted mostly for my stuff. Those who know me, know that I am not shy about letting friends know where I submit things, so it is not surprising that a few friends followed me over. It turns out that some of the accounts concerned had submitted several of their own items, some before I had even signed up at BlogEngage. But there were two that really did look suspicious. One of them had signed up just because I had submitted his blog post. That one made sense to me. The other, I have no idea who he was, but he signed up the same day, voted for nothing but my stuff and really did look like a shadow account. But it wasn’t. It was like being stalked. Hopefully his/her IP address has been tracked down.

But the moral of the story is that Brian took the time to ask questions rather than just chop off someone’s head.

How does this compare to the big boys of social bookmarking?

  • DIGG: I have had lost an account at Digg. I was able to reach them and have my account reinstated (with no explanation), only to have it removed two weeks later (still with no explanation).
  • PROPELLER: I have lost an account at Propeller (remember Propeller?) with no explanation and my inquiry emails several times ignored. I have known many other to suffer the same fate at propeller, and it might even have been accidental (they were notoriously understaffed and technically challenged).
  • NEWSVINE: My account at NewsVine was deleted, and again several emails of mine were ignore (I assume it was because my mostly dormant account suddenly signed up to join several groups, but I am still scratching my head as to why deciding to become active would be a bad thing and why they would refuse to even answer an email).
  • MIXX: And I have known many people to lose their accounts at Mixx, some to be reinstated; at least that is a sign that Mixx (soon to be “the former Mixx”; I will very much miss them) responds to emails.
  • REDDIT: As to Reddit, they have discovered how to be truly evil to accounts they don’t like.  They just disable your account but let you think your account is still functioning. Anybody who submits their own blog posts – no matter how great the content is – will sooner or later have their account disabled. Unless they visit the account while logged off, they will never even know.

So with all this rudeness going around, BlogEngage gets a 10 out of 10 for being classy.

blokube2

BloKube is another young community of strictly bloggers interested in sharing tips and stories related to blogs and blog promotion. This is not the place to submit your blog posts on equestrian fashion or on Japanese cuisine. But it is a great place to learn how to improve your blog’s content, style, functionality and promotion – no matter what you blog’s topic is.

And I should not miss this opportunity to remind you that if your blog is Canadian, you really should be submitting posts also to http://www.Zoomit.ca (and voting for other good submissions while you are there).

Blogging Right Takes Effort

Jan 20, 2011 - filed under blogging, content 14 Comments
 

The following is a guest post by RetroSciFiGeek, a natural follow up to my post on the golden rules of guest blogging.

One of the rules, obviously, is that you should prepare a quality post.  I say “obviously”, because I think we can all agree that it should be obvious.  Apparently, though, it is not.  In fact, most offers to guest blog are of very low quality.  When RetroSciFiGeek tweeted about how much effort he puts into each of his own posts I asked him to write about it for us.  I think it is instructive of how much effort goes into a guest post, or any blog post for that matter.

Some people do not get the difference between spam and a quality blog post,. In all my years of blogging I would say that I have come across spam on mainstream sites and I have come across quality posts on sites that are not so popular. Sometimes it is easy to think that a quality blog post comes naturally to the person writing it. A quality blog post usually takes a while to put together for people like myself. In my experience, a really good quality blog post can take hours to finish while a spammy post can either be one of those automatic hit jobs or a post that takes less than five minutes to complete.

When it comes to quality, the blog post needs to be well researched and it also needs to provide the answers to what the reader is looking for. Take for example the posts that I write on retroscifigeek.com. What most people think is that it took me a few minutes to put these posts together.  However, that is far from the truth. On average, one of my posts takes about three hours to complete. You might be thinking in your mind “Whoa!” or “No Way!” but I can assure it most certainly does.

Here is how the whole process breaks down for me:

Watching the Show (1 hour to 2 hours)

When I write about a particular show I have to watch the episode first. Watching episodes on the television or the computer takes more time for me than it does for most folks. The biggest reason is I have to constantly stop the episode so I can take notes on what is transpiring. Sometimes in really intelligently written shows like Battlestar Galactica or a show where there is a lot of techno-babble, I have to watch the show once and then go back through and watch it second time to take the best notes I can. The reason for watching it twice is to make sure I don’t miss anything that is important to the overall story that is being told.

In all honestly, watching the show is the best part about the whole process because I get to enjoy the show for what it is. When going back through a second time, I have already seen it… so taking notes is so much easier. I can concentrate on the little things that I may have missed the first time through. Obviously, watching the episode online or using a DVR makes the job a whole lot easier, but it still time consuming, to say the least.

Writing the Post (40 minutes)

Writing the post is probably my least favorite thing to do, because sometimes when I am watching a show, I just want to get to the next show. Obviously, I don’t want to forget things about the show that I just watched, so I jump right into writing the post. I know I said I take notes about what happens in a show, but I still remember things while I am writing that I did not remember to write down during the note taking process.

Before you can even begin to write about the episode you just watched, you have to structure the post in such a way that will make sense to the reader. Sometimes that means structuring it by character, place or thing. I tend to structure a lot of my posts based on where the most characters are in the show. Once the structure of the episode is laid out, then the writing process begins. I will say that the majority of my posts tend to be between 900 and 1400 words. This all depends on the show that I am watching and also the length of the show. Then there are times when the show itself is one of those filler episodes. When this happens, the posts tend to be shorter because the story is not adding anything to the overall story.

Editing (20 minutes)

Editing the post takes about 20 minutes for the entire piece. I know my grammar is not the strongest in the world, so I use Microsoft Word 2007 for grammar and spelling. Even then I know my grammar could use some work. I always joke about how I got a “C” in English and a “B” in French class. I still cannot figure that one out. Anyway, when I reread the post I find sentences that don’t make sense or words that are missing or words that don’t belong. Editing can make a world of difference and believe me — sometimes I get lazy during this process.

Finding Pictures, Videos and Finishing Up (30 minutes)

At the end of all the other processes, it is now time to find the pictures, videos and other doodads that belong on the post. I pretty much use Paint.net and Google Images for all my picture needs and Youtube.com for all my video needs. Usually I do a search on Google Images and then edit them for size in Paint.net

For videos, it is pretty cut and dry. Go to Youtube.com find the video and then place the code into the post. Now sometimes you will want the video at a different size. All you have to do in that case is to change the size parameters in the video code. Not too hard but it still takes time to do.

This whole process has taken over three hours to do and I have not even touched WordPress yet. I always upload my posts as a draft and then I go into WordPress to make sure the post will look right in a browser. Sometimes, but not all the time, I find little errors that have to be fixed so this makes publishing the post take a little bit longer. Once I have the whole post edited, and the code fixed, I am then able to add tags, categories, and anything else that the post may need.

As you can see writing a quality blog post takes time, research, patience, and the will to do it. It might take a little bit of computer know-how, but WordPress has made things so easy that I believe anyone can do it. In my past, I used to write those spammy looking posts that were less than 200 words. I used to always wonder why I was not getting the money and/or traffic for those posts that I thought I should get. I also used to wonder how sites like Problogger or Techcrunch were able to get so many followers. Now I know! It is a process of writing good quality posts first and then everything else will take care of itself.

The Golden Rules of Guest Blogging

Jan 04, 2011 - filed under blogging 16 Comments
 

So many people are guest blogging these days. It is almost a cliché to say that once the masses get a-hold of something, they cheapen it. Sadly, the cliché is often true. So it is with guest blogging. I regularly receive offers to guest blog from people who have no clue what they are doing …which generally is wasting my time and theirs. So, here are the Golden Rules of Guest Blogging:

Know Thy Blog

That’s right, take time to study the blog you want to guest post for. What topics do they cover? What topics do they avoid? (Hint, if there are subjects that would be obviously on-topic, but they haven’t touched in the past 341 posts, they probably do NOT want your take on the subject.) Are posts serious? Fun? Are posts mostly practical or philosophical or reviews or opinion? Are posts very professional or very informal? Very carefully worded? Or anything goes? Are posts one-sided (is there a theme to the opinions?) or well-balanced? Is the writing top-quality? (Hint, regurgitating an article-directory article won’t fly on a good quality blog.) Are all the posts long? Short? All different lengths? These are just some of the points to look for.

Don’t Bore Thy Audience

Keep in mind what you learned about the blog you wish to write for. Even if it is a very serious blog, you don’t have to be boring. At very least, use colourful analogies or some form of allegory. Jesus spoke in parables, politicians do so all the time, and you can, too. Look for a new way to express old thoughts. For instance, how to eat frugally has been written all over the blogosphere, but how animals can teach us to eat frugally has not been covered very much. Get creative.

Can’t be creative? Maybe guest blogging isn’t for you. Your creativity – your fresh approach to a topic – is one of the main reasons a blogger might want a guest post on her blog.

Bring Value to the Table

Why on earth would I want you to write for my blog? Well, there might be some good reasons. Here are a few that I would consider worthwhile….

  • You have an amazing idea that captures my imagination
  • You have superstar credentials, strong enough that my blog would be very impressive just to host your name on it
  • You have an amazingly strong account at Twitter or StumbleUpon or other places that can drive traffic and links to my blog
  • I can’t write for the life of me and I need good writers that will impress people with the quality of the post
  • I have a far too ambitious publishing schedule to cover it all myself

What do you have to offer? At the risk of sounding like a nag, study the blog; you’ll quickly learn what might or might not be worthwhile. For instance, on this blog you’ll see immediately that I write very well and that “ambitious” is an antonym of my publishing schedule. You will also note that I rarely take on guest posts, so you’d better be prepared to really “Wow!” me if you hope to escape my brush-off.

Approach Bloggers Who Welcome Guests

I am not the only blogger who ignores most offers to guest post. But there are many bloggers who hungrily invite guest bloggers Try searching Google for your keywords along with “guest post” or “guest blog”. Or head over to Ann Smarty’s guest blogging forum where many of the more eager hosts are already waiting for you.

Write Well

If you write trash, your post will be accepted on a trashy blog. You get what you pay for. Or what you write for. Or what you scribble for. This falls under the heading of “when is an opportunity not an opportunity?”

These are the Golden Rules, as I see them. There are also some guest blogging tips to consider at About.com .

How Two Webmasters Discovered 25,000 Surprise Backlinks

Dec 17, 2010 - filed under bookmarking, linking, social media, zoomit canada 9 Comments
 

Two Canadian webmasters were reviewing their website stats, and discovered 25,000 new backlinks from one domain. This is how they did it – and how you can, too.

It should be noted that the link-building technique that will be described here is applicable to everyone. However, the precise mechanics of it are available to you only if your website:

1) Is Canadian.
2) Features informational content, such as a blog, a photo gallery or an articles directory (This is 2010 – if you are even considering SEO as a means of attracting traffic, I am sure that informational content is part of your plan, right?).

backlinks-street-sign

A Tale of Two (Canadian) Webmasters

Vancouverite Daniel Snyder, of Info Carnivor, was first to notice. He discovered 15,000 new backlinks from one domain, and that left him puzzled. He had only submitted two of his blog posts to the site, so how come he suddenly had 15,000 backlinks.

Next it was Hamilton-based Jim Rudnick, of Canuck SEO, who’s website saw a “sudden increase of inbound backlinks – 25,000 brand new ones” – and all from the same domain. He asked the support team at his stats tracking supplier to double-check this obvious error, but they confirmed it was right.

What Was the Site and How Could This Happen?

The site – or should I say “the domain” (I’ll explain the distinction shortly) – is Zoomit Canada, a social bookmarking website just for Canadian news, blogs, articles, etc. If you are familiar with Digg and Mixx, you will understand how Zoomit works.

So how did they do it? That is simple enough. They submitted their blog posts to Zoomit, and they did a little bit of networking (voting for/commenting on other people’s submissions). Because both Daniel and Jim submitted good quality content and supported the good quality content of others, other folks also voted for their submissions – enough to be voted to the front page.

And that’s when the magic happened.

As with most social bookmarking websites, it’s when a story gets voted to the front page that the inbound links really begin to count. This is the case with big social bookmarking websites, like Digg and Mixx, as well as with smaller ones like Old Dogg and MMO Social Network.

As I said above, what we are discussing here is applicable to everyone. However, the precise mechanics are available only to Canadian content. You see, Zoomit added an extra twist that you won’t find on those other social bookmarking websites – a top domains widget.

Look down the right side of the page and see that there is a “Top Domains” widget that lists the 20 top domains in alphabetical order. In other words, submit your post, network a bit and you’ve got yourself thousands of backlinks.

What Are All These Links Worth?

Now you might ask, what are these links worth, SEO-wise. You might have heard that a sitewide link isn’t worth all that much. This makes a great case study to separate fact from fiction. Here are four points to consider:

First, 25,000 links from one domain are nowhere near as useful as 25,000 links from 25,000 domains. Link diversity does count for both Google and Bing.

Second, 25,000 links from one domain are better than 24,000 links from one domain. And both are better than a single link from that domain. Yes, every link counts.

Third, a sitewide link in most cases (certainly in this case) includes a link on the home page, something that is generally considered quite valuable in SEO. In this case, the home page is PR4.

Fourth, look at the Zoomit Canada site structure. Each province and each news channel is hosted on a separate subdomain. Subdomains are generally treated by the search engines as separate websites. In all, this website – oops, sorry… I mean this “domain” – includes 13 province subdomains, 21 channel subdomains, plus the main domain. That adds up to 35 home page links by being a “top domain” on Zoomit Canada.

Given the effort in building quality links, and the unlikelihood that you’ll ever have links from 25,000 different domains – and possibly not even from 2,500 domains, the effort to get those 25,000 links from one strong domain is worthwhile. Lucky Canadian webmasters who benefit.

Don’t despair if you post non-Canadian content. Social bookmarking and other social sharing is a great strategy, and every great piece of content (quality stuff, not $25 articles written offshore by someone who knows about as much of your topic as my neighbour’s cat and writes in something that almost exactly fails to resemble English) you create and promote creates links back to your website.

Every sales person, every lobbyist, every entrepreneur, every preacher, every person who wants to deliver a message knows that the most important words are “Please” and “Thank You”.

So a big “Thank you” to Daniel and Jim for inspiring this post.

And (shameless plug alert) please let us know if you need writers for your content – to write good quality, meaningful posts – the type that my neighbour’s cat just can’t produce for you – and promote them in the world of social media.

Article Spinning – Spin like a pro

Nov 15, 2010 - filed under article marketing, linking 27 Comments
 

In my review of the “Free Traffic System” (FTS), I recommended spinning manually your articles before submitting them through FTS or through any other article submission program. And I promised to share with you some advance spinning tips. This blog post is divided into two parts:

1. Why manual spinning is superior to an automated spinning program.

2. Exactly what to do to manually spin an article – my advanced spinning tips.

For those who are new to this topic, let me quickly review what spinning is. Those already in the know can skip to the first sub-heading below.

The [spin]beautiful|wonderful[/spin] thing about [spin]nature|outdoors[/spin] is the fresh feeling you get.

The sentence above is, technically, four different sentences. When this sentence is fed through an article submitter that recognizes spin code (This is the particular syntax used in FTS, but the principle is universal), it comes out as four different “unique” sentences at four different article directories or blogs:
The wonderful thing about outdoors is the fresh feeling you get.
The wonderful thing about nature is the fresh feeling you get.
The beautiful thing about outdoors is the fresh feeling you get.
The beautiful thing about nature is the fresh feeling you get.

The math is simple: two words, each with two options, creates 4 “unique” sentences. The value in this is to ensure that the hundreds of articles pointing back to your site are not duplicate content, which is supposed to be frowned upon by the search engines’ algorithms. Try this one:

The [spin]beautiful|wonderful|amazing[/spin] thing about [spin]nature|outdoors[/spin] is the fresh feeling you get.

Two words multiplied by three options gives 6 “unique” sentences. Why do I put “unique” in quotation marks? That’s in the next section, but the theory of spinning leads to the conclusion that you are getting past whatever duplicate content filter the search engines might place on the pages linking back to your website. One more…

The [spin]beautiful|wonderful|amazing[/spin] thing about [spin]nature|outdoors[/spin] is the fresh [spin]feeling|sensation[/spin] you get. A [spin]holiday|vacation|trip[/spin] out of doors will [spin]refresh|relax|reinvigorate|benefit[/spin] you more than you can [spin]imagine|dream[/spin].

The concept of article spinning, just to belabour the point one more time, holds that just with this one paragraph spun as above, there will be 192 “unique” articles (3x2x2x2x4x2) on 192 websites, each one pointing links back to your website.

That is spinning in a nutshell.

Why bother spinning articles manually?

Before I dive into the benefits of manually spinning, as opposed to using one of the automated or semi-automated article spinners on the market, a big CAVEAT: This is a strategic issue. This is not a rule. Follow my logic, then make your decision, because there are trade-offs involved. Trade-offs of quantity versus quality. Trade-offs of long term results versus crash-and-burn-results. With a bonus of risk assessment thrown in for good measure.

Article spinning: the story so far…

A) Once upon a time, people would submit articles to the article directories. To both of them, in fact. Search engines loved these content-based links, and all was good.

B) Then, people got smart. Because these were good links that helped sites rank better, more people started writing more articles and more article directories sprang up. Search engines loved these content-based links, and all was good.

C) But people loved these more and more and more and more and the number of articles was multiplying and multiplying and people got even more clever and created submission software so that even more articles could be distributed in a fraction of the time. Ah, the miracle of automation.

And spammers just love miracles and they love automation. Ah, the curse of automation!

This would be a good time to refresh your memory of what search engines are all about. Which is, of course, making money. To make money, they need eyeballs. To keep eyeballs, they need lots of people really liking the search results they deliver, which is why they have meticulously crafted and carefully guarded algorithms. Do they care if people try to maipulate their results? Not really. Do they care if people succeed at manipulating their results? You bet! Let’s look at the three steps above from a search engine company’s perspective:

A) So what?

B) So what?

C) Wait a second, massive link-building can skew our results. Automation makes link-building scalable, especially to spammers, and needs to be balanced out of our algorithms.

And so, the effectiveness of duplicate content in article submissions was (as best we can determine through the observation of thousands) reduced to very little.

A) So people started manually spinning their articles to avoid duplicate content.

B) And some smart person came up with a lazy way to spin, using automation.

C) Spammers, being inherently lazy, caught wind of this as did everyone else, and now everybody is spinning their articles using automation.

And the search engines’ reactions?

A) So what?

B) So what?

C) Wait a second, massive article-spinning can skew our results. Automation makes article-spinning scalable, especially to spammers, and needs to be balanced out of our algorithms.

We don’t know if C) has happened yet or whether it’s on its way, but I can tell you with 99.9% certainty that it is not far away.

At this point, I know that some readers who are using automated spinning programs will dispute this, typically saying, “Well, it’s worked for me so far.” I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard this line about one link-building technique or another shortly before the search engines have taken step C. and webmaster forums are filled with the gnashing of teeth from all the people whose websites lost rankings. If you want to build your rankings based on the past (as most people who call themselves “SEO expert” seem to), you can stop reading here.

What I can tell you about the past is that one pattern has proven enduring, and that is the same pattern as you will see in the stock market: when everyone is rushing to buy, that is the time to sell (before the crash). When a particular linking method becomes so scalable through automation that even the spammers are doing it, stop sinking more resources into it.

Let us look, then, more specifically at automated article spinning. It does offer a very seductive advantage over manual spinning. It can be done quickly. In fact, a typical testimonial for article spinning software would be, “It took me minutes to do what it used to take me all day.” So you can do 5-10 articles in the time it takes to do one. The advantage is quantity.

But does it give quality? The very simple spinning examples I gave above in my intro all replace single words with synonyms. Here is a screenshot pitching one popular automated article spinner program:

synonyms

They create “unique” articles, but do they create unique articles. Well, I guess if you can’t find a thesaurus, they create hundreds of unique articles. But what if Google and Bing have thesauruses? What if megalithic Google’s and Bing’s computing power, funded by millions of dollars of capital, is somehow bigger than the computing power of your little $70 article spinning software? Sure, unlikely…but what if? Let’s face it, those four sentences I used as an example in my introduction are not unique – they use synonyms, but they remain the same sentence…and any algorithm drawing data from a thesaurus can see that faster than you or I can.

So quality versus quantity. And when the search engines do devalue duplicate content links with the help of a simple thesaurus, it becomes long-term results versus crash-and-burn results, as all those “unique” links you’ve built are suddenly worth less (not necessarily worthless, but worth less).

But I also mentioned risk assessment earlier. So let’s imagine for a moment that a search engine sees that you have 573 identical articles pointing to your site. Let’s further imagine that the search engine has identified that these are not organically identical, but identical by virtue of synonym manipulation. In other words, duplicate content, disguised as non-duplicate content to try to trick the search engines. If there is one thing we know about Google (and I can only surmise it is likewise with Bing), is that is punishes blatant attempts to trick it – hidden text, doorway pages, concealed links. Perhaps also fake unique articles?

I leave it to you to determine whether Google would consider this deceptive and whether they would do something about it – whether automated article spinning is just poor quality work or whether it actually places your website at risk.

How to manually spin your article

To do what I would consider a quality spin, you need to create articles that are significantly different. By significant, I mean more than just replacing words with their synonyms. In the extreme, this means writing from scratch a brand new article for each place it appears. Yup, one for each of those 573 article directories. Look up the word “unique” in the dictionary.

For those of us who don’t have 1500 hours in a day, the extreme option is not an option. Below is my guide to what I believe is effective in creating articles that are unique, rather than just “unique” with what I view as a reasonable amount of grunt work. Who knows if I am being paranoid or just over-cautious — or perhaps I am not creating articles that are unique enough and these might still be seen as duplicate by a search algorithm. Take what you want and leave the rest.

The title is the most important part of the article to make unique, as it often appears in <title> tags, in a page’s URL, in <H> tags and in links to the page. This is the one place where I’ll sit down and write 100 options from scratch, trying for many variations of style.

Because I am partially lazy, I usually start out with a few styles, such as:

6 ways to enjoy your villa rental
Why a villa rental is tops in accommodation
Villa or hotel?
Choose a vacation villa over a hotel or motel
Six reasons villas are tops
The villa choice for luxury

Then I will rewrite each one, mixing up several elements. For instance, here are some rewrites of the first style:

Six reasons to enjoy your rental villa
Six ways to enjoy your vacation rental villa
6 reasons to enjoy your private villa rental
Six ways to enjoy your private vacation villa
6 ways to enjoy your private rental villa

The first sentence is pretty important, so I tend to write 3 or 4 versions of it in completely different styles…

When you use your credit card, it would be worth stopping to remember that credit card issuers are businesses with shareholders.

Who issues your credit card? A business, of course.

Some folks view credit card issuers almost like quasi-government institutions. Not a chance. They are businesses like any others.

Notice that I totally reworded the first sentence. Each example sets up the second sentence equally well, but notice that the three options are different length, even different number of sentences and, of course, totally different wording. These are completely unique. Mix up not just individual words, but the sentence structure itself.

Do the same for entire paragraphs. Take a paragraph, then rewrite it so that it is shorter. Then rewrite it so that it is two paragraphs. Use some of the same wording if you are feeling rushed or lazy, but remember that the more you change the better.

At least once in your article, rewrite a long paragraph as a short paragraph followed by a bullet list. It helps to create a few versions of the list, changing the order of the bullets and even removing some of them in some versions. Bullet lists are often the easiest to play around with.

When rewriting a word, don’t always choose a single word as a replacement option. For example…

When rewriting a word, don’t always choose a single word as a [spin]replacement option|replacement|replacement option in your article|replacement option, but try to add in more text so that some versions of the article are truly different and unique[/spin].

When creating options, more is better. In 5. above, the example has four options, much better than two. There is a time versus uniqueness trade-off here, but if you can create more than just two or three options, especially in the first few paragraphs, it helps make your articles more unique.

Let’s end with one of the most important places to have variation – your linked text. As much variation around your keywords as possible…but you probably already know that from other link-building efforts. Vary the actually links (link to different pages of your website in different versions, if appropriate), vary the link text, very the surrounding text and vary the order of your links (in some, the home page might be the first link, so make it the second link in others).

Nothing I have had to say here should be taken as “The Truth”. It is my best assessment of the most effective compromise between various trade-offs, based on my experience in SEO since 2003. I just hope it is helpful for people who might seek a similar balance between quantity and quality…and don’t want their “Yippee!”s turn into wailing at the next major algorithm shake-up.

OLdDogg is added to TheBookMarketer

Oct 19, 2010 - filed under bookmarking, social media Comments Off on OLdDogg is added to TheBookMarketer
 

The Bookmarketer free bookmarketing power tool         olddoggjpg

We pride ourselves on offering bloggers one of the more up-to-date tools that encourages readers to social bookmark their posts. This tool is of course, TheBookMarketer.And one of the biggest changes in Social Bookmarking in the past year was the death of Propeller and the almost simultaneous arrival of OldDogg.

We are pleased to be one of the first social bookmarking tools to remove Propeller and to add OldDogg. (Are we the first? Can anybody tell me?)

Here is the code to install TheBookmarketer on your pages:

<center>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.seo-writer.com/tools/bookmarketer.js">
</script><br>
<a href="http://www.seo-writer.com/tools/bookmarker.php" style="font-size:70%">
Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site</a></center>

David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).

Close