David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

Sticky SEO on Webmaster Radio

Dec 18, 2008 - filed under personalized search, rankings, sticky seo, website conversion 4 Comments
 

Earlier today I was on Webmaster Radio talking about Sticky SEO. You can listen here:

Show: SEO 101



 

Do Bounce Rates Really Count?

Dec 16, 2008 - filed under rankings, sticky seo, website conversion 16 Comments
 

Do Google and Yahoo include bounce rates in their algorithms?  Ever since I released Sticky SEO, it seems there has been a growing debate on whether bounce rates factor into search engine algorithms, or even whether they should in the future.  I think you know where I stand; they probably already do to some degree and they surely will count for much more in the future.  And not just bounce rates, but various other user activities.

I seems that my view is not universally held, but there is a robust debate on this topic.

Some people feel that there really is not a definition of what a bounce is, so that makes it difficult to determine bounce rates.  That just means the search engines have to define what a bounce is, and I gave them some tips here.

Some people feel that a high bounce rate is a good thing –  the person found quickly what he wants and returns to search for something else.  To quote one observer on Sphinn: “If the page is highly relevant to what the searcher is specifically looking for, they can get their info and leave without going to any further pages – fully satisfied. A Big vote for relevance.”

On the other hand, some people feel that if Google is now using bounce rates to rank its PPC ads, why would it not use that same information in its organic listings?

Others have argued that it would be too easy to send robots to the competitions’ websites and create a lot of fake bounces.

This issue is certainly not over, but I simply cannot see the search engines ignoring what I believe is the ultimate measurement of customer satisfaction.  There is no way that a quick return to the search engine is a good thing.  At best it is neutral, if someone is doing research and visiting numerous websites.  But in that case all top-ranking sites would have their bounce rates affected equally, so there would be no disadvantage resulting for any of them – those bounces would not affect rankings.  One way or the other user activity has to be an important measurement the search engines cannot afford to ignore.

Is an SEO’s Place in the Kitchen?

Dec 12, 2008 - filed under algorithms, rankings, sticky seo Comments Off on Is an SEO’s Place in the Kitchen?
 

I wrote this post as a comment on Barry Welford’s blog, and it got so long and involved that I realized it would make a great blog post right here…especailly since it really is the foundion on which I wrote the Sticky SEO ebook.

Bounce rate is a great measurement of performance, of the usefulness of a website.  It is not the only one, as has already been discussed, and on its own would be a poor measurement.  Leaving a site through an affiliate link (or any other link) should not be considered a bounce.  It should be considered an external referral. 

Whenever anybody clicks on a result in Google, there are four potential next actions. 

  1. Bouncing back to Google, especially after only 3 – 5 seconds, is a sign that Google had served up a less-than-useful result.  Not good news for ranking well.
  2. Referring to a deeper link in the site (an interior page) is as Barry says “normally a confirmation that they are finding something of interest”.  Good, job Google; keep ranking that page for the search that was just performed.
  3. Referring to an external link is also a sign that the searcher found something useful on that page, which is why for SEO the New York Times is making a wise decision.  Searcher happy, Google happy.  Keep on ranking.
  4. Closing the browser window.  Yes, that is the fourth option, which means simply that the searcher’s wife just called, “Honey, dinner is ready.”  (Hopefully that won’t affect rankings one way or the other, or else we’ll need a kitchen-centric SEO strategy in the future.

 

 

 

 

Intense Debate Plugin

Dec 12, 2008 - filed under blogging 11 Comments
 

Regular readers might notice something different on this blog. If you are the first to read this post, you will have to go to an older post to view it. It’s called the Intense Debate Plugin for WordPress. It offers some really cool features that this blog did not have before:

Sadly, when I first installed it, the plugin nixed my WYSWYG editor, until we could load the new WordPress 2.7.  It looks like any comments posted in those few days between initial installation and making it work have been lost.  I am still trying to recoup them, but it doesn’t look good.

Website optimization for telephone leads

Dec 10, 2008 - filed under title tags, website conversion 7 Comments
 

Some businesses rely on telephone leads, either as the main source of revenue or as an important means of acquiring customers.   This includes anyone from pizza and other delivery restaurants to tradesmen like home inspectors or home improvement contractors.  This includes most service sectors, too.  Are there ways to get a leg up on the competition?

Yes, and here are a few ways to do just that.  Strictly speaking, these are not SEO techniques (more like TEO – telephone optimization), but if we broaden our definition just a bit, let’s file them under SEO.

1. TITLE TAGS…  Place the phone number at the beginning of the title tag.  So if your home inspection business is targeting “Chicago home inspections” and “Chicago home inspector” as the main keywords, try this title tag:

<title>312-555-5555 Chicago home inspections by inspector Rob Penfield</title>

Why is this such a clever strategy?  Well, you should know that typically 40% of people click on the first search result…even after gazing down at lower results.  Those people who click on another search result usually do so because:

  • They are looking for multiple quotes.
  • They are doing research.
  • They tried the first result…and it sucked.
  • The first result is clearly not right (They searched for “pursuit of happiness” and they want the band, not the movie or the constitution).
  • A lower result is obviously better.

Read that last point again.  Suppose I am looking for a home inspector in Chicago, and I notice that the third result has the phone number right in the headline.  Wow!  I don’t even have to click.  I just pick up the phone and call.  I might be lazy, in a hurry, multi-tasking or just typically modern…but you have just snatched a top-spot lead without ranking #1.  Amazing.

2. DESCRIPTION TAGS…  This is a variation on the title tag.  Place the phone number in the description tag, right next to the main keywords.  The description tag is often used as the explanatory text beneath the headline for search results.  Although not as powerful as the title tag, this should help you secure some extra leads.

3. DOMAIN NAME…  I know this sounds crazy, but if telephone leads really are your bread and butter, make your telephone number your domain name.  Too crazy?  Not for 1800flowers.com.

4. PROMINENCE… Websites typically place their phone number on a “Contact us” page, or if the website is really exciting, perhaps in the footer template in small letters.  This is all fine and dandy if your market will hunt down your phone number.  But if you are trying to urge people to pick up the phone and call, try something a little bolder.  At http://www.serviceblocks.ca/ , a home renovations company, we placed the phone number in the upper right margin, with a big picture of a telephone so that it can’t be missed.  At http://www.paramount-roll.com/ we placed the phone number right in the content box, so that it would be even more obvious.  We also noticed that the most-clicked item on the home page was the “samples of our work” link (upper right), so we added the phone number to the funky slide show that visitors view at that link.  Depending upon the nature of the product, you might even want to make your telephone number flash.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA AVATAR…  Why show your face at Digg or FaceBook or Zoomit Canada, when you can be just a number.

6. USER NAME… A variation on the avatar them, if telephone leads are your bread and butter, make your telephone number your user name on social media sites and forums.

7. BACKGROUND…  Both Twitter and MySpace allow you to create custom backgrounds.  You know what to do.

8. FORUM SIGNATURES… OK, this one is obvious, but I am sure it would be even more obvious by its omission from the list.

Got some other ideas to optimize your website for telephone leads?  Please share them with us in the comments field below.

Social Media Interview with Danny Brown

Dec 08, 2008 - filed under marketing, social media 5 Comments
 

Imagine what “social media” might be like in five or ten years…

Hmmm…I wonder what Mom has in her fridge…let’s check. I see. Ooh, she has some good stuff. Let’s just send her a message here… “Hi mom. Thinking of doing anything with that lasagna? I’m free to come over for dinner.” I suppose I should copy my brother on that one.

That’s just one of my wild fantasies I discuss with social media guru Danny Brown when he interviewed me on what I thought about social media.  He asked me how I define social media, how I use social media and where I thought it was headed. 

This is an important issue for anyone interested in SEO because increasingly the lines between various aspects of online marketing, including SEO, will be blurred.  In fact, that is one of the foundations on which my free eBook Sticky SEO was written.

I encourage you to read the full interview, and at the bottom of the page Danny has added links to previous interviews in the series, all of which will shed further light on how you can use social media to help promote your website.

Sticky SEO e-Book released

Dec 03, 2008 - filed under algorithms, browserank, rankings, SEO, website conversion 17 Comments
 

After a month of working on it, and at least a month of technical delays, I have finally released Sticky SEO. This groundbreaking SEO guide will help you get prepared for the wave of algorithm changes that will sweep a lot of websites right under the rug.

Yup, a storm is coming and some websites will thrive while others crumble to dust.  It’s all about user metrics and what I call the “Usefulness Algorithm”. Sticky SEO is the answer, and this is the first eBook to give useful strategies and practical tips on how to be one of the websites that will thrive.

I should note that Sticky SEO really is not like any other SEO book.  If you find this blog post searching for “SEO book” or SEO eBook “, and are expecting the same SEO 101, you won’t find it here.  Sticky SEO doesn’t include any of that stuff.  It’s all good – don’t stop adding relevant content and building link after link after link to your site – but this is a different, more exciting story.  This is for website owners who want to pump up their profits today and power up their rankings for tomorrow.

Here is the link:
http://www.seo-writer.com/books/sticky-seo.html

The more links on a domain the better?

Dec 01, 2008 - filed under algorithms, bookmarking, linking, social media 10 Comments
 

Dear reader, let me be a heretic once more.

We all know, or at least assume, that having multiple links to the same URL from a domain is an exercise in diminishing returns as far as search engine rankings are concerned.  That is to say, if you score a link to your home page from one page on a domain, any additional links to your home page from other pages on that same domain are worth less.  And the more links to your home page from that domain, the less each one is worth.

This makes sense.  If a domain has 1000 pages, a sitewide link cannot be viewed as 1000 endorsements for your home page.

But the web is a changing place, and in the past few months, services have been cropping up to submit your website to 1000 and even 2000 social bookmarking websites.  These services are similar to all those directory submission services and the article submission services, and they are often offered by the same people.  On the surface of it, there is nothing wrong, but it does require a reaction from the search engines.

But first, a personal rant.  Submitting your home page to 2000 social bookmarking sites is NOT social bookmarking.  It is bookmarking, but it is NOT social.  If it was social, these services would be promoting your page on these sites, networking with other users, and you would end up with several links at any one social bookmarking site (assuming your content is actually interesting).

OK, that was more than just a personal rant.*  In fact, I’ll bet the search engines are noticing the same thing and looking at the same numbers and raising one of their search engine eyebrows right now.  If there are thousands of single-link entries at each social bookmarking website, most of which are essentially paid links, should those each be worth more than each entry that garnered, let’s say 12 Diggs or Zooms?  Those dozen votes clearly are exactly the type of recommendations the search engines look for in their algorithms.  Single links at social bookmarking websites clearly are not.  Each Digg or Zoom should be worth more than each single entry.  In fact, we might even go so far as to say that the more Diggs or Zooms, the more each one should be worth.

What should the search engines do?  Clearly, their algorithms must distinguish between sitewide links and links that appear numerous times independently on the same website.  This is true not just for social bookmarking sites, but also for forums where a resource might be cited in numerous threads over time.

Maybe Google and Yahoo and MSN already do this.  Maybe I’m not being that heretical after all.  Naw, that just would be too out-of-character.

* It qualifies as a rant because I capitalized the “NOT”.  Twice.

Sticky SEO Imminent

Nov 29, 2008 - filed under algorithms, browserank, rankings, sticky seo, website conversion 6 Comments
 

I promised a couple months ago that I would follow up the aborted series on BrowseRank with a complete ebook on the topic.  Now that ebook is imminent.  We’ll be releasing it as soon as we clear up a few server issues.  Just to whet your appetite, here’s the image of the cover…

SEO Tips for Affiliates

Nov 27, 2008 - filed under content, guest post, SEO 3 Comments
 

Guest post by John Lamerton… 

Affiliate marketing refers to internet based marketing, where a business offers rewards for others directing traffic to their website. This may take a number of different forms, including the omnipresent advertising banner, text links and, in the case of less scrupulous advertisers, spam and adware. The vast majority of affiliate marketing is legitimate and can be extremely lucrative.

Affiliate marketing can also be very successful for the merchants themselves. Indeed the industry is increasingly taking the place of conventional online and offline marketing. Greatly improving a brand`s visibility, offering a reasonable and stable price for marketing, affiliate marketing is relatively easy to establish and appropriate for companies of all sizes.

Search engine optimisation – or SEO – has become a considerable industry in itself, and is the subject of much discussion. There are various techniques available which may maximise a website`s chances of appearing in search engine results, and ensure that those directed to the site are of a good quality. The golden rule is that in the world of SEO content is king. Without a considerable quantity of good quality and relevant content a website can only progress so far. In terms of the structure of this content, the most obvious place to start is in giving consideration to the titles used. Titles should contain important keywords, as they feature highest in search engine results. Use a description of the service being offered, rather than a simple name, otherwise there is a risk of losing traffic.

The body of texts should again focus on important keywords and phrases, ensuring the most likely variations of words or phrases are given hearing. Content should be relatively accessible, with no unnecessary jargon, simple ideas expressed simply, in short sentences and paragraphs. Subheadings often work well, but steer clear of lists where possible. Account for potential spelling mistakes, and use metatags – the code as `seen` by the search engine robots – to its fullest effect to better explain the content and focus of the page in question to the search engines. Also ensure that target phrases are emphasised in bold or strong tags a couple of times and that keyword density for each phrase is around 2-4%. Keep the spread of target phrases on any given page to a clear and narrow focus. Also ensure that you use the heading tags H1 and H2 and that your content is a minimum of 300 words in length – ideally between 500 and 1000 words or so per page.

Links on a website tend to improve rankings, as do links from other websites. In an ideal world these sites should themselves have good rankings with Google, so don`t be afraid to contact relevant sites in order to exchange links. Ideally offer third parties something of value in return for a link and try to link out from and gain links in from content pages rather than links pages or directories as the latter seem to be carrying less and less weight. Most importantly, ensure that your link partners are relevant for your audience and that they are linking to you using your preferred anchor text (search term).

Choose the style of affiliate marketing which is best suited, and don`t assume banner ads will work best. Banners are no longer as effective as they were, and the focus has tended to shift to content, as people increasingly search for quality writing as opposed to garish flashing banners.

Also research the options regarding Pay Per Click (PPC) and other affiliate marketing models, as their suitability varies between industries. With a little investment of time in finding the right affiliates and model for each particular case, affiliate marketing and extending into the world of content affiliates can work for many a business.

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