David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

New Google RankCheck Tool is Released!

Aug 27, 2008 - filed under Google, rankings 7 Comments
 

Just kidding.  There is no new Google RankCheck tool.  But there should be.  A couple days ago, I reported on how Google has finally blocked automated searches by software such as WebPosition.  This creates a vacuum in the marketplace – a vacuum best filled by…Google!

Yes, I think Google should announce a new GoogleCheck tool, and here is why. 

Google says that automated rank-checking tools should be avoided because it taxes Google’s servers.  OK, let’s take this argument at face value.  Automated checking does add a tremendous volume to the number of searches.  I gave an example the other day of how one website adds 1200 searches.  If that is done responsibly once every 4 – 6 weeks, ad there are a mere 1000 websites searching, the burden is not too big, especially if most of the searches are happening at off-hours when Google’s servers are underused.  However, if 100,000 websites are doing automated searches every day during peak usage hours, perhaps digging deeper into the SERPs, that could start taxing Google’s servers.

Let’s further assume that Google has a hidden agenda.  Let’s assume it does not like automated rank checking because people are getting a free ride from Google – conducting billions of searches without ever visiting Google and being exposed to paid search advertising.  Let’s face it, why should Google give away huge volumes of free search to webmasters without requiring them to view the PPC ads that bring in Google’s revenues?

So how would Google RankCheck help Google?

First, Google could control when and how automated searches occurred.  It could, for instance queue the automated searches for the next available down turn in bandwidth usage, or it could simply schedule it at an appropriate hour.  Problem solved.

Second, it could make money, which is what a corporation like Google is supposed to do.  Instead of giving away tons of free search to webmasters who don’t even visit Google to make the searches, Google could sell the software.  An official Google RankCheck tool would sell much, much better than Web Position.  Google could make a beautiful case, too:

“We are in search.  Manual search of one phrase at a time is free to everyone, including webmasters checking how they rank.  However, if you want to conduct bulk searches, you can purchase Google RankCheck for a modest fee.”

There would be advantages for webmasters, too.  Google could give people the option of viewing rankings in various locales.  For instance, if I want to see how my website is ranking in San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, I could specify that (you know how Google results differ from place to place).

Perhaps there are other advantages for Google or for webmasters.  Why not share your thoughts on that with readers by posting your comment below.

Google Blocks Automated Rank Checking

Aug 25, 2008 - filed under clients, Google, rankings 4 Comments
 

Google has been threatening…er, promising to block rank-checking software such as WebPosition for years, and even mentions them by name in their webmaster guidelines.  It seems like Google has finally decided to honor its promise and block the software.

I was last able to check rankings on August 22.  Since then, nada.  A quick survey around the Web and it sounds like a lot of other people found their automated ranking checks were blocked on August 1, August 5 or August 7.

What does this mean for SEO?  Quite a lot…and amazingly little.

 It means that we cannot check dozens of keywords quickly and painlessly.  Manually checking 50 search phrases for, let’s say, a dozen clients, often going onto the second or third page of Google means…let’s see…1200 manual searches.  Suppose there are two dozen clients.  Suppose there are 100 search terms.  You can do the math and see how time consuming this would be.

However, let us for a moment suppose that we don’t do 1200 manual searches every month.  Suppose instead we do occasional searches to see where a client stands for a few major search phrases?  Or we check different searches on different months as we focus the campaign on different sub-niches?  What if we invest more effort in building rankings than in measuring them?

Yes, we do need to measure.  We need to know if we are moving forward.  We need to be able to show clients roughly the magnitude of the progress.  But perhaps we will be using a smaller basket of keywords and letting the long tail take care of itself.

For me, the main use of rank-checking across a broad range of search phrases was to determine which search phrases or family of search phrases need more focus as we ride the surf of algorithm changes, renewed competition and other happenings.

Of course, clients also require reporting…which we will no longer be able to do to the same level as we had been doing.  So the immediate effect is that over the next month or so, I need to budget a few hours to explain to clients why lists of ranking positions can no longer be the way to measure progress.

BrowseRank Goes Beyond PageRank

Aug 18, 2008 - filed under browserank, Google, Microsoft, pagerank 10 Comments
 

I am just back from vacation and wading through three weeks of emails, but while I was gone a story broke that I just can’t let pass.  You might have heard me say it before, but sooner or later the search engines will shift their algorithms from focusing just on relevance and importance to include a third pillar: usefulness. 

This story entitled Microsoft Talks about BrowseRank Beyond PageRank shows that Microsoft is well on it’s way to developing just such an algorithm.  The article mentions a few ways a search engine can determine how useful searchers find a result, but there are more that are not mentioned in the article.

  1. Click-thru rates.
  2. Number of people who bounce back to the search page.
  3. Time before a person bounces back.
  4. Number of pages a user visits before bouncing back.
  5. Time spent on the specific page clicked.
  6. Whether the person bothered to scroll down on the page.

Of course, people like me would totally mess up the algorithm; I leave my windows open forever.  And if you think that user behavior is hard to manipulate, think again.  Usability will be now more important for SEO, but also will be coaxing users to spend more time on the website and go deeper in.

But the biggest change we will see is that website owners will have to focus on not letting their visitors bounce back to Google.  Suddenly having links to other useful sites will be a good thing, to the dismay of so many website owners who are terrified of placing a link to anybody else, for fear they might bleed customers, PageRank or both.

As all user search engines move into measuring user behavior, new strategies will be required.  I will report on some of those shortly.

Stay tuned… 

Google Cache Gets Style

Jul 25, 2008 - filed under Google, indexing 6 Comments
 

OK, so it’s not much style, but it’s certainly a cleaner look than the previous mess.  Much easier on the eyes.  For those who don’t know what this is, the Google Toolbar has a handy quicklink to the cached view of any page.  Simply go to the little downward arrow next to the PageRank bar and from the drop-down menu, click cache.  This shows you what Google has on file about the page currently in your browser window.

 

No changes to the look when Google has not cached the page; just a regular search window. 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Your Blog a Destination in Your Niche

Jul 18, 2008 - filed under blogging, bookmarking, MyBlogLog 6 Comments
 

One of my clients wants to create a blog that will really stand out in her niche and become a destination.  She asked for a few tips, so here is what I suggested: 

1. Unique topic – anything that people have not heard before, surprises or even shocks, cuts through the clutter and gives practical advice (where people usually find a 20  minute speech), or is edgy or controversial. 

2. Participation via comments – invite participation and get people returning. Although my blog is almost a hobby (when pressed for time, client work comes first, so sometimes I go as much as a month between posts), I have done three things technically that have increased participation: 1) I made it a do-follow blog, so more people come to comment on it, making it a more happening place.  2) I am trying to respond to comments with follow-up comments, for the same result. 3) My WordPress sends me two notices, one when a comment is posted for me to moderate, and a second when the comment goes live.  To this second email, I respond with a note like this:

I approved your comment, so please don’t forget to social bookmark the post.  Because mine is a DoFollow blog, your website will benefit from the SEO-friendly link.  It is therefore to your advantage to give this page some link juice by social bookmarking it.  You will see at the bottom of the post some icons for one-click social bookmarking:
http://www.seo-writer.com/blog/2008/05/05/why-blogs-are-good-for-seo
 
Or it would be even better if you could share some of my ramblings with your readers by blogging about them and linking back to the original posts.  :-)

This has gotten me some social bookmarks and also has lead to a few other link exchanges. 

3. Social bookmarking – I have a free script for that at http://www.seo-writer.com/tools/bookmarker.php 

4. Building big communities at MyBlogLog.com, BlogCatalog.com, SpicyPage.com, and probably a few others.  There probably is a good way to promote it also through article directory communities such as EzineArticles.com .

5. Guest post exchanges can be good, bringing new perspectives to your blog and reaching out to the audiences of other blogs.

6. Posting really insightful comments on well-read blogs can also lead to others following your link — but you have to get there early, before the crowds have come and gone.

7. I have found that just visiting blogs listed at MyBlogLog has resulted in the bloggers visiting my blogs.  A lot of bloggers watch for a new face to show up on their widget, and they visit the blogs in return.  If you have great content, they’ll be back.

How not to sell SEO

Jul 16, 2008 - filed under SEO scams 7 Comments
 

I just have to share this email with you as an example of how not to sell SEO.

Hello and Good Day! OK, so it’s not a bad start.
 
I am [name withheld], SEO Manager

I was surfing through your website and realized that despite having a good design; it was not ranking on any of the search engines for most of the keywords pertaining to your domain. Let’s get one thing straight: the site in question was designed to practce HTML several years ago and certainly does not have a good design. On the other hand, despite a certain amount of neglect over the past couple years, it does retain good rankings for major search terms.
 
I was wondering if you would be interested in getting the SEO done for your website. Did he do any research on me?  Come on!
 
There is a simple equation that is applicable to the online world.
 
Ethical SEO -> Better Traffic -> Higher Sales. Ethical SEO? Spam is ethical? Hopefully that is a big enough clue for the newbiest of newbie website owners to delete this email.
 
We are an ISO Certified, SEMPO registered Online Marketing firm and have over 5 years of working experience. All the techniques used are ethical and proprietary. If this is true, ISO and SEMPO have some explaining to do.
 
In case you require any additional information, it shall be our pleasure to furnish the same.
 
I look forward to your mail.

Basically, this was a bulk mail sent to a mailing list scraped somewhere on the Web. Given that SEO is more like a sport than a science, every website needs its own custom approach. A cookie-cutter email will not make the sale, because it will never address the particulars of my website.

Well, maybe it will make the sale in some cases, where the website owner falls for such a pitch. Such is the law of the jungle, I suppose, where the lions pick off the weakest members of the herd and enjoy a tasty dinner. Just make sure you are not the one they pick off.

Who you link to matters

Jul 03, 2008 - filed under linking, nofollow, reputation 13 Comments
 

Some people might wonder why I do not approve their blog comments. There are a few reasons.

1. The comment is pure spam. Sorry, that does not contribute to this blog so the comment gets nuked. Kaboom!

2. The comment is pretty useless, not contributing much and it’s pretty spammy and I am not in the mood to give a free keyword rich link to someone who is not really contributing. Sorry, but that’s my prerogative.

3. The link is to a website that is either in itself distasteful (my personal, subjective opinion) or is in a category that I don’t want to link to, either because of personal views or because of the message it sends the search engines (such as gambling, for instance).

Point #3 should be noted. From an SEO perspective, who you link to matters. A lot of people comment on this blog because they know I use the Do Follow plugin or because they found me on the list of Do Follow blogs.

On another note, if you do come here to comment because you know the link is good for SEO, please do me the courtesy of either linking back to my site or at least social bookmarking the post. When you social bookmark the post, you are also helping yourself, because it increases the authority of the page that is linking back to your site. And it is sooooo easy to social bookmark each post. See the icons across the bottom of this post? Just click those icons at the bottom of any post and you can bookmark at dozens of popular sites. If you want to make it easy for your visitors to bookmark your blog posts or web pages, you can get this social bookmaking cut-and-paste script at http://www.seo-writer.com/tools/bookmarker.php.

Google Indexes Flash

Jul 01, 2008 - filed under Google, indexing, web design 5 Comments
 

OK, so before all you Flash-crazed developers get too excited, what Google specifically will index is two things:

1. The text content in .SWF files.
2. URLs can now be followed.

This means that Flash websites can indeed be made SEO-friendly, although I am uncertain how much Flash designers would want text content in their files – specifically enough text content to really make a page SEO-friendly.

In any case, you can read more about this development at the Google blog post on Flash indexing

SEO definitions

Jun 27, 2008 - filed under linking, SEO 5 Comments
 

If you are new to SEO, you might be flabbergasted by all the definitions. For instance, just what is a 3-way link exchange? To me, it is a futile attempt by some webmasters to pretend they are smarter than both the algorithm engineers at Google and Google’s awesome computing power. Speaking of algorithm, do you know what that is?

I have found a great resource for SEO newbies that explains these and many more SEO terms in very simple, straightforward language. Check out the simple SEO definitions here.

Broken Links and SEO Rankings

Jun 25, 2008 - filed under content, linking, rankings, website updates 3 Comments
 

Phew! I just finished removing all the broken links from this website. It would have been a fairly small undertaking if not for the blog. The blog creates hundreds of pages and the broken links can appear in comments, posts, sidebars and all sorts of hidden files. And since broken link checkers report all sorts of anomalies, such as RSS links, the list to wade through is quite large.

But it is worthwhile. A website that points to a lot of broken links is one that is not maintained. Put quite simply, if Google has the option of listing two equally relevant websites for a particular search, why would it list the one that appears not to be as up-to-date. I have no empirical evidence to show that broken links hurt ranking (if you do, please let me know), but common sense says that somewhere in the algorithm broken links play a role.

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