David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

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Blog advertising

Apr 13, 2007 - filed under blogging, linking, reputation management, website updates 1 Comment
 

You might have noticed that we have a new page listed at the top called “blog advertising”.  Yes, we do accept advertising or sponsored posts, and we have set up very specific guidelines to avoid potential conflicts of interest, including transparency, relevance and freedom to say “this website simply does not deliver”.

In preparing to accept advertising, I did some research on what others are doing.  Tim Nash recently made a similar decision to mine, and given that he is a well-respected contributor at Webdigity, one of the more interesting forums around, I asked him if he would be willing to be a guest blogger and share his thoughts on paid blog posts.  What follows is his commentary…

I’m a blogger not a journalist!
 

Once upon a time I started a website it had a single page about me, these days I run several websites participate on 2 blogs regularly and guest blog on numerous others. I spend 60 hours a week working on the web one way or another. Why am I telling you this? Well in all those hours across all those sites I see reviews and I meet people and products and I think cool I will write about that, 90% of the time I don’t but occasionally I get beyond the first few lines. So when some one turns up and offers you a few dollars to write a review about their site or product are you going to say no?
 

I consider myself to be an ethical blogger in that I always declare when a post is paid for I only accept “jobs” where they are after my honest review. In many ways I consider myself simply being given a nudge out of the door of course I can already hear the screams from the anti paid per post lobby.
 

“The PayPerPost model brings up memories of payola in the music industry, something the FCC and state attorney generals are still trying to eliminate or control. Given the distributed and unlicensed nature of the blogosphere, controlling payoffs to bloggers will be exponentially more difficult.”
Tech Crunch – http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/10/12/the-payperpost-virus-spreads/
 

This is one of the biggest arguments against pay per post — are you being bribed and if so does it matter? If a journalist on a big paper was found to be on the pay of a company how would we react, outrage, anger certainly the end of their career, but why?
 

It’s down to trust and authority we believe our newspapers to be independent of such things this is of course not true but perception is everything. The journalist may never write a positive review about the company but we perceive our trust has been breached we have been let down.
 

But I’m a blogger! I write in my spare time and if some one says here some money to write about xxx then sure I will write about it. If you don’t like it don’t read it! The problem comes when the personal integrity of the blogger is breached which is summed up nicely by Stuntdubl
 

“If everybody writes positive reviews of CRAP – it’s a surefire way for the whole idea to suck. It’s not a surprise that people will accept money to write reviews or analysis – the big question will be HOW MUCH it costs for a review. “
Stuntdubl http://www.stuntdubl.com/2006/11/10/reviewme-2/
 

Here it is laid out on a plate If I accept $30 for an impartial review that’s cool what if I’m given $500 or $1000 can I really remain impartial when offered larger sums of money; I’ll let you know
 

Advice for Bloggers
So here some advice if you’re going to try Pay per post or similar.

  • Set up a disclaimer page discuss which services you use
  • Offer a way to view the site without PPP
  • Make PPP very clear and obvious (I use the tag PPP plus disclaimer)
  • Try to make your posts interesting and on topic, just because its paid for doesn’t mean it can’t be part of your normal blogging cycle.

 

A final cautioning word of warning, some search engines believe Paid links should not be allowed and to steps to prevent these links and pages appearing in the index  Grey Wolf has a great post on this; so is paid per post worth it?
http://www.wolf-howl.com/seo/googles-policy-on-no-follow-and-reviews-is-hypocritical-and-wrong/
 

 

About Me
Tim Nash is a reputation management consultant, co-founder and primary consultant for Venture Skills, a “New media” IT company which specialises in search engine optimisation, reputation management, and technical side of online marketing. When not working at Venture Skills, posting site reviews on forums he can be found teaching at a local university where he lecturers in Search Engine Optimisation and Information Retrieval.
 

http://www.timnash.me.uk
http://ventureskills.wordpress.com
 

 

Digg Bookmarkeing Tips for Webmasters

Apr 12, 2007 - filed under bookmarking, Digg, marketing, social media 1 Comment
 

I have become fascinated how a website can jump from obscurity to temporary fame and with good hands at its wheel a head start to permanent success just by hitting the front page of Digg.com .

Here is a very comprehensive list of what it takes to get onto the front page of Digg:  50 Tips: How to get the best out of Digg? by Razid Ahmed. Some of it is pretty obvious, like take time to write a really good article.  Other tips are less obvious, like make sure your server can handle the extra traffic.  Six of the tips relate to crafting a title.  They all seem obvious to me, but I know from experience that there is nothing obvious about crafting a title.

The best tips relate to submission, promotion and participation.  For instance, get your blog and ezine readers to Digg your content.  More good advice: don’t be shy to Digg your own blog posts.  On the other hand, don’t submit all your content.  Surely you know when you have superb content and when it is just average. 

It goes without saying that if you participate in any community and make lots of contacts, you stand a better chance of getting your message heard.  But if you don’t have time to build a network, nor the money to rent one (yes, some people do this, much to the disgust of many Digg purists), you can at least do a good job of creating, submitting and promoting your content…and hoping that some of the established networks on Digg will pick up on it.

Razid suggests against forming groups dedicated to Digging each others’ work, but I have to disagree with that one.  I would avoid any group that commits you to Digging something you don’t think is superb, but it can come in handy to have, say, 50 other webmasters and bloggers who are willing to look at what you have and Digg it.  And it is not too much to ask for you to do the same.  The trouble comes if everyone in the group is always Digging all the same content “just because”.  That becomes spam and you will get bumped from the community.

And the most important piece of advice… if at first you do not succeed, try, try again.  Sooner or later, something you write will get picked up.

Tips for Mining Google’s Backlink Data

Apr 04, 2007 - filed under deep links, Google, linking Comments Off on Tips for Mining Google’s Backlink Data
 

Since Google SiteMaps expanded to Google Webmaster Central, webmasters have some interesting new tools at their disposal.  One of those is the backlink checker.

It is widespread knowledge that a search for backlinks in Google brings back results that are pretty much useless.  I have yet to hear a single SEO specialist offer even a theory about the algorithm for such a search.  For the past year, Yahoo has been offering a much improved backing search. 

Of course, most webmasters know who links to them when they post to directories or engage in a link partnership with another website. But after a few months on the Web, most actively promoted websites of any discernable quality start attracting inbound links unbeknownst to the webmaster.  Google Webmaster Central now reveals those links, on a page-by-page basis.  Here are some ways that you can mine the data Google gives you:

  • Find out which pages are being linked to…you might have link-bait without knowing it.  For instance, if you have attracted three links to an article that you never even promoted, that’s a good sign that maybe you should promote the article; it is obviously of interest.
  • When you find a page that has attracted unsuspected links, review that page and develop a plan to create similar pages with similar characteristics that would also be of interest to other website owners who might link to your site without prompting.
  • Another thing to do when you find unexpected links to a certain page is to capitalize on the link strength of the page and optimize it for additional search terms (or optimize it for any search terms if this had not already been done). 
  • Find out who is linking to you.  There might be sites that come as a surprise.  If you see some sites that had unexpectedly link to you, search Google for similar sites, because they might also want to link to you..
  • Look who is linking to what pages on your site.  Perhaps there are other pages that would interest them.  If another site links to ten pages on your site, that’s better than linking to just one, right?
  • If you post articles to various article directories, this is a great way to find out who else has picked up your articles without your knowledge, and submit future articles directly to them.  For instance, I have many of my articles listed at David Leonhardt’s Idea Marketers Profile

Yahoo is still your best tool for competitive link intelligence, because Google Webmaster Central gives you information only on sites you have verified as belonging to you.  Together, these are two very powerful webmaster tools.

The Silly Myth About Reciprocal Links

Apr 02, 2007 - filed under Google, linking, rankings, SEO Comments Off on The Silly Myth About Reciprocal Links
 

“I would like to exchange links with you to maximize Page Rank on Google for both of us, but it is important not to link to the same site – they need to be different sites to count on Google” 

It’s not the first time some linking email message lectures me about how Google ignores reciprocal links.  Of course, that’s total phony bologna.  Google values links based on their value, not on whether the other site links back.  It is actually a very natural thing for two sites in the same niche to link to each other.  It is also good marketing to exchange visible links with non-competing, related websites.  And it is totally legitimate to show visitors and search engines alike that you are related in topic to another website that Google might also value.  Google has no interest in discounting legitimate reciprocal linking. What Google does want and even need to discount are links set up to mess up its results.  All links built solely for the purpose of cooking Google’s results are therefore discouraged.  Those that are aggressive enough to skew Google’s results must be stopped.  Google has that obligation, otherwise it will lose its clientele. In case you, too, are tired of receiving such misinformed emails, here is how I just responded to one: 

“I think you have been taken for a bit of a ride by some way-too-clever SEO charlatan who thinks that reciprocal linking is being penalized or discounted by Google.  At best, three-way link exchanges add some variation amidst two-way link exchanges; at worst, the search engines (who can easily read such schemes) would read this as an attempt to scam them.  I personally don’t think it makes a hill of beans difference whether there are two-way or three-way exchanges.  I do what makes sense for each website.”       

 

 

BegForPost :: Why pay per post when you can beg?

Mar 28, 2007 - filed under blogging, ethics, linking, marketing Comments Off on BegForPost :: Why pay per post when you can beg?
 

This is a totally new, humorous and deadly serious Internet marketing concept: BegForPost :: Why pay per post when you can beg? It’s a marketplace for those who want blog exposure and those interested in giving blog exposure.  It is being reported in places like TechCrunch as an alternative to “the ethically questionable PayPerPost service that allows advertisers to pay bloggers to write about their products”.  (That’s a debate for another day.)

One of the toughest problems when promoting one’s website to bloggers is finding the right ones…not just those who might be interested because they are in your niche, but those who actually are interested because they want to receive your PR material.  Those adventuresome website marketers who take on that challenge waste a lot of time sending emails and filling in comments forms to bloggers who have no interest, who in turn waste a lot of time reading and deleting unwanted messages.

BegForPost is a start, but it needs something more.  It needs a way for bloggers to search for webmasters who are interested in getting exposure on a topic (for guest blogs, joint ventures, free samples, etc.)  It needs a way for webmasters to search for bloggers in their niche who are interested in listening.

I just took BegForPost for a spin.  I had no way to know which blog to target, so I looked at whom others were targeting, picked one, and begged for a post on behalf of a client.  My begging is at this point in the hands of a moderator.  But how do I know if the target blogger wants to hear from my client.   

This is a cool idea, but it needs a little more sophistication before it is likely to be genuinely useful.  However, I will report back if my test drive ends up bearing fruit.  If not, I might try again with another client. 

 

 

Google’s In-text Ads

Mar 22, 2007 - filed under ethics, Google, PPC pay per click Comments Off on Google’s In-text Ads
 

We have word now that Google is planning to sell ads mid-paragraph on websites.  AdWords currently appear only in separate sections of a web page. 

The first reaction to this has been negative.  Although I say this cautiously, the development makes sense. 

We all know that Google’s organic listings value an inbound link within a paragraph on a content page more than a directory style listing. 

Why? 

Think, think… 

Because in the middle of a paragraph sounds so much more real.  It just looks like somebody is really referencing or recommending that link in that very context, as opposed to just one of many links on a list that might be more or less relevant to something or other. 

The same holds true for advertising.  An in-text ad link says that this product is relevant to what the reader is reading.  It’s being where your customer is, which is always a good thing. 

Of course, one must ask whether the customer likes this.  If you ask him, he will say “no”.  But he persists in reading “free” web pages that somebody takes the time to post, so his actions say that he does.  Every now and then, a subscriber to my “free” Daily Dose of Happiness ezine complains about the ads.  If that subscriber was paying a buck a month, he would have every right to complain.  I wonder if he cheerfully goes about his job, refusing his pay check every two weeks.  I think not. 

Google’s idea to put ads in the text, labeled as Google Ads in the pop-up bubble, seems to me to be a good move.  It certainly will not look as awful and ugly as the current Google ads marring more websites than I can count.  

But I am not 100% sold on this view.  Maybe there is a good reason to oppose this.  Let me know what you think.  

 

 

 

 

Google’s In-text Ads

Mar 22, 2007 - filed under ethics, Google, PPC pay per click Comments Off on Google’s In-text Ads
 

We have word now that Google is planning to sell ads mid-paragraph on websites.  AdWords currently appear only in separate sections of a web page. 

The first reaction to this has been negative.  Although I say this cautiously, the development makes sense. 

We all know that Google’s organic listings value an inbound link within a paragraph on a content page more than a directory style listing. 

Why? 

Think, think… 

Because in the middle of a paragraph sounds so much more real.  It just looks like somebody is really referencing or recommending that link in that very context, as opposed to just one of many links on a list that might be more or less relevant to something or other. 

The same holds true for advertising.  An in-text ad link says that this product is relevant to what the reader is reading.  It’s being where your customer is, which is always a good thing. 

Of course, one must ask whether the customer likes this.  If you ask him, he will say “no”.  But he persists in reading “free” web pages that somebody takes the time to post, so his actions say that he does.  Every now and then, a subscriber to my “free” Daily Dose of Happiness ezine complains about the ads.  If that subscriber was paying a buck a month, he would have every right to complain.  I wonder if he cheerfully goes about his job, refusing his pay check every two weeks.  I think not. 

Google’s idea to put ads in the text, labeled as Google Ads in the pop-up bubble, seems to me to be a good move.  It certainly will not look as awful and ugly as the current Google ads marring more websites than I can count.  

But I am not 100% sold on this view.  Maybe there is a good reason to oppose this.  Let me know what you think.  

 

 

 

 

Submit your URL to deep link directories

Mar 14, 2007 - filed under deep links, directories, linking, SEO 2 Comments
 

I have read much debate over which directories and what types of directories are worth submitting your website URL to.  I have to admit that I often disagreee with the views espoused in many of these discussions.

Today I want to speak up in favor of that rare bird, the deep link directory.  A deep-link directory is one that allows links directly into pages of interest within your website.  Very few directories allow this; most insist on submitting your home page and your home page only.  This cripples people from posting links to the pages of most interest, which are often inside the website, or from linking to various topics within a website with a broader coverage. 

From an SEO perspective, you don’t want all your inbound links pointing to your home page…unless, of course, you are trying to send a message to the search engines, such as, “Look how shallow my website is.  See?  Nothing there worth linking to but the home page.  There’s nothing inside that anybody would want to link to, no siree.  Don’t even bothering indexing all those useless pages.”

So when I got involved in creating directories, they all offered a link to the home page URL plus up to three deep links.  Here are links to four free deep link directories where you can submit your website:

Submit travel websites with deep links

Submit webmaster websites with deep links

Submit real estate websites with deep links

Submit all sorts of websites with deep links

Since options are limited for free-submit deep link directories, here are four of my favorite paid deep link directories.  None of these have recurring fees, and they are all reasonably priced.   

Bloggeries (just for blogs).

Octopedia (our page there)

Abilogic

Webtopia (the Canada page)

World Site Index

Social Networks Can Drive Traffic

Mar 09, 2007 - filed under Bebo, Google, marketing, MySpace, social media 1 Comment
 

For anyone who missed my post on how one of my websites is now getting more traffic from MySpace than from Google, it’s not just me!  Check out this post from Heather Hopkins of Hitwise UK.

She reports excellent growth in traffic from MySapce and Bebo in this case study.

A brand-new SEO scam

Mar 09, 2007 - filed under bookmarking, ethics, Google, marketing, personalized search, rankings, SEO, SEO scams 4 Comments
 

This SEO scam is so new that it hasn’t even begun yet, at least not to my knowledge.  I don’t want to give SEO scammers ideas, but I am 100% certain that this is coming and that there will be many, many, many (did I mention “many”?) unsuspecting webmasters who will fall for it, so let’s for once get the warnings about the scam out there before it begins. 

Google’s new personalized search has already begun, and within months it will start to skew Google’s rankings in two ways.  

First, data Google gathers about how people are searching will certainly start to be factored into the general algorithm.  This means that on-page relevancy and inbound links will have to share the stage with such factors as click-through rates, click-back rates (back to Google from the site), length of visit, number of pages viewed, repeat visits, etc.  In other words, Google will be better able to measure “good” content from trash.  

A whole industry will sprout up to help webmasters take advantage of this, much of it black hat (like click fraud, perhaps?), some white hat, mostly to create more “sticky” content, improve click-through rates and encourage people to “vote” in some way for the site. On the white hat side, TheBookmarketer can help you move ahead right away, as I reported in this post on how to use social bookmarking to a website’s advantage

Second, the data it collects from each individual will be used to present more personalized results to that individual.  Exactly how this will work remains to be seen, as there are many ways that Google has hinted it can factor the information into a person’s individual results.  But one thing is for certain…as soon as SEO scammers get a sense of some of the factors that affect personalized results, the scamming will begin.  Here is exactly what the scammers will do:  

1. The scammer will tell the website owner to sign up for a Google account.  

2. The scammer will tell the webmaster to “visit your website every day” or “visit at least ten pages of your site in succession every day” or “Google bookmark your website” or “do the following ten searches and click on your site from the rankings every day”.  The precise instructions will depend on the factors that most influence personal search.  

3. The scammer will promise that the website owner will see his site move up in the rankings.  And he will see it move up in the rankings.  But only on his computer using his personalized search.  Even if his website shows up as #1 for “broken glass”, none of the broken-glass-buying market might even see his site in their results. 

This scam won’t fool everybody.  It is most likely to work on the little guy, who operates from one computer and would not think to compare results.  It might not work forever, but what scammer will stick around to argue the finer points once he’s sucked the money out of an unsuspecting website owner’s pockets? 

Google will surely take steps to reduce this in order to protect the integrity of its results (remember the searcher is whom Google must please), but like every game of locks and lock-pickers, there will be plenty of scams flying under Google’s radar or keeping one step ahead. 

The best protection a webmaster has against this sort of scam is to include mention of it in passing in every article posted on the Internet about personal search.  Hopefully not too many webmasters will miss it before hiring an SEO scammer.  And that’s why today I am outing the scammers before they even start!

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