David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

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!

Links are about more than just search engines

Mar 06, 2007 - filed under bookmarking, Google, linking, MySpace, social media, StumbleUpon, traffic 1 Comment
 

I just took a look at the referral stats from one of my websites, and for the first time ever (did I mention “ever“?) Google is not the top referrer.  MySpace.com is sending more traffic than all of the Googles.  In fact, one-thrid of the top-30 referrers are from various MySpace pages.

I also notice that StumpleUpon is featuring in the website’s top-30 referrers.  Once you get in good with the “Stumblers”, it can be an excellent source of interested traffic. 

Voodoo Love Doll at the laptop…

Mar 05, 2007 - filed under Flickr, social media, website updates Comments Off on Voodoo Love Doll at the laptop…
 

You know you’ve made it when somebody publishes your photo on Flickr.  Well, nobody’s published mine yet, but somebody did publish my website’s photo.  OK, so that somebody was me, but it is part of a humorous series of photos, so I though I would share it here: Voodoo Love Doll at the laptop…

More Social Bookmarking Websites Added to TheBookmarketer

Mar 05, 2007 - filed under bookmarking, marketing, social media, tagging, tags, website updates, Zaadz Comments Off on More Social Bookmarking Websites Added to TheBookmarketer
 

The Bookmarketer free bookmarketing power tool

Not long after the offical launch of TheBookmarketer, we have already added some new social bookmarking sites. 

You will note that we have added Zaadz, Kaboodle, Jumpup, i89 and Searchles.  I can’t be certain, but for most of these we might be the only multi-site bookmarking service to offer them as an option. 

There will be more updates later, and soon I will provide some webmaster tips on social bookmarking propotion – the white hat way.

Just for the record, here are our pages at these websites:

Website Conversions – Free Advice from Google

Feb 27, 2007 - filed under Google, website conversion Comments Off on Website Conversions – Free Advice from Google
 

What does website conversion have to do with SEO?  Nothing…unless you want people to do something when they click on your listing.

Fortunately, Google is providing two new tools to help you.  The first is the AdWords Optimizer, which is meant for their PPC programs, but can help with any landing page.  For the moment, Optimizer is in an invitation-only beta phase.  (I’m number 500 gazillion on the waiting list).

In the meantime, Google is providing a demo video which is free for anyone to view.  The second half of the video talks about AdWords Optimizer, but the first half gives you some superb tips on conversions from the world’s biggest search engine.  Not bad for the price of reading this blog post.  Here’s where you can view the Website Optimizer Overview Demo video.

Wikipedia should be spanked!

Feb 26, 2007 - filed under linking, nofollow, SEO, Wikipedia Comments Off on Wikipedia should be spanked!
 

I must be feeling edgy today.  I just posted a message on a public forum saying Wikipedia should be spanked!

The post is over at Webdigity webmaster forums.  It is consistent with what I wrote a month ago about Wikipedia being the dead end on the Information Highway, although I don’t think I mentioned spanking that time.

More Google Sitemaps Heretics

Feb 25, 2007 - filed under Google, indexing, linking Comments Off on More Google Sitemaps Heretics
 

After posting a somewhat unorthodox position against using the KEI formula for keyword research yesterday, I find myself posting another heretical position today…but this time with full backing from several well-placed SEO experts.

Rand Fishkin (and who is more respected than he?) recently posted My Advice on Google Sitemaps – Verify, but Don’t Submit .  It’s a position similar to what I have also taken since Day One.  I responded to his post, quoting from one of the many other SEO experts who got there before I did (so I took some time off on a Sunday for a change!).

If you’re in too much of a rush to head over there, here is what I posted in response at Rand’s blog…

“I always tell clients that if their site is built correctly, they don’t need to submit a sitemap. I’ve also never submitted a sitemap for any of my own sites”

Sugarrae’s comments reflect my own.  Getting hundreds of extra pages listed is of little value anyway if they don’t a) carry enough weight to rank or b) provide sufficient link-juice to help other pages rank.

Like PageRank, SiteMaps is a gimmick.  If you find a use for it, so be it, but I haven’t found a use yet.

 

 

 

Business Ethics on the Internet

Feb 25, 2007 - filed under ethics, media relations, SEO, writing Comments Off on Business Ethics on the Internet
 

I was quoted last week in Maclean’s, Canada’s national newsmagazine (sort of an equivalent to Time or Newsweek) on a matter of ethics.

I get to see two very contrasting worlds of ethics on the Internet.  First, we run an SEO marketing service, which means that we spend a lot of time swimming in polluted waters.  Let’s face it, for every really good and honest SEO, there are several incompetent ones, and probably as many outright dishonest (unethical ones).

On the other hand, we run a freelance writing agency.  Writers tend to be a highly ethical group, sometimes overly so.  We’ve only had to ever sever our relationship with one writer who showed signs of being unethical.

So it might come as a surprise that we were commenting on ethical lapses related to writing.  The context was a cover story on cheating in universities in both Canada and the United States, and how the universities are pretty much ignoring this destructive wildfire sweeping their campuses.

And, of course, the Internet is fueling this fire, offering both anonymity and instant access to “information”.  And for every person seeking a ghostwritten term paper, there is some dishonest writer willing to write it.

Ethics is ethics.  Period.  Anonymity does not make something right.  The Internet does not make something right.  Notwithstanding that many things that are really matters of pour etiquette get labeled “unethical” on the Internet, there are all too many people willing to be evil to make a little extra money (What, me, use strong language?)

OK, I know you’ve been salivating to know what I had to say about ethics and writing in Maclean’s, so here’s the excerpt:

Running a freelance writer agency, I can tell you that the second most-frequent writing request, after books, is for school papers.  We have even been requested to write PhD entry essays.  We respond to all such queries by refusing to help a student cheat himself (or herself) out of an education.

 

KEI Formula Misleads for Keyword Competitiveness Research

Feb 23, 2007 - filed under clients, keywords, linking, rankings, SEO, stats 1 Comment
 

Many SEO specialists wonder why I don’t use Keyword Effectiveness Index, or KEI, to research the right keyword phrases to target.  On the surface, the KEI formula makes sense, and it struck me as so obvious when I first learned about it. 

To the best of my recollection, WordTracker invented KEI, and their original description of the formula was, “the KEI compares the Count result (number of times a keyword has appeared in our data) with the number of competing web pages to pinpoint exactly which keywords are most effective for your campaign.”  What better way to research keyword competitiveness?

At first a fan, I did eventually come to my senses.  This formula tracks how many websites are in a given database for a searched term.  But it is not the volume that counts; it’s the distribution.  Here’s an analogy… 

Which way would you prefer to cross a city on foot:

1. A small alleyway, with a thousand thugs lounging in cafes around the city.
2. An equally small alleyway, with a dozen bloodthirsty thugs in the alley bent on stopping you.

KEI would lead you down the equally small alley…the one with very few keyword phrase competitors, but all right in your way, fighting hard for their high search engine rankings.  Is that what you want?  Of course not.  Keyword popularity is not the selection criteria that matters.  The SEO game is not a democracy…at least not yet, but that’s another story.
I had a sort-of related question from a client today:

Say for instance the word “tennis” was hyperlinked all over the web on all different pages and sites yet the links could be linking to 100’s of different places. Doesn’t that make the word “tennis” more competitive because other sites are trying to use it to increase their chances in trying to get it to show up in the search engines?


On the surface, her proposal made eminent sense, but it’s not the total volume that counts, rather the distribution.  Here was my response to her:

That depends.  If There are a million links with the word “tennis” in them, pointing somewhat evenly to 100,000 sites, the most any one site might have pointing would be, just for example, 20 or 25 links with the word “tennis”. On the other hand, there might be only 500,000 links with the word “badminton” in them, pointing to 100,000 sites, but skewed toward a dozen sites that have been battling it out for top rankings, each with 2000 – 10,000 inbound links with the word “tennis”.  It’s not the volume that counts, but the distribution.

Look very carefully at the top 10 ranking websites for a given search term at your favorite search engine…and how well-optimized those sites are for the keyword, how many inbound links they have, what the quality of those links appears to be, etc.  Don’t rely on the KEI formula or any other web-wide aggregate figures for keyword selection.
  

Multilingual Social Bookmarking

Feb 21, 2007 - filed under bookmarking, marketing, multilingual SEO, social media Comments Off on Multilingual Social Bookmarking
 

I just stumbled upon Digg-Like Sites, a great little directory of social bookmarking websites in various languages.  I plan to do a Spanish and French version of my own social bookmarking script, TheBookmarketer, so this will be very helpful.  If you plan to do any multilingual online marketing, these can come in handy!

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