David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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



Archive for April, 2007

SEO and Length of Text

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Over at High Rankings I just responded to a question about whether it really is necessary to have 200 – 250 words of text on your page for SEO, when the title and meta description tags are optimized.  Surely a newbie question, but one that clients often bring forward based on a very quick reading of plenty of inaccurate information floating around on the Web.  Here is the response I just posted

I suppose it is redundant to have nine players come up to bat when you really need no more than four (in the event you load the bases), so why not just field a team of four players?As for limiting your text to a sparse 200-250 words, why not limit your team members to anyone 5′ and under?

The answer, of course, is because only one of two teams will win any given game, and every advantage you have is good and every advantage they have is bad. Only ten of a million or two web pages will be in Google’s top ten for any given search phrase, and every advantage you have is good and every advantage they have is bad.

There is a notion that search engine rankings can be achieved primarily in a scientific manner.  Science is when repeating the same action provides the same result, no matter how many time you repeat it.  But SEO is more like a sport, where the rules and the players are constantly changing, and where you are competing for the prize and there can be only a handful of winners and many, many losers.


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Web 2.0 or Web 1.1

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

With all the talk about Web 2.0, it was refreshing to read a little bit about “What happened to Web 1.0?” (Dead link removed) . I have a theory, some wise guy coined “Web 2.0”, possibly even some wise guy that I admire, as the new interactive Web. 

Everybody thought this was a really cool idea, because there was certainly no interactivity on the thousands of forums, the hundreds of thousand guest books, the blogs that actually preceeded Web 2.0 and all the article submitted to article directories.  And I am sure there was no interactivity whatsoever in all the newsgroups and feedback forms online, nor the javascript feeds that predated RSS.

I’m not sure we really have Web 2.0, as much as Web 1.1 . 

What?  Me?  Sarcastic?  Naw… 


I should have mentioned above Yahoo! Groups, which have been around for at least six years, and I also recall when I first released my book Climb Your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness, I remember setting up my own pages at Author’s Den, Published.com and many other places that gave people free reign over creating content on their websites.





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Google Search Engine Ranking Factors Report

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

SEOMoz has come out with some superb information once again that every SEO specialist and every webmaster should read.  The Google Search Engine Ranking Factors Report summarizes the opinion of all the top SEO specialists (except me…hmmm, I guess I am not quiote at the top yet), many of whom I personally admire.  The report rates various factors for their importance to Google rankings.

Below is the lsit of the top 10 most important factors, according to these esteemed SEO specialists.  I would probably rate the factors in a similar order.




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Google Full-steam Ahead

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

The numbers are in from Compete.com, which shows that Google is building an even bigger marketshare than ever before.  Check out this chart posted on the Compete blog: 



Google is everything, of course, but it comes pretty close.  Remember when John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular then Jesus?  Well, I wonder if somebody at the Googleplex will feel tempted to cause the same stir again.

From a more practical standpoint, this means that a top spot at Yahoo is probably worth about the same as a #2 or #3 spot at Google for the same search term.  Don’t laugh – even a top spot at Ask for a high-converting search term is worth the effort.  But Google is unquestionably the jackpot.

And for everyone who criticizes Google for what they do to try to keep their results relevant, you can’t argue with success.


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My Right to Google Rankings

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I have the right to Google.  After all, I pay taxes to Google, don’t I?  And the Constitution says that I have rights to Goiogle rankings, doesn’t it?

Is it just me, or is this how most websmasters think?  The laters kerfuffle (is that how you spell it?  Is kerfuffle even a word?) began when Google’s webmaster liason Matt Cutts blogged that people should report paid links to help Google develop ways to reduce the skewing effect of paid links in their search results. 

Quite frankly, it’s a little silly to expect most people to go along with this, and Matt could probably find plenty on his own, but he  apparently wants some outside feedback to catch what he might have missed.  So what?  It’s his right to ask in his blog for any kind of feedback he wishes, just as it is my right to ask for any feedback I wish.  It’s up to people to decide whether they wish to provide that feedback.  Nobody is obliged to report anything.

But the debate is raging strong at Threadwatch and at WebProWorld.  Here are a few of the incredible things people are saying:

“Isn’t this somewhat hypocritical? Doesn’t Google sell links through AdWords?”

“It’s alright to sell links just as long as we’re the ones selling them. That’s the message I’ve been getting loud and clear from Google.”

“If I want to buy a link to generate traffic (not caring about SEO) or I want to sell a link because people want my traffic, who is Google to tell me I can’t or my site will be punished.”

“We don’t owe Google anything. Google owes us everything!”

Adwords are paid links, but they do not affect the content of anyone else’s site without their consent.  If I sell links on my site, it absolutely affects the content on Google’s site, so they have every reason to be concerned.  They have no right to stop me from selling links, but they have every reason to want to control for the effects those paid links would have on their results…which is what they are hoping to do. (Google is not threatening to punish any site.)

How about this comment:

“I think Google should show us the alternatives if they don’t want us to go down the paid link route.”

Considering that I have been doing SEO for , what 3 or 4 years now without buying almost (I said “almost”) any links, I think we all know how many linking alternatives there are.
And now there is an article by  iEntry CEO Rich Ord, 7 Reasons Google’s Paid Link Snitch Plan Sucks, that panders to the congregation (although at least his arguements make a little more sense, except for #6: The hypocrisy of being in the business of selling links and then asking others not to sell them is a bit much for many webmasters.

Here is my take:  It is my business and mine alone whether I sell links or not, and mine and mine alone whether I buy links or not.  It is Google’s business and Google’s business alone to decide which links, if any, will form part of its algorithm calculations.  And as much as everybody seems to think they own Google, they do not.  It might be silly or even useless to ask people to report paid links, but the vitriol and false entitlement are clearly  misplaced.

Here is my take:  It is my business and mine alone whether I sell links or not, and mine and mine alone whether I buy links or not.  It is Google’s business and Google’s business alone to decide which links, if any, will form part of its algorithm calculations.  And as much as everybody seems to think they own Google, they do not.  It might be silly or even useless to ask people to report paid links, but the vitriol and false entitlement are clearly  misplaced.


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Younanimous – AfterVote

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I have a new favorite search engine: http://younanimous.com/ .  Younanimous has just changed its name to AfterVote, but it remains at the same URL. Why is this such a cool engine?  For three reasons:

1. It provides a hybrid of Google, Yahoo and MSN, so results are not skewed by one engine’s particuylar preoccupations.

2. It allows you to customize results more than the big ones.  You can filter out PDF document, for example.  

3. It gives more info at your finger tips. In addition to the individual results of Google, Yahoo and MSN, it gives Alexa data, Google PageRank, Compete data and WhoIs data for each result.  

Here are a few ways to use AfterVote:

1. To quote for new SEO clients, one can more quickly determine how competitive the field is by searching for a couple of the top search terms.  At Google, I would have to click on several results to see their PageRank and how well they are optimized on-page.  Here I can quickly see the PageRank of all the top players and whether they are the same players across all the engines (800 pound gorillas) or whether the results are more fickle (much less competitive). 

2. For a website owner, this can be used as a keyword research tool.  Hmmm, do I optimize for “hotel jobs” or for “hotel careers”?  This is much more intuitive and probably more reliable than KEI data.

3. Only one result returned per domain.  Note that Alexa and Compete are domain-specific data, not page specific, so they are good for broad assessment goals: which sites would make good JV partners, which would be good for link exchange, which might be good for advertising, etc.

4.  For people who are afraid to use Web Position or other rank-checking software, they can quickly see how they are doing across the three engines for their top keywords.

5. One weakness is that it returns only 10 results from Google, whereas you can set it for 100 at Yahoo and 50 at MSN.  Hopefully this will be upgraded somehow.


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Blog advertising

Friday, April 13th, 2007

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?


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.




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Digg Bookmarkeing Tips for Webmasters

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

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.


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Tips for Mining Google’s Backlink Data

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

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.


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The Silly Myth About Reciprocal Links

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

“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.”       




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