Archive for the ‘seo’ Tag

Google Options are Good Options

If you haven’t noticed yet when performing a search in Google, you now have the ability to click on a text link in the top left of the search results that says “Show options”.  Pretty nifty, eh?

Yep, Google is rolling out new features because, well, because they’re Google, but also to compete with other specialized search engines including Twitter’s ability to offer real time search and the search options on Microsoft’s new Bing.com search engine.

One of the nicest aspects of these new search options for site owners is how it gives you additional criteria to optimize your content for.  Instead of rewriting the wheel, here is a great article from WebProNews that gives a nice summary of all the details:

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/05/18/how-do-googles-new-search-options-affect-seo

How Long Has That Domain Name of Yours Been Around?

The length of time that you have owned a domain name has a some influence on how Google views your website.  This is because Google wants to avoid spammers as much as possible.  Spammers will frequently buy up discarded domain names and attach them to a spam-oriented website.  Since these sites muck up Google’s search results, Google is a bit leary with any site that has a fresh domain name registration as it may suspect spam.  Also, new websites with new domain names are not yet well established.  Google does not want to risk a high ranking for a website that just might be a short term site.  Quality listings are what Google wants.  Websites that have been online for a long time with a long standing domain name are viewed as higher in quality to Google.

If you have your domain name registered for 10 years out as opposed to year-to-year, then Google assumes you have more expectations of being around for the long haul.  Renew your domain name for large chunks at a time if possible, as it gives Google more warm vibes about your site.

Using a Blog to Get More Pages Indexed in Google

So, you’re still thinking this whole blogging thing is silly? Yet you want your website to rank well and bring a lot of visitors to your website?

If these two statements apply to you, then truth be told, you’d be silly not to consider a blog.

Think of it this way – if you have an average sized website, say 10 content pages, then you have 10 pages that have a chance of being ranked in the search engines. Now, it is difficult for any page to effectively be optimized for more than a few keyword phrases – 3 is reasonable, although some would argue that even that number is high. That give us 10 pages and 30 keyword phrases. Now, add in the fact that the search engines like active websites, so if your site is static (only updated once every year or two), then your site is not keeping the search engine bots interested.

Now, let’s take those 10 static pages and 30 keyword phrases and add in a blog that you update only once a week with a new post. This adds 52 new pages over the course of a year and 156 keyword phrases that can populate the search engines. Plus, as an actively updated blog, the search engines will be eager to visit it on a regular basis and quick list any new content that you post. When you launch a new product, service, sale, coupon, marketing campaign, promotion, job listing, new office location, event or other news worthy item, your blog post about it will show up immediately in the search engines for searchers to find it. If your site has been static for a year, and you update the site to reflect a special sale coming up next week, it might not make it to the search engines in time – whereas, it may only take an hour for the blog to get listed.

Blogs are a “force multiplier”, to borrow a military term. Use all the artillery available to help you succeed with your business online.

The Best Social Media Platforms For SEO

I saw an interesting poll on SEOmoz.org where they asked what social media platforms netted the best SEO return on investment.  An informal poll, but the results are interesting none the less. Here is the results so far:seopoll

Social bookmarking websites, such as StumbleUpon, was the big winner followed by social networking websites and social news websites coming in a close third.  Social Microblogging is just squeaking in a 4th place ranking, but expect this platform to continue to increase as sites like Twitter become more mainstream.

Google = Busy

So Google big hitters Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye recently shared during a question and answer session that Google made over 450 changes to its search algorithm last year.  That means that Google changed it’s mind over 450 times on how it decided to rank websites.

Over 450 times!

Granted, many of these changes were minor tweaks, but still, those Google geeks stay busy.

So what does this mean to you?  Specifically that you need to stay on top of your website rankings and making sure that your site is properly search engine optimized for right now, not for a year ago.  A static or abandoned website equals a dead website.  You need to stay busy with your website because Google stays busy with it too.  If you get too far behind Google, you may have less search engine visibility as a result.

In most cases, Google is the main artery for your online traffic.  It brings you business so don’t ignore it.  If you don’t have time in your schedule to keep up with Google, make sure you hire somebody that can.

Let’s Talk About Inbound Links

If you have spoken with me about search engine optimization in the past, after exclaiming the virtues of relevant content, at some point inbound links get mentioned – specifically, relevant inbound links!  The more inbound links you get from relevant and credible websites the more Google is going to like you.  Well, in theory, as I always say, but now I have more recent proof.

In going through my RSS Reader to get caught up on all my hundreds of updates I need to read, I came across an article from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog from earlier in the month that I thought was worth sharing.  It backs up what I have been saying and it’s straight from the horse’s mouth – well, the mouth of Google’s Official blog, anyway.  Here are the best excerpts:

“Inbound links are links from pages on external sites linking back to your site. Inbound links can bring new users to your site, and when the links are merit-based and freely-volunteered as an editorial choice, they’re also one of the positive signals to Google about your site’s importance. Other signals include things like our analysis of your site’s content, its relevance to a geographic location, etc. As many of you know, relevant, quality inbound links can affect your PageRank. And quality links often come naturally to sites with compelling content or offering a unique service.

How do these signals factor into ranking?

Let’s say I have a site, example.com, that offers users a variety of unique website templates and design tips. One of the strongest ranking factors is my site’s content. Additionally, perhaps my site is also linked from three sources — however, one inbound link is from a spammy site. As far as Google is concerned, we want only the two quality inbound links to contribute to the PageRank signal in our ranking.

Given the user’s query, over 200 signals (including the analysis of the site’s content and inbound links as mentioned above) are applied to return the most relevant results to the user.

So how can you engage more users and potentially increase merit-based inbound links?

Many webmasters have written about their success in growing their audience. We’ve compiled several ideas and resources that can improve the web for all users.

Create unique and compelling content on your site and the web in general

  • Start a blog: make videos, do original research, and post interesting stuff on a regular basis. If you’re passionate about your site’s topic, there are lots of great avenues to engage more users.
  • Teach readers new things, uncover new news, be entertaining or insightful, show your expertise, interview different personalities in your industry and highlight their interesting side. Make your site worthwhile.
  • Participate thoughtfully in blogs and user reviews related to your topic of interest. Offer your knowledgeable perspective to the community.
  • Provide a useful product or service. If visitors to your site get value from what you provide, they’re more likely to link to you.”

The see the article in it’s entirety, go to Good times with inbound links

Linking Up Online – Not What You Think

Ok, you have a web site that has links on it to other pages on your site.  Nothing out of the ordinary there.  Pretend your business is a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky and we’re looking at your About Us page and you have a sentence that reads “We serve the tastiest pizza in Lexington, Kentucky – click here for more info.”  The words “click here” are a hyperlink to your Menu page.

Big mistake – little effort to correct.

Instead, the sentence should read like this “We serve the tastiest pizza in Lexington, Kentucky.”  The words “pizza in Lexington, Kentucky” would be the hyperlink to your Menu page.

Why?

Because the phrase “pizza in Lexington, Kentucky” describes what the link is about and if your Menu page lists all the different pizzas you offer and you have your address on every page, then Google and the other search engines will see that as relevant content.  As mentioned before, relevant content is the key to getting good rankings in the search engines.

Think about how many “Click here” links you have seen before online – these are all missed opportunities to get some extra SEO out of a site.  If your site has “Click here” links, look at how you can change the text or move the hyperlink to more relevant words that describe the content of the linked page.

SEO/Internet Marketing Terms Out the Wazoo

I was speaking today with Elizabeth Blair, a fellow SEO specialist and American Advertising Federation member, at a seminar that my company, NetSource Technologies, was sponsoring.  She had just wrapped up her presentation and we were discussing the content she had provided.  Elizabeth mentioned to me (I’m paraphrasing) “I hope I wasn’t talking too fast, but I feel it is important to mention alot of the terms that are important to know so if I didn’t give enough detail, they will be curious enough to seek the information out on their own.”

True, it is hard to convey the essence of SEO as it appeals to a business owner in the span of 1 hour, let alone regular posting I do on the topic in this blog.  There is just a ton of stuff out their to cover and only so much time to get to it all.

So, to borrow an idea from Elizabeth, I thought I’d just throw out a list of SEO and internet marketing terms that I have either already covered or have yet to cover in this blog in hopes someone will see a term that makes them go “I don’t want to wait for your next blog posting to tell me about this term – I’ll Google it or call your phone number listed on this blog instead.”

So, here is my out-the-wazoo spew of SEO and internet marketing terms that comes immediately to mind (it’s past my bedtime, so I’m sure I’ll miss a few):

blog, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, adwords, social media, social networking, social network, web 2.0, twitter, facebook, myspace, rss, rss feed, rss syndication, rss reader, technorati, stumbleupon, feedburner, podcast, rankings, cost per click, click thru rate, youtube, vimeo, bliptv, google video, blogger, wordpress, webstats, analytics, conversions, link relevancy, relevant content, keywords, keyword density, meta tags, meta description, meta data, prweb, prleap, lead generation, del.icio.us, Digg, white paper, white hat seo, black hat seo, webinar, webex, linkbait, search engine index, afiliate marketing, alt tag, google page rank, link building, reciprocal links, organical rankings, natural rankings, landing page, url, serp, seo, sem, bot, search engine spider, title tag, h1 tag, cloaking, dmoz, directory site, portal website, keyword phrase, keyword stuffing, site map, link farm, robots.txt, outbound links, inbournd links, above the fold, Alexa, back link, targeting, duplicate content, css, html, dynamic content, whois, domain tools, wordtracker, doorway page, entry page, enewsletter, email marketing, blast emails, google base, redirects, link popularity, link rot, spamming, trackback, linkedin, flickr, domain name registration, url rewriting

Search Engine Rankings – A Commitment of Time

Gaining high rankings in the search engines is never an overnight sensation.  It takes time when starting from square one to start seeing results.  There are various criteria that play into gaining a top position in Google, Yahoo or MSN.  While optimization is the most commonly known criteria, time is a lesser known, but equally important part of the equation.

No matter how well raised and responsible your 8 year old child is, you won’t hand them the keys to the family car.  Same goes with the search engines.  Search engines view new and younger websites as infants and children – sites that rank well are the adults.

The search engines don’t pay as much attention to newer websites as they have no track record of longevity.  Who is to say a domain name in use for a new site won’t end up expiring and falling into the hands of a porn site.  But a site that has been consistantly active for many years gains more trust from the search engines and has a better chance of ranking well with good site optimization.

Don’t get me wrong, good optimization is important from the start – the sooner you’re doing all the right things, the better in the long run.  Just know that a new site will take time to gain a search engine’s trust and attention.  How long?  That is hard to say – depends on the search engines, the quality of optimization on your site, your competition’s websites, number of links to your site and the popularity of your subject matter.  Don’t expect high rankings for at least 6 months in most cases, but if well optimized, your site will get better with age.

The Keyword Hierarchy, Part 2 – H1 Tags

Your website pulls up in a web browser, the top portion loads and you see your logo, navigation menu, maybe a photo and then “Welcome to XYZ Company” in a large bold font before being followed by a few paragraphs of text.  This “Welcome to XYZ Company” is a header.  Clicking on a link for your About Us page, and you might see “About Us Page – Who We Are” in the same place and font as the “Welcome to XYZ Company”.

The basic HTML code tag to set this text apart from the other text is called a header tag.  Header tags, such as the H1 header tag, indicate to a web browser that “hey, this is important text – make it bigger and bolded so it gets people’s attention.”  When a search engine views the same page it thinks “hey, this is important text because it is tagged with an H1 header tag – actually, I’ll consider it the most important text on the page.”

So, if the H1 header tag is so important to the search engines, let’s not stuff it with unimportant text.  Let’s tell the search engines exactly what the page they are visiting is all about while using your most important keyword(s).  Just like the page title, this header text should clearly summarize the page content.

Let’s say XYZ Company builds high-end stereo speakers.  Instead of the header on the home page saying “Welcome to XYZ Company”, you may say “Audiophile Stereo Speakers – Best Signal-to-Noise Ratio in a Bookshelf Speaker.”  Now we are explaining exactly what the site is about – selling a customer quality speakers – while using specific keywords in the process.

Note that you may not have to specifically mention your company name in this header text – in most cases you are selling the product first and not the company first.  Search engines are used to find customers that don’t know you – your name won’t mean anything until they are sold on your product or service.  Besides, you’ll already have your name and logo across the top of the page – your visitors will be start enough to know who is selling this great product they have to buy without having to see it at the start of every sentence.  And assuming your company name is fairly unique (not “Joe’s Diner”) you won’t have to stuff your name everywhere in your site to get the search engines to pick up on it.