Archive for February, 2007

Social Bookmarking – SEO Tip Week 8

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

52 SEO TipsWhat is Social Bookmarking?
Social bookmarking involves saving bookmarks (web addresses) to a public Web site such as Digg or Del.icio.us so you can access these bookmarks from any computer connected to the web. Your favorite bookmarks are also available for others to view and follow as well, hence the social aspect. If you wish to create your own social bookmarks, you must register with a social bookmarking site (we have many listed below). No you are able to store bookmarks, tag your bookmarks, and share with anyone interested in your bookmarks.

Hopefully you can see the value and power of social bookmarks. You can think of it as viral or guerrilla marketing in a way. It can be a powerful grassroots method of marketing your site. Be careful though, like everything else on the web you can spam these sites and make your list of bookmarks appear unappealing or an obvious marketing ploy which will net you very little.

Keep it honest
Bookmark sites you generally would like to share or feel are valuable, which of course can contain bookmarked web addresses of your own site. If enough people agree with the value of a bookmark you have placed they will bookmark it to and as the popularity grows your site traffic will grow.

Don’t abuse this by submitting every page of your site, try to be judicious and think about what pages of your site may be helpful and of interest to other web surfers.

All things must end
At some point you will reach a place where you are no longer drawing significant traffic from your older bookmarks, but that’s okay. Your social bookmark page should be included in the search engine’s cached sites and they are following your links like any normal web user. In fact, you have created an external link to your site that should be using useful keyword text in the link. The real beauty of this is the fact that others are also providing free one-way links from their own social bookmark pages. So even after the traffic from the bookmarks slow you have the added benefit of a grass roots linking campaign providing solid links to your site, increasing your site’s ranking in the search engines.

While you don’t want to base your SEO campaign on this one technique it should be in your SEO toolbox of tasks.

A Good Start for Social Bookmarking Websites
Here are some of the better social bookmarking websites. It wouldn’t be feasible to become a member of all of these but choosing a few couldn’t hurt. I have listed them in order of their Alexa ranking, which supplies some measure of popularity that should be taken with a grain of salt the size of Rhode Island. In any case here are some of the more popular social bookmarking sites:

  1. Digg
  2. Del.icio.us
  3. StumbleUpon
  4. Reddit
  5. Squidoo
  6. Furl
  7. BlinkList
  8. Blogmarks.net
  9. Ma.gnolia
  10. Simpy
  11. Spurl
  12. BlinkBits
  13. Shadows
  14. Raw Sugar
  15. Yahoo MyWeb

Would you add any others? Do you have a social bookmarking favorite, please send us a comment and share it.

Link Building – All Links Are Not Equal

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

When considering search engine optimization (SEO), links are an incredibly important element of a successful campaign, but all links are not the same. Links are very important whether they are links within your own site, or links from other websites pointing to the various pages of your site. Search engines consider links when formulating their ranking algorithms. If a search engine’s spider does not follow a link, or cannot see a link, then it does not count as a link for SEO.

Determining the difference between good and bad links can be difficult to spot with the untrained eye. The reason: the links all accomplish the same basic task; they take you to a destination page. We will examine the differences between a few common links: normal, nofollow, redirect, javascript, and flash.

Normal HTML Links

To begin, let’s examine a normal link. The HTML code for a normal link would contain an opening and closing  Tag with text or an image inside of it:

<a href=”http://www.yourdomain.com/page.html”>this text is a link</a>

This is the best kind of link to use because search engines precisely understand which page the link is pointing to, the page it’s pointing from, and the text contained within the link. These types of links pass along Google PageRank and add value to your SEO efforts.

Read the rest of the article on identifying links for link building

Duplicate Content & URL Canonicalization – SEO Tip 7

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Before we get into this week’s tip, let me provide a definition for the term Canonicalization.

“It is the process of converting data that has more than one possible representation into a “standard” canonical representation.”

For SEO purposes this means it creates a definitive and unique page to represent more than one possible page on your site. You want to avoid duplicate pages on your site.

Sometimes duplicate content is a result of two pages sharing the same information in two different files. Sometimes you have duplicate content because of the technology causing two different urls point to the same page. Both of these problems have simple solutions. It is important to correct this because search engines want to show only unique web pages and text.

If your site has multiple pages with the same content possibly through a Content Management System (CMS) or through duplicate navigation, or because it actually exists in multiple versions, you are could be hurting your search engine ranking results. We all know how important linking is to any SEO campaign and if links pointing to different urls of the same information your link value will be diluted because 2 incoming links may point to one version and 3 links to another. It would be much better for all 5 links to point to one url.

301 Re-Direct to the Rescue
The solution is to take any current duplicate pages and use a 301 re-direct to point all versions to a single, “canonical” version of the content or web page.

Most often this problem can be found on a site’s homepage. For example: Search engines view your home page as having more than one version. How? Take a look at the following urls. All point to the same page, but to the search engines they are different: http://www.yoursite.com, http://yoursite.com, http://yoursite.com/index.html and http://www.yoursite.com/index.html. The search engines may find up to four home pages that have the same content.

While this may not cause your site to be unranked it is certainly not helping and can easily cause poor rankings. That is a shame for something that is so easily corrected. Most often this is caused by links pointing to different versions of your site. You can’t change all the links coming into your site, but you can use the 301 re-direct to solve this by pointing all versions of your home page to the full url (http://www.url.com). You can read more on how this is accomplished on our 301 re-direct blog post.

NoFollow No More. SEO Blog Joins the Minority of DoFollow

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Update – June17, 2008 – We no longer “dofollow” all comments. We have some criteria that will be kept secret. Suffice to say, if you are a honest & consistent commenter your comments will be followed. This is being done to curb the overwhelming number of spam comments. We’ll try to reward those who make useful comments while sweeping the spam under the blog. I’m sure we’ll make some mistakes so don’t take it personally. And, please keep commenting! I have also installed a new plugin to replace the DoFollow plugin and I recommend it highly: Lucia’s Linky Love. It will allow you much more control over following links in comments.

- Shell Harris, President, Big Oak

I have decided to turn off the NoFollow attribute to comment posts on my SEO blog. I believe there are enough safe guards to protect this site from spammed comments such as Akismet.

In fact, Akismet it has caught every spam comment so far. And there have been 656 thousands of spam comments in the two many months since this blog was moved to its current location. Obviously, the NoFollow tag was having little or no effect on preventing spam.So, rather than penalize the people who actually write a comment worth reading, I have decided to reward any would-be commenters with a little link juice from a trusted site, providing they comment with some thought, that is.

So bring on your comments and enjoy the revolution, let links breathe free and carry weight for all!

If you wish to join the DoFollow revolution, you can download the DoFollow WordPress plugin that will turn off the NoFollow link attribute. Thanks, Kimmo!

Increase Conversions on Your Website

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Our head researcher/copywriter and SEO strategis, Alyssa Duvall, wrote an article on Increasing Conversions for our SEO newsletter that I felt should be included in our blog. I didn’t place the entire artilce but you can read the entire article on our site if this introduction peaks your interest.

I recently attended the Persuasive Online Copywriting Seminar at Future Now‘s offices in Brooklyn, NY. They are a great bunch of folks who work from the customer’s point of view to adjust the messaging and sales process on a website to increase the site’s conversion rate.

I learned a great deal during my two days with the Future Now team and will be integrating this knowledge into Big Oak’s site optimization process. One of the many light-bulb moments I had during the seminar came when I was presented with this idea:

Many online businesses fail to consider their customer’s buying process and instead force their customers to adapt to the company’s selling process.

Talk about a powerful and true criticism. The sales process or the item being sold doesn’t have to be complicated for a company to follow this flawed mentality. A simple purchase online can be an arduous task if the seller has put roadblocks in the way of the buyer ultimately making the purchase.

How many times have you hunted around on a website looking for shipping policies or specific product information? When this happens, more often that not, the company is including the information they think is important, in a way that makes sense to them, without asking what the customer needs or where they would intuitively look for it. When I was shopping for my LCD HDTV, I was very concerned about each model’s height and width because I have an entertainment cabinet that the TV was going to have to fit in. A few inches here or there for the set’s speakers or stand made a huge difference in the models I would even consider. Finding this information wasn’t always easy or where I expected to find it.

So what is a company to do? The solution is to alter your company’s selling process so that it allows your customers to easily step through their buying process. Sounds impossible, I know, and it is going to take some effort and customer insight to change your company-centric thinking. But the reward of higher conversion is well worth the effort.

Read the entire article on Increasing Conversions

Comprehensive Article on Linkbaiting

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Well, I was going to write a post on linkbaiting and while doing some research I came across a thorough linkbaiting article already. The author, Andy Hagans does a masterful and clever job of outlining the types of linkbait, the methods of linkbaiting and the reasons to use linkbait. He even goes into social media bookmarking for good measure.

He notes that page titling is extremely important, but not just for SEO purposes, but to attract attention. He references Copyblogger’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work as a starting point when trying to create linkbait. I like the list so much I am adding it to my blog too. When creating titles for your linkbait here are some title templates to start with or a cheat sheet, if you will.

Copyblogger’s title cheat sheet:

  1. Who Else Wants [blank]?
  2. The Secret of [blank]
  3. Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]
  4. Little Known Ways to [blank]
  5. Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All
  6. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
  7. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
  8. [Do something] like [world-class example]
  9. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of
  10. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]

I won’t go into this any further, but visiting Andy Hagans’ Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting and Social Media Marketing would be a worthwhile use of your time.

Create a Website Sitemap for SEO

Friday, February 9th, 2007

52 SEO TipsSome SEO tips can be hard to explain, but this is one of the few that is relatively easy to do and can be done manually with small or large sites. Create a sitemap of your website. There are a few good reasons to do this.

It allows easier indexing of your site by the search engines.
In other words, it helps the search engines find all the pages on your site. Some websites only have a few of their pages in the search engines and this can be due to poor linking, sparse navigation or a host of other reasons. A sure-fire cure is to have a sitemap links to all of the major sections of your website. If you have a small website, linking to all the pages is a good idea. Web-crawlers will thank you for making their busy lives easier.

It provides PageRank or link popularity to all pages it links to.
If you read about SEO then you have read how important it is to have high-quality links pointing to your site from other sites. While this is true, don’t underestimate your own internal links (as seen in last week’s SEO tip) pointing to your own pages. A sitemap can become another source of quality links with descriptive text for your own pages.

Sitemaps help with usability and site navigation.
You website users can now access any important page on the site with only two clicks. This allows for deeply nested pages to be found easier and not just by the search engine spiders but by people visiting your site. Making navigation easier by including a sitemap is just good business sense as well as SEO sense.

Examples of good sitemaps

  • Even if you have a large site, using a sitemap to provide quick access to major areas and important pages is very helpful. The Apple sitemap is a good example of this.
  • A more detailed 3-column sitemap by A.M.Best
  • Small sites, like Grote Consulting, only need small sitemaps
  • Organization and categorization is crucial for an ecommerce sitemap as created by Danforth Diamond.

Do I really need a sitemap?
Sitemaps can be viewed as a luxury, but for new sites they are critical. It can take the search engines months to crawl your new site and they may never crawl the entire site. Adding a sitemap can speed this process up. It also helps when adding new pages or sections, the search engines have easy access to all pages through you sitemap

Don’t overlook this simple step in your search engine optimization success.

by Shell Harris

SEO Haiku

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Update: I was really hoping to get some more suggestions. Submit your SEO Haiku and I’ll post here.

While eating lunch today I decided to enrich my soul instead of my mind. Rather than research and read about SEO techniques, what Google is doing or test some SEO strategies, instead I decided to read Haikus.

I had taken some literature classes at my university, VCU, and liked the simplicity of the Haiku. Yet, if done correctly, they also held deeper meaning, at least to the author. So I’ve attempted to combine the haiku with SEO and create an SEO Haiku. Much thanks to http://www.ahapoetry.com/haiartjr.htm for giving me a refresher course on the art of Haiku writing techniques. I found some good Haiku examples as well. Here are my first attempts at merging these two art forms. Yes, SEO is an art form. ;-)

Enter keyword search
View top five results, maybe
Search begins anew

Miserable George
Googlebombing defeated
Do links make the man?

Search engine shows way
Clicking now to search result
Back and search again

Ranking number one
Many visitors view site
No conversion…help!

I used the 5-7-5 rule of syllables, as I like the restriction. If you would like to submit your own I would be happy to post and share your haikus or submit them as a comment.

It was a nice distraction.

Links To Your Site: Google Backlinks Reveals All

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Google has posted about a new webmaster tool. It will allow webmasters to view backlink information which will show who links to your site, which pages are getting the links as well as both internal and external. This will certainly be helpful for webmasters and I applaud Google for allowing us insight, but I’m still bothered by this statement made by Google: “(Note that this may not be 100% of the external links to this page.)”

Oh, well. Better than nothing and a step in the right direction.

I believe Google wants cooperative partnerships with webmasters and ethical SEO companies and this is at least a nice gesture toward that goal. Time will tell, but the future looks a little brighter.

As of Feb. 6, 2007 the Link tab was not yet showing in my Webmaster Tools, we’ll assume it will show up soon.

Google Recommendation for Search

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Since Google and the other search engines are a big part of my life, my wife would say too big of a part, I try weird searches every now and then. Today I did a search for the term “search” (without quotes) and then clicked the I’m Feeling Lucky button.

Very interesting what site that Google takes you to. Care to take a guess before giving it a try? It ain’t Google.

I wonder if Google is trying to tell us something? I guess this proves that the search results are truly not manipulated.

Internal Linking – SEO Tip Week 5

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

52 SEO TipsAs with most SEO tips, this one is simple, overlooked and easy to do. Your site’s navigation is an important part when providing a pleasant user experience and it can be beneficial in aiding your SEO efforts. Even important is how you handle your internal linking strategy, or your body text links.
Repeat after me: “I must include internal links within my content.” This is the very foundation for Internet: hyperlinking text to provide more information about the linked text. Not only is it crucial for SEO it just makes good sense.

For example, let’s take a look at this page on our client’s site, Agee Woodworks. Within the copy of this web page are a number of keyword phrases that link to other pages within their site. Some of these internal linking phrases include “custom fireplace mantel” and “fireplace shelf“. This is simple and clever way to increase the link popularity of other pages within the site. A text link from the home page is delivering PageRank to internal pages with a targeted keyword phrase. This helps both pages. The only links you can control are the links on your own site, so use them to your best advantage.

Another example, Grote Consulting Services Page, shows how internal linking can guide you through the site and provide a lift for the link destination pages. One of the terms linking on this page is “performance appraisal systems” and when I search in Google for that term it shows a first page listing for the link destination page (http://www.groteconsulting.com/services/performance-appraisal/index.asp). While other factors clearly play a role, don’t discount the helpfulness of an internal link especially when it is one of the few things you have total control over.
Fortunately, for you, very few sites are aware of the importance of internal linking. By using this SEO strategy you help the search engines index more of your site and more importantly those internal links will contribute to higher rankings because of the keyword-rich anchor text that is being used.

Don’t ignore internal linking; use it and watch your own rankings increase.

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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