Archive for May, 2007
Saturday, May 26th, 2007
Ah, here I am working another Saturday; such is the life of a business owner, especially a business like SEO where the Internet never sleeps. As I was re-reading my sale’s call list from yesterday I looked at a note that I had written concerning a potential client and her overspending on Google’s Adwords. I had related a story to her about click fraud, (BusinessWeek wrote a article about click fraud), that happened to a client of ours and thought I’d share it again with my blog readers.
Her story started like so many other calls I receive.
“I’m spending thousands per month with pay-per-click and I can’t afford to keep doing it. A lot of money is being spent with little return, but I don’t know what else to do.”
Of course running a successful PPC campaign involves many factors. Big Oak SEO does not have any PPC clients as we realize this is its own beast and requires time and skills we don’t want to invest in at this point. I feel it is a conflict of interest, but that discussion is for another day. So let us assume this person could be doing better to increase her return on her ads. Let’s also assume she can only do so much and she will be a victim of click fraud, as will anyone who uses pay-per-click. It is inevitable.
My response to her was simple. With organic rankings you will see more traffic, better conversions and less ad spending. If the SEO campaign is done correctly these three things will always happen. I believe this and have seen it proved over and over. We have a client that was spending $30,000 per month with PPC. They have at least cut this number in half. Some weeks they turn off PPC advertising and haven’t dropped the number of leads or sales because of it. If only for the PPC savings, SEO is a good ROI.
As I related this to her I also mentioned the story about click fraud with an older client. While I can’t prove any specific numbers on click fraud or how it may differ by industry, I can verify that this story is accurate. The client in question went to a very large industry trade show. All of the big name competitors were also in attendance as well as many smaller competitors. The trade show was from Monday to Wednesday. The biggest surprise came when the client returned on Thursday to check his PPC figures. During the the time he and most of his competitors were at the trade show his PPC costs dropped in half.
Of course this could all be coincidence, but I think it speaks to the large problem of click fraud. I’m pleased to say none of our clients rely on PPC and it is because of the organic rankings they enjoy. But it wasn’t always the case and weaning a client from the PPC habit can be difficult, but in the long run everyone is glad they have less reliance on PPC. SEO can help reduce the need for PPC, but sometimes it helps to keep running the PPC campaign, at a reduced expense – here is an artilce on with some helpful tips on how to keep click fraud to a minimum.
Friday, May 25th, 2007
This week’s SEO tip gets to the heart of the linking question. We know we need links, but what kind of links? Well, what if we could choose a link to have all the qualities that would benefit our site? This “perfect link” would benefit our SEO efforts, and it would be useful at driving traffic through clicks as well as inflating our link popularity and increasing our search engine rankings. Of course, this is can be subjective and I always welcome differing opinions, so if you feel I’ve missed something, please add your comments to this post.
The anatomy of a perfect link:
- It would be a simple HTML link as follows: <a href=”http://www.yourdomain.com/page.html”>keyword phrase</a>.
- The anchor text would would include keywords that are important to your site.
- It would be part of a sentence, which would be part of a paragraph.
- The content surrounding the link, and the entire page, would be on topic with your site.
- It would reside on a site with a similar theme as your site.
- The page would have links to other sites similar to your site.
- It would be on a trusted site, with the site itself having backlinks from many sites including .edu and .gov sites.
- The link would drive direct traffic to your site…targeted, highly converting traffic.
- It should be an authoritative site.
- The site the link resides on should be popular and well-read.
I think you can also see why the perfect link is only slightly easier to find than Bigfoot or Nessie – much of the link’s perfection is derived from the site and page where the link resides. The old adage in real estate applies to link building too, it all about location, location, location!
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
Google releases a “new toy” with Hot Trends. While keeping up with what is hot with Google search terms is not really part of SEO, it is fun to see what the collective search world is focusing on.
And today we’re introducing a new toy we are calling Hot Trends. It’s a new feature of Google Trends for sharing the the hottest current searches with you in very close to real time. What’s on our collective mind as we search for information? What’s interesting to people right now? Hot Trends will tell you. At a glance, you’ll see the huge variety of topics capturing our attention, from current events to daily crossword puzzle clues to the latest celebrity gossip. Hot Trends is updated throughout the day, so check back often.
For each Hot Trend, you will see results from Google News, Google Blog Search and web search, which help explain why the search is hot. For example, the #7 item on Thursday, May 17th was the cryptic phrase [creed thoughts]. The associated news stories and blog results show that this odd term is the name of a fake website mentioned on the season finale of The Office. Mystery solved. Of course, some searches are not as easily explained. Visit the Hot Trends group to read the explanations of others and offer your own.
Also stated by Google: With the release of Hot Trends, we’re retiring the weekly Zeitgeist list, but we will still compile monthly lists for each country, and will continue our annual year-end roll-ups too.
Too bad for Zeitgeist but at least it is continuing forward, just not on a weekly basis.
Being a big fan of The Office I was tickled to see that on May 17th Creed’s Thoughts was hot.
You can read the full blog post: What’s Hot Today
Friday, May 18th, 2007
Most websites focus on their home page which is of course a good idea. It is the most important page of your site whether you are looking at search engine optimization, internet marketing or customer conversion. Making sure you homepage is optimized and marketed should be of primary importance, but be sure not to forget your interior pages.
Often the arm chair optimizer will make the mistake of only trying to rank their home age. By this I mean they will only build links to the home page or make sure it is titled with the most important keywords and so on. And while the home page should get the most SEO love, it is also important to your online marketing success that you show your interior pages some SEO attention. Do you interior pages that aren’t ranking well, but should be? Not every keyword can be crammed on to your home page, although I’ve seen it attempted. A car dealer has tried this approach.
Supporting the Home Page
While marketing the home page is a monthly focus for us here at Big Oak, we are also aware of the power interior pages have for converting visitors into clients. We think of the home page as a lobby that helps direct you to the page that will provide the information or product you are searching for. If we can skip the lobby altogether and get the user directly to the page that would be better. That is unlikely to happen without providing deep linking to your interior pages.
Marketing Interior Pages
I like providing examples so here are some real world examples from our own clients. Our client ExhibitDeal provides trade show displays and accessories. Their number #1 term is “trade show displays” and as of today May 18, 2007 they are ranked #1 in Google (Trade Show Displays Ranking). They also rank #1 in Google for the term “trade show flooring (Trade Show Flooring Ranking Screen Shot). If you click the links to view the screen shots you will notice the #1 ranking for trade show flooring is an interior page of ExhibitDeal.
Trying to rank the home page for trade show flooring would have been impossible. So we marketing both keyword phrases for their respective pages and achieved high ranking rankings for both. Currently the trade show flooring page has 89 backlinks according to Yahoo. Not an extremely large amount but decent amount when a targeted strategy is applied to a single interior page. Of course it helps that the site has 4,374 links overall, but only 3,009 links are pointing to the home page.
Obviously it works for ExhibiDeal. Leading searchers to a page about trade show flooring when the search matches will increase sales.
Choosing Interior Pages for SEO
Decide on a a few interior pages that can help your conversion efforts. If placing a user directly on an interior page, bypassing the home page, would help the sale or get them calling wouldn’t you want that? After you have decided which pages might help your business if they ranked well, maybe 2 or 3, start optimizing them and then start link building.
Providing deep linking to these pages will allow your site to have increased value overall and not just on your home page and the search engines like to see a site with popularity throughout on just on the home page. This can increase you authority and your ranking for your entire site.
Sound link a lot of work? It can be, but the rewards will be a website with much higher search engine visibility. If you need help, Big Oak SEO is available.
Thursday, May 17th, 2007
Wow, Google is already the known leader in the search engine market and they are now moving ahead of the competition even further with Universal Search. Can anything stop them? You may have noticed some search results showing a lot more than just text results, well that is universal search kicking in. You can see the search for Darth Vader as an example of the new look.
Reading this snipped bit of text from the blog post on the Googleblog certainly seems exciting.
Although it’s just a beginning, this first pass of universal search focuses on video, news, local and books. Now you’ll be able to get more information Google knows about directly from within the search results. You won’t have to know about specialized areas of content. If you’re looking for the [atkins southwestern pork fajitas] recipe, we can now link you right to that page in the book. Or if, like me, you’ve been busy these past few days and have not caught up with your Tivo, don’t type [sopranos] into Google, because our news result will be a giant spoiler. The search for [rachmaninoff concerto 3] includes a video of Vladimir Horowitz performing this piece (scroll down to see it), and [Animator vs. Animation 2] is pretty cool as well. (And as Johanna notes: I was delighted to see that when querying for my son’s name a video showed up too.)
How this bodes for the search engine optimization industry remains to be seen, but helping site that deserve to be found in the search results will always be a good thing. I feel this can only help the better sites rise to the top and everyone should be in favor of that.
You can read the entire post about Google’s Universal Search. You can also find more when reading Universal search: The best answer is still the best answer.
Friday, May 11th, 2007
Before reading this tip, make sure that you have read the tips from week 7 (Duplicate Content & URL Canonicalization) and 14 (Every Web Page Should Be Unique) to understand why unique content is valuable.
Under normal circumstances, you want every page to be unique, and for there to be one, and only one, URL displaying that content. However, there are situations where you might use multiple URLs for specific purposes, such as tracking your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. Giving your PPC ads individual specific URLs makes them easier to track in your website statistics or analytics packages.
Example Original URL: www.company.com/mypage.html
Example PPC Ad URL: www.company.com/mypage.html?src=ppc001
The problem with giving ads unique URLs is that they may end up being indexed by the search engines, especially Yahoo. The best solution is to use a 301 redirect to the original URL for that page, thereby capturing any importance the individual URLs may have. If you cannot use a 301 redirect for technical or other reasons, you can stop these URLs from being indexed with your robots.txt file.
If you only have a few URLs that you want to disallow, you can list them individually:
This can become problematic if you are trying to disallow hundreds or even thousands of different URLs. This is where wildcards come in. While wildcards are not part of the standards of robots.txt files, Google, MSN, and Yahoo all support them. This can be extremely helpful in trying to get rid of some of those tricky content duplication problems.
The two supported wildcards are the asterisk "*" which matches any sequence of characters, and the dollar sign "$" which signifies the end of a URL string. Trailing asterisks are redundant, and not needed, since that is the natural behavior of the robots.txt standard.
The CompUSA home page is indexed hundreds of times by Yahoo with many variations of referral and tracking parameters.
If they wanted to get rid of all URLs with parameters on their default.asp page, they could use:
If you have printable versions of all your HTML pages that contain "_print" in the URL, you would use:
If you use a session id parameters called "sessionid" with users who are logged in, you would use:
If you have a private folder called "private_memories" and you don’t want hackers being able to know the full name of the folder simply by looking at your robots.txt file, you would use::
As you can see, there are many uses for the robots.txt file now that all of the big 3 search engines support wildcards. Hopefully the official specification for robots.txt will support wildcards in the future, and all bots will understand them.
Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
I’m trying something new on my blog. While I certainly don’t have a blog with hundreds of posts (this will be my 70th posting) I feel like the blog is getting a bit harder to navigate for newer visitors.
So with that in mind I have added a new plugin that will automate placing my “most popular posts” on a page. The plugin decides your most popular posts by calculating most visits or most comments. I have opted to use most visits. So, my viewing public, you will decide what makes the cut on my most popular posts page. Power to the people! You can find my top posts page from the link in the top navigation or follow this link to Big Oak’s Popular Posts.
As of 5/9/07 I am showing the up to five of the most popular posts in each category. I can change it to show the top posts without a category filter, which means the most popular posts in total. Which way is best?
Any thoughts on the importance of unimportance of this usability test? Comments welcomed, as always.
Friday, May 4th, 2007
Directories are an easy way to build links because anyone can submit and get listed. Directories can, therefore, be of little use for the same reason. Of course getting in directories can be time consuming but it is a one-time affair and usually worth the time. They provide one-way links which will increase your online presence. Not all directories are created equal and paying for the better ones is often money well spent.
Select the best category for your site and follow the instructions on the submission form carefully. Write your descriptions without sensational text. Descriptions of sites should describe the content of the site concisely and accurately When submitting to directories, make sure to vary anchor text and use keywords in the description and title fields.
Choose the most appropriate category for your site. Finding a category that best matches your site’s theme or content will increase traffic from the directory and provide higher quality one-way link to your site for the search engines to follow.
A few of the more search engine friendly directories for valuable links are the following:
Yahoo! Directory: The Yahoo! Directory is the biggest and oldest directory on the web, and one of the few directories that can provide traffic.
DMOZ: The Open Directory Project (DMOZ) is a free, volunteer-run directory. Google and many other sites pull information directly from DMOZ and display the description in the search engine results.
Business.com: A huge business-related directory.
Best of The Web: One of the oldest directories on the web.
Aviva Directory: A well-marketed directory.
GoGuides.org: Another well-run directory that has been around a while.
Here are some recommended blog directories.
MyBlogLog: Everyone who reads a web site or blog can learn about and engage with one another, and in the process take the conversation to a whole new level.
Blogcatalog: Labeled as “the premiere blog directory on the internet”. Promote your own blog or find blogs on various topics.
Bumpzee: join a community, you are fed with an ever-updating list of blogs and blog posts submitted and chosen by like-minded individuals.
A more complete list of online directories is on our website. Aviva Directory has has a list of the best directories.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
More news that Google will soon be taking over the world.
Use the new Google Voice Local Search experiment to connect to local businesses anywhere in the U.S. from your phone, for free. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and speak the name of a business (“Giovanni’s Pizzeria”) or its category (“pizza”).
You can choose to connect to the business directly over phone or, if you are calling from your mobile phone, you can also say “text message” and we’ll send you the business’s details by SMS. Google won’t charge you for a thing, but note that regular phone charges may apply based on your phone service provider.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
Not really an SEO post, but cool nontheless. Here is a new feature from the “mouth” of Google:
A new Google Maps feature lets you easily create maps with placemarks that incorporate your text comments, photos, and videos from YouTube and Google Video. It’s a great way of sharing your stories on a map, whether it’s stops you enjoyed on a recent vacation or the best places to grab a quick bite to eat in your city. To get started, just click the “My Maps” tab on the left-hand side of the Google Maps homepage.
You can take a look at the maps other people have created (there’s even one of the Googleplex), and then get started making your own by clicking “Create new map.” If you make your map public, we will make it searchable for other folks who use Google Maps.