Archive for August, 2007

Reviews Can Improve Your Local Search Rankings – SEO Tip Week 34

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

A search engine optimization company can sometimes forget about the little guy. Sometimes working for web sites who need search results for terms that have national competition can overwhelm you and blind you to the company who is competing for search terms in a local geographic area. I wrote a post on improving local search results a few weeks ago and in doing so discovered a new tip: Add Reviews. Or better yet ask your customers to add reviews.

Creative Energy Search ResultsFor example I have done a search for Home Improvement in Richmond, Virginia. Click on the screenshot to the right and you can see the #1 search result is a client of ours, Creative Energy. You can also see they have 2 reviews listed. Local reviews can help boost your search engine rankings and if they are positive reviews they can boost your sales. imagine if you were looking at the results listed, wouldn’t you read the reviews? If they were positive you might visit their site or give them call. Every advantage helps.

So how do you add reviews? Visit Google Maps and do a search for you business by name and your city and state. When you find your business click the more information link. (Or you may see a review link to click from here, it depends on your search results). From there you will see a link to write a review. You can provide this link to customers and if they have a Google account, as many people do, they can add a review. You can also add reviews through other sites, Google will find them, such as Yelp and your local CitySearch.com, but they customers will need accounts to use these as well.

So am I telling you to manufacture or make up reviews? No, of course not. But if you have clients who have given you a written letter or verbal review it might be worth it to ask them to post a review online. Give them a coupon for future work or send them a gift of Virginia peanuts. Don’t think of it as bribery, think of it as good customer relations.

How to Build Links with Flickr – SEO Tip Week 33

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

SEO TipsIf you read my post about Squidoo last week you know I got addicted to it just a little bit. Our SEO company has started using Squidoo as a tool and sometimes one tool can lead you to another. This discovery was totally serendipitous. As I was trying to market my own Squidoo pages (lenses as Squidoo calls them) I had a thought on how to use Flickr to build links. (Flickr is an online photo management, photo sharing web 2.0 site.) I had been placing some images on Flickr so I could then link to them from my Squidoo page. Once all the images were in place I went back to Flickr to start naming them and adding descriptions. Then I thought, “Can I place text links in the descriptions?” And you what, I could and you can too. Flickr allows you to place links in the photo descriptions and they are real HTML links that are followed by the search engines.

FlickrI’m sure you can see the uses for this. Does you site sell products? Can you place the photos on Flickr? If so, you should add your product photos and each photo should have a title, description and link to that product. These links meet many of my perfect link criteria especially since you control the anchor text of this one-way link. Of course you should always make sure the link makes since. If you are selling a bike, take a picture of the bike put it on your Flickr account and then link to that bike on your site.

Flickr images are returned in search results and Google currently has 26 million pages cached so Flickr has good search engine visibility.

To further prove this works, do a search in Google for ‘dark phoenix costumes‘. I’m a bit of an X-men fan and so I posted some artwork of the Phoenix character which is the subject of my Squidoo page. As of August 19, 2007 you should notice that the #9 search result is my Flickr page I created and the #6 result is for my Phoenix Squidoo page. The Flickr Dark Phoenix Costume page only took one week to be cached by Google and now a one-way link has been cached with keyword rich anchor text.

Please don’t abuse or spam this technique but instead try to provide information for your customers with the photo. I’m sure Flickr would have no problem turning all the links to redirects or nofollow links such as Wikipedia. Don’t abuse, just use.

Let me know if you have tried this already or what success you have had with this strategy.

Squidoo for Traffic – Link Building

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

SEO TipsUpdate October 29, 2007: Well, after a brief few months my first Squidoo pages have achieved PR values of 5 and 4. My Jean Grey Squidoo Lens is a PR5. So as a high PR link building service Squidoo works quite well.


As an search engine optimization consultant I sometimes have a hard time deciding what is the best use of my time. Research, link building, writing or what have you. Well, this week I did more research than usual and found a site that I had heard about, but had yet to fully explore: Squidoo. What is Squidoo? Well, to put it simply, it is a collection of web pages that users can build on any topic, and I mean any topic that you can imagine. And if you can’t find it, you can create a new page on Squidoo yourself. Squidoo says you can do it in under 5 minutes, but you’ll want to take longer to build a respectable page, or “lens” as they call it.Squidoo LogoOnce you do you can add modules that let you make money from affiliate sales to online stores such as Amazon and Overstock. I don’t know how much of a money making opportunity it is and I would dare say you can’t make a lot of money with Squidoo, but it did give me some ideas on how to use it for SEO purposes. As a business owner and website owner, you can use Squidoo for two important tasks to help your website: link building and visitor traffic.Testing SquidooI decided to test this out and I built two lenses for fun. I like smoothies, so I tried my hand at creating a smoothie drink lens to support my personal blog. It was simple to build and I followed the advice for getting the word out and then spent the next 4 days investing a few spare moments here and there, adding new content and pulling information from my smoothie recipe blog and now I have a fairly large lens, compared to most. As of today (8/12/2007) there were over 213,000 lenses on Squidoo. My smoothie lens was ranked #132 and at times has been as high as 128 with less than 8 hours of work total over one week. The second lens is for a favorite comic book character, Jean Grey (Phoenix) from the X-men and has done for pure entertainment and even that has achieved a rank as high as #376. The lenses were fun to build and I enjoyed both immensely.

Getting Traffic from Squidoo

Okay, big deal on my “success” within Squidoo, it hasn’t earned a single cent yet and might not ever. I have many links on my smoothie lens pointing to my smoothie blog and the good news is that these links have driven more traffic to my smoothie blog in the last week than all other incoming site traffic combined. The reason it has been successful is the fact that the Squidoo lens I created is already showing up in the search results, after less than a week, for terms related to smoothie recipes. (See results.) So it is driving traffic to my smoothie blog and could be doing the same for your business. If you sell toys you may want to create a Squidoo lens one of your products like yo-yos. The idea is to create a lens about something specific so your lens can rank for it and then link to your site. Which brings me to my other reason for creating a lens. My SEO heart practically skips a beat.

Link Building with Squidoo

As any SEO company can tell you, link building is the most time-consuming and hardest part of our jobs. Everything come down to link building. That is what increases your rankings, helps people find you and so forth. If you have an SEO company working for you now and they aren’t putting forth a majority of their time finding and placing links for you, it is time to move on. With Squidoo you get an awesome link building resource where you control the anchor text in the link, where the link points to, where it lives on the page and what is written around it. It also comes from a high PR site. It is almost the exact definition of my idea of the perfect link. If you look at my smoothie lens you can see dozens of links pointing to my smoothie blog. And not links just to the homepage, but deep linking to internal pages which are important links very difficult to get usually. Well, with Squidoo you can make many deep links which will help your site’s search engine visibility and increase rankings to those deep pages. One-way, keyword-rich, high-quality links are all made easy with Squidoo. If you spend a little time with your lens you may soon see it increase to a PR 4 or PR 5 webpage on its own and we know how hard PR 4 and 5 links can be to get on our own.

Google & Squidoo

Of course, with all good things there come people who look to ruin it by misuse. Well, the same can be said of Squidoo. Many spammers have tried and are trying to create a glut of spammy pages on Squidoo for the purposes of SEO. Google saw this and minimized the importance of Squidoo but in return Squidoo has made spamming harder and set the bar higher for a Squidoo lens in hopes of getting more quality lenses. It looks as though Squidoo may have weathered the fury of Google and for the time I would recommend highly creating a quality Squidoo lens to help your own site. Heck, create more than one if you need it, but be good stewards if you do and create lenses that have weight of their own and are not a pure marketing ploy. Those lenses will be the most effective in the long run and help Squidoo remain a useful tool in your marketing tool belt.

Final Thoughts on Squidoo

Give it a try, it will only take an hour or so, despite the 5 minute promise from Squidoo, and then see what you think. We will be including it as part of our work for our clients, as we do with all new strategies that can help. Of course, Google could decide they don’t appreciate the work being done by Squidoo members, Squidoo could decide to make all links not SEO-friendly (nofollow or redirects) or any number of SEO killing decisions, but until then I personally think it is a good use of a few hours.

YouTube Video about Squidoo Marketing

You can find many videos on how to use Squidoo and here is one of the better ones I watched. If the video isn’t playing, you can go right to youtube.com and watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiR5BIX-_RQ

Late SEO Tip This Week

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Sorry for the delay in getting a tip written. I’ll try to get to it this weekend. Part of the problem has been an issue of time. Most of the SEO tips I write are backed with examples and actual case studies of our clients so it takes a bit longer to research them before I write them. The other problem of late is I’m having a slightly more difficult time coming up with meaty tips. I made a promise to myself when I committed to 52 tips and that promise was that the tips would be more than “Get lots of links, it helps,” type of tips.

I will be writing about a social networking site called Squidoo, for the next post (Read the Squidoo Review), but if you have any ideas to offer as tips or any questions I can can answer in the form of a SEO tip, please feel free to submit it. You can email me directly at shell@bigoakinc.com and I’ll pick the best ones to include on the blog. Most likely a very nice one-way link from the blog post would be coming your site’s way and, hey, you might actually learn something.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Shell Harris

Google Supplemental Index Label Disappears

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Google representatives posted this on August 1st, “Given all the progress that we’ve been able to make so far, and thinking ahead to future improvements, we’ve decided to stop labeling these URLs as “Supplemental Results.”"

Well, this isn’t good news. Google announced that the supplemental index label is being removed. Google claims, “The distinction between the main and the supplemental index is therefore continuing to narrow,” but I’m still skeptical. This now means we won’t know which pages need help and which pages are doing well. We use the supplemental label to help us see which pages need more attention as well as to see if a page can provide a quality link.

The bottom line is this, the supplemental index will still be there, we just won’t know which pages are in and which pages out. Seems to me Google is providing less information and trying to keep SEO companies and site owners in the dark.

Supplemental Results are pages residing in Google’s supplemental index, a secondary database containing pages of less importance, as measured primarily by Google’s algorithm.

Sphinn – Search & Internet Marketing Professional Website

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

sphinnUpdate (8/13/07): I Sphunn my first story today on Squidoo. We’ll see what happens. See my Squidoo Sphinn.

I joined Sphinn today and found a few hours of my time were soon gone. It is fascinating reading, especially so because I consider this very informative site built by the ideas and comments of my peers. If you are interested in Internet marketing, and I assume you are if you are reading my SEO blog, then I would say it is worth 30 minutes to read some posts and see what you think. The best and the brightest are there, of course you will also find too many people who are ignorant and/or just taking up valuable bandwidth. For now though, it looks like a promising site. Think of it as Digg for Search Marketers.

Here is the origin of the domain name:

Why Sphinn? We liked the idea of a place where marketers could put their own “spin” on news by commenting on stories or having discussions. But spin.com was taken, as was spinn.com and sphinnn.com was a N too far, we felt. So we went with sphinn.com, pronouncing it “sp-hinn.”

Sphinn away!

Hakia Search Engine

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

New search engine alert.

I discovered a new search engine that shows promise, at least from its marketing rhetoric. Read below to find out more about Hadkia and its more cognitive approach to search. I love Google, but seeing a search engine do something better is a good feeling.

Hakia is building the Web’s new “meaning-based” (semantic) search engine with the sole purpose of improving search relevancy and interactivity, pushing the current boundaries of Web search. The benefits to the end user are search efficiency, richness of information, and time savings.

The basic promise is to bring search results by meaning match – similar to the human brain’s cognitive skills – rather than by the mere occurrence (or popularity) of search terms. hakia’s new technology is a radical departure from the conventional indexing approach, because indexing has severe limitations to handle full-scale semantic search.

hakia’s capabilities will appeal to all Web searchers – especially those engaged in research on knowledge intensive subjects, such as medicine, law, finance, science, and literature.

Try Hakia and let us know what you think. Keep in mind it is still in beta (8/8/07).

How to Improve Local Search Results – SEO Tip Week 31

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

SEO TipsIn SEO, local search should never be overlooked. It can provide a boost in traffic has a higher tendency to convert more visitors to customers since most people prefer working with local companies, even SEO companies.

Here are some factors that Big Oak SEO feels are important and should be considered when trying to get higher rankings for your site, whether or not you are marketing to a national or local market. I have tried to list them in order of importance but it really depends how important local traffic is to your site.

Location in the Title of your Pages
Including your city and state, especially if you are counting on local customers is imperative. Don’t overdue it, but be sure to include it. I talk about this in detail on my SEO Titles: Using the Title Tag post.

Link Building with City and State Keywords
When building links to your site, include some with local terms like we do in this example: Richmond Virginia Search Engine Optimization Company. You get the idea.

Tell the Search Engines Where You Work
The physical location of your site should be on the footer of every page. If you work from home, get a P.O. box and list that address. It is important for the city, state and zip code be on every page.

Submit Your Site to Google’s Local Business Center
You can’t get found in a search unless Google knows where you are. Submit your business to Google’s Local Business Center even if you don’t have a website…yet.

Keep Your Contact Page Connected
Your physical address should be at the top of the contact page, above your contact form. At the very least it should be easy to find and accurate.

Link to your address on the Google Maps and Yahoo Maps. For example, go to Google Maps and then do a search for you physical address. After finding your location you will see a “Link to this page” link. Click that and then copy and paste that link on your contact page.

Adding written driving directions will allow for many local keywords to be included so having this in addition to a link to maps.google.com is a good idea.

List Coverage Area
Big Oak SEO is located in Glen Allen, Virginia, but very few people have heard of or search for Glen Allen. We are in the Richmond, Virginia area so we use Richmond in our footer and mention it on our company page as well as other local locations. Try to include the metropolitan areas on your site if that is what people will be searching for.

Add Listings in Yellow Pages, Superpages & Similar Sites
While I don’t often feel the cost is warranted for phone book sites, if you can get a free listing or a discount because you are already paying for a printed listing it can help to have a link pointing to your site from the online listing.

Provide a Local Phone number on Every Page
It is a no-brainer to have your 800 present at the top of every page, but be sure to list your local number in the footer as well. Don’t forget to include the area code.

List your Site in Directories for Local businesses
Sites like Yelp.com and Citysearch.com are good places for local businesses. They can also provide real traffic and not just higher rankings. I’m looking more into Yelp and hope to write a post about them soon.

Get your site or business reviewed
I think this is undervalued in importance, but getting a few reviews from a site like CitySearch and Yelp is a good thing for search engine rankings. Submit your site and ask friends to review for you. Of course this isn’t applicable to all businesses, but it should be part of the marketing plan if you count on local consumers.

Google Coupons
This isn’t new but not many people are using it. Google coupons was announced in August 2006. It may help your ranking, but it can’t hurt, especially if you have actual cost savings to offer over your competition.

Do you have any ideas or have any advice that has worked for you concerning local search. If so, send us an email or submit a comment to this post. We are always looking for new ideas to share.

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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