Archive for September, 2007
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
When submitting press releases as part of our SEO services we are often asked why we chose PRweb.com as our vehicle for submission rather than PRNewswire. When compared across our big three parameters PRWeb is the better service for our purposes. PRNewswire seems more like something large companies use to get out news because they send your release more to journalists and less to Web outlets. This summarized it nicely: “Services such as PRNewswire and Newswire provide a far more targeted channel to specific demographics than the cheaper alternatives, however unless you’re willing to pay top-rates, the SEO benefit (on a keyword level) is less.”
PRWeb.com is more affordable, which our clients certainly appreciate.
|No membership fee. Their “average” press release costs is $80 with the SEO Visibility option being $200.
||Membership based with annual fee of $150. From their site: “The cost of distributing your news release is determined by the newsline you select and the length of your news release. Each newsline covers a specific geographical area ranging from local, regional, national and international. Prices start at $180 for a city/metro or statewide distribution. A national distribution starts at $680.”PRNewswire Toolkit
The reach appear to be better on the web, which is our focus.
|“Gets picked up in leading online news sites like Yahoo! News, Google News, Ask.com, and Topix. Additionally, your press release is distributed through a host of other online news sites including our own PRWeb.com and eMediaWire.com, which deliver over 50 million page views each month.”
||“Your message will reach mainstream and industry trade media, thousands of web outlets and PR Newswire for Journalists, a digital media channel serving more than 85,000 registered journalists across the globe.” No mention of Google News ” among 3,600 of the world’s most widely accessed Web sites”
Of course this is just one example, but Google may index PRWeb better as well.
PRWeb: August 28 press release – Cached – PR3 value.
PRNewswire: August 28 release – Not cached – Page has been cached but no PR value.
Both sites have their advantages, but for SEO, it would appear the PRWeb.com is still the best choices for helping your rankings.
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
I saw that DMOZ launched their blog yesterday (9/26/07). I actually had to snicker to myself. Now they launch a blog? What about 2 or 3 years ago when it would have been helpful. So many people, SEO people, have been put off by the lack of response from DMOZ that I’m not sure they can ever recover. If not for the “support” of Google I’m sure this directory would have been finished long ago.
I found it particularly humorous they have a comments turned on. We’ll see if they actually accept any. I’m sure most of the comments will be of the unhelpful nature. Although I am purely speculating because at this time there were two comments and one of them was mine: “Welcome to the blogsphere. I hope this will be the first steps in mending the relationship between DMOZ and the Internet public.”. (9/25/07).
I did click the FAQ for the blog and it directed me to the DMOZ.org FAQ page, so there wasn’t much to learn from that.
DMOZ does explain the purpose of the blog:
We intend to use this blog to:
- Provide authentic messages about DMOZ and the efforts of our volunteer community.
- Highlight enhancements, both current and future.
- Allow editors to showcase their categories and describe, in their own words, why DMOZ is so important.
- Recruit new editors. If you have access to the Web and are passionate about a category, find out how to apply.
Additionally we want to hear from you.
I’ll hold my judgment based on the number of posts as well as the number of comments, both critical and supportive. It would be nice if DMOZ would start living up to the lofty goals it subscribed to many years ago and became a directory someone actually cares about again.
Monday, September 24th, 2007
Could this be the beginning of the end for the venerable DMOZ directory? (Dmoz homepage Google cache) Google does not have the home page of DMOZ cached and with Google’s recent devaluation of directories, who knows what this means. Of course this could be a momentary blip, but still you have to wonder if Google, like most webmasters, has had it with DMOZ. Frankly, I have.
Screenshot is attached in case this get “fixed”. Click for larger image.
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
We are currently looking to hire an SEO Specialist and so I have been creating interview questions and researching what other companies ask their potential employees.
In doing so I came across these sample interview questions asked by Google. After reading them I know I don’t want to work for Google and probably couldn’t get passed the first round, for that matter. Here are some of the quirkier, less technical questions, for your amusement.
- You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?”
- Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
- How many gas stations would you say there are in the United States?
- You have a sheet cake. There is a rectangular piece missing from the inside of the sheet cake. The location of the missing piece is arbitrary. I was told I could assume I had the means to make the cuts. How do you divide the sheet cake into 2 even proportions with 2 cuts?
- It’s 2PM on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Bay Area. You’re minutes from the Pacific Ocean, redwood forest hiking trails and world class cultural attractions. What do you do?
- What will be the next great improvement in search technology?
- Why are manhole covers round?
- A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
- Explain the significance of “dead beef”.
- You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. Your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. Would you accept the wager?”
So if you have any answers, post them in our comments section. I would love to know the next great improvement in search technology.
Monday, September 17th, 2007
I just returned from giving my latest SEO Presentation to a Virginia Portal/Newspaper. I spent the last week or two creating the presentation and in doing so had to put myself in the place of someone brand new to the world of SEO. Of course I do this all the time when talking to people looking for an SEO Company, but this was slightly different. This time I was having to teach someone how to do SEO and that meant going back to the basics for everything including keyword usage.
So many times, as an SEO expert, I think of much of my knowledge as general, public knowledge. For example, everyone must know what a keyword is, right? Wrong. And even if they know what a keyword is they usually don’t know how to use it to effectively to optimize their web pages. Showing how keywords could be best used was of particular interest to the group I presented to, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on my blog as well.
Here is my personal suggestions on where and how to use your keywords on your web page you want ranked for that keyword:
- Use it at least once in your Page Title or <title> tag, twice if you can use it in another form, but don’t feel compelled to have it twice. Once is usually sufficient. Example:
<title>How to Use Keywords</title>
- Use it once in your Meta Description Tag. It can help convince users to click your search results. (See more about this at my meta description post.) Example:
<meta name="description" content="Want to know how to best use keywords to optimize your webpage? Click here to leanr and read other SEO Tips." />
- Use it at least once in your H1 <h1> Tag . This should be main heading or title of your web page. On this blog post the H1 title is “How to Use Keywords”. The H1 tag should different on each page, and not the web site name. Only use ONE H1 tag on any given page.
- Use it in one of your subheads. Your subhead should be an H2 <h2> tag. H2 tags can also, and should, hold secondary keywords, but including the main keyword is effective. Most web pages would benefit from subheads from a user perspective as well as for optimization help.
- Depending on the amount of body text on the page, you should try to include keywords within the text at least 4 times. This comes with a BIG CAVEAT though. Only do this if it makes sense and doesn’t appear spammy. Remember you are writing for human and search engines. Spammy content can ruin all the efforts you made to get the user to the page. Be sensible and read your content. If too many keywords are making it sound silly, take them out. Avoid keyword stuffing.
- If you have images on the page, and it makes sense, you should add it to the alt <alt> tag.
- If you have images on the page, and it makes sense, you should add your keyword to the image title. This isn’t something most people to but it is helpful, in my opinion and only takes a few seconds. So your image tags should look like this:
<img src="image.jpg" alt="keyword phrase" title="keyword phrase" />.
- Add your keyword to link in other pages of your site, pointing to the page you want ranked. Linking out from the page you want ranked is fine, but do not use the keyword you want that page ranked for in the anchor text.
I think this will cover your optimization efforts. Of course tweaking my suggestions is encouraged and even necessary most times, but this is as good a guideline as any to start with. After you have used your keywords don’t forget to begin link building using the same keywords. Your efforts will be rewarded.
Sunday, September 9th, 2007
SEO consultants always have their favorite tools and a few months ago we hired a new employee which necessitated showing what SEO tools I like to use. That led me to come up with this list of my favorite tools for SEO. I wanted to list the tools I use most frequetly rather than a list of sites with large collections of SEO tools. Maybe that will be a future post.
My SEO Toolkit:
I use this dozens of times everyday for client and competitor sites. Provides some basic tools to help with search engine optimization. Including google backlinks, yahoo backlinks, PageRank check, http header viewer, and more. All features are available by right-clicking on an open area of a web page, or by using the included toolbar. I wouldn’t leave home without it. You will need Firefox, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I can’t imagine an SEO consultant or SEO company not recommending Firefox over every other browser.
KeywordDiscovery compiles keyword search statistics from over 180 search engines world wide, to create a very powerful research tool. It has a free trial, but it is well worth the money to get full access.
Web Position Gold offers a nice set of tools that we use for monitoring search results. I know it does much more than this, but we do most things manually around here. I like the way it displays the search results online for our clients to see anytime they like.
WordPress Blogging Software
All of our clients, and this blog, run WordPress. It is the BEST software for blogging in my opinion. The ablibity to add funtionality through plugins will always be the deciding factor, especially with so many plugins being created to support our SEO efforts.
SEO for Firefox
Want to know why Google or Yahoo! ranks pages? SEO for Firefox pulls in many useful marketing data points to make it easy get a more holistic view of the competitive landscape of a market right from the search results. You can turn it off and on easily.
Google Toolbar for Firefox
Do I really need to explain this one? Google search in your browser with lots of helpful toos, especially for on-page optimization.
Add-on for Firefox that displays the Google PageRank, Alexa rank and Compete ranking anywhere in your browser, along with fast keyword density analyzer, keyword/nofollow highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info and other SEO tools.
Google Webmaster Central
Be sure you have signed up all the sites you manage SEO for. This is very helpful for understanding how Google sees your website.
Yahoo! Site Explorer
I mentioned Site Explorer in an earlier post, Research Your Competition with Yahoo Site Explorer but it bears repeating, this tool is indispensable in my daily routine. Fortunately, SEOpen (see above) access most of the features for Site Explorer from its menu.
If you have any tools you use, please take time to comment and let me know.
Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
There are two types of redirects you can use, a 301 and a 302. These numbers refer to the HTTP Status Code returned by the server for a given URL. A 301 redirect tells the search engine that the page has moved permanently to the new URL. A 302 redirect tells the search engine that the move is only temporary, and you may decide to show content at the original location in the future without a redirect.
All three major search engines handle 301 redirects the same, that is to say they ignore the original URL and instead index the destination URL. For example, www.beekerfurniture.com uses a 301 redirect to www.hendersonsfurniture.com and Google, MSN and Yahoo all return the result www.hendersonsfurniture.com when searching for “beeker furniture”. The word beeker doesn’t appear anywhere on the hendersonsfurniture.com site, and a site search in Google shows that only the home page has any relevance for the word. Clicking on the Cached link in the site search results further shows that the word only exists in links pointing to the site, “These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: beeker.” Those links Google is referring to are actually pointing to www.beekerfurniture.com and the 301 redirect is passing along the relevance of the word beeker to hendersonsfurniture.com.
301 redirects can be very powerful when you redesign your site and the URLs change, move to a different domain, acquire a new domain, or implement a URL rewrite. In most cases, this is the type of redirect you want to use because you know exactly how the search engines will respond.
The three major engines handle 302 redirects very differently, and because of this 302s are typically not recommended.
Google treats 302 redirects differently depending if they are on-domain or off-domain. An example of an on-domain redirect is athletics.mlb.com which uses a 302 redirect to http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=oak. If you search for “oakland a’s” in Google you will see that athletics.mlb.com is displayed in the results because links point to that URL, which in turn uses a 302 redirect to the destination page. This is a great example where 302 redirects can be used effectively, since the shorter URL looks much more enticing in the results pages.
Off-domain 302 redirects would be ripe for hijacking situations if treated the same way. Because of this, in most cases, Google will treat off-domain 302 redirects like 301s, where they will ignore the original URL and instead index the destination URL. I say most cases because Google will sometimes determine that the 302 is legitimate & index the original URL instead. An example of an off-domain redirect is pets.roanoke.com which uses a 302 redirect to a third-party site http://www.gadzoo.com/roanoke/pets.aspx. In this case, Google determined that this was a legitimate use of a 302 redirect and displays pets.roanoke.com when searching for “pets roanoke”.
MSN treats 302 redirects exactly how it treats 301 redirects, it will always ignore the original URL and instead index the destination URL. A search for “oakland a’s” in MSN shows the URL oakland.athletics.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=oak in its results. And a search for “pets roanoke” shows www.gadzoo.com/roanoke/pets.aspx in its results.
Yahoo takes the same stance that MSN takes, except that they reserve the right to make exceptions in handling redirects. A search for “oakland a’s” in Yahoo shows the URL www.oaklandathletics.com in its results. (www.oaklandathletics.com also uses a 302 redirect to http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=oak) But a search for “pets roanoke” shows www.gadzoo.com/roanoke/pets.aspx in its results.
As with all our tips, please use them responsibly. When in doubt, use a 301 redirct.