Archive for November, 2007

The Dangers of Buying Links Through a Service – SEO Tip Week 47

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

SEO TipsShould you buy links through a link service? Ever since Google slapped (it no longer appears in the first 30 results for its own name), that is a question webmasters have had to wrangle with more than ever. Generally, Google regards buying links as a form of spam and as threat to their business model.

Google hasn’t been shy about punishing sites who engage in this behavior lately either. Many who bought and sold links with Text-Link-Ads have reported a significant drop in their PageRank since the last Google update. This is partly because escaping the eyes of Google is difficult. Doing a search for function tla_ads will uncover all the sites selling links using Text-Links-Ads who have not yet upgraded to the latest TLA plug-in, which hides this information. If Google can see who is selling links, they can logically conclude who is buying them as well.’s recent Google slap represents one of the more drastic punishments doled out to a webmaster. Chow had ranked number 1 in Google for the keyword “make money online” for over a year, but he also aggressively pushed link selling services. Now, he doesn’t even appear in the top 30 results for the keyword “John Chow.” (He clocks in at #57 from the datacenter I’m hitting). 

Analyzing Google’s behavior becomes confusing when one considers that Chow’s site still has a toolbar PR of 4. Likewise, Text-Link-Ads still boasts a PR of 7.

If one wants to remain in the good graces of Google, avoiding the use of link brokers such as TLA or would probably be judicious. But reading Google’s mind is not an easy task, as evidenced by the erratic nature of their penalties.

Akismet Really Stops Comment Spam

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

How well does Akismet stop comment spam? The Big Oak SEO Blog has been running since October 2006 and as of today, November 28, 2007 it has protected this blog site from 10,608 spam comments

Nicely done, Akismet. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Of course it does say a lot about the pervasiveness of comment spam today and how active it still remains, sadly. But it is also a confidence builder for using the DoFollow WordPress plugin without the fear of comment spam overrunning your site. Akismet can protect you from comment spam 99% of the time even with 10,000 spam attacks.

Find Competitor Backlinks with MSN Live – SEO Tip Week 46

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Update 1/15/08: This feature is no longer working with MSN Live.

Check on the backlinks from your competitors is part of the competitive analysis of any good SEO consultant or “expert”. Up until recently using Yahoo to research competitor backlinks was the only search engine you could do this in effectively. Well, now is also back in the game and showing you backlinks to websites. But they also have a nice trick for using keywords to narrow your search.

If you visit and search for the following: “seo tips” you will be show search results that have links pointing to and also have the phrase ‘seo tips’ on that page that links to Be sure to include the plus sign (+) at the front or else you won’t get any results. You can click this link to see the search results for yourself: “seo tips”.

This can be an extremely useful research tool and adding the keyword phrase to the search makes it a even more valuable tool in your SEO toolbox.

StumbleUpon Shark Surfaces

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Living in Richmond, Virginia you don’t often see sharks swimming by, but this week I saw more than a few. These sharks were in the stats and analytics of our client’s sites. Let me explain. We do social bookmarking for our clients when it feels right and not just for the sake of doing it or because it is the new hot button in the Internet marketing community. For this reason, we haven’t pursued social bookmarking heavily. It does have its uses and can be done effectively if the time and effort are applied and the service or product can utilize that type of marketing. But I digress…

Unexpected Site Spikes
When it makes sense, we do submit our client’s strategic pages and pages that may be of interest to the social communities, but more often other people do the submissions for us because the site or page naturally draws the interest of the anonymous Internet user.

I can tell someone has submitted a site to Digg or StumbleUpon because I’ll see spike in the traffic that had nothing to do with our efforts and then drops back the next day or so to the previous natural traffic progression. As I was looking at the line graph for a client’s stats I realized for the first time that the StumbleUpon traffic caused a spike that looks exactly like a shark fin, more so in the first example but the resemblance is carried through on all three examples. I have included them from Google Analytic screen shots for your amusement.

“The StumbleUpon Shark rises to the surface,” I thought to myself. I looked at a few other clients’ stats and found other appearances of the StumbleUpon Shark, sometimes more than once in the same month.

Conclusions from Data?
Since I try to give something of value in every post I will mention that I noticed the traffic increases were somewhat proportional to the site’s overall traffic. You can see this in the screen shots which have traffice ranges from 20 – 2,700 visitors. One site was averaging 20 visitors per day but spiked with StumbleUpon traffic up to 60 visitors. Another site averaged 900 visitors a day spiked to 2,700 visitors, both increase around a 200% increase. So the StumbleUpon traffic may have something to do with the existing popularity of your site.

Examples of Shark Attacks?
If anyone else has data or experiences to share, please let us know. Be careful though, the StumbleUpon Shark could be invading your stats without warning. But unlike “Jaws”, that would be a good thing.

duh DUH…duh DUH…duh DUH

Images Provide SEO Trafficseo

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

SEO TipsAny good SEO campaign will put the emphasis on ranking your website for based on the content of the site. But overlooking images on the site can be a big mistake, especially if your site is selling products which use imagery as part of the sales pitch. So why not use those image to draw visitors through organic image search?

Your first step should be to set up a Google Account where you can use Webmaster Tools. In Webmaster tools you will find an option under Tools named “Enable enhanced image search”. When this option is enabled Google will cataloging your images for placement in the search results which can increase traffic, especially if you can show in the search results that show images above the organic search results. (See example of Google search with images above organic results for the search term ‘oak tree’)

After you have instructed Google to look for your images, you want to be sure your images are telling Google and the other search engines exactly what the images are showing. How do you do this? Here are some things to pay attention to and think about when using images. I’ve listed them in order of “my importance”.

  1. Image Size Does Matter – Larger images tend to rank better. Most image results that are ranked are over 280 pixels in both directions. Bigger images make sense to show first, all other things being equal. I would shoot for 300 x 300 to be safe. If you can’t display your images that large, a link to a larger version of the image will help. In some cases, scaling your image in the HTML code through the height and width tags can work to show a large image in a smaller area. Just be sure the image quality isn’t degraded through this method. Resizing images with HTML can cause ugly pixelation.
  2. Image Close to Relevant Text – Keywords should be above or below the image in the same DIV tag -or- keywords should be in the same paragraph as the image. Remember you want the keywords and image close. The keyword should be in the same <td> (table cell) as the image if you are using tables.
  3. Page Title & Page Theme - The title, content and image should all be connected.
  4. File Name – It can be difficult to add the name of the image to the file name, especially if the shopping cart software doesn’t allow it, but when you can, be descriptive.
  5. Alt Tags – Alt tags are designed to provide alternative text when the images cannot be displayed. They should be descriptive of the image. Example: <img src=”oak-tree.jpg” width=”200″ height=”350″ alt=”Oak Tree”>
  6. Image Title Tags – This text shows up when you rollover the image in a popup window. It should describe image. Example: <img src=”oak-tree.jpg” width=”200″ height=”350″ alt=”Oak Tree” title=”Oak Tree”>
  7. Image Sitemap – Okay, this is an idea which may or may not be of any help, but it certainly can’t hurt and if you feel your images are important enough to help your rankings then creating a sitemap with descriptive links to your important images might be the extra boost to get your images to the top of the search engine results.

If we put it all together your HTML code should look something like this. I added teh <h5> tag for a little boost but it isn’t crucial, you can use a DIV tag instead. Notice the link (titled) to the larger image. We’ll stay with the oak tree theme.

<h5><a href="/images/oak-tree-large.jpg" title="Oak Tree"><img src="/images/2007/08/oak-tree.jpg" alt="Oak Tree" title="Oak Tree" /></a><br />A beautiful oak tree in a meadow.</h5>

Please share any successes you may have had with image search or ideas you have tried. I’m especially interested in anyone who has tried an image sitemap or what you think of this idea.

Finding Links with High PageRank – SEO Tip Week 44

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Link exchanging has certainly lost favor and some SEO consultants don’t do link exchanges period. I am also of the mind that link exchanges don’t count for much, but I also know that link exchanges can be part of a SEO strategy. Two of our largest clients are still employing targeted link exchanges and are ranked highly for very competitive terms.

So, if we can all overlook the great swell of negativity for link swaps lets take a look at how to find good exchanges. There is an excellent tool from Page Rank Search Tool. If you visit this page you can type in your keyword and then a phrase with “exchange links” or “add links” and it will find the strongest ranking page with those terms. A real world example: “diamonds” exchange links

With some modifications, you can also use it for non-reciprocal link building and article placement. Be creative!

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 or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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