Archive for January, 2008

Holy Hyphens! Mastering the Domain (Name)

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I’m sure there are worse offenders but while researching competitors for a potential client I found this “gem” of a URL that is abusing the use of hyphens in a domain name. Unbelievable.

Hmmm….I wonder what they are trying to rank for? Sadly, it is working somewhat. When searching for the term ‘house painter Alexandria’ they show up as the #3 result in Google (1/31/08).

I thought posting this was appropriate considering Will’s post about keyword stuffing domain names. So until Google quits ranking spammed domain names I guess it will be a viable option for ranking, although I’m doubtful the conversions are very high. I personally think this is a SEO mistake.

Anyone have anything to share concerning conversion with these types of domain names?

SEO as an Acronym

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Every now and then someone will ask what I do for a living and I’ll say I am the President of an SEO company. After a moment of confusion the inevitable question is, “What does SEO stand for?” Of course we know it is Search Engine Optimization, but that got me thinking, (much like my SEO Haiku) what else could it stand for, relating to search optimization?

So I have some other options for those of us in the SEO industry who may want something more interesting when asked what does SEO stand for? In no particular order here are some ideas for the SEO acronym. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

  • SEO = Stress Equals Opportunity
  • SEO = Searching Everything Online
  • SEO = Sweet Exposure Online
  • SEO = Seizing Every Opportunity
  • SEO = Some Extra (marketing) Offense
  • SEO= Supplied Energy Online
  • SEO = Successful at Everything Obviously

and since we are looking for an SEO Copywriter

  • SEO = Stellar Employment Opportunity

Nice for a momentary diversion, not much help for our clients, so back to work…

Flickr is Turning into Spam Central

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I suppose I should preface this post by saying that spam is in the eye of the beholder. The people who add giant, bulky graphics as comments on certainly don’t view their contribution as spam, even if the graphic has no relevance to the picture. But these days, Flickr seems harder and harder to differentiate from MySpace. Take, for instance, this page:

A very attractive site

Some of the gargantuan comment graphics in that URL take up nearly half the page, but other Flickr users don’t seem to mind. In fact, they seem to be embracing it. This is good news for owners of these link-laundering websites from an SEO standpoint, provided that Flickr doesn’t add no-follow tags or disable external live links in comments altogether. They can seek out high PageRank Flickr pages and drop comments, and of course, the Flickr community builds their links for them. Indeed, Flickr is a link-launderers paradise.

But at what point will the users step back and say, “Where am I? MySpace or Flickr?”

Is shoving keywords into your domain name really worth it?

Monday, January 21st, 2008

What are the costs and benefits of having keyword-rich domain names?Does having the keywords you wish to rank for in the domain name really give you an advantage over your competition?All things being equal, yes.But before you throw down $7.95 on, consider what your goals are with the domain.

High rankings are great; “brandibility” is better.A catchy domain name will increase brand awareness and is worth infinitely more than a domain name picked solely for SEO, especially if it’s difficult to remember and loaded with hyphens and underscores. The ultimate goal should be to have a domain name that is both catchy and filled with your keywords.When this isn’t achievable, you should pick a domain name based on how memorable it is.You can still attain domain names with keywords shoved in them and either redirect them to your primary website or use them to market your main site.

One advantage to having keywords in your domain name is that you don’t have to worry about using targeted anchor text when building links.This can come in handy in your quests to parse links on high PageRank pages that do not allow the use of anchor text, such as Digg comment pages.Links without targeted anchor text always look the most natural to Google, but be forewarned that rapidly link-injecting your keyword-rich domain name across sites like Digg will look unnatural in the eyes of Google and will not help you in any way, shape or form.

While acquiring a domain name for branding purposes reigns supreme, if you have an opportunity to snatch a keyword-rich domain name, do not hesitate to grab it and use it to push the agenda of your primary domain.

Do any of you consistently use this strategy?


Accountability for SEO Companies

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Here at Big Oak we finished a long process that culminated in a very refined and sophisticated estimator for search engine optimization projects. It is split into two parts, exactly the same as our SEO process, with part one being the optimization phase and part two a monthly marketing phase.

I thought to myself this is something very good for the industry: A tangible guide for our plan and a perfect explanation of why we charge what we charge in one document.

We have always based our pricing on the level of effort we suspected would be needed to achieve high rankings for our clients. So our pricing has always been fairly accurate. We have never raised prices after the fact and  our clients are happy with their results. We didn’t make this a more formal process because we thought we weren’t being fairly compensated and we didn’t do it because our results weren’t stellar. We did it so we can show the clients that we aren’t making up pricing numbers, we aren’t pricing it at “what we think they will pay” and we aren’t charging a flat fee for everything.

We put much thought into what we need to do such as articles, link building, press releases, blogging and so on. We also put thought into how many of these items we need to do. From our years of successful experience we know very well what to do and how many times to do it over the course of a contract so it has been an easy migration to documenting this and pricing it accurately. The beauty of this is the fact that we can show the client how the final price was determined. There can be no argument or debate as to the price. We show them exactly what needs to be done to get them ranked and how much each part in the process will cost.

After that is simply a matter of “affordability” and return on investment.

It is my hope the SEO industry can become a more honest and reputable industry. Far too often I have seen articles referring to SEO consulants as snake oil salesmen or even worse…lawyers. That should be enough to scare anyone in our industry.

How do we combat this? We hold to a code of ethics and we be honest and hide nothing. Tell your clients exactly what you are going to do and how much it will cost. Don’t hide behind a flat price and reveal none of your “secrets”. Anyone can do their own SEO; all you need is time and the desire to learn it. So for us to be afraid of giving away secrets that others will use is absurd. People will pay you for SEO because they don’t have the time and want it done correctly and quickly. Meeting with the client in a monthly call or in person is mandatory at Big Oak. We won’t take a client who can’t agree to this. It holds both parties accountable and keeps the communication, both good and bad, open.

Show your work and be accountable.

For Big Oak that means starting off with a clear plan that the client can understand and refer to at anytime, and more importantly, they never have to wonder where the money goes.

Experiment with Technorati Authority

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I was checking into our blog’s external links and found this blog post:

The author, Will Harrison, is trying to increase his Technorati Authority and thereby his rating. His method to do this is to link to 5 blogs, his own and 4 others he enjoys and pass it along. Big Oak SEO blog was one of the 4 he chose (thank you). If he has linked to you and you find the post with the link, a request is made from the post that you do the same.

Sounds much like a chain letter of sorts, which I’m not a fan of, but for the sake of the experiment, I’ll try it. As of today, Jan. 10, 2008 my Technorati Authority is 35 and my rank is 231,062. I’ll report back if any noticeable increase happens.

Here is a snippet from Will’s post:

This makes Technorati seem like an easy enough place to increase your rating. All you need for authority are incoming links.

How are we going to get those incoming links? Glad you’ve asked. I found this method called ViraLink. What happens is: I will post the link to 5 blogs I enjoy, including my own, under this post. Those 4 blogs that aren’t owned by me will see their Technorati ranking increase and look to find out who linked them. Actually, it would probably be best to link smaller blogs that will look to see who linked them. Anyways, when they find this post, they are to copy the post and add another 5 blogs onto the list. It kind of starts a chain.

I see no harm in trying it out, so here is Will’s 5 blogs with my 5 blogs added:

  1. CIAO9to5
  2. TylerCruz
  3. Jon Waraas
  4. Big Oak SEO Blog
  5. Practical Blogging
  6. SEO Tier
  7. 97th Floor
  8. Graphic Design Blog
  9. Hobo SEO
  10. Marketing Revisited

I hope the 5 blogs I added will benefit from this as well. They are all worth reading.

First Day – Ranked Hard, An SEO Comic

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Update 2/11/08: We have made this comic, bigger and better. Come view the new and improved ‘Ranked Hard: SEO Comic‘ at it’s new home. We have also posted all the SEO comic strips on

Welcome to the first installment of our SEO comic, “Ranked Hard”!

This won’t be a daily comic or weekly, but we’ll do our best to get a new one out as often as we can. This comic will be about the trials and tribulations of the mythical staff of Ranked Hard, a growing SEO company. There will certainly be parallels to our SEO company, Big Oak, but we won’t tell you where reality and fantasy cross. Although most “SEO people” who read this will certainly have their own ideas about what is from real life. ;-). In any case, have fun and give us your feedback. This is our first attempt and I already see a few things to improve on the next comic.

I will be posting head shots and background about all the characters. For now, let me introduce you to the crew at Ranked Hard:

  • Bradley Smart, President & SEO Consultant
  • Roosevelt Jones, SEO Consultant
  • Beatrice Gonzolez, SEO Researcher
  • Simon Caine, SEO Copywriter

We hope you grow to love them as much as we do. And without further delay, our Ranked Hard’s First Comic Strip entitled “First Day.”

First Day - Ranked Hard, SEO Comic Strip

by George Perry & Shell Harris

What is RSS – RSS in Plain English

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Before you begin watching this video on RSS, I have to give a HUGE recommendation to the company that produced this remarkable piece of work, Common Craft. They have created some very creative and helpful videos to help people understand a variety of technologies and ideas, such as RSS. They say it best themselves:

We use a simple format and real-world stories to make sense of complex ideas.

We’re interpreters. We present your products and services in plain English using short, unique and understandable videos in a format we call Paperworks.

They have many more videos for you to see and I wish them the best and hope they succeed. The idea is wonderful and the delivery is even better. The Internet needs more companies like them.

SEO with a Star Wars Perspective

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I believed the world could be divided into two camps, “Star Wars People” and “Indiana Jones People”. Well, after the Lord of the Rings, I have now included “LOTR People”. Just about everyone has a favorite they rank over the other and so I have made classifications. I say this because I’m going to recommend a very clever blog post about SEO and Star Wars that I thought was humorous and educational. I’m recommending it even though I’m a “Indiana Jones Person”. ;-)

The author mention Darth Sidious and Darth Vader as Blackhat masters and even classifies Luke Skywalker as a Greyhat proponent. All the other major characters are there as well, although Leia is missing. Real Star Wars’ fans will be chagrined to find Jar Jar Binks is also included. Take a moment and read the post, you’ll get a chuckle.

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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