Archive for the ‘52 SEO Tips’ Category
Monday, October 22nd, 2007 |
Last week I was asked to consult with a design firm. One of our new clients was using a design firm to build their new site. I was asked to provide some advice when designing for search engine optimization. At Big Oak we are not SEO Nazis who insist everything must be HTML text and the site must be visually lifeless. Far from it. I was a web designer not to many years ago so I am very sensitive to outside influences giving direction to your design, especially when your artistic integrity is being put at risk. After all, most design shops are trying to build a impressive portfolio and “search engine people” appear to be the enemy of design to some.
With this in mind I submitted some things to be wary of, but didn’t need to be avoided. I explained that the idea is to let the search engines know what your page is about and you have to have some text for the spiders to read in order to do that. So these items can be added, with moderation and strategically, but remember to think like a spider when you do.
Graphical text: Spiders can’t read graphic text and and I would prefer to use HTML text for all text, but headlines can be enhanced through graphics so using graphic text is okay, but be sure you are using the title and alt tags with these images. Wrap it in a H1 tag if that is warranted for a heading.
Read more about this on my previous post: Graphic Headlines Can Work for SEO.
Images: Obviously spiders can’t read images whether they are text images or otherwise. Our main concern is an all image page. All images means no text, which means no traffic. Images are okay, even for navigation as long as you are using a sitemap and text navigation in the footer. Of course all images should have alt tags and title tags as referenced above in an earlier post.
Flash Animation: This may be news to some of you, but the spiders don’t read Flash and although you can add some context to your Flash through programming, I would never rely on that entirely. Instead use Flash as an enhancer and let the site speak through body text on the page.
If you do decide to create an entirely Flash site (may the SEO gods be with you) then be sure to create an alternate HTML version for the spiders and for those of us who prefer good ol’ HTML sites.
Read more about this in my earlier post: SEO and Flash
Thursday, October 18th, 2007 |
As any SEO company will tell you, link building is the backbone of a successful SEO campaign so many of my posts revolve around methods of building links without actively searching out links. If you can create buzz and get links naturally just by having creative and helpful content you will increase your chances of higher rankings.
One of our clients, F. Curtis Barry & Company, a warehouse consulting firm, has done an incredible job writing on their multichannel company blog. They have done so well that their blog actually has a higher PR value than their company blog. The blog acquires links more naturally and therefore has the opportunity to drive traffic to their company site, so having the blog rank well is good thing; it is a online sales tool that is at work 24 hours a day.
In our experience with writing and managing blogs for our clients we have discovered that writing about other blog posts can sometimes have a side affect of a link pointing back to the post from the outside blog post. For F. Curtis Barry this backlink came from the Wall Street Journal. The post on the F. Curtis Barry Blog commented on an article (and linked to it) by the Wall Street Journal and a few days later traffic was coming from an automated link back on the WSJ artilce. It is good thing to get traffic and links from WSJ.com…and we didn’t even have to ask.
Be careful though, writing about other comments and posts is a good strategy but only when done with sincerity. It can show that you are only writing about other articles for pure marketing results if you aren’t careful. Have a valid and well-thought out opinion if you do try this. Also realize that you may not receive a link back or that the link may have a no follow attribute negating any link juice (We DoFollow links). So be sure your post is valid on its own merits.
Comments and linking to blog posts on this site are always welcome. We check out links to our content all the time and will comment on other posts about us frequently. Have anything to add? Please add a comment or post on your own blog.
Monday, October 8th, 2007 |
This is a niche SEO tip, but if you fall into the category of those who resell products and are going against many other competitors selling the same item you will find this extremely valuable. If the manufacturer supplies you with the product description then it is likely that many of your competitors are using that same description which means you may be devaluing your product page because the search engines see your product page as duplicate content. Or your page might not even show up as Google would consider your site duplicated material not relevant enough to make the cut due to lack of popularity when compared against other sites showing the same results.
Here is a perfect example of how duplicate content can hurt your site rankings and your traffic. I picked a random child’s toy: Turbo Twist Math by Leap Frog. I did a search using the manufacturer’s initial text in the product description (“Be a Math Whiz with Turbo Twist Math”) and here are my Google search results. If you visit the link you will see only one result with the following text underneath:
“In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 1 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”
Google is telling you that this description is used so often that they are only showing you one result. You must expand the list to see other results which is still only 6 which could mean they are not even including the dozens or hundreds of other similar listings in the results. This is an extreme case since I’ve searched for a specific phrase, but the theory still applies: Duplicate content will hurt your rankings.
You will have a much better chance of showing in the search results if you add your own unique information about the product you are selling or the service you are providing. This is good for SEO but also for better converting potential customers. Feel free to interject your own opinions or thoughts on why the product is useful and include information your visitors might be wary to know. Anything you can write of add to distinguish your product information from other sites will help.
Being different is better.
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 |
As a senior member of a successful SEO company I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my job easier. Usually my job consist of defining an SEO strategy that will help our clients achieve high rankings in the search engines. High Rankings are supported by high-quality links, so how do we find high-quality links without doing a lot of work?
Hello, Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is a nifty tool that will monitor Google results with predefined search terms and then email you those results. They will send the email to you once a day, as it happens or once a week. You can insert any topic or query that you wish to keep tabs on.
For example, you can type in a competitor’s business name and/or his web address as an search term alert. Every time Google finds the search term they will send an email detailing where it was found in an email. It is like having a paid researcher always on call for free.
How best to use this for SEO you ask? Easy, here are just a few ideas. Let’s assume you have written an article or press release. You submit it through your normal channels but then you set up Google Alerts to notify you everytime it finds the exact title of your article. Be sure to put the search term in quotes so it looks for an exact match (“My Article Title”). Now you can track in real-time where you article gets picked up and then contact any of the sites that have placed your article or press release and contact them directly about a partnership. Maybe the next article you write can be given more prominence on their site or you can provide the webmaster original content with embedded links to your site.
Or you can track competitors by their name and URL find websites where that information has been posted and follow the same strategy by offering original content of your own. If you find a blog that has posted about you or your industry maybe you can become a contributor.
You can track a product name or service you want to sell or any word or phrase that will help you market your site to the search engines. And since Google is providing the information, you have a good shot at Google finding your link the next time they visit the site you have partnered with.
As with most SEO strategies you need to be creative with this idea and strike while the iron is hot. Constant alerts can keep you motivated and attentive to the market within your industry as well helping you keep a vigilant eye on your competition.
Has anyone employed this strategy for link building? I’d love to hear success stories.
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.
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.
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.
For 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.
Sunday, August 19th, 2007 |
If 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.
I’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.
Sunday, August 12th, 2007 |
Update 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.
Once 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 Squidoo
I 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