Archive for the ‘SEO Mistakes’ Category

Google’s Estimating Algorithm

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 |

As always you have to take anything from Google with a grain of salt, espeically since most of their ranking algorithms are closely guarded secrets.

However you really have to wonder when their estimating algorithm has trouble counting to 17 as illustrated below with screenshot snippets from the first two pages of results I witnessed today.




Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Link to Other Sites

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 |

We’ve all met that person (or, maybe, we’re secretly guilty of being this person). You know the person — the one who won’t share.

Yup, there, I said it, I’m on to all of you people. Didn’t you learn anything in kindergarten? Seriously, share and share alike. How do you expect to make friends when you never share anything?

By this point, you’re probably wondering, “That’s fine and all, but what does this have to do with linking out to other people’s websites?”

Let me put it very simply — do it. Don’t be afraid to share, put that link out there.

Linking Out Excuse 1: If I Link Out, People Won’t Stay on My Site

Here’s the thing about the Internet, it’s designed (on purpose, mind you) as a way of sharing knowledge. If you’re writing about something and happen to know a reputable resource on the subject, link to it!

This will have various added benefits for you. Your users will think, “Wow, this person is providing a great resource, I’ll come back to them in the future because they’ve really helped me out.” Honestly, do you remember the Boston Tea Party because of the book you read it in, or do you remember it because of your 7th grade teacher who pointed you to the book?

Linking out also tells Google the neighborhood where your site lives. When you’re connected to a bunch of authority sites on fishing through outbound links, and you’re a fishing site, it’ll make sense for Google to rank you higher for fishing. Why? Easy, you’re all in the same neighborhood of fishing authority sites! When you link to other authority sites, it makes Google and the other search engines perceive you as an authority site.

And, seriously now, if you never put an outbound link on your site because you think it’ll keep people on your site, do you really think they don’t know how to work the back button? Or, know how to look for a more authoritative site than yours?

Linking Out Excuse 2: Linking Out Will Lose Link Juice

Alright, let’s ignore the whole neighborhood and authority site status (really, that should be enough to stop you from being scared to link out). Now you’re worried about your link juice. Rightly so, I mean, if PageRank flows from page to page via links, when you link out, it’ll spill onto someone else’s page right?

Here’s the deal: yeah, some of your link juice will flow over there, but that’s not the whole story. When a website gets a link to it, the webmaster will notice. This person will then come over to your site and check you out. If you get a link from a site, you check out the site linking to you, right?

This is the point of SEO, getting people to your site because you have great information. By linking out you have successfully had one more person check out your site! However, the story doesn’t stop there. The webmaster comes to your site, sees that you have a lot of great information and then they might just link over to you themselves, from a post they wrote about a great site they found! Now you’re an authority for them!

Link Out and Reap the Rewards

Remember this when you’re linking out — who you link out to matters! Link out to high quality sites that are relevant to yours. Since you control the outbound links, if you link to trash, your users won’t like it and the search engines won’t like it. Though, when you know of a great site, and have found a great resource, link to it and get ready for the benefits!

Don’t want to take my word for it? Well then, check out what the experts are saying on linking out for yourself!

URL Rewriting for IIS – SEO-Friendly URLS for ASP & .Net

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 |

We often have clients that host their dynamic sites on IIS which means the file extensions are .asp or .aspx (.Net). This also means the dynamic URLs are SEO unfriendly with many parameters such as: “″. If this were hosted on a Unix platmform with PHP then a mod_rewrite would be in order to clean up the URL structure making it SEO friendly: “”, which is a much nicer URL with descriptive terms. Search engines love that stuff.

So, with a Unix/Apache platform hosting PHP pages, a rewrite is simple. You can read more about it here: Mod_Rewrites.

But for asp and .Net pages it is a bit of a chore. To help with this we have listed a few sources that can help get your URLs rewritten in a jiffy…most of the time. Sometimes is depends if the server has other applications that don’t play well with the ISAPI (Internet Server Application Programming Interface) rewrite module, but you’ll have to ask your host and/or developer about that.

Here are some of the modules that can do URL rewriting on IIS.

Helicon Tech ISAPI_Rewrite

“ISAPI_Rewrite is a powerful URL manipulation engine based on regular expressions. It acts mostly like Apache’s mod_Rewrite, but is designed specifically for Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS). ISAPI_Rewrite is an ISAPI filter written in pure C/C++ so it is extremely fast. ISAPI_Rewrite gives you the freedom to go beyond the standard URL schemes and develop your own scheme.”

QwerkSoft IISRewrite

IISRewrite is a stripped down implementation of Apache’s mod_rewrite modules for IIS. Webmasters who have used Apache’s mod_rewrite in the past will find that much of the configuration and functionality is the same. IISRewrite is compatible with Microsoft’s ISAPI specification and has been tested on Windows NT Server 4.0 running IIS 4 and Windows 2000 Server running IIS 5.


“An ISAPI filter that provides powerful, integrated URL re-writing for IIS. OpUrl has many benefits, including helping to ensure search engines crawl even the dynamic parts of your site. Most search engine crawlers don’t index dynamic pages, e.g. page.asp?item=1 so OpUrl allows you to use static URLs instead. The functionality is very similar to Apache’s mod_rewrite.”

URL Replacer

“The ISAPI filter rewrites/replaces defined parts of URL from browser. It enables url to scripts (.asp, .cgi, .idc) with parameters look like static html pages or specify exact download filename generated by script. You can also create a simple proxy server with IIS and any script engine (.asp,. aspx, …) using URL replacer.”

Microsoft Article on URL Rewriting in ASP.NET

“Examines how to perform dynamic URL rewriting with Microsoft ASP.NET. URL rewriting is the process of intercepting an incoming Web request and automatically redirecting it to a different URL. Discusses the various techniques for implementing URL rewriting, and examines real-world scenarios of URL rewriting. (31 printed pages)”

Reason 1,000,001 Why Quality Writing Matters

Sunday, May 11th, 2008 |

While I’ve discussed why having quality writing is important for various reasons on our SEO Copywriting Blog, the following image shows why not only is writing quality content important, but paying attention to your meta descriptions can be equally important.

While the website may be ranking in the top position for the keyword “bully sticks”, their meta description “boasts” that their “prices do not compare!” Clearly not the message they meant to send to potential customers. While seems to be claiming that their prices are higher than their competition, our client, Best Bully Sticks, has a meta-description that clearly states how their high quality product, low prices, and customer service make the difference.

Meta descriptions do get read so make sure your’s says something useful. Amazing how four little words can make a difference.


Link Advertising Overload with Chitika Contextual Ads

Thursday, April 17th, 2008 |

While doing a check for backlinks to our wildly popular SEO Comic, I found this blog post ( What intrigued me the most was the overwhelming number of link ads (contextual ads) being placed in the post. If you look at the screen shot below you can see what I mean.

I counted 171 words starting with Filehostfactory and ending with “your own site.” Out of those words, 34 are being sold as Chitika ads. That is 20% of your content being sold to advertisers. Wow! And it doesn’t make reading it any easier either.

According to Chitika big money by top bloggers is a certainty so this type of in-your-face link advertising may be more prevalent as small-time bloggers seek a bigger piece of the blog advertising pie.

Has anyone had monetary success with this type of advertising? It would seem to drive viewers away in my opinion.

I do appreciate the link to our comic.


The Alexa Ranking Myth

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 |

alexa-logo.gifUpdate: 4/20/08, Of course as soon as I post on my blog about Alexa’s inaccurate ranking system they decide to update their system. Time will tell if it is an better.

SEO companies are at the front lines when it comes to educating customers and potential customers about what is important when looking at web statistics. I guess I’ve hit my breaking point, which is usually when I start blogging, about Alexa rankings. We have clients that ask why there Alexa ranking is so high (which is bad) and even though they are ranking in the top 5 for their most treasured keyword phrases. They have high traffic that is converting above their industry standards, but still they Alexa ranking rears its ugly head too often.

So I want to put this issue to pasture and definitively state that we do not care about Alexa ranking and do not monitor Alexa rankings, other to see estimated trends for pure entertainment value. They are of little importance an not worth the time to view them. Not only are the extremely inaccurate, but they can also give a false sense of security when they inflate your importance. You must remember that unless you have the Alexa toolbar on your site, your web visits won’t be counted in the Alexa stats. What does this mean for the numbers that Alexa shows you? Well, think about who would have the Alexa toolbar installed: mostly people involved with Internet marketing such as SEO people, webmasters, consultants and other people whose job it is to track statistics. These aren’t your normal site surfers and they skew the traffic numbers higher for Internet-related sites. If you have been reading this blog long enough you know I’m a big believer in actual case studies and real data to prove a point. To that end I have done some research to show the Alexa Ranking Myth and break its spell.

The first chart shows stats from Alexa for this site (, a Internet marketing site) and a smoothie recipe site (, a non-Internet related site) and you can see that Alexa shows the Big Oak site with more than double the traffic of Smoothie Web. If you were to view or stats on Alexa it reports our site as being in the top 100,000 sites on the web, specifically we are ranked at 94,204. My, aren’t we so important! Now,don’t get me wrong, we have a nice number of visitors, but to think we are in the top 100,000 sites is a bit much. While, a highly trafficked site is only ranked at 310,192.

Alexa Graph

Now that we know what Alexa is reporting, let us look at actual site statistics as reported by Google Analytics. If you look at the graphs below you can see the dramatic difference from Alexa’s reported rankings in traffic over the same 3-month period. has 20,311 visitors which is a very respectable number for a B2B site. But when compared to’s 210,190 visitors you can easily see that Alexa rankings are highly skewed towards technical and Internet-related websites. had 10x the visitor traffic according to Google Analytics but less than half according to Alexa’s estimates.



The site obviously pulls traffic from our competitors, webmasters in charge of finding a honest SEO company and research types for our informative SEO blog. And these users are more likely to have the Alexa toolbar installed, if only to inflate their own Alexa ranking by visiting their own sites daily. And before you ask, no, I do not have the Alexa toolbar installed and neither does any of the staff at Big Oak.

To sum up, do not look at Alexa rankings with any more than an passing curiosity, for that is all it is. Instead look at your site’s analytics and try to see where you are getting traffic and what traffic is converting. Look at the keywords your site is ranking for and how the visitors from those terms are using your site. In short, look at all the data you can around your actual visitors and leave the estimated numbers based on a toolbar installation to those who need the ego stroking of a high Alexa ranking. And if anyone asks you about your Alexa ranking, please refer them to this post.

Longterm Linkbait – Avoid Peaks & Valleys

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 |

I’ve been reading about the tactics and benefits of creating linkbait for a while now. I’ve come to the conclusion that linkbait is good, for the most part. Linkbait is good because you want to write something that other people feel is interesting enough to link to. Linkbait is also good because it supports the very backbone of the internet…linking. I think if you want to create something for the sole purpose of having people link to it, then go right ahead, nothing wrong with that. If it motivates you to write or build or create, then so much the better.

But here is where the line blurs, where the light moves to the dark, where angles fear to tread, so to speak. I don’t support the idea of creating poorly thought-out, duplicated information or junky linkbait. If you are going to create something for the sole purpose of increasing your link popularity then be sure it is worth linking to. This usually means it is something that you have put some time and thought into. It should be an investment of both. It isn’t natural to create a new linkbait page everyday. This is bordering on spam. One of my favorite blogs comes from the mind of Steve Pavlina and is chock full of great linkbait, but he writes what he does for the sake of creating interesting and creative ideas. The linkbait part is just a natural extension of his excellent writing.

LinkbaitTopical linkbaiting is falling out of favor recently, with users and search engines. Topical linkbaiting is the tactic of writing about something that is topical and hoping the buzz around it will have people linking to you. This is good marketing and shouldn’t be abandoned, but I wouldn’t rely on this for my search engine marketing strategy. Usually this type of linkbaiting looks like a series of peaks and valleys in your site’s analytics, which Google views as temporary popularity and not sustained popularity, thereby devaluing the links and the content. By all means, ride the current waves, but be sure you have a good stable of linkbait that provides a solid base of constant viewers and steady link building. Look to create helpful information that doesn’t have a shelf life – how-to articles and tips are good way to do this.

I suppose linkbaiting has been more on my mind as my SEO Company, Big Oak, creates a monster linkbait initiative. I hope it will be longstanding and provide increased readership and link popularity. I think you will find it follows my rules. It isn’t topical and I don’t believe it will only provide a one-time spike. It is a monthly comic, and probably too much thought and too much time has been put towards it, but I think you will agree that the quality of the product is there because of our care. So while you mull over your linkbait strategy, and you should have one, take a moment to read Ranked Hard, our SEO Comic. Oh, and if you want to link to it, who am I to stop you.

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?

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?


Nofollow Helps Internal Linking and Conversions – SEO Tip 51

Thursday, December 20th, 2007 |

I am a big fan of Marketing Sherpa and I have recommended them before when I posted ‘About Us’ pages can increase conversions. Well, another Marketing Sherpa study has caught my attention, describing how words increase conversions.

A few months ago I wrote an SEO tip explaining why you don’t want to use ‘click here’ for SEO, but we also know conversion rates increase when visitors are instructed to ‘click here’, ‘read more’, ‘buy now’ and so on. What is an SEO company to do?

How can search engine optimization and good user experience coexist? Both are important to the success of your website, but at times they seem at odds with each other. The solution is very simple, if not well known. Use the “nofollow” tag on the ‘click here’ links and make sure you also have a descriptive link with keyword-rich text available as well.

While the “nofollow” tag was originally set up as a spam fighter, it can be used with surgical precision to increase conversions, without hurting you SEO campaign. (Read more about the uses of nofollow) It helps because it will tell the search engines not to count or follow the link with the nofollow attribute. This means the keyword-rich link, without the nofollow, will be followed, helping the destination page’s link popularity.

How do you use nofollow?
Normal link:
<a href=””>Click Here</a>

Adding the nofollow attribute:
<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Click Here</a>

Using it on your site might look like this:
Click here for the best deals on dog treats.

The HTML code would look like this:
<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Click here</a> for the best deals on <a href=””>dog treats</a>.

Finally, SEO and Site Usability living in perfect harmony, until we start talking about graphics vs. text. ;-)

Committed to Commenting

Thursday, December 13th, 2007 |

I have started doing something I hope catches on in the blog community: Commenting with purpose. Being the owner of this SEO blog I’m always delighted to see comments, especially since this means someone thought enough of what I wrote to read it and then comment on the content.

It can be discouraging when a commenter is taking advantage of the fact that I do follow comment links, but if they have said something worthwhile I feel it is a small price to pay if I give away some link juice. It can also be disheartening to see I have three comments on a post, but the total word count for all three comments is about 30 words. Sometimes three simple comments like, “Nice post, I agree with your thoughts,” can be nice, but more often I would rather have one comment that says something more and even challenges what I have written.

So, I have committed myself to commenting with purpose. When I visit other blogs I will make every effort to make an intelligent, thoughtful and interesting comment that actually adds to the post. It may not always be lenghty, but my comments will never be boiled down to a “Nice Post” comment.

I hope those commenting on my blog will try to do the same, and I also hope my readers will not feel pressured to write more than they want. After all, I would rather see a short post with gratitude than nothing at all. Thanks for reading and for commenting. And when you do comment, use your name, not your keyword, it cheapens the comment, in my humble opinion.

Update: Well I’ve made one comment per day this week and I feel good about my contributions. Here is one of the comments I made on a post by Jill Whalen about changing urls.

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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