SEO-PRO Advanced Internet Marketing

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SEO-PRO // Advanced Internet Marketing

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The dark side of SEO. The in house idiots.

I've always quite liked the fact that SEO is often seen as quite a complex and devious industry to work in, where shady characters exchange code and links to get their clients site to the top of the rankings all in exchange for briefcases filled with cash. Although most SEO's will agree this is far from the truth, even some IT professionals seem to think it is a "dark art", at least those in IT HR. This leads me onto the point of this article... I was sent some supposedly "in depth" and "cutting edge" keyword analysis from some in house SEOs that work in a huge financial organisation. The report they sent me was perhaps the most childish example of "research" I've ever seen. Without giving away too much, the report detailed the following: Credit card, credit card, Creditcards, CReditcards and so on with capitalisation variations and plural forms. I was given no other info. A room filled with monkeys and typewriters would have produced better quality research.

I have spoken to the pair responsible for this material and can confirm that they are as sharp as each other (very blunt). Although I won't name any names, it shocks me that people like this can get a job in SEO... Do they use their "dark" powers like Luke Skywalker uses the Jedi mind trick? How else could you fool HR into recruiting these SEO wannabes?

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Green Light Webinar

I've been listening to a few of the Green Light Webinars. The last was on link building. Entitled "Link Building, the good bad and ugly" the webinar focused on link building issues and brought up a few interesting ideas including link networks and link building velocity.

The webinar was well put together and very informative, although initially delayed because of a technical hitch, I'm glad I waited around as the content was very good and very current. The main points I took away from this, were the following:

Link building
1. Speed of link accruel, so instead of considering the total number of links, look at how many links you get over a given period and try to increase this rate.

Controlling and maximising Links
2. Look for intelligent ways to boost the power of your links. Use "No follow" tags on links that go to pages like terms and conditions and privacy pages. These are not going to generate relevant traffic to your site, so why waste link power to these pages? Instead channel the power to all your primary traffic generating pages and nofollow any others.
Look at current inbound links, like those from affiliates. Instead of having their links go through third party sites and losing any link power, track referrals yourself and benefit from more in links. This will require trust with your affiliates and accurate tracking software, but is worth considering.

Natural anchor text
3. Try to keep the anchor text of any bought links looking natural and not the same keyword repeated over and over eg"Bankloans".

Link building widgets
4. Look at making "widgets" (a useful web based application) to allow others to add functionality to their blog. This widget will need to be relevant to your business area, and include a link to your site.

I hope you can benefit from this information as much as I have, I found the webinar a very good use of time!

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6 SEO Ideas to improve traffic...

I thought I'd write a post with some ideas to improve and maintain traffic levels. Some of these are very quick and easy to get going on and some are a bit slower and require some programming skills, or access to someone with those skills. Have a look through and see if you can get started on one of these areas.

#1 Read up on your subject and be an expert
Recently I heard that an editor of Lonely Planet was fired because they had never visited the resorts they had written about. This shocked me a little because I had done some work for a travel company and re-written some content about their destinations. Although I had never visited the tourist places in question, I had done extensive online research. This gave me insight into, the type of people that visit these places, whether they would be old or young, spending a lot of money or keeping a tight budget. Once you've read many facts and opinions on something, you build up a much more informed and detailed insight into it. You begin to filter out inaccurate or unnecessary details, and you will be able to decide for yourself how accurate information on the subject is, based on your overall knowledge and opinion. Although in an ideal world I would have travelled to each and every destination I was writing about :) this was simply not possible... Unfortunately!

#2 Get sneaky
Look at the traffic searching for your competitors, wouldn't it be nice to get their brand name driving traffic to your site? Make a comparison page where you can talk about your competition and where they are weak in service/product. The repeated brand names on the page will help your page rank for their brand name. Make sure these pages are of use to your users though, there is nothing worse than spam landing pages. All you are doing is "tailoring" content for other search terms. Consider setting up stealth websites on different domains/hosting where you can make comparison pages without it looking like you are criticising your competition. You then simply link through to your official site to drive the new traffic there.

#3 Look at low risk high reward keywords
After some recent keyword research, I found that searches for a certain financial keyphrase were high because of the current credit crisis in the UK. Although the searches were high, the bounce rate on the sites (in the top ten on Google) was high because no one had actually optimised for these terms that well, and basically users wanted financial info on something where there was no info... All I had to do was create suitable copy, make sure the landing page had clear calls to action to convert the users into customers and hey presto, a page ranking at #1 on Google for a time sensitive keyword which will grow and grow in searches! By spotting this opportunity early, a page is easier to get to number one than after 10 other SEOs have seen it and start competing.

#4 Put together new functionality for your site
Get talking with the programmers and look at ways to improve your site. I was looking around a clients recruitment web site and once a job had been taken the job page was removed from the CMS meaning a page previously indexed on Google was now not there. Instead of 301ing the URL to another page, I suggested keeping the page and add a "Job no longer available" message and placing links to similar job pages on that page. The current content will stay and drive traffic and the links will make it obvious where users should go. Just be careful that when a similar job is added new, you use content different to the page you are maintaining. Try to think about what your users want from your site and add functionality to suit.

Some other new functionality I've looked at is Rate and Review software from Bazaar Voice.
This, as I've explained in previous posts lets users add product ratings and reviews to a site. This free content will help your site rank for a range of unique keyphrases and because users are adding the content, you do not need to second guess what you think your users will search for, just look at the language they use in the reviews area!

#5 Take a look at your stats
If you don't already have webstats, get them (Google Analytics is good). Have a good look at your stats, decide on what does well, (visits referred from a certain site) and look to develop on what drives visits already. For example, I found that this blog generates significantly more traffic from my comments on other blogs. Referring sites got me lots more traffic than many other areas. So I put together a quick plan, add decent, useful comments to high traffic blogs. To find high traffic blogs I used Stumble Upon. Once I have found a suitable blog (CSS ideas, HTML tips etc) I added a comment. As most stumbled sites will have more traffic, there is better chance of users looking at the URL left by your comment.

#6 Do some more research!
The Internet has plenty of resources, good and bad, so take a look around but don't believe all you read. A good source of SEO info (as well as this site) is SEOMOZ which has a range of different categories of SEO info, from downloadable beginner guides, a daily SEO blog, a SEOmoz users blog (YouMoz) and some great SEO tools, like page strength calculator and juicy links finder... Also there are various free guides, webinars and more available, I'll post links to these whenever I find them.

Get started on these and add comments/feedback and say how you got on!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Google is Evil

Quick note about the google brand term issue on Adwords PPC... Why can anyone bid on anyone elses brand except for the keyword "Google". Is Google removing anyone bidding on Google or is the CPC being driven up too because of unrelated landing pages? I've seen a few ads for the keyword "Google" but none last that long. seem to be on Google and Microsoft, I imagine the cost must be considerable especially as conversions must be really crappy. How does Google see this as an improvement in quality? I'd like to know how much Google generated in additional revenue since the new ruling went live on the 5th of May... Less people needed to police the PPC Results and a massive increase in PPC ad spend just to stay in the chase (a friend of mine works as PPC manager for a large company and expects the PPC ad spend to rise 25% just on Google) means Google will do very well over the next few weeks until people realise their annual PPC spend has been exceeded...

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