Archive for October, 2006

Top 10 List of SEO

October 31st, 2006 by WarrenT

I think it is possible to list the most important elements in optimizing a web page (or web site for that matter) for search engines. Here are my top 10. Feel free to list yours or correct mine. They are not in order from most important to least important.

Top 10 Tips to SEO

1. Find out what keywords from your service and industry web site visitors are using in the search engines. If you manufacture blue, red and green widgets, find out if people are searching with those terms or if they are using big, medium and little widgets instead.

2. Optimize your web site’s Title tags. These are HTML scripted tags that appear in between the open HEAD and closing HEAD tags on your web page. Place your researched keywords in these Title tags because search engines count that tag as one of the most important on-page factors in ranking your page for the keywords it is optimized for. The Title tag is predominantly displayed in search engine results; is the first line of the result and is usually the link to your web page.

3. Optimize your web site’s Meta description tags. These also are HTML scripted tags that appear in between the open HEAD and closing HEAD tags on your web page. The Meta description tag is often shown in search engine results as one or two sentences that briefly explain what the web page is about. Place your page’s keywords in the description tag and write it as a grammatically correct sentence so searchers can get an idea of your page’s content.

4. Optimize your web site’s Meta keywords tags. These fit in between your web page’s open HEAD and closing HEAD tags on your web page. Many web page optimizers say this tag can be left out because the search engines no longer take it into consideration due to past spamming techniques that abused this tag. Directory managers, however, can use the keywords Meta tag to help place your web site in their directory.

5. When creating a web page for the first time, utilize one of the most important keywords or phrase for the page name. You will know what keywords are important for the page’s content through the research you conducted when you performed #1 above. If you are using more than one keyword, separate the words with a hyphen (dash) and use no more than three keywords for the name of the page. See an example in #6 below.

6. When creating a sub-folder in your web site, use a keyword or phrase in naming the folder. For example, if you sell widgets and you have pages on red widgets in a different folder than pages on blue widgets you might want the names of the folders to match the names of the pages. It would look something like this for a business web site named Widgets For All: www.widgetsforall.com/common-widgets/small-red-widgets.html.

7. Take advantage of the alt image attribute in HTML scripting. The ‘alt’ term stands for ‘alternate’ and was originally built into HTML scripting so that persons who didn’t want their browsers to display graphics could get a description of the image instead, hence ‘alt’. Search engines read the attribute (also known as the alt tag) and it is appropriate to place a keyword or phrase in the attribute. Don’t stuff it, use no more than five words if possible and have it make sense.

8. Make sure your web pages load quickly. While many people in the United States have high-speed Internet connections, search engine spiders (also known as robots) take into consideration the page’s size in kilobytes. If it takes a long time for your web page to load, the search engine’s spider will not travel through it (known as spidering a page or web site) and then your page will not rank for the keywords it has been optimized for. In addition, web pages that take a long time to load will probably not have many human viewers. There are too many other pages available on the World Wide Web for someone to wait during the time it takes for yours to load.

9. Make a plan to get links from web sites that carry authority in the search engines. These are established web sites that have been around quite awhile and have many web sites linking to them. A good example is MSN’s home page or Adobe’s home page. While it would be extremely difficult to receive a link from them, they carry the weight and have been established long enough to represent those kinds of web sites to seek out for an inbound link.

10. Have web sites that are linking to yours use your keywords in their links. Using the widgets example above, ask the web site owner you seek a link from to use something like this: A good source for red widgets is Widgets For All. The words,’ red widgets’ in the previous sentence would be the link that points to www.yoursite.com/common-widgets/small-red-widgets.html.

Warren Taylor – Senior Account Executive

Link Popularity Explained

October 27th, 2006 by Joe Griffin

Link Popularity Explained
Joe Griffin

Search engines like Yahoo and Google store over ten billion web pages in their vast databases, so structuring and organizing this content is a major undertaking.

To properly organize this data, search engines have developed sophisticated algorithms to the measure the importance of the web pages within their databases. The importance of a web page is measured in two ways, as detailed below:

1) Onsite Optimization
This form of optimization is commonly referred to as “search engine optimization” or “natural search engine optimization.” Natural search engine optimization information can be found all over the web. For more information, search “natural search engine optimization” on Google.

2) Offsite Optimization
This form of optimization is commonly referred to as “Link Building.” It is often categorized under three identities called “one way links,” “reciprocal links,” and “text link advertising,” as detailed below:

One-Way Links

One-way links can be attained through:

- Directories.
- Message Boards / forums.
- Blogs, RSS feeds, and press releases.
- Company affiliates including partners, clients, parent and sister websites.
- One-way link email requests.

Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal links can be attained through:

- Link exchange (two-way) e-mail requests.
- Acceptance of outside exchange requests.
- E-mail exchange requests sent from the Company to other relevant websites.
- Partnerships – Reciprocating with partners is common among websites. When this arrangement occurs, both partners benefit.
- Internal Reciprocation – Many organizations may own or operate more than one website.

In some scenarios, internal reciprocation between sites is search engine friendly. In other scenarios, it may not be. I would advise consulting with an expert to analyze your situation, if you have one.

Link reciprocation should not occur through existing link reciprocation databases that cater to the same group of websites. These networks are commonly called “link farms.”

Text Link Advertising

This process involves the negotiating of text link ads on relevant and/or high profile websites. Similar to the process of buying banner advertisements, text link advertisements are available on many websites in all industries. Google Adsense and Yahoo Publisher Network have popularized this form of advertising. Text link advertising is an appealing model to many because it is typically much more cost-effective than banner advertising, and offers an alternative ad model to the more common banner advertising model.

With that said, advertisers can negotiate a wide variety of relevant and/or high profile text link ad media buys. Text link advertising should be employed sparingly at first and expanded over a long period of time. Understand that sparingly can mean different things for different websites. You may want to consult an expert on the best strategy for your website. There is no such thing as a “quick fix” to poor link popularity.

Building link popularity for a website can be a time consuming, monotonous, and daunting task which requires a lot of patience. Employing search-engine-friendly strategies will typically have the best long term results while maintaining a low risk of penalty throughout. It is important to carefully plan the long term popularity for your website. Unlike most public relation strategies, too much attention too fast is bad.

Grow your link popularity over the course of 12-24 months. You should always plan on a one-year strategy when deploying any natural search engine optimization or link building campaign.

Happy Searching.

9 Things to Keep in Mind About Pay-Per-Click

October 24th, 2006 by Patrick Hare

Submitawebsite manages Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns for a variety of clients, from retail establishments to service companies and and real estate agents. Whatever the enterprise, there are some good general tips on running a PPC campaign and getting the results you are looking for.

1. You don’t have to spend the maximum recommended budget. Pay-Per-Click engines like Google AdWords and MSN AdCenter will show your ad for a fraction of the day if you do not commit to the full daily budget. However, you can choose the time of day that your ads run, and Google will shuffle your ad in and out of its listings throughout the day until your daily budget is met through clicks. Therefore, if Google recommends spending $100 per day and you only have $10 per day in your budget, you will appear one out of every ten times your keyword phrases are searched. Many sites on the internet make good money with limited PPC budgets, and it is a common strategy to start small and funnel profits into the next month’s marketing budget until you are able to buy full exposure.

2. Use negative matching. If you have a keyword phrase that is associated with irrelevant searches, make sure to filter out those words in your ad group. For example, if you sell new cabinets, and your keyword is “kitchen cabinet,” then you want to make sure the words “refacing” “refinishing” and “repair” are represented as negative keywords by adding “-refacing, -refinishing, -repair” in the list of keywords (see your individual search engine for details on how this is done)

3. Be wary of Content Matching. Content Network Matching is a way of showing your ad next to online text that contains your keywords. The original idea behind this feature was to place your ad near relevant articles about your product or services. However, Content Match is exploited by millions of pages across the internet that are designed to get people to click on your ad, since the content host gets a percentage of the ad revenue. If you did not physically turn off “content match” when you set up your pay-per-click campaign, then you are likely losing money on the content match service. In almost every case, you only want to serve up your ad to people who are actively looking for your product or service. There are very few cases where content match results in a worthwhile conversion rate.

4. Google lets you put a phone number in your AdWords Ad. If you have sales people who answer the phone, you can save the cost of a click (often as high as $5) with a well placed phone number.

5. Local Pay-Per-Click does not always work. Yahoo’s local model mostly shows results on its “local” tab which is not used by many web searchers. Google’s local match works when Google is able to identify your IP address (the location of your computer network) as being in a defined area. Some internet services give addresses that are thousands of miles away from the town you are in, so not all of your customers will see your “local” ad. A way to get around this is to set up a separate Google campaign with national exposure that uses keywords naming every city, town, and community in your service area. For example, if you are selling real estate in Los Angeles, you would buy the phrase “real estate” in a local campaign, and then buy the phrase “Los Angeles Real Estate” in a national campaign.

5. For your PPC campaign to work, you need to make sure customers are landing on web pages that are relevant and easy to navigate. If a customer does not see what they are looking for immediately, they will click the “back” button on their browser and look at the next site. It may take a few weeks and quite a few dollars to fine tune your pages and keywords until you get the response rate you are looking for. Many successful retail PPC sites also have phone numbers prominently located at the top of every page. Often a customer will ask a simple question and then complete a sale online. Even if you do not want constant phone traffic, it is very helpful to run a phone number on your site for a limited time in order to find out what your customers are looking for. You can use the results to redefine your ads in major PPC engines.

6. You should also write your ads for the customers you DON’T want. Some customers are looking for items that are cheaper than what you sell, and others are looking for an item that is defined with similar keywords. By adding the price of your product in the ad copy you can weed out customers looking for “cheap” items. By the same token, if you sell cheap items, you can safe yourself the click cost of someone looking for the premium alternative. An easy way to incorporate “customer filtering” into your copy is to look at your keywords and think of the web surfer that you do not think will want your products. For example, if you are selling one brand of car stereo, make sure that you have the brand name in the ad text. If you only market a service to new clients, make sure “new clients only” is part of the text as well. About 5% of web surfers will click on the first ad in the list, no matter what the text, but it is still possible to save thousands of dollars in click costs every year by making sure that you are proactively reaching the customers that matter to you most.

7. Not all PPC results in sales or conversions. There are some business models that do not respond well to pay-per-click. If the customer is going to be spending thousands of dollars on a product or service, they may want to see a physical sample of what they will be buying. When you are setting up a campaign, you should ask yourself who your competitors are and how they reach their customers.

8. Your competitors may be losing money on their PPC campaigns. Some companies use Pay Per Click in the same way they use a billboard, which is to build a brand. Others lose money on the initial sale but add the customer to a catalog or mailing list that will pay out over time. Some competitors may believe that if they are always in the #1 position on the search engines, they will make money eventually. Others are spending venture capital money with the belief that they will be profitable in 3 years if they build a customer base now. Finally, some sites are affiliates of a major site, and make a commission when a customer (or “lead”) makes a purchase through the main site. Affiliates are notorious for over-bidding, burning out, and getting replaced in the listings by new affiliates who also expect to “get rich” selling the exact same product that 20 other people are selling online. There are many major companies that set up affiliate programs because they know the affiliate will be spending all the marketing dollars while competing with other people selling the same items. In many cases, your competition may be driving up the bid price for some phrases to an extent that it is impossible for anyone to make money from a sale or conversion.

Whatever you are selling or featuring online through Pay-Per-Click, you should have a strategy that gets you the best return in the shortest amount of time. If you have software that allows you to monitor how your customers use your site when they land on it, you can quickly refine the site and PPC campaign until you get the conversion rate you are looking for. Often the difference between a profitable campaign and an unprofitable one lies in picking the right phrases, ads, and landing pages for your potential customers.

Put a Blog on Your Website

October 24th, 2006 by Kay F

What is a blog, you ask? A blog is simply a content delivery system, in the form of an online journal (weblog).

Because blogs require minimal technical savvy and little or no money, you can be at the forefront of a growing trend and promote your web site at the same time.

Once you’ve got it set up and running (see resources below), updates take about the same time as writing and sending an e-mail.

  • Blogs are rich in content and as a result rank high in search engines. Blogs can help your page rank and SERP.
  • When you talk to your audience in a blog, you are filling the search engines’ databases with relevant keywords – relevant because most of us search for the words or phrases we use daily.
  • In a blog you speak like a real, living person, directly and using words you would use in a conversation. You talk to your visitors, reaching them on a personal level, humanizing your web site.
  • Blogs have become a strategic business communication tool; in one study the blog increased average time on a site by 60%.

What to Blog About

Write about what you know. Write about the subject of your web site – what you see happening in the real estate market, new features about your product, interesting facets of the service you offer, or about news events that involve your product/service.

Tips on Writing and Maintaining Your Blog:

  1. Consistency: Post to your blog on a regular basis.
  2. Write good headlines: Titles are everything! Make your headline informative and use keywords.
  3. Use keywords: Pepper the post with keywords and phrases that will be attractive to search engines.
  4. Link like crazy: Make keywords into links. Link to products or services on your site. Always link to information that clarifies or gives background on information and opinions in your post. For instance, if you’re blogging about real estate in Scottsdale, send a link to a relevant site.
  5. Be direct: Keep your copy short, lively and interesting. Omit all unnecessary words.
  6. Keep your sense of humor: Your writing should be light and casual – don’t take yourself too seriously.
  7. Use bullet points: Many people skim and only read headlines. Does your content make sense to them?
  8. Use subheads: Even in a short post, use subheads every few sentences. Remember, white space is your friend.
  9. Images and media: You can include images and short movies in your blog to make it more interesting.
  10. One subject per post: Most blog posts are rather short, and they’re often about one subject, which means high keyword density.
  11. Edit, edit, edit: Blogs are archived online, and anything you write will be there forever and ever. So think before you write, and edit before you hit “submit.”
  12. Ask others to link to your blog: Place a link on your blog so others can add you to social networks. Use Socializer and you will need only one link to reach all social bookmark sites, such as del.icio.us and digg.

Blog Resources

If you’re wondering where to start, here are a few helpful sites.


Kay Frenzer – Senior Account Executive

Search Engine Friendly URLs

October 5th, 2006 by Kay F

SEO Chat
Search Engine Friendly URLs
Contributed by
Jennifer Sullivan Cassidy
2006-10-04

Search engines prefer static URLs to dynamic URLs. This article explains the difference, tells why search engines don’t like dynamic URLs, and shows you some ways to make your dynamic URLs look like static ones.

There are many reasons a webmaster may want to change the look and feel of a web page address. They may have dynamic URLs that need to be search engine-friendly, the page may have moved, the whole site may have moved to a new domain name, or they need to be better for users to view as interesting in the SERPs for more traffic and searchability. Whatever a webmaster’s reasons for changing the way a URL is handled, there are definitely good ways to do this in regard to SEO, and then there are some bad ones, too.

In this article I want to look at a few ways you can utilize a few simple server tools and redirection elements to provide your site with static-looking search engine friendly URLs.

Dynamic URLs

There are two types of URLs: dynamic and static. A dynamic URL is a page address that results from the search of a database-driven web site or the URL of a web site that runs a script. In contrast to static URLs, in which the contents of the web page stay the same unless the changes are hard-coded into the HTML, dynamic URLs are generated from specific queries to a site’s database. The dynamic page is basically only a template in which to display the results of the database query. Instead of changing information in the HTML code, the data is changed in the database.

Because of the way that dynamic URLs are created, they sometimes create nightmares in the area of search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines do not like to index dynamic URLs. There are multiple reasons for this, one of them being the non-standard characters like ?, &, %, =, and others in the URL. Many times, anything after the character is disregarded. For example, we may have URLs that look something like this:

http://www.somesite.com/index.php?forumid&=120957w&=0404200620%search
http://www.somesite.com/index.php?forumid&=143212x&=0617200720%search
http://www.somesite.com/index.php?forumid&=236718b&=1127200420%search

Well, you get the idea. So if the part of the URL after the first character is disregarded, the URLs look like this to a search engine:

http://www.somesite.com/index.php
http://www.somesite.com/index.php
http://www.somesite.com/index.php

Any URL that is viewed this way to a search engine is going to essentially be nothing more than a bunch of duplicate URLs. And we all know how much search engines just love duplicate URLs. (Okay, I was being sarcastic, as they don’t). They would much rather index a URL that looks like this:

http://www.somesite.com/index.php/seo_tools_page.html

In other areas, many times dynamic content is hard to spider, especially if it is pulled from the database with client-side code like JavaScript. If you can’t view the page source and view the content of a web page, there is a very good chance that a search engine spider will not be able to either. While search engines are getting much better at indexing dynamic URLs, they would still prefer static URLs.

So the challenge of dynamic URLs is clear: how do you keep the dynamic site without compromising the indexing of your pages with regard to SEO? By creating search engine-friendly (SEF) URLs, that’s how! Let’s look at a few methods we want to be familiar with in our quest for SEF URLs. Quite frankly, it may sound like a daunting mission, but it’s certainly not a mission impossible.

The first and most obvious way you could do this would be to rename every page in your site to reflect a static URL with keywords and make those pages static. If you have only a few pages in your site, then you probably don’t need a dynamic site in the first place, so this would be fine. But if you have a dynamic site that produces hundreds or even thousands of URLs, then doing this by hand is an unreasonable task to undertake. So you will either need to figure out a different way to accomplish the same thing, or find a tool to do it for you.

Using .htaccess

In the next couple of items I’ll explain a bit further. The .htaccess file is basically a set of instructions in a simple text file with the extension .htaccess (there is no file name) on the server to give parameters to the browser when a request is made, put quite simply. More specifically, it is a web server configuration file that contains commands known by the server that tell the server how to behave in certain instances. The place you would utilize mod_rewrite or other redirect-type tools available to you will most likely be in your .htaccess file.

Some of the most common uses of an htaccess file include the capability to restrict access to certain files or directories on the Internet (or intranet) through password protection. Additionally htaccess is used to automatically redirect users, ban or allow certain IP addresses access to the server, and to call a custom designed 404 error page rather than the standard error 404 file that usually appears in your browser. Apache Web servers and other NCSA compliant Web servers can use htaccess.

Most search engines, especially all major ones, will not index pages with query strings because it may also indicate that the content of the page is not static and it prevents spamming to some extent. There’s multiple ways to disguise the query string though. The easiest and probably most used involves mod_rewrite on Apache servers.

If your server is hosted on a Linux or Unix (*nix) server, then you may have access to Apache’s module called mod_rewrite. This is a nifty module indeed. What it does is return to the browser a URL that appears to be the actual web address of the page, when in fact the URL itself is not being changed in any way. It’s more of a mirror effect.

When a request comes in to a server for the new static URL through mod_rewrite, the Apache module redirects the URL internally to the old, dynamic URL, while still appearing to all the world, search engines included, as the static URL. The web server compares the URL requested by the client with the search pattern in the individual rules. For example, when someone requests the SEF URL:

http://www.somesite.com/index-forumid/120957w/0404200620%search.htm

The server looks for and compares this static-looking URL to what information is listed in the .htaccess file, such as:

Options +FollowSymLinks

RewriteEngine on

RewriteRule index-forumid (.*)/(.*)/(.*).htm$ index.php?forumid=$1&=$2&=$3

So what if you are on a Microsoft IIS server? Well, there is another way to accomplish this using code, but it’s far more painful to use than mod_rewrite. But it can certainly be done. Unfortunately for the time being, that is outside the scope of this article.

301 vs. 302 Redirects

Redirects can either be good or bad as far as SEF URLs are concerned. 302 redirects are temporary redirects. These tell a search engine spider that you’ve moved this page only temporarily and to index it later when you have moved it to a new home for good. While this may not be what you actually had in mind to
do, that’s how a search engine reads a 302 redirect. Use instead a 301 permanent redirect. It’s the 301 redirect that informs the search engine of the new URL and to start indexing it instead of the old URL. 301 redirects are also fairly seamless, so your visitors will also probably not be aware of the move, and if they’ve bookmarked a particular page, this will be especially helpful.

If you are not willing or don’t know how to write a script to reprogram your dynamic URLs into static ones, then you are in luck, because there are many tools available on the web that will help you produce the code you need to enable you to create SEF URLs. You might want to consider a Windows code generator if you are on an MS IIS server.

Incorporating Keywords

You may be thinking to yourself, “Well, okay, the rewritten URL looks a bit better, but it doesn’t contain any keywords, and certainly doesn’t mean anything to me or my visitors. Now what?” Search engines are 66% to 85% more likely to list your web page in its top ten results if you utilize a keyword or phrase in the URL. So not only should you master the techniques of creating SEF URLs, you should also try to get a few highly targeted keywords placed in that SEF URL. Now, we’re just making this whole thing too complicated, right? Not necessarily. Keep in mind that it is up to you to decide how your URL will ultimately look.

So while we are creating our SEF URL, we simply plant a few of the keywords into the code for redirection or rewrite. Let me show you a little bit of what I mean. Let’s say we want our URL to look like this:

http://www.somesite.com/index.php/seo_tools_page.html

We’ll have to take our earlier code and expand it a bit more, make it URL specific and cover multiple parameters. We may just need to add a few tweaks to incorporate the keywords where we want them. You will probably do better to find information on the specific code to do this by doing a search for mod_rewrite, as it is outside the scope of this article. Essentially there are three key steps to any mod_rewrite directive:

RewriteRule thisfile changedfilename

There are clearly more things that will go into all of this that I haven’t covered, nor do I have the time and in the case of mod_rewrite, the knowledge to do everything you need to create the perfect SEF URLs. This article is not necessarily intended to give you all the specific instructions to utilize mod_rewrite completely effectively on all of your pages, for example, but it’s a fair start.