Archive for January, 2010

Google Understands Synonyms – Semantic SEO Tips

January 29th, 2010 by Patrick Hare

A recent announcement by Google highlights the search engine’s improved ability to understand words and how they relate to each other. By highlighting synonyms in its search results, Google is showing that it can figure out much more about the context of page content.

Google’s improved linguistic and semantic skills may be a double edged sword for people who use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques for their rankings. On the plus side, people who try to write content as naturally as possible will have already included common synonyms in their website text. On the other hand, people who rely too heavily on a certain set of keywords, without using synonyms, may find themselves sliding in the rankings as Google further refines how it indexes synonymous terms.

An example of synonym highlighting can be found in our own industry. When you type in “search engine optimization” into Google, you may notice that the acronym “SEO” is also highlighted. Even though you get very different results when you search on these terms individually, the search engine’s understanding of the relationship between these terms is an indicator that Google thinks they are one and the same, and believes that a user would be helped by the bold text.

For webmasters who may have neglected their content, or who based all their text, titles, descriptions, and keywords on a narrow range of phrases, it may be time to invest in SEO improvements. Even though the meta description tag doesn’t improve rankings, the highlighting of synonyms does improve visibility and click-throughs, so an audit of past SEO work may be in order. If your keyword research is more than 2 years old, it would be a good time to use a tool like Google’s keyword tool to look for related terms, and see if your SEO is still current.

Additionally, it is always important to keep current with search trends as they relate to customers. People have become savvier about their word choices when they type their queries into search engines, and a new course of keyword research may enable a flexible website owner to jump ahead of sites that haven’t altered their tags or content in some time. If you find that your website’s text is not congruent with the word order or keyword choices used by the average consumer, then some polishing and rewriting may help create the freshness that a search engine wants to present on its results pages.

The use of synonyms should also extend across anchor text for links, both on and off the website. If you’re soliciting links from other sites, you should make sure that popular synonyms are in the link text, but you should also ensure that the same synonyms are on the landing page. At this time, it may still make sense to create additional pages based around synonyms rather that mixing up synonymous terms on a different page. In the future, synonyms may be indexed in relation to their semantic counterparts, but right now there is still plenty of value in having exact matches on your site.

Google’s semantic search engine improvements underscore one of the tenets of good SEO, which involves making your site into the best possible resource for its subject matter. As search engine algorithms become better able to understand language, they will use their knowledge of words and concepts to pick the best possible sources of information online. Therefore, anyone seeking to have (or continue to have) a profitable web presence vis a vis search engine rankings should definitely consider the power of language as algorithms approach a human level of knowledge.

Get Found: Submitting URLs to Search Engines

January 29th, 2010 by Lisa Rosenkrantz

If you want to get found on the Internet you must submit your URL to the search engines. This is your way of kindly inviting the search engine spiders over for a visit. If you don’t invite them they may never stop by. After all, that would be rude.

There are several routes you can take for successful URL submission, but it won’t really do you any good if your website isn’t search engine friendly. Before you submit a website, you need to make sure your site follows the best search engine optimization (SEO) practices so it will be more likely to be indexed and will rank higher. The following are some questions you may want to ask yourself before website submission:

1. Are there clear page themes throughout your site?
2. Did you include enough original content on each page?
3. Are there searched keyword phrases included in your titles and content?
4. Is your link structure easily navigated?

Google is a search engine everybody wants to be found on. One way of submitting your URL to Google is by visiting the Add Your URL to Google page. Here you can follow the directions and submit. You only need to submit your top level page (homepage). Once the Google spiders have visited your homepage, they will be able to find your interior pages. Google makes it clear; however, that just because you submit a URL doesn’t mean that it will get indexed. Furthermore, Google cannot predict, even if the page does get indexed, when it will appear in the results.

Aside from going strictly to Google, there are other website services out there that will submit your URL for you. These sites not only submit your URLs to the top search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing but many others as well.

Note: You don’t need to resubmit your URL if you’re already in Google, and resubmitting on a regular basis won’t improve your rankings.

There is no clear-cut way to tell if and when a search engine will index your site. The best approach you can take is to really focus on your SEO before submitting. Web.com Search Agency can offer you support with the launch and submission of your new site. Our team of experts can put together a package that will help skyrocket your new URL submission to the top of the pack. Call Web.com Search Agency today for guaranteed search engine exposure!

-Megan Homan

Viral Internet Marketing

January 29th, 2010 by Lisa Rosenkrantz

What is viral marketing on the Internet?
This refers to any strategy that enables people to pass on a positive marketing message to other individuals in a variety of ways, with somewhat of a snowball effect. There is the potential for the message to have unlimited exposure and influence with the goal of rapidly reaching thousands, possibly millions, of Internet users. The main thrust is that you don’t push your visitors into delivering your sales message to others, but it ends up being a side effect of them gaining some benefit from a utility or service that you offer.

What are the elements of Internet viral marketing?
A viral message has the ability to be forwarded on the Internet, for example, via forwarded emails. There are some basic elements that you should strive to include in your strategy:

• Attract attention by offering free products or services
• Provide for easy transfer to others via email, downloads, videos, etc.
• Exploit common human motivations; for example, the desire to be popular
• Use communication networks such as email, social networking sites, etc.
• Take advantage of others’ resources using text links, etc.

YouTube is a key example of online viral marketing. If a video is funny, provokes certain emotions or is otherwise compelling for some reason, it’s likely to become popular quickly. Links to the video will quickly multiply as viewers share the video with others. Many may even decide to embed the video on their websites or social networking pages, drawing even more attention. Businesses are catching on to the YouTube concept and using it to post informational videos that relate to their products or services.

Is Web viral marketing effective?
Viral Internet marketing is a smart and up-to-date way to get your message out quickly and effectively. This inexpensive concept seems to be showing up everywhere on Internet marketing resources and is considered very effective in generating a lot of interest in your business. Most importantly, there is no doubt that it increases online sales!

What are some effective forms of viral website marketing?
There are tons of ways to make your website and your message go viral. You can try:

• High quality textual content
• Video
• Pictures
• Banners
• Streaming Audio
• RSS feeds
• Podcasts
• E-books
• Whitepapers
• Ezines
• Plugins
• Referral forms

Let Web.com Search Agency take you to the next level with our viral online marketing services. Call 1-877-Rank321 to get started.

Internet Cloaking

January 29th, 2010 by Lisa Rosenkrantz

What is cloaking?
Search engine cloaking is when a website returns different information to a human searcher than it does to a spider that crawls the exact same site. Some experts consider it Black Hat SEO as it is essentially deceiving the search engines to get better rankings. The search engine thinks it’s selecting a key match to its request based on the content that it has been presented, but the results don’t necessarily correspond to what’s actually delivered to a human visitor.

Why does cloaking occur?
There are two general rationalizations that people who engage in cloaking give – to protect pages from other search engine optimization (SEO) firms and to increase search engine ranking. Many who engage in website cloaking would argue that they aren’t hiding anything from the search engines – they’re merely presenting an alternate version – so it’s acceptable.

Some proponents of cloaking websites further insist that they are justified because: the content is relevant despite the cloaking, the HTML code needs to be protected, you can’t compete unless you use cloaking techniques and (supporting the fact that this is indeed a slippery practice) you’ll never get caught.

These are all unsupported assertions. If your site is of good quality and has been optimized properly and naturally with the help of a professional firm like Web.com Search Agency, you won’t need to resort to such types of deceptive practices.

What is the damage of cloaking a website?
Unfortunately, while you may get increased traffic because of the results that come up, if the content isn’t relevant to what the searcher was looking for, they’ll be bouncing off your site in no time. Also, if your site is attracting a great deal of traffic, your web cloak scheme will eventually be found out and you could be banned or blacklisted by the search engines.

What you ultimately need to know is that with the amount of effort that cloaking requires, it doesn’t even work. So, if you’ve been engaging in web site cloaking, you’ve wasted your time. Many search engines, like Google, use methods other than analyzing solely what is on the page to determine its ranking.

Your best bet for improving your rankings, your site traffic and your reputation is to employ a seasoned, professional SEO firm like Web.com Search Agency. Avoid the trap of cloaking a website and other shady optimization techniques. Call 1-877-Rank321.

Canonical Tag Advantages – Canonical Link Element Info

January 25th, 2010 by Patrick Hare
The canonical tag (or canonical link) element can go a long way in helping Google understand which pages of your site belong in the search engine results. Thanks to a recent Google update, this tag can also help you specify which site is the preferred source for information which may need to be duplicated in other places.

What is a canonical tag? And what does “canonical” mean? In the search engine optimization world, “canonical” refers to the preferred version of the URL that should be considered by search engines. Normally it refers to whether or not you use the www prefix in front of your URL, and how you channel link popularity to your preferred pages while preventing search engine confusion related to duplicate content. A canonical tag, however, is used to define which version of a particular page should be considered as the one a search engine indexes.

Normally, a canonical tag looks like:

link rel=”canonical” href=http://www.example.com/page1.htm
(Note that the usual “less than” and “greater than” markup signs should be at each end of the tag.)

This tag should get placed in the between the opening and closing “head” sections of your source code. Each canonical URL in the “href=” section should reference the page it is duplicating. If all your tags on interior pages reference the homepage, then your interior pages are likely to vanish from search results. You can also put the canonical tag on the actual canonical page.

Why would you use a canonical tag? Ideally, you want to control the way search engines index your content, and how they apply link popularity between pages. If you have a site that has “printer friendly” pages, then you need to specify which one you want indexed, though you can also use other tricks to do this. If you have multiple product pages in a shopping cart for the same item, you only want to show the one that is the best search engine match. According to a general consensus among search engine optimization consultants, the canonical tag also applies the link popularity (incoming link value) of a duplicate page to the one specified as the original when it is tagged.

In rare cases, a canonical tag may help you safeguard against accidental or deliberate site duplication and code theft. If the person copying your code doesn’t remove the tag, then your URL is still going to be the source considered as original. If you find that some other domain name is accidentally or deliberately forwarding to your server, a canonical added to your site will prevent potential duplicate content issues. This may also help if a search engine has a hard time choosing between secure and non-secure pages on your site.

Remarketing to PPC Customers – Reclaim Abandoned Shopping Cart Sales

January 25th, 2010 by Patrick Hare
Google Adwords is rolling out a beta test of a remarketing service that may prove very valuable to PPC advertisers. This service will allow for greater visibility, even after a customer leaves your site, and especially if the customer is not reached the final stages of the buying process.

What is remarketing? In the online sense of the word, remarketing involves showing ads on other websites to customers who have already visited your website. It can be very targeted, so you could only choose to remarket to people who have gotten to certain parts of your site, or who have abandoned your online shopping cart process. Shopping cart abandonment is not entirely uncommon when a customer wants to check prices and shipping costs, and then chooses to keep on searching.

How is remarketing done? It depends on the service. Some online advertisers may use a cookie, javascript, pixels, or an IP address to trigger ads on other content match services online. Usually, you will need to place code on any page of your website you want to use for remarketing targeting. After your potential customer visits your site, this code will trigger ads on other sites that are part of the advertising network. Google Adwords has a content match network, known as Adsense, that places ads on sites that contain relevant text in their body content. With Google’s remarketing program (now in Beta, and available to only a few subscribers) a specially targeted text or image ad can appear on sites people visit after they go to yours.

What are the advantages of remarketing? First and foremost, the conversion rates on remarketing are high. This is because the people who are seeing your ad have already been to your site. Remarketing is also a great way to build a brand online (which was previously almost impossible with PPC and SEO) because visitors to your site will now start seeing you all over the place. People who are using search engines to find out more information regarding a product or service are likely to visit review and comparison shopping sites that show Adsense ads to supplement their revenue. These sites may also already show ads from other remarketing networks. Best of all, your competitor may be monetizing his/her site with advertising, and this gives you the opportunity to advertise on the home turf of your competition. If you don’t want to do so, you can always list your competitor as an excluded channel.

What’s in the Adwords Remarketing beta? Some of their advantages vs. other sites is that you can target above-the-fold ad opportunities, go for a CPM or CPC model, and use day parting to catch customers when they’re most likely to make a call. At the time of this writing, there is not official news on the Google Adwords Blog, but Google has briefed search and marketing agencies like our own on the details. There is also some more information here.

How to remarket? Even if you aren’t part of the Google Adwords Remarketing Beta, there are other ad networks that have remarketing capabilities. You will probably want to do some comparison shopping to find out the logistics of installation, and to see if there is a minimum spend involved on each network. Many standard display and banner ad networks offer remarketing as a newer service, so be sure to ask your contact if online re-marketing is available.

As an online strategy, remarketing is sure to become more popular throughout 2010. Whether or not Google takes its beta mainstream, other companies have already discovered that previous visitors, especially ones who got to a certain page, represent a desirable demographic. Taking another crack at site users who abandon shopping carts is also smart, since a small change to your cart abandonment rate can yield big results, even after the fact. Finally, re-marketing on the PPC side is still fairly inexpensive, and can help you average down your cost per sale when you consider your budget as a whole. Given the alternative of losing a potential customer in a tough economy, remarketing can represent a significant new way of ensuring that money isn’t taken off the table by someone else.

Website Flipping – How to Use SEO to Flip Domains

January 20th, 2010 by Patrick Hare
Even though the domain name aftermarket isn’t as lucrative as it was before the economic downturn, there are still ways to “flip” a domain name in the same way real estate speculators flipped houses. Many of the principles are even the same, since the usual method involves buying distressed or undervalued property, remodeling and refurbishing it, and selling it to the highest bidder for a quick profit. Similarly, just as there were people who dabble in real estate as a sideline, there are people in the webmaster and search optimization field who practice website flipping as a hobby that occasionally turns into a full time job.

The late 1990s and early 2000s are usually seen as the “gold rush” days for domain name speculation. This is because there were plenty of domains that could be bought for $35 (the price has gone down since then), and some of them could later be resold for millions. In 1999, Business.com was sold for 7.5 million dollars. Later on, Creditcards.com sold for over 2.5 million dollars, and Fund.com sold for almost 10 million. As the early days of domain prospecting ran their course, the domain flipping era matured. Some individuals and companies own scores of available domain names, and only need to sell a few of them to make back their entire investment.

As a concept, website flipping is very similar, but with the difference that nowadays, you are better off having a website on your domain, even if it consists of just a few pages. There was a period of time where a domain name could be “parked” and it would get search engine traffic. Domain owners could make money by pointing the domain at cash parking services or Google’s own Adsense for Domains program. Domain parking is still around, and still makes money, but usually the traffic comes by way of links from referring sites, as the search engines have done a very good job of removing parked sites from their results. Having a basic website on your domain makes your site much more likely to rank in the search engines, get noticed, and get bought.

How do you flip a domain? First, you need to buy a domain name. You can either buy a brand new name via your domain registrar like Web.com through an auction, through a list of expiring domain names, or resellers like GreatDomains or SEDO.com. Ideally you want a domain that is likely to get high keyword demand, or one in a very profitable sector. It is generally best to avoid buying domain names that contain trademarks or copyrighted phrases.

Next, you generally want to host a website on the domain. Sometimes you can buy domains that already have active websites, but if not you will want to build one, or use a template. Normally, a website flipping strategy calls for the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques in order to give the domain name prominence on search engines such as Google. If you can create a useful resource for your topic, your site is more likely to get good search rankings. You can run ads on the site to monetize it while you wait for the right buyer to come along. Simultaneously, you usually will want to list the site for sale on domain name aftermarket sites, or you may wish to solicit existing site owners personally. Generally the people who are buying Adwords ads for your keyword phrase are the best audience, especially when they see that your domain and website are already on the first page of Google. (As a courtesy to these advertisers, you want to copy and paste their sites into a browser instead of clicking on the ad when you want to get more site information.)

The best type of domains to flip, and the ones that are easiest to SEO, are exact match domain names. Although it isn’t as commonplace as it was in the past, people used to type a popular phrase followed by “.com” into their browser bars. This could account for a significant amount of traffic. Today, search engines still give special preference to domain names that match search terms, even if the sites have lower ratings for links and content than the adjacent search engine listings. As a result, the “.net” and “.org” extensions can still be valuable in the domain name marketplace for competitive or popular terms. In a few special cases, the “.info” domain name may have some value, but search engines aren’t generally very enthusiastic about many of the exotic domain extensions that have cropped up over the past few years.

Despite the number of ebooks and “get rich quick” schemes that tell you how easy it is to flip a website, there is a certain level of skill involved, and most of that skill comes through experience. Domains and sites may need to be appraised. Domain appraisal scam artists will approach you, posing as buyers. (They really get a commission off a 3rd party appraisal, then say they don’t want your site.) During the selling process, there is usually a bit of negotiation. Sellers often price their domains too high, and potential buyers may put out a bid that is far too low. A complete sale then goes through an escrow process, where you don’t get paid until the domain transfers, and vice versa.

How much money can you make selling domains and websites? The answer depends on your level of skill, luck, and patience. You may not want to quit your day job in the meantime. A good domain name may be worth millions, but there are quite a few in the marketplace that can’t even be sold for their original registration cost. If you’re able to anticipate traffic demand for a new product or trend, you can pick up top level domains at low prices. You can also opt for the more conservative approach of finding undervalued sites and domains that will sell for a few thousand dollars each. This generally involves a little hard work, but can pay off when you choose sites that are in the right sector, or have great domain name potential.

The use of SEO to flip websites requires a certain level of commitment. Unlike domains that are essentially “day traded” without any development or improvement, flipped websites generally require a longer period of time before they become viable in the search engines. Search engine optimization can take months for many sites, and years for ones in sectors that require more trust, so the amount of effort should be proportional to the expected value of the final sale. You also don’t want to use tricks or shortcuts when doing your SEO, since a banned site is not likely to attract too many buyers.

While you’re waiting to sell the site that you’ve optimized, you may even find that your monetization efforts are bringing you more income than you had expected to get from selling the domain. Naturally, this is the type of problem that most resellers want to have, but many people prefer the challenge of improving a website property until it is sellable. Even though the virtual real estate market also has its bubbles, people who dabble in domains can still get into the field with a minimal investment, and the process can be rewarding from an educational and financial standpoint. If you have the time, SEO knowledge, and enough money to buy a good domain name, then website flipping might make for an interesting hobby, second job, or career.

How to Optimize Your Blog

January 18th, 2010 by Megan Homan

There are new blogs popping up on the Internet on a regular basis, but their ability to rank well is compromised as they compete with fully optimized websites for those top spots. Whether it is a personal blog about those precious tots or a business blog that showcases expert ramblings, it needs to be optimized. Blog optimization is not only important from a search engine viewpoint but your readers’ as well. Optimizing a blog is a little different than the standard SEO practices applied to actual websites, although they do share a common denominator – driving visitors to your site. The following are some blog SEO tips on how to help make your blog the very best it can be:

Beware of Design Template Disasters - Just like with websites, design counts! When deciding a layout for your blog, it is a good idea to design your own or have one designed for you. This will allow you to have more creative freedom and add some unique appeal to your blog. You can always choose a standard layout, but be sure to add some special tweaks to make it your own. When it comes to optimizing your blog for the search engines and readers, be careful of pre-designed page limitations.

Optimize Blog Post URLs - When you create a new blog post it typically looks something like this: www.yourblog.com/?p=890. Instead, you should incorporate the name or theme of your new post into your URL like www.yourblog.com/searched_keywords_work_best. This approach will definitely help get your blog post into the search results, especially if you incorporate searched keyword phrases into the URL.

Good Titles Make a Big Difference - Titles are extremely important to the search engine spiders visiting your page. Your titles, just like your content, need to be optimized. Incorporating keyword phrases into your titles will help your posts get better recognition in the search engines. Don’t waste title space optimization opportunities. For example, if you incorporate your blog name into the title, it’s better to get straight to the point with what that page is about. Search engines may view your posts as repetitious if you have the same phrase appearing in every title on your site.

The More You Have to Say the Better - If you want the search engine spiders to like what they see when they visit your site, be sure to post often. Google spiders, for example, love to see new content. The more often you post, the more often the spiders will visit, thus helping to increase credibility as you move up in the search results. Also, be original. Google hates to see duplicate content.

Beware of Spammy Links in your Comments Section - Google keeps a watchful eye on links. As a good rule of thumb, for any SEO strategy, you never want to have too many outbound links from your site, and you certainly don’t want links that are irrelevant to your post’s theme. Spammers use the comments section on a blog to boost their sites’ popularity, so you want to be sure that you are regularly monitoring the comments being posted to your blog.

Create Exposure through Links - You can use links to gain exposure for your blog without being spammy. If you reference an article or another blogger’s point of view, go ahead and link to it. This lets those receiving your link know you’re out there – and can result in you acquiring a link to your site.

If you require help with your blog search engine optimization, you can contact Web.com Search Agency at 1-877-726-5321 for assistance. Our team has the SEO expertise to move your website or blog to the top of the search results.

Search Engine Indexing

January 18th, 2010 by Megan Homan

Every website owner wants their site to be indexed in the search engines. Why? Because the whole point of a website is to reach your desired audience, and the only way to do so is by getting found in the search engines. This is accomplished through search engine indexing and help from professional SEO strategists

What is Search Engine Indexing?

When a search engine spider visits a website, it enters through the homepage and then spends time going through your content and visiting the links throughout your site to gather information. As the spider visits each page, it makes note of the page’s theme and what it potentially has to offer its non-robot visitors. After it leaves your site, it stores all the information and makes a record of it, so to speak. The web indexing is then complete and information about your site is computed. Then, when somebody searches a key phrase associated with your site, your page will appear in the search results as a resource.

How to Get Indexed

One way to index your website is through the submission of an XML site map. This allows you to put all that your site has to offer right in front of the web crawler telling it, “Hey, here are all of my web pages you should be indexing.” An XML site map isn’t too difficult to configure. Any web developer can pull one together and easily submit it for website indexing.

Of course, you don’t have to submit an XML site map, but almost any SEO professional will recommend that you do. Some professionals, however, believe that if you have a search engine friendly site, that will do the trick, which in theory is true. Using a sitemap simply helps to ensure no page gets overlooked.

Once Your Site is Indexed

Search engine indexing isn’t hard to accomplish, but getting your web page to rank high in the search results is. When a search engine spider crawls your site, it is looking for numerous factors about your site to determine if it is worth moving to the top. It is checking for characteristics like how well your content is developed and the number of links pointing at your site. These, among many others, are important aspects of SEO that an experienced strategist at Web.com Search Agency will be more than happy to help you with. The only way to get ahead in the search engines is by incorporating solid SEO practices into your website.

Google Maps: Don’t Miss Out on Local Search Opportunities

January 18th, 2010 by Megan Homan

Most people think the only way to get found in the search engines is through a properly optimized site in the organic results or through paid search campaigns, but those are not your only options. If you are particularly concerned with reaching your local Google search audience, Google Maps is a service that will allow you to gain online recognition without having to spend a lot of time on website optimization or pay-per-click strategies.

When a Google local search is conducted for “dentist in Denver”, for example, it will reveal a list of local dentists above the organic searches in the Google Maps section, but will only showcase those dentists who are registered with Google Maps. To appear in this section you must have a profile created in the Google Local Business Center. This service is ideal for business owners who strictly want to be found within their community.

Google Maps is similar to your trusty ol’ phone book (remember it?) except it offers searchers so much more than an address and telephone number. It displays a map with the location pinpointed, a clickable web address and more depending on the information you choose to share in your Google local profile.

Google Maps follows its own unique algorithm that is different from the organic search algorithm. It is based on the amount of information in your Google Local Business profile. Profiles with more information, including pictures, coupons and video, can generally do better than those with less information. It also factors in the physical location of your business relative to where the search is coming from. The name of your business is another determinant. Businesses can generally rank better if the keywords in their name are the keywords for which people are searching. References to your site from other websites will also impact your rankings. These references simply need to list your business name and address – no link is necessary. Google Maps also considers reviews with comments that are received directly, as well as those appearing on several partner sites. The more reviews your business receives the better.

Web.com Search Agency can make sure you receive recognition in the local search results. Our local optimization service addresses the unique elements of the Google Maps algorithm to give your site the ability to rank well in Maps listings – maximizing your website exposure. We welcome you to call 1-877-726-5321 and ask our experienced SEO strategists how Web.com Search Agency’s Local Search program can make a difference to your bottom line.