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Thursday, June 01, 2006
Search Engine Marketing Ethics: Don't believe the hype.
Getting to the top of the search engines, and staying there, is an ongoing process. This does not mean it is expensive to stay at the top. In fact, in most cases, it's rather affordable. But beware, there are pitfalls along the way to search engine Zen.
The old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true", applies to SEO (search engine optimization). There are many companies that will promise top results using less than ethical methods. Including slick salesmen that will convince you that all the top sites cheat the search engines in order to stay on top. You will run into web site owners that mask keywords to get top positions making it sound very tempting to follow in their foot steps.
Don't be fooled by such hype. These are short term solutions that can lead to a permanent ban in the top engines. Once you are banned in Google, Yahoo, MSN or ASK, you may as well dump your site and start over. If you're looking for long term success on the internet, don't cheat the search engines.
One of the cheats I have been seeing lately is masking content with "noscript tags". The noscript tags are used to define an alternate content (text) if a script is NOT executed. People have been taking advantage of this and filling it with content that visitors don't see, but the search engines do. While this does work, it is short term and believe me when I say, you will be caught. You will have no warning, no second chances. You will wake up one day and your site will not be found.
There is no phone number to call, your emails go unanswered, and traffic to your site drops off overnight. Your income dries up and it's all over. It can take six months or more to undo the damage and, in some cases, it's permanent. The major search engines are always on the lookout for new cheats. When found, they will program the search engines to drop the sites using these methods. Without warning, you're gone. Also, don't forget, your competition watches your site and is looking for ways to rank higher than you. Your competition may report your unethical methods to the search engines.
If you're planning to be around for the long haul and want some success on the internet, then you need to be ethical in your promotion. Unless you have daily time dedicated to studying SEO and making the needed changes, you should contract with a reputable SEO company. You need a company that studies the SEO industry on a daily basis to keep on top of what it takes to rank at the top for the long run. A company that is above cheats and quick fixes. A company that offers solid optimization that can keep you on top of the search engine results. A company that will take the time to target your specific audience to get you visitors that are interested in your product or service.
Many SEO companies will promise thousands of visitors a day. Unless those visitors are interested in what you have to offer or ended up at your site and did not find what they searched for, they will remember you. They will remember that you did not have what they wanted. They may leave disappointed and your good name will have a black mark next to it. Don't get sucked into damaging your image by slick salesmen.
When looking for a company to handle your SEO, first and foremost, be comfortable with the people you will be directly working with. They will need total access to your web site and server to make the needed changes. At times, the verbiage of your site may need minor changes. A word or two may need to be changed to improve keyword density. You need a company you can trust with your company's image.
In today's business world, you must have a web site. After all, your competition does. Your site must be marketed ethically and monitored daily. Changes must be made ASAP when conditions change. Hire a professional to handle SEO. When your business is booming, it's too easy to put SEO on the back burner. Before you know it, your rankings will have dropped from top to bottom, as well as your bottom line.
Yahoo! has added a new search function to it's ever-growing bag of tricks.
Yahoo! Instant Search displays results as you type your query. The results come from either Yahoo! Shortcuts to news, weather and other relevant information or from the #1 results in it's index. Yahoo! Search also provides instant corrections for "select" misspellings. I emphasize select because it did not offer any corrections for misspellings that I entered.
If this becomes a popular tool, I see a lot of webmasters scrambling even more feverishly to get their web sites listed in the #1 position at Yahoo!.
Google Groups posts now at bottom of search results
The results from Google Groups are now appearing at the bottom of related Google web results pages. These results are from messages that users have posted to a discussion group about a topic related to your search. The Google Groups results contain three links to specific posts along with link to the query in the Google Groups database.
News Groups are an excellent way to get those hard to find questions answered fairly quickly plus, they are usually a great resource for research. So, keep a lookout for Google Group results on the bottom of your Google queries.
Stuntdbl, a member of Search Engine Watch forums, has started an interesting thread about what he believes are the top 20 SEO contradictions that people in the web promotion field debate about frequently.
Here's the list:
1. All links work vs. Contextual links work 2. Buy links for click through (or don't buy them) vs. Buy links for search rankings 3. There's nothing a competitor can do to hurt your site vs. Googlebowling 4. SEO is dead vs. Long live SEO 5. Directory links are important vs. Google hates directory links 6. All penalties are algorithmic vs. Lots of hand edits 7. Sandbox vs. There is no sandbox 8. Filters vs. Penalties 9. The blue pill vs. There is no spoon 10. Pagerank is dead vs. Buy links based on Pagerank (okay this one is just plain WRONG) 11. Content remix vs. Scraper sites 12. Blogs rank too well vs. SE's donâ€™t like blogs 13. Real simple syndication vs. Real simple stealing 14. Lots of links vs. Quality links 15. Google knows all vs. Google is dumb 16. Lots of directories vs. Good directories 17. Automated vs. Manual 18. Linking in vs. Linking Out 19. Global vs. Local 20. Google is good vs. Google is evil
Here's a link to the thread - Top 20 SEO Contradictions
Free Google Adsense Keywords & YPN Keywords Search Tool
Iotaweb.org is a new search engine that allows you to search for the approximate values of high dollar keywords for Google Adsense and Yahoo! Publishers Network.
Results are sorted from highest to lowest value. When you click on a result it will show you the approximate pay per click value of that keyword phrase. The values are updated monthly and new keywords are added daily. There's also plans for keyword value trend data as the search engine matures.
As a beginner or novice webmaster/website owner, you may not yet be familiar with the tech definitions in today's search engine placement world. In this article, I define keyword prominence, density, frequency, proximity and marketing and how they can affect your search engine placement.
Keyword prominence refers to how prominent keywords are within a web page.
To achieve the best rankings, place your most important keywords at the start of the page, the end of the page, and in your H1, H2 and TITLE tags.
Keyword density is quotient of the number of occurrences of a particular keyword or phrase divided by total number of visible words within a web page.
In this sentence, the keyword density of the word "keyword" is 16.6%. (2 occurrences divided by 12 total words)
The optimal keyword density varies among different search engines. I recommend using a keyword density of 1.5-4.0%.
Keyword frequency is the number of times a keyword or keyword phrase appears in a web page.
The idea is, the more times a keyword or keyword phrase appears, the higher the ranking will be for a search for that keyword or phrase.
I recommend that the most important keywords or keyword phrases are the most frequently used for the particular web page.
You have to be careful not to repeat the same keywords too much as this is considering keyword spamming by most search engines and consequently, can lower your search engine rankings.
Keyword proximity is how close your keywords are to one another. In most cases, the closer the keywords are, the more chance of getting a good search engine ranking.
Take these two sentences for example:
Beginner Keyword Definitions
Keyword Definitions for the Beginner
Using the example titles above, if a search was made for "beginner keyword definitions," a web page with the first sentence is more likely to rank higher than the second.
Keyword marketing is the process of targeting customers by keywords. In terms of advertising, keyword marketing involves purchasing ad units, typically banners and text links, on the search results page for particular keywords. In terms of search engine optimization, keyword marketing involves achieving top rankings in the actual (organic) search results themselves.
I hope this article has helped you further you understanding of keyword optimization. Till next time!
SEOBook seeking donations to fight suit from Traffic Power
As you may have heard recently, the SEO company Traffic-Power has filed a suit against Aaron Wall, writer of an online blog titled SEOBook. The suit is apparently over negative comments left on his blog by readers who were upset with Traffic-Power's optimization techniques and business practices. At the time the suit was filed, the negative comments ranked #5 in Google for the search "Traffic Power".
Ironically, Traffic-Power's site doesn't show up in any of Google results because they were previously banned by Google for black-hat "doorway" search engine optimization techniques. Most of Traffic Power's clients were also affected by the ban.
Not only is Aaron Wall getting sued, but some of Traffic-Power's client's are also getting sued for apparently nothing more than voicing their opinions about Traffic Power's business practices. One of their clients even went so far as to create a website registered as Trafficpowersucks.com.
Because he believes that the comments are free speech, Aaron Wall has decided to fight this case and is now looking for donations. Here's a quote from a recent post on SEOBook:
This suit is not about Traffic Power. This suit is not about this blog. This suit is more about free speech, which is the very fabric that holds the web and democracy together. An issue far more important than I could ever pretend to be.
If I do not face this suit, then it is easier for the next person to get trampled. After all the support people have offered I do not think it is the right decision to tuck tail and run, especially since I am still unaware of what specifically is wrong - and never once has there been an attempt to tell me.
If you want to help Aaron Wall fight this suit with a donation, details can be found in his latest blog posting - "Legal Donations Accepted.."
A reciprocal link is when a web site links to you and you link back to them.
If you own a website, I'm sure you've received emails asking for link exchanges. This article's purpose is to help you decide who you should be linking to and why.
Look before you link!
Indiscriminate linking can be harmful to your search engine rankings and your reputation. When considering another website for a link exchange, always check out the potential link partner's web site and the page that your link is going to be placed on.
Five essential rules to follow when choosing a link partner.
1. Make sure that the website is related to yours. For example, if you're a real estate agent, don't exchange links with pages about diet pills or casinos. Link to other real estate related web sites, like mortgages or real estate agents in other areas.
2. Don't link to link farms. You can tell a page is a link farm by the fact that there's usually no company logo, hundreds of links and no real content.
3. Think of your outbound link as a recommendation for that site. If the web site or link page is of poor quality, don't link to it. Ask yourself, "Would I recommend this page to my visitors?"
4. Ensure your link will be found by search engines. Just paste the URL of the web page you'll be linked on into Google, Yahoo, or MSN. If the page comes up in the results, it's indexed.
If done correctly, reciprocal linking can be a great way to increase your online traffic. So, don't forget! Always look before you link!
There's a useful tool at SearchGuild.com titled "Search Term Difficulty Checker".
Search Term Difficulty Checker is an online application that makes use of the Google API to analyze a keyword phrase search in order to dertermine the difficulty of acheiving a top 10 ranking for that phrase.
It does this by analyzing the results of the search with an algorithm that approximates the Google search algorithm.
After sifting through my email for my Google API key, which this tool requires, I tried out a couple of phrases myself and here are the results. (The higher the number, the more difficult it is to rank a phrase or keyword.)
google - PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE: 5458186
web promotion - INTERMEDIATE: 62110
seo - INTERMEDIATE: 30134
search engine optimization - INTERMEDIATE: 27072
robert raught - INTERMEDIATE: 20451
flying spaghetti monster - EASY: 2796
Now if I could only find a client that wants to promote a website about flying spaghetti monsters. Hrm...
Yes, you heard it correctly. According to this new "search engine", 23% of internet users in 2005 will be cows. I would love to say, "And that's no bull!", but we all know it is.
You (or your cow) can search for web pages, images and blogs and the results are listed underneath Google Adword's results. Can't think of anything to search for because you're a cow and you have a pea brain? No worries! On the left are links to the last 10 searches which include phrases like, "how to make chicken fried steak", "cipralex side effect" and "grass".
To make your search even more moorific, you can select a moo factor which will play various cow sound bites after each search.
What are the humans saying about this? Here's a quote from a recent Mloo visitor,
"My pet cow is going to be so happy when I tell her about this search engine. Lately she has been ticked at the results from Yahoo."
Google, Inc. launched a new voice and text messaging software titled "Google Talk" yesterday.
Unlike other IM services on the market, Google Talk is based on an open communications model giving users the ability to connect to the service using any client that uses the same standard. Some of these IM clients include Trillian, Adium, iChat, GAIM, and Psi.
Google Talk is also integrated with Google's popular email service Gmail. Google Talk preloads your Gmail contacts and comes with a Gmail notification feature that tells you when you have Gmail. Gmail has been an invite only service for about 8 months now. But, now anyone in the US with a mobile phone can sign up for a Gmail account by going to the sign up page and entering their mobile phone number.
Google Talk is rudimentary compared to other established IM services like MSN Messenger, AIM and Yahoo! Messenger. There's no file transfer or video conferencing. But I trust Google will soon be including these options and more as Google Talk is still in BETA.
Try Google Talk and send me a message at cozmik[at]Gmail[dot]com.
The Yahoo! web site suggestion page has a new paragraph of text which reads:
You can also provide the location of a text file containing a list of URLs, one URL per line, say urllist.txt. We also recognize compressed versions of the file, say urllist.gz.
Yahoo!'s site map technology is far less complicated than Google's sitemap, which must be a special file formatted in XML. Although, unlike Yahoo!'s urllist.txt, which is purely a list of URLs. Google's sitemap.xml contains more information. Such as: last date modified, projected change frequency, and page importance.
While neither of these will probably increase your rankings, they will help ensure that every page you create at least has a chance to get "on the map".
Exchanging links can be a great way to build relations with other sites and boost your ranking at the same time. You never know how many friends you can make and what you can learn from them. So let's get started.
First, you need to create a links page. This links page needs to look and feel the same as the rest of your site and should include instructions on how to link to your site and an example of the description you want. If you use buttons for links, make sure you include a text link somewhere so search engines can find your links page easily.
Now that you have your links page ready, it's time to start looking for link partners. When searching for link partners, start by searching for your keywords in Google and choose 10 to 20 sites that have content that is related to or can compliment your site. Then, add a text link with a brief description of thier site on your links page.
Now it's time to send off an email to each site and ask if they will exchange links with you. I have a basic form letter I use for this (form letter at end of article). However, I add something personal about their site, a compliment about something I liked. This lets them know that I'm not a bot sending spam, but a real person interested in exchanging links that has actually took the time to review their site.
If you have not heard from them in 5 to 7 days, go ahead and send another request but not the same one, change this one. You might mention that you have not heard back from them and that you feel your visitors could benefit from their content. You may also want to see if they have a phone number listed and give them a call. I know, as a seasoned webmaster, I enjoy the phone calls I get. Don't be afraid to make several contact attempts. Following up on your link requests is essential. However, don't bombard their email with requests. Always send one last email letting them know you're removing their link and that maybe you can exchange links another time. Always end on a positive note. The idea is to build business relationships, not upset people.
When you get a response that your request has been accepted, go and verify your link is accurate and that the description is to your liking. Don't be afraid to ask for an edit if you're unhappy with the link.
Having a link on a site with a high page rank in Google is better than a page with no or low page rank. Although, until you gain page rank of your own, you may have to settle for links that have low rank. This does not mean you can't request links from high ranking sites. Just be prepared that they may not accept you until you have high page rank. Save these contacts for a latter campaign.
Next week, we will look into some software that can help you with your reciprocal linking campaign and review some websites designed to help you exchange links.
Form letter example for approaching link partners. ****************** Dear John Doe,
My name is Your Name, I am the webmaster for yoursite.com. I have visited your site, sitename.com, and I think that the content could be of interest to our web site visitors.
I have already placed a link to your site along with a description at www.yourstie.com/link.html If you want anything modified or if you have any other cross-promotion ideas, let me know.
I would appreciate if you placed a link back to our site. As soon as I am aware that you have done so, I will move your link to the top of the list in your category. If you put our link on your main page, I will also do the same for you. If you have a banner you'd rather use, let me know.
You can find our linking code at: www.yourstie.com/suggest-link.html.
Sincerely, Sign Here ****************** Author: Mark Hochhaus