Search Engine Strategies New York is underway so it has been pretty quiet the last few days as far as news and forum activity goes. I am not at the SES conference unfortunately. I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule to attend this time but I will definitely be at the San Jose SES in August. If you are at SES New York, I hope you are having a great time.
I have a wonderful guest article today written by Jennifer Laycock entitled “Incoming Links Aren’t Hard to Come By With the Right Content” which will provide some great tips on acquiring external links to your site. We will do a little Q&A and then a recap of some of the top stories in the search engine industry for the month of February. Lets get on to the good stuff!
In this issue…
- SEM/SEO QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
- FEATURE ARTICLE – INCOMING LINKS AREN’T HARD TO COME BY WITH THE RIGHT CONTENT
- SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
- CLOSING COMMENTS
SEM/SEO QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Here are a few questions that were asked on some of the forums I am privileged to moderate for which I was able to provide answers for.
Q: My website ranks on the first page of MSN and Yahoo for the keyword I use in text content, unlike Google that lists me somewhere on 5th page results.
One friend told me that he did almost nothing for SEO but ranks on the first page on Google. He simply paid big money!!!! Where the truth is?
A: Yahoo and MSN rely more on “on the Page” factors whereas Google relies more on external links. Therefore to improve your ranking in Google, try not only making sure your site’s pages are properly optimized but that you have a decent amount of external sites linking to your site as well.
Q: What is the best organic SEO techniques? Also what can I can do to help with SEO for Flash sites? I want go totally with flash on my sites but be able to have good rankings on search engines. Is this possible or is it just a dream?
A: Two main things to focus on and that is to make sure you optimize the title tags of each page of your site so that they reflect keywords related to the topic of the page and secondly to make sure those keywords are accurately represented in the html copy of each page.
As far as Flash, you can use Flash inserts but if your site is a complete Flash movie for example than your best be is to provide an html version as well.
Q: I have a coworker who believes meta tag optimization is VITAL to search engine optimization. I have tried to explain that meta tags don’t really matter as they were so abused in the past search engines basically ignore them.
However, I’d like to get advice from others on this matter. Do meta tags matter in an SEO campaign?
A: I certainly wouldn’t say that meta tag optimization is VITAL but it is definitely a piece to the overall puzzle.
That being said, there are really only two meta tags that matter – the meta description tag, which is sometimes used to form the description you see in the SERPs such as in Yahoo, and the keyword meta tag.
The keyword meta tag is the least important of the two. I typically develop one keyword meta tag that is then simply repeated throughout the various pages of a site but the meta description tag should be unique and relevant to each page.
Q: I have launched a new website recently and want to apply AdSense on it. The problem is that the content is very limited due to the nature of business. Some pages are photos only. But to make AdSense really work, I have to create text content. So I am thinking to put text with the same background color, invisible to visitors but can be detected by Google to trigger ads.
I am going to try it on a few pages but don’t know if there’s any penalty from Google. What do you think?
A: Bad idea. Hiding text like this is spam and if a human over at Google finds out about it, most likely they will revoke your right to be an AdSense publisher.
Why not try to at least optimize the title tags of each page and then see if Google does not deliver relevant ads for each page? However, don’t resort to hiding text. That will end up biting you!
FEATURE ARTICLE – INCOMING LINKS AREN’T HARD TO COME BY WITH THE RIGHT CONTENT
I am honored to have Jennifer Laycock provide this month’s feature article. I had the privilege of meeting Jennifer at the 2004 San Jose SES and also share moderating duties with her on Small Business Ideas Forum. Jennifer has been involved in Internet marketing since 1995 and with search engine optimization (SEO) since 2001. She is a requested speaker and has served as both a panelist and a moderator of several interactive site clinics at Jupiter Media’s popular Search Engine Strategies conferences.
Incoming Links Aren’t Hard to Come By With the Right Content by Jennifer Laycock
There’s been a lot of talk over the past six months about the dropping value of reciprocal links and the increased value of one-way links. For years, search marketers and Web site owners encouraged the idea of reciprocal linking as a sort of “you scratch my back, I’ll help your search engine ranking” scenario. The idea was that individuals could contact the site owners of complimentary, and even competitive sites and convince them to add a link by offering a link in exchange. The idea worked quite well for many years, but recently, search engines appear to be giving more value to “honest” one-way incoming links than they do to the “shared benefit” reciprocal links.
Since one-way links appear to be more valuable in a search engine’s eyes, that makes them more valuable to your search marketing effort. That’s easy enough to say, but how can you convince a site to link to you if you’ve got nothing to offer in return. Well, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. In other words…entice site owners to link to you by providing interesting (and unique) enough content that they’ll want to. Remember, the entire Web was built on the idea of one site linking to another, even before there was a search engine related benefit to doing so.
The question then becomes, what type of interesting content can you provide? It really depends on what your site’s purpose is, but here are several all-purpose ideas that can be incorporated into most sites.
One of the most common ways to solicit one way links these days is to provide an interesting article, piece of commentary, or blog post. New bloggers head online each day, a single blogger reading your article and finding it interesting could start a snowball effect that leads to dozens or even hundreds of blogs pointing a nice link at your site. Many sites also offer reprint rights to their articles so long as proper credit (and a proper link) are included. Syndication of your content can be an excellent way to not only boost your name recognition online, but to gather one-way incoming links to your Web site.
Building on the idea of offering unique articles on your site is syndicating them through an RSS feed. The use of RSS readers is skyrocketing and many individuals that would never take the time to visit dozens of Web sites in a day are more than happy to surf the feeds that their reader delivers. This can not only help your articles get picked up in a Blog mention, but can actually deliver links from sites on a regular basis. If your RSS feed features enough interesting content, another site may choose to run it, thus giving you a new outlet to reach readers and a good stash of incoming links to go with it.
Studies show that online shoppers spend up to 12 weeks researching a product before they make a purchase. Some 90% of those purchases are ultimately made offline. So, even if you aren’t the one that scores the product sale, you can offer those searchers the product reviews they are looking for and score yourself some quality links while you are at it. Setting up a content management system that allows individuals to enter their own product reviews means you hardly have to touch the content development. Once your reviews are in place, take the time to contact some sites that sell the product, but that don’t feature reviews. See if they’d like to link to yours. Or, recognize that a quality review site is likely to pick up links without even asking for them. Sites like Epinions.com have made a business out of models like this.
Now you think I’m crazy. After all, search marketing is all about content, content, content. That’s true…but you have to remember that content doesn’t always mean “text.” A good quality photo gallery can be a great way to solicit one-way links. Running a travel site? Allow users to upload their vacation photos and sort them by destination. Selling tickets for a specific venue? Take the time to take photos from different seating sections so that users know exactly what “view” they are purchasing. Photo galleries can be applied to almost any online business, even if it’s just a variety of photo angles of your product. Since few sites really take the time to produce great photo galleries, you may find that yours serves as a powerful link attractor.
You can even take it a step beyond building a photo gallery on your own site and offer to syndicate your photos, much like you can do with your articles. Simply require an appropriate credit and a link back to your Web site anytime the photos are used.
If you’ve got a little programming blood in you, or you have access to someone who does, this can be a great way to generate links. Search marketing companies can have an especially tough time generating links, after all, who in the industry wants to give their competitor a boost? Many firms have gotten around this by offering one or two really great free tools. Think Marketleap and their link popularity analysis program, or Overture’s keyword suggestion tool. Each of these tools is a simple, free offering that has likely generated thousands of free, unsolicited incoming links. If there’s a tool that can be created to serve your market, create one. If competitors already have one, create a better one. Word will spread.
Finding a charity or cause that you can support and setting up a donation program can be a great way to build links. The Red Cross and other charities pulled tens of thousands of incoming links to their sites by offering cut and paste code that produced a “donate to the tsunami relief effort” button for site all over the Web. They made it easy for kind-hearted souls to help with the effort and they generated tons of great incoming links while they were at it. If nothing else, take the lesson of simplicity from them and offer ready to paste code for anyone interested in linking to your site.
Don’t Skip Directories
It’s been said a thousand times before, but it simply can’t be overlooked. Online directories, especially topical and regional directories, are among the best sources of incoming links anywhere. Look beyond the ODP, Yahoo! and Zeal and find the niche directories that really fit with your Web site. Most of these directories will happily list your site for free, or for a small fee.
In reality, the ways of gaining incoming links are limited only by your imagination. There’s always something that you can offer that no one else does. It will probably take more time and effort than simply putting up the same content as everyone else in your niche, but the links it can generate will help push you ahead of your competitors in the engines.
SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
Here are some of the latest headlines related to the search engine industry.
AOL Expands Search Offering with Local Search Tool
Following up on a recent revamping of the search interface, AOL announced this morning that they have also added a new local search service to their stable of search engine tools.
A9 Search Looks to Patent Its Shtick
The A9 search service tries to boost search relevance by taking into account what the searcher did before. Now, it hopes to get a lock on the method.
Google Gets Rights as Web Site Registrar
Google may command more respect from other registrars, granting it easier access to their data on registrations. That access could give Google a better view of how the Internet is growing, according to industry executives.
MSN Search Officially Switches To Its Own Technology
Nearly two years after announcing it would develop its own search technology, MSN Search began feeding the general public results found through its own internally developed search engine.
That is all I have today. I hope you enjoyed the newsletter and picked up some new tips that will help you market your own sites.
February was a big month for birthdays in our family. My daughter, Leah, turned 16, I turned 38 and my wife… well I better not say her age publicly if I want to live to see 39, but lets just say she is younger than me and looks like she is still 20! Then of course we had Valentine’s Day. That’s a lot of present buying! March should be a much quieter (and less expensive) month. See you again in April.