Posts Tagged ‘seo resource

28
Sep
11

5 Things to Ask a Content Freelancer

Wil rite 4 bambu

You know you need content. Lots and lots of content. And it must be good content, quality content. Current content, fresh content, unique content. Thus hast the Panda spoken.

Okay, so you write a few pieces for the blog and maybe an article or two. You con your co-workers into contributing a paragraph or two. You get your teenage relatives to write about stuff they could not possible care any less about. And that works for about a month, but then you’ve reached the limits.

Out of ideas. Out of time. Out of patience.

What’s a webmeister to do? Outsource it, of course! Which can be great. Particularly in these tough economic times where unemployed English majors outnumber the working ones (unless you count part-time Burger King jobs). Writers are a dime a dozen and they will fight each other in the streets for one $40 assignment.

Good choice, now what? Well, you can rely on your contacts to get word-of-mouth recommendations (probably the best way to get quality writers), or advertise on Craigslist or similar, or go to the web where freelance “dating” sites flourish. Elance is perhaps the oldest, but trust us, there are many.

If you decide to go with an unknown writing resource, some care should be taken to be sure you’re getting that quality content you crave and at the same time getting a decent return on your money. Here are five things you should check.

  1. Online writing samples. Look for writing samples that are actually published online somewhere. Web writing is different from any other, for one thing, for another, online samples are easier to test for originality and freshness.
  2. Originality. Verify that the work you are getting is original to you. Use a plagiarism checker. Here’s a free one: plagiarism checker.
  3. Ratings or reviews. But don’t just trust the ones posted on the freelancing sites. Look deeper into who’s reviewing them and what the writer wrote for them.
  4. Topic qualifications. True, many professional writers can do a great job on virtually any topic. Still—especially if your topic is technical or highly specialized—you will get better content if the writer has some topic familiarity, either through education, avocation, or experience.
  5. Experience at freelancing. Sure, everybody has to start somewhere. But you probably will have a better experience if you hire someone who knows about deadlines, grammar, research, and etcetera.
26
Sep
11

Anatomy of a Local SEO Campaign

A local services business goes online. After a couple of months with no traffic of any sort, they start a Google AdWords campaign and this  brings in a little business right away.  So they increase the budget and their keywords and test drive all of the Adwords vehicles. Another month goes by. Still some AdWords traffic, but nothing whatever from natural search.

They’ve gotten off to a pretty good start, they feel, and are serious about making it work.

They tweak the AdWords and tweak it some more but it’s beginning to feel like they’re leaking money.

Surely there’s a better way.

So they hire an SEO. Here’s what happens next.

  1. SEO analyzes web presence and notes:
    • Site design and content is okay for this stage and market
    • On-page optimization is virtually non-existent
    • Domain is not indexed by Google
    • Client’s AdWords campaign is reasonably well-developed
    • Client has existing Google Places account
  2. SEO analyzes traffic from paid campaign
  3. SEO submits domain by hand to Google through Webmaster Central
  4. SEO places a handful of links to site’s home page from pages known to be regularly spidered
  5. SEO begins keyword research
  6. SEO optimizes Google Places account with images, keywords, other content
  7. SEO delivers keyword recommendations to client for review and/or approval
  8. Client returns keyword list with additions/changes and approval
  9. SEO begins on-page optimization with:
    • Title tags
    • Semantic indexing tags (H1, H2, bold, ital, etc)
    • Renaming images and adding appropriate alt, title
    • Reworked text content
    • Recommended content additions
  10. SEO begins off-page campaign, develops link strategy
  11. SEO develops +!, Likes, Reviews, and other social network strategies
  12. SEO supplies client with long-term strategic plan document
  13. SEO suggests an “optimized for handhelds” project and offers to assist

The results are expected to go something like this:

  • Site gets indexed by Google, natural search traffic increases 10%
  • Places account gains traction, search traffic up another 7%
  • Google indexing matures, site traffic increasing 3-5% per month over 3 months
  • Off-page campaign effects take hold, traffic rate increases to 8-10% per month
  • Social networking takes off, rate of increase now 10-12%
  • Traffic levels off at +300% of original AdWords-only
  • Business increases at about half the rate of web traffic—increased profit pays for SEO campaign at month 8
  • Everyone lives happily ever after

This scenario describes our newest client, a pet sitting services company in our area. At the moment, they are at Step 2.  We’ll keep you posted on their progress.

14
Sep
11

Rel = “author” = Whaaaaat?

William Shakespreare's Google Profile

Shakespeare's Google Profile--Will the rel="Author" tag help him with his keyword ranks?

Attention all content creators! Google has recently launched an initiative designed to give you “credit” for all the things you write. Which is cool enough, we suppose, not even counting the probability that the resulting “credit” may well be used by Google as a measure of “authority” which, of course, means “keyword ranks.”

With us so far? No? Okay, again only slower. The idea is this: people who write content for the web typically end up published all over—in articles, in blogs, in interviews, and reviews, and stories, and reports, and on ad infinitum. To a spider, all these bits of content have no connection. They are all just disparate bits of content. Yet, they may have all been written by somebody with some specialized knowledge, skill, or connections who might actually be more credible than other writers tackling the same subjects. Connecting all these pieces of writing under a single author could be used to determine that author’s authority, her publication history, her general appeal, and even her topics of expertise. Which could then be used to help Google determine the content’s value. Quality content (or so we have heard) is just what Google loves best.

Does that make sense? Good.

Here’s how it works, hands-on. Every time you write content for the web, you include a link somewhere (anywhere) on the page. It can be an image or a phrase, in the by-line or the body or the bio. This link points to your Google Profile page. (You do have Google Profile, don’t you?) Inside the link, you add this attribute: rel=”author”. Then, on your Profile page, you put a link pointing back to the page that contains your author tag.

And the content is now credited to you.

On the article’s published page, it would look like this:

A Content Writer’s Guide to Content

by <a href=”https://profiles.google.com/farley-mac&#8221; rel=”author”>Farley McFinklestien</a>

On the author’s Profile Page, under the About tab (note that the links point to the actual article page):

Farley’s published works include:

How to Fry a Rat (Gourmet Rodent Monthly)
A Scenic Guide to Payson, Utah (The Places to Avoid Blog)
A Content Writer’s Guide to Content (Unemployed Writer Wiki)

That’s all there is to it. Of course, this may well turn out to be another one of Google’s “Nice Try but No Cigar” initiatives. (Remember Google Wave?)

Then again, we think it’s about time the poor, under-appreciated content professionals got their props.

08
Sep
11

The Long Tail of Search Optimization

A few years ago, SEOs were introduced to a new concept that shook a lot of trees. Wired magazine published an article by Chris Anderson in October 2004 that popularized the idea that instead of targeting high-traffic, high-competition keywords, there was money to be made by targeting a host of keywords that have little traffic potential. There is a lovely graphic everyone shows to prove the theory.

Long tail keyword graphic

Pretty compelling, huh?

SEOs loved the idea. Mostly because long tail keywords are doable. We might never be able to break page 1 for “mp3 player,” but we sure as hell can get you on top for “big frickin pink sony walkman mp3 player loaded with stolen music.” Number 1, baby. And if we promise to do that for, like, 8 million similarly impressive long tail terms, you’ll do really really well!

No, really!

Actually, no, and we mean “no.”

Yes, lower competition keywords are desirable. Yes, 100 one-visit a day keywords are equal to one 100 visits a day keyword. But no, because the vast majority of long tail keywords are zero visits per day keywords. So what we’re really looking for is the “green zone” keyword.

Let’s talk about that mythical beast. The “green zone” keyword is the one in the sweet spot. It is far enough inside the tail that you might be able to get some traction, but yet, still is capable of driving some traffic.

So the next somebody tries to tell you that the long tail is where it’s at, you can ask ’em “which vertebrae?”

05
Sep
11

Happy Labor Day, Optimizers!

In honor of the U.S. holiday Labor Day, we’re going to present a list of the most labor-intensive SEO tasks that might make a difference to your keyword ranks, traffic, and/or bottom line.

  • Content creation. Writing quality content is not easy, simple, or quick. But it is absolutely worth the effort.
  • Link building. Nobody likes doing it. Link building is a total time-suck of epic proportions. But still, even with the new Panda-ized Google, link building done right is gold.
  • Authority building. Even trickier than link building, authority building is an occult art. At its simplest, it’s an alchemy of links, content, authorship, and age. At its most complex it might even entail human sacrifice. Still, you gotta try.
  • Blogging. Every day, about 6 trillion new blogs come online. Check on ’em one month later, and there’s about 12 left. That’s because writing a blog sucks. Trying to come up with fresh topics, trying to say something useful, trying not to sound like a self-obsessed teenager.  Like we do.
  • Updating.  Can’t ever rest. Must update site. Must check links. Must add content. Must tweak. Must…. keep…… moving…………………

So get yerselves a beer and a hot dog and enjoy the day. Tomorrow, back to work.

24
Aug
11

5 Ways SEO Can Be Used as a Weapon Against You

Be afraid! Be very afraid! The evil overlords of SEO have the power to destroy you! Well, maybe not destroy, exactly. But an unscrupulous competitor, disgruntled employee, unhappy customer, or personal enemy can use SEO techniques to cause you and your business a fair amount of grief. Some of these tactics can be defended against, some of the damages can be repaired, some of them you really may just have to live with. But you should definitely be aware that these things are out there, and happen.

  1. Google bombing. This one is a fun trick to play on Presidents and other public figures, but can also be used against businesses or non-public individuals. You may remember the “miserable failure” incident from a few years ago…  Here’s how it works. The Dark SEO Lord (DSL) marshals some substantial resource (social networks like DIGG and 4CHAN have been used this way) to generate massive quantities of links that point to your site using an unpleasant link text. If you get enough of these (and it takes fewer than you might imagine) you can end up becoming the very definition of, say, “greasy booger.” Or worse. Just ask Rick Santorum.
    SOLUTION: Maybe none. If it’s a significant attack (as was the case with the attack on George Bush) Google may be induced to step in and end it. They stopped the “miserable failure” attack after two years. The Santorum situation has been going for a while now with no signs of  changing.
  2. Bad neighborhooding. This one is devious, but not every site is vulnerable and it’s somewhat difficult to pull off.  The DSL first scans your site using a readily available link scanner looking for old links that now point to abandoned domains. (If your site is big and/or old, and you don’t do rigorous link maintenance, you probably have some.) Once the abandoned domains are identified, the DSL registers them under an assumed name. After that, it’s a simple matter of either publishing “bad” content, or 301 redirecting the site to porn, spam, phishing, or other icky places. Get a handful of these in place, and suddenly Google thinks you link to bad neighborhoods. And that can hurt.
    SOLUTION: Monitor your outbound links! Regularly! Get some link checking software, use it, and fix any broken links immediately.
  3. Link spamming. You gotta love the lengths some DSLs will go to.  This is where a whole bunch of crappy links are created (usually purchased from some spam broker) pointing to your site. They all will probably use some generic link text, just so they don’t accidentally do you very much good. This is designed to make it look like you were buying spammy links. They will then report you to Google anonymously. And your site might get penalized.
    SOLUTION: About all you can do is to file a complaint with Google. Tell them what you think happened, and supply a list of bad links. They will often just discount the links and restore your search posture. But it usually takes a while and a bunch of effort.
  4. Spoofed landing pages. Suppose your business is ACME Froo-Froo and your website is ACMEfroofroo.com. Then imagine some pissed-off DSL registers the domain acmefrofroo.com and then uses it to publish a fake homepage. Maybe it looks a lot like yours, maybe not, but it is sure to contain damaging content of some sort. Maybe “free” offers or illegal merchandise. Or maybe more subtly just full of misspellings and crappy images. Or less subtly, full of scantily clad orangutans. Whatever. Then just suppose that said DSL works his/her/its SEO magic to get their fake page to rank above your real page when somebody looks for your favorite search term. You see a possible problem?
    SOLUTION: This attack is probably illegal, particularly if it uses your branding anywhere on the page, but also if the spoof domain is similar enough to yours. Report this attack as soon as you notice it. Report it to Google, and report it to whoever is hosting the site. If you have lawyers, get them to send take-down notices. All this remedial effort will work. It will also take time and resources.
  5. Review spamming.  Some person with anger management issues starts spreading malicious information about your products or your business. This sort of thing is as old as business itself. (“Not buy mastodon meat from Og. He not wash hands after he use bushes.”) And it’s been used a lot on the internet, from the very first. Now, though, with Google’s emphasis on “visitor interaction” the importance of reviews and comments will only grow. And so will the art of review spamming. We’ve seen reviews-for-hire packages cropping up all over the web in the last few months since Panda. We are sure that negative-reviews-for-hire are out there also. Can your product or service withstand 50 one-star reviews? What if it’s worse than just PR? What if those one-star reviews also cost you search position?
    SOLUTION: Well, you can contest the reviews, one at a time, and hope the review venue takes pity and removes them. Could take a very long time. The other option is fight ire with fire: buy or otherwise launch your own review campaign hoping to dilute the effects. Twenty five-star ratings will bring twenty one-star ratings up to a three!

Sigh. The evil DSL usually wins—because it doesn’t matter whether their campaign works or how bad it hurts or how long it lasts. Their real victory is that it costs you either search position, reputation, or at best it costs you the time and effort it takes to monitor, remedy, and recover.

08
Aug
11

5 Optimization Targets Most People Miss

Whenever somebody asks an SEO pro to tell them the most important page elements to optimize, they usually get something like “titles, <h1>, alt tags, body text.” Which isn’t wrong. Those are definitely worth paying attention to. When push comes to shove, if you’ve got your titles and <h1>s lined up, you’re doing better than many.

That doesn’t mean you can do those things and forget it though. Not if you want to succeed at search marketing. Today, competition for ecommerce business is hotter than ever. Any business website worth a nickle has done their basic optimization. That means the battle comes down to off-site tactics like backlinks and old-school promotion and maybe—just maybe—gaining any on-page edge you can. And that is where the devil’s details come to the fore.

Here are some page elements that by themselves won’t count for a hell of a lot. But taken together (and combined with all the other stuff you can come up with) they just might be the edge you need to go from Google #10 to #2.

  1. Image file names. Ah, and you thought it was good enough to put in a few alt tags.  Nope. Make sure every useful visual element uses a keyword variant in its file name. (By useful, we mean don’t worry about design graphics like lines, bullets, spacers and the like.) Don’t worry about hyphens—people don’t have to read these, just spiders. So instead of “image-00203032.jpg,” use “disposablerazor10pack.jpg.” This, along with the alt tags, will help Google’s Image Search find your pretty pictures. And at the same time, pump up your page rank.
  2. Image captions. Captions are an awesome way to improve your site’s accessibility. Most text readers look for alt tags when trying to describe an image—that’s what the alt is for, after all—but why not take an extra step and get another opportunity for related keywords? Just don’t make the alt tag and caption the same. Variation is the spice of life.
  3. Folder names. The best time to start your SEO is when you first start designing the website’s architecture. It always pays to think ahead, and here is no exception. If you know the keywords you want to target, you can name all of the folders (and database records) with them. This pays big dividends. It is, however, somewhat difficult to do in a retrofit. Not impossible. Just difficult. If you do try to retrofit your folder naming conventions, be very careful to check for broken links throughout the site when you’re done.
  4. Link title tags. Did you even know you could do these? Lots of folk don’t But you can, you can! Like so: <a href=”http://mysite.com&#8221; title=”disposal razors cheap”>Disposable Razors R Us</a>. Used on links to important internal pages, title tags can be a reinforcing element when the spider reads your link text. Again, no exact repeats.
  5. Menu heads. When you build a modern CSS pull-down-or-out menu system, you get to use whatever HTML elements you want to identify the menu’s properties. The right and proper way to do lists of links in a menu is the HTML list element, of course. You know, <ul><li></li></ul>. Works great and is easy for spiders to parse. But if your menu system has headers (see image) you can use an <h> tag to define them. <H2> would be a good choice. (Sure, you could define them all as <H1>, but there’s only supposed to be one of those per page.) This tactic gives them a little extra weight when the Googbot comes a’callin. As always, use good keywords.
Menu head illustration

See? The menu head is that one thing up there in a menu that may not even be a link.