Monday, November 28, 2005

Using Articles To Increase Your IBLs

I previously wrote about Free Content For Four Web Site and provided a list of some of the services that offer free articles you can reprint on your web site. There are two aspects to this marketing technique:

1) As I discussed in the first article, you can get content you can quickly add to your web site.

2) You can provide articles others can use on their web sites, which will then provide links to your web site. Each time an article you wrote is published, a short biography of the author (that's you) is included along with a link back to your web site.

Both of these benefits can be particularly helpful to a new web site that is working to both build content and build IBLs (In Bound Links).

Here are a three more web sites that offer free articles:

Idea Marketers - This is one of my favorites because they make publishing articles easy. You start by setting up a profile that includes your links and author biography. That information is then automatically attached to each article you submit, eliminating the need to enter this information over and over, if you submit multiple articles.

Article Warehouse - Requires you to register before articles can be submitted, but registration is quick and easy. Articles are reviewed before they are placed online.

Ezine Articles
- Allows you to submit up to ten articles free. If your articles are of a good enough quality you will be upgraded to a Basic account, which allows 25 article submissions, or a Platinum account which allows unlimited submissions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

SEO For provides an easy way for even the non-computer literate to create a web site. However, it is not very flexible as far as optimizing for good search results. For example, it does not provide a way to have a good description for your blog, that changes as you add new posts. You can add a descriptrion meta tag to the template, but it will be a static description that may not always accurately reflect the content of your blog.

There is way to include a dynamically generated description.

Add the following code to the "head" section of your Blogger template:

This will create a description meta tag that includes the titles of your most recent posts, separated by a slash (/). In addition, I usually include generic text, that include keywords describing the blog, as the first part of the description.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Learning About Web Spam

I've just read two excellent papers that discuss search engine spam, what it is and how it can be detected. They were facinating reading. I learned about then from Gary Price's post on the Search Engine Watch blog.

The two papers are:

Web Spam Taxonomy (PDF)
By: Zoltán Gyöngyi, Hector Garcia-Molina.

Abstract: Web spamming refers to actions intended to mislead search engines into ranking some pages higher than they deserve. Recently, the amount of web spam has increased dramatically, leading to a degradation of search results. This paper presents a comprehensive taxonomy of current spamming techniques, which we believe can help in developing appropriate countermeasures.

Web Spam, Propaganda and Trust (PDF)
By: Panagiotis Takis Metaxas, Joe DeStefano

Abstract: Web spamming, the practice of introducing artificial text and links into web pages to affect the results of searches, has been recognized as a major problem for search engines. It is also a serious problem for users because they are not aware of it and they tend to confuse trusting the search engine with trusting the results of a search.

I recommend reading both of these papers.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Does Google Personal Search Eliminate The Need For SEO?


Google has announced that they are moving personal search out of the labs and into beta. Personal search allows anyone with a Google account, and the Google toolbar, to have their search behavior tracked. The web sites listed in future searches will depend, in part, on past search behavior. The objective is to deliver more relevent search results to each individual.

This means that potentially everyone will see different search results, even when searching for the same key word or phrase. How does this effect SEO?

As far as I can see, not at all. You still need to create good web stes, that have compelling content that is of interest to your target markets. The site still needs to be easy to navigate and quality IBLs (in-bound links) are still valuable. And you still need to avoid the pitfalls that result in lower search result rankings, or that might even get your site banned.

Although search results will be personalized, not everyone is going to want personalized search results. So for some of your target market nothing has changed.

For those using personalized search you still want your web sites to be at the top of those listings. These will be better targeted search results, so having your site near the top should result in a much better response rate than with untargeted search results. Personalization of search results may even result in your showing up in search results you couldn't get into before.

In addition, reading the Google patent reveals that, with personalized search some web sites that don't match the personalization will be mixed in with the personalized results. Four or five of the top ten personalized search results may be from outside the personalization criteria. Thus, SEO is even more important--to get your sites into these unpersonalized results, they'll need to be in the top 4 or 5 generic results. It will be twice as difficult to appear on the first page of search results.

But the biggest problem for SEO resulting from personalized search results is in getting feedback. You'll no longer know what searchers are seeing because their search results are personalized. Instead of testing to see how you are doing on search results pages you'll now need to put on your SEM hat on and test against conversion rates--which after all has always been the true objective.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Visual Variety

Which of these two pages is more inviting to read?

Facility Safety Management

Modify Workplace Safety for Older Labor Force

Each of the above web sites has reprinted the same press release. Which has the more professional apprearance? Which gives a better impression of a solid company that will be around for a long time? Which one are you more likely to read?

The first is displayed without formating and with the magazine's standard header across the top. This may have been easy to do, and possibly even automated, but what advantage does the web site gain from carrying this press release? Yes, they have an additional page of content, but is that page truly accomplishing anything for the magazine?

The second web site has added formatting to the press release. It is divided into sections by bold headings and quotes are in blue text. This makes the press release easier to read and makes it more likely visitors will read the entire press release.

Why do they want visitors to read the entire press release? After all, this press release is not promoting anything this web site sells.

The press release has information of interest to industrial and manufacturing companies. This web site targets people who work for those types of companies. The objective of this page is to get visitors to respond to one of the offers along the right side of the page, or at least to visit other parts of the web site using the menu on the left. The more of the press release they read, the more offers they'll see--and one of the offers lower on the page might fill a need they have, resulting in a response.

The point is, don't throw away opportunities to encourage visitors to your web site to respond to your web site.


Which should you focus on, SEO or SEM?

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. This is what helps your web site to show up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

SEM is Search Engine Marketing. This is leads visitors to act in the desired way in response to your search listings, advertising and web pages.

SEO uses search engines to let people know your web site exists. If they can't find you, your web site is wasted. SEM gets the desired response. If they come to your web site, but don't respond, your SEO effort is wasted. You need both SEO and SEM. You can't do one without the other.

For many web sites neither SEO nor SEM is done at all. The site is created by a very talented web designer who produces a beautiful web site. The business owner is in awe over how impressive looking their web site is. However, it is only by chance, not design, that it shows up in search engine results or brings in additional sales.

Here is where I can hear all the SEO experts jumping up and yelling that the web site needs some key word research, pages rewritten to focus on specific key words and phrases, link building and submission to directories like DMOZ.

And the SEM experts are all screaming that page titles need to be written using compelling text, landing pages need to be optimized, and there must be a call to action on every page.

But to listen to either of these would be skipping a very important step. We must always first ask, what is the purpose of the web site? What does the business owner want to accomplish with this web site?

I've created web sites for some high-end, exclusive local businesses. They don't want the international visibility that a highly SEO'd web site brings. They don't want phone calls from people who are not going to become customers. What they want is a classy, expensive looking web site to which they can refer customers who need to look at product or design options. This is a web site that needs SEM (focused on site design), but not SEO.

Although the answer to the question: SEO or SEM? is most often, "Both", the first step is always to understand the needs of the web site owner and their customers.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Your Web Site Just Became More Valuable

As a result of the recent Google "Jagger" update, you existing web site(s) has just become more valuable. It appears that Google is giving more weight to the age of a web site, and even to the age of individual pages within a web site, when determining how high it will rank in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

How can this help you?

Make sure your older web sites and pages are effective. Often when I click on a link in a search results page I'm taken to a web site, and I have no idea what that web site is about. Are they selling something? Are they just providing information? Where are they located? The text I'm seeing may be relevant to my search, but why am I here?

With Google's emphasis on older web sites and pages, it is important you use them effectively. Always tell your visitors the purpose of the page, and tell them what you want them to do. Are you selling product? Tell your visitors what the product is and how they can buy it, and put this information above the fold so it can be readily seen when the page loads. Be sure your phone numbers are on every page, above the fold, and easy to find.

Don't leave your visitors wondering about what you are offering and how they can get it.

What pages should you focus on? Start by looking at your log files. Identify the pages that are most frequently used to enter your web site, and make sure they are effectively communicating your message. Check your logs on a regular basis, because the top entry pages will change over time.

Also look for ways to improve your established pages to take advantage of the age bonus Google gives them. You may have some older pages that have never done well in the SERPs, but with a little SEO and SEM they can become very effective marketing tools.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Fountain of SEO Knowledge

If you follow the postings in any of the SEO/SEM forums, you’ll find that almost everyone has an opinion on how to achieve top search engine rankings based on their personal experience. The problem is that while some of the various opinions agree, most of them don’t. It can become a confusing, sometimes impossible, quest to separate fact from fiction.

How can you tell what will truly help your web site? You need facts not anecdotes and myths. The place to get those facts is the web site of Dr. Edel Garcia. This past April I had a short posting that mentioned an article on keyword density by Dr. Garcia. However, if you visit his web site you'll find a lot more; and it is all worth reading.

Don't be put off by the technical sounding titles. Dr. Garcia writes in a style that can be understood even by those of us who do not have a technical background. So take a look around. Read the articles and you'll improve your ability to get your web sites to the top of the search results.