Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Competitive Strategies

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Low-Competitive vs. High-Competitive Sites


Your chosen keyword space directly impacts the scope and what kind of SEO strategy you will need to implement for success. Websites that sell to a national or global market in a competitive industry need a different SEO strategy (and overall marketing strategy) than a site that caters to a local or regional market, or for a product in a niche category.

For highly-competitive sites that target keyword phrases that are shorter, more generic, and that command higher PPC bid, Google gives much more weight to off-page link factors. For local and niche sites, on-page SEO factors like keyword phrases used on relevant content, can be weighed as much or even more than off-page link factors.

I have seen sites that cater to a local audience rank very well on a number of different keyword phrases having only a handful of incoming links. Conversely, I have seen giant, content-rich, well-optimized sites that sell nationally rank nowhere for ANY search terms until they have a ton of incoming links.

With this said, every site needs to do both on-page optimization as well as have an active link-building campaign. However, if you are going after short, generic or competitive keyword phrases, I strongly suggest you do the following:

1. Start optimizing your site for as many different more-specialized permutations of your best keyword phrases as possible and build content pages around each one.

2. Start getting very serious and persistent about your link-building campaign. Your competitors know this and that's why they are busy getting hundreds if not thousands of links to their site over time. Just don’t obtain your links too quickly.

To clarify the differences between a "low-competitive" and "high-competitive" sites and to further illustrate the type and amount of resources that may be involved to obtain satisfactory ranking results, here are representative examples. Note that these are generalizations for comparative purposes only:


Low-Competitive Site

Keyword phrase: “Redmond Reflexology Services”
On-site factors keyword contribute heavily to rankings. Often all that is needed is a handful of links and solid SEO methods used on the site. Most competitors won't even know what SEO is. Good rankings can be achieved with relatively little effort within 3 months.

Medium-Competitive Site

An equal combination of on-site factors and off-site factors contribute to good ranking. For such sites, 100 or so quality links are needed (this is a generalization). About half of your competitors will know what SEO is and of those that do, a fair percentage will be doing a good job at it. Good rankings can be achieved with moderate efforts within 6 months to a year.

Medium-to-High-Competitive Site
Keyword Phrase: “House Plans” or “Limo Service”

On-site factors contribute little toward ranking, unless you have a large site, in which case they count for some. Such sites need an aggressive link-building campaign and typically have hundreds or thousands of incoming links that use effective anchor-text strategies. Most if not all of your competitors will be using SEO tactics, some quite aggressively and spending a fair budget on it. Good rankings can be achieved only with steady, continual, focused efforts after 12 to 18 months, and assigning (and paying) a dedicated SEO person for it. Most if not all will use PPC advertising like Google AdWords to augment traffic, especially in the near-term.

Keyword phrase: “Seattle Plastic Surgery” or “Seattle Dentist”


Very-High-Competitive Site
Keyword Phrase: “Used Cars” or “Discount Travel” or “Home Mortgages”


Such markets are ripe with spammy, black-hat techniques and on-site factors count for extremely little. For such sites, a very aggressive link-buying, link-building strategy is needed, along with analyzing exactly what the competition is doing and copying their methods. Such sites have many thousands of incoming links. Tactics used need to be monitored and changed in case of penalties applied. All of your competitors will be throwing lots of money on every trick in the book because so much money is at stake. Good rankings may never be achieved unless you are ready to spend the time and money for it, are dogged, and be willing to take risks. All will use PPC advertising like Google AdWords to augment traffic and spend a lot of money (like $100K or more a month) doing it.


How To Reverse-Engineer Your Competition


Do you have a site in a competitive market and want to determine how your top-ranked competitors are doing so well. This involves reverse-engineering the linking structure of the top 3-5 sites in your keyword space and emulating what they are doing right. Here is how to go about doing it:

1. Use Yahoo's backlink command, or software such as SEO Elite (http://www.seoelite.com) find every site that is linking to the top 3 sites in your chosen keyword in Google.

2. Obtain links from those exact sites that your competitors are getting links from. This takes time so be patient.

3. Use the same anchor text that is pointing to the competition’s sites for your own incoming links. Try to duplicate the percentage of different anchor text variations used – this is important.

4. Look at the page titles of the #1 site and duplicate them for your site. You don't need to do this for all your pages, just your most important ones - home page, important category/product/service pages.

Why reinvent the wheel? Your competition has already figured out how to rank well, so you should emulate their strategies.

Bear in mind that site age and link age is a factor, so even if you duplicate your competitor's link-building strategies 100%, it is going to take time for you to rank well as the new links to your site won't be as good as the old links that your competitors have.


How Much Competition Do You Really Have?


Some people are confused about the true number of online competitors for a given keyword phrase, particular when using keyword research tools or looking at the number of returned pages in Google. Many such "competing pages" are what are called "accidental competitors" - they aren't necessarily trying to beat you in search engine ranking, they just happen to use the term somewhere on a page.

If you want to get an accurate number of other sites that are optimizing their pages for a given search term, follow these steps. Open Google and follow these steps using your keyword phrase:

1. Type in allintitle:"your keyword phrase"
and see how many pages are displayed in the search results. These are pages that use the exact phrase in the tags of their pages - the first important step to optimizing a site.

2. Next, type in allinanchor:"your keyword phrase " and count the results. These are sites that have incoming links that contain these keywords - the next important step to boosting one's ranking.

3. Next, type in allinurl:
"your keyword phrase "

and count the results. These are sites that use the keywords either in their domain name or in a file name. Although by itself not an important factor, Google does give slight weight to keywords used in domain names and file names.

4. Now combine everything by typing:
intitle:"keyword" inanchor:"keyword" inurl:"keyword"

to see how many sites do all three things together. The resulting number is an accurate indication of how many true competitors you have that are doing SEO for their site for your given keyword phrase.


Using Pay-Per-Click to Augment SEO traffic

Every year it is getting harder to rank well in Google, as well as Yahoo and MSN. This is due to the following factors:

1. More new sites are coming online all the time.

2. More sites are incorporating SEO tactics.

3. The search engines are devaluing tactics that used to work fine in the past.

4. The search engines are more aggressive at penalizing sites that use black-hat and spammy tactics, and often unfairly penalize legitimate sites as well.


All the more reason you may need to implement a PPC strategy like Google AdWords. A targeted Google AdWords campaign is an ideal way to supplement your website traffic anyway, and is crucial for new sites in the Sandbox. For more information, see my book The AdWords Edge at http://www.adwordsedge.com.

After all, you are in business to make a profit. I use AdWords all the time because the advertising much more than pays for itself and the traffic is immediate.


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SEO Monitoring and Tracking

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Monitoring Your Site Traffic


This is a must-do activity. If you are not viewing and analyzing your site traffic and visitor statistics over time, you are essentially flying blind. This would be akin to a retail store not tracking how many customers come into their store, what they buy, and on which days.

You should first take advantage of the free statistics or “stats” program that most Web hosting companies offer in their packages. These work by reading the contents of the server log file for your site. Such programs are also called log file analyzers. More often than not, such programs don’t provide the information you need or they present it in poorly-organized, hard-to decipher reports. As such, I highly recommend you use a third-party program or service to obtain the information you need to track your site. You can often customize the of reports you want to view and download them into Excel.

You have two choices – use a different log analyzer program, which runs either on the server or on your desktop computer, or sign up for a monthly service that monitors real-time traffic for you. There are pros and cons to each as follows:

Using a Log-file Analyzer


Log-file analyzers can be installed on the server or on your desktop computer. Unless your log files are really large, I recommend the latter. However, getting your Web host to install and configure a different log-file analyzer than the default one they offer can be a frustrating experience. Regardless, make sure the referrer option is enabled for your site (it is usually disabled by default), otherwise you’ll be reading IP addresses instead of domain names to figure out where your traffic is coming.

One issue with log-file analyzers is the information isn’t shown in real time – the data is a day old. This usually isn’t a problem. One of the more popular analyzers is Urchin, which Google now owns. Two free log-file analyzers that are worthwhile include Funnel Web Analyzer (http://www.quest.com/funnel_web/analyzer/) and AWStats (http://awstats.sourceforge.net/).


Using a Tracking Service


Real-time tracking, also called browser-based tracking, is sold as a monthly service. Instead of reading a log file, you include JavaScript tracking code on each page of your site. Each time a visitor comes to your site, the JavaScript code sends information to the service provider where it is stored. Information can be accessed in near real-time and usually the quality of information is better (more accurate visitor and page view counts) than with a log-file analyzer. However you are paying a monthly recurring expense and you are charged by how much traffic you receive on your site – this can be very expensive for high-traffic sites.

More popular service providers include WebTrends Live and HitBox, which start at around $30/mo for low-traffic sites. There are also a couple of even lower-cost vendors that I recommend – Webstat.com (http://www.webstat.com) and IndexTools (http://www.indextools.com). Both are excellent choices for the value.

What to Monitor?


At a minimum you should check your traffic stats weekly as they are a goldmine of information. Of particular importance is tracking the following for your web site:

Keywords: This lists the actual keywords people typed into search engines to find your site. Also listed is the percentage of the total traffic each keyword brought in. There will probably be an entry called “other”, “no keyword” or something similar. This represents people that either directly typed your site into their browser or that have bookmarked your site in their Favorites list.

Spend time determining which search terms visitors used to find your site. You may uncover some new keyword combinations that you didn’t think of using. If this is the case, tweak your site or create a new page around this phrase accordingly.

Search Engines: This lists the search engines that visitors used to find your site. Also listed is the percentage of the total traffic each search engine brought to your site. Usually Google is at the top of the list.

Referrals: This lists the websites that brought traffic to your site and what percentage of the total traffic each “referral” site brought in. Over time, you should start seeing referral traffic from websites you've exchanged links with. There will probably be an entry called “direct”, “no referral” or something similar. This represents people that either directly typed your site into their browser or that have bookmarked your site.

Tip: Create a favicon.ico file. A favicon is a small 16 x 16 pixel icon that is displayed when you bookmark a page and add it your Favorites. Place this file in the root directory of your server and you can track how many referrals are coming from people that have bookmarked your site. Favicons are created with special software that creates the correct file format. They are also great for branding purposes. For more information, see http://www.favicon.com/.

Page Views: This represents the most viewed (or popular) pages on your site. This is useful for determining where visitors are spending their time on your site.

Click Path or Visitor Path: This shows the actual path that a visitor took while browsing through your site. This is great for determining what visitors are looking for.

Exit Pages: These represent the last pages that a visitor views before leaving your site. Hopefully it is your sales page and not your home page!

Length of Session: This shows how long visitors spend on each page and on your site in general. Are people leaving your site too fast? Try to find out why.


Monitoring Your Ranking

Although the focus of this book is on how to get top rankings on Google, what you are really after is lots of traffic to your site that you can turn into sales. Google is one way (albeit an important way) of getting traffic. Don’t get too hung up on your rankings - if you are in the top 10, you will do fine. Some people obsess over getting a #1 ranking to the exclusion of all else, when what is really important in the end are conversions and sales. Keep this in mind.

There are two ways to check your ranking on Google for a particular keyword phrase – check it manually by simply counting your position in a search results pages (this works OK if you are in the top 20 or so), or by using software.

The premiere software program for checking ranking is WebPosition. This is a powerful, full-featured tool designed for the professional. It contains several modules, but only one is really recommended for use – the Reporter module.

Some of WebPosition’s features have gotten people in trouble with search engines in the past. Before you use this tool, make sure your read the online manual and understand how it works. For more information, go to http://www.webposition.com.

WebPosition (and other programs like it) should be used during off-peak hours and only when really needed. Google, along with other search engines, have a dislike for the chronic use of such tools as they impact the performance of their servers. Google has been known to block access to their site from computers that carelessly and frequently run such tools.

Google changes their ranking algorithm all the time, and ranking changes you may see on your site are more likely due to algorithm changes and not because of small changes you may have recently made to your pages. With that said, you should wait a few months after initial optimization before changing anything.

Even though your server logs may indicate that GoogleBot visited your site recently, it takes time before Google indexes the information and synchronizes it across all its datacenters, and can months after that for a stable ranking of your pages to stop bouncing around.

If your site is kicked out of the index for a spam penalty it will usually come back after 60 days if the factor(s) that triggered the spam penalty have been removed. To be proactive, send an email to help@google.com after you have cleaned up your website, explaining in detail what you did to fix the issue and promising not to do it again. If you are still having problems after emailing them, give them a call at 650-330-0100.

However, before assuming that Google has penalized your site, make sure your Web host hasn't implemented a process to block search engine spiders from visiting their hosted sites in order to save bandwidth. This has been documented to happen with some of the lower-end hosting companies.

Important: If you have a new site, or an existing site that has been redesigned to the extent that page filenames have changed, your site will likely be placed in the “Google Sandbox”. In this case, it can take 12-18 months to get a decent ranking for your most important keywords, especially for competitive terms.


Monitoring Your PageRank


You can see an approximation of the actual PageRank that Google uses by downloading and installing the Google Toolbar at http://toolbar.google.com.

Some people have turned the monitoring of PageRank (PR) into an obsession. Don’t waste your time being one of them. PR is but a single factor that influences ranking. PR displayed in the Toolbar can also be inaccurate, but it is better than nothing.

The Toolbar PageRank (PR) scale goes from 0 to 10. Bear in mind that there are vast gulfs between ranges at the upper end, due to the logarithmic nature of actual PageRank. Also bear in mind that sometimes the PR value shown for a new page may not be real and is only a guess.


Checking Number of Pages Indexed


If you have a new site or if you have added new pages to your site, check to see if those pages have been added to the Google index. The easiest way to check is to go to http://www.google.com and in the Google Search box, type:
site:www.YourDomain www.YourDomain replacing YourDomain with your domain (such as www.xyz.com).


Checking Number of Incoming Links


Managing an active linking campaign involves seeing who links to you and to your competitors. The most accurate way to see the total number of incoming links to your site is by using Yahoo. Go to http://www.yahoo.com and type the following in the Search the Web box:
linkdomain:www.YourDomain -site:www.YourDomain
replacing YourDomain with your domain (such as www.xyz.com).

Using the link command in Yahoo gives the most accurate number of incoming links today, but it is not 100% accurate.

Don’t use the Google Toolbar to count incoming links for a page, this method is totally inaccurate. This feature is on the Toolbar by clicking Page Info, then by clicking Backward Links.

For an comparison of how many links each major search engine has on record to your site, use MarketLeap’s Link Popularity Check tool at
http://www.marketleap.com/publinkpop/default.htm. MarketLeap also has a great tool for checking the number of pages indexed on the major search engines.


Measuring Sales Conversion and ROI


At the end of the day, what matters are your sales and your bottom line. After all your hard work, are you converting your visitors to customers? Do you know what percentage of visitors turn into customers? Do you know what your return on investment (ROI) is when you have added up your web site development costs, web hosting costs, consultants, books and all other expenses related to driving traffic to your web site? Do you know what that cost per customer is? Few people do.

The subject of sales conversion and ROI (and how to measure and increase them) is complex and is really beyond the scope of this book. Nevertheless, this is an important topic that should be introduced for you to think about. For more information on calculating sales conversion and ROI, as well as improving copywriting, improving website usability, and in general creating a high-performing website, see my other book Desperate Websites at http://www.desperatewebsites.com.

Quite a number of business owners don’t make their money back on their web sites. Commonly this is because they got carried away with the look for their site (We just have to have Flash and all those gorgeous graphics!), bells and whistles on their site (We have to have that interactive, self-updating, daily survey!), or what the site should say (We just have to use those paradigm-speak, marketing buzzwords – that is what our company is all about!). As a result, you have a case of “Corporate Egos Gone Wild”. Well guess what? The customer does not care about any of this. The customer wants to find a solution to their problem, they want to find it fast, at a value, and they don’t want to be patronized.

You need a method to track visitors from beginning to end and “close the loop”. This means tracking a single visitor from which keyword they typed into Google to find your listing, to which page they landed on your site, to the “sales” page where they took an action. The “sales” page can be an actual product purchase page, form or request for information page, or any other page that represents the next desired action you want visitors to take on your site before.

The easiest way to track visitors in this way is to use a service like Conversion Ruler at http://www.conversionruler.com. For a monthly fee, they will set this up for you.
Alternatively, you can also place custom JavaScript code on each page of your site that obtains the referral URL of the page that a visitor came from before landing on your site, and then storing a cookie that tracks the visitor through the site. The code then emails this information to you when a “sale” takes place (product confirmation email, form submission, etc).

Adopting a Natural Linking Mindset

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Google favors sites that look like they were built and are managed as if the search engines didn’t exist. That means not doing anything that looks like you did it JUST for the sake of trying to game your rankings. In many cases, sites that complain of being penalized are simply no longer showing up highly on Google searches where they never really belonged in the first place.

A slew of questionable link-building tactics that used to work great no longer do. Ever wonder why some really crappy, minimal-content, borderline spam sites managed to rank so well in your keyword space? It’s mainly because of aggressive use of various link-building tactics that inflated their PageRank.

Google is casting a careful eye on how "natural" or "artificial" linking arrangements are - who links to whom, in what fashion, and how fast it happens.

You need to focus on creating a natural-looking incoming link structure that increases slowly and steadily over time. Here are some guidelines to help you adopt a "natural" linking mindset:


Obtain Your Links Gradually


People now are buying massive amounts of links in a hurry. There are people overseas that do nothing but build links aggressively for sites. This is a red flag to Google.

Getting 100 new links to a site each a month is probably OK, while getting 1,000 links a month does not typically happen naturally. Again, Google is on the lookout for any activity that indicates your are trying to "game" their ranking algorithm. So keep it slow and steady.

PageRank manipulation through massive, rapid link-building for the sake of gaining any link, no matter how off-topic, has probably led to more drops in ranking than any other cause.


Vary Your Incoming Link Text

If your link text contains your most important keywords, you get the most ranking benefit from Google. However, if you have hundreds of links that all have exactly the same link text, this is a red flag to Google. This does not happen "naturally" - some people will link to you using your business name, your site name, your URL and other variations.

I recommend that you create a set of 3 to 5 different variations of your link text (both titles and descriptions) that you use when submitting to directories, when exchanging links and for putting up on your "Link to Us" page.


Stay Away From Link Farms & Off-Topic Sites

Link farms are collections of sites that contain thousands of links to every type of site imaginable. They generally have very little (if any) content and often have links to porn, gambling, get-rich-quick, and body-part enlargement sites - to name a few. The multiple sites are also generally all cross-linked together.

Free-For-All (FFA) sites should also be avoided – they are easy to spot. You are encouraged to add a link to their site yourself using an automated form. Often the purpose of these sites is to collect and resell your email address when you fill out the form so you can be spammed with useless and illegal products in email.

Whenever you see an ad for you to "submit your site to 18,000 search engines", you can be sure that 17,975 or more of those actually go to FFA sites.

Google has penalized link farms and FFA sites by downgrading their PageRank value to zero. Nobody in their right mind should waste time getting a link on these sites. If you have too many links on too many link farms, this is not natural and Google may decide to ding your site as well for being part of a “bad neighborhood”.

Don't Cross-Link and Stay Away from ROS links


Google is cracking down on what are called run-of-site (ROS) links or site-wide sites.
This where you have the same link on every page of a site, usually in the footer of each page or in a Sponsored Links section on the side. If you are “renting” your links from a link broker, make sure you don’t sign up for ROS links.

Similarly, if you happen to own multiple websites, don’t add a link to each page of every site and then cross-link them together. This is particularly acute for sites that dynamically generate their pages from of a database. All of a sudden you can have multiple sites that have thousands of pages all linking to one another. Google can detect such arrangements and prevent outgoing links from passing PageRank.


Don’t Use Triangular Linking Schemes

Triangular linking works this way: site A link out to site B, and site B links out to site C, and site C links back to site A. In real life, this arrangement would not occur. Google can also detect such arrangements and prevent PageRank from passing.


Are a High Percentage of Your Links Reciprocal?

Google may devalue your incoming links if a high percentage of them are reciprocated back out again. Google thinks it looks a bit artificial if say, 90% of all incoming links to your site are reciprocated back out to those same sites.

In a world without Google, a site would gets links from a variety of other sites - many of which wouldn't contact you to ask for a link in return. People would link to a site because they think it's a useful resource, not so they can get a link back to your site to improve their PR. One-way links to your site are now considered more important than reciprocal links.

Not All Links Should Point to Your Home Page


You need to have at least SOME incoming links that go to an interior page of your website. If 100% of your incoming links go to your home page, Google may raise a bit of a red flag as in the "real world", people will naturally link to another page of your website besides the home page.

Have Some Outgoing Links



Since the Web is all about hyperlinking, a website with all incoming links and no outgoing links looks a little contrived. At a minimum, I recommend you link out to the directory pages of DMOZ, Google and Yahoo for your main topic, as well as any other "authoritative" society, industry or professional organization websites.


Tread Carefully When “Renting” Links

More people are "renting" links from high PageRank sites on a monthly basis. If you are in a highly-competitive industry or have a company policy against doing reciprocal links, you may want to consider this.

Because this method can be fraught with peril, there are two firms I recommend that act as honest "link brokers" who do the groundwork for you:
• Text Link Ads: http://www.text-link-ads.com
• Text Link Brokers: http://www.textlinkbrokers.com/

Consider signing up for a links "package" from a variety of on-theme sites that are on different class C IP blocks, instead of getting run-of-site (ROS) or site-wide links.

Be aware however that such links may become worthless in the future from a PageRank book standpoint. Ask your link broker what they think of this issue before spending money on such a program.


SEO Monitoring and Strategy


After all your hard work, you need to measure your progress and results over time. This section discusses what you should monitor regularly and what strategies you may need to implement for success. To wrap it up, there is a checklist that summarizes the processes and tasks used in the book.

It amazes me the resources that people put into continuing plain dumb business practices. I believe there are two mindsets out there with webmasters when it comes to Internet marketing, including SEO. The following illustrates the differences:

The Successful SEO Mindset

1. Creates useful, relevant new page content as needed.

2. Syndicates useful articles in a regular manner.

3. Submits newsworthy online press releases regularly.

4. Submits their site to relevant directories, one by one.

5. Worries about increasing traffic, conversion, growing market share.

6. Builds a site with visitors and customers as top priority.

7. Realizes that successful online promotion costs time and money.

8. Finds quality writers and link-builders to complement their own resources.

9. Quality and adding value is their mantra in everything. (Ex: fewer, quality links)

10. Steady, incremental improvements. In it for the long term.

11. Doesn't give up, and doesn't stop when success is achieved.

12. Spends time understanding and improving relationships with customers.

13. Measures, tests and refines SEO campaign for improvement.


The Unsuccessful SEO Mindset


1. Buys software that automatically creates hundreds of spammy junk pages.

2. Spams every blog site with irrelevant drivel.

3. Spams every blog site with irrelevant drivel.

4. Buys software for $29.95 to submit their site to 18,000 directories.

5. Worries about PageRank, keyword density, stuffing H1 tags, ranking #1.

6. Builds a site with search engines (and their manipulation) as top priority.

7. Tries to get everything for free and complains when results suck.

8. Uses cheap offshore labor to buy as many pages and links as possible.

9. Quantity and saving money is their mantra. (Ex: Get as many links as possible)

10. Short-term, quick-buck, "lets try everything and see what sticks" mentality.

11. Gives up before results are achieved (SEO doesn't work for me).

12. Spends time whining in the forums.

13. Doesn’t measure, test or try anything different.

Creating Content for Links

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Writing Articles For Publication & Syndication



You should consider creating timely one-page articles about a product or service that you offer. Something that addresses industry issues or solves a customer problem perhaps. People who spend time writing online articles find their material published and distributed all over the Web in short order.

This is a sure-fire way to get links. Make sure you include a keyword-rich link back to your site at the bottom of the page. In this way, you control both the content of the page and what the link says. This is a powerful technique that should not be underestimated or underutilized.


The best sites for submitting your articles for publication and syndication are:

AMAzines - http://amazines.com/
Article City - http://www.articlecity.com
Business Know-How - http://businessknowhow.com
EzineArticles - http://ezinearticles.com
Go Articles - http://www.goarticles.com
Idea Marketers - http://www.ideamarketers.com
Knowledge Bed – http://www.knowledgebed.com
NetterWeb - http://www.netterweb.com


Posting on Blogs, Forums and Newsgroups


Don’t overlook relevant blog sites, forums and newsgroups as venues for posting short articles and snippets of useful content. There blogs and forums that pertain to every imaginable topic today. This is another great way to add links back to your site. Just don't spam and overdo it, like some others can tend to do.

In fact, the NOFOLLOW link attribute came as a result of the increasing tide of blog spam. Do a View Source on the page to ensure that your link won’t have a NOFOLLOW attribute attached to it. Regardless of the site, be sure and always include a link to your site in your email “signature” line when posting.


Writing Online Press Releases

Journalists today are overwhelmed by the deluge of new information arriving via fax, email, mail and by phone. Savvy journalists in the interest of time are using the News search engines, such as Google News, Yahoo News and Topix.net to find new press release material. Google News alone is read by more people each month than print or online newspaper.

Optimize your online press release page in the same manner you would optimize we page on your website. Make sure your most important keywords are listed in the title, and make sure you have a keyword-relevant link in the Resources section of the press release. Most people are not optimizing their online press releases – yet.

The best services for distributing your online press release are as follows. Each has a free distribution and a paid expanded distribution network:

PRWeb - http://www.prweb.com
PRLeap - http://www.prleap.com
Press World - http://www.press-world.com.


Donating to Non-Profits & Charities


There are non-profit and charity organizations that will gladly add a link to your site if you donate to their cause. Either you can do volunteer work, help them update their website, write an article for them, or simply write a check. Not only are you doing a good thing for society, but your business is benefiting as well.

For a site that with a great list of non-profit organizations, see GuideStar at http://www.guidestar.org/index.jsp.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Managing A Link Building Campaign

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There are two main classes of links, one-way and reciprocal:

One-way links. These include links in search directories, ezines, blogs, news sites and any other site that doesn’t request that you link back to that site. Google currently values one-way links more than two-way (reciprocal) links.

Reciprocal (two-way links). These are links where a site links to you in exchange for you linking back to that site. Reciprocal linking has been abused in the past by everyone madly linking to each other, regardless of whether it made any sense from a visitor or business standpoint. As such, reciprocal links are not valued as much by Google. It still is an important method of obtaining links however when done right.

The primary, most-effective means of obtaining links to your website include the following, in order of priority:

1. Submitting your site to search directories, both general and industry-specific.

2. Publishing articles and other content to feature in ezines, articles sites and blogs.

3. Writing online press releases for the News search engines, like Google News.

4. Reciprocal linking, where you link to a site and that site links back to you.

Reciprocal linking should come last. You need to generate some PageRank first before most sites will consider linking with you. PR = 4 on your home page is usually the cutoff people look for. So get some listings in the search directories first.

Tip: Don’t worry about whether you should spend more time getting a few links from pages with high PageRank or whether to get lots of links from pages with low PageRank. Today’s site with a low PageRank can be tomorrow’s site with a high PageRank, and even vice versa.


How To Rate Sites For Linking

Not all sites and the links you may obtain from them are equally important. Some links are free, some charge a one-time listing fee while others charge monthly or annually. Especially for the sites that charge money, here are some criteria you can use to help make the decision whether to pursue a link:

1. Make sure the site allows you to use the exact anchor text you want for your link so that it can contain your most important keywords.

2. Make sure the link use a simple HREF code format. Javascript-based links or links that redirect to another page are worthless. Also, links that display funny tracking characters in the URL are worthless. Do a View Source on the page your link will be placed on and check for the following:

1. That no redirection is used on the link (won’t pass PageRank).
2. That Javascript isn't used to code the link (Google won't see the link).
3. That the rel=NOFOLLOW attribute is not used (Google won't follow the link).
4. That the META robots tag for the page doesn't contain “NOINDEX” (page won't be indexed).

3. Use the tool at http:/www.marketleap.com to determine how many backlinks (incoming links) the site has. This is an important indicator for how important Google deems a link will be. A link from a page with many inbound links can be as important as the PR value of that page.

4. Check the PageRank of the actual page your link will be listed on - not the PageRank of the home page, which can be vastly different.

5. The Alexa Traffic rating of the site. This provides a rough indication of the traffic the sites receives. Lower numbers are better. Note that the Alexa rating can be manipulated so take this with a grain of salt. It is better than nothing however.

6. Is the linking page in the index of Google? A link from any page not indexed by Google is worthless. Copy and paste a section of unique text from the page in the search box of Google and see if the page appears for the search.

7. Are links displayed in the cached version of the page? If not, the page probably uses some trick to keep search engines from seeing outgoing links.

8. Content on the page your link will be placed on as well as the anchor text of other links on the page. Are all the links in the same general category or does the page contain tons of links in every conceivable category and lots of spammy ads?


Link Analysis and Management Tools


Although you can manage a linking campaign by hand, there are two software programs that can make your job MUCH easier – SEO Elite and Arelis. SEO Elite allows you to see the actual linking structure of any website (such as your competitors), including seeing what the link text is on sites, which sites are authorities, PageRank and Alexa ranking, all in one interface. It also helps you track and manage who you linked to, if they linked back to you, and so forth. It is a comprehensive link research, analysis and tracking tool. Arelis on the other hand is primarily used to track and manage reciprocal linking partners.


About SEO Elite


SEO Elite is a powerful tool that allows you to reverse-engineer the linking structure of any website – including your competition. Some of the more important features that SEO Elite has that make it a must-have tool include:

• Shows you the incoming and outgoing links for each page on a site.

• Tells you what the link text is for each incoming link as well as the page title of the linking page.

• Tells you the Google PageRank for each page.

• Shows you the Alexa rating for the site

• Allows you to look up the domain record for a site for the email address.

All results can be sorted, so that you can tell at a glance which sites are authorities – that is, which have the most links that point to them. You can also tell at a glance what your link text is for all sites that link to you.

In a nutshell, SEO Elite allows you to quickly determine which sites you should target. If a site links to your competitor’s site, they will likely link to your site as well. It also shows you the internal linking structure of a site. Best of all, you can save and export your results to a spreadsheet.


The General Link-Building Process


The general process for setting up and managing a link-building campaign is as follows. There is an expanded process that applies to reciprocal linking campaigns that will be discussed later. I recommend you use tools such as SEO Elite or Arelis to help you out, but you can do this manually too.

1. Do a search of your most important keywords on Google. Look at the top 30 results. These sites are either your competition or are complementary sites to yours. Also look at sites that are listed in the ODP and in Yahoo in the same market as your business.

2. Determine which sites link to you now. You can use SEO Elite or Arelis, or you can use the Yahoo backlink command as follows: Go to http://www.yahoo.com and type the following in the Search the Web box:

linkdomain:www.YourDomain -site:www.YourDomain

3. Similarly, determine which sites link to your competitors. Since these sites are linking to your competitors, they should link to you as well.

4. Visit each site on the list to see if you want a link from that site. Pare down the list as needed to leave only on-topic sites.

5. Create a system for managing your ongoing efforts. You can use a spreadsheet that lists each site, who you have already contacted, whether they have added a link to your site, whether you have added a link to them on your site, etc. You can use Arelis for this purpose or you can create a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

6. Systematically manage, track and expand your efforts. Get in the habit of spending at least one hour per week looking for new link partnerships. Your goal is to find new targeted traffic in as many different relevant locations as possible.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Submitting Your Site To Directories

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Submitting your site to search directories should be your step in link-building. Many have an inexpensive one-time, lifetime listing cost. This is money well-spent and is the best way to get PageRank to new sites quickly. Although directories provide less traffic compared to search engines, the quality of that traffic can be better targeted as you are listed on a specific category.

Search directories contain listings that are ordered under categories and sub-categories. Site listings are placed into directories by people – unlike search engines, which use automated programs to return ranked pages. Also unlike search engines, search directories can alter the title and description of your site listing to better “fit” into their categories as their editors deem fit.

Always submit your site manually. Do NOT use software or an online service that submits your site to multiple search directories automatically. This is particularly important for the larger directories, which ignore submissions from automated programs. You want to control how and where your site is submitted.

Note: Google has blocked some websites and directories from being able to pass PageRank. Such pages may still show PR value in the Google Toolbar however.


Submitting Your Site to the ODP


Due to it’s importance, a listing on the ODP (also known as DMOZ) is considered quite important. The ODP provides directory listings not only to Google, but also for the directories at AOL, Lycos, Teoma, AskJeeves, Netscape, AltaVista, HotBot and a host of smaller, specialized directories.

It can take several months (if ever) to show up in the ODP as the ODP is staffed by volunteers who are overwhelmed with work. As such, you should focus on getting listed in the ODP as soon as possible after your site is complete.

You can increase your chances for a listing if you can find a topic or category page that is not oversaturated already with listings. Also, consider signing up to be an Editor for a particular topic, this is a sure-fire way to get your listing added.

An ODP editor will review your submission. If applicable, submit your website to the ODP twice – once for the appropriate topic-related page and once for any location-specific page if your business is regional. However, submit only once per page, otherwise you will get shuffled to the end of the queue.

Tip: If you are interested in seeing where your website is ranked solely on PageRank alone, go to the Google Directory at http://directory.google.com. It is based on ODP data and displays all sites in the ODP in order of PageRank alone.


Submitting to The Yahoo Directory


Yahoo charges $299 a year for all business sites ($599 for adult sites), but is worth it if you can afford it. Non-business and non-profit sites can still get listed for free. Editors at Yahoo will review your site first, and are known to change your title and description as they see fit. Not much you can do about it – same if you mess up and want to change your listing.
Bear in mind your $299 is no guarantee that your site will be listed.

Getting listed on Yahoo can be a bit of a challenge as they have exacting editorial standards. You want your site to be 100% complete before a Yahoo editor looks at it.

You must follow the review submission guidelines for Yahoo precisely. For more information, see http://docs.yahoo.com/info/suggest/busexpress.html.


Submitting to Second-Tier Directories


You also should be submit your site to second-tier directories. Here is a list of some important secondary search directories you should submit your site to:

About.com: http://www.about.com. You need to email the "Guide" of the topic first. Click on the Guide's photo in the upper left of the page and then scroll down until you see a "Suggest a Site" link. It can be difficult to get in but is worth it

Business.com - https://secure.business.com/registration/newlisting.jsp
Business.com charges $199 per year and is an excellent directory for B2B listings.

Small Business Directory - http://sbd.bcentral.com/
This is Microsoft’s bCentral service for $49 per year. Gets you several listings.

Gimpsy - http://www.gimpsy.com/
GoGuides - http://www.goguides.org/
Joeant - http://www.joeant.com/
Best of the Web - http://www.botw.org/
ExactSeek - http://www.exactseek.com/
WoW Directory - http://www.wowdirectory.com/
Skaffe - http://www.skaffe.com/
Abilogic – http://www.abilogic.com
Anthony Parsons – http://www.anthonyparsons.com
Greenstalk – http://www.greenstalk.com
InCrawler – http://www.incrawler.com
Info-listings – http://www.info-listings.com
Seoma – http://www.seoma.net
Sitesnoop – http://www.sitesnoop.com
Sublime – http://www.complete-directory.com
World Site Index – http://www.worldsiteindex.com
Yeandi – http://www.yeandi.com



Submitting to Local and IYP Directories

I don't care if you work out of your home office and use a 3x5 mailbox down the block as your business address, you should get your website listed in the local and Internet Yellow Page (IYP) directories.

The Google search results are getting more crowded with Google Local listings appearing above the other search listings. Google Local and Yahoo Local search results are predominately influenced by listings in Switchboard and Verizon SuperPages so you should strive to get listings in these.

Here are the top ones to submit your site to:

Yahoo Local
To add your business listing to Yahoo Local, go to http://local.yahoo.com and then click Add/Edit a Business at the bottom of the page.

Google Local
If you advertise with Yellow Pages, you should already be in Google Local. If not, read the information at http://local.google.com/help/faq_local.html and then send an email with the required information to local-listings@google.com.

AOL Yellow Pages
Go to http://yp.aol.com for a listing.

Verizon SuperPages

Go to http://www.superpages.com/about/new_chg_listing_business.html to get a business profile listing.

Switchboard.com
Go to http://www.switchboard.com/adproducts.asp. Listings range from $15/mo to $35/mo.
MSN Yellow Pages

Go to http://yellowpages.msn.com. MSN charges $400/yr for this - they need to keep the shareholders happy I guess. Do only if you can really afford it.


Finding Industry-Specific Directories

Some of the most targeted traffic will become from the niche, specialty “vertical” directories in your industry or market. A simple way to find industry-specific directories is to search for them using terms such as:

"YourKeywords + add url"
"YourKeywords + add site"
"YourKeywords + add listing"
"YourKeywords + suggest site"
"YourKeywords + submit"
"YourKeywords + submit site"
"YourKeywords + directory"

A good resource for finding industry-specific and specialty directories is at http://www.isedb.com/html/Web_Directories/Specialty_Directories/.


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Friday, June 4, 2010

Domains And Subdomains

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Multiple Domains – Is it Worth It?


If your site contains more than one major subject – like baby diapers and garage door openers, you should consider splitting your site into multiple sites, one site per subject. This case is largely a no-brainer.

If you have a site that has several related, but distinct groups of products or services, the case is not so clear-cut. You may be better off spending your time expanding the size of your main site and organizing it better.

Should you decide to create more than one site for your business, keep the following points in mind:

• Don’t copy your main site onto a separate domain and duplicate pages in order to get more incoming links. Google can detect this and your site may get penalized (or even dropped from their index).

• Use different hosting companies for each site. The reason being is that Google may consider multiple similar sites on the same server that are cross-linked together as potential duplicate sites. The important consideration here is to have each site hosted on a different Class C block.

A Class C block is that number shown in the third position of an IP address. For example, for 255.137.xxx.255, xxx represents the Class C block. This number needs to be different for all your websites and the easiest way to guarantee this is to use separate Web hosting companies for each site.

It is not advised that you create multiple “mini” sites to help increase your traffic or number of incoming links. This was a popular technique a couple of years ago but has largely fallen out of favor due to abuse. There are people reportedly that do well at these but I am skeptical. Many mini-sites are junk one-page sites with little content (or with duplicate content) in the hopes of creating lots of links to boost PageRank. Google will catch on and you will be sorry you did this.

Create multiple sites only if there is a strong, compelling reason to do so.

Domain Pointing and Subdomains

Given that you can register domain names so cheaply, it may make sense to register your top keyword phrases as domain names, and then use domain pointers (also known as domain aliases or domain forwarding) to redirect visitors from your “pointer” domains to your main domain.
For example, if your main website is at www.houseplans.com, you may want to register the following domains: www.houseplan.com, www.house-plans.com, www.unique-house-plans.com, and www.homeplans.com, and set it up to have each one of these forward visitors to your main website. In this way, you can capture visitors who may type in variations of your main domain and singular vs. plural forms.

Another technique is the use of subdomains, also known as prefix domains or third-level domains. For example - http://keyword.domain.com.

Google currently treats a subdomain as an entirely different domain name. On your server, each subdomain is redirected to a different folder on your website.

For example, www.keyword.mydomain.com could point to www.my-main-domain.com/keyword/. This is an excellent strategy is your site is comprised of related but distinct groups of topics.

Contact your webmaster for setting this up as it varies from one server platform to the next.


Changing Domain Names

Think carefully if you are changing domain names at an established site solely for the purpose of change. Google will see your new domain as a brand-new site, even if you have kept all the file names the same. That means all your old incoming links will point to the old domain. I recommend keeping your old domain name unless you have a real compelling reason to change it.

If you must change domain names, the way to do it properly is to keep your old domain active and insert a Permanent 301 Redirect script on that server to instruct browsers and search engines that the site on the old domain have been replaced by a new domain. This will also transfer PageRank from your old domain to your new domain.

Ask your Webmaster to do this as it is a little complex and varies by server (Linux/Apache vs. Windows/IIS).

Domain Registration and Domain Age

Google now looks at the length of time a domain is registered for. Legitimate domains are more likely to be paid for several years in advance, while shady domains are rarely registered for more than a year in advance, since the owner knows they are likely to be penalized anyway. I recommend you sign up or renew a domain for at least 2 years, preferably more. Legitimate businesses are in it for the long haul anyway.

Google may also take into account the rate at which Whois information and DNS Nameserver is changed for a given domain. Domains that frequently change their hosting servers and registered owners may be flagged as possible spam domains. Lastly, Google appears to give more weight to older domains (and hence older sites) when ranking sites, all other things being equal.

Domain and Subdomain Naming

When a keyword is contained in a domain name or a subdomain, there is a good chance that the keyword is pretty relevant to the content of the site. A website with a keyword in the domain name may rank every so slightly higher than another website that doesn't use keywords in the domain (all other things being equal).

Given a choice between two listings in the search results, an online searcher will likely choose the listing containing the keyword in the domain name over the listing that contains unmemorable or is spammy-sounding.

Other tips to consider:

1. The shorter the domain name, the better.
2. Go from specific to generic: houseplans.com is better than planshouse.com
3. Don't use more than one hyphen is you can help it - no more than two hyphens ever in a domain name.
4. Don't be cute and use the TLD in the domain name, like www.reallygood.info.

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Linking Your pages Toether

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Before we continue, it is time to introduce the concept of Google PageRank (PR). PageRank is discussed in more detail later, but is introduced here in order to understand why it matters how you link pages on your website together.

PageRank is a numeric value that Google places on how important a page is on the Web. PageRank is determined by how many incoming links there are that point to a page.

Incoming links are links that point to a page from another page. Such links may be located on pages on the same website (internal links) or on pages on different websites (external links). External links are valued more than internal links.

Google figures that when one page links to another page, it is in effect “casting a vote” for the other page. The more incoming links (votes) there are for a page, the more important the page is to Google.

Note: Some obsess over the importance of PageRank to the near exclusion of everything else. As such, PageRank and its importance is truly over-hyped.

Proper linking between pages of your website, if done right, will help retain the total PageRank of your site and will also distribute your site’s overall PageRank value to your most important pages. Your site’s total “PR” value is simply the sum of the PR values of all the individual web pages. But keep in mind that PR is calculated and usually referred to on a per-page basis.

Internal links serve to share or distribute PageRank among all pages of your site. Links on your site that point to other websites can decrease PR from those pages that contain outbound links (and hence your site’s total available PR), while links from other sites can increase your site’s total PageRank.

The more internal links there are between pages of your site, the more evenly distributed the PageRank becomes in your site. Let’s see why this is important.

Struc
turing Your Internal Links

There are two main types of internal linking – hierarchical and mesh.

Hierarchical linking

Hierarchical linking is where one or more pages on your site (such as the home page) are considered more important than other pages. Important pages are linked to from all other pages in the site, but not all pages cross-link between each other. This concentrates PageRank on your most important pages.

Most sites should use a hierarchical linking structure, whereby the home page and the most important product, service, or content pages are linked to more often than other pages are. In this way, you can increase the chance that your most important page is ranked the highest on Google for your most important keyword phrase. The following figure illustrates this concept.


The home page typically has the highest PR value as this is the page most often linked to, both externally and internally. This may not be ideal if your home page is nothing but a splash page or contains little content. In this case, you should redesign your home page to include more content and make it more relevant to Google (and to your visitors). If this is not possible, you should re-link internally to your most important keyword-relevant content page(s).

In the preceding figure, the About Us page is only linked to from a single page. This is because the About Us page is not nearly as the other pages. So why funnel precious PR value to it – instead flow PR value out of the page back to the home page.

Mesh Linking

Mesh linking is where all pages are considered equally important (to theme, topic, and keywords). This is the simplest linking method in that each page on the site links to every other page on the site. Most sites use mesh linking by default without thinking about it by virtue of having the same menu navigation bar on each page that contains the same links. This evenly distributes PageRank among all pages in the site, which is not ideal. The following figure illustrates this concept.

In this example, note that each page links to the lesser important About Us page. So why funnel precious PR value to it? Use hierarchical linking whenever possible!
Best Practices for Internal Linking

The following are best practices for linking the pages of your site together:

1. Use text-based links if possible and use the proper link structure.
2. Use keywords in your link text for every link.

Part of the ranking algorithm includes checking the text of a link against text on the linked-to page. Use your keywords in link text. Don’t use “Click here” or “Home” as the text of a link, as these are not relevant.


3. Link from your home (or sitemap) page to every other page on your site.

If your Web site is relatively small (less than 10 pages or so), your home page can effectively function as your sitemap page. If you have a larger site, this becomes unwieldy and you then need a separate sitemap page. Add some content to your sitemap page - it should not consist of just links.

A sitemap page functions as an “index” to your site and is invaluable for the following reasons:

• Helps Google find and crawl other pages on your site quickly

• Helps your customers find what they need quickly

• Helps distribute your site’s PageRank to other important pages
Tip: Because your home page likely has the highest PageRank in your site, you should NOT put any outgoing links on this page. Ideally, the only page you should have outgoing links on is your Related Links page. This will minimize the small amount of PageRank “leakage” from that page. This concept will be discussed later.

4. Link from every “non-relevant” page back to your home page ONLY.

Non-relevant pages are defined here as those pages that are not keyword-rich and do not likely contain the information that a visitor to your site is looking for while searching on Google. You do not want these pages to receive as much PageRank as your more important pages. Examples of non-relevant pages that should ONLY link back to the Home page include the following:

• “Copyright” page

• “Privacy Policy” Page

• “Disclaimers” Page

• “About Us” page

• “Contact Us” page

• Order form, shopping cart pages

• “Link to Us” page

• “Testimonials” page

This helps return and concentrate PageRank back to your Home page. Remember, you want to maximize PageRank for your most important pages.

5. Link from your “Related Links” page to every other page on your site.

This page contains outgoing links that point to other websites and will “leak” PageRank from this page (but not from any other pages). Since PageRank “voting power” is shared evenly among all links on a page, having many links that point back to your own page will minimize this effect.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep all links going to other sites on a single page – your “Related Links” page. (If you have more than 100 links on a page, consider splitting them up into multiple pages).

6. Link ONLY between pages that are related by keyword.

This helps distribute PageRank among pages that are related by keyword phrase. These pages are likely important to your customers, which means you should concentrate PageRank on these. These pages should also contain a link back to the Home page.

7. Ensure every page links to at least one other page.

This will help Google crawl your site faster and help your customers navigate through your site better. Pages with a link to them but without a link on them are called orphan pages.

8. Use Absolute URLs to Link to Your Home Page

When linking back to your home page from other pages on your site, always use the absolute URL instead of a relative URL or file path. For example, always use:
http://www.yourdomain.com (note the www)

instead of:

index.html (or whatever the file name of your Home page is)

or

http://www.yourdomain.com/index.html

to link back to your Home page. I would also use absolute URLs for any subdomain, subdirectory and other main "category" pages you might have on your site. Google has had problems assigning an accurate PageRank value to a page if it uses inconsistent or differing link URL forms to it.

9. Use “Bread Crumb” Link Navigation

Effective link navigation between your pages can provide keyword-rich internal links and assist your visitors in determining exactly where they are on your site. A popular technique called “bread crumbs” can be used for this. For example, if this book were in HTML format on the Web, I could insert a series of links at the top of each page.

For this particular page, the bread crumb links would be:

Optimizing Your Website > Linking Your Pages Correctly > Best Practices For Internal Linking

Note how this can increase both content and provide keyword-rich links.

10. Use the “NOFOLLOW” Attribute Link

The rel="NOFOLLOW" attribute in a link has been used on blog and forum sites to block the Google spider from following a link to its target page, and hence blocking the passing of PageRank. This is in an effort to reduce link spamming.

You can use the NOFOLLOW attribute to your advantage on your site to channel PageRank to your most important pages. Here's the syntax:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

About Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

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Also known as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), this technology allows Google to analyze and quantify related keywords within the larger set of content on a web page. Think word synonyms, different word endings, etc. Lots has been speculated about the extent that latent semantic indexing influences ranking.

It is a complex technology, particularly in how it may be implemented. The effect of LSI on your rankings is not well understood, but it means your page may rank better for a related keyword, one that may not even be on the page, than your primary keyword!

Use Keywords in the Following Places

The following are places where keywords should be used on your web pages. The first four items are more important, with Google giving weight to keywords found in the title and link anchor text more than any of the other locations.

• Title: keywords. Keywords should appear as first or second word in the title.

• Link (anchor) text: keywords. The clickable portion of links.

• Headings:

keywords

,

keywords

, etc. Use a stylesheet (CSS file) to control the size of heading text to make it blend in better.

• First paragraph of page (first 20 words):

keywords

Bold and/or italicize keywords also.

• Last paragraph of page:

keywords



• Drop-down boxes:
keywords


• URLs:

• Folder & file names: keywords/keywords.html, keywords.gif

• Image ALT text: ”keywords” for graphical links

Some people abuse H1 tags by wrapping them around entire pages of content or by using multiple H1 tags on a page.

This is a bad idea and borders on spam – the H1 tag should be used as a page headline. It is perfectly legitimate to reduce the size of H1 text using a style sheet but that’s about it. As a result, Google may be discounting H1 so it may carry less weight for ranking moving forward.
The same can be said about image ALT text – some people put entire paragraphs of content in them for each image on a page.

It is perfectly legitimate to put keywords relating to the image but that’s it. Similarly, image ALT text now carries less weight than before. Images that are clickable (wrapped in a HREF link tag) do not appear to have a discounting - yet.

Proper Internal Link Structure

Besides the title of a page, Google places special importance on the use of keywords in the text of links. This means you need to structure your links correctly.

Ideally, you should only use text links on your site as opposed to graphical “button” links. Google looks for keywords contained in link anchor text – the clickable portion of the link. Google cannot see graphics-based links – all it has to go on is the ALT attribute for image tags, which doesn’t carry as much weight.

Keywords in link text should match keywords found on the page that the link points to – especially in the title of the page.

Here is an example of the ideal link structure for Google. Of primary importance is the use of keywords in link anchor text (text between the tags). Note also the use of keywords in the actual name of the graphics file.

Text-Based (Ideal) Link Structure:

your keywords

If you must use graphics-based links on your web pages, be sure and fill in the ALT text attribute of the image tag as follows:

Graphics Link Structure:


”your


What Google Ignores

Google ignores the following elements on your web pages. Due to their abuse and misuse, META tags are a thing of the past with Google!

• Information in the tag

• Information in all other META tags (see META “Description” tag caveat)

• Information within the tag

• Information within the