Monday, November 22, 2010

SEO articles for your reading pleasure

Staying Ahead Of Google Search

Last week, I asked the musical question, "Are you keeping up with Google?" In that post, I tried to stimulate some thinking around the idea that waiting for the ranking algorithm to change is not the best time to begin doing something new in response. If you work that way, you are constantly feeling under the gun, like you can't keep up, and that you are always falling behind.

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CMS Keeps Two Sets of URLs (same content)

We are moving our site to a new CMS – same content, many identical pages, some new pages, same domain, different URLs. The CMS allows us to craft SEO-friendly URLs, like this:

The underlying page-number URL will also load that same page:

Question 1. In sitemap.xml, can we use the page number URL rather than the keyword URL?

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Local Social Media Marketing: How your peers use Twitter, Facebook, and blogs

Foursquare or GroupOn? I think the playground game four square is far more impressive than the social media platform with the same name…and only then if you absolutely, positively can’t find a football. I think GroupOn has far more value for local social media marketers.

On the other hand, Senior Manager of Research Partnerships Andy Mott thinks that Foursquare is the natural evolution of the loyalty card.

Continue reading:



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Monday, November 15, 2010

Top 10 Etsy Shop SEO Mistakes

SEO mistakes I often see in my shop "travels" around Etsy

1. Ignoring SEO. Sometimes the shop title is completely missing or only contains the user name. Adjusting all of the text in your Etsy shop - titles, section names, product listings, descriptions - so that the search engines can index your shop pages usually makes makes a big difference in the number of visitors to your Etsy shop

2. Not using keywords that have been researched. Use keywords that are used over and over again to search for the products or services you are selling. Using keyword phrases that you think would be used to search for your products or services usually does not work. Research keywords for free using Google's keyword tool:

3. Breaking up keyword phrases and/or rearranging the words within a keyword phrase, such as using "jewelry, handmade, silver, gold, gemstone" for the original whole keyword phrases "handmade silver jewelry" "handmade gold jewelry" and "handmade gemstone jewelry." The search engines do first look for the exact phrase that matches the keywords that are used in any search.

4. Using single words, such as, bracelets, necklaces, cards, paintings, for keywords. Single words are too general and there are so many Web sites competing for these high traffic words that your shop will come out so far in the back of the search results that you will not benefit from the use of these words. Using keyword phrases that are more specific will work better for you, such as, "watercolor paintings," and "sterling silver bracelets."

5. Not checking the title tag of the program code for each page of your shop. Etsy sometimes cuts off the last word to make room for "by username." The last word is often the one you do not want to have cut off. Always check the program code after you add keywords to the shop title and the product listings to make sure all of your keywords are included in the title tag. You can find the title tag for each page of your shop in the Internet Browser you are using by clicking on "View" in the drop-down menu and then clicking on "Source" or "Page Source." The title tag is near the top of the code and looks like this: "< title /> your keyword phrase and your keyword phrase by username "

6. Not building inbound links outside of Etsy to move your shop higher up in the search results. Adding keywords to all the parts of your Etsy shop does allow the search engines to index your shop for your keywords but without building links, your shop could come up so far back in the search results that you will see increased views or sales in your shop. Building links for your shop drives your shop higher up in the search results. The higher up your shop goes in the search results, the more and more visitors you will see coming to your shop. Coming up on page one of the search results usually means a huge increase in shop views and sales.

7. Not building links inside of the Etsy Web site to add to the link value for your Etsy shop. Build links between your listings and your main shop page and sections. Build links from within the forums and the comments in Storque articles.

8. Not researching the other web sites that come up high in the search results for the same keywords you are using. These sites are your competition and knowing what the competition is doing - how many links as well as the quality of the links - gives you a good idea of what you need to do to to come up high in the search results. Use Yahoo's Site Explorer to research the Web sites competing for your keywords:

9. Applying SEO once and never looking at it again. Popular keyword phrases sometimes loose popularity over time. The competition is always working on SEO and you should too. Review your chosen keyword phrases at least twice a year and make adjustments as needed. Work on link building ongoing basis.

10. Not using the Developers Tool Bar in the Firefox browser to identify which links really give your shop link value. A lot of time can be wasted in leaving links all over the Interent that have no value to your shop. The Developers Tool Bar can be added to the Firefox browser. For PC's - Download directly from Mozilla here:


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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

10-plus SEO Questions - Google Rules

Guest article from Jill Whalen

This morning I woke up to someone having submitted a pile of SEO questions using our newsletter question form. At first I thought, "Yikes, that's kind of pushy to think I have time to answer all those questions!" But then I remembered that this was a newsletter week and I still had no idea what I was going to write about. A second look at the questions made me think that you guys would probably be interested in the answers to many of them, so it worked out perfectly.

Most of these questions have been answered in greater detail in various articles that I've written, so if you'd like more info on any of them, I've linked to the relevant ones for your convenience.

Thanks to Umair R., who submitted these questions.

1. Is there any fixed rule for Google as far as SEO is concerned? If so, what are the steps?

If only! There are no fixed rules because every website is different and has different needs. There are basic things that all websites need to do in order to improve their chances of showing up in Google search results for relevant phrases, but no magic formula.

See "The Art of SEO" article for more on this.

2. Do the following play important roles in website page ranking and positioning?

* PR

Yes, real PageRank (PR), that kind that only Google knows, about plays a very large part in websites showing up (or not) for search queries that are relevant to it. But toolbar PageRank is another matter entirely. What you see there doesn't correlate very well to where your page will show up in the search results.

See: "Getting Into Google."
(Scroll down to the "Google Still Loves Its PageRank" part.)

* The number of incoming links

Not so much in and of itself. Real PR, as mentioned above, is calculated not only on the number of links, but also on the quality of those links. A handful of links from authoritative, trustworthy, relevant pages should far outweigh hundreds of links from so-so sites.

See the High Rankings Link Building Forum.

* Keyword density

Not in that there's some special percentage that you need to aim for. Certainly it's helpful to have the keyword phrases that you'd like to show up being used within the content of your page. But that's just common sense, if you ask me. Surely, if your page is about a certain something (your keyword phrase), how could that phrase NOT be on the page?

See the various threads on keyword density on the High Rankings Forum.

* Page response time

This is important only because if it takes too long to load, it might not be properly (or completely) indexed.

* Bounce rate

It's doubtful that this matters, because there's no way for Google to know the bounce rate of every site. And it wouldn't be fair for them to only count the bounce rates of those sites that have Google Analytics installed, so my guess is that this is not a factor.

See various High Rankings forum threads.

* Time on site

Like the above answer, they don't know this number unless the site has Google Analytics installed. That said, they may sometimes incorporate the old trick of seeing if a searcher clicks to another site in the search results after clicking one result, and how long it took them to click another. In other words, if they find that lots of people who clicked to one site in the search engine results pages (SERPs) always end up back at Google to try another site, then perhaps that first site wasn't a great answer to the search query after all.

* Domain page / page age

From what I can tell, this can often be a factor. But it doesn't seem to be as prominent a factor as it was a few years ago.

3. Is there any special technique for content writing?

There's no special technique, but I highly suggest hiring a professional marketing copywriter. You will see a positive return on your investment very quickly if you do. In addition, the tried and true SEO copyediting techniques in my "Nitty-gritty of Writing for Search Engines" may come in handy if you're not sure how to integrate your keyword phrases into your professionally written content.

4. Should we cater to code-to-text ratio while developing websites?

There's not one shred of evidence that this would have an effect on where a page would show up in the search results for a relevant search query.

5. If active scripting is a must for webpage development, how harmful can it be for PageRank and positions?

It's typically not harmful at all because it's usually done before a browser (or search engine spider) sees a page. To users and search engines, your dynamically generated pages are just static HTML by the time they get to them. Still, not all dynamically generated pages are created equal. There are some ways of developing your site that are less search friendly than others. For example, some JavaScript menus, some AJAX, etc.

See "Diagnosing the SEO Health of Your Website":

6. If a webpage is ranking top for a specific keyword, if we make textual changes in that webpage, is there any chance that we lose the rankings?

Any changes you make to a page's content can affect how relevant the search engines believe it to be for any particular search query. That doesn't mean it definitely will change the search results, but it could. The only way to know is to try it and see. Usually, if you're rewriting your page to be more useful to your site visitors and you don't remove all the instances of the keyword phrase, you should be fine. Because nothing is permanent with SEO, if you don't like what you see you can tweak it until you do.

7. Is it possible to be #1 for 20 high-volume searched keywords on Google for a particular domain?

Of course. Every website has lots of pages contained within it, each of which has the ability to be relevant for a number of keyword phrases. However, it's important to note that what you see as the #1 result may not be what everyone else sees. A better question to ask would be, "Is it possible to get search engine traffic for 20 high-volume searched keywords?"

See "5 Reasons Why Rankings Are a Poor Measure of Success."

8. How many good-quality links does a webpage require to be in #1 position at Google?

See the previous answer about the number of links as well as the article on rankings referenced above.

9. Is link building an ongoing process forever in order to maintain the top positions?

Like most of the answers I've been providing, it depends. An awesome website that is different from its competitors and that is continually developing innovative content will consistently generate high-quality links. But the site that is the same as its competitors with no real added value will most likely end up having to beg for links for its entire existence.

10. Is there any other significant factor for SEO apart from those mentioned above?

Yes, there are thousands of other factors! I'd suggest reading all the articles referenced here, as well as past issues of this newsletter. Also, become a regular member of the High Rankings SEO Forum. Keep studying, but more than that, keep trying different things on your own sites – learn what works and what doesn't that way.

Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings a Boston SEO Consulting Agency, has been providing SEO services since 1995. Jill is also the host of the  High Rankings Advisor newsletter and the High Rankings SEO forum.

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