Thursday, December 31, 2009

Google PR Update Time..... AGAIN!

Since my last post was about a Google PR Toolbar update, I`ll keep this short and sweet... (well, as sweet as I can, this is Google after all)...

This update came as a bit of a surprise to me as we just had one around the end of Oct./early Nov. so I wasn`t expecting another until the end of Jan. however, as I`ve mentioned previously, Google seems to be less consistent than they used to be, they like to keep us SEO`s and webmasters on our toes. 

If you have not checked your PR yet, you might want too. Many of the sites I have been working on have increased in PR! Thanks for the New Years Eve gift Google.... I hope the rest of you experience an increased PR. If not, don`t worry, as I said in my last post, Toolbar PR is NOT a direct reflection of your organic placement in the SERP`s, so don`t get too worked up about it. Just keep getting quality links and adding fresh content and maybe you`ll increase your PR on the next update.

Happy New Years.... wishing you and your business a prosperous 2010!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Google PR Update Time!

Hello SEO Friends!

It appears to be that time again! Google is updating their PR toolbar. Expect to see fluctuations (no freaking out if your PR goes down during this time) and inconsistencies for a few more days at least... sometimes it takes weeks or even months before the "dust" settles.

If you`ve been building a heavy amount of links, you might see an increase in PR.... but if your PR doesn`t change, I wouldn`t worry too much, Google toolbar PR and organic placement in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) are two different things. If your PR is average, but you have good organic placement for your target keywords, who cares what the PR is?

Now I realize if you are trying to sell links on your site, or you are an SEO company or other high profile business that needs to display higher PR for the site user, that`s one thing... but otherwise I wouldn`t worry too much about the toolbar PR and keep focusing on building quality links and adding more content to your site.

P.S. A site DOES NOT have to have Toolbar PR in order to pass value. If you want to know if a site pass value to you by linking to you, check the cache. If they seem to be caching and the site is clean (think not too many OB links, no "bad neighborhood" links or other spammy elements) then it still had the ability to pass value.  Remember, Google likes to show us one thing and do another.... so if you think that the toolbar PR is a good way to value a site, think again...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

SEO Tip of the Day

Okay, okay.... I`m terrible about updating my poor, neglected SEO blog, I know.... several people are wondering why it`s been so long. To be honest, I changed jobs, I`m a single mom, working from home and I spend all my free time on Social Media sites :-)

I started writing a Twitter Tips blog, which I will publish soon, but until then, here`s a fun little Google tip:

When trying to determine the level of difficulty for a new keyword, there are a few fun tricks in Google.

In a Google search, type in:

allintitle:"your keyword here"

Notice the words "all" "in" and "title" include NO spaces
Always use a : at the end
Put your keyword in "quotes" for exact data
Never put a space between the : and the keyword

Your results will reflect the amount of sites competing for the same keyword in their title tag.

I think this is one of the most accurate ways to determine how many sites are actually competing for that term. Of course if you are looking up a large amount of keywords, it`s best to use a tool that will allow you to plug in multiple keywords at the same time, but if you`re looking for a quick number, this is a great trick.

You can also use the same technique for anchor text competition:

allinanchor:"your keyword here"

So, there you have it! Have fun Googlers :-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SEO tip of the day: Using Secondary Keywords to support a Root Term

My SEO tip of the day:

If you want to rank for tough keywords, use secondary supporting terms that include the root term.


Let’s say I want to rank for “Shoes”. Unless I have a huge budget for links (and even then it`s going to be tough to outrank branded, authority sites with age and 1,000`s of indexed links) it`s better I select similar secondary phrases. So, rather than targeting “Shoes”, I should target niche phrases that: 1 – would be good for conversions 2 – still have a decent search volume but 3 – have a much lower level of competing sites.

Let`s say I decide “discount shoes” would be a niche for my market. It`s still a high searched term, but not nearly as competitive as “shoes” alone. I should than support my choice by optimizing my “discount shoes” landing page with 5-10 supporting keywords that include “discount shoes”, such as:

womens discount shoes
converse discount shoes
mephisto discount shoes
born discount shoes
skechers discount shoes

And, when deploying a link building campaign to rank my “discount shoes” page, I will randomize my link text with one of the above selections or “discount shoes” specially. This not only ensures my link efforts appear more natural to the search engines, but helps my site rank for these secondary terms that also bring in a decent amount of search volume. It may take a while (depending on my budget, current trust with the search engines, what my competition is doing, etc) to rank for “discount shoes”, but by selecting less competitive, longer tail keyword phrases, I am increasing my visibility and rankings for niche terms that are likely to be better for conversions and help me see a quicker ROI.

In a nutshell: If you want to rank for a competitive term and you are just getting started, it`s best to target similar secondary phrases instead. You will be supporting your ultimate, long term goal, but will achieve much quicker results, for a lot less money and effort!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Follow Up: Google vs. Bing... vs. Yahoo?

A few of my SEO Tweeps retweeped: Google vs. Bing: The Blind Taste Test ... A fairly good read, by the way. In a nutshell, bloggerBen Parr says:
"While there are a few tools out there that already compare the two search engines, none take the scientific approach quite like BlindSearch does. The experiment, formed by Michael Kordahi, provides search results from Google, Bing, and Yahoo and asks you to vote on which results are best. However, BlindSearch takes your biases out of the equation by stripping away the branding and logos."

So, I thought, why not and I tried the BlindSearch. I actually expected a clear winner between Google and Bing, but surprisingly got Yahoo 3 out of 3! Go figure!

Try it and you tell me who wins!

Look Out Google!

One of Danny Sullivan's Tweets today said he was having fun playing around with Bing, so I thought I would check it out. For those of you who don`t know, Bing is Microsoft`s new search engine. The Times says:
"Bing replaces Microsoft’s Live Search product, which has failed to dent Google’s huge lead in search market share."

My response, let`s all give Google a run for their money! It`s so frustrating working in this industry, knowing what it takes to rank sites in the search engines, and yet not being able to do things because it`s "against Google`s webmaster guidelines"... I`m sick of being held hostage by Google. There are so many other search engines out there! If we all start using other tools not owed by Google, Google won`t have so much control!

Good luck Bing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cool Tool of the Day: Mass Google PR Checker

I love free SEO tools... I`ve been using this one for a while now, and it`s very helpful. Funny story, I walked by someone in the office and overheard them mention it was such a pain, checking large amounts of PR (Google`s Page Rank) manually... needless to say they were thrilled when I sent them this tool:

Bulk PR Checker

The only thing I don`t like about it is they results aren`t exportable and don`t copy and paste very well. So, if anyone has a similar tool that also has an exprt feature, please do share!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Joined the SEO Book Community

Good Morning Readers!

A 5:00 AM this morning, an hour before my alarm, my brain was swarming with thoughts of Twitter, my SEO Blog and work... (kinda sad, I know)... I found myself sleepily stumbling towards the computer, the goal being to make at least a quick blog post, if anything. Opening Fire Fox and saying "yes" the prompt question, "would you like to restore your previous session?" opened up my Twitter Account ... of course, there are my fearless SEO Tweeps, already awake, sharing, sharing, sharing... First tweet that caught my eye:

SEOBook post: Brand Considerations When Choosing Domain Names

So, I followed and it took me to one of my favorite SEO sites: SEO Book. It`s easy for me to be skeptical with SEO blogs in general as there is so much misconception out there it`s not even funny, but in this case, I generally not only agree 100% with the content of the posts, but actually consider these guys an authority in this space.

The post itself is on brand consideration when considering a domain name. I think it`s more that just a coincidence that I stumbled upon this post, only having just had a lengthy discussion just yesterday on a new domain purchase and if and how he should integrate his keyword into the domain decision.

Having been a fan of the site for years and never actually joining their community, I thought I was past due and signed up: My SEOBook user profile.. I think it`s great to be part of the community, but I also felt prompted to comment, here`s what I said:

"Great post! I was just speaking about this yesterday with a new client who was still considering his domain name. The big question was, should the domain contain the root target keyword? After much deliberation, we decided mutually that a shorter domain that was much catchier would be the better choice. It`s true that direct traffic comes a lot easier when you can drop your name causally in conversation, hand out a business card with it or do some form of advertising not internet based and have people remember it and ultimate search for your name directly.

The problem my company is facing with our domain name: is the name became the brand and therefore the common misconception is that all we offer are links. At the point in the game we are now offering PPC management, Landing Page Optimization, full SEO and even graphic design work and much more... but the name itself suggests all we do are links. We could consider a "re-branding" but that takes away from years of work to build our name...

My suggestion? If you are even considering an expansion down the road with your business offerings, don`t pigeon hole yourself with a name (Domain or Brand) that limits what the public will think of you. Keeping it broad at least leaves room for unlimited growth within your brand association."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sitewides: Are They Really "bad"?

Since sitewides continue to be a controversial topic, and a client recently asked "Are sitewides really bad"? I thought I`d deviate from the Blog Topic List (see my previous post: SEO 101) and write up something quick on sitewide links.

When taking a look at the website user, sitewides can be good and even important links, as users are much more likely to click them. Additionally, they make the overall site template look more consistent, which encourages the users to feel more secure. When looking at sitewides from the SEO standpoint, there are obvious reasons why you would want to be careful when purchasing sitewides, but when done correctly, absolutely still add value.

For example, take a look at Blogs. Google recognizes template based elements, and as most bloggers use a template, the links will appear on every page simply because of the design. Is this to say Google would actually penalize or even devalue links simply due to design, or template based elements? We know this isn`t true, or 1,000`s of clients who have purchased blog reviews and other sitewide links would be penalized by now. Instead, many factors (multiple “bad neighborhood” sites linking in, a whole network of sites linking in, etc) come into play when Google becomes suspicious and/or chooses to penalize.

In a nutshell, if your backlink profile includes a few solid sitewide links along with other link types, you should not only avoid any penalty, but experience increased trust with diversity in your link profile as a whole. Just stay on topic, avoid purchasing links on bad neighborhoods and, of course, don`t rely predominantly on sidewide links. In fact, you really shouldn`t rely on one link type ever, as the makeup of a well established link portfolio includes many different link types. It`s the diversity that makes the links appear more natural, and therefore encourages Google to trust your link portfolio in its entirety.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Simple Make Up of a Ranking Site

Of course no one knows the exact science of the Google`s algorithm. Although many SEO`s will claim they have some insight, and experienced developers can take a guess, Google has kept the algo private, so no one truly holds the secret.

That said, I don`t claim to have all the answers, but years of link building experience with 1,000`s of different sites has solidified many assumptions and I can at least give a few tips.

So, let`s get right to it.

To simplify things, allow me to reference a little "SEO Slang" (more found in my previous post):

Algo = Google Algorithm:
A mathematical equation that uses certain information from websites in order to define their rankings.

Ranking = Google Ranking AKA = Search Engine Index:
The search engines (Google`s) results for the keyword searched. #1 is the desired indexed number for your site. In other words, you`d like to be "ranking #1" in the search engine indexing in order to get traffic to your site.

KW = Keyword AKA = Keyphrase (Anchor Text, Link Text) - Keywords are words which are used in search engine queries. Keyphrases are multi-word phrases used in search engine queries. SEO is the process of optimizing web pages for keywords and keyphrases so that they rank highly in the results returned for search queries. Anchor text refers to the text that is used in your links.

G = Google

Spam/Spammy - Manipulation techniques that violate search engines Terms of Service and are designed to achieve higher rankings for a web page. Spam could be grounds for banning.

SP = Sub Page - This refers to a interior page of a website with multiple pages.

CTR = Click Through Ratio - The percentage of visitors who click through on a link to visit the listed web site.

SERPs = SERP/Serps - Search Engine Results Page/Positioning. This refers to the organic (excluding paid listings, PPC) search results for a given query.

Ultimately 90% of website owners have one goal, to drive more traffic to their site! In an effort to help my clients achieve that goal, I have to come up with a way to increase their Google (and the other major search engines, i.e. Yahoo!, MSN, Ask, etc.) search engine rankings, for a particular (most of the time multiple) keyword phrases. Google wants to provide it`s users with the best search results possible. In order to instantly provide the user with the best websites possible, related to their search, they designed an algorithm. This algo has since become increasingly sophisticated and therefore impossible to crack. However, there are a few basic (okay, and not so basic) things every webmaster should know. Some may seem like a no brainer, while others may surprise you.

Here`s my list of some of the basic on-page and off-page factors that help your website rank:

So, you want to rank for a keyword? (More on how to pick a keyword(s) to come)
Start with the on-page factors, including:

Keyword Usage Factors:

• KW in desired page title tag (If you don`t know what this is, you shouldn`t be a webmaster)
• KW in header tags
• KW in on-page content (You want to provide relevant content on the keyword you want to rank for)
• KW usage in internal links pointing to the page (referencing your own content)
• KW in domain and/or URL (buying a domain with the keyword in it is optimal, especially in Yahoo, if it`s too late, make sure your SP`s use the main keyword)
*Note: Remember, less is more, you don`t want to overdo it, that`s called keyword stuffing

Domain Strength:

• Domain age (The older the better)
• Registration history (Who`s had it and for how long)
• Strength of links pointing to the domain (With each link acting like a vote for your website, you want the most votes, but also higher quality votes)
• Topical neighborhood of domain based on inbound links and outbound links (Don`t link out to, nor purchase links from bad or completely unrelated sites)
• Historical use and links pattern to domain (Creating a link trend that G can trust)
*Note - Age = trust, trust comes with time. Google wants to rank a site that`s been around for a while

Inbound Link Score:

• Age of links (Again, trust comes with time, Google wants longevity)
• Quality of domains sending links (think age and authority)
• Quality of pages sending links (Avoid link farms and spammy pages, think content rich and relevancy)
• Anchor text of links (Using the term you want to rank for)
• Link quantity/weight metric (Pagerank or a variation)
• Relevancy (related subject content) of linking site/page (Relevancy is important, but it`s about site audience relevancy, not direct competition – in other words, a site doing/selling the same thing wouldn`t naturally link to you, the competitor, however, a site with a simpliar audience would)

*Note – it`s all about the links, getting the right links, using the right anchor text and diversifying your link portfolio for a natural looking campaign

Search User Data:

• Historical Click Through Ratio (CTR) to page in SERPs (If you rank, but no one is clicking, you better rethink your title and description)
• Time users spend on page (If they click, but bounce off, you probably need to rethink your content, think compelling)
• Search requests for URL/domain (This is where branding comes in)
• Historical visits/use of URL/domain by users G can monitor (think G toolbar, wifi, analytics, etc.)

Content Quality Score – The Human Touch:

• This is potentially given by hand for popular queries/pages (Someone has to be working over there)
• Provided by Google raters (I`ve actually seen ad`s for hire on this)
• And, human monitored for QA, but obviously machine algo`s for rating text quality/readability/etc. (It`s not really unique content if no one can read it, in this case it`s just spam)

So, I hope you picked up a few useful tips. When it comes to the inbound links, help is on the way! Just call me at work 480-668-6139 ex 218 (Jenny Stradling) or, e-mail me at
I`ll help you with the details.

Oh, and, don`t forget to HAVE FUN!