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!