Tag Archives: seo

Advanced Web Ranking Here I Come

1 Dec
Scott Goodyear at the Indianapolis Motor Speed...

Image via Wikipedia – Not the Scott Goodyear I’m talking about, but it’s a Scott Goodyear nonetheless.

WebPosition’s old standalone version finally stopped querying Google correctly. I’m now in the process of switching to Advanced Web Ranking (AWR). Per my earlier post about finding a WebPosition replacement and some followup in the comments, AWR is the only solution to meet all of the critical SEO software criteria. I’m still apprehensive; it’s always a pain to switch to unfamiliar software, but my confidence is buoyed by the great email responses I’ve received from Robert at AWR support.

A few years ago, when I still had an SEO boner for WebPosition, that happy feeling was largely because of Scott Goodyear’s great support. Scott disappeared when infospace acquired WebPosition. That’s when the WP FAIL began.

I’ll write a more thorough review of Advanced Web Ranking after I run and customize a few AWR reports. Specifically, I’ll document precisely how I overcome what at first blush appears to be a cluttered interface to accomplish specific SEO reporting customization tasks. If you have any questions you’d like me to discuss in the review, let me know and I’ll try to abide. I know AWR does search engine submission, and also offers tools for keyword research, but those are features I wouldn’t usually comment on unless somebody specifically asked for a review.

SEO Blogging Best Practices

22 Nov

wordpress-logo-notext-rgb

(WARNING! This article is several years old now. The world of SEO changes often. Take this and any other SEO advice with a grain of salt and an eye for the contemporary.) This article assumes your web team has already configured your blog on a good blogging platform like WordPress with all the best SEO plugins installed and configured. It also assumes that you’ve gone through the complex decision of deciding where to put your blog: e.g. mysite.com/blog vs. myblog.com

Let me know if you need help or want further discussion on any of those prerequisites.

SEO Blogging Basics

  • Write often.
  • Know your keywords.
  • Focus all page and post elements.
  • Leverage links.
  • Embrace community.

Content is King

When done well, blogging benefits your brand, customer community and valuable search rankings.

Write well and often. Avoid blogger burnout by using multiple bloggers. Invite guest bloggers who will give you great content and buzz in exchange for a link to their site in the byline. Do whatever it takes to get content flowing regularly. There’s no upper limit to quantity but you want to make sure you’re cranking the quality too.

Your audience is twofold and you should write for both humans and robots. We’ll assume you know how to connect with those humans but the pesky search engine spiders are a little different. If you blog a lot, you don’t need to always pander to the bots. But…

All in-house bloggers should be aware of your SEO campaign’s keywords and should be updated as the list changes. If it’s ever convenient to fit a keyword phrase into your blog post, and it sounds natural, do it.

Page Elements and Agreement

But sometimes you’ll want to take it a step further. The best SEO blog entries have some sense of agreement throughout disparate page elements. These elements are opportunities for us to convey semantic information to Google. Some of these elements:

  • title (appears in the very top left of the browser and often is the top bolded part of the Google search engine result page (SERP) listing)
  • description (not visible on page, but often used by Google in SERP listings, below the title)
  • body content – copy in your paragraphs – the beef
  • Headlines – your primary headline on almost any blog entry is the Blog name. it’s the h1. You then define a headline specific to your entry (h2). And break up your text with tertiary (h3) and sometimes other sub-headlines (h4, h5) These headlines help both humans and robots to better understand what’s important.
  • alt tags – any time you use an image you have the ability to specify an alt tag to tell search engines and accessibility devices (screen readers) some info about the image.
  • page name / entry name / headline / title – in WordPress, the “Enter title here” field is often used to populate several fields including
  • the first, primary headline in your post
  • the page name
  • the page title (see above)

For example in this post:
https://dandreifort.com/2010/10/08/the-fall-of-uncool/
I entered “The Fall of Uncool” into that field.

  • Which was used verbatim as the main headline of the post
  • hyphenated in the page name /the-fall-of-uncool/
  • and prefixed to the blog title to create the title

The Fall of Uncool << Dan Dreifort

  • WordPress SEO plugins like Platinum SEO Pack, allow you to specify unique page  titles, page names, descriptions, etc.  apart from what you enter into the “Enter Title Here” field. You should use these fields to your advantage as specified below.

Titles – Should be no more than 65 characters in length including spaces. Anything more than that and you’ll be wasting energy; Google won’t display >65 characters in the headline of the listing and won’t pay attention to the additional characters for indexing. (Use Title Case for Titles) They’ll often be similar and sometimes even identical to the main headline of your blog post.

Description – Keep them under 165 characters. Use sentence case for descriptions. This is your opportunity to suggest to Google what they should put under the search engine result page (SERP) headline.

Google uses these various bits of info you provide to create an outline of your page and they toss it into the algorithm and do the ranking magic. We don’t want to miss out on these easy opportunities to tell Google what’s what. It’ll become second nature in no time.

Back to the concept of agreement, try to avoid stuffing important SEO keywords in the title, description, alt, etc. while NOT also using the phrase in the plain body content too. Or put positively, if you use a keyword phrase in the title and headline, it should appear at least once in the body too.

Your ideal Keyword Density for a campaign keyphrase should be between 1% and 3%. Don’t go too much higher or you risk retribution. Ideally, at least half of that keyword density will come from your plain sentence/paragraph body text. Err on the side of caution; if you’re copy starts to sound unnatural, don’t fret about low keyword density.

I’ll use another example:

https://dandreifort.com/2010/09/07/wordtracker-kei-fail-wordtracker-alternatives-seo-news/

Take 15 seconds to scan it.

Notice that there’s a theme? (No, it’s not ‘whining’. That’s just the modus operandi, not the theme.) How did you notice the theme? Some will mention the headlines. Some will mention the images and the captions. Others might have scanned the body content. Regardless, it’s easy for both humans AND bots to figure out the big pic of what this article is trying to say. When you google some phrases about this entry, many show up first SERP on Google.

“wordtracker alternatives”

“wordtracker kei”

etc.

What if I’d used the same “Wordtracker” headlines and images but my body text was about something totally different like cooking? While most humans wouldn’t be able to notice the incongruity (or lack of agreement) at first blush, it takes Google a fraction of a second to judge every detail of your content. If you stuff a keyword into important fields like title, headline, alt, etc. but don’t also use it in your body content, Google knows you’re stuffing keywords to try to game the system.

Post tags and categories

Whether or not you choose to make them visible on the page, you have the ability to tag and categorize your posts.

Develop a main taxonomy of your content to establish your main categories. If you start writing about new content, add a new category. A post can be in more than one category. You can leave a post uncategorized but why? Put it where it belongs!

Use several words and concepts to tag your post. A tag is usually a great place for the SEO keyword on which you’ve focused for the post. Choose several tags. There’s no hard upper limit, but use common sense. Don’t overdo it. There are also WordPress plugins that will suggest tags for you.

Linking

Linking to relevant sites can add value to your post. Your readers might benefit, and it lets you tell Google more about your content via association. You can also use linking to help your main (non-blog) site’s SEO.

There are two main elements of a link. The target URL is the page the link points to. The anchor text is the text that is the link. I.e. in the web’s early days webmasters regularly employed “Click Here!” as the anchor text for most links. Click Here tells neither human nor bot anything about the content on the other side of that link. We can do better.

Linking to third-party sites

When you link to a site you’re letting Google’s algorithm know that you’re sort of voting for that site. We can greatly diminish the vote by using a trick called “nofollow”. Nofollow instructs Google that the link is censured and should be ignored vis-à-vis their index.

Unless you’re feeling generous, always specify nofollow and never use an SEO keyphrase as the anchor when you link to a site you don’t control.  The WordPress plugin “nofollow post”  allows you to select “nofollow” when creating a link. (See my earlier post about the best WordPress SEO plugins for more.)

Linking to your own site

Just like linking to your competitors’ sites, but 100% opposite! Always try to use a relevant SEO keyword phrase to link to your own pages. Never use nofollow. Furthermore, you should use Google’s guidance to decide which of your pages gets the incoming link.

First determine which of your pages already ranks best for your keyword phrase.

If you type this into Google

site:dandreifort.com seo

You’ll get a list of the highest ranking dandreifort.com pages for the phrase “seo”

The page on top has the best foothold (highest rank) and is a great candidate for some SEO love.  I.e. the page on top would be the ideal target URL for a link with anchor text “seo”.

Unless it’s your policy to only link to your own site, don’t overdo the links to your own site. Try to link to your own site less than half the time. I.e. for every link in a post to your site you should include at least one nofollow link to different sites. There are arguments for and against excessive self-linking.

Links to your site from third-party sites

Encourage others (readers, friends, etc.) to link to your site. Getting a quality incoming link (“ backlink”) to your site is SEO gold. What is a quality link?

The BEST incoming links:

  • Link from another site to yours
  • Are on a page that has high Google PageRank (PR)
  • …on a page with content closely related to yours
  • …on a page with only a few or no other links to external sites
  • …hosted on a different server, different domain registrar info, etc.
  • Use relevant anchor text (“[good keyword]” vs “Click here!”)
  • without reciprocity (i.e. you don’t link back)

How do we get links?

  • Ask nicely (ultra low success rate)
  • Offer to trade links (also pretty low)
  • Rent them (expensive and frowned upon by Google)
  • Do some press releases (hope for links)
  • Befriend bloggers (hope for links and/or a review)
  • Other networking (hope for / trade for links)
  • Etc.

Syndication and Community

Encourage syndication of your content via RSS. Provide multiple opportunities for readers to subscribe to your RSS feed.

Use a plugin to enable easy liking/sharing of your content on popular social networks.

Enable comments. Always reply to comments. Using keywords in comments is smart too.

Spelling

Last but not least, always run a spell check before publishing!

Dan Dreifort consults on usability and search. Contact him… if you can figure out how!

Wordtracker KEI Fail, Wordtracker Alternatives & SEO News

7 Sep
Wordtracker keywords

Wordtracker keywords (Photo credit: Matthew Burpee)

I recently reluctantly renewed my subscription to Wordtracker, a keyword research tool and database. Why was I so reluctant? (And why am I considering asking for a refund?)

Wordtracker provides poor documentation and regularly switches the formulas they use for data they offer without notifying its customers.

Wordtracker Changes the Meaning of “Searches”

In 2009 Wordtracker completely changed the way they calculate the data they provide under the column labeled “Searches”. How they get away with redefining “searches” is beyond me. I contributed to a Wordtracker support discussion about this problem, but somebody else summed it up better. “The fact that a so-called provider of data like Wordtracker does not clearly and expressly explain two critical factors relating to their data is appalling.”

One day “searches” means one thing. The next day it means something else. I got no apology from Wordtracker. I had to eat crow and throw out a few mea culpas to my clients when I realized that Wordtracker had pulled the rug out from under me. Boo. But it gets worse.

Wordtracker Changes KEI Formula

New Wordtracker KEI Formula Sucks

My $329/yr subscription just expired so I renewed. It had been a while since I used the service and Wordtracker neglected to tell me that since the last time I’d used their service they changed the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) formula. I thought I was buying one thing and Wordtracker delivered another.

KEI used to be a great metric to find low hanging fruit or “keyword gems in the rough” if you will. But the metric is now useless for that. Click the image above for a larger version. You can see that the most generic, high traffic, high competition phrases now have the highest “KEI” – and yes, “KEI” should always appear in quotes from now on until… well, maybe forever.

Though they offer great verbiage about what an improvement it is, Wordtracker’s new “KEI” borders on meaningless. Surely somebody at Wordtracker should know that when you combine data inconsistencies with poor communication and terrible documentation, usability will suffer. Apparently the usability and branding experts at Wordtracker haven’t been speaking up.

Comparison of KEI Formulas

Wondering how to determine KEI? Me too.

Typically KEI is the the ratio of the square of the searches upon a particular keyword in a day divided by the number of websites that are listed for that keyword. For example, a keyword that has 100 searches a day and for which Google shows 5000 websites would have a KEI of 2. (100 * 100 / 5000)
– web1marketing.com

So they’re saying: KEI = (daily searches)^2 / Search Engine (SE) listings

Suppose the number of searches for a keyword is 486 per month and Google displays 214,234 results for that keyword. Then the ratio between the popularity and competitiveness for that keyword is 486 divided by 214,234. In this case, the KEI 0.002.
-searchenginepromotionhelp.com

For that one, the formula is: KEI = monthly searches / SE listings

Suppose the number of searches for a keyword is 821 per day and Google displays 224,234 results (pages) for that keyword. Then the ratio between the popularity and competitiveness for that keyword is: 224,234 divided by 821. In this case, the KEI is 273.
-bestpracticemarketing.com

And those jokers say that: KEI = daily searches / SE listings

Those are the first three definitions I found. I’ll bet there are more. Clearly the jury’s out on KEI. But while contradiction abounds, there’s a common thread in defining KEI. It has always related to the quantity of searches and the number of search engine listings.

So what’s the new Wordtracker definition for KEI?

Maybe we should start with the old Wordtracker definition of KEI

KEI compares the Count result with the number of Competing Web pages

Yep. That seems to be in line with what everybody else says about KEI. In case you were wondering, “count” is,  “The number of times the search phrase has been used in Wordtracker’s partner search engines.” And “competing” means, “The number of Web pages the search engine says it has in its index that match the search phrase.” So more specifically the old Wordtracker formula for KEI was

KEI = (daily searches)^2 / Search Engine (SE) listings

Here’s the new Wordtracker KEI definition

KEI = (Searches ^ 2) / In Anchor

Is that searches per day? Per month? Who knows? The only other information Wordtracker provides on its data results pages about its new KEI equation is

KEI compares the number of times a keyword has been searched for with competition (the number of pages that contain the exact keyword phrase within at least one of its incoming links, known as ‘All in Anchor’).

Does the “In Anchor” include only external pages? Or will a page with an internal “In Anchor” link make the cut too? Tough to say. Wordtracker regularly defines things their own way. While I’ll not poo poo innovation, I take umbrage with my data providers when they skirt industry norms. If Google defines a metric a certain way, clearly it is beneficial to follow the leader. Note to Wordtracker: Don’t confuse your users by regularly creating new definitions for established industry terms. Your poor usability is a disservice to your paying customers.

In Anchor And Title IAAT

Wordtracker founder and CTO Mike Mindel says

‘In Anchor and Title’ is a count of the number of pages for which the keyword appears in both the title tag and the anchor text of at least one backlink to the page (not domain).

Understandably this metric is used to help identify serious competitors. But Google measures parts of this metric differently. Back to Mike Mindel

There are two reasons why [Wordtracker] and Google show different numbers of links for seemingly similar searches. The first is that the [Wordtracker] In Anchor metric shows a count of external anchor text (from other websites), whereas Google includes internal anchor text as well (from within a website).

Google search market share

Google Market Share – Image from Wikipedia

‹rant› If internal In Anchor links are good enough for Google they should be a sufficient metric for Wordtracker.  Wordtracker tries to sell you on why its better to use their more specific metric, but aren’t all search engine optimizers essentially trying to play Google’s game?! Why wouldn’t Wordtracker emulate Google metrics as much as possible? Clearly they’re meaningful. Something more specific isn’t always better. Furthermore, why would you use the same terminology to discuss two separate things? ‹/rant›

Wordtracker’s Mr. Midel goes on to say,

The second reason is that Google’s AllInAnchor returns broad matches by default (the words mcdonalds, nutrition, and facts in any order), whereas Wordtracker uses the In Anchor phrase match count (mcdonalds nutrition facts somewhere within the anchor text).

(See previous ‹rant› .) Mike Mindel continues,

I hope you can see now that bigger numbers clearly do not mean better numbers.

Well, Mike, I hope you can see now that I’m not sold on your new (bigger) KEIs being better than the older, smaller KEI figures. And doesn’t Wordtracker try to sell us on bigger numbers being better? (See next paragraph.) Now I’m confused(er).

Back to Low Hanging Fruit

This new KEI formula doesn’t do much to help SEOs find keyword phrases with low competition and reasonably high traffic. It’s more tailored to high traffic phrases. Mark Nunney of Wordtracker says,

“KEI squares Searches because otherwise if both Searches and Competition (whatever metric is used for this) go up at the same rate then the KEI value remains the same and that will not take into account the increased opportunity that more Searches offers.”

I don’t know… I always thought that popularity proved only popularity itself. (Think: MC Hammer.) I also always thought that KEI was to represent some notion of ROI. Big returns aren’t valuable if the investment doesn’t make sense. Even my largest clients benefit from low hanging fruit and the small investments required to conquer them. Just because one has the deep pockets necessary to go after high traffic keywords doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective path. Mull it over. Easy pickings are more valuable to me than the garbage these new Wordtracker metrics provide.

Wordtracker Alternatives

I wrote an email to Wordtracker explaining that I want a refund. But I haven’t sent it yet. I looked for wordtracker replacements. There are a few that are too expensive for me to even consider. (We’re talking $1000 per client per year.) But I found a few tools that provide good data. They are:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

http://www.keywordeye.co.uk

http://www.google.com/insights/search/#

I’ve also heard decent things about marketsamurai.com/ but I haven’t tried them yet, so no endorsement or link out.

The sad truth is that I think I might get enough value from Wordtracker to warrant sticking with it. After all, I can dump all of the data to CSV and make my own versions of KEI to get the data I want. That’s nice, but that’s not the point.

Wordtracker sucks. They keep changing the definitions without notifying customers which causes Wordtracker’s usability to suffer. I am searching for Wordtracker alternatives. Let me know when you find a good one. I’m willing to pay for a wordtracker replacement.

Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and usability for companies large and small. He whines a lot on this blog. Sorry.

Need Help Finding a WebPosition Replacement

7 Jul
webposition alternative

The all new, (all suck) webPosition!

WebPosition was pretty great until Infospace bought them in 2009. What was once a wonderfully supported suite of SEO SERP tools turned into a nightmare. The newly released Webposition is a web-only interface (vs. software you install on your computer.) Whereas you used to pay a few hundred bucks to own the program outright you now have to pay WebPosition a steep monthly fee to use this website.

What’s wrong with the new WebPosition?

It’s costly. $499 per year.

Poor security. Because it’s online-only, all of your clients’ campaign data is on their servers. No doubt they’re selling it to somebody.

Missing features. And more! My friend reports that he’s…

having trouble exporting their reports into excel.
They don’t give any details on how many keywords
rank #1, 2-10, 11-20, etc (only shows a bar graph)
There’s no report email function, and I don’t see an option to FTP/upload reports.
The reports look really sloppy compared to the WP4 reports.
WP support is still no good.

WebPosition Alternatives

Advanced Web Ranking

That same friend and fellow SEO says,

I’m trying AWR because I’ve heard a lot of good
things from prominent SEOs and larger agencies who use it.
AWR has custom reports and lots of bells and whistles.
I couldn’t get anyone to answer their customer service line…I believe the
company is in another country… I never tried emailing them.

So far Advanced Web Ranking is at the top of my list to try. It’s $399 to buy and then $119 per year after the first 12 months.

Web CEO

I’m on the advisory board for the e-business program at a college. They use Web CEO for their SEO classes. So it’s number two on my list. WebCEO costs $389.

Addweb

Costs $299 but their website is an unholy mess. I can only imagine how terrible their program’s usability is.

SEOmoz

$79 per MONTH ?! Wow. My friend says,

Seomoz’s rank tracker isn’t very robust and you need to enter each keyword
and URL individually. Lame.

Wikipedia’s List of Web Ranking Software

As if this wasn’t already complex and challenging, Wikipedia offers a longer list of SERP software options. And dmoz has a category full of website promotion possibilities.

SEO Software Help

As you can see, this blog post isn’t informative as much as it’s a cry for help. If you have a non-shill comment on your experience with SEO ranking software, please comment. Here are the most important criteria

  • >20 sites
  • sftp upload of reports
  • brandable/customizable reports
  • data export (csv or ods or xls)
  • easy backup AND restore from backup
  • easy revert (e.g. if my evdo internet connection dies during querying and I need to re-run a report.)
  • imports WP4 campaigns (this might be a pipe dream)
  • no monthly fee
  • no sensitive data stored on third-party servers
  • etc.

What do you think?

 

Dan Dreifort whines about SEO, efficiency and usability on this blog and IRL.

SEO Reduces PPC Cost

6 Jul
qoogle quality score

Use SEO to boost your Google quality score.

One of my clients recently opened a second Google Adwords account to advertise one of his many businesses. “Why does it cost so much more to go after the same PPC keywords on my new website with this new Adwords account?! Is it because it’s new?” I’d previously mentioned to him that good SEO reduces the cost of any PPC campaign, but I say a lot of stuff, so it must’ve gotten lost in the shuffle. I sent him the following refresher.

Adwords Quality Score

The AdWords system calculates a ‘Quality Score’ for each of your PPC keywords. It looks at a variety of factors to measure how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user’s search query. A keyword’s Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance. In general, a high Quality Score means that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click (CPC).

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=10215

Lots of good info here. If you’re interested in lowering your PPC cost you should read the whole thing.

Lower CPC for PPC through SEO?

More info on how to get “a high landing page quality score” to decrease your CPC

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=guidelines.cs&answer=46675&adtype=text

and a shorter answer

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=47884

Even shorter still, here’s a summary of how to use SEO for better, cheaper PPC.

  • Optimize your landing pages to match the keywords in your PPC campaigns. Create many landing pages if you have to.
  • Do some usability testing on those landing pages. Read Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug or hire somebody like me to do it for you.

That’s it. Your ads will be cheaper, appear higher, convert better and your landing pages will be more effective too. Contact me if you have any questions.

Dan Dreifort works  SEO and Usability magic for clients of EdenMarketing.com, StarrTech.com and MySEO411.com. He has lost 15 pounds in two months. Booyah!

SEOpen Google PageRank Status & Duplicate Tab Addons for FireFox 3.6.x

2 Jun

Sorry, wrong version in the image. It was easy to recycle this image though.

I updated some great Firefox addon extensions again so they’ll work with the latest greatest.  My previous post about Google PageRank Status and SEOpen has the links to the files. Enjoy.

SEO, Typography, Usability – Advice to a client

26 Feb

Through better usability (and other practices) we can turn more of your visitors into customers.

A client asked for clarification on a few suggestions I’d queued for their project. While I don’t offer any background, this article is still informative. Partially edited to protect the innocent.

What is Google Page Rank? How do I measure it?

Google pagerank is best explained by those who’ve already typed it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

I use a Firefox page rank plugin to tell me the PR of any page I visit. But you can also use web tools like this one

http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

Typesetting and typography: What are they and should I care?

Typography… I’ll just talk around it a bit. That restaurant menu link I sent:
http://www.abriosbrickoven.com/menu.php
represents the last time I tried to do something neat with fonts, layouts and spacing. It’s from a few years ago (largely stolen from here) and I was on a tight budget. But while it’s far from perfect, it uses fonts, font sizes, font colors, font spacing, kerning, etc. in an attempt to present information in a sensible and easy to read format.

The example cited even conveys some subtle branding – with the Italian color scheme. We could display the same information with stock fonts, stock spacing, stock (black) colors, etc., and it would look different… worse. The information conveyed wouldn’t be as attractive. Visitors would read it less, and other nastiness! 😉

Another Typography Example

Prior to that one, my earlier attempt at an Italian menu (circa 2005) was this one:
http://avalanchepizza.net/pizza-menu.php
It’s been edited (read: improved) since I worked on it, but it’s still sucky enough  (typographically speaking) to be a good example. The fonts stay the same throughout. There’s bold text here and there, and we add some red. But other than that, it’s a fairly jumbled mess, comparatively speaking. The kerning is too tight. The spacing between an item’s header and its description is actually GREATER than the space between the item’s description and the NEXT item’s header. Etc. Etc.

A final typographic e.g.

Go to your bookshelf. Grab a paperback from the 1960’s and then grab the most recent hardcover book you can find. Open them to page 50. Read a few lines from each book. What’s the difference? Typesetting’s come a long way in a few decades. Books are much easier to read now.

So, using typography, we can better present the information on your site. We do this using CSS Cascading Style Sheets to define the spacing and other font attributes.

To further answer your question, yes, there is something you can do to help the effort. Write more sub-headlines to break up text.

Using HTML headlines helps both humans and robots

I’ll pick a random page:
https://www.mygovspending.com/gearbox/GovtDeficitAndDebt
Ah, not the *best* example, but I’ll use it nonetheless. A page with fewer headlines would’ve been better, but in one sense, this is actually better; it shows how we can improve on a good start.

Between these two headlines…
“A Shot at Quantifying Comprehensive Taxpayer Liability”
and
“Can government debt be a good thing?”

…we have a whole bunch of text. And while there’s a chart and a magazine style pull quote box, it still needs more segmentation. What’s there would suffice for a textbook or even a newspaper, but more headlines are the norm for web content where it’s so easy to lose a reader’s attention to countless other sites.

e.g. I picked a random article from smart money
http://www.smartmoney.com/investing/economy/the-other-consumer-confidence-index/

There’s a headline an average of every two paragraphs.

This is not just good for readability, keeping readers hooked, helping readers find what they want in a page and etc, it’s also good for SEO. Robots love this sh*t! HTML headlines are our opportunity to present a better page outline to the search engine spiders.

Headlines should often be accurately descriptive more so than catchy. If they’re both, that’s even better.

How about a segue?

As a neat tangent, and segue, think about the links you see when you visit a site. The call to action, “Click Here!” was once the norm. But then some genius realized that presenting the user with a dozen links on a page, all with the anchor text “Click here!”, all going to different pages… was a bad idea.

What are good links made of?

So, as well as providing better,  more obvious information to readers about where a link will take them, descriptive link anchor text is also valuable for those search engine bots too. The anchor text that you use to link to your pages, and even more so, the anchor text that third parties use when linking to your pages, tells Google a whole bunch about how it should rank your site.

The BEST links are:

  • from another site to yours
  • on a page that has high page rank (PR)
  • on a page with content closely related to yours
  • without link reciprocity (e.g. w/out you linking back)
  • hosted on a different server, different domain registrar info, etc.

How do I get incoming links?

But getting the best links is VERY hard. So we just get as close as we can. For SEO, I’d say the PR is the most important variable.

How do we get links?

  • Ask nicely (ultra low success rate)
  • Offer to trade links (also pretty low)
  • Buy them (expensive and frowned upon by Google)
  • Do some press releases (hope for links)
  • Befriend bloggers, e.g. hook them up w/ a free account (hope for links and/or a review)
  • Other networking (hope for / trade for links)
  • Etc.

We could compile a list of the top twenty or so bloggers in your field and compose a very short email to them. “Hey, check out my mad-crazy site, yo! I’ll hook you up with a free account.” …and you can send them off with a personal touch.

W3C Page Validation

The W3C link at the bottom relates to web standards. The closer you are to meeting them, the more people (e.g. w/ disabilities) and robots (e.g. Google’s) are able to make sense of your content. It’s otherwise advisable to get your code up to specifications too. If you need more convincing, please Google for myriad reasons.

Whew! This took a while to type, but it’s worth it.

Dan Dreifort

Dan Dreifort is a SEO consultant, usability consultant… and he’s working on becoming an efficiency consultant too. He just bought fficient.com in the hopes that it will some day become the web home of his efficiency consulting wing. Yeah, he’s like a bird.

Webposition Going Downhill Fast

1 Nov

I use Webposition to query search engines and generate reports for SEO. Webposition used to be owned by Webtrends. Nobody can tell who owns them now. I blogged in October about an extended Webposition outage. They never answered their phone and never got back to anybody about what happened. They used to have a standout guy (Scott Goodyear) doing support for them via both phone and email. Now, when you call Webposition, nobody answers and the line goes dead. When you email, it usually takes > 12 hours for Webposition support to respond with far less than satisfying non-answers.

WebPosition Problems

The most recent problem I’ve been having with Webposition is an error with MSN search results across multiple missions. There’s no continuity (or speed) to the responses I’m getting from Webposition support. It’s clear to me that I’m communicating with multiple people. But you’d never know from their names… because Webposition support doesn’t provide names anymore. One person tells me to send a .mis file (I do) and then a day later says “We have not been able to replicate your error message. What operating system are you using?” I explain there’s nothing special about my PC setup. They respond asking me to send a .mis file. (Sound redundant?) And suggest uninstalling and reinstalling.  I uninstall Webposition. Reinstall Webposition. Enter my Webposition unlock code. Oh, then I’m told my license is revoked. Can’t use the software anymore. Can’t get anybody on the phone. Can’t even leave a message. There’s more, but it’s even more repetitive and mundane, so I’ll spare you.

If you know of a good Webposition alternative, and have had a good personal experience with it for gathering SEO data, please comment. I almost purchased Web CEO instead of Webposition, now I’m sort of thinking I should have.

Dan Dreifort provides SEO and usability consulting and training for advertising/marketing firms’ clients and a few lucky personal clients. Packages start at $500/mo.

Webposition Outage

13 Jul

Amongst other tools, I use Webtrends’ Webposition to help with SEO. It’s not the cheapest software in the world nor is it without its problems. I’ve been a satisfied customer for a few years nonetheless. Up until today at least.

I was belatedly finishing my end of month SEO reporting today when I fired up Webposition – only to receive a series of error messages about being unable to connect. After verifying that my connection was indeed working, I decided to grab their support phone number from the webposition.com web site. A-ha! Their site was down. No immediate phone support gratification. I fired off an email to help@webposition.com. That was about twelve hours ago. Still haven’t heard back.

Their site is still down. I’ve trolled the blogosphere and can’t find any other mentions of this outage. I poked around and found a webpostion support phone number on another site and called it. A British woman’s recorded voice instructed me to dial 510-962-5035 “directly” and then the line just hangs there in silence. I know I’ve always dialed a 503 number in Oregon to talk to webposition in the past. And this new number goes to a busy signal immediately.

Further troubling is the fact that searching for “webposition” on the webtrends.com site doesn’t deliver any obvious results. This is troubling. Any clues? This wouldn’t be such a huge deal except that their DRM/licensing checks require access to the now-down webpostition.com site. Without regular (sometimes daily) updates, this software becomes obsolete.

If you know anything of this outage. Please post a comment.

Does Social Media Help SEO?

28 May

Don’t count on it…

At least not directly. One of the oldest tricks in the search engine optimization bag of tricks is to creatively link to your site from other sites. Will posting links on social media outlets like digg.com, facebook.com, twitter.com and myspace.com help pass SEO juice to your site? It’s a complicated answer that’s closer to no than yes.

What’s the social media SEO story?

I’ll focus on four of the most ubiquitous social media outlets to provide a summary of sorts.

Facebook and SEO

Sure enough, most of it is behind a wall of authentication and other link obfuscation, but the “pages” are more or less public. While you don’t have control over the link anchor text, links are still real links on pages, while links on profiles are opened in obfuscated URL frames and are hidden behind authentication nonetheless.

So using links on your and/or others’ “pages” works a little for SEO. Links from profiles and walls don’t help SEO at all.

Furthermore, though not SEO, Facebook’s ads are some of the most flexible and targetable PPC around. You can really hone in on a demographic with specific interests and other criteria, and then choose PPC or PPM models. Etc.

Myspace and SEO

AFAIK, all links are obfuscated.
Furthermore, when sites obfuscate links e.g. msplinks.com/dsdf07dsf70detc.
they don’t need to even bother with nofollow rules, as the link is worthless anyhow.

Twitter and SEO

All twitter links are nofollow
Most links are also compressed, so even if a SE decides to register them, they’ll be obfuscated or at the very least, truncated.

But just as in FB, twitter can be a good SEM tool, even if it doesn’t directly help SEO.

Of note though, Ask.com does not pay attention to nofollow, allegedly.

Digg and SEO

Submitting pages to Digg *can* be SEO helpful, indirectly. If you pick a niche phrase, e.g. “Hawaii hotel with handicapped access” …And use it in both the title and description, the digg piece will inherently rank well, and it SOMETIMES directly links to your page. Is that link nofollow? It’s a tough answer. Digg recently implemented a diggbar that most certainly frames the URL and passes little or no SEO juice. If you’re logged in, and (like me) turned off the diggbar, then it *seems* that link juice is passed. I.e. they do NOT use nofollow. But keep in mind, most people use the link-juice-vampire bar.

SEO and Social media summary

There are scant direct social net SEO opportunities out there. But even when not directly benefiting SEO, the visibility, engagement and brand awareness doesn’t hurt!

Here’s a slightly dated (2007)  list of social sites that do NOT use nofollow.
Not sure how accurate it is anymore.

If you have any questions, just post in the comments. If you need SEO, click the link! My name’s Dan Dreifort, and I do SEO.

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