Irrelevant Keywords Can Be Costly


How Effective is Google’s Session-Based Broad Match?

Some Google AdWords advertisers are not pleased with what they are finding in Google’s Search Query Performance reports for their campaigns. These reports show advertisers what keyword queries are surfacing their ads, and some are finding some of these keywords questionable.

Are you losing money on clicks from questionable keywords? Let WebProNews know.

You might think that an ad impression is an ad impression, but when you’re charged by the click, you want the clicks to come from people who are likely to buy what you’re selling, considering that you are paying Google for each click.

A Wall Street Journal piece has put the spotlight on some of these advertisers, including a New York dentist who claims irrelevant keywords have cost him nearly $3,000 over the last year or so. The problem allegedly stems from Google’s session-based broad match feature, which shows ads to users not only for a single query, but also for subsequent queries in the users same search session.

Google explains the feature in the AdWords Help Center:

“When determining which ads to show on a Google search result page, the AdWords system evaluates some of the user’s previous queries during their search session as well as the current search query. If the system detects a relationship, it will show ads related to these other queries, too.”

“The system considers the previous queries in order to better understand the intent of the user’s current query. The added information allows the system to deliver more relevant ads.”

“This feature is an enhancement of broad match. It works by generating similar terms for each search query based on the content of the current query and, if deemed relevant, the previous queries in a user’s search session. Your ad will potentially show if one of your broad-matched keywords matches any of these similar terms.”

Sounds good in theory, but the advertisers complaining appear to disagree with what Google is considering to be relevant. The dentist from the WSJ story cited ” ” and “[Chinese characters] in Chinatown” as examples – not exactly dentist-related. The story also cites a plastic surgeon, who counted “olivia newton john photos” among questionable keywords.

The WSJ spoke with Google’s Nick Fox:

Mr. Fox acknowledged there are “edge” cases in which search queries “does not appear to be relevant to the ads, but the context of previous queries indicated that the user would have a strong interest in that advertisers’ ad.” In addition, he said, “a user must be interested enough in an ad to want to click on it.” He said a very small percentage of ad clicks are session-based and that advertisers can limit the scope of their campaign to halt session-based clicks.

..

Google’s Mr. Fox said: “It has to be the case that the users, in the very recent history, searched for terms he’s advertising on.”

It’s worth noting that Google says that whenever an ad is served based on the associated keyword’s relevance to the previous search queries, the ad’s performance has no effect on that keyword’s Quality Score.

It’s also worth noting that not everyone is unhappy with the session-based clicks. Jordan McClements, commenting on a Clixmarketing post on session-based broad match says, “If you are in a niche where there is not much search traffic, and a new client/sale is worth a lot of money to you then it is probably a good idea to keep all your ‘broad’ options open.”

John Lee, who wrote that post, says, “I want advertisers to be aware that in the case of session-based broad match – you can’t turn it off. My recommendation is to remain vigilant in reporting, primarily with Search Query Reports to ensure that the session-based query matches that do come through are relevant. If they aren’t, roll that knowledge (and those queries) into your negative keyword lists.”

Probably good advice.

Perhaps the real question is how much of the problem is Google and how much is the advertiser?

Speaking of negative keywords, Google actually just released a new feature this week to manage negative keywords across multiple campaigns with negative keyword lists.

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

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9 Tips for More Effective Facebook Marketing


Facebook is NOT welcoming of the marketing efforts of its users; and often, family and friends on Facebook are ANNOYED by marketing efforts. Both of those statements are undeniable. So trying to “market on Facebook” requires good sense, strict moderation, and an understanding of how Facebook might work for marketing purposes.

Personally, I rarely post any marketing messages on Facebook. I post them on Twitter frequently, but I also try to make sure that 75 – 90% of what I post on Twitter is either personal interaction, plugging good free content, or plugging other people’s stuff. I do think, however, that monetizing my content on even free social media platforms is perfectly acceptable. Why? It’s simple. Even though the platforms are provided to me for free, I’m also providing the content that allows the network to exist. If nobódy posted on Twitter, they’d be broke.

So again, in moderation, with good sense, and with a priority on relationships over sales, marketing across these platforms should be an acceptable thing. Now about the good sense part.

Why is it That Social Platforms Are So Effective for Marketing?

People are social, by nature, so they love recommending stuff they like. Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms have a rapidly expanding user base. Authenticity is demanded as people will give honest and public feedback. The platforms are accessible and easy to use by design, even by people with few technical skills.

For the most part, marketing across social platforms is free, but doing it badly can cost dearly.

Why Is Facebook So Important to Messaging and Marketing?

With 500 million (and growing) unique users worldwide, Facebook is the number one social networking site in terms of activity and subscriptions. What started as a garage initiative by Mark Zuckerberg has now become the biggest phenomenon on the internet.

A user interface that allows for quick communication and the ability to create fan pages and groups at the clíck of a button are what make Facebook extremely popular. Another important reason for its immense popularity is the wide variety of social applications that have been developed and made available within the Facebook environment.

Facebook provides a wide variety of avenues to communicate with the audience, which opens up an entirely different world of possibilities to have a fruitful dialogue with customers. Some of these methods used popularly by marketers are:

Advertising: The first, which is the most obvious one, is advertising on Facebook. The difference, however, is the fact that you can create an advertisement in a matter of minutes and also specify the details of your target group in terms of demographics and types of discussions where you want your advertisement to appear.

Fan Pages: Facebook allows every brand, as well as individual users, to create fan pages for their favorite celebrities and their own businesses. Large brands have also created their official pages on Facebook that have a huge, immediate fan following world-wide. The fan page has immense utility to convey first hand information about the brand and also to collect immediate and frank feedback from your customers.

Branded Applications: One of the most effective ways to engage a user toward your brand is by creating an application; this could be a game or a contest, with your branding coming across subtly through it.

What makes Facebook even more exciting is the way it allows you to target your communication sharply just to the customer segment you want to attract. It also provides analytics and page insights that give good feedback and measurement on the activity done.

Facebook is envied by other platforms and internet companies because, at least for now, they own the social graph. If Google has mapped the Internet’s URLs, Facebook has mapped the Internet’s personal relationships and connections, and that’s extremely valuable. Why else would a company with virtually no physical assets to speak of (other than offices, servers, and datacenters) be worth billions of dollars?

9 Tips for Using Facebook to Market a Message

If you’re thinking about jumping into the idea of marketing (or messaging even without the goal of profit), here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Facebook, like any other online platform, has terms of use. Respect them or be prepared to be banned as well as criticized mercilessly.

2. Facebook is about relationships. You don’t have a “relationship” with a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman – so don’t be one on Facebook.

3. Being personal is everything. Successful Facebook marketing campaigns revolve around personality.

4. There isn’t a magic formula for making any message “go viral.” You can’t control a virus – that’s what makes them viral.

5. People like Facebook for entertaining stuff. In fact, entertainment is defined as “holding one’s attention.” Remember this.

6. Facebook ads are more personally targeted than ads anywhere else.

7. Being “liked” can work very, very well for your message. Being “unliked” (no, there’s not a button, but it can happen) can bury you.

8. Facebook is in control. Always remember this and don’t ever, ever assume its available tools won’t change. They have and they will.

9. Don’t build a business on Facebook marketing – or Twitter marketing – or newspaper ads, radio ads, TV ads, or leaflets dropped from hot air balloons. Build your business on a great product, a great message, and great relationships.

What did I miss?


About The Author

Brandon Cox is a Communications nut, a blogger, designer, web entrepreneur, and a Pastor at one of America’s largest churches, Saddleback Church. And he loves helping people blog for income.

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7 Tips for Flipping Websites for Income


Flipping websites is a lot like flipping houses – except that they’re totally different. When you flip a house, you purchase it for $100,000, spend $30,000 more than you expected fixing it up, which takes three months longer than you hoped to make mortgage payments, then sell it for $120,000. Or so I’ve heard from some folks who have been a little burned.

With flipping websites, it’s a bit different in that you’re dealing strictly with digital goods, so to speak, so there’s no material cost involved. And there are many more opportunities for old-fashioned, do-it-yourself, boot-strapping – IF you know what you’re doing. And if you don’t? You can still get burned, so be careful.

Here are some tips for launching a website flipping venture:

Stick With Well-Known Sources

My own favorite is Flippa. A while back it was under the umbrella of the Sitepoint.com marketplace and eventually launched as Flippa. Flippa offers some nice and helpful features such as:

* Current revenue, with verification of anything suspicious.
* Detailed traffic and ranking information.
* A secure transaction method.
* Domain registration information.
* Both bidding and purchase it now possibilities.
* Incredible searching and sorting abilities so you can find a niche-targeted site in your price range easily.

There are other sources, such as the Digital Point forums and even eBay, but the few sites I’ve bought and sold have occurred on Flippa.

Watch Out for Spam and Scam Sites

Yep, they’re everywhere, and sometimes they sneak through on Flippa as well. You’ll often see sites for sale that seem fishy, make too many promises, or look way too familiar. Go with your gut and walk very carefully. Do your research and verify claims of original content, high traffic numbers, and revenue earned. Make sure they haven’t been blacklisted by Google and be sure to ask every question that crosses your mind before purchasing to see that the owner answers well.

Stick to Your Budget

If you’ve decided to invest $300 into flipping a website, don’t give into the temptation to spend $500 on the hope that you can turn the website around and make even more.

Write Out an Improvement Plan

Before buying, make a list of the things that you think you’d need to do to turn the website around. Such as:

* Freshening up the graphics.
* Freshening up the typography.
* Addressing usability issues.
* Re-structuring the content flow and/or sitemap.
* Adding social sharing features.
* Moving to a new platform.
* Adding more features and services.

Consider Your Time and Expense Budget for Improvements

Decide how long the changes will take, how much money you might spend on graphic design, data migration, etc., and whether these changes will actually improve the site enough to sell it for a profit or not.

I once heard that improving a kitchen or bathroom will yield more than a 100% on your investment when selling a house, but adding on a deck will wind up costing you. The same is true of websites. If a complete redesign is in order, it may be smarter to get yourself a property (domain name) and build from scratch to begin with.

Do It Enthusiastically, or Not at All

If you’ve been around the WordPress world much, you might know the story of Small Potato, who sold WPDesigner.com to a guy who made great promises to the site’s community and then didn’t ever really showed up again. His lack of passion created a community backlash from the people who had been so loyal to Small Potato. It was really the first premium WordPress theme marketplace around, offering “premium” themes for a $5 membership fee. Small Potato felt so bad about the sale that he refunded each person’s fees personally, of his own accord.

So, if you’re passionate about selling bells and whistles, then by all means, buy a bells and whistles website, fix it up, and sell your bells and whistles website after building the community. But if you don’t know a bell from a whistle, veer in a different direction.

When It’s Time to Sell It, Sell It

If you’re growing a site, chances are it’s because of the energy you’re pouring into it. In many cases, continuing to pour more energy in will produce even greater results and growth. But at some point along the growth curve, you have to determine when it’s time to sell it, if at all.

The Internet is filled with stories of startup companies who were offered great sums of money for their growing ventures. Some turned down those opportunities to sell, only to go on to even greater heights. The obvious risk is that someone else will beat you to the punch and release a better website first, but this is the open world of the Internet. There is room for multiple sites about bells and whistles.

About The Author
Brandon Cox has been involved in many areas of entrepreneurship and web development, including helping people flip websites for cash.

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December 13, 2010

Posted by:

Category: Misc

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Long Time , No Viddy …


Merry Christmas Everyone.

I know it’s been a “really” long time since my last post. Been busy doing product/coaching launches and web design with and for an Internet marketer named Alex Jeffreys, as well as a few other projects this year. Plus I guess I’ve just gotten fat and lazy in my old age …

Back On The Treadmill

I am going to make it a point this coming year to continue to post relevant and design user friendly topics that I find on the Internet, and that I receive from other cutting edge professionals.

So with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and have a great and safe New Years

Tim (ThreeToedCrow)

BTW – When you’re chowing down on your Christmas feast, here’s some food for thought …
Wise men still seek Him! (Isaiah 9:6 / John 14:1)

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The Google Duplicate Content Penalty: the Truth


Here’s an interesting article by Peter Nisbet of Article-Writing.com on Google’s duplicate content penalty (or lack thereof). Go figure … :>

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The truth of the Google duplicate content penalty is quite simply that there is none! If that confuses you, then you have been reading too many misinformed forums or blogs where people get stuck on some popular term that they have no idea what it means, and then profess to be experts.

The only experts on the Google duplicate content penalty, and the only people who are qualified to define it, are Google, and in Google’s own words “There is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty“. This comes directly from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.

That should be the end of this article, at precisely 96 words excluding title as I define my word count. But it is not. Why? Because even though this blog is operated by Google, and even though much the same has been stated by Matt Cutts, Google’s main software engineer, and other Google experts, people still argue and complain about the Google ‘duplicate content penalty’.

So here is the truth: you might ask who am I to know the truth, but I read all the Google blogs and their official statements, and in applying what I learn, I achieve excellent results for my web pages on Google search engine listings: and those of Yahoo, MSN and Bing. So I am coming from a sound base that my results can prove.

As a professional article writer whose customers trust to get them the best results from the articles I write, I have to be very aware of the policies and the way the algorithms work of each of the major search engines, and so I am as qualified as anybody to comment on myths such as this.

The Truth of the Google Duplicate Content Penalty

There is no duplicate content penalty. Google’s major search engine function is to provide a customer the best possible results for a search, based upon the search term (keywords) that the customer has used in the Google search box.

Google’s customers are not:

1. You, who use it to get your web pages listed.

2. Adwords advertisers that use Adwords to advertise their products.

3. Corporations or individuals that use it to have their web pages listed.

4. Internet marketers who recommend others to use Google for advertising or searching.

Google’s customers are those seeking information, whether that is to solve a problem, where to purchase a product at the cheapest price, find a sports result or to get directions to a specific location. Everybody that uses Google uses a search term to find some information that they need. That search term is what you and I refer to as a keyword.

If Google detects several web pages offering exactly the same content, its algorithms will select that which best offers the information required and list that. It might also list one or two other pages offering exactly the same content if there are good reasons for it doing so (e.g. more links to other relevant websites, more other relevant pages on the domain, and so on).

So, not all duplicate content pages will be refused a listing. If these duplicates are articles, then the algorithms that the spiders carry on their backs will take the links from these articles into consideration, the authority of the directory on which it is published, and other factors, before deciding which should be listed. It is wrong to believe that this decision has a chronological factor, but, if you include a link in your article Resource section to your web page that contains the same article, then your page is liable to be listed above the others, partially because of a greater number of links back to it from the other copies, and partially because your entire site is liable to be more relevant than these others to information being sought by Google’s customer.

This is not because yours was created first, but because it better meets Google’s criterion for authoritative back-links. However, if the rest of your website is not equally authoritative, your page might be listed behind another with the same content or even not listed at all.

All of this is designed by Google so that its customer is offered the most relevant range of results to the keywords they used. That is what Google is for, and is its ultimate objective. Google will not penalize any individual or any website for publishing what you refer to as ‘duplicate content’, and it will take your version into consideration for publication just as any other version.

What counts in the long run is which version Google’s algorithms believe to be most likely to provide the best possible information to the person seeking it, and if that means not publishing a whole host of duplicate information, then that is only fair, isn’t it? If you used Google to find some information, you wouldn’t want to find page after page saying exactly the same thing, would you?

No, and neither does Google. A Google listing comes from its indexing of billions of web pages that contain the keywords used by the searcher: both in relation to the entire phrase and to the individual words used in the search term. If you want your copy to be different, make some minor changes and perhaps change the form of the keywords, but most importantly, change the title and the introductory paragraph to which the crawlers will take special notice.

You then have a better chance of your version being listed along with some of the others, but remember: the next time you use the term ‘duplicate content’ you are using a term that does not exist in Google’s vocabulary for any reason than to deny its existence. The Google Duplicate Content Penalty does not exist: the truth!

About The Author
For more information on the mythical duplicate content penalty visit www.article-services.com where Peter Nisbet will also explain how to earn money using article marketing.

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Eleven Steps to SEO Heaven – Part 2


One piece of ‘new media jargon’ that has got the vast majority of business leaders confused is SEO (search engine optimization). Too many people have been charged too much for either inappropriate or ineffective SEO services, often because the supplier does not really understand it either. This two part article is for people who are not experienced or very knowledgeable when it comes to SEO – defining what it is and what it can do.

The introduction and first five steps to SEO heaven discussed how to get a website ready for an SEO campaign. In part two (steps 6 to 11), we’ll explore the continuous and competitive process of earning a high search engine ranking for a SEO prepared website.

Step 6 to SEO Heaven – Web Analytics

As with any marketing, but particularly for online marketing, where the tools and results are so effective, it is essential to measure and track results. Market behaviour is very predictable. Accordingly, the effectiveness of each part of your campaign can be compared and optimized. The options for web analytics vary from free services to very expensive and customizable packages.

Whichever you choose, don’t put it off. Measure your results from day one and use them to improve your site and your marketing campaigns. That old statement ‘I know half my advertising does not work, if I only knew which half was not working I’d stop spending it’ is not true on the internet. You can and must know.

Step 7 to SEO Heaven – Content Building

Part of being ‘the best and most relevant’ result is having the freshest content, and the search engines look for that by regular visits to your site and reviewing your site’s progress. They use a formula, not usually a human being, unless they detect potential fraud.

Actually, good SEO means a website isn’t ever done, and the fact that it has to change and grow over time gives your customers a better experience. Search engines reward a ‘natural process’ that adjusts to changes in the market and your normal business growth.

Providing good quality content that is related to what you do, but not necessarily aimed at selling something directly, is a powerful, perhaps the the best, option to improve the traffic to your website and the exposure of your business. Most people do not link to pages that only serve the purpose of making a sale.

This leads to the next step in this 11 step process of successful search engine optimization for your website.

Step 8 to SEO Heaven – Link Building

The internet works through links, it would not be a “net” without links. A collection of independent pages that are not connected to each other cannot be found and, for the most part, that defeats their purpose. People seeing and clicking on links to your site make effective inbound links that search engines like to reward with a higher ranking for your website. They are also vital for SEO.

Inbound links play an important role in virtually every search engine when it comes to ranking pages in their search results. In the normal course of business links are added, and sometimes removed, all the time. This neverending organic process is monitored and measured by the search engines as an indicator of importance and relevance – so it is advisable to be pro-active in acquiring good inbound links. There are plenty of sites out there that should link to you, but don’t know you and your content. Help them to find your content and encourage linking to it.

Step 9 to SEO Heaven – Engagement, Trust and Community Building

Like it or not social media is a reality whole sections of society participate in for hours daily and is a fundamental indicator of relevance and popularity. Don’t allow your website to exist in an isolated bubble. Talk to people and allow them to respond and to interact with you.

People will talk about you with or without your permission. Much better to seize the initiative and become part of the discussion. Use it to build trust and deeper relationships with your customers or potential customers. Use it like research. Listen to what they say and learn about their wants and their needs. Listen and take note of comments, especially criticisms, and use them to improve. You can save the money you might have spent on focus groups and get feedback free of charge on the internet.

In relation to SEO, social media provides a huge opportuníty to expand your link building. For your business it increases your brand exposure for a fraction of the cost of traditional, more intrusive advertising campaigns that are usually less effective.

Step 10 to SEO Heaven – Ranking and Traffic Analysis

When you begin, or if you have already started, check where you are today to be able to track and compare with data in the future. Look for trends and evaluate the progress towards your goals. You know those goals which we set in the first paragraph before we began the campaign. The ones you should specify before you engage in any type of marketing campaign. Those goals were measurable I hope? If you view improving your SEO ranking as a measure of your business success rather than an essential step to achieving business success, you will maintain a high SEO ranking for the long term. Why, because the high traffic that comes with it will drive your business.

Does the change in ranking yield the traffic you expected? Does this traffic actually convert? Which leads us neatly to step 11 of SEO heaven.

Step 11 to SEO Heaven – Conversion Analysis

All of this effort matters not one jot unless you make your profit number (or the equivalent in not for profit organizations). It all comes down to one critical factor – what is your bottom line? Did you make profit or did you lose money. Web Analytics is part of the process of making this determination. Focus on the things that work and help your bottom line and stop doing the things that don’t. Work on the details to improve visitor conversion to sales. This requires testing. Don’t try anything upfront without testing it first. The things that work for others might not work for you and the same is true the other way around.

Many with experience in the SEO game will tell you that there is another, more important step that would make this article 12 steps to SEO heaven. That step is to be sure only to work with people who can really explain SEO in plain English. To be blunt, small, independent and one-man-band web designers rarely get SEO fully and their usually well meaning efforts end up costing you more than they deliver. They do get part of the story, but they fail you by wasting both your money and your time.

About The Author
Tim Meadows-Smith is an experienced non-executive chairman, director and business advisor from a classical sales and marketing background gained with famous global FMCG brand owners. He has worked with businesses globally in the FMCG, logistics, service and technology sectors. He may be reached by email at Tim@Meadows-Smith.com. Find further articles at: www.timmeadows-smith.co.uk/blogarticles.php

If you missed Steps 1 – 5, go here …

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Eleven Steps to SEO Heaven – Part 1


Are you fed up with feeling baffled by search engine optimization (SEO) because of jargon and poor practitioners? Do you feel you have been charged too much for less than you were promised? This two part article sets out to explain the process and put you back in control.

If you have focused objectives and a clear online strategy then SEO will almost always be a good cost effective addition to the marketing tool set. The first thing to understand is that search engine businesses, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, have customers to satisfy too. Their customers are searching and they expect to see the ‘best and most relevant’ search results. I expect like me, you get frustrated if your searches bring irrelevant results first. No surprise then, that the methods used by the search engine operators are designed to deliver customer satisfaction. They work hard to eliminate bogus SEO services that aim to cheat.

It is possible for you to make your website ‘the best and most relevant’ for certain searches and to convince the search engine operator you are just that too. That is SEO. Each of my 11 steps to SEO heaven is necessary. I assume that you will be committed to a long term marketing strategy, and to measuring results with a view to adjusting your activity. The steps include those of preparation as well of those of continuous repeated activities. The early preparatory steps are perhaps the most important as errors here will frustrate the effectiveness of the later ones.

Armed with our clear objectives and online strategy:

Step 1 to SEO Heaven – Keyword Research

A vital first step that should not be undertaken lightly. While experienced pay-per-click advertisers will know that you can easily test and change hundreds of keywords in paid search campaigns, they should understand this not possible for organic search optimization. It is normally advisable to concentrate on one to five key phrases for the whole site around a core theme. Then, for individual pages only one to three phrases. For large sites with hundreds of pages it is hard to optimize every single page. The effort and cost of SEO to the full extent produces diminishing returns.

Step 2 to SEO Heaven – Competitive Intelligence

SEO is competitive. There is only one front page and only one top slot so it is important to know your competition and perform better. What are they doing? Where do they rank and for which keywords? Who is linking to their website and why? The less competitive your industry is online the easier it is for you to outperform your competition. This is an important determining factor in the cost and resources necessary to achieve your desired SEO outcome

Step 3 to SEO Heaven – Web Design and Development

Like trying to cable an old building for modern communications or boosting performance of an obsolete machine, fixing a bad website design is much tougher than building properly from scratch. When you create a new website, make sure to consider search engine friendly design and architecture before and during the actual development of the website. Almost all template-based websites are tough to re-engineer for SEO. A good design from the start will save you a lot of time and money. In most cases it will put you ahead of a considerable number of your competitors. In most cases a high performing design for SEO is also a user friendly design, but occasionally compromise is necessary.

Step 4 to SEO Heaven – Get Your First Inbound Links

There is no need to pay to submít your website to any search engine. Just as soon as you create inbound links from other websites to yours the search engines will find your website.

There are plenty of scam products and services. Avoid them. They are a waste of your money. No one can guarantee you a number 1 ranking. It must be earned and maintained by being the best and most relevant.

There are some web directories that are recognized by search engines and gaining a trade listing there will be a helpful kick-start to your SEO campaign. Then ask your customers and suppliers to place a link to your website from theirs. Most will be pleased for the favor to be returned.

Step 5 to SEO Heaven – Sitemaps

The larger search engines allow webmasters to submit a sitemap to them via a webmaster console. The search engines also provide reports and other useful information, such as technical problems with your websites you might not be aware of via their console. Even if you decide against the submission of a site map to the search engines, it is advisable to create an account and register your website with them, just for the reports and statistics they provide free of charge and which are invaluable for your internet marketing efforts.

After completion of the first 5 steps, schedule them for occasional review. The remaining tasks require regular and repetitive effort. In Eleven Steps to SEO Heaven (steps 6 to eleven) we look at taking a website that is a SEO ready site with a ready to run campaign and look at the steps and work needed to claim a high search engine ranking.

About The Author
Tim Meadows-Smith is an experienced non-executive chairman, director and business advisor from a classical sales and marketing background gained with famous global FMCG brand owners. He has worked with businesses globally in the FMCG, logistics, service and technology sectors. He may be reached by email at Tim@Meadows-Smith.com. Find further articles at: www.timmeadows-smith.co.uk/blogarticles.php

For Steps 6 – 11, continue here …

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The Death (Or Redefinition) Of SEO Discussed


Some people would have you believe that search engine optimization is a dying art, and depending on how you define SEO, that may be true. But at OMS 2010 in San Diego, Greg Jarboe, the president and cofounder of SEO-PR, explained that other definitions of SEO make it very much alive.

Here’s the thing: as Jarboe admitted, “The era of ten blue links is dead.” People also can’t expect to optimize a page by just changing keyword metatags anymore. Indeed, much of what so many SEO experts learned ten years ago has become irrelevant.

The trick is that expanded search, which can be defined as “search wherever it happens,” is now important. Facebook, eBay, and YouTube users all perform searches, after all, and their attention is valuable. So Jarboe concluded, “If you focus on those kinds of fundamentals, then SEO is alive and kicking.”

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Google’s SEO Report Card… Information Nuggets or Fool’s Gold?


While ostensibly aimed at helping Google target potential weaknesses in its own product pages, and of no direct use to SEOs, there is nonetheless more than a little gold to be found here, if one just examines the document in a little more depth. So while the post at Google’s Webmaster Central Blog is already beginning to bristle with comments lamenting the fact that this isn’t a clear treasure map to the search-ranking mother lode, it’s worth sifting through the Report Card to see what informational nuggets are hidden inside.

Subject I: Search Result Presentation

It’s easy to see why some readers simply dismissed this document out of hand, as the first section starts off being little more than a rehash of the standard “Use Page Titles, Use Meta Descriptions” advice found in any SEO-101 manual. Only by persevering to the part talking about Google Sitelink Triggering, does one begin to suspect that there may be a little more to the report card than meets the eye. Here the authors throw out a couple of crumbs about categorizing website and link-structure, and consolidating a site’s URLs to maximize its informational focus with the aim of increasing the chances of
Google generating Sitelinks.

Even so, it’s nothing most professionals haven’t heard before, and I suspect that by this time a lot of readers had given up, thinking that nothing interesting was in store.

Subject II: URLs and Redirects

This is where we see a little glitter among the rubble, as the section starts off with the statement that: “Google products’ URLs take many different forms. Most larger products use a subdomain, while smaller ones usually use a directory form…”

In itself this is not an exceptional statement, and the chapter continues to give handy, but hardly unique, information about canonicalization, URL structure, and redirects until Page 10, where we find the following declaration:

“Subdomains require an extra DNS lookup, slightly affecting latency, which is very important at Google.”

Page load-speeds are an important factor to Google. There’s been talk and speculation about this ever since Matt Cutts dropped the first hints last year, and these days most SEOs are busily proclaiming that slow websites are now a handicap.

Haven’t they always been?

Be that as it may, this fact is not common knowledge with the average webmaster, as demonstrated by a question I’m regularly confronted with over at the Google Webmaster Help Forum:

“Which is a better way to categorize my site, subdomains or folders?”

The standard answer to this question used to be “Whichever you prefer” before load-times became an issue. Now, however, we find a clear indicator that a folder-based approach is much-preferable unless a category actually contains enough information to merit its own site, which is effectively what a subdomain turns it into.

Subject III: On-Page Optimizations

While at first glance this chapter is more standard SEO-101 fodder, it’s where we find a sizable nugget, as the report talks about semantic markup, and how Google uses it to gauge a page’s content.

“Nothing new here; we all use H1 tags.” you might say, but you’d only be partially right, because this issue not only runs much deeper than H1 headings, it runs beyond Heading tags altogether, as I’ll explain shortly. For the moment, however, let’s stay with them.

In the past few years, a great many Optimizers have reached the conclusion that only H1, and, to a degree, H2 are of any promotional value, and that lesser headings (H3 – H6) carry practically no weight at all. But let’s take a look at the following statement, taken from Page 38 of the Report:

“Most product main pages have an opportunity to use one <h1> tag, like the example above, but they’re currently only using other heading tags (<h3> in this case) or larger font styling. While styling your text so it appears larger might achieve the same visual presentation, it does not provide the same semantic meaning to the search engine that an <h1> tag does.”

For starters it’s obvious that the lesser headings are alive and well, and being used by Google. We’re also told that Google does not, or cannot, judge the visual-context meaning of CSS styled text. The conclusion is to use more heading tags instead of CSS styles wherever your content calls for it. However, there’s more to it still. Let’s take another look at part of that statement:

“…but they’re currently only using other heading tags…”

It would appear that Google still places greater value on other semantic markup tags (em, strong, blockquote, etc.) than many professionals give them credit for these days. Otherwise why would the author specifically note the fact that Google only uses headings and font styles?

I personally know quite a few professionals who have long-since abandoned most semantic markup tags in favour of CSS style, since the prevailing attitude of designers and SEOs has been that making text bold or italic no longer carries much promotional weight, following widespread abuses in the mid-2000s and Google’s consequent algorithm updates.

And although the above statement may be a tentative one, it might just point the way back to a more HTML-based approach to web design. Indeed, if it can be taken at face-value, it’s entirely possible that those SEOs and designers advocating CSS-based, table-less design as the way forward are barking up the wrong tree. Whatever the case may be, there is undoubtedly more to the SEO Report Card than first meets the eye, and at the very least, there is a little gold to be extracted from the mass of standard information. Only by reading the full document will you be able to make an assessment yourself.

What should also be remembered is that the SEO Report Card is not aimed at high-flying SEOs or E-lebrity industry pundits, but at the intermediate webmaster for whom even the report’s basic information is of immense value, if read alongside Google’s SEO Starter Guide.

About The Author
Sasch Mayer is a writer and consultant with a career spanning well over a decade and a half. Over the years, his web design and promotion advice and Professional Keyword Research have helped countless clients diagnose and solve problems with a wide range of site issues.

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