10 Top Tips for SEO

From the obvious to the “Hey I never thought of that great idea before”, here are 10 tips on how to optimise your website for its turbo-charge rocket ride up the search engine rankings.

Be bold. Use the <strong> </strong> tags around some of your keywords on each page. Do NOT use them everywhere the keyword appears. Once or twice is plenty.

Deep linking. Make sure you have links coming in to as many pages as possible. What does it tell a search engine when other web sites are linking to different pages on your site? That you obviously have lots of worthwhile content. What does it tell a search engine that all your links are coming in to the home page? That you have a shallow site of little value, or that your links were generated by automation rather than by the value of your site. Here is an example of deep linking, in this case to my personal happiness workbook.

Become a foreigner. Canada and the UK have many directories for websites of companies based in those countries. Can you get a business address in one of those countries?

Newsletters. Offer articles to ezine publishers that archive their ezines. The links stay live often for many years in their archives.

First come, first served. If you must have image links in your navigation bar, include also text links. However, make sure the text links show up first in the source code, because search engine robots will follow the first link they find to any particular page. They won’t follow additional links to the same page. You can see this in action at the link to the home page on this web site monitoring page

Multiple domains. If you have several topics that could each support their own website, it might be worth having multiple domains. Why? First, search engines usually list only one page per domain for any given search, and you might warrant two. Second, directories usually accept only home pages, so you can get more directory listings this way. Why not a site dedicated to gumbo pudding pops?

Article exchanges. You’ve heard of link exchanges, useless as they generally are. Article exchanges are like link exchanges, only much more useful. You publish someone else’s article on the history of pudding pops with a link back to their site. They publish your article on the top ten pudding pop flavors in Viet Nam, with a link back to your site. You both have content. You both get high quality links. (More on high quality links in other tips.)

Titles for links. Links can get titles, too. Not only does this help visually impaired surfers know where you are sending them, but some search engines figure this into their relevancy for a page.

Not anchor text. Don’t overdo the anchor text. You don’t want all your inbound links looking the same, because that looks like automation – something Google frowns upon. Use your URL sometimes, your company name other times, “Gumbo Pudding Pop” occasionally, “Get gumbo pudding pops” as well, “Gumbo-flavored pudding pops” some other times, etc.

Site map. A big site needs a site map, which should be linked to from every page on the site. This will help the search engine robots find every page with just two clicks. A small site needs a site map, too. It’s called the navigation bar. See how the second navigation bar at the bottom of Last Minute Florida Villas is like a mini-site map?

There you have it: 10 Top SEO Tips, a free tip sheet that comes with Don’t Get Banned By the Search Engines:

There is a lot more to search engine optimisation, and there are always more details when looking at an individual site. But these tips should help any website significantly improve its rankings.

[David Leonhardt]

10 Steps to Riding Out the Economic Downturn

With the economic downturn that the world has seen over the past year, millions of people are losing their jobs as companies cut costs or output, lower expectations, or worse, go out of business. We have lined up 10 general steps to helping ride out the economic turbulence and come out stronger when the economy does improve.

Be Positive

First and foremost, keep your smile. The old adage that our mothers used to tell us, ‘When life hands you lemons, make lemonade’ really does work. Keeping a positive attitude motivates not only yourself, but those around you to find new solutions to problems that every organisation faces.

Gritting your teeth, bearing through the difficulty, and smiling will help you and your business grow, even in times of economic strife. The ‘Chicken Littles’ of the business world never prosper when difficulty arises, so keep a cool head and keep working towards your goals. However, make sure not to stare too long at the sun as only seeing the positive can kill you- consider the fate of a deer caught in the headlights. So continually be aware of the storm around you but keep a positive attitude and know that brighter days are ahead soon.

Know Your Situation

Have you done an organisational situation analysis recently? In business school, they call it a SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

The first two, strengths and weaknesses are internal. It’s quite important that you know what you do well in your business, but even more important to know what you do poorly. From there you can develop an internal action plan to improve your processes and various skill sets.

Conversely, the external side of things, opportunities and threats will help you get a better grip on the entire environment that surrounds your business. For example, if your business is a hotel, would it not be a good idea to understand what is going on in the airline industry? Are there any chances to partner or is there something brewing that you may be able to capitalize on or that could severely harm your business?

Staying smart and aware of your position during tough times can help you develop an action plan to better weather the storm. Will you be able to sit pretty and simply go with the flow, or is it time for some tough choices?

Build Communities

Community building in business is key. Much like a small convenience store in an inner-city neighbourhood, your business relies on the people that surround it. A strong community can insulate your business in economic strife.

No matter where your business is, make every effort to build both your business community and the community at large. In business, if you can give others work, it eventually will help you build your business as you will receive work in return. Aside from business, with people losing their jobs every day, the general public is struggling. Donating time or money to local charitable endeavours will help your business in the long run as those you have helped will not forget your kind gestures in the better days ahead. Remember, business works much like the circle of life- the more you give the more you get.

Find Other Sources of Revenue

Economic crisis is the perfect time to diversify and offer new related value added services to your existing clients. Generating new business from new clients can be real difficult when the purse strings are much tighter. It is much easier to find additional sources of business and revenue from existing clients that know you and the quality of your work. Brainstorm with your executives or talk with trusted clients about services that they might like to see you offer in the future and work together to build alternative revenue streams.

Recognise Your Most Important Assets

Your people. Unlike other assets – the knowledge that your employees hold is irreplaceable. You need to ensure that your employees feel secure and valued. Be the general that you are supposed to be and gather the troops to explain the situation. You’d be surprised how quickly they’ll rally around you. Involve key staff in strategy sessions and acknowledge their good ideas.

If worst comes to worst and you have to cut some people, do you have a knowledge retention plan? Ask yourself the tough question- is your organisation’s intellectual property safe? If not, maybe you need to find a way to keep your company’s biggest competitive advantage, your intellectual property, secure.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Share more. Collaborate likes its 2009 – not 1999. Get rid of the inefficiencies of the daily office grind. Little things like sending email back and forth, waiting for colleagues to contribute or edit documents waste valuable time.

Look to the likes of Google Docs – a tool that allows you to work collaboratively will colleagues. You can even work on the same spreadsheet at the same time together! Similarly, don’t waste time running over to the other side of the building, holding unnecessary meetings, or spend money dialling another office. Use GTalk and work together in a timely, efficient, economical manner.

NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK

Networking is key in business. Everyone knows this. However, getting to know people around you is especially important in times of crises. You never know who you might meet.

Whether in the role of an employee looking for a new job or as a company looking for new business, networking is truly important. You may meet a fellow company that has never even heard of your business or line of work, and you may be able to provide them services.

At the end of the day, business is about people and you need to be out there meeting people! So get out there!

Oil Your Machine

Keeping your infrastructure sound is one of the best ways to keep your company strong during tumultuous economic times. Weeding out inefficiencies or problem areas through new technology or other infrastructure optimisation plans is a major cost savings boon for companies that invest in themselves wisely. Sure, the initial outlay of resources may be enough to scare many companies away, but do not be timid. Not only will keeping your company’s infrastructure strong benefit you in economic lean times, it will be even better for you in the more prosperous times ahead!

Shifting Paradigms

Do you really need that big, expensive corner office in the heart of the city? Does your company need a real presence in every country it operates in? The shifts in technology have made it easier for companies to cut costs through working virtually.

Through cloud (Internet) computing, working as a company has become dramatically cheaper and easier. For many companies, they have been able to cut costs by moving to smaller offices that better suit their needs or by simply trashing the office all together. The speed of the Internet allows for companies to work together virtually and telecommute each day to work. On top of the obvious savings in rent and other utilities, they have noticed their workers happier and more productive without the rush hour commutes.

Is your company ready and able to shift into a more virtual environment?

Think Different

Challenge yourself and your co-workers. These are trying times for everyone but necessity is the mother of invention. Can you develop a new product or process that will push your company to the forefront of its industry?

Analyze everything. Go over every step of every business process that your company engages in and look for improved methods. Or is there something that customers want that no one has yet been able to provide? Work towards that goal and set yourself up for future success. Satisfaction is the death of desire, and one major key during financially stressful times is to never get comfortable. Keep pushing!

[via dmsbt]

How to Master SEO Copywriting

SEO Copywriting is a different genre of copywriting. It pertains to the web and is written primarily for search engine optimisation. Though SEO Copywriting does not necessarily require creativity or brain storming, it needs to be original and relevant to the subject.

Most newbies think SEO copywriting just requires altering a few words with their synonyms and fitting keywords wherever possible in the text, even if the context becomes irrelevant to a reader. However, most SEO executives are unaware of the fact that popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN spam content that are overstuffed with keywords in order to achieve higher rand on search engines. Read more

Open Site Explorer

If you’ve been using Linkscape you’re probably pretty happy with the functionalities that the service brings. At first glance it might seem that another link analysis tool would just be redundant and, for the most part, that is actually true. However there are some things that Open Site Explorer can give that Linkscape doesn’t really do and vice versa. In the future though Rand said that OSE and Linkscape will probably become integrated with one becoming the premium version.

One of the major difference is the number of links available per report: shows up to 10,000 links in OSE and 3,000 links in Linkscape. Note though that unless you are a SEOmoz Pro member you will only be shown details of 5 links in OSE and none in Linkscape. However, you do see the other important metrics such as overall page authority, domain authority, number of linking root domains, and total number of links including those that are “no followed”. These data are things you need to know where you stand in your link building effort, but it’s really the other data that gives you more actionable items.

According to Rand some of the things you can do with the data given by OSE include finding the following:

  • 302 pages – What you can do is turn them into 301s
  • 404 pages – You have two options for these pages: either put content in those pages or redirect them.
  • Inbound links with low quality anchor text – Contact the owner of the linking page and ask them to change the anchor text to something you prefer.
  • Links to competitors’ error pages – Don’t forget to analyze your competitors’ links. Do the same thing as #3 but make sure you explain to the person you are contacting to link to YOUR page, explain how linking to an error page can hurt them, and give your preferred anchor text. This isn’t really unethical since the link was pointing to an empty error page anyway.
  • Links to old/poor pages – Redirect these links to newer pages that offer fresh and/or more relevant content.

One other thing that Rand suggested that stood out for me was in answer to a question by one of the participants. (Sorry I wasn’t able to take note of the person’s name. If you attended the same webinar and know, do let me know.) The question was: How can we use OSE to determine what to charge our clients?

Rand suggested that you simply check out the domain and page authority of your client’s page as well as the number of links. Then you check out your client’s competitors’ pages and compare the data, after which you can do a guestimate of how much effort you need to put into link building as well as how long it will take to creep up on the competitors in search rankings

[Phoenix Realm]

Living in the cloud with Google Apps

The era of the Netbook has, for the first time since Moore’s Law kicked in, turned back the clock on the relentless increase in power of computers.

Where in the past, travellers carried their valuable laptop around like a piece of fragile jewellery, now they can purchase a low cost netbook that can be almost regarded as disposable and certainly not a major concern poolside or in a low security hotel room.

Netbooks have small screens and keyboards, but it’s the small storage that makes them the perfect companion to cloud computing services.

Most people visit Google’s incredible search engine as their one stop shop for all the world’s knowledge but few realise that the suite includes all the services needed to run an organisation where collaboration in a group is required.

Document management, Wiki sites, contacts, group email, shared calendars – and all of this accessible with legendary search capabilities making Google Apps a powerful platform.

When on the road with just a small netbook, a single sign-on gives you a window in to business back home with little or no local storage overhead.

The age of the low cost Netbook is just dawning, but the future is also bright for web enabled tablets of all sizes. Moving your IT infrastructure to the cloud is a way to cut costs, increase capability and be competitive in a tough global economy.

[dmsbt]

SEO for Twitter Search

Heads up SEOs. If you haven’t been factoring in Twitter in your client’s SEO campaign now is the time to stop and seriously consider upping your social media efforts.

Twitter has announced that it will be expanding its Twitter Search to include not only the text found in tweets in its index, which is what it currently does, but to crawl the links found in tweets and index the crawled pages. We all know how big Twitter is and how fast it’s getting even bigger so this is not the time to ignore this opportunity. You want your sites to be indexed in Twitter Search just as much as it is in Google right now. Of course this doesn’t mean that Twitter will be replacing Google anytime soon but Twitter Search’s power lies in having a real-time search engine that people CONSTANTLY use.

The only negative aspect I can see here is that we can expect spam to start flooding Twitter pretty soon, but then again that is inevitable and it’s Twitter’s problem. They’ll just have to find a way to minimise the noise. As for those who want to make the most of Twitter Search but don’t have any plans of spamming what you can do will be to:

  • Start building your rep on Twitter – This is also very important because Twitter is planning on having a ranking system based on reputation soon.
  • Widening your network – Of course this goes with building your rep.
  • Link dropping – The key here as usual is to do it appropriately. Don’t spam! So start tweeting people and somehow steering the topic so you or they can drop desired link.
  • Be current – Have something new on your site more regularly that is tweet worthy. You can link drop all you want but people won’t pass it on if there’s nothing new and noteworthy to pass on. Remember Twitter is all about the now.
  • [Phoenix Realm]

Social Search and SEO

So how is the social search engine relevant to SEO?

It is obviously important because we see how more and more each day search is turning into something more personal as search engines seek ways to improve the relevance of search results. What this means is that we (SEOs) should encourage clients to improve their online network and to start seriously considering or putting more effort in the social media efforts.

Here are a few tips on what you should immediately do to get the most of Google Social Search (remember this may be in experimental mode now but you want to reap the benefits even before it’s fully released

Get a Google Account and update your public Google profile
– Add links to your facebook, twitter, myspace, jaiku, blog, flickr, and whatever other links you want to appear when contacts (hopefully your clients or the friends of your friends, who can turn into clients) search for terms that appear as content in those links.

Get more active in social network sites – Been neglecting your social site accounts? Start adding friends and posting updates WITH KEYWORDS. Don’t get spammy but think of real updates where you can insert a keyword or two. Oh and don’t forget to set your profile on public.

Get reviewed – Find ways to get reviewed by real people on industry-specific sites or even on their websites. Remember the real aim for many clients is conversion and not just traffic. For this word of mouth is still the best way to go. In search terms social search and reviews from people in your social circle is still equivalent to word of mouth. The more people review your site/product/service the more chances you get to appear on the social search results of their contacts.

[Phoenix Realm]

Google News Rank Boosters

How to rank better in Google News.

According to Ms Ohye some of the best practices you should adopt include:

Keeping the article body intact – Don’t break the article body. Place ads and other stuff on the sidebar or at the bottom of the article but not in between paragraphs!

Put dates between title and body – This makes it easier for Google to determine recentness of your articles. This is also really useful in terms of usability. One of my pet peeves is having to look for the date/time stamp when reading online articles/posts, especially when reading older articles because I want to be sure I know how old or new an article is when citing that article.

Smart Titles – Titles matter so think about your titles really hard. It matters in SEO so make sure you squeeze in your most important keyword(s) in there. It also matters to readers so make sure it is both informative and catchy.

Separate original content from press releases – As mentioned in my previous post, Ranking in Google News, “opinions, editorials, satire, press-releases and subscriptions are not eligible to lead [story] clusters” so make sure you separate them and give them their own section/page. Of course you should place the original articles on the main landing page and not the other way around.

Publish informative unique content – When it comes to publishing, whether internet publishing or in whatever form, we will never tire of reminding everybody – Content is still and always be king!

The use of unique permanent URLs with at least 3 digits – This helps Google determine that the page contains an article and is not a static HTML page. This has roots in the traditional way news sites/publishers choose their URLs. However, if your pages does not have this kind of URL you may skip this and simply do the next tip.

Submit a news sitemap – News sitemaps are beneficial because it will make it easier for the news crawler to find your article and re-crawl that same article to look for updates (re-crawl happens in 12 hours). Aside from this it contains the meta-data (i.e. keywords, publication date) needed by Google to help them determine not only relevancy of your article to their story clusters/categories but also determine the other ranking factors without having to rely on Google’s extractor.

[Phoenix Realm]