Organising Your Link Building Campaign

When it comes to running and scaling up a successful link building campaign, you will be surprised on how much of your work will be spent on organising, and how little of your work will be spent on the actual link building.

Keeping track of the status online relationships is a major work load, and communicating with them is another major work load. When you are running a business, you realise that the system you have set up to provide your services or product on the small scale, will not always work on the large scale. When you are scaling up you have to change the way you do things, and it is the same with link building.

Formulate a Plan

If you own a web site than you have probably dabbled a little bit in the link building world. Whether you are submitting to directories, link exchanging, guest posting, or one of the many other forms of link building, you have realised that link building is all about having relationships with other web sites.

When you are formulating your link building plan, make sure you map out how many links you want for your web site, including all of the inner pages. Also make sure you figure out how you want to disperse these links in regards to the type of links that you are going to require. Avoid using “spam” techniques like flooding blogs with pointless comments or signing up for endless amounts of forums.
These techniques rarely work and you may end up getting in trouble rather than helping your web site. Also, avoid bad web sites, or blogs that look like they have terrible quality in their content and their only purpose for existence is to sell links.

Formulate a System

There is an infinite amount of ways you will be able to create your link building system. You will need two or three different Internet tools – the third depending on whether you are going to do the campaigning by yourself or if you are planning on hiring people to help out, like writers or data entry positions.

You will need to create a separate email for emailing. A lot of your work will be done through communicating with other sites, so it would be wise to create different labels or folders in your email so that you can tag every single response you get letting you know what the appropriate action response is. This should usually sync up with your link management software, which is the other thing you will need for sure. Link management software allows you to record the relationship status that you have with other web sites and it also records many other things like page rank, contact information, social media information, over all rating, and much more and stores it in a database. Your emailing folders should sync up with your link management software, and you should easily be able to go back and forth between the two without getting lost every five minutes.

The third thing you may or may not need would be an internal collaborating system. An internal collaborating system will allow you to assign tasks, set milestones, and create databases as well as many other things. A good internal collaborating system will also have a forum and will allow you to set up projects and create work-spaces. This is perfect for hiring people that work at home because now the collaborating part of work can be automated since everyone can communicate and work together on tasks in one central location on the Internet.

These three things will allow you to execute your plan without wasting time. The enormous amount of time you save will allow you to scale things to a level you haven’t seen before, and if you are in the SEO industry, it will also allow you to better provide SEO services for other companies. Just like many other things in life, link building is all about organising and keeping track. Internet tools help you to do so.

Hands Free Article Writing

articlesWriting articles for submission to sites like ezine articles can be a bit of a pain in the “you know what”. It’s not an easy task to pump out information about your business in a style that is entertaining as well as being informative (let’s not forget the bit about linking back to your website) and not have it come across like a total sales pitch.

Writing articles and posting them to sites that have a good page rank is time consuming to say the least. I find it hard enough to write an article here on Sitemaster every week day let alone writing for other sites with a link back to Sitemaster. It’s one of those things you want to do but the reality is that it takes a lot of effort.

This is where I should throw in my sales pitch with something along the lines of ‘what is your time worth’ or ‘can you ignore to not get quality back links’ and all that stuff.

Did I tell you that I just missed out on a good deal where I could have obtained 25 monkeys that can type?… No? I had to let that pass because they only typed in mandarin and have you seen the price of Bananas?

Well instead I made a real deal and came up with a real opportunity to get 100 articles written about almost any industry for $14 each by real people that can really write well. Really.

Let’s examine this;
Write an article andsubmit it to a website for $14.
The time to submit the article alone is nearly worth that price.

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This is going to be a total no brainer for most of you, so there’s no long winded hard sell here. If you want to put your article marketing campaign on total autopilot then you’d be completely mad not to put my content writing team to work for you today.

For the small one time investment of just $1396 our content writing team will hand research and write 100 unique articles (approx 400 words each) tailored specifically to your search engine optimisation keywords & target audience.

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In essence that means…
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* Your articles will also be sent to one of over 400+ niche daily email alerts that notify publishers whenever new articles are available that match their unique interests…
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Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have some reservations about outsourcing content generation to promote your online business & website. I’m a total quality control freak and I’m always reluctant to outsource content that will represent our websites – especially when you’re working with new writers for the first time.

So, I do understand & respect your concerns.

However, these are NOT some shitty computer spun articles. They are written by real English speaking & writing human beings that write for a living. Every single article is individually researched & written specifically for your unique article marketing campaign. Our writers can write competently on various niche specific topics including (but not limited to)…

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If you would like to see a few example articles prior to ordering, then please feel free to drop us an email. However do realize that the quality standard of your articles must pass human moderation at EzineArticles.com and they don’t just let any old crap in. As a result, our 100% approval guarantee sets the initial benchmark…
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This isn’t some marketing ploy to get you to rush into an investment decision.

Your articles are being written by real human beings here. These writers only have so much time in the day. We don’t want to over extend ourselves to ensure we always meet satisfactory turn around times & maintain quality standards for our valued clients. As a result, we can only take on a limited number of new clients at one time. It’s as simple as that.
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Once your payment has been made, please drop us an email that includes…

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How To Build The Page Title

the titleThe title of your page is one of the most important pieces of information you can provide. It helps the search engines with keywords, the topic and subject of the page or post.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of other factors when it comes to search engine optimisation but the page title is one of the first places to start and one you should think about carefully to make the best impact.

I wrote about How To SEO Your Website and typed briefly about the page title, it can be so effective when you get it right that I thought I would dedicate a post to the subject.

With all that said the next thing to do is give you an example.

The first thing is to think about what someone would type in to the search fields when looking for the page you are composing.

Let’s say the page you are writing about is for growing tomatoes, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘Growing Tomatoes’ as the title and in fact that would be a good title but what would be better is ‘How to Grow Tomatoes’.

Why would it be better? Both titles will perform well but if I wanted to ask a question about how to do something, I would type in the words ‘How To’ and the subject. Doing this would get better results for my search request and let’s face it, if you don’t appear on the first page of search results the chances that someone will go to the second page are slim.

Go to Google, type in ‘growing tomatoes’ and view the results then do a search with the phrase ‘how to grow tomatoes’ and see the difference in the results. The better results are of course the search done with the phrase ‘how to’. So if you had used the title ‘How to grow tomatoes’ there is a good chance that your page will come up on the first page.

So think about the way people would search for the page you are putting together. do a few test searches and see what the results are, from there you can see your competitors for the same key words and get a better idea of the way to construct your title.

All that said, the title is just the first in a line of things you need to consider when aiming to come up on the first page of Google.

Building Your Page Rank

google page rankI have talked about How To SEO Your Website in a previous post here on Sitemaster and this is a great way to tune up your website to provide precise information to the search engines about not only your website but each page of your website but another area that is just as important if not more is ‘Off Page SEO’.

Off page SEO is basically building links that point back to your website. Google loves to see links that point to your site from other websites and the higher the page rank of the recommending website the better.

Get Social

Facebook is the first step you should take, if you need a hand, read Branding With Facebook.

Link Exchange

Email website owners that have similar fields of interest asking for a link exchange. This is time consuming and you may, if you are lucky, get a reply for one in twenty. The idea is to get a good value link exchange by targeting sites with a high page rank, the higher the better.

Paid Links

Buying links is a quick and relatively cheap process and one I highly recommend. I use Directory Submission ServiceDirectory Submission Services to build my in bound links.

Article

You could write articles and submit them to an array of sites that deal with the subject of your website.

Guest Blogging

Write a blog article for other bloggers, this not only gets amino back to your website but you may also be able to pull a few readers to your website and build up your reader base.

All that done and said I have one warning, do not build your back links to fast, by that I mean that if Google sees that you have gone from 0 – 10,000 back links in nothing flat you could be penalised. So do it gradually over 6 months or so for the best results.

Have you got a link building idea I have missed in this article? Drop it into the comments area below or email me about it.
Hey, why not write an article and post it on Sitemaster, it has a good page rank (PR4 at the time of this post)

How To SEO Your Website

Everyone has a website but there are only ten listings on the first page of Google. Search engine optimization is the key to success for online marketing of your business.

For your business to be successfully marketed on the Internet you need to appear on the first page when someone types in your key words or phrases when looking for your service or product.

If you don’t come up on the first page of search results then you are waisting your time and money and all you have is a great brochure website.

Even the businesses that do well by coming up on the first page continually have to work to keep their place on the first page because the competition is aiming to take that position from them and keep it for themselves.

So how do you compete with businesses that are pumping big dollars into tweaking their websites?

It’s not easy, you either hire an SEO company or you learn to do it yourself

I am here to help you along the ‘Do it yourself’ road.

Page Title

This is what is displayed in the search results, it’s the first line, the title.

With Google you get 66 characters (including spaces) and if you go over this amount Google shows 63 characters and 3 dots = 66 characters.

Think this through carefully because it is very important.

The biggest mistake made by so many websites is to put their website/business name in the title and use up the display limit.

Face it, people do not care what your business is called, they are after a search term and want the results for that term. If they knew your website name they would go directly to it.

What you do want is a description to attract your audience.

Use an individual title for each page, something to describe what the page is about and do not put the same information on every page.

Meta Description

This is displayed by Google for searchers to read and comes after the title in the search results.

Get this right in relationship to each page and you will see a big difference in page views.

You have 150 characters, think of it as a tweet.

Meta Keywords

All of your keywords should be lower case, comma separated and should be specific to the content of the page.

Do not use vague or generic terms without first addressing what the page is about first. Sometimes generic terms can be beneficial, it’s all about what your selling.

Nofollow

This is used in links to tell the search engines NOT to follow this link. Apply this to pages like terms and conditions, privacy and so on. It should also be used when linking to external pages or sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Why use nofollow?

Your website page rank is diluted by the number of pages you have, this is a very complex subject and I will not go into it here but basically the gist is to use the nofollow on pages that are not going to effect what you are trying to achieve.

SEO your Images

Name your images in relationship to the page subject. There is no trick here it just takes effort and a bit of thought when first naming your images.

Title and alt tags

Apply both title and alt tags to all links and all images with the exception of spacer images.

Page content

Optimal page content size should be between 250 and 350 words. When developing copy consider the page subject, the keywords and phrases you will be aiming at the search engines ie. the terms you want to be found with when someone searches via the search engines.

Write in a normal fashion, do not stack the content with unintelligent content and keywords aimed at attracting the search engines, Google can understand sentences and can see if you are trying to stack the page with keywords and you will be penalized.

Internal links

Link between your pages, Google likes it

Footer

Put your sitemap in the footer of your website allowing one click to anywhere as well as giving the search engines and visitors easy reference to the rest of your site.

That’s about it for the beginners ‘How to SEO your website’

If you use WordPress the best SEO module you can use is Headspace 2, it does require you to put some effort in but the results are well worth it.

Top Of The First Page of Google

First page of GoogleI would love to get a dollar for every time I have heard someone say ‘My site is on the first page of Google’ and when I ask them the search terms they use to achieve this excellent position on the major search engine, 90% reply ‘i just type in the name of my website’

Hence the saying ‘A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing’

Sometimes I will point out that if I knew the name of your website why would I search for it but usually I just tell them well done, add a smile and change the subject.

As I said, I wish I had a dollars every time I heard that statement.

On my better days when I am feeling more social and up for an education I will actually ask another question like ‘So who designed your website?’ and again 80 to 90% will reply ‘I did it myself’ or ‘My 16 year old nephew did it for me’ or something along those lines.

This usually stops me dead, I know when I am defeated and in comes the smile with a nod and even an enthusiastic ‘great’ or ‘ok’ with a raise of the eye brows for the body language part. Sometime I will try and just raise one eye brow like Spock in Star Trek just to see if I can pull it off (I get a lot of practice at doing this, I can do the left side fine but the right side makes me look like I have indigestion or I am having a stroke).

On the very odd occasion when my masochistic side is showing and I am really board, so board infact that I actually open my mouth and sound emerges (even to my own amazement … or amusement … because a little bit of punishment just is not enough) I ask the final question I know will complete the loop, making me finally realize I should not have opened my mouth after the first answer … and that question is ‘Have you thought about doing some SEO work on your site?’ see answer number one.

Is there a moral to this story? Apart from the one about learning when to shut my mouth? There could be, there should be but I don’t know what it is. I could say something like ‘ Do you change the oil on your BMW yourself?’ but that is not quite right for many reasons I won’t go into. Needless to say, if you are competing for one of the ten positions on the first page of Google and you are not in a niche that is so obscure that there is only ten of you in the world on the Internet, you need to be proactive in your approach to your business and that means taking a professional approach, this does not mean that you need to run out and get a professional developer to do everything for you but it does mean that you need to have an open mind, consider the possibility that you can do better and look at what you do best and hire me.

The Title Tag

title tagsThere is the title for your page and there are title tags. I want to talk about the latter, title tags. This is something missed by a lot of people. I am amazed at the numbers of sites that just miss out doing this simple but effective little tweak. Some people fill in the alt tag but even fewer add a title tag to go with the alt tag.

Let’s step back and have a look at what the title tag is and does.

The code looks like this: title=”title description”

You know those site you go to and if you mouse over the navigation or an image a description appears, usually it is the same text as the navigation button or a description of the image, well that comes from the title tag. Yep, we all see it everyday, it’s something you may not even notice but if you keep an eye out you will see it.

I have a strong feeling that there may be some SEO advantages associated with adding in the title tag. Like alt tags, the title tag is another descriptive tag for the search engines.

Even if Google did away with recognizing it tomorrow the advantages for using it would still remain because it helps the visually impaired, it’s helpfully to every user to your website and the other search engines will always do things differently so it’s always best to prepare for all contingencies.

Now is the time to do a site review and make sure your titles are in place.

301 Redirects

linksIf you are moving, upgrading your website or have recently moved your website this article is for you. In all cases you should consider the search engines and what is going to happen to your page rank.

Page rank is the Holy Grail of search engine ranking, well … along with a few other things but all those other factors go to contribute to your page rank.

Before the move

Determine weather you are going to change any of your URL’s. By that I mean any change at all, like changing from a .html to a .php or adding a mod reWrite to change your .php or .html to make it a more search friendly URL? I could go on for lines and lines about the different type of changes you could make … but I won’t.

Google, Bing and Yahoo have referenced every page on your website already and will be sending people to those URL’s for some time after you have made any changes.

Document every URL in your website or just the ones that will be effected by the changes you will be making, so you have a reference.

If you are doing this after the move do a search on your domain and have a look at the results, this will let you know what URL’s the search engines have referenced in relation to your website.

The next step

Now that you know the URL’s it’s time to do the real work.

What you need to do is create a 301 redirect for each URL. Google does no penalise you for using a 301 redirect.

Now you will not loose your traffic to the dreaded 404 error and you will not effect your page rank.

Phone SEO

Search Engine Optimization is so important to your online presence that not spending time or money on it will kill the time or money you have already spent on your website and that is where getting out the mobile phone comes in.

SEO tactics have made a major move into Youtube and you can easily take part in it just by using your phone.

What? You say, does my phone have to do with SEO?

It’s simple, you can make a quick movie, review it and re make it till you get something that gets the message across about you.

You do not need to have a slick production you just need to tell the story, that’s it and you will get better as time goes by.

I was at a local business expo a few nights ago and caught a short presentation by Nick Bowditch from The Bowditch Group. Nick talked about a client who did a 90 second video on their old phone, just the two owners of a coffee shop sitting down telling us about their business and to come in for a coffee and a chat. The quality was not so good, it didn’t go viral and it is not on the front page of YouTube but it did help push their site page rank up and, believe it or not, , it contributed to a 16% increase in revenue.

Never, ever under estimate what a little bit of effort can do to help your business.

Since then the coffee shop has turned out 20 plus videos demonstrating things from cooking eggs to staff introductions helping to boost their SEO page rank and increasing traffic through the door, you can hear the sound if the cash register clinging away from here.

That’s why I have dubbed it “Phone SEO”, so do it right now and if you have a smart phone you can post it from your phone to YouTube with no delay.

Video your customers and let them tell their friends and family about how they are on YouTube, it’s not a major viral campaign but more like a case of the sniffles or a slight cold but it works.

Act now, prosper tomorrow

If you know of a similar story, let me know about it or write a guest post and see it on Sitemaster

Someone is Using My Content

Have you spotted your blog content on someone else’s blog and feeling a bit ripped off? Usually you have found out about this because of a back link that has come up on your site telling you that there is a link back to your article.

Maybe your upset that someone has posted the content you have poured over to create. You did the work to post to your audience so why should just anyone be able to use it.

The glass is half full

If the post has your name on it and a link back to the article your a winner.

You now have your work in front of a bigger audience, you have a back link that Google will give you a credit for, and if the site that is re-posting it has a good page rank, you benefit even more.

If you guest post on another blog it is exactly the same situation, you don’t do a guest post because you love writing for other peoples blogs, you so it because you want to raise awareness about your blog, raise your page rank and increase your audience.

So don’t take the attitude that your being plagiarised and the world (or just that blog) is out to rip you off, it’s probably just that someone thinks your worth telling their audience about and your article is worth a read.

On the other hand if your not getting the credit, kick up a stink but in most cases the credit is there.

Contact the owner of the blog and see if they will enhance the author section with the information you want about you and make sure you have a Gravatar linked to your email address, you can at least have your picture up there without any effort.

After all we all want to build an audience and of someone thinks your worth talking about, you must be doing something right.

If you think I am right or wrong, hit the comment section and vent your spleen

How to Use Active Listening to Improve your Online Reputation and SEO

active listeningActive listening is a critical tool for consultants and freelancers to employ in conversations with their clients in order to make certain that they get the full story. But did you know that the process of active listening can actually improve your online reputation and your SEO?

In person, you spend time asking questions and developing an understanding of what exactly is being communicated. Online, you can spend time leaving comments on blog posts, following up via Twitter and discussing topics in forums. This is great as it helps you get to know the meaning of specific posts, and others can join in on the conversation providing real community involvement helping you get noticed.

How does this help my online reputation and SEO?

It helps your reputation and your own SEO by providing a useful resource for others to read. Think about it. You leave a comment and leave a link to your site. If you provided something of value to the conversation, either by posing a clarification question or expounding on the original post, you’ve provided something of value and other readers will consider checking up on you. Now, this won’t necessarily, directly increase your SEO performance just by posting a comment, but, it will likely get you visitors, if you provide enough value, the blog owner may get in contact with you or even write a post about your comment and link to your site. Now we’re talking.

Take it one step further and get involved outside of blog posts on Twitter or Facebook. Even though not everything is indexed by Google and others, the conversation value and pass-along value transmitted through these services offers a significant amount of benefit to your online reputation. And, as always, more hits means better SEO and more publicity across other people’s blogs and Twitter accounts as well as their Facebook pages. That brings me to another point which I will cover in another post in the near future: Social Networks pass information based on trust.  A link or piece of information passed through a trusted friend is much more likely to get clicked than a link all by itself. Social networks hold massive amounts of power in this respect.

So get involved!

Read blog posts, post comments, share information via Twitter. Become a fan of something on Facebook and create content that is valuable to others. If you give you will receive. It will take some effort, but the internet is a world-wide community of people looking to share something. Content is king. Contribute and get noticed.

Google Experts Answer your SEO Questions

Google SEOIf are looking for tips to improve the visibility of your website in Google search, or if you need answers to some common SEO related problems, here’s an interview with the Google search quality team that you will definitely find useful.

Before we jump to the answers, a big thank you to John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google Zurich), Matt Cutts (Webspam Engineer, Google California), Zareen Kazim (Strategist, Google India), Koteswara Ivaturi (Project Manager, Google Hyderabad) and Kaspar Szymanski (Strategist, Google Dublin) for giving their precious time and such valuable suggestions.


[*] You can also download the entire Q&A as a PDF file for offline reading.

Q 1: Google now considers page loading speed as one of the many factors for ranking web pages in search results. Does this mean I should switch my blog to a faster, and more expensive, web host or even consider using a CDN (like Amazon S3)?

Zareen Kazim: If you are sure that switching your blog to a faster webhost or using a CDN will enhance your speed then I say go ahead my friend.  Making your site faster will not go unnoticed by your users.

Having said that, increasing server speed alone may not help in some cases. The most common problem is not the time for a page getting sent to the user, but the time it takes to deliver and render all page objects. It’s always good advice to fine-tune your site and implement some options (compress your CSS, reduce the amount of JavaScript you need to load and also improve on the caching) to ensure faster loading.

There are lots of tools to help you identify ways to improve the speed of your site. Our official blog post gives lots of links, and some of the links lead to other tools. But just to highlight a few, the site performance tool in Webmaster Tools shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world.  In addition, various free-to-use tools offer things like in-depth analysis of individual pages . Google also provides an entire speed-related mini-site with tons of resources and videos about speeding up websites.

Please note, site speed is just one more signal (out of many ) in larger picture of Google’s search ranking , this is not a high -impact change and therefore better loading speed will not guarantee ranking.

Q 2: Like most other blogs, I have tons of “archive pages” on my blog that don’t have any content but merely group content by author, category or tags. Will these pages constitute “duplicated content” and should I block them from the Googlebot?

John Mueller: Good question. Duplicate content within your site is generally not a problem, however it always makes sense to try to limit it to a reasonable amount to make it easier to recognize your preferred pages. There are several methods to handle duplicate content, and when it comes to archive pages, one simple solution might be to just show a snippet instead of the full article.

Q 3: Over the years, my university has moved my Web site from server to server, and, as such, the URL has changed six times. They use aliases to map all six to the same IP address, so my old links still work  but Google considers it as six separate Web sites. Is there anything I can do to consolidate the six URLs?

John Mueller: One easy way to handle duplicate content across different websites is to use the rel=canonical link element. Other possibilities are included in our blog post about handling legitimate cross-domain duplicate content.

Q 4: I was looking at my Google Webmaster Central report and under Sitemap, it says that the total number of URLs is ‘x’ while the number indexed in Google is only ‘x-y’. What can I do to get more of my pages in the Google Index?

Zareen Kazim: Google uses a large number of factors to determine which pages to crawl and index. Two important elements to work on are:

  • Make sure that it’s easy to crawl your pages; try your site with JavaScript disabled and also check your crawl errors in Webmaster Tools.
  • Make sure that your site provides unique and compelling content.

Q 5. We publish a lot of original content but there are scrapers who copy our content without giving any credit. The sad part is sometimes these sites, who copy our content, rank higher than the original content creator. How can we tackle this problem? Does Google Search take into account the timestamp when an article was published for search results rankings? Why does Google even index scrapers?

Koteswara Ivaturi: This is a popular question. At the outset, duplicate content due to scraping does not equate to a webmaster violation because we know that it is not the fault of the webmaster to not have control over who is scraping the content from his website.

Google is very good at identifying the original source in such cases and so that takes care of the any potential negative effects that the original source may have. It is very rare that the scraped sites rank better than the original site in the search results; but if that happens you can follow the instructions.

Q 6. For an image or media-rich website, what are best practices? Too often, the focus remains on written textual content — which of course is a major factor towards a website’s relevance to search terms, but sometimes, artworks are also relevant to the search. Other than adding good ALT text and using descriptive file names for image, what can I do to improve my site’s visibility in Google Image Search?

Koteswara Ivaturi: Image Search can be a great source for some additional traffic to your website. Adding the ALT text and using descriptive file names are a must when it comes to image- or media-centric websites.

Beyond these, context for the image is going to really help the search engines understand the images much better. For example, if a page has an image of a flower the text or caption that describes the flower should be around or next to the image. Lastly, we recently announced that you can now submit information about your images while you submit your Sitemaps.

Q 7. I already have an XML Sitemap for my website. Should I also create an HTML sitemap? Also, should I include every single page of my blog in the Sitemap (including tag pages and the date-based archives) or just the important ones?

Matt Cutts: In general, HTML Sitemaps can be very handy for your human visitors, and it’s a nice additional way to help search engines make sure that they know about all of your pages as well. If you have time or a script that can generate a pretty HTML Sitemap (e.g; for a blog, you could have one page for each year or month of your blog, depending on how much you write), that can work nicely.

If you don’t have the time or motivation to do that much work, you might consider creating a “Top 10 most popular posts” feature for your blog. I know that as a regular user, I love stumbling on a new blog and discovering that the site owner is pointing out some of their best or most popular posts.

John Mueller: It’s always a good idea for your XML Sitemap file to include all pages which you want to have indexed. If you have pages such as tag or archive pages which you prefer not to have indexed, it’s recommended to add a “noindex” robots meta tag to the pages (and of course, not to include them in the Sitemap file).

Q 8. I have read on forums that domain expiration dates are a factor in Google rankings and domains that are due to expire soon may be penalized in some way. Is that correct? I have registered a domain through Google Apps and it won’t let me renew the domain for more than a year.

Zareen Kazim: Matt Cutts addressed this issue in a Webmaster Central video recently and confirmed that the length of a domain name registration isn’t a ranking factor.

[On Google Apps] Your initial domain registration is valid for one year. If subsequent registration renewal fails, you’ll have several opportunities to change your billing information and renew your registration. If you purchased the domain through Google Apps, you should make sure that you have the renew option checked in your Google Apps account and have a valid Google Checkout information. You can find more detailed information here.

Q 9. How does search quality team look at links from Newspaper Websites & Editorials? In recent times there have been incidents where leading editorials were selling paid content (which include links) on their website for brands & business interested in ranking well on search engines.

Although they explain they only offer advertorials with SEO benefits to agencies to promote brand content, doesn’t this mean offering a paid content (links) to manipulate SERPs is a direct violation of Google’s TOS? These sites indeed have a long reputation & trust but Google TOS should be same for all regardless of the brand or individual?

Matt Cutts: If you’re talking about the recent incident in the UK, we saw that. Google’s quality guidelines are clear on this point: paid links shouldn’t pass PageRank.

Whether the paid links are in an “advertorial” or somewhere else on the page, that would violate our quality guidelines and Google would take action on those violations, both so that the link buyers wouldn’t benefit and so that the link sellers wouldn’t be trusted in the future by Google.

Q 10. I do have a couple of affiliate links on my website that point to Amazon.com and some other websites. I am not getting paid to insert these links into my content but will get some commission on a sale. Should I use nofollow with such affiliate links?

Zareen Kazim: If linking is natural, based on relevancy of a site’s content, I don’t see a violation of any Google Webmaster Guidelines.

While it is legitimate for a webmaster to monetize great content, in order to perform well in Google’s search results  it is important to take technical steps in order to prevent unnatural passing of PageRank through paid links, e.g. by either using the “nofollow” attribute or by creating a robots.txt file.

Q 11. I have launched a new blog and it obviously won’t rank in Google because none of the reputable blogs are currently linking to it. Therefore, I am actively writing guest posts on other blogs as that gives me a chance to get a link from them. Is Google fine with guest blogging and do links ‘earned’ from writing guest blogs matter?

John Mueller: Making and promoting a new site takes time and effort. In general I would recommend putting that work into your own site, instead of creating content for other people’s sites.

It’s much better to create great content for your blog and to let other sites refer visitors to your site on their own. Good luck!

Q 12. What’s your take on articles submission websites? I do a lot of article marketing & distribution for my clients. These are original articles written and distributed through sites like eZineArticles and iSnare. Obviously besides the exposure my clients get as experts, I am also looking at the SEO benefit of earning backlinks from these posts. How do you treat multiple copies of the same article spread over different sites?

John Mueller: As mentioned in an earlier question, it generally makes much more sense to create great content for your own site, instead of giving it to a large number of other sites to publish.

Personally, I would recommend not looking at it with regard to the links; think about how users will view the content and the people who created it. Having high-quality content on your own site will make it stand out much more than if that content is posted all over the web. If the content is unique and compelling, it will generally attract links naturally over time.

Q 13. Are all links on a page treated the same or does the order of links matter. For instance, will Google flow more juice to the links that are in the first paragraph of the story than the ones that are in the page footer?

Zareen Kazim: Our link analysis is getting much more sophisticated than the original PageRank used to be. To answer your question, we may treat links across different areas in a different way, as some areas of a page might not be as relevant to the content of the page as others. Check out Matt’s video where he talks about links in paragraphs:

Q 14. My website has a country specific extension (like example.in for India) but the content is of interest to a global audience. How do I ensure that my domain /site is visible in Google search results of other countries as well?

John Mueller: Any website can be relevant to users globally; it doesn’t have to use a generic top-level domain (gTLD) for that. Using a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) is fine if you want to create a website for users all around the world.

If you’re looking to target specific countries (instead of the whole world), you may want to review our recent blog post on multi-regional websites for more information.

Q 15. How do I know whether my site has been penalized in Google or not? I know Google Analytics reports can give me an idea but are there are any other methods? Will Google inform me about the penalty through Webmaster Tools?

Zareen Kazim: Many webmasters worry about penalties when they see their site change in the rankings, and for most times, these changes can be attributed to the nature of the web itself. Google algorithms are constantly changing, to reflect the changing content of the web, and these changes can affect how your website is ranked in our search results.

Working on improving your content and the user experience of your site should be your number one priority. In our Help Center, we have an article with suggestions for potential fixes if you see your site’s ranking change significantly. Google uses the Message Center in your Webmaster Tools account to communicate important information to you regarding your Webmaster Tools account and the sites you manage.

If we have noticed there is something wrong with your site, we may send you a message there, detailing some issues which you need to fix to bring your site into compliance with the Webmaster Guidelines. Once you fix your site you can submit your site for reconsideration. Please note, while not all of the messages in the Message Center are for issues involving our Webmaster Guidelines, it’s strongly recommended that you make sure that these messages are forwarded to your email account, so that you are informed about changes or issues as quickly as possible.

Q 16. There are times when I have searched for a ‘query’ and clicked on ‘ads’ as they offered better content than the natural listings. However when I tried the same keyword few days later, the site that I clicked through ‘ads’ was listed in natural listing this time. Would the future of SERPs based on Google Algorithm involve correlating large number of user clicks on ‘ads’ and adding them to natural result pages?

John Mueller: We work hard to provide high-quality search results. In many cases providing personalized search results can help to make them more relevant to you. Ads, however, are separate from natural search results, so I would assume that what you’ve seen here is a mere coincidence :-).

Rest assured that ads do not affect our natural search results.

Q 17. My site is all about movie reviews and now I am planning to expand it into food recipes. Should I use a sub-domain (food.example.com) or a sub-directory (example.com/food) for the new topic.

Zareen Kazim: When it comes to Google, there aren’t major difference between the two, so when you’re making that decision, do what works for you and your user. If you use Webmaster Tools (which we hope you do 🙂 ), you’ll automatically be verified for deeper sub directories of any sites you’ve verified, but sub domains will need to be verified separately.

Q 18. I have two blogs – one is about food and other one is about movies. Will it be OK if cross-link the two sites even if the content is not related? I am worried that Google might consider that as a “paid link” even though I run both the websites.

Zareen Kazim:  Before you begin cross-linking sites, consider the user’s perspective and whether the crosslinks provide value. Ask yourself if you would place this link in a highly visible place on your page — if no, maybe it would make more sense to skip the link.

Cross-linking between dozens or hundreds of sites, however, probably doesn’t provide value, and I would not recommend it.

Q 19. Googlebot can read and execute JavaScript files but do you also pass any juice to the links that you may have discovered through the scripts?

Kaspar Szymanski: It’s true that we started crawling JavaScript.  We don’t recommend for webmasters to focus on linking; instead a much wiser way of spending your time is by enriching the site with great content and useful tools. However, if you are concerned about JavaScript links passing PageRank, feel free to use “no follow” attribute. Check out Matt’s video on the same topic:

Q 20. I have an active blog where I post anywhere between 10-15 articles in a week and Google indexes my new stories often within minutes of publishing them. I am however planning to take a break and won’t be adding any new content to my site for a month or so. How will that impact my site as far as indexing and rankings are concerned?

John Mueller: Your existing content will hopefully remain relevant in that time :-), so I wouldn’t worry about Google’s crawling, indexing or ranking during your break. Google will be ready to pick up your new content when you’re back; you don’t have to do anything special in a case like that.

One thing that you will want to do — if your site is self-hosted — is to make sure that it’s running the most current version, is properly locked-down, secured against hacking and monitored accordingly during your break. We see many blogs get hacked nowadays, and that in turn can affect your site’s standing in our search results if it’s left in a hacked state for a longer period of time.

Q 21. Some people call a portable computer as a notebook while others use the term ‘laptop.’ Similarly, a Flash Drive is known as a USB stick, a thumb drive and even a memory stick in some cases. Now if I am writing an article on say “10 best laptops,” how can I also optimize it for all “notebook” related queries?

Matt Cutts: When you’re writing an article, it pays to think in advance about the words that regular users might type when searching for your content. If you identify 2-3 common terms before you start writing, it’s not hard to incorporate those synonyms into the content of the post in a natural, non-spammy way.

Don’t keyword stuff in the article, but you might write “a flash drive (also sometimes called a USB drive or thumb drive) is a handy way to carry around data in your pocket.” Or you could sometimes call it a flash drive and sometimes call it a USB stick. As long as you’re doing it in a natural way, sometimes it can make the content even more readable than repeating the same term over and over again.

Q 22. Is there any ‘optimal’ length that you can recommend for the page URL and the title?

Kaspar Szymanski: Not really; instead it’s probably best to decide upon these things with the user experience in mind, rather than search engines. If you are interested in optimizing your snippets, feel free to have a look at our blog post on that topic.

Q 23. I know that inbound links will help my site’s ranking in Google search results but is that true for outbound links as well? I always link to quality websites from my articles where my visitors can read more about that topic but do these outbound links aid search rankings as well?

Kaspar Szymanski: No, they don’t contribute directly towards your site’s rankings; however they add value for your readership and they contribute to the community, so feel free to continue this good practice. On the other hand, being selective and preferring quality sites to link to might help in how Google perceives your site.

Q 24. Do ads on a web page affect search rankings? All other factors remaining the same, will pages having 3 ads rank better than a page with say 5 ads?

Zareen : No, ads don’t affect a page’s rank in our natural search results.

Q 25. Would you recommend any books on web search and SEO?

Zareen Kazim: Given the dynamic and constantly changing nature of the web, it might not make sense to stick to a single book. But we have an entire page in our webmaster Help Centre about SEO including the SEO starter guide [PDF] which I highly recommend.

Originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal.