Archive for September, 2008

Linking: Helping Others To Help Yourself

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

One of the reasons we call the world-wide-web a 'network' is because there are relationships between sites and pages that make navigation easy, informative, and even fun. Those relationships are made obvious via hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are, of course, those clickable links that take us to a new page.

We have come to rely on links to get us from point 'A' to point 'B' in a relational context, and to provide a sum of information greater than the single page we are visiting. This concept is important in search engine marketing...

Search engines deliver a product to their customers, and that product is a list of search results based on keyword input. If you type into a search engine the words 'tooth whitening', you would expect to receive a list of web sites that are relevant to 'tooth whitening'. Search engine companies know that you will be frustrated with their results if the list does not satisfy at least three basic requirements:

  1. Relevant: The resulting sites listed have to be relevant to your keyword search request; in this case 'tooth whitening';
  2. Current: The resulting sites listed need to present information that is current and not outdated;
  3. Informative: The resulting sites listed need to be informative.

Search engine companies work very hard to satisfy these requirements. It is a hard thing to do, and it is difficult to perfect. For this reason there are a few clear leaders in the search engine market, and they are pouring millions into measuring these factors accurately so they can continue providing a good 'product'.

One important factor in demonstrating relevance, currency, and informativeness is linking.

There are two types of linking strategies you should employ, each of which is important and should not be considered without the other. One is 'incoming' links, and the other is 'outgoing' links.

We have all heard that incoming links are important, and they are. Search engines are interested in the number of other sites that are linking to yours. This helps establish a certain degree of popularity and relevance. The thinking goes that if your site is linked to from many other sites, then your site must me important to the sites within your category.

Search engines are wary of incoming link strategies because there are so many ways to 'cheat'. For instance, some marketers have essentially carpet-bombed the internet with links to their own site. There are tools and services that make this easy, but there is a risk: carpet-bombing your URL all over the web means that you will be receiving links from sites that are not relevant, and therefore dilute your site's relevance factor.

To explain: Imagine your site about 'tooth whitening' receives links from sites that specialize in 'saddles', 'hunting', and 'political commentary'. Search engines will measure these factors and may determine that your site is not relevant to any of these items, including 'tooth whitening'. Your site appears to be the equivalent of a 'dictionary' to the search engines, with no clear or specific subject (at least based on the links).

Your best rule of thumb with incoming links is to cultivate links from relevant sites, and to reject links from sites that are too disparate. Links from social bookmarking sites are the exception, and simply indicate popularity without focus on relevance.

The second linking strategy you need to consider is 'outbound' linking. Perhaps even more important that inbound linking, outbound linking considers the links you have created on your site, and to which sites they point to.

There has been general reluctance on the part of our clientele for linking to other sites based on a desire to contain visitors to their own site. This is an important consideration and there are, of course, appropriate and innapropriate times and places to place outbound links. For bloggers, who's primary product is 'information', outbound links are critical.

When a search engine measures your site for relevance, currency, and informativeness, they look at the sites to which you are linking for a 'second opinion' of who you are and what you have to say.

Most importantly, outbound links tell the search engines that your visitors will be introduced to additional relevant content that is beyond your site. Think about it: when a search engine delivers their 'product', they want to present sites that are relevant, current, and informative. How better to add value to this objective than to include additional destinations in your presentation?

Put a different way: Search engines would rather deliver a relevant starting point in a search result than a 'dead end'. Is your site a 'dead end', with no exits to relevant pages? Or are you a 'great place to get started' with lots of relevant places to go?

Which site would you rather get in a search result? ...See what I mean?

Bottom line: Cultivate lots of links from relevant external sites, and don't be afraid to create links within your content that reveal relevant, interesting places to go. You will literally help others while you help yourself. It's a network, after all.

Tip: Make sure your links open the destination page in a new window or tab so your visitors don't loose you.

Hi, this is my first…

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Hi, this is my first try at posting to ListPipe from my Jott account. listen

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Appropriate Volume

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Blogging for search engine traffic requires skill and understanding in some areas, however one of the easier areas to accommodate is 'volume'. Many of our clients are intimidated at the prospect of blogging until they understand that you don't have to write an entire tome for each post; a couple paragraphs will do.

In fact, more often than not, a couple of paragraphs is all you need to get your point across clearly and effectively. No need to write more than is necessary, and in most cases filler will be detrimental rather than helpful.

How long should each post be? As a rule of thumb, 300 words is plenty. There is no specific penalty for writing more, although you may loose your customers after the first few hundred words. The search engines are happy with as little as a few paragraphs. 300 words is a good number because it is short enough to write quickly, and long enough to include some good human-readable content with lots of relevant keywords.

In a pinch, don't be afraid to write a few sentences. The SEO value of the content will, of course, not be as strong, however you will be keeping the search engines on their toes as far as being seen as 'fresh and active'. When it comes down to it, frequency is pretty important. If your choice is between being able to write something now, or having to wait until you have time to produce more; always write now.

By the way, this post has 261 words in it. Just about right.

New WordPress Training Videos Posted

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

We recently posted an all new collection of WordPress training videos for WordPress bloggers. Learn how to do the basics in WordPress.

You can view our recommended top ten wordpress training videos here. Just click on the headline for each numbered item to go to the video page.

You can also dive straight into our ListPipe WordPress video library from this page.

Our how-to videos are presented in high quality Quicktime on the site, and are available on YouTube if you want to see them in a smaller version. When you get to YouTube, do a search for 'ListPipe' and 'Wordpress' to find all the videos. There are currently 13 of them, covering topics such as logging in, and inserting images.

Each video on our demo blog includes written instructions on how to complete the task in the latest WordPress version. Each video is designed to teach you a specific task in between two and three minutes. For those of you new to WordPress blogging, this is an excellent way to become familiar with the basics of your WordPress system.

Take a look and let us know what you think. Enjoy!

Google Narrows SEO Objectives with Chrome

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

With the release of Google's new browser called Chrome comes a narrowing of SEO objectives; 'top ten' isn't good enough.

Google released a new Internet browser into the wild yesterday, and almost instantly created a sweeping hit. While I sit by and wait for the Mac version to come out, I couldn't help but notice some important chatter on the new browser interface, and what some of the features are doing for the SEO marketplace.

In particular, the new search feature in Chrome instantly returns the top five results for any search. What?!?

Yes, you heard correctly; the new browser will show a user the top five results for any search typed into the search field. This means that if your website is number six, you may not be immediately visible to a searcher. Talk about turning the market on it's head...

It has long been known that a 'top three' presence was almost critical. Statistically speaking, most of us select our sites from the top two or three slots on any given search results page. Even worse, we typically do this within 7-10 seconds of getting the results page, and we rarely go below the top three. Searchers almost never go to page two. Nevertheless, a presence on the top page, or the 'top ten' was seen as a holy grail of SEO, and generally considered good placement.

Chrome may change the way we look at placement, and will certainly make a top five placement the critical goal.

Check out what CNN had to say about it...

Writing Right

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

I was always frustrated in English class as we learned the myriad rules to stylized writing. It occurred to me that while there are rules to writing correctly, those rules are somewhat flexible.

Writing organic SEO copy is flexible to the extent that you can write just about anything you want, however there are points to be gained for technical correctness.

With search algorithms becoming more and more sophisticated by the minute, it is becoming ever more important to include proper sentence structure and punctuation to set yourself apart from the masses. Proper punctuation, in particular, will not only help your readers get through your ideas, but will show the search engines that you are writing something more important that a love note to a high school crush.

And as you can imagine, Google and the other search engines are interested in understanding the difference between a silly note and a serious article.

Take care to include punctuation in your content. Punctuation will help you get your point across in a meaningful manner, and will appeal to the search engines as they digest your sentences and organize the keywords. Take care, too, to add highlighting. Highlighting is also recognized by the search engines, and when used properly can provide a little extra credit to specific keywords and phrases.

I have be reading an excellent book titled Eats Shoots and Leaves. This hilarious book is a great introduction to punctuation and proper use of language. Give it a try, and make sure to include punctuation in your organic content.