Website Design


Top SEO Tip: Keywords are...Key

So you're paying a web person to do SEO for you. Great! What are they doing? How are you checking their work? If they provided you with a report that says where they filled in keywords, that may be satisfactory to you, encouraging you to sit back and wait for Google and other search engines to start flinging traffic your way.

Bad idea. Here's why:

Is Content Still King? UBS Conference Raises Interesting Questions

Today while going through artcles I deemed a "must read but don't have time right now" from the past week, I sat down to read New York Magazine's coverage of the UBS Media Conference.  One of the hottest topics there was the discussion of the phrase we've heard time and time again "content is king".  This was not only true in traditional media, but seem

SEO Strategy: Do Not include a "dofollow" in Your Comment


For those of you who only comment on blogs in the hopes of including a link back to your website: beware. Savvy blog owners will read your blog comment like a hawk, and read the between the lines to decide if A. you actually read the blog post and B. if you are being legitimate. If the blogger treats "dofollows" like this guy, you're out of luck. See here where Google started to implement "nofollow tactics" to prevent this sort of thing. A "nofollow" command tells search engines like Google to not follow a link, and therefore not count it in the grand link popularity count for a web page, as seen by search engines.

What would be the most blatant attempt of using a website or blog that does allow comments to count links, is to inject a rel="dofollow" command in the code of your comment. Which doesn't even do anything. It's an attempt to override a "nofollow" command set on a website. Therefore, it's just salt in the wound of your attempt to create a link to your site, and calls attention to you even more. Blogger blogs set the "nofollow" by default, and blogs might (see here for a "nofollow" setting adjustment for blogs hosted on individual hosting accounts). But what we do do is monitor every single comment that gets placed on our blog or regular articles. When we see one that is blatantly spamming or link-dropping, and ads no value to the article at hand, we delete with a swift click. But that's not all we do.

We have reading each and every entry. Mollom is a fantastic resource for not only blocking a lot of spammy comments that never even see the light of day on a blog or website, but if one slips through, it gives the blog owner the option of reporting it to Mollom, so that they can be on the lookout for that infringer's IP address, or other super power methods Mollom has. Ok, it's not super powers, but it is data crunching.

Increasing Pageviews: A Perfect SEO Storm

Books can be very powerful traffic generators, when they are published in full online. If you are looking for reasons to create content on your website, and if you have a book already published, then you may be sitting on a golden goose of traffic generators. 

I just completed a website traffic analysis for a company I've been working with for several years. On an ongoing basis, we employ different SEO strategies, track those strategies to see if they worked or didn't work, and continue to analyze traffic patterns to better fine tune the website, both to increase traffic and to expose different sections of the website to existing readers. Several years ago, we decided to publish online a short book that had about 7 pages and was picture based. Each page had a description of the picture. We dedicated a section of the website to this book, built it in an SEO friendly way, and it continues to bring in the most traffic for this website in droves.

The decision was made again to put another popular book online. This book had fewer pictures (although shared some pictures with the search engine popular first book), and was all content. It had several chapters, so the navigation was deep. Initially, it didn't make a big splash. It was not integrated well with the website, in that, there were not very many internal links pointing to it from the website's own content. SEO-wise, it needed links from outside websites to help specific pages and sub-sections rank.

After the yearly review, in which several strategies were employed to help the website in general, here is how this section ended up getting a major boost. And I mean major. Keep in mind, this increase was the compilation of  several factors, almost a perfect storm of SEO strategies.

  • Word choice for the menu navigation: Originally, the menu was a repeat of the book title. However, past keyword research indicated that having the word "book", and specifically what kind of book, yielded searches for that term. The conclusion was drawn that if people were using that term in searches, they would most likely respond to it if they saw it on the website. Result: Changing the menu name caught the attention of people already on the website, thus increasing pageviews to that section.
  • Capitalizing on other high ranking pages: One main section of the website ranked highly for a few specific yet popular searches, which was odd because the content wasn't fully developed. For a long time, a "Coming soon...sign up for our newsletter" type message was the main content of several main landing pages in this section until tweaks were made to make it look a little less sparse. The goal became to better capitalize on the traffic that repeatedly came into this section from search engines, yet had nowhere to go because the content wasn't ready. We created very SEO friendly landing pages for the main pages of this section. We made sure to include linked pictures and linked text to specific areas of the website, to help this new traffic dig down deeper into site to find related content. Result: It worked. Featured sections of several areas of the website saw increased pageviews, including several pages of this new book
  • Building from success of an image in Google Image search: Thanks to the first book that got put online, and the pictures in that book, we knew that the pictures were very SEO friendly and were ranking well in Google Images. We used that same image to appear in the section for the new book. Result: That image continues to rank highly in Google Images, but this time, it is linking to a page in the new book section, breathing new life into this new section.

These changes took place over the course of a few months, and were tracked in a spreadsheet we keep to track all changes, so that we can refer back as time goes on and increases in traffic are generated. One can't keep all of this in their head, so it is most effective to record all changes made by date, and with notes of what you hope will happen, and why you made this change. If you changed copy, record what the old copy was, and what the new copy is, so that if you have change for good, you know why. If you had change for bad, you can revert back to the copy that you didn't think was working but apparently was.

Take a look at the content you already have in your files. There are most likely a lot of ways you can transition it online and build your audience. If you need help thinking, consider our SEO Blitz sessions that we have periodically. Views from an outside perspective almost always sheds new light and refreshes what you are doing. You could be sitting on a gold mine right now!

Even Google Has Website Malfunction

Just when you thought your website was the only one flaking out, and just when you wanted to strangle your website developer (be kind to us! ;) ), Google went and had its own website malfunction. If you were searching last Saturday morning, January 31st, 2009, then you most likely saw these blaring words in red: "This site may harm your computer"

I know I did, and of course I thought I had clicked on a malicious website, even though I was doing a search for a very legit topic (as opposed to searches for celebrities that can very likely lead to fake websites that crash your browser). But, the problem was simple, and caused by human error at Google. In their words:

Google flags search results with the message "This site may harm your computer" if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs. Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. Since we push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion, the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m., so the duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes.

Interesting isn't it, that one tiny character, the / , caused a world-wide error on a Saturday morning. So just when you think you're the only one to make a mistake, it can happen to anyone.


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