Support Bloggers' Rights!
Support Bloggers' Rights!

How to Videos & Articles:

Friday, September 30, 2005

Blogs with a purpose (SEO of course!)

Below follows an article from one of my favorite SEO's (Can an SEO admit that about a competitor?) Yes, when she is one of the recognized industry experts, I sure can. Robin speaks at conferences, teaches others the art of SEO in her trainings and offers great articles to educate others. You can always trust her with good advice and excellent resources. The floor is yours Robin ...

Blogs with a Purpose Part 1

By Robin Nobles

Few people can dispute the power of blogs. We saw how they affected the U.S. presidential election of 2004. When used correctly, blogs can have an amazing effect on your Web site. In fact, I would go so far as to say I believe every business site needs a blog . . . if used properly and in the manner in which they were designed to be used.

What are Blogs?

Blogs are online journals that can be used in a variety of different ways. In a personal sense, families can keep track of each other across the globe by posting to a family blog. One family member posts, then another member adds their comment underneath the post, and so forth.

Businesses can announce new products and services, discounts, discontinued items, or holiday promotions in their blogs. I’ll cover additional ideas for the use of a business blog further in this article.

The biggest challenge is to get your target audience to read your blog. That’s why you need a “blog with a purpose.” You need a reason for your audience to visit your blog on a regular basis. What would make your blog special to your audience? Why would they want to bookmark your blog? Why would they want to link to it and tell others? That should be your ultimate goal.

Think about your own site, and let’s start talking about “blogs with a purpose.”

Five Example Blogs with a Purpose

  1. Free Directory Listings

  2. For some time now, I’ve been steering people away from reciprocal linking, due to the inherent problems associated with it. Submitting to directories can certainly help your Web site from a link popularity standpoint, which we all know is crucial, but how do you know which directories to submit to? There are a lot of scammy directories out there, so you need to know which ones to stay away from. Plus, it can cost you a lot of money to submit to directories. What if your pocket book is a little tight at the moment?

    Martin Preece at WebSEODesign came up with a novel idea. He decided to submit his site to free directories, and then keep track of when the site was accepted into each directory, the PR of the directory, whether he has to link back, and other statistics. He shares all of his experiences on his Web site for readers to follow. All you have to do is follow in his foot steps. Here’s the link to the actual listing of free directories:

    Then, he set up a free directory listings blog where he reports on the progress of his free directory reviews. He also writes “how to” articles in his blog, such as how to submit to directories.

    Martin has created a “blog with a purpose.” People visit his blog, because it benefits their Web sites and their link popularity building efforts. Why should they spend the time finding and researching directories when Martin will do it for them?

    How does it benefit Martin? He’s getting traffic to his site, building link popularity, gaining potential clients, and getting visibility from the search engines. It’s a win/win situation for everyone.

    Plus, his free-directory-listings.htm page isn’t doing too badly in the rankings. It’s #1 in MSN for “free directory listings” out of 6.5 million, and #14 in Yahoo! out of 130 million.

    What has he done, in part, to achieve those rankings? He’s linked to his free-directory-listings.htm page from his blog using absolute links and using “free directory listings” as the link (anchor) text.

    For example, this is an absolute link:

    <a href=""></a> <a href="free directory listings"</A>

    Below is a relative link. This is the type of linking convention most Web site owners use when linking to a page on his/her own Web site.

    <A HREF="free-directory-listings.htm">free directory listings</A>

    Tip: Always use absolute links when linking to interior pages of your site from your blog, and always use keyword phrases in your link text when pointing to those interior pages.

  3. Wordtracker KEI Observation Deck

  4. Yes, this sounds like blatant self promotion, but when you hear the story about this blog, you’ll understand why it needs to be included in the article.

    A few years ago, we had a plain old blog. We posted information about our site on the blog, articles, etc. The search engines loved it, but the visitors didn’t. Why? We didn’t give the Web audience a compelling reason to want to visit.

    The blog was . . . boring.

    My partner, John Alexander, and I teach Wordtracker strategies in our courses, and we believe that the key to success with any Web site begins with solid keyword research. We constantly hear students tell us how they can’t find high KEI numbers in Wordtracker – that the competition is just too high.

    So John came up with a fabulous idea. He set up the KEI Observation Deck on our blog. He spends about 10 minutes a day finding high KEI values and posting them on our blog. He’s using the blog as a teaching tool, because we’re educators.

    People love it. He’s proving to them that Wordtracker is full of high KEI values, if you only know how to find them. Affiliate marketers flock to his page to see what John will come up with next. SEOs have syndicated the blog through the RSS feed, so they can keep up with John’s latest research. Search engines spider the page almost every day.

    How is it benefiting Search Engine Workshops? John can use it to promote our other products and services. Wordtracker has linked to the blog, which is definitely a plus for the site.

    The blog is no longer boring . . . it’s effective -- a blog with a purpose.

(Continued in Part 2)

Robin Nobles conducts live SEO workshops ( in locations across North America. She also teaches online SEO training ( Localized SEO training is now being offered through the Search Engine Academy. (

Copyright 2005 Robin Nobles. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Google Index Size vs Yahoo Claim

The size wars continue between the search engines with the latest salvo fired by Google claiming their index is bigger by three times than anyone else. But Google has now removed the "8,451,321,123 pages indexed" from their home page because they claim, "people don't necessarily agree on how to count it," according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

So now Yahoo will have to resort to simply childish banter each time they increase the index size.

Yahoo says, "Mine is bigger than yourrrrr-rrs! Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!"

Google says, "No it's not! Ours is the biggest in the whole wide world!"

Yahoo the replies, (...)

Well enough of that, says Google. "Use unique search phrases enclosed in quotes and run that query at both search engines to see who returns the most results!"

It's true and I agree - as do the majority of the searching public. Google returns more results more often with fresher pages indexed. You can't deny it if you simply take a look yourself and compare.

But Danny Sullivan wants them to look at ways to measure relevancy and I agree there as well. Most SEO's will concur.

I'm going to continue to point to traffic stats that show far more visits from Google referred searches on client sites I monitor traffic for. Google refers easily twice, sometimes triple, and often even 5 times the traffic referred from searches as any other engine including Yahoo. THAT is the relevance test to businesses who hire SEO's to increase their traffic.

Increasing rank in Yahoo leads to negligible traffic gains. Increasing rank in Google leads to dramatic traffic gains. What does the website owner do? Seek more organic referral traffic from Google. How? Content creation, aggregation, optimization for their own site, and distribution of content to external sites as linking strategy.

Sullivan says "Screw Size!" and I say "Give me referral traffic!"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Keyword Tags Not Just Dead But Risky

While I do NOT agree with the author of this linked article that keyword tags are "Risky" since they show your competitors your strategy - because your keyword strategy should be right there in the form of visible page text for all to see! You can't hide keyword strategy from anyone!

Hiding your "strategy" by hiding your keywords in the metatags is absurd. People have always had the bizarre notion that others can't tell what they are doing if they can't see the metatags. Some oddballs even use IP delivery (cloaking) to hide their metatags from the public while delivering them to the search engines. How ridiculous can you get? Your keyword strategy should be laid out there on the page text so the search engines can see it. You just can't expect the spiders to rank your site well because you gave the crawlers a "secret sauce" in your metatags. Absolutely freakish notion.

I do agree that keyword tags are worthless. I wrote an article two years ago in September of 2003 saying the same thing.

That got used in dozens of places

I've preached endlessly to clients to PUT THE KEYWORDS IN THE BODY TEXT for as long as I can remember and this continues to come up endlessly. KEYWORD metatags are dead. I still use them for those minor engines that do use them, but most don't - including Google.

I just can't believe anyone is still paying attention to keyword tags and worse yet, that they don't know that important keywords need to be ON THE PAGE in VISIBLE TEXT if they expect to rank for them.

Here's another article in that vein.

I'd like to bonk people over the head with these articles engraved on stone tablets like the 10 commandments.

I just signed a new client yesterday that uses the SAME 300 word list of keywords in her metatags on every page on her site. When we talked with the programmer in India by MSN Messenger at midnight last night, he groaned when I said we needed unique TITLE tags and (while you're at it) unique keywords tags (for those engines that do use them) and unique description tags to match text ON THE PAGE of every single product page. The only reason the client is willing to do this is that it only costs only $10 an hour for them to do it from India. I send instructions and they implement.

Yes, keyword tags are dead ... again. ;-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Screw Size! I Dare Google and Yahoo! to Report on Relevancy

The above titled emphatic post by Danny Sullivan at ClickZ derides latest 20 billion documents indexed claim by Yahoo and the constant attention paid to index size claims by the top search engines. I personally don't agree that it's possible that Yahoo is approaching 20 billion pages indexed - as they claim - because they don't have all of the pages of either my own sites or those of clients indexed and their cache is woefully out of date. Yahoo don't explain where those documents reside or what value they give the Yahoo index above the other major players - just that they have more documents indexed.

Any time you look at raw server log files, you can see the crawling behavior of all search engines each time their spider visits a site. My log files and those of clients show Google's spider Googlebot visiting on extremely regular schedules and Yahoo's Inktomi spider visiting randomly and sporadically.

A new "study on search engine index freshness" shows the Google index to be freshest on an ongoing basis. My own observations of spider crawling behavior on a new site over three months, shows the behavior of each of the major players - as you would expect illustrates similar findings on freshness, since a site must be crawled often and regularly to be indexed fully and provide current results.

Freshness is a much better indicator of the worth of any particular search engine than is size of the index - but clearly size contributes substantially to that value. But Danny Sullivan wants relevancy somehow quantified. Although that gets very complicated and pushes everyone toward that fantasy of "Latent Semantic Indexing" so often discussed, it would indeed be very interesting to put hard numbers to such a squishy goal.

I agree with Sullivan and hope someone picks up that relevancy challenge gauntlet.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Torpedo & Sink the Ship "SS Search Engine Rankings"

I was recently contacted by one of my best clients who asked me what I thought of his decision to make a major change to one of his highly ranked pages. His initial concern was that visitor sales conversion ratio was low. At almost one percent, it was just below normal, but I'm always happy when a client wants to improve. Conversion and rankings though, are very different beasts and his concern was overly focused on the former to the total exclusion of the latter.

As his SEO I should have realized that the top rankings of this already optimized page were in danger when his first sentence referred to the existing "Dusty, tired old page, that just isn't getting enough sales." That page had just been optimized for search engines about 6 months previously, and went from page 10 (invisible) or so of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP's) to the top three on the first pages of all three major search engines virtually overnight after a few tweaks to gain traction from a popular movie reference to his product.

The page had been up for several years before the movie release without gaining substantial web sales of that same product, but our optimization six months ago lead to a leap in sales and consistently improving page visits after that theatrical release. But sales plateaued over time and slowly decreased after the movie which had mentioned his product transitioned to DVD sales. Somehow he hadn't forseen that decrease and wanted to continue the level of sales he had enjoyed while the movie mention was fresh.

To achieve the continued sales though, he wanted to completely replace the page text with new material he'd been given by the manufacturer of the product. As is the case with marketing material provided by many companies, keyword density was non-existent with emphasis was on slick new photos, covered with stylized, graphical text. Text with keywords that couldn't be repeated in any page text since they had already been embedded in the image graphics several times.

What to do? I suggested creating an entirely NEW page with the manufacturer provided information linked within his site menu links on each page and from the sitemap. While maintaining the old page for it's top rankings in the search engines we could simply use internal linking to keep the search engines crawling that (old dusty) fully optimized page. That way we would still rank in the top 5 for that page and it's coveted keywords and provide the new conversion focused page to site visitors from the menu links.

For some reason though, the client insisted on using the existing filename for the new content and moving the old content to a NEW filename! Why? Because he wouldn't have to have his programmer change a script which loaded a rotating banner to a select few highly trafficked pages. The programmer costs too much to change a few lines of code for a profitable product page?

This tactic meant that we would completely lose the existing rank on the next visit of the search engine crawlers after the new page was posted. I was convinced that we could gain the rank back, but only over time and with substantial extra work. The cost to the client to get a new page into the top five on SERP's was going to exceed the cost of programming updates of banner rotation scripts. But he insisted we use the new manufacturer provided (image only) content on the old filename. OK, I relent.

The web designer wanted to use the new manufacturer provided page in an iframe and embed the old page text in noframes tags - making it visible to search engines, but not visitors. Silly idea and borderline spam technique that may drop our top five rankings off the charts. I dug my heals in and refused that idea.

The client suggested simply keeping previous metatags and title tag to maintain ranking. Sorry, that simply won't work. If it did, we'd return to the bad old days of simplistic keyword stuffing in those (no longer) magical metatags. I started to wonder ... "Am I here as an SEO only to stop designers from using SE spamming techniques, programmers from having to write new code and clients from doing absurd keyword stuffing in metatags?"

No you actually have to use carefully crafted keyword rich text on the visible page - and NOT embedded in graphics files as text painted across photos with photoshop and illustrator software. Search engines can't read text on images and that image "Alt" text in the HTML is no longer useful in SEO since it has been so badly abused by simplistic optimizers for ranking gains before the search engines began to ignore it in their ranking algorithm.

The new page may initially see sales increases due to the pretty new photos (there is zero text on that new page) but after a long series of email exchanges with this client and a final phone discussion over ranking issues, he proceeded with this change anyway. I normally don't hope for poor rankings on client pages, but since this one runs counter to every fiber of my SEO being, I'm actually looking forward to that torpedo striking and the ranking to sink off the charts and the client to pay attention to his SEO's advice.

The old page is still showing up in cached pages at the search engines, so they haven't yet crawled the new version. I will dutifully point out the sinking of the venerable "SS Search Engine Ranking" ship next week when Googlebot revisits this client site and finds all that text has disappeared from his previously #1 ranked page and suggest to him that he review his WebTrends traffic reports to see that it has settled to the bottom of the ocean.

I guess I better get busy finding a way to rank the previous (old optimized) page on the brand new shiny filename. Won't he be surprised to learn that most of his sales come from that (newly named) "old dusty page" within a few weeks?

Have you done anything to torpedo and sink your ship "SS Search Engine Rankings" lately? Call me at 562-572-9702 if you need a salvage operation to raise that venerable ship from the bottom of the vast search engine rankings ocean. Mike Banks Valentine - SEO Contact Form