Archive for the 'Search Engine Optimization' Category

Today, I continue my series of what webmasters should do on their first week of having their web site, you can see the summary here: Learn to Blog and Earn Money: Week 1.  Two weeks ago, I left you with what you should do on the first Monday having your blog.  You can review that post here with Learn to Blog and Earn Money: Monday.

Today’s post will cover Meta tags.  There has been much discrepancy as to the importance of using Meta tags.  The reason this is my number two thing to do when starting a web site or blog is because Meta tags are one of those things that are a lot easier to do when creating something from scratch.  They don’t hurt right? They do help and help in a monetizing way.  I have implemented them on a site or two.  I did so only when creating a new site or blog.  

There are so many other things you can do to better optimize your site that take a lot less time.  Things such as including title and heading tags and great content can be a better use of time if you already have a site created.  Having to go through an already existing site to include these tags would be tedious.  If you have an existing blog, I wouldn’t go through the trouble of inserting these tags, focus on the headings. 

A major reason I like to use these tags is because they tend to have an impact on my adsense and the ads that are being shown.  Anytime I can focus those ads translates to more adsense revenues.  This can be a major factor in turning daily totals from $100 into $300 with adsense.

Meta Description Tag

Meta description tags are not visible for the world to see.  Well, at least they are not supposed to be.  Sometimes web sites leave the tag out of their code.  Why can this be a bad thing? Well, search engines usually display snippets from your site in their listings.

Here are some possible scenarios in which your Meta description tag might be displayed instead:

  1. If you have a Flash or graphics only site, or maybe even if you have the only content on your site being a redirect to another page.
  2. When off-page factors make your site a relevant match for a search but no exact match is found in your site’s text
  3. In less-sophisticated search engines that use the description tag as a workaround for their inability to display snippets

Search engines often display 150 characters or more for the listing description.  That’s kind of a lot of space.  Well, a lot of space relative to the page title that is.  That space is prime real estate to convey your message. So, if good writing comes naturally to you, you have a lot of opportunity to make this tag stand out. But if writing isn’t your strong suit, this tag gives you a little more room to make mistakes. Bring in a proofreader if you need to; this is a bad spot for an embarrassing typo. 

I’ve recently taken a tour around my community on MyBlogLog and there are a good 50% of blogs in my community that have some sort of grammatical errors in key places.  I usually cut and paste my content into a word document to catch any minor grammar errors I might have missed.

Here are some pointers for writing a great Meta description tag:

Keep it simple and informative. Think of the Meta description tag as an “About Us” blurb, not a “Buy Now!” advertisement. Do you have a 30 second elevator speech you have prepared for those key moments when you are next to a high profile executive and you want to network?  Well, this is similar, think of it as your keyword-rich elevator speech.  It’s not worth the upkeep to write this tag to promote special events or deals.

Pair it with the page title. While you can’t be sure exactly when or how people will see your Meta description tag, it’s a sure bet that when it is shown, it will be right under your optimized page title. So, don’t repeat your title text in your description tag.

Include your keywords. While the Meta description tag may not be a huge factor in influencing rank, include your target keywords because they’ll be bolded in the search results. Notice how the bolding catches your eye in these pointers.

Make it Unique. Like your page title, your Meta description tag should be custom-written for each landing page to match its specific content.

Here’s some good news if you’re interested in saving time: The combination of page title and Meta description tag can be used as is, or with a little trimming or spinning, for any directories that you submit your site to later. And, if you’re looking for a keyword-rich tagline to add to the bottom of your page, your Meta description tag can be a great starting point. 

If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

Thank You Top Commentators

I’d like to give a big thank you to all the top commentators who have helped contribute valuable inspiration over the last month!

  • Jeff Kee
  • James
  • Fun Game Videos
  • digitalnomad
  • Derrich
  • Greg Stratz
  • Rich Minx
  • TeamTutorials
  • Merija - Taste of life
  • Wolf Stone
  • .
    The Benefits Of Being A Top Commentator

    If a blog you read offers a top commentator section it is usually a good idea to get on their top 10 list. Assuming the blog uses the Top Commentator plugin that everyone seems to have these days, it comes with the “follow” tag which is great for your search engine rankings. Although the amount of click throughs you receive is usually not as good as a text link advertising spot, it is a very good free method of SEO and still gets you exposure. People are generally curious to see the blogs / web sites of frequent commentators. I know I am :)

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    As I mentioned yesterday, I will be giving an overview for new bloggers of what they should be doing in week one and break each day (Monday through Friday) into individual posts throughout this week and maybe next week.  So if you are new to the blogging world or you want to clean your own site up, be sure to pay special attention to this series as it will help you have a successful blog or web site.

    Full Speed Ahead

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a long-term maintenance activity, something you do throughout your online life.  It is made up of both productive spells and waiting periods.  Sometimes it’s hot, and other times it’s not.  Your SEO plan should be designed so that your waiting time (waiting for other web site owners to get back to you, waiting for the search engines to notice what you’ve done, etc.) isn’t spent doing nothing. Rather, you’ll use this time to take on new initiatives. And even though you’ll constantly move into new SEO territory as the plan progresses, you’ll periodically come back to revisit and continue the work you started in earlier weeks.

    As we begin Week 1 of your first week of blogging, you want to take the following into consideration:

    Monday: Page Titles

    Today, you’re going to take a stab at writing unique and compelling page titles for each of your landing pages.

    Remember, as I mentioned yesterday, have a sheet of paper or a log to keep you in tune with your goals and keywords as you write them down. This will help you in the future when you are testing new things or you are starting a second, third or tenth site.

    Effective Page Title Do’s

    DO keep it short. Like a telephone answering machine that cuts you off before you finish talking, most search engines display only 40 to 60 characters in the listing title. So to get your message across, you should include important keywords toward the beginning of the title and make sure that the first 40 to 60 characters of your title form a complete thought.  Keep in no longer than 8 words.

    DO include your keywords.  Your page title is important in the ranking algorithm, so it must include your target keywords! Since your space is limited, focus on the two to three key terms that you previously matched with your landing page. Feeling a bit squeezed by the 40 to 60 character cutoff? Remember that you can combine keywords to save space.

    For Example:

    Learn to Blog and Earn Money= Learn to Blog, Earn Money, Learn to Blog and Earn Money, Blog and Earn Money, etc.

    DON’T overdo it! First and foremost, you want to connect with your intended audience. Excessive keyword repetition is a short-sighted strategy. Is this a marketing message or a synonym sandwich?

    Remember to think of the big picture! Your approach to site optimization will affect more than just ranks…it will also affect your readers’ decision to engage and interact with your web site or blog

    DO include your name. Although I do not recommend this for every title in your blog, your blogs or web sites name will not only differentiate your listing from your competitors’, it may earn you more clicks. Maybe your name carries a good reputation with it, or maybe it provides important context, making your listing more attractive or relevant.

    DON’T assume your slogan does the job. Even if branding is your only objective, you need to think about whether your slogan contains your targeted keywords and, if so, whether you think it will encourage visits to your site. 

    DO write unique titles for each page. You’ve got enough competition out there. Don’t add to it by pitting your landing pages against each other with identical page titles.

    Since each of your landing pages is already targeting a unique subset of your top-priority keywords, you can always find a different angle for each page title. Give each of your landing pages the chance to shine on its own.

    DON’T duplicate site navigation in the title. Whether generated automatically or written by hand, page titles are often used as a place to mirror the navigational structure of a site. I won’t say never for this because, if your site sections are named well, it can be an effective way to display keywords. For example, a furniture store might have a landing page titled “Frank’s Furniture – Patio Furniture – Wicker.” This works—the navigation text is very brief and includes target keywords. But most sites aren’t built this way, and you don’t want words like “Index,” “Main Page,” or “Our Products” to take up space that’s best reserved for your targeted marketing message.

    Hopefully these Do’s and Don’ts for your first day on the job, or blog, help.  Because the importance of titles, I wanted to be sure you started with this first when looking to create an effective and optimized web site.

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    There are many great ways to build traffic to your web site and engage your readers. A couple that never fail are promotions and give-aways.  Everyone loves getting free things for nothing so here are some ideas you can implement:

    • Create a contest on your web site and give away $25-$50 value in gifts to the winner(s).  John Chow does this very well and he tends to give away very nice prizes like a Nintendo Wii and Zune MP3 player.  He has also raffled off promotional pens which I was lucky enough to win once :)
    • Create a promotion where every certain commentator wins a prize or free advertising on your site. If your web site is still young and doesn’t get much traffic, it is always better to bribe people with monetary prizes. The promotion can be something like “every 25th comment wins X”. This encourages reader participation which can make your web site appear more popular thereby gathering more traffic. You can also include a Top Commentator list and remove the No Follow code so people are rewarded for leaving comments.
    • Create a creative way for people to enter your contest by somehow incorporating a backlink to your site with your prefered anchor text.  You can even tell them exactly what you want written so they literally have to do no thinking and can paste your exact words. If you would like a lot of people participating, be sure the prize is worth their while. Even though it is easy to post a backlink on someone’s web site, they do not want to link to poor quality sites, or if the contest is not worth them writing about.

    Have you guys run any successful promotions and give-aways that have attracted a lot of new traffic?

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    It is commonly viewed that the single best way to move up Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) is by the quality of backlinks coming to your web site or blog.  The higher quality the linking web site is, the more value that is placed on that backlink.  It is better to have a few incoming links from high Page Rank and traffic sites rather than a bunch of backlinks from lower quality web sites. 

    How Do I Get More Backlinks?

    Advertise: One way to get more quality backlinks is to buy them from directories or niche sites similar to your topic, but that is questionable because rumor has it that Google is trying to develop a system to figure out which links are paid and which are not.  They might punish paid links if they can figure out an algorithm to track them.

    Review My Blog: I’d like to offer everyone an easy opportunity to get a free backlink from a Page Rank 6 site.  This is an idea initiated by John Chow several months ago which he has had a lot of success with.  All you have to do is write a review about Career Ramblings (Page Rank 6), with a minimum of 200 words and email me the link to your story.  I will post all reviews on Career Ramblings with a free backlink to your site. For complete rules and details, please read Get A Free Backlink From A PR6 Site.

    Unique, Excellent Content: Linkbait is another common method to getting backlinks. There are endless ways to spin your content into an interesting story that the masses will enjoy. This web site that focuses on providing unique content for blogs had a great linkbait post comparing Britney Spears to Blogging.

    Social Bookmarking: The 4th method is to submit your stories to social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit and Delicious. Tons of fellow bloggers read the front page of Digg to get interesting and popular stories to link to. With one Digg front page story, you can accumulate hundreds of backlinks. This is the biggest value of social bookmark sites.

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    Do I Need to Perform SEO for My Web site?

    I know what you’re probably thinking, hell yeah I need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for my web site, right?  Although it does seem like a no-brainer, the answer isn’t always Yes. I will list out some examples for you where SEO may not be needed.  This may save a lot of time, energy and money for those of you who are all about the bottom line.  If any of these apply to you, you may not be in need of an SEO campaign right now:

    1. You have a website that you really don’t want strangers to find.  This can maybe be a training tool for your employees or a classroom tool for your students.  More and more schools are moving to online classrooms.
    2. Your site is already ranking well, you’re satisfied with your sales, and you don’t want to rock the boat. :)
    3. You’re in a big hurry—say, you’ll go out of business without a major upswing in revenue in the next month. This is not to say that SEO can’t help you, but good SEO takes time. If you need that much of a change that quickly, you probably have many problems, not just SEO.
    4. Your site is going to be completely rebuilt or redesigned in the next month or two and content will not be carried over.  Although, in the blogging world, we all know content is king, companies might be doing this for a different reason.  

    It is definitely a rare occasion to find a site that couldn’t use a little improvement in the SEO department. And, with the importance of SEO on the rise, if you don’t need it today, it’s a good bet you’ll need to brush up your SEO smarts for tomorrow. So even if you don’t think you need SEO right now, I recommend that you take a look at the SEO Book I just linked to and read it.  Then, you want to take some time and work through your goals.  An important question to ask yourself is:

    • Who is the target audience for your website? I’m sure it includes potential clients/customers. But don’t forget that it may also include members of the press (remember managing your online reputation), employees at your own company, current and past clients seeking support, even potential investors nosing about for the inside scoop!

    Assessing your audience, self-reflection and goals will help you determine if you need SEO.  I bet you never thought anyone would tell you didn’t need SEO huh? :)  Well, I just did for the mentioned examples.

    • Remember to enter your name and contact email in the sidebar to get my newsletter and short free eBook I’m developing. Again, your email is safe with me and I won’t spam you :)

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    Avoid Things Search Engines Hate

    Dealing with Frames

    Frames were popular a few years ago but they’re definitely not in anymore. A framed site is one in which the browser window is broken into two or more frames, each of which holds a Web page. It’s very un-Web 2.0ish.

    Frames cause a number of problems. Some browsers don’t handle them well — in fact, the first frame-enabled browsers weren’t that enabled and often crashed when loading frames. In addition, many designers created framed sites without properly testing them. They built the sites on large, high-resolution screens, so they didn’t realize that they were creating sites that would be almost unusable on small, low-resolution screens.

    From a search engine perspective, frames create the following problems:

    • Some search engines have trouble getting through the frame-definition to your actual web page.
    • If the search engine gets through, it indexes individual pages, not framesets. Each page is indexed separately, so pages that make sense only as part of the frameset end up in the search engines as independent pages.
    • You can’t point to a particular page on your site. That is not good.

    This may be a problem in the following situations:

    Link campaigns: Other sites can link to only the front of your site; they can’t link to specific pages during link campaigns.

    PPC campaigns: If you’re running a pay-per-click campaign, you can’t link directly to a page related to a particular product. I highly recommend you stay away from frames in PPC. I’ll give some examples soon about some PPC case studies I’m going to run.

    Placing your products in shopping directories:  In this case, you need to be able to link to a particular product page. Frames don’t let you do that.

    Search engines index URLs aka single pages: By definition, a framed site is a collection of URLs, and as such, search engines don’t know how to properly index the pages.

    Overall there is no reason to still use framed pages. If you are still running sites you created a few years ago, I recommend you revamp them.

  • Enter your name and contact email in the sidebar to get my newsletter and short free eBook I’m developing. Don’t worry, your email is safe with me and I won’t spam you :)
  • If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    Picking Keyword Combinations

    This is a follow-up to the Choosing Keywords For Your Website post I did earlier.  I thought I’d give you a quick example of how to go about choosing terms to optimize.  For instance, sometimes it’s a good idea to target terms lower down on your list, rather than the ones up top, because the lower terms include the higher terms. Suppose that you’re selling an e-commerce system and you find the following list (the numbers are the predict numbers, the number of times that Wordtracker believes the term is used each day):

    shopping carts
    e-commerce solutions
    shopping carts and accessories
    ecommerce software solution

    Notice the term e-commerce. This is probably not a great term to target because it’s very general and has a lot of competition. But lower down on the list is the term e-commerce solutions. This term is a combination of two keyword phrases: e-commerce and e-commerce solutions. Thus, you can combine the predict numbers: 1,828 searches a day plus 130 a day. If you target e-commerce solutions and optimize your Web pages for that term, you’re also optimizing for e-commerce.

    Also note, the term ecommerce (which search engines regard as different from e-commerce) and the term a little lower on the list, ecommerce software. A term even lower down encompasses both of these terms: ecommerce software solution. Optimize your pages for ecommerce software solution, and you’ve just optimized for three terms at once.

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    When first setting your web site or blog up you want to be sure you start with the best foundations to come up on search engines.  The best way to do this is to set your blog up with the best possible keywords to bring the most amount of traffic (optimizing).  A keyword tool will be your best friend for this.  Once you’ve finished working with a keyword tool, look at the final list you came up with to determine how popular a keyword phrase actually is. You may find that many of your original terms are not worth bothering with. Don’t be surprised if you just throw them out the window.  Some people often have terms on their preliminary lists — the lists they put together without the use of a keyword tool — that are virtually never used (this is actually pretty normal for company websites especially). You’ll also find other terms near the top of the final list that you hadn’t thought about. Here is some food for thought to help you clean up your list.

    Removing Ambiguous Terms

    Scan through your list for ambiguous terms, keyword phrases that probably won’t do you any good for various reasons.

    You missed the target- Take a look at your list to determine whether you have any words that may have multiple meanings to people. Sometimes you can spot these words or phrases out right away.  For example, you have a science blog and you try to use the keyword “cellular,” although it makes sense that you want people to search for the word “cellular” and think anatomy or science, but the reality is that the word “cellular” would probably bring up cellular phones as opposed to a scientific term. 

    Use a keyword tool to help you find some good phrases.  One I mentioned before is Overture (free and credible), but there are many others.  Wordtracker and Wordze (7.95 day trial and 35.00 a month) are other popular keyword research tools that many top bloggers and webmasters use for web sites.   The downside to sites like these is that you have to pay to use their services.  Wordze charges $35 a month and $7.95 for a day trial.  Although not too expensive, you can sign up, sit on your computer for half the day and get all your keyword research done for the one day trial price.  Once you earn money online, then it would be a wise investment to have. 

    Ambiguous Terms

    You want to be sure to limit any ambiguous terms or phrases when promoting your site.  For instance, you want to promote a product designed for controlling fires. So one common phrase that comes up is “fire control system.” However, when doing a search on that phrase, most sites that turned up don’t promote products relating to stopping fires. Instead, they’re sites related to ”weapons-fire control.”

    With this in mind, you don’t want to solely rely on systems such as wordtracker or wordze because they only tell you how often people search term or phrase. It’s even a pain to spot these terms even by searching to see what turns up when you use the phrase.

    Very Broad Terms

    Look at your list for terms that are broad and too general to help. You may be tempted to go after high-ranking words, but make sure that people are really searching for your products when they type in the word.

    Suppose that your site is promoting online degrees in Computer Science. You discover that about 60 people search for this term each day, but approximately 1,500 people a day search on the term “Computer Science” specifically. Do you think many people searching on the term “Computer Science” are really looking for a degree? Hmmmm…probably not. Although the term generates 40,000 to 50,000 searches a month, few of these will be your targets. Here are a few reasons why you should pass on this term:

    • It’s probably a very competitive term, which means getting a high ranking on it will be difficult.
    • Use your time and effort focusing on another, more relevant term.
    • It’s difficult to optimize web pages for a whole bunch of search terms, so you may want to consider optimizing one term before trying a slough of them.

    If you can implement some of the keyword-analysis procedures I’ve mentioned above, you’ll have a better perspective as to what your keyword landscape looks like. Unlike the majority of webmasters, you’ll have a good sense of how people are searching for your products and services.

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.

    Understanding the importance of keywords is one of the best things you can do when first starting off online. This is a crucial component to bringing traffic to your site. Even though traffic won’t come over night, you should set your blog or site up with as much search engine optimization (SEO) as possible for a sound foundation. Let me explain this a little more, because I know I was sure as heck confused when I first started blogging. When you go to a search engine, Google for example, and try to find something, you type in a word, or several words, and click the Search button. The search engine then looks in its index for those words.

    Suppose that you used the words “sock puppet.” Generally speaking, the search engine will look for various things:

    • Pages that contain the exact phrase “sock puppet”
    • Pages that don’t have the phrase “sock puppet,” but do have the words sock and puppet in close proximity
    • Pages that have the words “sock” and “puppet” somewhere, though not necessarily close together
    • Pages with word stems; for instance, pages with the word “sock” and the word “puppet” somewhere in the page
    • Pages that have links pointing to them, in which the link text contains the phrase “sock puppet”
    • Pages with links pointing to them with the link text containing the words “sock” and “puppet,” although not together

    The process is actually a lot more complicated than this, but it can be seen this simple to understand the basics of it. The search engine won’t necessarily show you pages in that order. Rather, when considering the order in which to rank pages, the search engine takes into consideration other characteristics of the keyword or keyword phrase:

    • Is the keyword phrase found in bold text?
    • In italic text?
    • In bulleted lists?
    • In text larger than most of the other text on the page?
    • In heading text (tags)?
    • . . . and hundreds of other criteria, all of which are secret!

    One thing you absolutely have to consider: If a search engine can’t relate to your blog or web site based on the words that someone searches for, it has no reason to return your web site as part of the search results.

    Picking the right keywords can’t be stressed enough!  You have or will have a web site.  Now lets get you some traffic!!!

    One cool tool I recommend using is the Overture Keyword Selector.

    If you liked this post, be a nice person and buy Jane a beer.