Archive for the ‘ SEO ’ Category

Email Template for Requesting Permission to Link to a Site From Your Blog

An (unnamed) friend recently asked me if I had an email template he could use to proactively contact any blogs or websites he wanted to link to, and ask their permission first before placing the link in their post.

Here is the template I sent him:

Dear Webmaster,
Is it okay if we link to your website from our PageRank 6 domain that ranks in the top 5,000 most highly trafficked sites on Alexa? If you say no, I’ll assume you’re unfit to make decisions on behalf of your company and just place the link anyway, as you’d have to be certifiably insane to say no. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Your Name

Blogs are meant to be creative, interpersonal, casual, and collaborative.

Blogs are social media.

Do you ask permission before retweeting someone? Or liking someone else’s Facebook post?

Why ask permission before linking to someone? Is there a difference?

The Google Instant Announcement Parody, Xtranormal Style

Below is a parody-style recap of the Google Instant search announcement yesterday as recreated using Xtranormal. The gentleman sitting behind the desk is a fictional Danny Sullivan, and most of his quotes are lifted from tweets he made throughout the day (e.g. See, Google knows I’m not a teenage girl). The other fellow is a random “Search Noob” that pokes fun at all of the twitter commentators who kind of freaked out before fully comprehending the announcement…and lastly, the reference to Steve Rubel at the end is referring to a tweet he made that said “SEO is irrelevant” during the announcement, which definitely ruffled a lot of feathers. The “pistol whip” comment is also a subtle nod to one of my favorite movies, Super Troopers, in which Captain O’Hagan vows to pistol whip the next person to say Shenanigans, which prompts Mac to ask a leading question he knows Farva will answer with “Shenanigans.”

This is by no means meant to be disrespectful to anyone involved and is merely adding some humor to the situation, so if this offends you I am sorry in advance. To the rest of you, enjoy!

The Perfect Storm for Bing to Go Mainstream?

Bing Vs Google

This could be the perfect storm for Bing to gain market share and become a substantial threat to Google – or so we better hope.

Last week, Google and Verizon announced a deal that may very well kill net neutrality for mobile devices, as PC World reports.  This sentiment is echoed throughout the industry including this post from my colleague and industry expert Rob Garner on MediaPost. This crucial misstep has revealed Google is not a benevolent champion of free speech and internet neutrality, but that they’re no different from any other company that holds a monopoly-sized share of the market – greedy. In fact, the only real difference between Microsoft in it’s peak and Google now is that Microsoft didn’t try to pretend they were benevolent good guys, whereas Google wants you to drink the “Don’t be Evil” Kool-Aid until it poisons you. This Silicon Alley Insider article frames this phenomenon quite well.

But this isn’t all about Google making a major misstep and turning off many people (like myself) who were once Google fanatics.

For Bing to take off and truly become mainstream, they need not only a good product, but users motivated to try something new. Before, I had no reason to venture away from Google – it has always provided great results, great products (usually for free), and claimed to be the champions of the internet, free speech, and net neutrality. Why change search engines if Google has everything I need and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Now I have the motivation to change – I’m jaded with Google. Add to that, Bing (finally) has the product worth switching to (or at least trying…).

Bing has revamped their search results since former “Live” and has actually has been ahead of Google in integrating Social Media into search results, which is an increasingly important part of the internet to users. Bing was the first (and has still done the best job) at integrating Twitter into it’s search results, they were the first to add Foursquare into their Maps, they were the first to add “infinite scroll” to their Images (which Google even admits was a copy cat move of Bing here), and much more.

While Google’s algorithm is still a bit more sophisticated, Bing is also catching up in this area. To the untrained eye, Bing’s algorithm is usually pretty decent. I hate to say it, but they still have their work cut-out here…luckily Google has also been slacking recently, as Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz points out the growing amount of spam in Google and the disappointing recent progress at Google in doing anything about it.

To webmasters, Bing is catching up to Google in their offerings as well. They are revamping Bing Webmaster Tools to include more useful information, and they will be integrating Yahoo Site Explorer (an invaluable tool for webmasters & SEOs alike) into the Bing Webmaster Tool suite.  Again, they still have plenty of catch up with Google’s robust offerings, but they’ve made a ton of progress and it’s a very good start.

According to Hitwise, in July Bing held 9.85% of the search share and Yahoo held 14.37%. Yahoo searches are now powered by Bing as of this morning (August 19, 2010), which means that those numbers should still be pretty accurate, implying close to a 25% market share for Bing.

That 25% market share, combined with a Google PR nightmare and a significantly improved Bing experience could be the perfect storm to disrupt Google’s smooth sailing…and let’s all hope so.

Not only is Google’s threat to net neutrality a reason to hope they have a valiant competitor, but competition itself is a good thing for both engines. I like choices. Clearly Bing’s competition has spurred Google to innovate further, in many cases stealing or building upon ideas Bing introduced first. Competition is good for everyone, and it means that Google no longer has so much power they can single-handedly undermine net neutrality. In a wierd sort of way, Microsoft could be the last hope to prevent Google from becoming an evil monopoly – who woulda thunk.

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My Interview With Target Marketing Mag & the AdAge Agency Report

I’m really excited about a recent interview I had for an article in Target Marketing Magazine on how to create well optimized Page Titles. As many of you know, Page Titles are pretty important for on-page optimization, yet there is an art involved with crafting them to be user friendly and encourage click-throughs as well. I think we had a great conversation and the article is a really useful piece for those interested in SEO. Check out the interview here or read the transcript below.

Secondly, I’m happy to report AdAge has recognized iCrossing’s continued industry leadership in Search. In the latest Agency Report, iCrossing was named the number one search marketing agency, number 12 digital agency, and 48th largest agency in the world. That’s quite the feat! This was our second consecutive year of being named the top search marketing agency by AdAge, and I’m proud to be a part of this company.

Target Marketing

7 Page Title Best Practices

April 21, 2010 By Heather Fletcher

Home. The word evokes feelings of warmth and comfort—a place to belong. It doesn’t necessarily bring to mind the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Yet that’s the page title the religious institution chose for its homepage.

By contrast, the page title for the green American Express card’s main page is far better: “American Express Green Charge Card—Travel, Shopping, Dining and Entertainment Rewards.”

While the page title for the Archdiocese of San Francisco could clearly use some work, the AmEx one isn’t perfect, either. This is the advice from Jeff Jones, senior product manager for Barrie, Ont.-based search engine optimization firm gShift Labs. AmEx, for instance, might want to move its branding to the end of the page title, he says.

“Titles are really simple, right?” he asks. “I mean, right off the bat, that’s your most important on-page factor.”

Below, Jones and Nick Roshon, natural search analyst for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based digital marketing agency iCrossing, advocate best practices for improving page titles and thereby aiding search marketing efforts.

1. Describe. “Think of a page title like the title of a book chapter,” Roshon says. “Your titles should be descriptive of the page’s content and communicate to users what the page is all about.”

But there’s no need to make the page title and content identical. “When writing a blog post or article, your page title does not have to match your article/post headline exactly; however, both should contain the keywords or phrases you are optimizing for,” he says. “If you are writing a post on ‘Tips for Writing SEO Friendly Page Titles,’ you will want to reuse those keywords you are targeting in the page title, such as: ‘SEO Optimized Page Titles|How to Write SEO Friendly Page Titles’ for your page title.

“Typically, you can be more aggressive with inserting the keywords in the page title than the article headline, as the article headline should focus more on grabbing the reader’s attention and convincing them to read the article once they’re already at your website, whereas the page title is simply trying to get users to visit your website in the first place,” Roshon continues. “It is very common for article headlines to be coded in an <H1> tag, and words within an <H1> tag are given greater importance by search engines. So having your keywords appear somewhere in the article headline will be beneficial to SEO.”

2. Keep it unique. If marketers create duplicate titles, “basically, you’re competing with yourself” for search ranking, Jones says. There’s already enough competition, so why add to it?

3. Put the most important words/phrases in front, in order of importance. “Google will only index up to 80 characters,” Roshon says. “So if you have multiple keywords you are targeting on a page and they can’t all fit within 80 characters, give some consideration to which keywords are most important to you and which keywords need the most help to rank better, and insert the keywords that best align with your objectives.”

For example, an iCrossing travel and hospitality client might use the following on a category level page featuring travel deals: “Vacation Packages, Hotel Deals & Last Minute Travel Deals | Brandname.com.” Roshon says the page title that comes in at 72 characters leaves out “some higher value keywords, like hotel specials, weekend getaways, vacation discounts, etc.,” in order to stay within that 80 character limit.

Next comes the keyword and keyphrase order. Roshon says: “The keywords that should come first should be your most competitive keywords that best describe the content of the page. In the above example, ‘Vacation Packages’ was determined to be the most important and competitive keyword, followed by ‘Hotel Deals.’ ”

4. Keep it short. Roshon mentions above that Google indexes 80 characters. Jones says page titles that long will be truncated on the search engine results page (SERP). So both suggest that marketers consider short titles. “Google will only display up to 64 characters of your page title in the search engine results page,” Roshon says. Marketers should only add characters if they “have a compelling reason to do so,” he says.

For instance, Roshon cites, the travel and hospitality client’s page title may truncate as so: “Vacation Packages, Hotel Deals & Last Minute Travel Deals …” (As a sidenote, the AmEx page title truncates on the SERP this way: “American Express Green Charge Card—Travel, Shopping, Dining and …”)

5. Leave brand words at the end. Jones says marketers are always going to rank OK for their brand names and company names. Roshon agrees, but adds: “A notable exception would be if your brand name is competitive or you have reputation management issues. So be aware of any downsides of this tactic before implementing.”

6. Keep formatting consistent. “If you capitalize every word on one page, and separate keywords with a ‘|’ symbol, then be sure your other page titles also capitalize every word and use a ‘|’ to separate keyword phrases,” Roshon says. “Consider creating a style guide with preferred formatting and tone for page titles if multiple people are writing titles, or you have a lot of titles to write.”

7. Pay attention to the analytics. Search ranking is great, but what if no one clicks through? “While it’s tempting to stuff your title with as many keywords as possible, users may be turned off when they see your page title returned in the search results if it is too keyword-rich and spammy sounding,” Roshon says. “Having nicely formatted, well-presented page titles with your keywords gently and appropriately placed will provide both SEO benefits (better rankings) as well as increased visitors (users actually [wanting] to click on your high rankings).”

DMOZ Proxy Error Problems March, 2010

UPDATE: DMOZ is now accepting submissions again as of March 30, 2010, and no Proxy Error appears. I was able to submit a few listings this morning to various categories without issue.

UPDATE 2: A reader commented below that a major overhaul of DMOZ is due to launch soon, dubbed DMOZ 2.0. I think this is a great move, because as it stands right now DMOZ is pretty irrelevant/useless, so they should either kill it off or revamp it completely. Given the traffic and perceived importance of the site, it would make sense for them to revitalize it instead of killing it off. Thanks James! Read more here: DMOZ 2.0 Rumored to Launch at End of March

Original PostI haven’t been able to submit any listings in the past three days to DMOZ and keep getting a proxy error that reads as the following: The proxy server could not handle the request GET /cgi-bin/add.cgi.

This could either be a back-end glitch, or DMOZ is temporarily or permanently no longer accepting submissions. The directory itself will load, but if you try to submit anywhere to the directory, an error will occur preventing the “suggest a URL” page to load.

I’ve seen a few tweets from others confirming this issue , and I’ve tried on multiple machines and ISPs. I’ll keep this post updated if it gets fixed or learn of further information. As of right now there is no message on the DMOZ Blog indicating they aren’t accepting submissions.

It’s probably just a back-end glitch, but with traditional web directories become less and less important, part of me kind of hopes that this is a sign of DMOZ being prepared to be killed off. The mere fact that very few people have noticed or tweeted about it is an indicator of DMOZ’s dying importance – to me, it exists for nothing other than SEO purposes (and occasionally for Google to re-write spammy page titles), and tools/tactics that exist purely for SEO manipulation have a limited lifespan before they’re shut down or rendered obsolete. Is DMOZ obsolete? Should it be shut down for new submissions? Leave your two cents in the comments!

Now Posting on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog

I haven’t been posting as much here – but still actively blogging… Check out my latest posts on the iCrossing Great Finds blog:

So, if you’re looking for some fun SEO related reading, I suggest you go check out http://greatfinds.icrossing.com or add the RSS feed to your preferred Reader. And as always, I’m tweeting away at @nickroshon as well :)

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Google Toolbar Updates PageRank – I have PageRank 3!

PageRankUpdateOctober2009

Google pushed out a PageRank update last night, and now both NickRoshon.com and NicksCarBlog.com have PageRank3. Search Engine Land has more of this surprising update, given Google’s recent statement that webmasters shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much, and consequently removing PageRank from Webmaster Tools. Many speculated PageRank might be dropped from the Toolbar soon as well – but this doesn’t appear to be the case. The last PageRank update was in June, which continues Google’s trend of updating PageRank in the toolbar every few months.

RustyBrick of Search Engine Roundtable has a good point in regards to PageRank in the toolbar from an SEO perspective, so I’m quoting him below:

Yes, a Toolbar PageRank update means nothing in terms of your ranking changing anytime soon. The PageRank scores shown in the toolbar are outdated and have zero direct impact on your Google rankings. That doesn’t mean that PageRank has no influence, but the toolbar score does not have any influence. Google shows us one thing, but yet uses another thing.

Well put.

It’s also important to consider the Webmaster Point of View here, and I think that is really where Toolbar PageRank matters: I’m looking for advertisers for my car blog. When advertisers see that I have solid PageRank, I think that gives me credibility that I might be a website they should consider to advertising on (after more due diligence, of course) – especially if I offer those potential advertisers a link on my blogroll, as that link should pass along some “link juice.” At a minimum anyway, potential advertisers will see that Google values my content at least somewhat, that this is a legitimate site that probably isn’t penalized or banned, and that my website is something they give further thought to- and they can tell all of this from a free toolbar in a matter of a second. Likewise, a site with PageRank N/A or 0 is likely to turn off potential advertisers nearly immediately,  so that PR can really be the “first impression” to either open the door or have it slammed in your face. Just my two cents, anyway.

What are your thoughts? Would love some comments on this.

Testing My Google Alert

This is a test to see if my Google Alerts will ping when when this individual post is indexed. Will update later and explain why.

Yahoo & Meta Keywords – Yes, It Still Matters

itsylouYahoo! is really on a roll with poor press strategy and media relations. Between the “It’s YLOU” campaign (really Y!OU, but kinda ambigious looking), Yahoo tanking in search engine share/usage (likely because they announced they are quitting the game and merging with Bing)…and now, this: Yahoo has to back-peddle and say they still DO use the meta keywords tag.

Back in the early years of the interwebs, SEO was a simple process of stuffing keywords into the meta keywords tag, and search engines would return your page for these associated keywords. Search engines got savvy to this practice and devalued the meta keywords tag –  fast forward to 2009 and the meta keywords tag has been reduced to pretty much worthless in the eyes of the search engines, used almost as an internal reference point. Google and Bing are pretty clear they don’t use it in their ranking algorhythm.

Yahoo, on the other hand, has never been clear on their valuation of the meta keywords tag, and to be fair, they never had to disclose their policy as the ranking algorithm is supposed to be a secret. But disclose they did, making news at SMX East in NYC last week, declaring that they “no longer use the meta keywords tag.” From what I’ve been told, this is pretty much the only thing that Yahoo panelist said during the entire “Ask the Search Engines” panel…and it was wrong.

Danny Sullivan, my favorite Search Engine journalist and founder of Search Engine Land & SMX Conferences (as well as moderator of said panel), is a clever man and decided not to just take the Yahoo PR guy’s word for it, so he ran a simple test to fact-check this announcement:

The test was simple. I placed a unique word in the meta keywords tag on the home page of Search Engine Land. This word — xcvteuflsowkldlslkslklsk — generated no results on Yahoo when I looked earlier this week. Today, when I searched, it brought back the Search Engine Land home page. Thus, Yahoo indeed indexes the content of that tag. (And to be clear, I looked before writing this article. In short order, this article itself, along with others, will appear because they’ll make use of that word).

Yahoo! was forced to back-peddle, clarifying their incorrect statement and now claims they DO use the meta keyword tag, it’s just the lowest in ranking importance in their algorithm…which is what everyone had assumed until a few weeks ago anyway. By admitting they still use it, even at a small value, is basically admitting they’re behind the game (not surprising, but nothing you want to remind people about, either). In my experience, achieving rankings in Yahoo! has always been easier than Google, as they still give value to things Google has been smart enough to de-value or ignore – and this is a case in point.

Yahoo!, I’d feel bad for y!ou about this if y!ou hadn’t announced y!our retirement from the search engine game (or worse, claim y!ou were never a search engine to begin with). I just wish y!ou’d go quickly, as opposed to a long, slow, and agonizing death where each one of y!our shortcomings are painfully exposed as your search engine stagnates in preparation of the Bing integration. Unfortunately, I still think the Bing/Yahoo merger will  take a long time before anything really happens, and until then, all we can do is slow down and stare at the carnage. Sorry Yahoo!, but it’s y!ou, not us.

The SEO Song = Wicked Awesome Linkbait

Check out this vid from the The Creare Group in its full glory. Definitely link-worthy. Love the style – can’t tell if its serious, making fun of itself, or both, but I can dig it.

Is it Too Soon to Worry About Yahoo! & Microsoft Bing Search Partnership? (Yes)

Is it too soon to start worrying about Yahoo/Microsoft Search Deal?

Is it too soon to start worrying about Yahoo/Microsoft Search Deal?

The world of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is going wild today with the news that Yahoo! and Microsoft announcing a 10 year partnership. Search Engine Land has been doing a great job covering this news, complete with liveblogging the press conference and getting inside interviews.

However, a lot of coverage out there is starting to speculate into what the SEM industry needs to do and how this changes things, particularly this post from SEOmoz speculating the Top 10 Things the Microsoft/Yahoo Deal Changes for SEO. I think we all need to take a few deep breaths and not get ahead of ourselves here. Here’s the fine print from the Search Engine Land article that is all to easy to overlook:

…At full implementation (expected to occur within 24 months following regulatory approval)..

That’s 2 years AFTER the Federal Government approves the deal. And don’t forget the shareholders need to approve too. Given the size of Yahoo and Microsoft, as well as the Government’s Anti-Trust folks and the DOJ’s interest in maintaining competitiveness in the industry, which is already in an oligopoly if not monopoly state already, neither the shareholder nor the Government approval of this deal is likely to come quickly (or possibly at all). The Washington Post has a great article explaining some of the legal hurdles and is already commenting on the scrutiny Microsoft and Yahoo will face. If it will take 2 years after this approval, we’re talking light years in the tech world.

Think about 2+ years ago. Twitter was practically unheard of. MySpace still dominated Facebook. The iPhone hadn’t been released yet. 2 years is HUGE!

As part of the professional SEO community, I think it’s important we keep this all in perspective. This deal could be ground-breaking, but not any time soon. It’s important to think about what all this could mean, but remember that right now all that has happened is Carol Bartz and Steve Ballmer shook hands with each other. We should educate our clients on the details of the agreement, but let them know its nothing to start worrying about yet. Even in a few years, when everything is “fully integrated,” at the current figures Bing will only have a miserable 15% of the market compared to Google’s 78%, making its market share less than 1/5th of Google’s.

So my message to you is this: stay calm, keep current on the deal (because the agreement is going to change, especially once the legal issues start being scrutinized), and continue go about your business focusing on the search engine that ridiculously dominates the other one or two out there, even when you combine #2 and #3′s market share. In all seriousness, Twitter could overcome Bing/Yahoo in two years in terms of number of searches, traffic, hits, revenue and more, as their new home page certainly shows a redoubled interest in search:

Will Twitter Have More Search Share than Yahoo/Bing in 2 Years?

Will Twitter Have More Search Share than Yahoo/Bing in 2 Years?

Photo credit Yahoo and Twitter

My List of SEO Blogs You Should Read

A List of SEO Blogs You Should Read

A List of SEO Blogs You Should Read

I’ve had a few friends ask me what blogs they should follow to get more exposure to SEO. I always give a very similar answer, so I thought I’d post here to consolidate:

First, I tell anyone interested to read this incredibly helpful post on SEOmoz: Beginner’s Guide to SEO. It probably takes about 30 minutes to read through but it provides such a great, straightforward introduction.

Once you got a firm grasp on that, I recommend you setup a Google Reader account so that you can subscribe to several blogs all in one central place. Then go and add the RSS Feeds to the blogs below. I’ve listed them according to importance:

Must Follows:
Matt Cutts: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/
Matt Cutts is basically Google’s main point of contact with the SEO world. Many changes to Google’s algorythm and webmaster guidelines are communicated through him.

SEOmoz: http://www.seomoz.org/blog
Its a pretty straightforward, interesting blog with practical tips, updated several times a week.

Search Engine Land: http://searchengineland.com/
With SEO celebrities like Danny Sullivan contributing, this is a wealth of knowledge. There are tons of posts a day, some of which are not very important nor interesting, but likewise there is a ton of great stuff as well.

Other Notables:
Search Engine Watch: http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/
A lot of posts on this blog are overlap with Search Engine Land, but its good to at least skim through or find more information about a post you saw elsewhere. It is pretty comprehensive.

iCrossing’s Great Finds Blog: http://greatfinds.icrossing.com/
There aren’t many posts, but the posts are well written and easy to understand. This blog is particularly great for clients working with an SEO person or agency and don’t need to know every detail but want to be informed and current on industry news and best practices.

Conversational Marketing: http://www.conversationmarketing.com/
It’s a little more human than the rest, with a little more humor and opinion than the others. It tries to be less like traditional media and more like a blog, which I can appreciate

Google Webmaster Central Blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/
It’s not really that helpful since anything that is posted that is really newsworthy is commented on the above blogs, but its not bad to follow anyway. It is also heavy into selling new Google Products that you need to sign up for.

Nick Roshon’s SEO Blog: (you’re already here)
Because I’m awesome. And I don’t just focus on current news, I like to cover basics, topics of interest, etc., so that you learn new stuff and refresh the basics all at the same time. Yes, I’m that shameless :)

Did I miss anything? Email me or Leave a Comment and I’ll take a look and consider revising my post!

Image Credit chitrasudar via Creative Commons