Posts Tagged ‘ Linking

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?

10 Things I Learned at OMS Phoenix Yesterday

Online Marketing Summit Phoenix

I attended the Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix yesterday, and wanted to share a few insights & tips I learned. It was a great conference and it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces and learn some new things. Thanks to everyone that made it possible! We covered a wide range of topics including SEO, Social Media, Conversion Optimization, Content Strategy, and everything in between. In no particular order, here were my favorite takeaways:

#10: Create a Search & Social Media Center for Excellence: Create a central repository for best practices, keywords, social media engagement guidelines, etc, for all employees. This will benefit everyone involved by:

  • Leveraging synergies across all of your digital channels – search, social, PR, web development, email marketing, and display.
  • Getting PR & Social Media people the proper URLs and anchor text for Press Releases & Social Media messaging, as well as tips for optimal distribution
  • Allowing more people to get involved with responding to complaints or questions via twitter & message boards by posting engagement guidelines. Phone support people can respond to complaints on twitter during downtime if they have training & knowledge base.

#9: A Cheaper Press Release – WebWire.com

  • I submit a ton of online press releases for clients through PRNewswire, Marketwire, and PRWeb – but they cost several hundred bucks a pop. It doesn’t look like the distribution network is as robust for Webwire, but for $20, that’s a cheap backlink at the very least…thanks @fionnd of Elixir for this tip!
Adwords Suggestions for the brand iCrossing

Adwords Tool Keyword Suggestions for the query iCrossing

#8: Search your brand & competitors & Adwords Tool – See what suggestions Google has for your brand name, and your competitors brand names in the Google Keyword Tool and Google Search Suggest.

  • This can be helpful to: find interesting keyword ideas for brand pages, find new content ideas & content gaps, and discover reputation management issues. Check out the image to the right for suggestions google had for the word “icrossing” – very on target!

#7: Some Cool Stats & Quotes

  • #1 position on SERP gets 43% of the clicks – Arnie K of Vertical Measures, a link building company
  • “Rankings are something you can influence, not something you can control” – Arnie K – good perspective
  • If you have a website, you are a publisher – Mike Corak
  • .The BEST time to post a blog is Tuesday morning, while the WORST is Friday afternoon. – Dan Tyre  of hubspot
  • “Brands must behave and enage like people do…” ~Brian Haven of iCrossing
  • Blogs are the unsung heroes of SEO
  • Do not neglect your blog child
  • If you talk to people the way advertising talked to people they’d punch you in the face – Steve Groves

#6: Check out your backlink diversity – diversity of backlinks has increased in importance in the past year or so – those with unnatural backlink profiles do not get the same benefits they used to. Don’t overdo one method of link building (e.g. directory submissions) if you’re not going to do others.

#5: Use Social Media Profile Pages for Quick & Free Backlinks – it’s easy to get links on many social networking sites, and even if they’re nofollowed, it’s still a great tool for reputation management and probably still pass along some SEO value as well. Examples: Naymz, 123People, BusinessWeek.com, Google Profiles, LinkedIn…

#4: The Real SEO Value of a No Follow Link? There was some discussion that a rel=nofollow link has been shown to influence rankings and has SEO value. Something to consider – don’t dismiss a link just because it’s nofollowed! In my personal experience I’ve seen evidence that there is some SEO value here as well, although I haven’t seen any conclusive case studies to prove it.

The last three tips were from Jeff Eisenberg, a famous conversion optimization expert who wrote “A Call to Action” along with his brother Bryan. This was the best presentation of the whole summit in my opinion, the whole presentation was captivating and inspiring – check him and his brother out at: http://www.bryaneisenberg.com/

#3: Analyze Every Word & Image on your Money Pages

  • When Dell changed “Learn More” to “Help Me Choose” on the computer configuration page, they saw an increase of MILLIONS of dollars. Why? When customers are ready to check out, they don’t want education (Learn More), but they do want help making sure they picked the right accessories & upgrades (Help Me Choose).
  • Another Example: Overstock.com had horrible conversions on their DVD page, something that should sell well. Turns out an image talking about Childrens Movies turned off users, thinking they were on the wrong page. They changed the image to something generic, and generated a $25m sales jump
  • The takeway? Understand the mindset of the customer, and talk in their language.

#2: Make your forms & check-out pages warm & fuzzy

  • Filing in Credit Card info is the scariest moment for the consumer, and where abandonment most commonly occurs.
  • Post your return policy, quality guarantees, etc, on this page and make the customer feel warm and fuzzy
  • Examples – adding customer testimonials on check-out page, always display savings (if applicable), show quality/product guarantees
  • Warren Buffet’s shoe company added a “Return-O-Meter” to their check out page showing how often a shoe is returned, and why (e.g. too wide, too small, etc). The result? Lower abandonment rate (higher confidence in purchase) plus fewer returns.

#1: Leverage Your Reviews!

  • The Eisenberg Brothers have been very successful using reviews to increase conversions.
  • With internal search on a website, allow users to search by Best Reviews/Most Reviews. When Customers Sort this way, there is a huge increase in conversions
  • Run promotions like Top Reviewed under $50. These types of categories convert much higher.
  • Another example: Vitacost – after a customer purchases something, Vitacost thanks them for the order and asks them to review – the result? Customers would go to Vitacost.com, review the product, and actually buy more products during that session!
  • Reviews have the ability to turn worthless customer (who buys very little, very infrequently, usually on sale, but leaves a review) into a very valuable customer, as their review may sway the big buyers.

PS If I mentioned something you said and didn’t properly attribute it back to you, please leave a comment and let me know and I’ll be happy to include a link back to your website or twitter profile! I was scribbling furiously on a notepad and some of the details got lost or mixed up…

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!

The Benefits of Managing & Optimizing Mahalo Pages

mahalo

Mahalo brings in over $1,000,000 per year in Adsense. They’ve got serious traffic, hundreds of new pages are being built every day, and all of this is crowd-sourced with little admin or overhead really needed on Mahalo’s behalf. The Alley Insider points to how much Mahalo is kicking ass these days, so it’s definitely worth your time to check out, especially if you understand the basics of SEO….here’s why:

  1. You get a cut of the Adsense revenue. If you can make the page rank well in Search Engines, you get more traffic, which leads to more impressions and clicks on the Adsense ads. Since I understand SEO, I can apply a little effort and knowledge to get a page ranking decent, which should bring some decent adsense revenue my way.
  2. You can claim pages that you want links on, and simply give them to yourself. For instance, if you managed a website for a hotel in Sacramento, you could claim the Sacramento Hotels page, then link to yourself directly from this page, giving you a free backlink. As another example, this Dallas Hotels page has PageRank 2, is cached frequently, and should pass along link juice to any sites related sites you link to (granted there are a ton of outbound links, so it isn’t much, but it’s something, it’s free, it’s relevant, and you can pick any anchor text you want).
  3. You can also build backlinks to yourself, as I’ve done in the “About the Author” section in each of the two pages above. Now I have some link juice flowing from Mahalo.com, which is a site that gets over 6 million hits a year…not bad.

The best part is, optimizing Mahalo pages to be SEO friendly is no different than any other website. Pick a few keywords, write relevant content with the keywords sprinkled through, only link to good neighborhoods, and build some backlinks to your page as you can.

The trick is to find pages that are targeting keywords that aren’t too competitive. I’m not trying to get my Mahalo pages to rank on the first page for “dallas hotels” or “sacramento hotels” because I don’t stand a chance next to many hotels and hotel chains that are fiercly targeting those keywords. And if I were going to go after something super competitive like that, I might as well do it on my own domain and get all of the Adsense revenue, not just a cut.

Where the real opportunity lies are trending search topics, usually recent news, fads, or memes that people are searching for. You’d want to create or claim a page that maybe people are interested in now, but if tomorrow no one cared, no big deal, it doesn’t cost you a cent. Likewise these topics are less likely to face fierce competition due to the timeliness of the search term – not many people will bother to build out an entire website over a topic that will only be relevant a few weeks. Take a look at the leading pages, you’ll see that is seems to be the pattern amongst them:

mahalo-top-pages

To date, I’ve earned $2.15 on the site – nothing like the sites above earning $100+ a day, but I’ve maybe invested 15 minutes total of my time, just playing around. And sadly, $2.15 is about twice what I’ve earned on this blog through Adsense…

Change in PageRank Sculpting, nofollow treatment by Google: A Mad, Mad (SEO) World

<a href=image credit ari via creative commons

This is really only for the technical SEO folks, but Matt Cutts of Google has recently clarified how Google treats nofollowed links and it’s implications for Page Rank Sculpting, but this has much broader implications on how people will link out both externally and internally in general, IMO. Below is your recommended reading to learn more:

Here’s my quick take on things: the nofollow tag (which tells Google bots not to follow this link or flow any page rank through it) has been increasingly abused to manipulate rankings in Google. The nofollow tag started as a way, in part, to block blog comments with URLs in them from being followed or counted as links by Google’s bots, so that if there are 80 comments with links in a post the bot would almost pretend that those links weren’t there at all. This is no longer a valid simplification, as this recent clarification by Mr. Cutts indicates that the bot will still “count” those links as being on the page, it just won’t pass along any PageRank if you use the rel=nofollow attribute.

The implication that is getting the SEO world in a tizzy is this: every link on the page, even when nofollowed, may be counteracting your efforts to pass along PageRank to the webpages that you are acutally intending to link to and actively trying to give credit to. To take the argument one step further, the fewer links on a page you have, the more PageRank can flow between them. The more links you have, even when nofollowed, the less importance (via PageRank) is passed along. It would be in your interest, then, to only link to pages that you really want to pass credit along to, which are probably only internal navigation  links within your domain, and a few (but probably not many) high quality external links (since Google does view linking to authority websites as an indicator that your site, too, carries some authority, maybe).

Does this mean we should turn off the ability to leave URLs in blog comments? Should we stop linking to spammy websites as examples of what not to do? Should we never link out to a page unless its of high authority with good PageRank and backlinks? Stop linking out to external domains altogether?????

It’s too soon to tell, but I sure hope not, and I highly doubt the implications are really this grave. Various authority blogs (which I can still comfortably link to, as seen above) will probably do more research to both confirm these changes and see to what extent gratituitious  nofollow linking will really harm things. I’ve always been generous in linking out to other pages, as I know that’s the only way I’ll get links back and I don’t mind giving credit where credit’s due.

But, I’m worried that less benevolent, somewhat “greedy” bloggers who are too focused on SEO and not enough on their readers that will start taking up that annoying habit of only linking to your own webpage, even when talking about an external source.

Okay kiddies, back to work, my lunch break is over (just like PageRank sculpting via the rel=nofollow attribute, burn!)

Recommended WordPress Widget: Social Media Page

Social Media Plugin for WordPress

Social Media Plugin for WordPress

I haven’t fiddled around with my blog design as much as I’d have liked to, but here is one plug-in I highly recommend: Social Media Page.

As seen on my side bar where it says “Connect with Me,” this widget offers a clean looking format for listing all of my social networking profiles. These are direct, SEO-friendly links along with little logos to look a little more professional then just the standard WordPress “Links” section.

The plug-in is super easy to use and even helps you find the URLs of your public profiles in case you don’t already know them. In my case, it also reminded me to go ahead and update some of those profiles as they hadn’t been touched in years. Once I had all of my URLs selected I just had to go into the WordPress Admin – Appearance – Widgets and have the widget show in my sidebar.

Anyway, just a quick post, but go check it out. And since I’m all for giving link love, here is a link to the author’s personal website, Philip Norton.

Facebook Vanity URLs now Live!

Here’s what you need to know about the new Facebook Usernames:

Go to http://www.facebook.com/username and reserve your username right now!. Your username will then become the subfolder on facebook.com where your page is stored. For instance, my username is “nickroshon” and my new URL is http://www.facebook.com/nickroshon

Hurry up and grab something if you haven’t already, but here are a few tips on picking your custom Facebook vanity URL:

The dot doesn’t matter: if you choose nick.roshon or nickroshon, it still goes to the same place. Much like Gmail, Facebook will ignore the period between words and treat the two as the same. You can go to http://www.facebook.com/nickroshon and http://www.facebook.com/nick.roshon and they both take you to the same place, so in essence I got 2 vanity URLs from Facebook today.

Facebook pages are different: If you are a page, and not just a personal user, you can only reserve your username/vanity URL if you created your fan page by May 31, 2009 and have at least 1,000 followers. The rest of you will get your shot in July.

Get a Unique Username: If you want http://www.facebook.com/awesome, it’s still available. However, http://www.facebook.com/nick is already taken 🙁 and so is http://www.facebook.com/likeaboss

Don’t pick something stupid: It is permanent, and at the time of writing Facebook offers no method of changing your username / vanity URL, so you’re stuck with whatever you chose. So in 10 years, when no one has any clue what “likeaboss” really means, you’ll feel like an idiot.

Avoid Trademarks: If you pick a brand name or trademarked term as your username/vanity URL, the owner of that trademark can appeal it on Facebook and you will be stripped of it, so don’t go out there grabbing something you know you don’t deserve.

Username Squatting: If you want to create a bunch of dummy accounts to reserve other user accounts, you are too late. Right now, the ability to reserve a username is only available to Facebook profiles created before June 9, 2009, as I’m told by @ledet. That means I can’t go and create a second Facebook profile to grab http://www.facebook.com/nicholasroshon 🙁

301 Redirect: Your old URL, i.e. http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Roshon/2401203 will now automatically redirect to your new URL. It is a 301 permanent redirect as I confirmed via Web Sniffer, which is what you want in order to pass along the link juice correctly.

Leave me comments with your thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, and snide remarks!

DandyID: Centralize your social profiles

I recently heard of DandyID on Twitter and setup an account today to test it out. My initial thoughts: pretty cool!

Here is a link to my DandyID social media profile. I got a score of 81 and Gold Status (based on how many networks I use relative to other DandyID users) – I’m not sure if that certifies me as geeky or popular (or a popular geek), but I’ll take any awards I can get 🙂

DandyID describes itself as:

DandyID lets you easily collect all of your online profiles in one convenient place and allows people to discover the real verified you across the web.

To me, its basically a *free* page that I can configure to show all of my social networks in one central location. For a fee ($4.99/month) you can upgrade to the pro account and get additional features.

The catch?

From an SEO perspective, all of the links on your DandyID profile page don’t actually link directly to your profile page on another network (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Instead, they link to a subpage on DandyId.org which uses a 302 temporary redirect to the social media profile URL that you were intending to link to. For instance, the link to my facebook account links to: http://www.dandyid.org/id/nickroshon/facebook instead of directly to: http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Roshon/2401203. A 302 temporary redirect means that the page on dandyid.org/id/nick… has been temporarily moved to a new page (located on facebook.com) but still permanently resides at the original location (dandyid.org…) and that Google and other search engines should give all credit and “link juice” to DandyID, not the facebook domain where the page actually resides. So, although my page looks like there are 18 links pointing to my various social media accounts, its really 18 links to DandyID.org (in the eyes of the search engines, anyway).

I was a little bummed to find that I can’t harvest this as a free source for outbound links to my various social media profiles that I’m trying to get to rank better in Google (I knew it had to be too good to be true). Sure, I don’t own any of the domains I want to link to anyway, but for businesses or individuals that want their Facebook profile (or other social network profile) to rank on the first page when you google their brand/business name, you need links pointing to them, and the links on DandyID unfortunately won’t help that goal as long as they are a 302 redirect.

Enjoying the personal access to strangers only Twitter can provide, I pinged DandyID with my complaint:
twitter-me-at-dandyid

I was very pleased to get a prompt response from the official DandyID Twitter Account as well:
twitter-dandyid-at-me

Good news! In my tweet I was complaining specifically about the WordPress plug-in also using 302 redirects, but my DandyID profile page uses them as well. I’d totally be willing to pay a small (albeit very small) yearly fee to get some analytics and use this page as a “link farm” for all of my social media profiles, passing along link authority to my pages on their respective domains.

That being said, I think this is definitely a service to try out, and I know I’ll be watching them as they build out the service further and continue to enhance their offerings! If this service does catch on and become more mainstream, then maybe I would want my DandyID.org profile page to rank at the top of Google for my name. Like my title says, it does centralize everything – so from a users perspective, if you want to find me on the most popular social networks, this would be a very useful page. This service is especially useful for people who don’t have their own website/blog like this one that can use a plug-in like the Social Media Page plug-in found in my sidebar (which gives nice, direct links without any messy redirects). Until then, the Pro account doesn’t seem like something I’d want to spend the money on until there are more users on it.

In the end, I’d highly recommend you check it out and sign up. It’s free, it’s unique, and it provides a cool service. My dream scenario that it could also be a link farm for social media profiles is probably asking a bit much anyway, as most sites would just nofollow the links to begin with 🙂

And a final word: like any other social media / networking site, you’ve trusted yet another domain with some personal data, so don’t link to anything you don’t want the whole world to see. This is common sense, but can’t be repeated enough, as you hear about this kind of stuff all of the time: Check out Cisco Fatty if you don’t know what I mean!

UPDATE Wow, that was quick. One day after my tweet and DandyID now uses 301 redirects for Pro account users! And they hooked me up with one! I’ll give a follow-up review of the Pro features sometime soon. SO AWESOME!

I have PageRank!

Starting yesterday, Google updated the PageRank scores found in the Google Toolbar. I officially went from PageRank 0 to PageRank 1! Woohoo! While the actual value of PageRank is debated amongst Search Engine Markerters (SEMs), it definitely still holds at least some value. Having PageRank is a quick indicator to your readers and search engines that your blog has at least some merit & authority, isn’t spammy or malicious, and links and reviews on your blog pass along some authority based on your PageRank. The easiest way to check how much PageRank your blog has is to download the Google toolbar, which will display PageRank for any other sites you visit as well. PageRank varies from page to page within a site, so its a good way to see what Google thinks are the “most valuable” pages on your domain as well.

More info on the PageRank update can be found here: Search Engine Roundtable

At the time of writing, my domain has been registered and active since early Febuary 2009, so a little over 3 months. I have 53 incoming Inlinks in Yahoo! Site Explorer, mostly a combination of blog comments, blog directory submissions, and social media linking, as well as a valuable link from my friend’s blog on nobosh.com. For blogs, it also seems that Google looks at frequency of posts in determining your PageRank, and I’ve done pretty mediocre at that, but for the most part I’ve seen that if you don’t update your blog in a really long time, your PageRank may drop, or disappear altogether, otherwise you’re probably okay.

Create WordPress Pages

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there is much of a difference between a new post and a new page. In fact, there really isn’t a difference if you are using the default WordPress theme. But once you upgrade to a new theme (like mine) you’ll see why Pages are helpful:

  1. They are placed in a prominent location for quick navigation
  2. They don’t need to be put in a category so you can have really simple URLs if you are using optimized URL permalinks like described in my earlier post.

These are most commonly used for pages like About this Blog, About Me, Links, Partners, etc. These are permanent pages that you think everyone should read, and these “posts” won’t get buried once you post new content – a link to them will always be easy to find. So as you start out your new blog, go ahead and make a few pages so that new readers can quickly learn more about you and what your blog is all about. You create a Page just like you’d create a new Post through the Admin panel (only you go to Pages – Add New instead of Posts – Add New) – just remember to make the Title of the Page something that will easily fit into your quick links navigation at the top…

Here is where the pages show up on my current theme, called “Carrington”

Example of WordPress Pages
Example of WordPress Pages

Claiming my blog on Technorati

Technorati Profile

Register your blog on Technorati and claim it by posting a string of code they give you (can be put anywhere on the front page of your blog and removed after the claim is complete – mine is above). Technorati is basically a directory of blogs that is updated in real time, so if you claim your blog Technorati it will update their directory every time you post. This differs from Google in that it places a higher emphasis on the “freshness” (or how recent) the post is, although “authority” (or importance, as Google would call it) is definitely an important factor as well. I probably won’t get much traffic through Technorati, but I may get some, and since this is 100% free it doesn’t hurt to try!

Update: Also go here to have Technorati automatically ping your site for updates: http://technorati.com/ping/