Analyzing Internal Website Linking Structures

December 2, 2009
link sculpting nofollow

There are all kinds of interesting strategies for learning about search engine optimization.  While I credit myself with having a sophisticated knowledge of certain aspects of SEO, I am also aware that there is always something new to learn, and someone else who probably already knows it.

Learning From Your Competitors

One of the most sophisticated search engine optimization companies in Vancouver , is 6s Marketing.  With the importance of site architecture becoming increasingly relevant to SERPs, I recently turned to their site in order to learn what kinds of things a first-class search marketing company was doing to optimize their own site’s architecture.  If there’s any single group who knows more than anyone else in this city about SEO, it is almost certainly them.  Analyzing the websites of your competitors can yield a wealth of information.  While the techniques and tricks they use in order to optimize their sites may not always be apparent at first, a careful investigation will often yield valuable information; you just have to know what you’re looking for.   In this case, I was curious to see what kind of internal linking techniques a top internet marketing company was using in order to keep their site optimized for search.  Particularly, whether they were still funneling PR juice strategically from one page to another.

The rel = “no follow” Relation

I’ve known about the concept of link sculpting for a while, but since Matt Cutts recently announced that Google would no longer be weighing ‘nofollow’ links with the same importance, I had assumed it would slowly become an outdated strategy.  My philosophy on things like this is simple; if  a Google-authorized consultant is willing to use a particular technique, it’s good enough for the rest of us to use too.  When looking to the 6s Marketing site, this is one of the first things I began to look for.

Firebug Inspector

Using Mozilla’s Firebug add-on I began to use the ‘page inspection tool’ in order to examine the 6s home page.  After scrolling over various pages on the site I saw that the company was indeed still using the ‘no follow’ relation in order to prevent the Google bot from including certain pages from their distribution of PageRank. Bingo! Looks like they utilize this technique on pages which truly have little relevance to their search profile (eg the ‘client login’ page and the ‘privacy policy’ page etc).   Nonetheless this means that this strategic technique for preserving and channeling PageRank is still valid when used on internal pages which are truly irrelevant to what a searcher is searching for.  Anyone have any comments about this?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


Properly Applying Social Media to Your Business

October 22, 2009

With all the buzz surrounding social media these days, most savvy business owners have become interested in figuring out how this medium can be used toward boosting their bottom line.  While there is no disputing the fact that social media will only play an increasing role within the business world, many businesses are still struggling to figure out how to use its ever widening range of tools to their benefits.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter are some of the most popular social media and networking tools currently available to internet users.  Even though these services are free and available to all, this does not mean that their adoption makes sense for every business.  Proper usage and customization of these services is the key to successful social media.  Just as size ten shoe will not fit every person who wears shoes, Twitter is not a tool that can benefit each and every type of business.  Improperly using social media will make a business look amateurish, un-savvy, and unappealing to customers.

Know Your Business And Be Forward Thinking

Understanding your business means that you’ll have the ability to diffuse problems before they arise, make changes to your business model in order to keep it competitive, and utilize all the resources around you in order to maximize profits.  When faced with social media, understanding your business will translate into the proper application of the available tools.  Remember that doing this properly will allow your customer base to better use your services.  If what you are doing with social media feels like it may not be a good fit, it probably isn’t.  Do not simply guess at whether what you are doing is relevant to your customers.  Set up focus groups in order to provide you with feedback, communicate with colleagues on their impressions, and speak with your customers regarding their impressions.  Ultimately, the proof will be in the analytics.  If your social media initiatives attract lots of traffic, you are probably doing something right.

Know Social Media

Recently, 6S Marketing in Vancouver, Canada completed a comprehensive study on how businesses are using social media to expand their online communities and reach out to both existing and potential customers.  You can read these survey results here.


Web Writing for Marketing Purposes

June 25, 2009

web formatting

web formatting

Think anyone can write for the web? Think again.

Reading on the web is different than reading printed media.  In order to write effectively on the internet you will be required to re-learn some of the things your teachers taught you in high school and college.

For starters, here are a few important things you should understand before you write articles online:

  1. Readers on the web scan content, they don’t read it thoroughly.
  2. Online readers look at text BEFORE they look at images.
  3. People reading a web page scan it in an “F Pattern” rather than simply reading it from left to right.
  4. An average viewer will look at a web page they have found via search for ten seconds or less.

So it looks like people reading on the web seem to have low attention spans, and scan content in order to avoid wasting time on misguided lengthy searches.  How must a web writer compensate for these trends?  Here’s a guide to get you started.

Titles

Just like writing for any other format, your title is extremely important.   On the web, the content of your article is likely to be judged solely of the wording of your title.  This is even more truer if a reader has found your article by using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN Live.

In order to avoid confusion, titles on the web should NEVER be underlined.  Underlined text on the Internet signifies a link, and as the title of your article should not link to itself, underlining it will only cause confusion.  An exception to this is when the title of the article is intended to be a link in a list or a menu elsewhere on site.

Blurbs

A blurb is a tool which, when combined with the title, provides the reader with a snapshot of your article’s content. Blurbs should be short and sweet.  All that is necessary is an excerpt of the text within your article or a one-line summary of it.

Subheads

People scan content on the web.  For this reason, using subheadings to break up the content of your article into easily identifiable chunks is essential.  If a reader has decided to continue reading your article after scanning the title and blurb, using subheads within the text will help them find the exact piece of content that they are searching for. Using a subheading every 50 to 100 words within your article is essential.

Lists

Using lists in order to summarize and large amounts of information is an extremely effective way of providing lots of content to readers in as few words as possible.  Keeping the word count down on the web is essential, and using lists enables an author to list their points as opposed to framing them within a verbose paragraph.


Web Writing 2.0 – Pay Attention To Your Netiquette

June 19, 2009

web writing 2.0

web writing 2.0

“Is it true that there are actual rules regarding written content creation on the web?”

I recently read an article at albion.com about Internet etiquette, aka ‘netiquette’, and what writers and content contributors should keep in mind when writing on the web.  While most parts of this article seemed rather straight forward, there were two concepts in particular which, although obvious, should be carefully considered when writing for the web.

Respect Other People’s Time And Bandwidth

If you take your blog seriously or you are looking to build up your level of ‘street cred’ on someone else’s blog or website, it is always important to consider that there will be an audience reading what you write.  Most online readers scan the articles and written comments they find.  If your intent is to build a loyal following of subscribers and readers, it’s important to remember that if you waste people’s time with useless or unreliable content, you are likely to never get their time again.  Make sure that the comments you leave and the articles you write are topical, accurate, and succinct. It’s probably also a good idea to keep the following concepts in mind:

  • You are not the center of Cyberspace; so don’t expect instant feedback and responses to your comments and questions.
  • Rules for discussion groups: don’t write a novel in these sections.  Some people’s computers are slower than yours!
  • To whom should the message be directed? Don’t CC, carbon copy, people to email messages that don’t apply to them.  It’s rude.

Share Expert Knowledge

I found this particular section of the article interesting for one simple reason; people like to keep important knowledge secret.  The article doesn’t suggest that sharing your knowledge equates to giving away all your trade secrets, but rather that when you see that someone has asked a question that you can answer, you should do it.  According to the article’s author, “don’t be afraid to share what you know”.

If you have posted something on your blog and you’ve received lots of questions, take the time to write up a summary of all their questions and post it.  Remember, you must consider these people to be your clients, not just your readers.  The web is all about networking, and by keeping your readers happy, you will ultimately achieve your goals.

That’s all for now.


Did you see the Colbert Report this week?

June 11, 2009

We’ve been chatting a lot about Internet marketing strategy on this blog, but this week we’re going to take a break to talk a little bit about The Colbert Report this week.

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AP – In this handout photo taken Sunday, June 7, 2009, released by the U.S. military, comedian Stephen Colbert, …

If you missed it, The Colbert Report was broadcast this week each night from Iraq.  That’s right, IRAQ! But just as you thought that one of the famed late night faux-news satires was about to do some actual reporting, you thought wrong.  Hanging out in Iraq for the week only seems to have added more fuel to the Colbert fire.

Boot Camp

Among other things, Colbert used his brief stay in the Middle East as an opportunity to spend some time in basic training with the US Army.  Watching Colbert play-up his celeb status next to a large, tough, and dangerous-looking drill sergeant was absolutely hilarious.  At times I honestly wasn’t sure weather the drill sergeant was about to laugh or smack Colbert in the face.  Either way, these segments were absolutely hysterical.

The Obama Cameo

The Colbert Report had many, many cameos this week, but the most notable by far involved none other than The President of The United States; Barack Obama.  This set a new precedent with regard to the accessibility of the US head of state. Prior to the Obama administration, it would have been unheard of for a sitting United States president to appear on a prime time or late-night television show.  The best part is that the appearance was by far, the funniest segment of the show this week.

During his interview with the commanding US general for the region, Obama appeared on a television screen behind Colbert and his guest.  As if the appearance itself wasn’t notable enough, Obama actually ordered the United States general to shave Colbert’s head in order to ensure that he gained the full experience of his visit with the armed forces in Iraq.  It was priceless.  Not only did Colbert’s head get shaved on the show, but Obama made history as the first sitting US president to join in on a comedy bit on late night television.

Other Guests

Aside from the President, other guests this week included Tom Hanks, Joseph Biden, Sarah Palin, the vice president of Irag, U.S. Gen. Ray Odierno, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, John McCain, and several other notable icons.   All in all, very, very entertaining!  Apparently Colbert now has the amazing ability to influence world leaders into joining him on his show.  Amazing.


Mozilla’s SEO Quake

June 4, 2009

Have you ever wondered how your favorite sites are viewed in the eyes of search engines, or how they are indexed?

There are many reasons to the Firefox over Internet Explorer, Safari, or Opera, but the most alluring reason for people interested in internet marketing is the ability to install add-ons to your browser that give it extra functionality.  These little bits of software that give your browser special abilities are known as extensions.

SEO Quake

The most useful extension for analysing website ranks and indexing is called SEO Quake, and it is made by Mozilla; the same company which makes the Firefox browser.  This particular extension is free, and allows its user to view a whole host of noteworthy stats regarding the websites they are visiting on the web. As part of its default installation, you can see what a site’s PR rank is, how many of its pages are indexed by Google, how many pages are indexed by Yahoo, Windows Live, and how many times the site has been bookmarked on del.ici.ous.

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Whois Records and Keyword Density

If you are researching a competitors website, WHOIS records are an invaluable source of information.  As part of your toolkit for link-building, understand who is linking to your competitors sites, where they are based, and what other sites they own is an extremely important segment of search engine marketing.  Clicking on the ‘density’ button in SEO Quake will provide you with information on which keywords a particular website is targeting in its written content.  If the site is clearly using four or five specific keywords in all of its content, this might be a good place to begin researching that sites indexed rankings for those terms.

The Wayback Machine

Finally, the Wayback Machine is a high performance tool for understanding how a particular site has been optimized over the years from its inception to the present day.  Studying what changes a webmaster has made to the usability of their site can yield a wealth of information to those in competitive internet marketing industries.  You can determine which elements on a page don’t work and which ones do.  What features and functions did the webmaster decide to adopt of abandon over the years.

Of course, all of this only scratches the surface.  There are many more important tool which you’ll need in order to keep digging and truly understand what a particular website is doing in order to climb the ranks of internet marketing.  We’ll be coveing these in the weeks to come.


Getting Indexed By Google in 24 Hours

May 28, 2009

Do you know any tricks for getting indexed quickly by search engines?  Most people who create their own blogs or websites quickly figure out that getting noticed by the search engines isn’t always easy.  Firstly, there is usually stiff competition from other sites which want to get indexed for the same topics as you.  And then, even if you DO follow all their instructions, it can take months to become searchable for specified keywords.  Well, you’re lucky that you’ve found this article because I’ll let you in on an insider trick which can make this whole process A LOT quicker and easier.

Some Background Information

We all know that search engines rank websites based on their level of relevance to a particular search topic.  Part of how Google does this is by assigning every website in its index with what is known as a “PageRank”.

PageRanks are assigned to websites based on a logarithmic scale between 0 and 10, but to keep things simple, we won’t get into the math behind this.  If your site has a PageRank of 3, then it is refered to as a ‘PR3’ site, a PageRank of 4 is a PR4, and so on and so forth.  When webmasters link to one another for the purposes of search engine optimization, the sites that they choose for link building are often chosen solely on whether or not they have a high PageRank.

So here’s the trick

We all know that your site gets indexed once a Google ‘spider’ or ‘web crawler’ scans it and copies a synopsis of its data into the Google database.  Google SpiderThis is what getting ‘indexed’ is refering to.  What most people don’t understand, is that Google is always re-indexing websites in order to continually track their relevance to various search terms.  Indexed sites with a high PageRank get indexed more frequently, and as the spider indexes a website, it will also crawl through any links present on that site and index the linked-to site.  Sites of a PR5 or higher get indexed about every 24 hours.  This means that even if your site is brand new, if it receives an inbound link from a PR5 site, a Google spider will find and index it within approximately 24 hours.  SWEET BEANS!

Now the only problem is figuring out how to get a webmaster with a PR5 site to actually link to you!

***Fun Fact***

Most people think that the word ‘page’ in the term PageRank makes reference to ‘webpage’ or ‘homepage’, but in fact the term ‘page’ is used in reference to Larry Page; the Google co-founder who wrote the algorithm which Google exclusively licenses from Stanford University in order to assign PageRanks to websites.)