Recently I came across an article that caught my attention. It was an interesting read on creating content, and there was some good advice on writing original text. For example, keeping the copy relevant to the service or product offered on your site and writing an FAQ page, making sure to insert your key phrases. This is good honest advice that will work for the long run.
There was one part, however, that made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Here’s a quote, “Bear in mind, authorities and experts in a given field are often seeking collateral exposure, which you can provide them. The exercise is to find an article published online that contains content related to your industry and ask for permission to “reprint” it on your site.”
I must strongly disagree; reprinting articles from other sites can cause problems with duplicate content. When the search engines determine that the content on two different pages are duplicate, one will be chosen seemingly at random by the “duplicate content filter” in the algorithm and sent to the supplemental index (otherwise known as Google Hell). You are better off writing original content that refers to the article and providing a link to it.
If you are having trouble coming up with original content, you could consider implementing a blog on your site and discussing the issues that come up on a daily or weekly basis. You can also encourage you customers to comment on these blogs, which helps to create user generated content. If you’re still having trouble, consider contracting a professional copywriter who is trained in creating original text.
I will leave you with this thought, be very careful when seeking out advice about increasing the rankings and the traffic of your site. Although the advice you find may be well intentioned, it may inadvertently harm you. Always check and double check any information you find regarding SEO.
Search engine optimization is hard work and every day it gets harder! The search engines change the rules and new technology makes time-honored methods for getting good natural rankings obsolete. Lately, building in-bound links has gotten very tough because of the “nofollow” attribute that many large sites and even directories have been adding to their links.
If you haven’t heard about it, apparently, some unscrupulous people were spamming the comments’ sections of blogs and even wikipedia.org by adding multitudes of links back to their sites. They wanted to increase their Google Pageranks and for a while, it worked.
To discourage this practice, the owners of these sites started using the “nofollow” attribute because Google and other search engines discount any links coming to your site with the rel=“nofollow” attribute in the anchor tag. They may follow the link to your site but they won’t record it. With the “nofollow” attribute added to all the links, the links then lose their attraction for spammers.
Of course, this makes it much better for those of us who want to read genuine comments and articles without having to put up with spam. However, it also means that submitting your site to a directory or placing a link back to your site in an article or blog comment might not get you the in-bound link credit that you were hoping for; and if you’re not very good at reading the source code of the pages you visit, it can be hard to tell if the links you see are no-follow or not.
Luckily, there are lots of wonderful clever people out there making life a little easier for us all. One of the most useful tools that has come along is: Search Status. It’s a great device that sits on your Firefox browser and provides information on search optimization efforts.
One of my favorite features is the “Highlight Nofollow Links”. As I surf the web, links with nofollow tags on them show up like this:
So, when I’m looking for places to submit a web site, I can tell at a glance if a directory listing is going to be valuable for attracting both human and robot visitors.
Search Status also features the Alexa toolbar so if you don’t want to send your web statistics to Alexa, Search Status is not for you. If that doesn’t bother you, you can find Search Status at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/321 along with lots of other cool add-ons for Firefox or you can go straight to Craig Raw’s site at www.quirk.biz/searchstatus/. Which are your favorite tools? Let me know.
Perhaps the most underappreciated form of writing is the simple list. We all make them. We attach them to our refrigerators to remind us to buy milk and we use them as references to track our day. What many people may not realize is that lists can be used for much more.
In her book, Approaches to Discourse Georgetown University professor, Deborah Schiffrin notes that when speakers tell a story, they often use list structures along with or, even in place of, standard narrative structures. For example:
We went to the store to buy some fruit.
There were so many kinds of fruit that we couldn’t decide between them, so we didn’t buy any at all.
If lists can be used to tell a story, it should be no surprise that lists can also be natural choices for structuring all kinds of web content, including marketing copy.
In fact, the list can be a valuable tool for composing web content. Lists add visual and semantic structure that can make any writing easier to follow and research in reading comprehension has found that students do better when presented with well-structured content in their classroom materials. These findings also carry over to the kind of writing found on commercial web sites. Studies in web usability show that structuring content with lists enhances the readability of standard promotional writing, too. When combined with concise, objective styles, content written using unordered lists improves by as much as 124%.
All this may explain why search engines place a higher value on keywords found in ordered and unordered lists. A web page containing a list of items all related to the main keyword targeted for the page is more likely to actually be relevant to that keyword. It’s just the nature of a well-structured list and something that is fairly easy for search engines to detect.
We often see lists used to describe a range of products or services. What else could we use a list for? What else can you do with a list?