Articles in The 'SEO' Tag


April 26 2007

Better Living with SEO Tools

by Marjory Meechan

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.

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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:

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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.

April 17 2007

Ordered List, Unordered List, The List Goes On and On

by Marjory Meechan

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 pears.
  • And peaches.
  • And oranges.
  • And even some enormous melons.

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.

The World Wide Web Consortium has an excellent article describing the advantages of using lists in web content and the best way to go about coding them. These valuable tips can help you:

  1. improve the readability of your web content
  2. make your copy more understandable
  3. optimize your code for multiple browser platforms
  4. make your pages more attractive to search engines
  5. and the list goes on and on or it could.

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?

April 4 2007

Too many links too quickly…Does it really hurt my rankings?

by MoreVisibility

There is a debate among SEO professionals as to how quickly acquiring links can affect the ranking of a particular site. You can find several differing opinions about the subject, and other key factors in SEO, by reading http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors.

In my opinion, the major factor is whether or not the links are acquired naturally. Link farms can literally give you thousands of links almost instantaneously, but so can an article which gets a lot of attention in the social media circles. So what’s the difference?

The major difference is that a social media article generates links that are related to the content on your site and thereby relevant, whereas a link farm may provide links to pages that are completely unrelated to your content. This is a significant difference, as I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts. Links that are not relevant to the content on your page are not going to be counted.

I stated in my post Linking Can Be Scary, that a good strategy is to secure 1 link a week until you have more than 20 quality links, and 2 a week thereafter. I stand by that recommendation, however there can be exceptions. When you post an article on the social media sites like http://www.digg.com it can inspire people who are interested in your content to link to you. Because this can be somewhat viral, those links may come in rather quickly but the difference is that they are natural links (relevant to your copy).

As an example, we recently had a client who signed up for a link exchange that he saw in the newspaper (without asking us first). Almost immediately after receiving the links from this program, the client dropped out of the engines. We recommended that he stop purchasing links from this program, he did and two weeks later his rankings returned to what they had been before receiving a bunch of irrelevant links.

So while it is possible to generate many links quickly, it is imperative to avoid the traps that can harm you. Ask yourself, will associating myself with this site generate links that are closely related to my content? If the answer is yes, then go ahead with it. If not then it is best to steer clear.

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