• Posted on August 17, 2010

Are Guest Posts A Bad Link Building Strategy?

Danny Wong on Search Engine Journal has posted (a guest post at that) 5 reasons why we shouldn’t use guest posts as part of our link building strategies. His five reasons are fair enough, however, I believe there is a counter argument to each reason. If you look at them one by one:

Expertise vs. True Relevance

Guest posts don’t prove any real expertise or offer true relevance unless you are writing guest posts on highly relevant sites and the guest post itself is relevant to both your site and the host site. Bridge posts – that is, posts that bridge the gap between the two sites work well. However, relevance is the key.

Website Semantic Irrelevance

Danny Wong offered the example of an SEO post linking back to a men’s clothing site. Obviously, there is no relevance, not even a loose relevance. But then, why write a guest post on a site that is not relevant to your niche? The idea of a guest post is to provide some link juice and to deliver relevant traffic – relevant traffic will only really come from a relevant web site.

Page Semantic Irrelevance

The argument here is that keywords in the post are not always optimised for the keywords you want to rank on. Since you are writing the post yourself, you can optimise for your keywords – if you haven’t then it’s poor writing on your part.

It’s a Cheap Tactic

And what is wrong with cheap? Cheap doesn’t mean anything. In fact, most link building tactics could be considered ‘cheap’. Does Google see this as a cheap link building tactic? I think Google looks at content (quality) and relevance. Sure, that SEO post linking to men’s clothing will score low on relevance, however, link that post to an SEO site and relevance jumps.

Duplicate Content Complications

Duplicate content is not that big an issue, especially if you are only looking at the resource box at the end of the post. However, as Danny points out, this can easily be rewritten for each guest post written.

Danny does go on and suggest that guest posting does have positives and does deliver some value. To increase the SEO value of guest posting, the answer is fairly simple. Write high quality content that you only post on websites that are relevant to your own. You will gain a little link juice, a flow of traffic, and a reputation for being an authority. There is more to guest posting than just link building.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 14th, 2010 at 1:22 pm and is filed under Link Building. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Posted on August 17, 2010

What Effect Will HTML5 Have On Web Design And SEO

HTML5 will introduce quite a few changes with several oft used attributes and commands deprecated. It will also see an introduction to several new commands that effectively bring HTML up to Web 2.0 standards. Will they impact on SEO and do we need to be concerned with current programming?

There are some aspects of HTML4 that we probably do need to rethink right now as we design and write code for new web pages. Bloggers that intend on being around for a long time may also need to rethink how they manipulate text and images within a page. Commands like [center] and [font] will not be supported.

Other common attributes that won’t be supported include image manipulation such as [hspace] and [vspace], [align] and [border] and general commands such as [div align=]. These will all impact on future browsers if HTML4 is dropped completely.

Will it effect SEO? The inclusion of commands such as and will make it easier to add these functions to a web page so you can expect to see an increase in their uses. Where I think there may be a change is in anchor text and inbound links.

The preference in HTML5 will be the use of the [cite] command with the [blockquote]. If users take to this then an inbound link could have anchor text that is not really relevant to your web page’s keywords.

It’s far too early to tell what effect HTML5 will have on SEO. It will impact on web design with a new set of commands to use along with easier inclusion for video and audio. Do we need to worry? I think not yet – but the time will soon come when we will have to address the issue.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 1:43 pm and is filed under Web Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Posted on August 17, 2010

Adding Your Scotland Based Local Business To AOL

Here in Scotland we need to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. We have focused in the past on the local search services of the major three search engines, Google, Yahoo! and Bing, but what about AOL?

While it might now be a minnow in the search wars, AOL still has a presence here in the UK, and its local business search service still draws 4-5 million searches each month. That is still a sizable amount of traffic and for local businesses, represents an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. AOL delivers their general search through aol.co.uk – however, my focus today is on their local search vehicle – Touch Local.

According to AOL, Touch Local is the “UK’s fastest growing online business finder”. If that’s the case, your business should be listed, and it’s not hard to do. Touch Local offers two forms of listing, free and paid. Their free service offers the basic information that can be found on other local search services; that is, name, address and telephone. You can also add business, product and service information.

Their paid service – called Touch LeadFinder – offers more although some of the features are already available for free with the major search engine local directories. For example, a link to your web page is only available through the paid listing. AOL will promote your listing on the other search engines if you use the paid service.

Local search for regional Scotland can provide a decent flow of traffic to both your website and your business. Registering on as many local search entities as possible is the only way to compete with your competitors.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 at 1:27 pm and is filed under Local Search. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Posted on August 17, 2010

Why A Search Engine Googopoly Is Bad For The Internet

Google has been the number one search engine for many years with Yahoo! and the rest, not trailing behind, but languishing. Because of Google’s dominance, search engine optimisation has centred around the algorithms that go into Google’s organic search rankings. To a degree, this has made life easier – it has also made life more difficult.

Because Google is so far in front, spammers concentrate on its search rankings. Every now and then, Google makes a change to its algorithm, perhaps decides to penalise certain habits (like paid links several years ago) or to boost other areas (such as social media). Now that’s fine except that often the little players get caught in the cross fire and suddenly find their hard work coming undone.

There is talk that Yahoo! is on its last legs. It seems to me it has been ‘on its last legs’ for many years now. Perhaps Bing can finally kill it off. The end result will not be a better internet – if anything, it will become poorer – not because of Yahoo! disappearing, but because of the lack of competition.

If we had four or five strong search engines, the competition would be much better. More importantly, spammers would have a tougher time. Five strong search engines means five different sets of algorithms. I am not sure that spammers would have such an easy time. An even bigger issue are the search results themselves.

I am not sure if many searchers have noticed the changes creeping into the search results these days. I have mentioned it before; if you actually look at search results, they are becoming compartmentalised. You have image results grouped together, likewise video, news, products and local business (local search). What’s next? Will blogs be removed from organic search and get a little compartment of their own? Commerce, articles; where does it stop? Search results will become a page of compartments each dedicated to a particular segment.

That could be good for the user, it may be good for some sectors of the web, but I am not sure it is going to be good for the web as whole. Competition has proven to be the best innovator and the only way to provide a quality service. Monopolies rarely have the interests of anyone except the self – and Google is becoming a large Googopoly. What are your thoughts – is a single all powerful search engine good for the internet?

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 20th, 2010 at 6:10 am and is filed under Search Engines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

Search Engine Marketing – Playing By The Rules

Search engine marketing is one area that small business owners struggle with. Pay-per-click is the main area of difficulty and is one area where the once bitten twice shy rule comes into play all the time. It can be a mine field. If you don’t put your campaign together effectively, it can be costly, produce little in the way of results, and often lead to a kick in the pants by the pay-per-click provider.

Google Adwords is notorious for suspending campaigns with little if any notice and the reason for this is simple, the campaign hasn’t followed the rules that are in place. The rules themselves are not as complex as they may first look.  Google are interested in one thing – provide the right results to its users. If they can get that right the majority of the time then users will continue to use their services and Google will continue to rake in revenues.

I mention Google is the chief culprit when it comes to suspending campaigns, but they are not the only ones – all search engines have a set of standards that advertisers need to follow. Fail to follow those standards and they too will suspend your advertising campaign. Areas that often cause problems include:

Not accurately representing your product or service – some advertisers use a keyword to promote a product but the landing page is promoting another product.Not supporting advertised prices, discounts and free offers – if you include a price, discount or free offer then it should be clearly available on the landing page.Not allowing a browser’s ‘Back’ button to work – by turning off the back button you are taking control away from the user – this is not permitted.Not displaying the correct URL – this was an old trick. Display one URL but send the user to a different address altogether. The display URL has to be the landing page’s URL

You can read Google’s advertising policies here. If you are really struggling to put together a campaign yourself, find a professional who can do it for you. In many cases, the cost of that professional is easily recouped by lower costs per click and increased sales. If you do intend doing it yourself, then remember that search engine marketing does have rules that need to be followed. It’s not unusual either. Even traditional offline advertising has a set of rules that must be followed.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

PR And Reputation Management Gain Local Search Boost

The bane of many a small business is a bad review, especially if it’s unearned. What often makes matters worse is that often you cannot even respond to the review. I’ll throw into the hat good reviews that you could also respond to. All that has changed now as Google has opened up its reviews on Google Places and now allows local businesses the opportunity to respond to these reviews.

This is a change that many have asked for and, for once, Google have listened. It’s an important change given the emphasis that Google does place on these reviews and Google Places listings in general. As a business owner with a local search listing, I suggest you not waste any reviews you do receive – they are wonderful PR and reputation management opportunities.

When it comes to reputation management, being able to respond to a poor review is important. Customers will often lodge a complaint with a business and leave a poor review at the same time. Even though their complaint is handled to everyone’s satisfaction, they rarely return to update their poor review. You can at least respond to the outcome of the complaint – you may even find the customer adding their response.

PR is an important issue in today’s marketplace and good reviews are gems. You can add value to these positive reviews by responding yourself. I would advise against simply responding with a ‘thanks for a great review’. Use the opportunity to sell your business. By this, I mean you should respond with a positive message. For example, ‘thanks for the positive review. We are proud of our product and customer service history and continue to strive for improvement’. You could also use a good review to up-sell services; for example, ‘thanks for your kind words and don’t forget you can add xyz when you’re ready to expand your xyz’s capabilities’.

Whatever you do, don’t waste a review, either positive or negative. They are unique opportunities online to communicate with your customers in a very public way – and consumers are turning to these reviews in increasing numbers. If you are not sure how to respond to a review, Google offer some suggestions that are worth looking at. You can read their suggestions here and read about the change to Google Places policy on reviews here.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

Performing Due Diligence On New Online Businesses

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can have an impact on a business. When starting an online business, it is important to perform due diligence on every aspect of that business.  From domain name through hosting and on to web design, each component can be fraught with hidden dangers. As a business owner, you are responsible for any outcomes and your online business could suffer if don’t dig deep enough.

Take domain names, for example. You cannot take someone else’s offline business name or brand and buy that domain name (unless, of course, you have their permission). I know there are many that rub their hands with glee when they see a successful business’ domain name is available. The problem is, you can build that into a successful online business only to lose the domain name in a legal brawl with the offline business – and they do normally win. Before settling on a domain name, a little due diligence will ensure your selection is a safe selection.

The second area to check is your web hosting company. Cheap normally means just that. I say ‘normally’ as there are some good value hosting companies around. You need to be sure they are hosting your business here in the UK. There are many that, to all intents and purposes, are UK hosts, but their servers are in Ireland, Europe (including eastern Europe) and the US. Dig deep to be sure your hosts servers are here in the UK.

Finally, when it comes to your web design, the industry is pretty good at present. It still pays to have a second set of eyes run over your site’s code. In years gone by, web designers have included links to third party sites, sometimes hidden from view. These are often links that they have been paid to include, without your permission or knowledge. It’s not ethical and doesn’t appear that frequently today – however, it still pays to check. If you are using free or cheap templates, check the footers – you will sometimes be surprised to see where the links are actually going.

Due diligence is something we do to most aspects of our business. You need to include it in all aspects of your online business as well. Never make assumptions, always check to ensure that what is being stated is a fact. The online world is competitive and it’s the little things that can often make a difference.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

Blogging For The Sake Of Blogging Is Not Blogging

Blogging is one of the most popular activities online these days and the lines are becoming blurred between social media, social bookmarking and traditional blogging. There are bookmarking sites like Tumblr that allow ‘blog’ entries and there has been a suggestion that Facebook incorporate a blog feature as well. I see nothing wrong with this; in fact, the more outlets there are for people to blog, the better.

However, when it comes to a business, blogging for the sake of blogging could be a negative. I can only see two reasons for a business to incorporate a blog. One is to open communication with customers and the second is to provide SEO benefits. For either one, blogging has still got to provide a worthwhile experience.

Customers, or potential customers, won’t hang around or return to your blog if the content is useless to them. Likewise, if search engines see nothing but keyword-stuffed blog posts with links to all your important pages, they won’t give it the authority it needs to build those pages.

It is not difficult to create content that is both useful to your visitors and of value to develop authority. Well written content will, over time, develop natural inbound links. These links are an essential part of that authority development.

Rather than blogging without direction, put together a game plan for your blog. It can work for both visitor satisfaction and SEO purposes. You can then incorporate some of the social blogging platforms that are developing that can act like funnels, first bringing traffic to your blog then channeling that traffic to your site’s ‘money’ pages. Get it right and everyone wins – get it wrong and blog for the sake of blogging, with content that is really worthless, and no one wins, least of all your business.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 19th, 2010 at 1:41 pm and is filed under Blogging. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

Internal Linking – Don’t Be Afraid Of The Long Tail

One of the most important on-site optimisation strategies is your internal link building. Internal link building serves several purposes. The most obvious is to lead visitors to more content and, hopefully, to conversion, be it a sale or sign-up.

Internal link building also helps to lead the search engines deeper inside your web site. More importantly, it can lead the search engines deeper while helping to build the search engines’ overall view of those deeper pages. This is done through the anchor text used in the links.

The problem with many web site owners is the use of that anchor text. It needs to be varied, not concentrating on the same text every time. If your link page is about ‘blue widgets’, you only need a couple of links for the search engines to get the message.

That internal page is not just about ‘blue widgets’. If it’s about ‘installing blue widgets’ then use that as anchor text as well. In fact, you should ask yourself what subsections you have on the page. Is there is a section on ‘installing blue widgets for WordPress’? If so, then use that as anchor text. This is what we call long tail anchor text and it can be quite powerful.

This is becoming the type of phrase that searchers are likely to use to find information. If you have used that phrase as anchor text, you are providing the search engines with more information about that target page. If your page is associated with that search phrase then you are quite likely to gain traffic if you rank for that phrase.

If you have any doubts about long tails and longer search phrases, check your web analytics. You will be surprised when you see some of the search terms that have been used to find your pages.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 at 3:04 pm and is filed under Link Building. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  • Posted on August 16, 2010

SEO Report: Avoiding the Ban

Getting banned from a search engine index can spell disaster for your website.


While being enthusiastic about optimizing your websites for better results is admirable, you can unknowingly trigger search engine alerts and your site could end up being black listed for various reasons. This makes it important not to go overboard with any of your optimization efforts. Ensure that you always use only approved SEO strategies to get good ranking.

Search engines  like Search Engine Optimization that is helpful in giving searchers the best information, not tactics undertaken that try to manipulate the ranking by feeding what search engines look for. In other words, while all the search engines advise that you should make your websites search engine friendly so that they can easily access our websites and list them, you still should stay aware of the boundary drawn by search engines within which we should work.

When you cross those boundaries, search engines can penalize you in a number of different ways. Your search ranking could drop suddenly, your pagerank could drop suddenly – or in a  worst scenario, your website might disappear completely from the search results. When a website gets banned, you no longer feature in the search results, meaning that your website can be accessed only by typing the website URL in the browsers link field. This is possibly the worst thing that can happen to a website.

Here are few things that you should be avoided when optimizing your website so that you will not set off the search engine alarms.

Keyword stuffing is one of the top reasons why websites get penalized by search engines. To get good rankings in the search  results page, you need good keyword optimization – but it should not be overdone hoping that you can get to the front page instantly.

The next important task is linking – but if your websitesuddenly explodes with 1000+ back links, it will set off the search engine alarm, indicating that there is something underhanded about the sudden rise of links. So when you are engaging in link building campaign make sure that you are doing it in gradual fashion, such as building a link wheel or doing careful article marketing.  Do not get greedy or rushed and try to acquire 10000 links in one month. Make it look like a natural process; getting your link building done by experienced link building companies can help you avoid trouble.

Another factor to be taken into consideration while building links is that the anchor texts used should be different. Not all the anchor texts should be the same if it is natural linking! If all your links have the same anchor text, it looks manufactured – like you used a paid linking campaign, which can also set off the alarms. Here is yet another reason why you should use only an experienced company to work on your website’s link building campaign.

Avoiding keyword stuffing and suspect linking can help you keep out of trouble and maintain your website’s ranking.

Tags: banned, keywords, Linking, overoptimization, SEO

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