Month: May 2007

Great Viral ideas – make one for yourself and get traffic

This is great, its a write a song for SEO contest! 😀

Original huh? You can win a $1000-00 too.

If I was gonna enter I’d give it this, played real real slow with heavy emphasis on the riffs.

Aint no rankings when SERPs gone
There’s no traffic when she’s away
Aint no money when they’re gone
And they’re always gone too long
Anytime the bot goes away..

Bill Withers Aint no sunshine

The point is though – its an original idea that people like and are playing with. By coming up with original ideas, posts, points of view you’ll get readers, grow your traffic and have a blog where people engage and interact. Isn’t that a primary aim for all?

Get to it, lazy mo fo’s

Link tips – are you linking to your friends in a useful way?

Link to your friends effectively

Some times we tend to take everything we’ve learnt for granted, we assume that everyone must surely know that already. It’s one of the reasons why we tend to use jargon – we just assume that because we know, then it follows that others probably know as well.

So with that little intro out of the way, herein follows a little statement of the obvious that might not be obvious to all. 😀

If you have a friend who happens to be an SEO in Cornwall or know an SEO in Orange county who has written a good article about obtaining .edu links then link to them in the way I just did!

If you link to them with the words this, here, or click then you are really not doing them as much of a favour as you could be. You wan’t to help your friends right? You wan’t to help improve the relevance of their pages too huh?

So, if they write an article that talks about their launching a new link building service, then use those terms just as I did and link directly to the page too.

If you already know that they are ranking well for a particular term, then mix things up a little for them too. Think of variants of the words they’d like to found for and vary those. People looking for solid business blogging tips might not always enter those terms in a search engine, some might enter make money from your blog, or monetise your blog. By knowing who your write about and taking a little more time, you could be helping them and adding value to what you do, both for them and the people who will subsequently find them in a search engine somewhere.

For those who don’t know – search engines use a thing called anchor text to help them determine relevance. The words that are contained in the link add weight to the page by adding contextual weight. An assumption is made that if a person points to a page with descriptive words, then it follows that the page is likely to be a good match for those terms. If enough people, or enough sites with sufficient levels of authority link to that page for those terms, then the relevance of this page amongst others, is boosted resulting in a greater likelihood of that particular page being returned for the search engine query.

The perfect algorithm – how would yours work?

Search engine ranking algorithms are a mysterious thing. Very few people on earth have access to their exact blueprint, for those of us who think we have cracked it, it all seems relatively simple. Put enough of the right things in place in the right combination and presto you are in, right, simple huh? In reality of course, hardly.

Work at the coalface dictates that the safes combination gets harder to crack as more people try to open it for their target terms. It just doesn’t do anymore to think of ones documents in simple structure word count and number terms. As the document numbers increase, some keywords can take on an almost esoteric level of attainment. The access parameters are ratcheted up to a point of ‘hey if you want to score here, you gotta be doing real good‘. So, whats a man to do then?

Techno crackhead SEO’s on observation acid

SEO minded people who think about this sort of stuff might well share some of my musings, specifically in terms of thinking like a search engine algorithm. The theory being of course that any successful understanding of anything makes it a whole lot easier to apply what we have learned and therefore, apply in attacking it – hardly rocket science there.

Too many people I think, tend to approach SEO from a rigid bits and bytes approach. They forget that at their very core, search algos are built by ordinary thinking human beings, subject to similar influences as us all. They are people who visit the same kinds of conferences, interact with the same kinds of people via forums and blogs and pubs and restaurants. The only difference between them and us, and lets not make no mistake about it, it is very much them and us is that they hold the keys and are in a state of continual defence and counter offence.

Observation observation observation

If you look at most sites that perform well consistently today, then amongst the more competitive of SERPs, there are a number of observable constants.

It seems almost obvious to say, but I’ll say it nonetheless that most good sites with good competitive rankings are relatively well balanced and have the right combinations of the required signals to rank.

Really Rob? No shit sherlock, well yeah but it doesn’t hurt to say them out loud now does it.

Content content content

On the content side its pretty safe to say that a site has to have the right level of keywords, spread about in the right kind of way. In the overwhelming majority of cases pages that rank for keywords have them on the page.

Trust me baby and I’m popular too

On the trust side a site needs the right level of authority in its field, with the right kinds of people linking in, in the right kinds of way.

On the social side its not a bad thing to to hope that the site is discussed often enough in the right web social circles.

Do people hang at your party?

From the visitor perspective, we know that search engines can deduce a hell of a lot from the actions of people who are either logged in or have a toolbar installed. Toolbar data being a great way of obtaining that vital user behaviour data useful for indicating the right positive or neagitive feedback signals.

If you can objectively measure how people behave ‘on site’ then overtime, with sufficient data, some excellent assumptions can be made.

If questions like, ‘Once on a site how long do visitors stick around‘ can be answered or ‘Are they off in a heartbeat flicking back to the SERP for a better result‘ then asking the questions of ‘Is this a common phenomena‘ and ‘How many different people in different parts of the planet engage in such behaviour patterns‘ really do help to make assumptions and say that these would be the kinds of signals that should be folded in and added to a sites overall ability to rank.

We don’t like SEO’s we don’t want or need their sphere of influence

For the Search engines, an SEO’s ability to influence the latter aspects mentioned is next to zero. As a result, this information should outweigh many of the other established or accepted signals that many assume to be weightier.

For me, this should be the holy grail of a search engineers work, creating an algo that is next to unmanipulable, at least by the direct actions of search engine marketers.

Other contributions of course are things like ‘user personalisation’, often talked about as the next big SEO challenge, with algos tailored towards surf history, age and user behaviour; almost dictating that the day of the universal SERP are on their way out.

SEO on its deathbed?

Absolutely not! Good SEO’s who appreciate the ever shifting sands already have an excellent take on all of the factors required to rank. Even with the private data mining capabilities mentioned, the search engines still require good, well structured sites made and promoted by people with a good understanding for what creates and sustains buzz and interest in this Internet world – that demand isn’t going to go away anytime soon.


Its no surprise that the big search players all make a big play on the benefits of membership to their little cookie clubs and whatnot, and maybe a day will come even, where they are arrogant enough to make you play their game or go off and find something else to search with, who knows.
They can hardly be blamed mind, cos after all, it all helps in the quest for the perfect algo right?

Adsense Arbitrage Google to kill MFA’s

Communiques of impending doom 

According to Jensense Google are going to be disabling adsense accounts that are being used for MFA type sites.

Numerous AdSense publishers have been receiving emails from Google the past couple of days stating that their use of their AdSense account is an unsuitable business model and that accounts would be disabled as of June 1st, giving publishers about two weeks notice to prepare for the loss of the AdSense accounts

That’s big news, especially if you are one of these people who have gotten kind of comfortable earning what seemed to be a relatively easy buck.

Arbitrage in a nutshell

For those of you who don’t know what it is and how it all worked, the short explanation is that you’d build a site designed to get clicks from users on your adsense ads and earn a buck.

How you obtained the traffic varied. Some people used PPC (pay per click) programs to buy clicks at the lowest possible rate and filtered them through to a site with ads that attracted a higher payback. So if you paid $.05 for a click and got $.06 upwards back then you’d make a profit.

Google being the largest PPC player on the block means that exclusion from their program leaves a smaller pie to play with.

So what who cares, did anyone die?

Is there anything inherently wrong with this practice? Well, Google seem to think so, else why would they take this action. yet, it has to be said that people do similar things in different ways and different markets. Its called Capitalism.

It remains to be seen whether similar programs will take similar actions. They all make vsrious public pronouncements about how they like to protect their advertisers and add value to them and all that old hype, yet the reality is that in the case of Google for example they’ve happily just let the pennies roll on in for some years now without any real meaningful steps to curtail the process.

One can only speculate as to what actually drove this decision. A call to arms to clean up the SERPs perhaps? A cry from advertisers sick of low quality traffic. A general why should an external marketer be allowed to profit from our system using two sides of the same coin even. Who knows.

The bottom line is that the game has changed yet again.

Dealing with it and taking remedial steps

If you are a thin affiliate for example with product feeds and general low quality ‘find it everywhere else’ kind of content with adsense thrown in for good measure, then perhaps you too could find yourself on the receiving end of one of these unwelcoming letters.

Of course it could just be a public purge designed to bolster waning perceptions of ad quality and policing. Advertiser confidence is key to the success of any program. Advertisers using the adsense network don’t want to have low quality shitty visitors to their sites from people who had no alternative other than to click an advert, the view being that this type o traffic simply doesn’t convert. If advertiser confidence in the adsense network is improved then it follows that more will participate. More participants equals more revenue of course.

I can understand this too. On sites I run, Ive opted out of the adsense network from the off, simply because of all the low quality non converting crap I used to receive.

Don’t get me wrong, the adsense network can be great from a brand building and getting your url out there perspective, and it really does depend too on what kind of market sector you operate in. The big arber sharks of this world tend to target the highest paying keywords as these offer the biggest payback for them, perhaps an additional problem has been that as more people have gotten in on the act, this net has increasingly expanded downwards with arbers being forced into going for the smaller paying terms as the larger ones margins were squeezed.

On days like this, I’m glad I’m not an arber 🙂

3 lazy tips for those who can’t be arsed to hire an SEO

SEO advice good or bad 

We all know that if we want to get lots of visitors and expect to get them from search engines then unless we apply a little SEO knowledge, we’ll never get past page 25 for our target keywords.

But is there a quick way to get off the ground? Especially if we don’t know where to start and can’t be fussed with what seems to be a torturous process of trying to work out who to employ or what to apply and in what way.

There’s a lot of stuff out there on SEO. Lots of it, page after page after page of opinion, speculation and hogwash.

When SEO is discussed for example what do they mean when they say

You need a few meta tags here and there?

Your title tags need to be looked at and changed?

Your copy needs to be rewritten?

Do they mean that you need to restructure everything and throw in lots of bold tags, links, H tags, blockquotes, off site links, nofollow links, url rewrites, increase keyword densities?

What do they mean when they begin to talk in terms of your pagerank or alexa score or external link building campaigns that-will-use-a-combination-of -social-and-historical-methods and yeah… wtf exactly does that mean even.!

 Most would be forgiven for taking the conclusion of, this SEO stuff is  a little confusing to say the least!

Just hire a professional SEO

I’d advise anyone who is serious about their website and clueless on SEO to go and hire an individual or firm who know what they are doing. Ask them for references, don’t buy any BS about monthly submission fees or ‘get you on 1st page of google in a week’ promises as you may as well just send it to my beer benevolent fund and let me drink it for you, I can promise you the same you know 😀

I’m a tightwad, I’m smart I can do it myself thanks, just gimmee a tip!

Ok, so you wish to persist on your own and want to have a little play around yourself . Ok, without further ad0 here are 3 little tips that you wouldn’t go too far wrong applying..

  1. Create something that is good – Kick arse with your content, do it better than everyone else.Have an idea or product that is good!If your website is crap, then improve it, add value now, before it goes down the tubes.

    Add a blog, use social mediums to drive it forward, ask yourself lots of questions and be honest with your answers. Would you want to buy your product from your website? Is your site the best at what it does? If the answer is no, then it’ll pay to think that the search engines might think the same too. If thats the case, then you could be stuffed pretty quickly. Can you afford to be so?

    The web is powered by links and in lots of ways, the words contained within those links. You need to get people to link to you in all manner of themed ways, to different areas of your site from as many different sites as possible. This is the juice that will power you up the ranks. If you don’t have it, then it will be very difficult to rank without it.

    Link juice will be very difficult to obtain if what you are selling or saying is nothing but a lot of old rubbish or same old same old. It takes hours of effort to manufacture artificial link popularity. Your time could be better utilised on improving your product. By creating something that is useful or buzz creating, you will get people talking about you and what you do.

    Use your blog to communicate with your visitors. Discuss your latest innovations or deals. Feedback to people who are enquiring of what you do. Show them a human side to your organisation/business/personality. Give them what they need.

    Ping the various social connecters out there – get active in your sphere, create excitement in your marketplace, stimulate your visitors, give them a reason to return. Give them the tools to talk about you in earnest.

  2. Use established site structuring techniques and good effective copyYou’d be amazed at the number of pages that fail at the very first hurdle of production.Go and read up about basic good page structureUse the title tag effectively.

    If your site has pages that say “Company name: about us section” or “Company name: our product section” then you really need to think about that and ask yourself what the value in that is. The short answer is there is very little.

    Everypage of a website should be different. Everypage should have a unique title tag that suitably heads up that page. If a page is about a Sony Vaio Ar21 then those words should come first within the tag.

    It sounds elementary and obvious but you’d be amazed at the amount of people out there who miss this singley important factor. Trust me <title>Sony Vaio Ar21 Laptop – Buy your Sony Vaio Ar21 Laptops here – read Sony Laptop reviews and more</title> works infinitely better than <title>Company name: Our Laptop products</title>.

    Use headings to head up your content and apply logic to what it is you are discussing.

    If a page is about the Sony Vaio AR21, then put those words in your H1 tag. Do not expect to just stick an image or a flash movie in there and expect it to do well. You have to tell both your visitors, and the search engine spiders that you would like to index your pages, what it is that your pages are about. Spiders cannot deduce meaning and context from that which they cannot see. Images and Flash movies and videos are more or less useless as they offer little means for either.

    Use words, and emphasise important words such as your product name – use related language to describe what you are selling or trying to promote. If you don’t want to take the time to look at your SERPs for examples of how this works, then go hire an SEO copywriter, ask to see examples of their work and look to see how these people are ranking.

    Use good link navigation throughout your site. Consider using breadcrumb trails throughout. Page > Subpage> Product name

    Clean your urls so they read nice. Read up on modrewrite and get rid of those session id’s and variable parameters.

  3. Discuss one topic or product per page. If you are selling products on your site then you need to have individual pages for individual products. Unless you are a craigslist or an Amazon or a dealtime or an ebay perhaps, you just will not rank for a product on a page that contains 20 other items.If you want to have any chance of ranking for individual keyword items, then you must seriously consider creating a separate page for each.

    If you have 100’s or 1000’s of products then invest in a database or spreadsheet and read up on dynamic page creation. It really isn’t too difficult, and will save you hours of editing and fannying about opening up separate files to do this that and what have you. Template design is where its at.

What you expected more? Sorry, maybe some other day 😀

Kontera – Blog monetisation via contextual links

Quick short post. As part of this blogs monetisation experiment, Ive decided to trial Kontera. Visitors will notice that there are double underlined links which feature a little advert when a cursor is placed over an identified link.

Generally, I think they are fairly unobtrusive and most savvy users should notice a differentiation between normal links and these advert type links. An example of a typical ad can be seen below.

Im using the <div class=KonaBody> tag to ensure that its only my blog posts that are affected in this way. I don’t think its right that my commenters comments should be used in this way, so rest assured that whatever you say will not be advertisizied!

I’ll report back in 6 weeks or so and let people know how things progressed.

Blogging and continuing missed conversations

Continuing the conversation on your blog

This post isn’t really aimed at the hardcore experienced blogger, its more aimed at those just starting out, people like me in fact. I’m fairly knew to all this and tend to blog from a search centric POV. Whilst its generally true that its search engines that will give most bloggers their traffic, there are nonetheless a variety of other  ways you can drive traffic and build the conversation within your sphere.

Blogging is popular for many reasons. Be it a tool for self expression, a tool for self promotion or just a general communication medium, its a fantastic way to reach out and have a conversation with people with similar interests.

Most of us are aware of the fantastic tools and platforms out there that enable us to see who is referencing us and in what context.

Trackbacks the process of ‘pinging’ a blog automatically is one such way. Checking your technorati stats is another. Using other 3rd party plugins or embed code is another still; Feedburner, Google anlaytics, Webtrends, Clicktracks to name but a few.Not to forget of course, the old trusty web server log files. Oh and lets not forget the ever increasing number of social media blogging communities that have sprang up recently. MBL, BumpZee, SpicyPage and my current favorite of course, BlogCatalog.

The really great thing about these is that they enable you to put a human face to your readership, letting you see who recently visited you, seeing new faces, clicking through to their sites or pages at their community and seeing what they have to say about whatever it is they do. Ive found some great blogs this way, that I otherwise may simply have missed.

I started blogging as ‘robwatts’ in January 2007. Yep, thats not so long ago at all. If you want to read my figures and stats here they are.

I currently have a little over 110 subscribers –  a technorati authority score of 208 with a rank of 19,424 and an alexa rank of  102,721 My Google PR is 4.

In comparison to other sites these numbers are very small beer, yet to be frank, I didn’t start blogging to win any popularity contest or acquire willy waving look at how big I am type scores, yet it is nice to know that people are interested in some of the things I have to say, and that these are beginning to be reflected in the various metrics fore-shown.

Its funny, but when you initially start out talking about whatever it is you discuss, you realize that, by and large you have a very small audience indeed. You might well write the most fantastic of stuff, yet if you don’t have the readership or eyeballs on your content, then not many people are going to be able to see or comment upon it. can you do anything about this? Sure you can…Ive already touched on one such automated way, but for the benefit of those who may have missed it, I’ll cover it again.

Catch your Tumbleweed

If your blogposts are blowing about in the wind, wailing away crying for a little attention then maybe you just have to let people know they are there.

I guess this was one of the thoughts that swam around in the depths of my subconscious which with a prompt or 2 pushed me in the right direction.The creative process is one of those things that can just sneak up and bite you on the behind. I was thinking about some of my posts that hadn’t received comments, and half jokingly blogged on it back in April.

I challenged the blog community (or my tiny growing readership at the time)  to calculate what their ‘tumbleweed’ score was for their blog and added as an afterthought, that I might even develop a plugin to help people automagically display their scores. Some bloggers like Andy responded, and made me realise that actually, this could well be a handy little addition to the blogging productivity box. The idea was that by having a visible metric, you could see how your posts were being responded to over a given timeframe, as well as show old posts that your newly aquired readers may have missed. So was born the tumbleweed plugin for wordpress.

Its nothing incredible of course, it just uses a little SQL and some basic maths. It may not work on all WP setups either, but it should work on most.

As for people using other blogging platforms, the short response at the moment is that it just will not work on your set ups. Blogger is kinda restrictive in terms of how it enables you to interact with the back end so my hands are a little tied. If I get enough interest or requests I may well look at creating something similar for platforms like Typepad,Drupal etc.

If youv’e written stuff that you think was good and think that people might benefit from seeing/reading again and want a little prompter to help you see how you are performing in a fun light hearted way, then tumbleweed could well be the thing for you.

Meantime, whatever it is you are doing or writing about, enjoy it!

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