Monthly Archives: November 2007

Do keywords in url’s matter?

Jill talks about changing url’s in her post here.  In my opinion, if you have a good ranking URL then to change it for the sake of a position or 2 is a little silly and potentially destructive.

That said, it did get me thinking about the whole keywords in url thing around whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to use them.

Perhaps bad thing doesn’t really come in to it. Besides excessive use, I can’t think of any bad reason at all. I think  if anything they are good thing as they are both descriptive for humans and may also gain you a little weight in any link based algorithm that gave weight to keywords in the anchor text of a link, especially if people chose to link to you using the url only. Seen within a SERP they may also inspire a user to click through, simply via the fact that they tie the page to to the user query.

Consider this.

domain.com/keyword-keyword.htm

vs

domain.com/123456789.htm

Now, if that url is picked up by a search engine then any anchor text attribution will either be of the form 123456789 or keyword-keyword. Keyword-keyword would certainly be of more benefit especially as -’s are treated as space delimiters. (Jill does cover  this in her piece, so do go checkout what she said)

So what to do? Do we create nice juicy keyword urls in our CMS’s or do we just stick to short xyzpagename.htm conventions? I think it’s pretty clear to say that we’d be better served long term by using keywords in our URL’s, if only for the user benefits mentioned previously.

Algorithmically do keywords in a url even matter?

It’s hard to prove or disprove absolutely. I’ve tested this in the past and at the time I came to the conclusion that keywords in a url were worth doing and did give you an additional asset. Yet I can’t say with any certainty that the same applies today and forver more, simply because there are too many variables at play and you can’t ever be certain for sure around what SERPs are being weighted in which way and why. IMO different SERPs have different entry criteria, what might be easy to rank for in one space will be doubly difficult in another, simply because of how the algo has been weighted at the backend.

Search algorithms are a constantly moving target, (a little like search guidelines ;) ) They are updated and modified to take into account both the changing nature of the Internet itself as well as the actions of SEO’s looking to exploit a flaw or two.

How would you test such a thing?

There are all manner of ways of testing things, or reverse engineering algorithms to test and see how they work. I won’t focus too much on the software that already exists out there other than to say that some programs allow you to analyse SERPs and look at things like keyword placement and densities and back link numbers and other contributing factors to overall SERP position, none of which do any kind of definitive ‘that’s the whole unifying answer to what you seek’ simply because there are too many hidden variables that we don’t have absolute access and scrutiny of. These might be the trust rank number of the page or domain that links out, the human factor of the edited SERP whereby a search engine employee has artificailly downgraded or boosted a particular page or domain.

Thankfully, for the purpose of this little test, I think there is still a way to determine whether keywords in a url have a contributory benefit.For the basis of this example, in a test of ‘do keywords  in the url have any bearing on a serp’ here is what you might want to try.

Create 2 pages of equal size and structure.

Lets say that each page has a title tag, a h1 tag a paragraph of random nonsense text with an instance of the ‘magic’ keyword. The magic keyword would be something like huggersaurus, that mythical friendly dinosaur with a penchant for squashing people with love.

Page one would would mention the keyword in the title, the Hn tag, the p tag and in the url.

Page two would would mention the keyword in the title, the Hn tag, the p tag but not within the url.

We would then link to these pages using our anchor text and see what one would be returned first in any SERP.

We would need to vary the other words with our title and Hn and paragraph tags in a way that created two different pages of equal size and keyword density. It wouldn’t really help our test if one was demoted on the basis of some dupe content penalty.

We’d also need to ensure that for the purposes of our test, we measured and monitored what page we linked to first and how.

For example, I might well create a  link_to_page_one_ here, then a link_to_page_two_here.

Any bot encountering such links *might* well take into account what link was cited first and apply a small degree of weight in any date_encountered_timestamp field. To account for this, we would run another test in tandem that reversed the positions, so that we linked to page with keywords in the url second, rather than 1st. The pages would be of equal size and structure albeit with a different keyword.We could then look at what page was returned in any SERP and draw our various conclusions. If page with keyword in URL was returned 1st, then we could say that keywords in the URL do have a slight advantage over those that do not.

If we wanted to, we could also play around a little more and link to the pages in different ways. We could see if anchor text gave a significant boost to our pages and record how variances affected the outcomes. We could for example link to the page with the single keyword or multiple keywords, or the absence of the keywords and rinse and repeat until we were happy with our results.

Lots of SEO’s do this sort of stuff, it’s a great way of learning about algo’s and weightings and how the positioning of elements can and does have an effect of the makeup of a SERP. That said, lots of SEO’s don’t bother either, simply because they already have an instinctual feel for what works and what doesn’t. They know how to get pages ranked and know the best methods for doing so. They don’t need to test such things and unless you are an anorak geek, neither should you really! It’s fun to play around with it though, dont you think? :D

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Closed for a long lunch

I’m taking a note out of David Aireys book and have decided to take a break from this stuff.

Lately I find myself either rehashing what others have done, or getting all hatey with a company who couldn’t really care less about what I think anyways, and that’s just all a little crap and life’s too short for all that nonsense. I’m going to concentrate on some of the more positive things out there on the Internet and try and have a little fun with it all instead.

To my American friends, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it’s spent with those you care for and who care for you too. For everyone else, stay safe , see you when I feel a little less gloomy about this particular niche!

Meantime, I thought it would be nice to leave you all with some of the things you’ve said here these past 11 months, and give you a little link love too. To the guys a big firm pat on the back, to the girls a warm friendly hug. BFN

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BlogRush Stats

David from sciencetext informed me that Blogrush had been pretty much a waste of space for him. So I thought I’d login and have a little look to see what I’d received from the program.

These are my  Blogrush Stats from Sept through to today. I’ve had 114 visitors in 3 months from 148,766 impressions from my network. That’s a low CTR for sure. I have about 52,000 credits in the bank, if anyone wants to buy them, you can have them for 10 cents per pop ;) (jk)

The pluses – well… that’s 114 visitors I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The minuses – it’s a bit of a stinky old conversation rate

Credits Earned: 148,766

Your Traffic: 8,390

Referal Network Traffic: 140,376

Bloggers in Referral Network: 20

Bloggers added to Referral Network:20

HEADLINE TITLE SYNDICATED READERS DATE POSTED
Does The Google Algorithm Rank Pages Fairly? - - 09/16/2007
Subscribe To My Blog Its Bloody Excellent I Tell You! 587 1 09/16/2007
Brand Building – How Social Media Sites Help Build Your… 6,594 7 09/19/2007
Mbl Loses User Due To Forced Account Merge 3,088 3 09/21/2007
Ghosts In The Google Machine And Seeing Double 3,393 2 09/25/2007
Getting Noticed In A Sea Of Endless Chatter Whilst… 1,761 1 09/27/2007
How To Improve My Blog For Me Me Meme 11,108 12 09/28/2007
An Ever Changing Post For An Ever Changing World 5,445 6 10/04/2007
Google Penalizes For Paid Links And Promoting Yourself 3,287 9 10/07/2007
WordPress Pagerank Flow Considerations 11,215 19 10/09/2007
Does Google Have Anything To Fear From The Blogosphere? 26,992 24 10/14/2007
Don’t Ever Bank On Free Traffic, Build On It 4,973 4 10/25/2007
Blogging And Making Money – A State The Obvious… 16,940 21 10/31/2007
Seo A Waste Of Money? 53 - 11/11/2007
Seo A Waste Of Money? 5,286 6 11/11/2007
5 Things About Online Rob 1,572 - 11/16/2007
No Paid Ads, No Paid Links, Just Blog Monetisation 3,895 7 11/17/2007

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No paid ads, no paid links, just blog monetisation

There’s more than one route to the chip shop

Against the backdrop of a bunch of negative posts about bloggers and Google and their general anti blogger behaviour, I thought it might be useful to just touch on a method or two that I’ve not discussed here so much that might just help fill the void for those worried about any further actions from the Google monster down the line.

If you are worried about getting hit more than you already have, then this could be a post for you.

Before the meat and potatoes though, I just wanted to add a few words on some of the nonsense and hypocrisy on all of this. The bottom line is do what is right for you and your blog. Don’t get too caught up in safe theories. Weigh it all up and decide what is right for you and go for it.

It is my opinion that the next stage of the Google actions could possibly be a dumping of ranking ability or a removal from their index of bloggers who promote advertisers via the use of advertorials with KW rich anchor text.

I don’t think that it really matters if a company invents a new metric and calls it something new as ultimately savvy advertisers will know that at the end of the day, a good dofollow link is still a good dofollow link.

The creation of new metrics as a buy in tool does virtually nothing to reduce the impact on any text link dependent algorithm of 10′s of 1000′s of bloggers writing about 1000′s of different topics so IMO, I can’t really see how Google or any other company dependent in this way can publicly stand by and do nothing…well it could, but I think it unlikely, especially when word gets round that advertisers using this method are seeing a good ROI. Google will not only be exposed to arguments that say that their algorithmic index is corrupted by paid advertising, they will also see a potential loss of income as advertising dollars are diverted to alternative more cost effective streams.

Yet in the same breath, it’s kinda funny that when you think that virtually every single page in any competitive KW SERP is in some way there by virtue of a paid leg up from some tech savvy SEO, then you do begin to smile and see the inconstancies of any defence.

The perceived distinction between their algorithmic results and their paid ads is as important today as it was when they first started, if that perception is diluted, and their SERPs actually become more relevant into the bargain, then the urge to click those ads might just diminish too.

Google like to insist with their mantra that so long as it is of quality and of use to their users, then ultimately they are happy to send traffic to people in search of good on topic stuff. I’ll leave you to work out why the same can’t be said for bloggers being paid to write about on topic services and products for companies. It seems like it’s ok for a company to use an SEO or SEO methods to boost themselves up the SERPs, yet not ok for individual bloggers to enagage in actions that help do the same.

Be they paid blogger or paid SEO, both have the same outcome, potentially. The only difference is that someone somewhere decided that the paid blogger route had a greater potential for loss of advertising income.

Where to go to next for your blogging pennies and dollars?

So, you’ve tried adsense, you saw that it sucked for your blog, you’ve looked at Kontera and Bidvertiser and Adbrite and Ebay and all the other bunch of stuff out there that’s vaunted as a good way of earning money and found that without adequate traffic levels it just hasn’t paid, what next? Where to go?

Niche affiliate blogging

In this blog here I talked about how we all have our interests in life, every single one of us. In virtually every area of life there is a product or service that could be of benefit in some way. It’s how we humans work, we like to do stuff and we like to have tools and things to help us do it. Be it food, clothing, transport, love, toys…you get the picture I’m sure.

There are a literally 1000′s of affiliate programs out there today, with millions of products looking to be bought dissected and discussed, millions.

All you have to do is identify the products that interest you, or that you have a little knowledge about and write about them.

How you do that is entirely up to you. The trick is to be able to write about things in such a way that your visitors and readers will be inspired sufficiently to want to buy the product or use the service. What you want also, is for people to find your reviews in search engines too, write good stuff and people will link to it, it’s that simple. By getting  people in ‘buy’ mode, you’ll be getting visitors  who are actively seeking product reviews or the products themselves in the search engines. Search engines have no problem with affiliates, provided that they add value. An affiliate review or discussion of a service or product is one such way of adding value. You can do this via all manner of ways too, the only real block is the limits of your imagination.

Finding the right kinds of products and services

You could just go into your favourite search engine and type ‘product keyword’ affiliate program. You might get lucky too. You could also type into a search engine affiliate programs and take a chance with those you find, alternatively you could just sign up with one of the great ones that you know others have used and are reliable. I guess this is where I come in and get to recommend 2 that I’ve used that not only have a fantastic range of items, but have actually paid out too. In other words, they are a safe bet.

Commission junction being one and Tradedoubler another.

It’s very simple, both offer a similar route. In short, you search for a product or brand that you wish to discuss, apply to the program, and wait to see if you are accepted. Once accepted, you can choose from their inventories and discuss whatever product it is you wish to write about. In most cases you are paid if a visitor from your page clicks through to their page and performs a pay trigger action. A pay trigger action could take the form of a sign up, a lead generation or a sale.

You get a choice in terms of what you put on your pages.

You can use plain text links generated from vanilla html or if you don’t want to do that, javascript, or where they exist you can also use product imagery or banner type ads within your content as provided by the companies in the program.Subject to individual policies there’s nothing to stop you getting a little imaginative and doing some creative creation of your own.

An upshot is that you can still make money from your blog and you don’t have to be reliant on programs that could jeopardise your blog or content long term through clashing with some search engine monolith.

A downside is that you ‘ll need to take into account that if you are too brand specific then you could find that at some point down the road the brand has left the program or that the product no longer exists. It’s one of the reasons why I’d sugest going with a big provider like those mentioned as both have great tools and a wide segment of markets.

Keeping your readers happy

I think it also needs to be said that you have to think about your readers too. If you suddenly start writing a load of shitty stuff about products that bore the pants off of people then you’ll quickly see a big exodus and lose the very essence of what attracted people to you at the outset. Perhaps a good initial approach would be to allocate say one post per week to a product or service, or a 80/20 split between what you usually say and what you are reviewing.

If you are smart then you should be able to take an idea and put a different spin on it. The last thing you want to do is create some thing that is very little other than some snooze inducing advertorial.

Take this post from a Perfume Gift blog and you’ll see how the writer has injected a little humour and supplemental content to discuss a product called love scent pheromone. It doesn’t just say, ‘buy this love scent pheromone product ‘ expecting the sales to rock on in, no, it attempts to get behind the science and explore the whole phenomenum a little, making it all a little more appealing than it perhaps may be. Laughter and mirth are much underrated selling tools. Another good example of a niche blog is Darren Rowse’s Photography Blog there are lots of others too, I’m sure you’ve encountered them along your travels.

The bottom line is that if you can retain your style and add a new angle adding value into the process, then you can suceed in doing well with this stuff and making yourself some good money online. We live in a world built on commissions and kickbacks and %’s, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.

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