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.
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? 😀
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
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|
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.
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.
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.
YC tagged me in a meme entitled 5 things about me online so here goes.
1. How long have you been blogging?
I’ve blogged here for 11 months now, but have also blogged in other places too.So overall I’d say Ive blogged for about 4 years.
2. What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?
I am like most people who have something to say, I like to share my opinions and see what others think too. I’d posted in forums and other blogs here and there and thought that I might as well build something of my own on topics I had an interest in. Blogging helped me deal with my divorce for example, it was a way of getting out stuff that was quite frankly, killing me, in this regard blogging was cathartic.
I actually started this blog here after posting a humungous comment on Matt Cutts blog; he suggested I start my own blog, so here I am 11 months later 😀
In terms of mentors. I’ve learnt a lot from some quality bloggers out there, some of whom can be found in my blog roll and some whose egos are far too big for me to mention and inflate further 😉
3. Are you trying to make money online, or just doing it for fun?
I am most certainly trying to and succeeding in making money online, a small % of what I earn comes from blogging with the remainder coming from various niche sites as well as the odd client here and there.
It can be and most certainly is fun too, especially when you hit on a new idea or technique that works well or achieve an aim and get where you wanted to be, not to mention the various interactions with some smart and interesting people similarly interested in the areas in which I dabble.
4. Tell me 3 things you LOVE about being online
Hmmn, Love is a powerful word reserved for special friends and people dear to me, but I guess I can pretend, so I’d say in no particular order that
i. I get to rant regulary on topics I have a passion about!
ii. I get to play with all sorts of things and ideas that I have an interest in professionally and personally.
iii.I get to make a few quid from the above too, which is always a bonus.
5. Tell me 3 things you STRUGGLE with in the online world
I struggle with the actions of a minority who act in ways that negatively impact me, I can’t lie when I say that there’s a person or two out there that I’d take great delight in kicking rather firmly straight right up the khyber pass 😀
I struggle with this laptop and its broken spacebar, having to hit ctrl-v after every word with some clipboarded copied space! In fact I’m off to buy a new usb keyboard later as I’ve really had it with this now…aaaaargh!!
Thirdly, I guess that would be my intermittent wireles connection up here in the bedroom.It’s up and down like a whores knickers 😀
Thanks YC that was fun 🙂
I’ll tag just 3 people as this ctrl-v thing is getting to me 😉
Tinu at Free Traffic Tips
Maurice at his Cayman Islands Blog
Has your PageRank recently tanked?
A lot of people have the hump with Google today.Snoskred put together a little compilation.
Google Goes after the Everyday Blogger
ZeroRank – More PageRank Carnage (Round 5)
ACCC alleges misleading and deceptive conduct by Trading Post and Google
PayPerPost Scrambling – Trying to Implement “RealRank” After Their Bloggers Page Rank Disappears
Selling Text Links Without Getting Into Trouble
OK, Google… They Surrender
Page Rank is now Pointless
Stock Tip of the day – sell Google!
So The G-Gods Are Smiting Bloggers Again
My De Riguer Nod to Google
Your Tip For The Day.
Dear Google…..(I surrender)
Spank – Part 2
Stock Tip Alert! SELL GOOGLE NOW
What the heck is going on with pagerank?
Anti-Google Claims: To Reply Or Not?
How To (Kind Of) Buy A #1 Organic Search Ranking On Google
The US Search Engine Optimization Market
Google’s Page Rank Update Increases Profitability of Selling Text Links
Google’s PageRank: A Double Edged Sword
If you should feel so inclined and feel like getting hatey back then, Snoskred also has a suggestion or 2 .
Now it does also need to be said that this *could* just be some kind of data centre pre toolbar pr update.
Whitebars are often a sign that a page has been indexed but has yet to be assigned any PageRank, you’ll often see this behaviour with new pages or sites that have been recently launched.
Somehow though, I doubt it.This looks like yet another rollout of previous manual interventions.Perhaps the next phase will be removed ranking ability, or complete removal from the index even.
I can understand why a company might want to make a point or 2, but jesus don’t they think that we got the the message the 1st time?
I would love to know what it was that I did here that was so so bad and damaging to their index and the people that use them, really I would, it’s starting to needle me.
SEO is not the wysiwyg thing we’d all like to believe
SEO – the process of search engine optimisation as we’ve all come to know and love may appear to be about cause and effect but is it really so?
Whilst it’s nice to think that our seo efforts are a simple case of do action x, wait, montitor record, rinse repeat/reduce the reality is very often, much, much further from the truth.
Do not believe the lie of the algorithm
SERP’s are a monitored thing – do not believe that it’s an algorithmic thing. It is not true, it really is not.
Whilst it may be kinda cool to think that there’s this cool algorithm that sorts out bits and bytes and densities and semantic relationships and link structure and magically puts them all together to create a list of relevant sites for your inputted keyword, the reality is that this is only part of the equation.
Some SERPs are editorially controlled
This is especially true when the space in which you play just happens to be a touch more competitive than the rest. Be it ‘Hotels in $place’ or ‘$service in $place’ or ‘$product $common_search_string’ you can be pretty sure that SERP positions like those will be looked at both by your competitors vieing for the same and by the search engine that monitors them. If you happen to be ranking for a term and a competitor finds something to report you on then, you might just find yourself thrust into the unwelcome gaze of the search engine death squads.
If what you produce that lands in these pages isn’t up to some loosely defined subjective opinion of a search engine rep using some ‘vote based opinion scoring system designed to weed out anyone who doesn’t happen to fit the criteria of the day’ then you can be pretty sure that an action affecting how your page performs in the SERP will be levied against you. The only notification you will receive will be your inability to rank where you once were accomapnied by significant drops in income.
The reality is that if you are doing things that in the view of the search rep are ‘designed to manipulate the outcome of a SERP’ , then you may find that your efforts have been in vain.
Search engine guidelines are a site zappers charter
There is an certain irony in that whilst we are told not to do things for the benefit of the search engine, to not even try and push the boundries would dictate that we would simply not rank for most of the words we would like to. Humans like to figure things out. If a person knew that putting a hidden pink fairy on their web page would help boost them to page one, then they’d be a fool not to do it, especially if everyone else was doing the same.This one of the many idiocies that exist within search engine guidelines.
The facts are that in order to keep up with our competitors we must do similar things to them and hope that our content or profile allows us to be teflon too. We are damned if we do and damned if we dont, by taking these actions, we give the search reps a green light to downgrade or reduce our ability to rank, if we choose not to then we’ll never rank for jack. An example could be a series of site wide navigational links that link through to various pages, do they exist to help manipulate the search bots, or do they exist to help our visitors under some BS view of usability?
Link juice is vital to SERP performance
SEO’s learnt a long time ago that by pointing a variance of differing keywords from differing places in sufficient numbers will have the effect of boosting our target pages’ SERP performance. They do so because in their view they happen to believe that the page that they want to get there is the best page for this particular term. It’s laser focused and relevant to the theme or set of words they wish to rank for. Just go look at any keyword SERP and you’ll see evidence of this in effect.
Yet to do so, could be interpreted as highly manipulative and could get you kicked out of a SERP overnight. Should this happen then you can forget about tweaking title tags or going out and getting more links, or playing with keyword densities or disallowing duplicate content or insert_any_other_number_of_random_suggested_groovy_moves as you will be basically wasting your time. The only way to repair such an action is to get the manually applied sanction lifted. You could try de-optimising or scaling down your seo efforts, yet what is the point in doing that? Who really wants to rank on page 6 for their natural efforts?!
The SEO is a waste of money message
So it would seem that taking the SEO route is a risky business. It would seem that a subtext of the ‘we want the best pages for our users’ mantra gievn to us from search engine mouthpieces is really about don’t employ SEO, advertise with us instead and if you can’t afford to then maybe you should consider why you are here in the 1st place.
The message we are being sent is that whilst SEO can be immensley profitable, it can also be taken away in a heartbeat too. Don’t spend money on SEO, spend it on our search engine advertising programs.
SEO is honest versus Search engine penalties are not
SEO is Honest – Every single thing an SEO does is open and available for public scrutiny.Can the same be said for a search engineer?
Via the use of a combination of the various reporting tools of Y!, Msn Live, Ask, Google, GigaBlast, search caches, user agent switchers etc you can pretty much determine the reasons why a page ranks well. It’s there for all to see, nothing is hidden. All you then do is either replicate those aspects or do it better.
Don’t buy the whole blackhat vs whitehat argument as it’s simply not true.
Silent search engine penalties are dishonest -If you happen to come under the scrutiny of a search engineer in a bad mood then the reality is that you can find yourself pretty much blown out of the water overnight.
Your site or page will no longer be adjudged on the basis of its content, its link structure, its html composition, its popularity, its age, its relevance. It will be adjudged on one factor and one factor only, that factor being the opinion and mood of some random stranger hiding in the shadows deciding that you’ve breached some loosely defined guideline. They are too cowardly to say hey dude we didn’t like that so we did that.Unless it’s otherwise politically expedient to do so, you can be pretty sure that he (or she) won’t afford you the courtesy of letting you know as christ, that’ll just make your life easy, and easy isn’t what they want your life to be. You are after all, playing in the playground of SEO, you are daring to purposely manipulate the output of their SERP’s and worse still you know how to too, you dastardly SEO you.
SEO IS worth it
The upside is, that it really isn’t so difficult to look at any site in any serp these days and see what terms a site is targetting. If you have the requisite site authority score then you can pretty quickly attain good serps for a good number of keywords. It’s just a matter of generating the right inlinks from the right places with the right content.
Fly below the radar and you’ll do ok, alert the attention of a SERP cop and you could find yourself sunk, especially if you aren’t an important brand. The view is, there are 100’s of other equally relevant pages waiting to take your place. You can’t insulate yourself completely, and it’s probably best to just plug along and forget that search engines exist, at least from a monetisation perspective.
Risk versus reward and a long term view
As mantric as it sounds, you are far better served building something that you have a genuine passion for, or products for, and promoting it without search engines in mind as ultimately the resultant loss of any business accrued via some kind of hit, will then be much easier to cope with.
Yet of course too to say such a thing would be to ignore the massive competitive advantages that your competitors taking more aggressive stances could be acquiring and leave you well behind in the race.
I can recall a site that used to perform well for some pretty big hitting keyword terms using all manner of tactics that for their time, were pretty off the scale as manipulative SEO went. I watched them stay in their position for 3 years, whereby every other week I’d see them still there and think, hmmn their days are numbered.
I’ve no idea how much money they earnt whilst in those positions but can say with confidence that it was considerably more than the already considerable sum of money a site I ran was attaining for just a fraction of their targetted market. Had I acted like them and replicated their tactic then I too could have done as well as they did. By refusing to compete as they did, by taking the choice to play it safe in the mistaken belief that being a ‘good’ boy would serve me well, I lost out. I may have stayed in the game longer than they, yet ultimately my fate was the same as theirs. The search guidelines we’re changed, my competing site become a thin affiliate, and the rest as they say is history.
Moral of the story – make hay whilst the sun shines as there are plenty a raincloud on the horizon