when 301 redirects do funny things


we’ve put a number of 301 redirects in place for our new games site (please excuse gratuitous linking:)).

what should happen is that google should see the old domain as no longer existing and redirect all traffic back to the new domain. however that isn’t happening here; it is still picking up both domains, however the meta tags that its picking up are the same for both pages and the links are going to the new site.

i’d expect that this is a blip in their indexing and would be remedied pretty soon, but it has me a little perplexed

KRD- keyword rich domains


I love an acronym more than most, and this is a good one
Google has an inordinate focus on domain name(and a difficulty in concatenating).What concatenate means is that brendan-mcnulty is a better domain about me that brendanmcnulty as Google has a way of differentiating where one word ends and the other starts.

As Google has a preference for the keyword in the domain, this gives you an opportunity to ran highly if you have the keyword in your domain. However if it is a highly trafficked term then you will struggle to get the domains. Which is where this tactic comes in. the theory is to build a number of simple websites with second or third tier keyword domains with a lot of interlinking between them. No need to create fancy sites, blogs will do, as long as you obey all the usual rules (h1’s, alt tags, keyword density etc)

I’ll explain how you would put it into practice; you want your Michael Jackson memorabilia site to rank highly, but all the good domains are gone (mjtribute etc). So you buy ilovethriller.com, billiejeanismylover.com (I’m being facetious, but things like thriller or associated terms around this would be useful, the yahoo keyword suggestion tool will help you with this). Put up relevant content about mj, and link cleverly between them (and with a link going back to your main memorabilia site from each of the pages), as well as putting your shop onto each of these pages.

Google views the domains that you have as being in the same interest group, so therefore relevant, and the number of sites builds an interlinked web of interest about a specific topic. The search volume on them is significantly less than on the more generic terms (which is a mixed blessing- the domains are still available, but you need more of them)

I wouldn’t put this topic as the first step in your SEO approach, but once you have exhausted your initial optimization on your site, it’s a good one to begin
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link bait

I was chatting to someone about creative link building and this example came up.
They wanted to create more World Cup focused traffic during the World Cup, but it’s a pricy time to buy search traffic. They came up with a plan to create the “Anti- World Cup Association”- women who feel abandoned by their husbands and boyfriends during the World Cup and wanted to protest again it. They created a page, sent some pretty girls with t-shirts and banners down to where the Dutch team was training to stage a protest. “Coincidentally” there was a lot of press covering the team, and their story got picked up and was syndicated worldwide. The result; they got a huge volume of links, and correspondingly rose in the natural search rankings. Clever, fun and effective. One caveat is that Google normally penalizes significant increases in links over a short time period, however if they come from news, then its OK.

the dark art of link building


I understand why link building is so crucial; it gives Google an idea of how important a page is with regards to the number, quality and context of links that are linking to a the site.
However I still find it a bit of a dark art; why would people want to link to you? how do you keep it ongoing? Reciprocal vs one-way links?

In order to demystify it, here are some key points;
1. have the right ratio of qualitative vs quantitative links. You do need a lot of links, but err on the side of fewer links from sites with some sort of authority (Google pagerank of 6 and 1,000 inlinks). Ideally these should be within your industry; so if it’s a cooking site don’t link from a car site.
2. Wikipedia is great. If you can link to your site from Wikipedia/write an article about your industry- do so. Google gives Wikipedia a lot of clout (the second click phenomena)
3. Good anchor text– ideally someone should link to your site and the text next to the link (underlined) should say “cooking tips” (or whatever you want to optimize for), rather than saying e.g. click here. This gives Google some context about what the site is about if the link has a description.
4. don’t limit yourself; put relevant links back from blogs, forums, video sites, anywhere where there is a “follow” on the link (which means that Google will give it credence)
5. PR is a great way to get more links. News sites are usually authority sites, if you can get a well optimized release on to a news site it will help.
6. Link bait is an interesting opportunity. Do a zany stunt to get people interested and linking to you. once the newspapers start linking to you, sit bank and watch your pagerank rise.
7. Be persistent. Get a couple of interns in, and get them to get a spreadsheet going with prospects. This involves going through the sites that link to sites that are optimized for the keywords that you want to optimize for. put them all on a list and send them a personalized e-mail. be persistent with unanswered mails and buy your interns lunch every now and again. This is a fairly monotonous task.
8. Don’t buy links- it’ll cost you and it isn’t a sustainable strategy
9. The best way is to have good content that people want to link to. Sort of a no-brainer, but this is the quickest, most effective and guaranteed return method of getting links.

These are some tips to improve your links (concentrate on the bottom one and you’ll go far). Get busy.
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SEO is a commodity

September 11th 2008 - It's not great art unles...Image by Stephen Poff via Flickr

I had 3 interesting search meetings recently, 1 with Google and two with SEO consultants. As a result of these I’ve written a few search related posts over the last week or so. The title of this post was a comment that someone made in one of the meetings and I thought it was a great (if contentious statement). Basically what he was saying is that the nuts and bolts of SEO; making sure that you’re in the right directories, ensuring that your on-page optimization (H1, alt tags, keyword density etc) is a must-have and that this isn’t the area to differentiate yourself.

So what is?
1. Powerful analytics- look at what works
2. watch typos- these are about 5% of all type-ins
3. get your domain names
4. optimize and tweak
5. be creative in link building

I will go into some further detail on the ones I haven’t already covered in upcoming posts.
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Change your life, create your personal brand


There is a lot of talk about your personal brand, but the reason for it is that it makes sense. A personal brand is an essential way to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
This is unfortunately not something that you can do overnight, but there is no time like the present to do it. In order to develop your brand you need a positioning statement, a short précis of who you are and what you do. Concentrate on your skills and what you’re good at, and make sure that your career for a viable niche (writing for the newspaper is maybe not a good idea, but online publishing is). For example at the top of this blog I’ve summarized my areas of interest as search, social media and online trends.

The first channel that someone is going to use to find you is Google. So make sure you own your page for your name (or at least ensure that the content that is found about you is what you want to be found about you). This is the example for my name;

The listings are as follows
1.The first thing people see is my Google Adwords link (you can own what you say here- I try and show that I know/understand the web, as well as being a little irreverent/fun).
2. My profile on Linkedin.
3. This blog
4. One of the most read posts on this blog
5. A presentation that I did
6. My Facebook page

I’m pretty lucky as my name isn’t Brad Pitt, so it isn’t too difficult to get found, but if you persevere you will rank better. For your blog it’s a matter of SEO, good linking (even from comments) creates better ranking, and eventually you will achieve decent rankings.

This is how to create your personal brand;
1) set up a blog using your name as a domain. This is a key method, you can manage the entire relationship with your site; look & feel, content and tone. Google loves the exact term in the domain, so your name will drive search from people looking for your site (see andrew chen, peter kim, chris brogan etc). Also be consistent, try and blog as regularly as possible (I aim for three times a week, but daily is preferable). If it’s less than that make it impactful.
2) communicate with other people in your field; comment on blogs, follow them on twitter, be “part of the conversation”. This will drive traffic back to your site, but it will ultimately have you become smarter in your field. You’ll be participating in discussions about pertinent areas of interest for you.
3) make sure you have a Linkedin (one of the first natural search listings for your name). take some care in creating your profile, potential employers/associates will see this first, so you want to showcase yourself as well as you can. Add everyone you meet to your network. Ask people you’ve worked with to recommend you. this is kinda tough because reciprocal recommendations don’t mean a hell of a lot to me, and most people kinda expect it.
4) make those embarrassing photos of you drinking tequila on the weekend on Facebook private
5) buy the Google terms for your name and redirect them to your blog
6) Crosspromote from service to service (put your blog on Facebook, twitter, Linkedin etc) this will do good things for your search rankings, as well as giving you an easy opportunity for people to find out more about you..
7) Try and speak at industry functions about your speciality, showcase yourself and your knowledge.
8) Network offline (crazy concept I know ), go to dinners, industry meetings and conferences. I’m less good at this, but its imperative to actually make the connection and get to know people personally.
9) Track your blog on mybloglog and Google Analytics. What are your most popular posts, what are people returning, what organic search terms are important for Google for you. Write more posts about these, people are interested.

Building your personal brand isn’t about being a braggart, its about showcasing your strengths and finding a way to leverage them. Its more about having your CV ready before you need it, and at the same time becoming better at what you do. Chris Brogan has a lot more great tips about this.

etsy

i have been a fan of etsy for a while, and my wife is even more of a fan. she buys all presents for friends, and we buy presents from there too, as you get a whole range of home made exciting stuff (e.g. i got some interesting prints for my birthday, handbags for friends and monogrammed pillow cases)

she has just open a shop selling african fabrics (go there and buy some nice african fabrics for christmas), and it was an interesting experience for me to help set up the store. its pretty painless to get it up and running, they have pre-ordained fields and images that you need to fill in in order to get up and running, all pretty standard stuff. the costs are reasonable too, $0.20 to list something and 3.5% of the sales price.

my google attuned brain came on overdrive when i thought of how best to optimise your page for the most traffic. i had a look online and there isnt anyone who gives an overview about which are the topics that get most searched for and the algorithm that gets used to get you best noticed. there are a couple of paid services which you can use to profile your shop or products but it would be great to find a way to push as much relevant traffic your way as possible. the one workaround is to list on a regular basis, so that your items are pushed to the top, but this isnt a sustainable solution. any ideas to use the semantic side of this?