Search Engine Guide
Search Engine Marketing News

Week of 2008-06-12

Hi Everyone,

Our Columbus, Ohio Tweetup is tomorrow so if you live in Ohio we'd love to have you join us for some BBQ and informal networking.

Have a great week!

Rachel Phillips


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From Our Writers
Jennifer Laycock Stoney de Geyter Diane Aull Debra Mastaler Paul Jahn Manoj Jasra David Wallace Sage Lewis Mack Collier Karri Flatla Jackie Baker Ross Dunn Scott Allen Diana Adams

Featuring: Jennifer Laycock, Stoney deGeyter, Diane Aull, Debra Mastaler, Paul Jahn, Manoj Jasra, David Wallace, Sage Lewis, Mack Collier, Karri Flatla, Jackie Baker, Ross Dunn, Scott Allen and Diana Adams.

When, Why and How to Construct a Meta Description Tag

by Stoney deGeyter

Meta description tags get a bad rap. They are often either considered to be more valuable than they really are, or dismissed as near irrelevant. The truth is that the meta description can be useful but it's on the lower rung of importance when it comes to the on-page elements considered by the search engines. So while not a whole lot of time needs to be invested in creating workable description tags, I'll give you a few pointers on what you need to consider.

Is Your Business Under (Online) Review?

by Mack Collier

More than ever, sites are popping up that let customers review everything from restaurants to daycares. And while many small businesses cringe at the thought of receiving a bad review, here's a few reasons why even a negative opinion from a customer can be a good thing!

Marketing From the Customer's Point of View

by Mack Collier

How often do you hear that it's all about the little things? Every time I go to a store such as Wal-Mart, I always wonder about the cart before I get one. Who had this before me? Did they leave anything in the cart? Is it really clean?

Search Friendly, Unfriendly and Meh-Friendly Links

by Stoney deGeyter

Building a website gives you a lot of options when it comes to how to set up your internal linking structure. Different areas of your site or web pages may require different linking strategies, but regardless on what kind of internal linking strategy you implement, you want to make sure that it helps you achieve your search engine optimization goals. I'm going to break internal linking into three categories: The search friendly, search un-friendly and search meh-friendly link.

Cross Sell to Build Links and Increase Rankings

by Jennifer Laycock

Good search engine optimization has always been about delivering great content to both readers and search engine spiders. Really good search engine optimization is about learning to balance who to keep happy at any point in time and understanding how one change to your site can impact multiple things. Excellent search engine optimization is when you find the "sweet spot." That's when you make a change to your site that results in increased rankings AND increased sales.

Social Media Conversations Are Leaky

by Mack Collier

This weekend I was reminded of how quickly ideas can generate buzz and discussion on social media sites when a blog post I wrote immediately sparked conversation on my blog as well as two other social sites.

Website Architecture Questions Answered, Part V

by Stoney deGeyter

Continuing my Q&A series on Website Architecture, these questions were presented to me before and during my webinar of the same topic. We have some more good questions and answers today that I'm sure you'll find valuable. This session is largely about keywords in domain and file names with an interesting question on nameservers.

How Much of Your Site's Traffic Should Come from Search?

by Mike Moran

My sixteen-year-old son posed a riddle for me the other day: "How does a white beard work?" When I gave up, he revealed the answer: "A hobo." (Should I have mentioned that my son has Down Syndrome?) Anyway, if that riddle made sense to you, then you probably love to analyze the inscrutable world of search metrics....

Site Clinic: Basic Principles Of E-Commerce Design

by Jackie Baker

An independent distributor sent me a plea for help: her site, Pets Love Flint River, is only generating a sale every few months. There are a few principles of web design and usability that are universally used on effective e-commerce sites that if implemented could make her site more user friendly and her sales go through the roof....

Putting the Cart Before the (Social Media) Horse

by Mack Collier

I have lost count on how many times I have heard business owners say "I know I need to be blogging/on Facebook/MySpace/Twitter, but what I don't know is how to get started?' When I ask how they KNOW that they need to be using these tools, I am answered with either a blank stare, or a 'well everyone else is using them!'

How to Create a Directory Structure Search Engines Rock To

by Stoney deGeyter

When a website goes into development most of the attention is usually paid to the design elements. But what often doesn't get enough attention is the site's directory structure, which plays an important part in your SEO campaign.

Is the Goal of Your Copy To Rank or to Convert?

by Jennifer Laycock

Obviously the goal of your copy is to do a little bit of both, but when it comes right down to it, which ones is more important? We all know you need to consider your rankings because they can be a fantastic source of traffic, but it's also true that traffic that doesn't (or won't) convert means almost nothing to the average site owner.

Google Clarifies Some Things...

by Jennifer Laycock

Kudos to Matt Cutts and the team at Google for finally getting around to adding nofollow documentation (and a few other updates) to the Google Webmaster Help Center.

Three Easy Ways to Fix Broken Links and Stop Unnecessary Visitor Loss

by Stoney deGeyter

One of the easiest ways to lose visitors from your site is through broken or invalid links. In business, it is pretty much well known that it requires less of a financial investment to keep a customer than it does to acquire a new one. The internet is really no different. Once you get a visitor on your site, or get them wanting to be on your site, it takes less investment to keep them there than it does to go bring in another new visitor. Therefore it is important to do whatever you can to keep acquired visitors on your site helping them move through the conversion process.

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Video Cast

Sage Lewis

Yoast Should Boast It's WordPress SEO Guide

by Sage Lewis

Joost de Valk of Yoast.com makes an indelible mark in the WordPress and SEO worlds with his article "WordPress SEO: The Definitive Guide To High Rankings For Your Blog." This all-encompassing resource talks about everything from basic technical optimization methods like Permalinks, title optimization and image optimization to advanced technical optimization techniques like disabling unnecessary archives, pagination and nofollowing unnecessary links....

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Readers Respond

In response to... How Much of Your Site's Traffic Should Come from Search?

Well it depends on what you're doing. If you want to be "read" then who cares where they come from. But if you want to make money I think search engines are better because those people are trying to get something done/to buy/answered. Basically, resolution.

If you've got a link visible on a forum or in somebody's blog comments you're kind of creating curiosity. "Hey, what's this guy about?" So if you're very astute at that type of leading you can create a need and then fill it. Congratulations you've become an under arm deodorant or frizzy hair shampoo. Possible to do, but a bigger hurdler to overcome than somebody typing into google "fix my stinky feet" and your site comes up number 1 for "Let me tell you how to get rid of stinky feet."

Dave

Welcome Back Rosenthal
Dave Rosenthal on Movies, TV, Comic Books, Computers and T shirts



The only thing I'd watch for, Mike, is if the percentage of traffic from search engines - or any one source for that matter - skews too high. For instance, a site I know receives almost 70% of its traffic from search, and almost 80% of that from paid. That's called having too many eggs in one basket. Should customers' media habits change dramatically (say, to natural search or social recommendations, for instance), the site in question risks losing a large source of its traffic. So, the key isn't only whether your site gets sufficient growth from all channels (natural search, paid search, email, typed/bookmarked and referred). It's also whether you have a sustainable balance among those.

Tim Peter

Tim Peter thinks
Interactive marketing and e-commerce strategy blog for the local, mobile, social web



In response to... Why Do The (Good) SEOs Cost So %&*# Much?

Hi Diane,
thanks for the story - I remember sharing this one with fellow civil engineers years ago, but the story was a squeaky floor and the old-time carpenter who knew the exact place to add a nail. I have always loved the story and the meaning behind it!

However, I have to disagree that this analogy is applicable to SEO. I don't think that SEO requires years of experience or a lot of foreknowledge akin to the factory old-timer or Picasso. To the contrary, I think that the best SEO services require an approach of experimentation and an iterative, ongoing approach. And let's face it - this is a new industry. Most of the people that are highly qualified, if not experts, today have been doing this for 5 years, or 10 years max.

That's not to say it's cheap, by any means. But I think that the reason good SEO isn't cheap is that good SEO is very *time-consuming*. Even at a low hourly rate, it's difficult to imagine how much a provider could do for $500. Just getting the lay of the land - what is the competitive landscape, what are the best keywords - has to take quite a few hours. Since no two businesses are the same, there is no amount of experience that can eliminate the need for a major investment of time.

Thanks for the article and keep up the good work!

Gradiva Couzin

Gradiva Couzin

Your SEO Plan
Web companion to the book "SEO: An Hour a Day"



In response to... Three Easy Ways to Fix Broken Links and Stop Unnecessary Visitor Loss

I love Xenu and consider it one of the essential tools in my web developer toolbelt. But note that it's only for Windows and includes a randomly selected anti-Scientology (you might have guessed a connection from the Xenu name) or anti-Microsoft ad in the reports. For Mac and Linux users, Scientologists & citizens of Redmond, you can use the W3C's online link checker:
http://validator.w3.org/checklink

For redirects in .htaccess files, there's much, much, MUCH more you can do besides just writing out individual page-by-page redirects using the "Redirect" syntax, which is tedious. Using mod_rewrite, you can harness the power of regular expressions to write rules rules that will redirect your entire site, individual folders, certain file extensions (e.g. .php -> .html), certain filename patterns, or just about any other wacky idea you can come up with. Working with mod_rewrite is, as somebody once said, like black magic, but if you can figure it out, you'd be amazed what you can do.

Check out this article for some ideas and tutorials:
http://corz.org/serv/tricks/htaccess2.php

Cameron



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