Archive for 'update'

SEO Class Recap

On Thursday, SMB Consulting hosted a SEO Training Seminar/Bootcamp at the McConnell Technology Training Center off of Industry Blvd. here in Louisville. We had six attendees that seemed to really enjoy the class especially the hands on nature of it. Analyzing keywords seemed to generate the biggest “ah-ha” type of moments, and spying on competitors provided some eye opening information that is sure to help with the optimization efforts moving forward for everyone. One area that didn’t seem to matter as much is the history of search engines (beginning of the class) so less time will be spent on that as things progress.

One thing I personally learned is to combine the workbook with the textbook I generated for the class. I apologize to those that attended this particular class for the confusion the two books seemed to cause. I thought it might be better to have a separate workbook in order to go back and perform some of the tasks without having to weed through a larger book, but I was wrong and the updated book has the contents of both. The new book has been e-mailed out to everyone in the class so please contact me if you did not receive one.

We’re having another SEO Class on June 14, 2007 at the same location (visit http://mttc.org for more information and a map) from 9 AM to around 4 PM. There are a few spots open if you (or someone you know) might be interested in attending. Get more information about the class by visiting the SEO training section of our website (http://smbconsultinginc.com/seo-training.html). We’re also planning SEO Training in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, and St. Louis should you live in one of those locales and have an interest in learning how to optimize your website for the search engines.

Another great post over at SEOMoz.org by Scott. This discusses how political candidates need SEO. I couldn’t agree more, and I was contacted by a couple of candidates just before the KY gubernatorial primaries went to the polls. It was too late (one or two months isn’t enough time for a good SEO Campaign in a political race), but I would strongly suggest the survivors consider SEO as part of their marketing campaign if they haven’t incorporated it already.

Whether DNC or RNC, Political Candidates need SEO

By scott@seomoz.org

Posted by great scott!

Due to the first round of Presidential Candidate pre-primary debates occuring recently, I decided to have a poke around and see what the State of the SERPs is like for the major 2008 Presidential hopefuls. I was surprised to find that, despite Howard Dean’s major success with online fundraising in 2004, and the vast popularity of political blogs and web-centric PACs like MoveOn.org, many of the 2008 Candidates are committing huge SEO blunders.

I know SEO is a fairly young industry and not everyone is hip to optimization techniques, but considering the reach and importance of the internet to young, vocal, passionate voters, writers and opinion leaders, one would think the masterminds behind these multi-million dollar marketing schemes campaigns would know of and appreciate the importance of search marketing.

Take the mind-boggling case of John McCain, a likely GOP front-runner: McCain’s active campaign site currently ranks #68 at Google for “john mccain” and just as abysmally for other terms and iterations of his name. How could this be? Well, behind his senate.gov profile page (which he can’t use for campaigning) and his Wikipedia entry, we find www.straighttalkamerica.com, Mr. McCain’s campaign site from the 2000 primary.

As you’ll notice, the Title Tag directs us to go to his new site, but, since it doesn’t rank, we can’t click through to it from the same SERP. If we go to his old site, we’re not 301’d, but rather instructed to click through to his new site. If ever (EVER!) there was a case for 301-ing a domain, this is it. Granted, McCain’s new site has its own problems, most glaring is that every single page uses the same title and meta description tags, and navigation is primarily via drop-down java script menus. As such, most of his pages are likely ending up in the Supplemental Index making his internal links worthless. Let me also point out that even the search “john mccain 2008” puts his new site #3 behind www.stopjohnmccain2008.com and his Wikipedia page. He does, however, have AdWords for his new site on the SERPs for every imaginable incarnation of his name.

On the flip side of this equation is Barack Obama’s site which is a redesign of his domain from his 2004 Senate bid. Nicely designed and fairly well optimized, he is the only candidate that ranks for such lofty keywords as “ending iraq war” (#10 on Google) and “2008 election” (#11) [Update: as of this morning, 5/10, Google is showing Dennis Kucinich at #8 for “ending iraq war”]. However, for these and other campaign specific keywords such as “candidate,” “2008 election,” “united states presidential election,” and “democratic candidates” or “republican candidates,” none of the current contenders are even in the top 50 at Google. Two notable exceptions are Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich (possibly carrying links and domain strength from his ’04 run) who both rank in the top 15 for the term “president“.

Fine, it’s early, maybe people are still looking for candidates by name only. After all, dark horse candidate Ron Paul (R) and Mike Gravel (D) have gotten tons of attention on the social media sites lately. Unfortunately, the data just doesn’t back it up. Despite 12 stories on Digg featuring Ron Paul in the headline, each receiving more than 1000 diggs, since he announced his candidacy on March 12, 2007–Mike Gravel’s been featured in nine 1000+ digg stories since announcing on March 9th–the search queries for his name pale in comparison to the big players who, oddly enough, get almost no love from Digg (Obama’s headlined in only two 1000+ digg stories since March 9th, same with Clinton).

While “Hillary Clinton” and “Barack Obama” get significant daily numbers as search terms (Clinton currently getting about 50% more volume than Obama), the rest of the candidates don’t get much love at all. John Edwards gets about 1/3rd of Clinton’s search volume, as does McCain. Even social media darlings Paul and Gravel are averaging only a relative handful of name searches daily. As far as traffic goes, things are pretty much the same, with the exception of a distinct inversion between Obama and Clinton. The chart below shows the relative search volumes for the names of the major candidates (data from Keyword Discovery) as well as their relative Alexa Traffic Rank (3 mos. avg.) to their official campaign sites.

Granted, the search numbers aren’t huge for the more general, campaign-related terms, but in most cases they’re more popular than candidate names and have a much longer tail.

So what’s it come down to? It seems the vast majority of candidates have little
to no idea of the importance of keyword research, keyword targeting or even basic, on-page SEO practices. I strongly believe that the Internet is going to play a huge role in the 2008 election. I also believe, after examining the current offerings by the major players, that the candidate that attacks the SERPs now, and positions themselves to rank for campaign-related and issue-related keywords will have a huge advantage in disseminating their beliefs and dominating the conversation.

UPDATE: Jonah Stein has published a great follow-up to this article, Political Search Marketing: Electronic Grass Roots, over at Alchemist Media. He offers an excellent analysis of how political campaigns and operatives could and should use the power of SEO/SEM to market their campaigns, marshal grassroots support and inform voters. Perhaps more importantly, he discusses how the campaigns, the engines, and the public need to be vigilant to avoid the potential for unscrupulous use that could make the internet the most effective catapult for political mudslinging and disinformation.

Link Building Step 4

Step 4: Post Properly Formatted and Relevant Comments

A blog lives on its overall popularity. A popular blog tends to have multiple people contributing to the online “conversation,” therefore the blog owner wants people to participate because that means the blog is effective. A blog with few comments either means the content isn’t interesting or not that many people are reading it. Knowing this, it’s easy to leverage this dynamic to gain an advantage by simply participating. We need something in return for that participation, however—a link back to the site we’re looking to promote or optimize.

A “raw” link, http://yourdomain.com for example, doesn’t do us as much good as a link with our keyword phrase as the anchor text. Anchor text usually gives the user relevant descriptive or contextual information about the content of the link’s destination. The anchor text may or may not be related to the actual text of the URL of the link. For example, a hyperlink to the main English Wikipedia page might take this form:

Wikipedia

The anchor text in this example is Wikipedia; the complex URL http://www.wikipedia.org displays on the web page as Wikipedia, contributing to a clean, easy to read text or document.

Popular misuse

Webmasters tend to misuse anchor text quite often this way:

Today our president has signed another treaty. To know more, click here.

The correct way of coding that would be:

Today our president has signed another treaty.

Search engine algorithms

Anchor text is weighted (ranked) highly in search engine algorithms, because the linked text is usually relevant to the landing page. The objective of search engines is to provide highly relevant search results; this is where anchor text helps, as the tendency is, more often than not, to hyperlink words relevant to the landing page.

Webmasters may use anchor text to procure high results in search engine results pages. Google‘s Webmaster Tools facilitate this optimization by letting website owners view the most common words in anchor text linking to their site.[1]

In the past, Google bombing has been possible through anchor text manipulation; however, in January, 2007, Google announced it had updated its algorithm to minimize the impact of Google bombs.[2]

When considering commenting on a blog, browse over others’ comments before doing so. See whether their names have been linked back to their websites or not. If they have not, work your link into the comment somehow following the formatting guidelines in our example above. Be sure you comment something relevant to the original blog posting and if you do have to work the link in with the comment section, make it part of a sentence if at all possible. This will reduce the risk of getting the comment rejected by the blog moderator. Some blogs don’t allow links within the comments so beware of them, and simply move onto the next blog if you can’t get a link back for commenting. There are too many blogs out there to get hung up on trying to get one link out of one specific blog.

Seriously Kule Color Tools

I found this over on the Duct Tape Marketing Blog:

Adobe Labs released a very fun and useful tool for anyone that would like to learn about combining colors or creating what they call color themes. The tool is called kuler. (Requires the latest Flash player to view)

kuler is a designer playground and community that allows anyone to create color combination palettes and publish them for the community. Voting happens and the best palettes rise to the top under the “most popular” tab.

On top of being a very cool app, any business owner can go and find professional grade color combinations that can help set the mood for any print or online project. Need to know what subtle accent colors might go with your 2 color logo but still have trouble picking out what shirt and tie go together? Visit kuler, go through the popular combinations, and click on one that contains your base colors. The tool then gives you all information you might need for RGB, CMYK, and Hex settings.

Professional designers, or those that play them on TV, will love the fact that you can download the themes right into CS3. You can get the kuler release notes from Adobe Labs. If you really want to stay on top of color trends, get the widget for Mac users at MacUpdate

And just when you thought you were having too much fun with color: Check out this tool that allows you to upload an image and let the tool suggest some colors you might use as accents. Color Palette Generator

Good is not almost as good as great

By Seth Godin

SalesgoodgreatI went to trade in my car Jay Porter Prius for an updated Prius today. Well, I meant to do that, but I walked out instead.

I arrive at Westchester Toyota and pass two or three salespeople loitering outside. Inside, there were two or three more, sitting in a line of chairs, waiting for the signal from the headmistress at the counter.

My guess is that even for a thriving brand like Toyota, most of these guys weren’t paid so much. They were ‘good’ salespeople, lifers who showed up, did what they were told and closed a sale here and there.

It soon became clear that the salesperson who was assigned to me wasn’t ‘great’. The dealership had messed up: He had no record of my appointment, no file, no history of why I came. But he just punted. He made no effort to engage with me or look me in the eye or empathize with my frustration at the complete waste of time my call yesterday had been. He gave up after about ten seconds, bummed out that he had lost his place in line. So I left.

Driving home, I started to think about the discontinuity in the graph of salespeople. Discontinuities are interesting, because that’s where you can see how a system works. In this case, it’s obvious that a great salesperson is going to sell far, far more than a good one. Nine women working together can’t have a baby in one month, and ten good salespeople still aren’t going to close the account that a great one could. That’s because it’s not a linear scale. The great ones reach out. They work the phones when they’re not first in line. They understand what a customer wants. They’re not just better than good. They’re playing a totally different game.

My best advice: Fire half your salesforce. Then, give the remainder, the top people, a big raise, and use the money left over to steal the best salespeole you can find from other industries or even from your competition. You’ll end up with fewer salespeople. But all of them will be great.

And the good guys? Have them go work for the competition.

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