Archives for June 2008

Is PageRank important? And other SEO Myths…

PageRank used to be the Holy grail to some website owners – seeing a magical 6 or more in the PageRank toolbar meant you had achieved Nirvana (or so some people thought).

But then things moved on – PR isn’t as important now.

Yet still I receive emails asking me to ‘improve my PageRank’ or ‘buy a link from us as we have PR6’ and more.

So it came as a breath of fresh air when I read Adam Lasnik’s comments in 10 SEO Myths Debunked, over on Imedia Connection.

Adam says:

PageRank was a rather defining aspect of early Google search. Today, however — while PageRank still plays a role — we use more than 200 signals in ranking search results. This means that webmasters who focus primarily on PageRank are missing the bigger picture and overlooking aspects of their website that they have more control over. Of particular note, PageRank is focused on the issue of a page’s importance, whereas a larger component in determining search results is relevance. We aim to deliver results that are relevant to the query typed into the search box, the area where the person is searching from and, in many cases, even each person’s own demonstrated interests, based upon search history.

You can read the whole article here – it makes for some great reading and is well worth grabbing a coffee and making some time for it.

Tip #30 – Target practice

If you’re spending money to get visitors, look at the phrases you’re using.

Being at the top of the search engines for “Christmas gifts” is not only going to cost a lot of money, it’s also pretty useless if you only sell one or a few things. “Christmas gift baskets” is more targeted and will help raise your conversion rate.

Other fairly useless phrases I’ve come across people using recently (and I use the word useless to mean that although they generate a lot of traffic, they don’t generate targeted traffic).

• Web design (on a site that was very focused locally, so “web design Northampton” would provide more qualified traffic)

• Graphics (on a printing site where ‘exhibition graphics’ would have been more targeted)

• Coaching (on a business coaching site – ‘business coaching’ would have been better)

• Sales jobs (again on a geographically focused site – “sales jobs Milton Keynes” would have been more suited)

Think differently – search engines aren’t the be all and end all of website traffic generation;

* The Northampton based web design company would be better off targeting local search phrases, and putting their link on localised websites. Most towns and/or counties have local directories.  They could also try a targeted email campaign to Northampton based businesses.

* The exhibition graphics company could advertise on sites that promote exhibitions, as well as finding better targeted phrases for search engine promotion.

* The business coaching company could advertise on sites devoted to new and growing businesses, as well as a targeted email campaign to businesses of a certain size.

* The sales recruitment company could again advertise on local sites, as well as free recruitment sites, and job seeking newsgroups and forums.

Lots of traffic is good – lots of targeted traffic is even better.

Things Google knows about you!

You probably know that Google collects information about you, depending on which Google apps you use, but I’ll bet you didn’t know quite how much – I certainly didn’t!

An article on SEOMoz shows just how scary it could be – click here for the full article.

You can download a PDF showing you exactly what Google collects when you search, buy through Google Checkout, have an Adwords account and more.

Blogger adds Webmaster Tools verification – about time too!

Considering it’s owned by Google, you would have thought that WMT verification and use for Blogger would have come along a lot quicker, eh?

Well, it’s here – they say:

Ever wonder why your blog shows up where it does in the Google search rankings? With our new Webmaster Tools integration that information is just a click or two away.

Webmaster Tools is a Google service that provides you with detailed information about your website’s visibility to Google’s search engine. You can see how often Google’s web crawlers visit your site, find out who links to your site, what searches are used to find your site, and even control how your page appears in the Google web results.

We’ve added a new link from the Blogger in Draft dashboard to take you directly to Webmaster Tools. If you follow it, we’ll add all your blogs to Webmaster Tools and verify them for you automatically. From there, you can poke around and learn about how Google search sees your blog.

They’ve also made some other changes and additions, as they say in their post on Blogger in Draft:

  • Google Gadget integration continues to improve, with better editing of gadget preferences.
  • The new look for the Dashboard has seen a handful of tweaks, including a new button style that we’re trying out and, by popular demand, the “show all blogs” toggle is now sticky.
  • The subscribe page element has been published to WWW.
  • We’ve added a “Make Blogger in Draft my default dashboard” to the Blogger in Draft dashboard, so now you don’t have to remember to type “draft.blogger.com” instead of “www.blogger.com.”
  • So you can easily keep up with the news, we’ve added this blog as a tab on the Blogger in Draft Dashboard.

But that’s not what you came here for. You wanted this:

  • Webmaster Tools Verification. Turn this on to automatically add and verify all your blogs on Google’s Webmaster Tools.
  • Star ratings. Add a 0–5 star rating control to the bottom of your posts so that your readers can rate them.
  • Import / export of blogs. Back up all of your posts and comments to one Atom XML file on your computer, and import your posts from one blog to another.
  • Embedded comment form. By incredibly popular demand, we’ve brought the comment form to your blog’s post pages, with support for Google Account and OpenID authentication.
  • New post editor. We’ve completely revised the post editor, bringing in drag-and-drop image placement and better HTML handling.

Has your WordPress blog been hacked? Ours was! Find out if yours is now!

A few weeks ago we suffered at the hands of hackers – they’ve been targeting popular SEO sites, so maybe i should have been flattered?

Well I would have been if they hadn’t decided to place ads for all sorts of things I didn’t want my readers seeing ads for!

Withe the help of friendly ecademist Nick Braak we soon got the site up and running again (although we’re still working to add in some pages that were lost).

There’s a great tip on blogstorm today telling you how to use Google Alerts to find out if you have been hacked.

They quote Matt Cutts as saying:

2008 will be the year that hacking and search engine optimization (SEO) collide in a major way. By the end of the year, a nontrivial fraction of blackhat SEO will involve illegally hacking sites for links or landing pages.

One webhost will get a significant black eye as hundreds or thousands of customers’ websites are hacked. The growth of illegal-blackhat SEO will leave traditional blackhats with a difficult choice: risk doing something illegal or sit out.

Scary stuff – pop over to Blogstorm to read how to find out if your site has been hacked.

Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter – Nikki Pilkington on Twitter

Bonus Tip – Affiliate Marketing

If you’re into affiliate marketing then you need to read Shawn Collins’ blog

I’ve found some great tips on this site for clients of mine, and have even used a few myself for non afifliate marketing!

Shawn’s “About Shawn” page says:

Shawn Collins has been an affiliate marketer since 1997.

Shawn is a co-founder of the Affiliate Summit, the leading industry conference for affiliate marketing, which regularly sells out and features the biggest names in performance marketing.

His book, ‘Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants‘ is the best selling book in the space, and it is considered to be required reading by affiliate managers.

He publishes the annual AffStat Report, a research, analysis, and benchmarking report for the affiliate marketing industry. The data in the AffStat series is widely quoted by trade publications, including Internet Retailer and Jupitermedia properties.

Shawn writes a daily blog on affiliate marketing news and opinion at his Affiliate Tip site, and posts regularly to his Affiliate Tip TV channel on YouTube.

I would highly recommend subscribing to the blog, and browsing through some past posts.

Tip #188 – Every opportunity

When you sign up to a networking site, sometimes as well as your company name they will ask the name and address of your website.

Your website name then becomes a link.

You COULD use your company name, but that’s probably displayed elsewhere so you don’t need to.

So why not use your most important keyphrase?

This then becomes a link to your site – ideal for search engine listings purposes.

From the horse's (well, Google's) mouth.

USA Today recently interviewed Google’s Matt Cutts and he shared his top tips for getting listed in Google. No surprises, to be honest, but I thought I’d share 🙂

  1. Spotlight your search term on the page.
  2. Fill in your tags.
  3. Get other sites to link back to you.
  4. Create a blog and post often.
  5. Register for free Google tools.
  6. Don’t overdo it!

More here >>>

Getting a Flash site listed in Google

It’s one of the age old questions an SEO Expert gets asked – Can you get my site listed in Google if it’s in Flash?

Well, my answer has always been to run screaming in the opposite direction 🙂

Many website owners complain that Google ignores Flash, but it’s worth having a look at this post on the Google Webmaster Central blog, which talks a little more about the Flash issue, and offers up the following tips:

  1. Try to use Flash only where it is needed. Many rich media sites such as Google’s YouTube use Flash for rich media but rely on HTML for content and navigation. You can too, by limiting Flash to on-page accents and rich media, not content and navigation. In addition to making your site Googlebot-friendly, this makes you site accessible to a larger audience, including, for example, blind people using screen readers, users of old or non-standard browsers, and those on limited low-bandwidth connections such as on a cell phone or PDA. As a bonus, your visitors can use bookmarks effectively, and can email links to your pages to their friends.
  2. sIFR: Some websites use Flash to force the browser to display headers, pull quotes, or other textual elements in a font that the user may not have installed on their computer. A technique like sIFR still lets non-Flash readers read a page, since the content/navigation is actually in the HTML — it’s just displayed by an embedded Flash object.
  3. Non-Flash Versions: A common way that we see Flash used is as a front page “splash screen” where the root URL of a website has a Flash intro that links to HTML content deeper into the site. In this case, make sure there is a regular HTML link on that front page to a non-Flash page where a user can navigate throughout your site without the need for Flash.

Ten sites Nikki Pilkington visits for Business every day

A quick insight into the sites I visit on a daily basis:

1) Search Engine Watch – the first site dedicated to search engines, and still the best. Originally started by Danny Sullivan in 1996 (he resigned in 2006), this is a great site to find out the latest search engine stats, search engine news and more.

2) Plurk – a Twitter like site that I’m testing for business use at the moment. It’s a lot easier to follow than twitter (although if you use a twitter app or plugin such as Twhirl or twitterfox then twitter isn’t that hard) and has a funky graphical interface. the downside is that it seems to be the new toy of choice for schoolkids bored in their lessons, so be careful who you approve as a friend! The link is to my personal profile.

3) Ezine Articles – in my opinion this is the best place out there to submit your articles to. It is well respected by Google, and the moderators work hard to keep the rubbish out. It’s easy to submit to, and if your articles happen to be rejected, they’ll always tell you why. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Ezine Articles Guy here.

4) Ecademy -Please see my updated thoughts on ecademy here

5) SEO Book – with a ton of SEO tools, this site is a must visit for anyone interested in Internet Marketing and SEO. There’s also an e-book written by the founder, and the blog is a must read.

6) Google Analytics Blog – although my website statistics software of choice now tends to be Get Clicky, a lot of my clients (and indeed me) still ahve Analytics in place, so I check in briefly every day to see if there’s anything new on the blog.

7) Matt Cutt’s blog – Google employee Matt Cutts has ong been known as the public face of google for Webmasters and SEO companies alike. He regularly gives out google news, and occasionally hints at things he’s not allowed to (or doesn’t want to!) tell. Well worth checking every day to keep up to speed.

8) 299 Steps To Website Heaven – yes, i know it’s my own site, but I visit it every day, whether to post, to approve comments, or to dig into the archives to find a tip that could help someone.

9) Google Webmaster Tools – whether to check up on clients recent search statistics or to open a new account for a client, Webmaster Tools is an important part of the optimisation process. It gives out a myriad of info about a site, as well as alerting a website owner to errors such as bad links, missing pages and more.

10) Get Clicky – I’m a great fan of Google Analytics, but it has to be said that it is annoying having to wait until the following day to see stats. Get Clicky gives you stats in real time – so you can post a thread somewhere like Ecademy, and within seconds be tracking visitors from that article, to your site, see which pages they look at and where they click to leave.

Nikki Pilkington


Higher Google Listings and Search Engine Optimisation UK from an Internet Marketing Expert
299 Steps to Website Heaven
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