Loving this Social Media Chart

The 30 Day SEO Challenge is here!

It’s been great seeing you all do so well on our 30 Day Blogging Challenge, 30 Day Facebook Challenge, and sign up for the soon to be launched 30 Day Adwords Challenge, and so on August 1st 2011 we launched the challenge you’ve all been asking for – The 30 Day SEO Challenge!

The 30 Day SEO Challenge from Nikki Pilkington

In this Challenge you’ll learn about:

  • Finding the right keyphrases
  • Making META tags work for you
  • Why Titles matter
  • How to get front page Google listings and keep them
  • Whether link building campaigns are worth it
  • How to get links to your site that really make a difference
  • and more!

Alongside the Challenge is a brand new ebook – which is priced pretty reasonably we think at just £8.

Should I get the ebook or sign up for the email course?

That depends on how impatient you are 🙂

The email course will be free for the first 100 signups – after that it will be chargeable.

The ebook contains everything that’s in the course, plus a fair few extras – resources and articles that will help you – and more access to me if you need it 🙂

OK I want the ebook

Just pop over to our ebook store to pick it up – have a look at some of our other challenge ebooks while you’re there!

OK I want the email course

Cool – we reached 100 free signups pretty quickly, so I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat on that one.  However, we’re going to do things a little differently on the paid signups for this one 🙂 Instead of me telling you what to pay, you can make a donation. Minimum is £1, maximum is whatever you like. I would say if you were thinking of paying over £8 though you’d be better off getting the book 🙂 You can donate using the Paypal button below.

Things to note: Once you have paid, Paypal will route you to a page where you sign up to the emails – please wait for this to happen, or you won’t be added to the course, then you’ll email me in a grump 🙂

 

 

Want to make £60 for doing next to nothing?

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? But one of our affiliates did just that in less than 3 weeks last month.

OK, £20 a week isn’t going to set the world alight, but it’s better than nothing, I’m sure you’ll agree!

So what did he do to make this magnificent amount of money?

Well:

1) He signed up to our affiliate program, to sell our ebooks

2) He emailed his newsletter list, recommending our last book, the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

3) He updated his Facebook page, recommending our latest ebook, the 30 Day Facebook Challenge

4) He added details of our 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven to his email signature, and posted about it on his blog

5) He let everyone he knows know that 299 Steps to Website Heaven is available for just £3

That’s it! It probably took about 20 minutes all told, and he’ll continue getting affiliate payments every month while his links do all the work and sell for him.

Like I said, it’s not a life changing amount of money, but it’s better than nothing and might pay for a night out once a month – so what are you waiting for? Sign up as an affiliate now and get started!

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How does affiliate marketing work?


I get asked this a lot, and I often find myself trying to explain it in an easy manner and failing. I don’t do a lot of affiliate marketing, and certainly wouldn’t class myself as an expert, so I usually send people to the fantastic Sugar Rae website, as that’s how she makes her living and she has loads of affiliate marketing articles, tips and help.

Today Rae has surpassed herself with this great infographic explaining the affiliate marketing process clearly and concisely – thanks for letting me share this Rae!

Click here to view a larger version.
How Affiliate Marketing Works

[Image provided courtesy of the Sugarrae affiliate marketing blog.]

 

7 Things You Can Do To Make Your Content Social Media Friendly

social media bookmarkingWhen marketing your website online through social media channels you need to do things a certain way. It’s a bit like redecorating your house; you could do it quickly and as cheaply as possible. But will it look good, and will it last?

In this article we’ll cover 7 things you can do to make your website content social media friendly. If you follow all the steps listed below you should stand a great chance of scoring highly with social media sites as well as effective search engine optimisation.

Let’s get started:

1. Include a picture

If you’re going to post a link to your blog or content on sites such as Facebook, but it doesn’t have an associated picture with it, it’s not as attention grabbing. Think about it; when you’re on a social website and you see a picture next to text; you’re drawn to it.

2. Title tag

If you bookmark your content to a social site; your pages title tag is often used as the title. If your website has the title “My Amazing Blog | Updating daily with super cool content” it’s not going to grab the attention of others. Give each page on your website a unique and grabbing title.

3. Social media buttons

They’re so simple to install and most blogs come with them pre-installed! The buttons next to a blog that allow users to instantly add your website to their favourite social media sites are a great way to help your visitors help your online marketing.

4. Allow comments

Many website owners disable commenting on their blog posts. However, it makes your site interactive. It allows your visitors to talk to you personally. Even more so; it adds more unique content to your website. By enabling comments on your website you might get more people returning to check if their comments have been replied to.

5. Controversial comments

If you do enable comments, do you allow the negative ones? Not everyone is going to agree with what you say and debate sparks interest. If people disagree or even get angry over your content, allow others to read. You’ll soon have many comments and conversations going on.

6. Title too long for tweets

If you’re tweeting your updates; make sure your titles aren’t too long. Twitter has a 140 character limit on its tweets so just keep an eye out for titles that are too long. Sometimes you can still have an effective, attention grabbing title but without the length.

7. Easy to read

With modern communication channels such as Twitter and FaceBook people don’t always have enough time to read a long article. By making some of your content short but sweet you may engage more readers

If you can implement all of the above tips into your website or blog you’ll be well on your way to social media friendly content. You can expect to see more visitors to your website and an increased client database too.

==

Creative Commons License photo credit: woodleywonderworks

"Google no longer uses title tags" and other blatant untruths…

burglarI like to think I’m a fair person. I don’t believe in slagging off my competition, and always try to be even handed if someone asks for my advice on work done by someone else.

But every so often someone sends me something that makes my blood boil. Well yesterday I had 2 emails from 2 separate people, who I’d given some advice to on public forums.

I won’t name them here, but I will cover the downright lies they’ve been told, and the bad service they’ve received from their SEO consultants.

To clarify: SEO Consultant 1 is a web designer specialising in SEO & Social media, SEO Consultant 2 is a company using dubious telesales tactics and mentioned in several places elsewhere for ripping customers off.

SEO Consultant 1 told his client that:

  • Google no longer uses title tags
  • The META description isn’t important
  • Link exchange is the way to good listings
  • No-one searches for your search phrase anyway

This was blatantly to cover up the fact that he’d done no work on the site and achieved nothing.

Well, let’s put those lies to bed:

  • Google DOES use the title tag – in fact it’s one of the most important parts of onsite SEO. Granted, it’s not the be all and end all of SEO, but it is a major part, and without it, you may as well not bother. If every page of your website simply has your company name as it’s title tag, then you’re not going to be found for anything else. And don’t get me started on the dreaded “Home Page” title tag. The simple fact was, the SEO had done no title tag work and was claiming that they’re not used any more by Google in order to dupe his client. That’s wrong.
  • The META description IS important – it’s the description that Google shows when your site shows up in the results, and can be the difference between someone clicking on your listing or not. Of course, if you don’t have any listings anyway because your SEO hasn’t done the work they’re supposed to, then I guess the description tag doesn’t really matter after all…
  • Link exchange CAN be a good way to help your listings if everything else is in place, but the link exchange page that this client was given was a FFA (Free For All) links page where anyone could sign up and no checks were made. This meant that the site could be linking to unrelated sites, and there was no check in place to ensure that reciprocal links were given. I’m not a big fan of reciprocal links, and it’s been proven that one way links from well respected sites work far better to enhance your SEO, so although this cold be said to help, I think the client was misled.
  • “No-one searches for your search phrase anyway” – well, I’m sorry, but this makes me REALLY angry! In the first instance, why wasn’t proper keyword research done to find out whether the phrase chosen was a) suitable, b) achievable and c) worth optimising for in the first place. If hardly anyone is searching for it (which, as it happens, was a blatant lie – it’s one o the most competitive searches on the web), why on earth bother optimising for it in the first place?

The client involved had paid for a year’s SEO up front and from what I could tell, received very little. The site had 9 backlinks showing in Google, of which 6 were internal links from the site itself, there was no Webmaster Tools account, and in 5 months there had been no reporting, no help and advice, no status checks – nothing.

SEO Consultant 2 promised his client:

  • Full website optimisation
  • In 6 languages
  • Keyword research
  • Ongoing reporting

For just £295 up front and then £50 a month.

As the £50 was due to come out of his bank acount, the client asked what had been done so far. He was presented with a 3 page word document telling him what to change the title and META tags on 3 pages of his site to read. As he said to me:

It can’t have taken them more than 30 minutes to produce, and I could have done it myself!

So, far from the ‘full website optimisation’ of his 100+ pages, he got given (bad) advice on how to change 3 of his pages. No content advice. No Webmaster Tools account. No offsite optimisation advice. No page structure advice. Nothing. Just 3 badly formatted pages of a Word document that to be honest my 9 year old stepdaughter couldprobably have written better, and her first language is French!

No mention of the 6 languages optimisation he was promised (which is impossible anyway as the site was only in English), or keyword research.

When he queried this, he was told that he can’t have been promised what he was, and all calls are recorded. He asked to hear his recording and this was rapidly altered to ‘some calls are recorded’.

Now, I’m going to put the ‘you get what you pay for’ argument to one side – the guy involved feels a bit stupid, but he was promised a lot, and most of it was blatant lies.

Is it any wonder that this industry has such a bad rep?

I will hold my hands up and say i’m not perfect. I’m not the best SEO in the world (there’s always something to learn from someone). And do you know what, I’m scatty as hell! But because of that I’ve put systems in place that mean that every site we optimise goes through a number of checks, and a whole process from start to finish. Once a site is ‘finished’ it goes into another process line that makes sure that ongoing recommendations and reports are sent. I like to think we keep in touch with our clients, and that goes some way towards the many people who come to us because they’re been recommended to by current clients.

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Everyone forgets, misplaces something, or has software / hardware issues that mean things don’t go quite to plan. But to blatantly lie to your clients, tell them things that are clearly untrue and provide them with substandard work? That’s scumbaggery of the highest standard.

When I speak with people like the two companies being ripped off above (and no, I didn’t pitch them for work) I feel ashamed to be in the industry I’m in.

My link exchange policy

Or, an open letter to people spamming me with requests to exchange links…

Yet again I receive a template email from someone who clearly uses an automated program to send them out, asking me to put their link on my site in return for having my link on their site (still with me?).

The email itself raises a few points, which I’d like to go in to, and then establish this post as my official link exchange policy.

My name is Oxxxxx Pxxxx. I’ve just visited your website nikkipilkington.com

Erm, I don’t believe you.

I was wondering if you’d be interested in exchanging links with my website. I can offer you a HOME PAGE link back
from my Web marketing and SEO guide website which is xxxxxxxx.

I’m sure this exchange would be benefitial for both of our sites,
helping towards increasing our visibility in search engines.

If you are interested, please add the following information to your
website and kindly let me know when it’s ready. I’ll do the same for
you in less than 24 hours, otherwise you can delete my link from your
site.

Title: SEO & Internet Marketing
URL:  removed
Description:  SEO & Internet Marketing for small business websites

If you had indeed looked at my website, you would have noticed a couple of things:

  1. I don’t have links to any other sites on there, unless they are contextual and part of something I am writing
  2. My site promotes my company’s SEO & Internet Marketing Services

Now, I freely admit that I’m not among the world’s most intelligent people, but I like to think I have a pretty sane head on my shoulders, so WHY ON EARTH do you think I would like to offer a link on my well promoted site to someone who purports to be one of my competitors? And if I, in some moment of deranged madness, agreed to do this, what makes you think that all I would want in return is a link on a page on your site which contains many of my other competitors, and isn’t even in your main navigation?

You finish your email with:

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT A SPAM OR AUTOMATED EMAIL, IT’S ONLY A REQUEST FOR A LINK EXCHANGE. YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS HAS NOT BEEN ADDED TO ANY LISTS, AND YOU WILL NOT BE CONTACTED AGAIN. IF YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE SURE WE DON’T CONTACT YOU AGAIN, PLEASE FILL IN THE FOLLOWING FORM: (web address removed) OR WRITE AN EMAIL TO (email address removed)

Well, Ms P., I beg to differ. It’s unsolicited and it’s commercial – and I suspect sent out in bulk with an automated program –  that makes it spam. And that’s before we get to your outrageous ‘you will not be contacted again’ rubbish – this is the 3rd such email from you in 2 days, albeit promoting different sites (I don’t want to link to an Indian web hosting company or a watchmaker site either, thanks awfully).

And if I ‘will not be contacted again’, why do I then have to visit some site to fill in a form to ‘be sure’ you don’t contact me again? The same form, by the way, that I have filled in 3 times already.

PLEASE ACCEPT OUR APOLOGIES FOR CONTACTING YOU.

No, no, please accept MY apologies for:

  1. Thinking you clearly have no idea how to do your job
  2. Writing a blog post about how bloody useless you are, and
  3. Pointing out your faults to the lovely people that read my blog

The above is a moronic and useless way to ask for link exchange. The full email also claimed that having my link on their site would ‘benefit me in the search engines’ – having looked at their spammy site I can assure you it wouldn’t.

So, what is my linking policy? Simple – I don’t exchange links. With ANYONE. If a link is on my site it’s because it’s part of a post I’m writing, or it’s relevant to the page it’s on. I dont want to exchange links with holiday sites, hosting sites, watch sites, viagra sites, porn sites – I don’t want to exchange links with any sites at all.

Why? Because exchanging links with unrelated sites does nothing to help your Google listings, despite what people will tell you. Links from sites that are relevant and related to yours may help – but why would I want to advertise my competitors on my own website for the sake of a non-guaranteed ‘boost’ in Google? Even if I didn’t have the listings I wanted (I do) then that would be madness.

I’ll continue link building in the way I always have – slowly and surely, getting one way links from well thought of sites, and not seeing it as the be all and end all of SEO. Because it’s not.

I’ll leave the closing comment to Oxxxxx Pxxxx:

I hope you have a nice day and thank you for your time.

Does PageRank matter? Here we go again….

It’s happened in 2 forums I’m a part of, and I’ve seen a few people Tweeting about it – the dreaded PageRank argument has raised it’s head again.

Before we talk about whether it matters, for those of you not so sure, here’s the Wikipedia definition of PageRank:

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page, used by the Google Internet search engine that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is also called the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E).

Put in a simple way, PageRank is a number assigned to your web page by Google – it goes from 0-10 (officially), and in the past it had some weighting towards your search engine positions.

Opinions differ on whether or not it matters – I’m of the opinion that it’s not worth obsessing over. To my mind, i you have a PR of 8, but your website languishes on page 55 for the phrases you want to be found for, life isn’t good. If you have a PageRank of 3, yet you’re on the front page of Google for the phrases that matter, then all is well with the world 🙂

I was challenged on my “Oh dear, not the PR debate again” stance with the comment “But PageRank matters when I’m buying or selling links. Links in from higher PageRanked sites matter more”. And the chap in question kind of has a point – if you have links from higher PR sites, then it can help your search engine listings, and is a GOOD THING. That said, to my mind it’s still not worth obsessing over.

Worry about your positions in the search engine results (SERPS), not some random number on a Google Toolbar.

As an aside to this, and just in case you were all rushing off to buy links from PR9 sites – here’s Google’s official stance on buying links that pass PageRank in order to help search engine positions:

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.

(From http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66736

If you read the rest of that page, high PR sites CAN sell links, but are forced to use the ‘nofollow’ tag, which stops any ‘Google juice’ being given and so makes them practically useless when used in that way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – rather than worrying about PageRank when approaching sites for links, worry about whether or not they get the types of visitors that would be interested in your site.




GetClicky – a God among webstats providers

For a long time I used Google Analytics to provide webstats for me and for my clients – and it worked. Great stats, pretty graphs, nice figures – everything I needed.The problem I had was that I couldn’t get real time stats – I had to wait until the next day, by which time in some cases it was too late to react to surges in traffic.

I needed something that showed me what my visitors were doing and where they were coming from NOW, not yesterday!

And then I found GetClicky.

As they say about themselves:

Clicky is a web analyzer that works great with any web site, even Ajax and Flash sites. It was originally targeted towards smaller web sites and blogs because it tracks a high level of detail on every visitor, and these types of sites find this information very interesting.

It’s the high level of detail, combined with the fact that I can see what visitors are doing RIGHT NOW that makes GetClicky the perfect stats tool for me.

So what do you get?

The Dashboard:

The dashboard is an overview of the traffic to your site – telling you how mny visitors you’ve had (and showing you trends in a nifty little graph), how many actions those vistors have taken (eg where have they gone in your site), where your visitors have come from, what search phrases they have used and which pages they have visited.As an overview of your traffic, it’s very useful, but it’s in the nitty gritty that getClicky excels, and that’s what’s more exciting to me.

Visitors

The Visitors tab gies you a list of all your recent visitors, and tells you where they came to your site from.You’ll know what time they visited, what their IP address is, how many actions they took on your site, and if the referrer was a search engine, what search phrases they used.

This can be filtered in a number of ways and is very useful information.

Actions

I love the Actions tab as it shows me what each and every visitor has doen on my sites. I can see that one visitor has come to the site from an article that was Stumbled on Stumbleupon, and has not only read that article, but has clicked on the links in it to go to external sites, returned to my site and read some more articles, and even whether they have clicked on an email link to email me. By the time I receive the email I probably already know who they are and what they’ve been looking at and can tailor my reply accordingly – how cool is THAT?

Content

The content tab shows me which pages of my site are being visited, which are the entrance pages, exit pages, which of my files are being downloaded (in my main site, www.nikkipilkington.com, I have PDF versions of my internet marketing articles – this view tells me how many downloads they get every day) and more.

Links

Like most other traffic stats, this tells me where my visitors are coming from. But unlike most other traffic stats, it also shows me which links a visitor is clicking on to LEAVE my site.

This is great – I know whether links in my articles are being visited, recommendations are being followed, links to other sites I own are being clicked – even down to whether someoneclicks on an email link. I can also track visitors that leave to read something I have recommended and then come back! This to me is vital information and one of my favourite GetClicky features.

Searches

The searches tab shows me the latest search phrases I am being fond for on search engines – it’s always interesting to see the searches that bring people to my various sites – intended and unintentional 😉

Spy

This is my favourite GetClicky tab of all.

I can see, in REAL TIME, visitors on my site. I can see which pages they are clicking on, which files they are downloading, external links they are following, and more.

It allows me to react to visitors almost instantly – if I can see that lots of people are on Using Twitter for Business part one on my Business on twitter site, I can quickly amend the page to add a link to other more recent articles I may have written, in order to drive traffic there. If I see that lots of people are clicking on an external link to someone else’s blog, I can make sure I let the blog writer know, and investigate any synergy we may have to exploit the large amounts of traffic.

The spy tab has a multitude of uses – but I wanr you, it’s very addictive 😉

All in all I think GetClicky is as close to perfect as a web stats tool can get.

Pricing?

There is a free service, which doesn’t include the Spy tab, and if you sign up now you’ll get a free 21 day trial of the Premium service, which is what I use. It’s only $60 for the year and you can pay monthly – it’s well worth the investment to have your traffic stats NOW instead of tomorrow.

So, why not given it a go? Sign up now at Get Clicky and let me know how you get on!

Tip #90 – Variety is the spice of life

Don’t get everyone to link to you with the same anchor text, and don’t use the same anchor text in all of your links.

Vary the text to give you more of a chance with different search phrases.

This also ensures that Google doesn’t see the exact same anchor text for you everywhere and mistakenly presume you’ve been on some automated spree.

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