Social Bookmarking and More Top SEO Tips for 2007

Gary Beal, also known as GaryTheScubaGuy to our regular SEO Chat forum readers and members, came out with plenty of great SEO tips for 2007. Since he has expanded, updated, and revised this list, we’ve been presenting them in sections to help you have a banner year in 2007 and 2008. This is the fourth part of the series.

7. Run Regular Monthly Basic SEO Checks

This is a list of basic SEO tasks that should be the first thing that you check on all of your pages. Many times I find myself looking for the more technical issues, only to find out from one of our freshman SEMs that there was a 302 redirect rather than a 301, or worse, there was a doorway page or hidden text from a previous SEO company. So I’m including this list as a checklist for you to use.

8. Optimize Your 404 Page

The search engines look at traffic in their algorithms to "grade" a page. If you have a complicated URL, one that is commonly misspelled, or do something else that could cause you to lose any existing links that are published out on the web, this is the landing page the visitor will get sent to. If it has your template and navigation from the rest of the site it will get indexed like a normal page. Change your title and meta tag to one of your keyword strings, add an image and relevant content that reflects your keywords as well. I avoid placing the actual term "404" on the page.

Some of the ways 404 pages are reached are:

  • Bookmarked sites that have since been moved.
  • The end-user made an error when typing in a URL.
  • A moved page is still indexed in the SERPs.
  • There are broken links in your link structure

What are some tips when customizing your 404 error pages?

  1. Put a link to your FAQ page.
  2. Put a link to your top level categories.
  3. Put a link to your sitemap.
  4. Create a template 404 page that blends with your site.
  5. Add a search box.
  6. Make your 404 pages look as close to your site theme as possible.
  7. Add true navigation to it.
  8. Optimize this page with the same elements as your other pages.

A simple statement like "You have found this page in error, please select from the menu on the left side of this page" will do here, and you will retain more traffic.

If you are not using Google Customized Desktop, Google Reader, or some type of RSS feed reader already, you should definitely start using one. The easiest way to accomplish this for a complete novice (but is actually the way I do it) is with your GMail account. This is something else you should already be using. For the data storage alone you should be using it. If you need an invitation to open one, send me a request and I’ll send an invite (garythescubadiver@gmail.com). You will need a GMail account to use this tool.

With a GMail account you can go to the Google home page and log in using your email. In the top right corner is a link for "Add stuff." It allows you to add specific URLs and it will pull the last 1-10 entries from that page and populate your Google Desktop.

Google Alerts is a fantastic tool. You enter your search term and whenever Google finds your term while crawling the web it will send you an email with a link to it. I have alerts on everything from "google datacenters" to "DMOZ" and "Matt Cutts" to "Danny Sullivan."

When I look for content, I use these as reference tools. They are not meant to be used to scrape content or plagiarize other websites.

There are many other uses for these if you put your head to it.

10. Use Press Releases AND Syndication

Press releases are a fantastic way to get natural one-way links, and also attract fresh traffic. If they are done correctly they can be the main source for building traffic, gaining ranking positions and building trust with the search engines. But don’t just write them; send them to the right places.

In the United States I use PRWeb, and in the UK and Europe I use SourceWire to syndicate articles. Both originally started as PR companies before the web came around so they have excellent connections with real syndicated sources. The web sites that they send the articles to will re-syndicate them to even more web sites. You will pay between £20-£40/$20-$60 depending on the amount of press releases that you send them.

The articles that you syndicate should be authoritative or about something that will attract people to it, like Top 12 SEO Tips for 2007, or Ten Reasons Why ______________. You should quote trusted authorities and always reference the source when possible. I use Wikipedia or news sources like Google News, BBC, or CNN. I believe this actually adds trust to an article and in 3-6 months when Google pushes out Page Rank, the probation period for giving you full value is reduced.

Valuable content will be natural link bait and you will also get real traffic from it.

Pull a unique phrase from the article (mine is GaryTheScubaGuy) and add a Google Alert to it (#9 above). Choose to be alerted "as it happens." When you get an alert (typically within 6-12 hours), go to the page and place a Social Bookmark on the page. (I will talk more about this technique in the next tip.)

Wikipedia defines it this way:
In a social bookmarking system, users store lists of Internet resources that they find useful. These lists are either accessible to the public or a specific network, and other people with similar interests can view the links by category, tags, or even randomly. Most social bookmarking services allow users to search for bookmarks which are associated with given "tags", and rank the resources by the number of users which have bookmarked them. Many social bookmarking services also have implemented algorithms to draw inferences from the tag keywords that are assigned to resources by examining the clustering of particular keywords, and the relation of keywords to one another.

GaryTheScubaGuy defines it this way:
One of the best free ways to get increased ranking, back links and traffic, for very little time commitment other than setup.

This very moment most search engine algorithms are placing a ton of weight on end-user "bookmarking," "tagging" or one of various types of end-user generated highlighting.

Before doing any of this run a rank report to track your progress. I have tested this on terms showing on page one, on terms ranked 11th through 12th and others buried around pages 5-10. It works on them all in different time frames, and they last for different periods of time. This you will need to test yourself.

Be careful because you don’t want to be identified as a spammer. Be sure to use genuine content that provides a benefit to the user.

Here is how I recommend doing this.

1. Download this: Roboform. (It says it will limit you but I’ve had as many as 30+ passwords created and stored in the trial version) This will allow you to quickly fill out signup forms and store passwords for the 10 bookmark sites that I am going to be sending you to.

2. Within Roboform go to the custom area and put a username and password in, as well as your other information that sites usually ask for to register. This way when you are using these different bookmarks it’s a 1-click login in and becomes a relatively quick and painless procedure.

3. Establish accounts with these social bookmark sites:

a. Digg

b. Technorati

c. Del.icio.us

d. NowPublic

e. StumbleUpon

f.  BlinkList

g. Spurl

h. Furl

i.  Slashdot

j.  Simpy

k. Google Toolbar (w/Google Bookmarking)

4. Internet Explorer, Firefox and most other browsers have an "add a tab" option, but I use Firefox because I can bookmark the login pages in one file, then "open all tabs" in one click. From here I click on each tab and in most cases, if you set it up right, Roboform will have already logged you in. Otherwise you’re on the login page and by clicking on the Roboform button everything is prefilled, all you need to do is click submit. (Some of the bookmark sites will allow you to add their button into your browser bar, or you can get an extension from Firefox like the Digg Add-on to make things quicker).

5. Lastly, install the Google Toolbar. It has a bookmark function as well, and you can import all your bookmarks from Firefox directly into it. Google looks at many different things when assigning rank and trust. For instance, when you search for something and go into a web site, Google will remember how long you stayed, how deep you went, and if you came back out into the search to select another site, which means you didn’t find what you were looking for. This is all part of the Privacy Issues that have been in the news.

Here’s what Google actually says! "The Google Toolbar automatically sends only standard, limited information to Google, which may be retained in Google’s server logs. It does not send any information about the web pages you visit (e.g., the URL), unless you use Toolbar’s advanced features."

They practically spell it out for you. Use their bookmark feature just as you used the social bookmarking I outlined above. This is just one more click.

Some of the elements that Google looks at when grading a website are:
How much time did the average visitor spend on the site?
What is the bounce rate on the landing page?
How many end-users bookmarked the page?
How many users returned to the search query and then on to a different site?

Each time you publish an article put a Google Alert on a unique phrase. Each time Google sends you an alert, bookmark it on every bookmark site. This will take some getting used to, but will eventually become second nature. Remember what I said in the beginning: "One of the best free ways to get links and traffic, for very little time commitment other than setup."

When you start seeing traffic coming in and your SERPs getting better you will use the heck out of this. I’m waiting for someone to come out with software that will automate this process completely, but by the time that hits nofollows may come into play. But for the time being it works and it works well.

(Update: Found one) Bookmark Demon and Blog Comment Demon. It automates the process.

Since I am sure someone is going to refute this claim based on the fact that if the site has a no-follow on it, the results will be nonexistent, I’ll just add that yes, it does still get indexed, and it does still help.

One more thing regarding posting to blogs and forums. When I create an account I sign up and use a very unique member name (eg. GaryTheScubaGuy). This is because many blogs and forums have a no-follow, which means the link in your signature or on your member name won’t show up. So I also sign, or add my member name to the bottom of my post, then add a Google Alert on my signature so that when Google finds the post, it will alert me, and I will then start bookmarking the forum page.

Creating a small Adwords account will give you valuable information quickly, whether you are getting traffic or not. Look around for a $50 promotional coupon. Start out with a £/$100 account. Use Keyword Elite to build your keyword list. This is the best tool I have used in close to seven years of managing over $10 million in Adwords campaign across all sectors, competitive or not. I won’t get into the particulars; I’ll just say get it and learn it. Put all your max bids at the minimum. Be sure to set up Google Analytics (add a dummy file to your server) and the conversion tracking (one line of code) into your "thank you" page to monitor what keywords are converting.

This will give you valuable information that you can use to improve your site like what keywords are converting into sales rather than just traffic.

5 Great Reasons Why

1. Test navigational elements for the best CTR.
2. Track keywords to conversions to designate individual page creation.
3. Identify primary and secondary keywords.
4. Establish estimated conversion costs.
5. Get a head start on traffic and sales.

13.   Create A Multi-Source RSS feeds to Internal Pages 

When I say multiple it’s because the majority of people who add RSS feeds add one, and this will eventually look like duplicate content if the moons line up correctly, or if you simple get a feed that doesn’t refresh that often and Google crawls your site and someone else’s site and sees the same content. Although there is only a remote chance of this happening, I would still take the extra step to feed it via multiple feeder sites.

This content should be placed on-page (within your content) rather than in your navigation. Most search engines will parse (remember) your navigation anyhow so the benefit of having the content in your navigation is minimal. Put it within the content, preferably near the bottom of the page above the footer. This means that each time the spiders return they will crawl through to the end to get to the fresh content. (Be sure your page is under 30-40kb)

I use Power Rss for this. Or, if you have a Joomla site, this has a built-in feature that you can read about here: Joomla Simple RSS Feeder.

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