I am a member in many SEO and PPC Forums and over the years have seen a transition in the type of posts that I find. Some members really give it their all, and truly try to help out and they are assets to these forums.
Others seem to almost "hold back," giving clean advice and tangible examples to implement their explanations. I’m not sure if this is because they fear they are giving something away to a competitor or what the reason is behind it, so I have made it a point to always try to give real working examples or ways to apply any advice that I give.
SeoChat has been my home for several years, and where I post most of my stuff. It’s a great forum that has more of the type of people that you are looking for, people willing to help.
This is a good example that I hope will bring some new ideas for optimizing your website. (This is version 2, version 1 can be found here).
12 More SEO Tips for 2007 by GaryTheScubaGuy
- Long Tail Titles + Content
- Advanced Keyword Selection
- Video Marketing
- Create a Link Building Campaign
- HTML Comment Tags/External File Names/Optimized PDF Documents
- Site Navigation and Usability
- Basic SEO Checks
- Optimize Your 404 Page
- Google Custom Desktop and Google Alerts for Content
- Press Releases and Syndication
- Social Bookmarking
- My Top SEM Tools
1. Long Tail Titles + Content
In highly competitive markets, generic title tags just don’t get it done anymore, although title tags can be one of the more important elements that the search engines look at to identify and categorize your page.
End users are becoming more and more knowledgeable about how search engines work; the more descriptive words they use, the more likely they are to get the results that they are looking for. What this means is that last year the key phrase for company "A" was Debt Help. This year their top keyword phrase is Get Debt Free. I don’t know why, maybe there is a major company out there doing debt consolidation ad campaigns that have "coined" this phrase to make it more memorable than debt help. Who knows? The point is that they are using a completely different search phrase, and the phrase is three words rather than two words.
Generally speaking, "the lower number of words the better" has been the overall suggested recommendation to target because human nature is the path of least resistance. To a point it still is, but the people using longer phrases (based on my analytics) know what they are looking for, because they convert at a significantly higher rate.
Once I have identified these phrases I start building additional pages, or even microsites (for purposes of A/B, funnel, and conversion testing) and I target the 3, 4, 5 or even 6 word long tail phrases.
Use these longer keyword phrases within your content as well. If possible, replace enough of the current keywords with the long-tail keywords. (This presumes that you do not build separate pages).
If you are in a highly competitive market, this could be the answer that you are looking for to attract the middle 40-80 percent of the target audience that you are looking for, plus get great conversion rates. Just be sure to create well structured "calls to action" in the page. (See #5 below).
2. Advanced Keyword Selection
This has been covered over and over again, but it is a very important element and ongoing research is crucial to help you stay ahead of the competition. There are several tools out there, most of which are free, or offer free trials. I typically use several different tools.
Google Trends - According to Google "Google Trends aims to provide insights into broad search patterns. As a Google Labs product, it is still in the early stages of development. Also, it is based upon just a portion of our searches, and several approximations are used when computing your results. Please keep this in mind when using it."
This is great if you are in an industry that has seasonal traffic. This identifies the seasonality of keyword searches. Google also has a keyword tool that will take a large list of keywords and, when filtered by Search Volume Trends, give you a list that contains 12 months of data and which month showed the highest occurrence.
KeywordDiscovery collects search term data from just over 180 search engines worldwide. Their database contains approximately 32 billion searches from the last 12 months. Their Premium Database contains over 600 million results.
What I like is that they cover a wider demographic than the other paid tools available. Although the new WordTracker UK version is a great addition for our company, being that it is based in the UK, KeywordDiscovery seems to be a better choice for those in a European market. Major differences are the databases from which they pull their results. WordTracker uses 4 or 5 sources (e.g. MetaCrawler, DogPile and Overture), while KeywordDiscovery uses Google, Yahoo Groups, DMOZ, MSN, Teoma, Miva and over 50 other databases. They also pull from databases in Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Israel, South Africa, India, and Norway. In the UK alone they use 11 different engines including google.co.uk.
SpyFu is a neat (and free) tool that can eliminate keywords that you may think are good to use, but may not convert well. It is a tool for Google Adwords and useful if you are trying to determine an estimated spend for individual keywords.
I use this keyword tool to see what terms companies are bidding on that are related to my query. Chances are, if they are bidding on it, then it’s probably converting. This helps me eliminate broad terms as well (e.g. parts, cars). I guess you can use other tools to base KEI (keyword effectiveness index) on and do close to the same thing, but SpyFu makes it a little easier and faster.
It will also show you misspelled terms. Of course many of these tools have this function but again, this tool does it quicker. Here’s an example of what SpyFu came up with when I searched for ‘advanced auto parts’;
advaced auto parts
advancd auto parts
advancded auto parts
advence auto parts
advenced auto parts
after market auto parts
aftermarket auto parts
anvance auto parts
So it doesn’t just show ergonomic misspellings, it also shows ‘stoopid’ misspellings.
HitTail is a tool that I hold near and dear to my heart because I had some of input into its development, and they added a few features that I requested while using it for Pay Per Click keyword research. (Well, that and the fact that the tool saved my client £90,000 a year).
The tool was originally designed to do what log files can basically do, but quicker and easier. HitTail gathers the keyword and keyword phrases that brought your visitors to the site and graphs them to identify niche phrases that have high KEI so that you can use them in articles or online content. They added an XML export feature that I love because I can use it while creating AdWords campaigns and save myself a ton of time.
The reason I use it for keyword research is two-fold:
- It’s quicker and easier than log file data mining.
- I can quickly identify the long 4-6 keyword phrases to use in my content.
Search engine users are become more savvy and their knowledge increases every day. They know that the more words they use to target their query the better the results will be. I see 20-30 percent of my visitors using 4+ keyword strings. Two years ago it was around 2-3.
3. Video Marketing
Video is huge, and will continue to grow quickly. Yahoo and YouTube average visits were between 13 to 15 minutes. Imagine getting people to watch an ad on television that long — or what you would have to pay for that audience.
All it takes is a video camera or good webcam, some basic editing software, and you’re ready to go. Be sure to keep the video short, something that people want to learn about or that will keep them watching, and place your URL somewhere in the video. At the end of the video include a "call to action."
Submit your instructional video (or whatever you choose to do) to free video publishing sites such as YouTube, Shorkle, Veoh, Furl, Bolt, MovieMasher, Zango, Badongo, MyUseNet and many others.
Continue to work on this and master your editing skills. Be sure to name the file with your keywords. You would be surprised how many of these video ads are showing up on the first page in normal Google searches. This will give you a great advantage over your competition if videos (or what I like to call free advertising) can be applied to your niche market.
4. Create a Link Building Campaign
If you haven’t done this yet, you are already behind. Link building is an acceptable practice if it is done the right way. Here I’ll tell you what I think is the right way.
You need to set some type of budget. Whether you’re an individual with one or two accounts, or an agency with dozens, you need to have some type of budget set aside for this. It can be money or it can be time.
Here is how I segment my campaigns;
- 15% – 25% to purchase one-way back links to internal pages. Not text links. I create custom/bespoke articles that will complement the owner’s site, and that have my keyword phrase within it as my anchor text. I also make sure that it is a relevant site to my article/anchor text.
- 25% – 30% reciprocal link exchange. Not text links. I create custom/bespoke articles that will complement the owner’s site, and that have my keyword phrase within it as my anchor text. I also make sure that it is a relevant site to my article/anchor text.
- 25% for blogs and forums. It’s considered Guerilla Marketing. This takes a little longer because you need to establish yourself within communities and become somewhat of an authority that can post links to relevant and useful content on a site. This will attract actual traffic (and improved rankings), and also create natural back links from other end-users.
- 25% Use an automated tool (IBP 9.0 – Axandra) to find potential link partners. You can find a complete guide on how to use this along with Firefox and SEO Quake extension on the SES London Presentations Page. The username is london2007 and the password is febpres07.
Now whether you hire students to do these tasks or you do them yourself, they need to be part of your daily routine.
Obviously there are other considerations such as building good content that people want to link to, creating top 10 lists, how-to guides and reviews, but not all markets have the ability to do these in a relevant way. My recommendation in this type of situation, and really any others, is to do a who-is lookup, pick up the phone and start calling. These are the best kind of back links.
5. HTML Comment Tags/External File Names/Optimized PDF Documents
It seems like a small thing, and even overkill to some, but I have participated in some testing on these suggestions and in all instances positive results were seen.
Google mentions looking at HTML comment tags in their Adsense Help Center. Does this mean that their algo also looks at HTML comments? Maybe, maybe not. But It can’t hurt. (Only add one keyword phrase though; use it in a sentence, but not as the first word).
Last, but not least, create PDF versions of your pages that are already ranking well, or have had content written for optimization purposes. In other words, I have pages that have what I feel is the perfect SEO formula, with on and off-page optimization. Take these pages and get the trial version of Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional. This will allow you to automatically create PDF versions of your pages, and add a few other optimization elements. Be sure to name the files with your keywords. Take these PDF files and put them in a subdirectory off of your root, and in the same directory add a your-keywords-here.xml sitemap, separate from your site XML map. Submit it separately to Google for a crawl.
6. Site Navigation and Usability
Navigation and usability is a fundamental element to search engine optimization. It is also one of the first things I look at when a potential client comes to Stickyeyes for a consultation.
Unfortunately in most situations there is a Director, Manager or Webmaster that is married to the current design. If we see a need for a complete redesign, hopefully we are lucky enough to be given the "nod," but in most cases that does not happen, so we are forced to change bits and pieces.
Before I touch on some good tips, let me just say this to the site owners, webmasters and upper-management people out there. If you are not ranking well, not getting a good click-through rate, experiencing high bounce rates or cart abandonment, or you get a myriad of traffic without a minimum of a three percent conversion rate, then you probably have usability issues.
You have more than one choice.
- You can let a professional redesign your website; choose a good one and this will almost guarantee every element I mention above will be resolved.
- You can let a professional create microsites in subdomains with full access to tinker around, test and improve. This way your "top-secret" back-end won’t be exposed (or cause any infrastructure or complicated matrix/server issues).
- You can let a professional change elements within your current site and test them; a good professional will certainly know what they are doing.
At the end of the day what I am getting at here is that this is a serious fundamental element in a successful website. To use my company as an example, we typically sit down with 10 or 12 of our best people when looking at the website’s functionality. This is a very strong focus group because we also know end-user behavior. Keep an open mind to these types of suggestions because they are usually one of the major issues most websites have.
So on to more tips.
Be sure you have definitive CTAs (Call To Actions) throughout your site, preferably in the navigation bars. These can be Call Us, Contact Us, Get a Quote, Add To Cart, Sign Up, Request Information or whatever. These CTAs should be in an abridged form that has as few fields as possible.
I recently looked at a website (a major name that you would recognize) that sells insurance online. Being an ex-insurance agent I know the information that they need to give a quote is certainly not 15 pages long. We actually timed it at close to 20 minutes to complete.
Look at your checkout procedure. Whether it’s for an ecommerce site selling widgets, or an insurance company trying to give a quote, the information that is required should be kept to a bare minimum. Human nature is the "path of least resistance" and you can scare them off with a daunting list of required fields when all they were looking for was a quick comparison quote. People don’t want to have to give this personal information away in the first place, and doing it online is an even scarier scenario, but now you want it all!?!?
Cut this down to just a few fields over a maximum of two pages…and even just one if possible.
Placement of "information request" forms are important as well. If you carry hundreds of products, don’t put a "request more information" button or form in your side navigation bar. Put one below each product and add script that will pre-fill the request form so that all the end user need do is add minimal personal information.
For those that are etailers, or those who have actual physical products that they sell (not necessarily affiliate marketers) and are competitive with their competition and their pricing, put a Low Price Guarantee like the one that you see here. You’ll be surprised at the increase in sales opportunities that you will see.
7. 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.
- Check for 302 redirects or any other redirects.
- Check for Load Time, Browser Compatibility, Spell Check, and Link Check.
- Check Server Headers
- Code to Text Checker
- Keyword Density
- Spider Simulator
- Plagiarism Checker
- Atom & RSS Feed Validator
- W3C Markup Validation Service
- Domain Directory Checker (top 10 Directories)
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 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.
A simple "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.
9. Google Custom Desktop and Google Alerts for Content
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. A GMail account 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 (email@example.com). You will need a GMail account to use these tools.
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; it will pull the last 1-10 entries from that page and populate your Google Desktop. Here’s a snapshot of what mine looks like:
It’s not the best snapshot but I wanted to show as much as possible. This is actually only about 1/3 of what I have on mine. These are different places that I used to go to individually to find information.
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. 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.
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 along so they have excellent connections with real syndicated sources. The websites that they send the articles to will re-syndicate them to even more websites. You will pay between £20-£40/$30-$60 depending on the amount that you send them.
The articles that you syndicate should be authoritative or about something that will attract people to them, 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.
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).
11. Social Bookmarking
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 links and traffic, for very little time commitment other than setup.
So here is how I recommend doing this.
- Create a free account with Roboform and download their trial. (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.
- 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 and becomes a relatively quick and painless procedure.
- Establish account with these Social Bookmark Sites:
- IE, 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)
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.
12. My Top SEM Tools
I have posted these on my blog The PPC Managers Board and even in the SEO Chat forum before, but I’m including them here because many have not seen it.
This is a comprehensive list of tools that my team and I use daily.
The first one, Firefox with the three extensions, are the tools that I spoke about at SES London 2007. I encourage you to install it and check it out. It’s one of the better tools I have used.
with SEO Add-Ons (1) , (2) & (3) (Density, links, code cleaner, W3C Compliance, etc.)
Google Analytics – Provides deep analysis on all traffic, including paid search.
IBP – Several tools for checking rank positions, basic SEO page analysis and link building tools.
WebCEO – Site optimization, promotion and analysis.
WeBuildPages – Free software for SEO analysis, back link and anchor text tool.
Link Building 101 – Basic link building instructions and tips.
Link Baiting – Good link baiting tutorial.
Google Webmaster Central – Statistics, diagnostics and management of Google’s crawling and indexing of your website, including Sitemap submission and reporting.
Pay Per Click Tools
WordTracker -Data is based on the Metacrawler and Overture search engines.
KeywordDiscovery – Data is based on the number of search engines.
Keyword Optimizer – Enter a list of keywords and this tool will remove any duplicate entries and re-order the list alphabetically.
Google Analytics – Provides deep analysis on all traffic, including paid search.
Google Suggest – As you type, Google provides the top 10 most popular keywords that begin with the keyed-in letters, in order of popularity.
SpyFu – Find out what competitors are bidding on, estimates for the cost of PPC advertising and other bells and whistles.
Hittail – Finds and easily groups the actual terms being used to find your site into an Excel format. Great for finding niches and long keyword strings.
Google Trends – Graphs historical trends of various Google searches.
Google Keyword Tool External – Historical trends in keyword popularity.
BidCenter – A good tool for comparative analysis and easy to use.
SEO Sleuth – Find what AOL users search for (AOL produces 2x the retail conversions as any other engine).
ROI Calculator – This calculator measures the ROI (return on investment) of a CPC (cost per click) campaign.
C-Class Checker – Use the Class C Checker if you own several cross-linked sites. If you do, it may be more efficient (for SEO purposes) to host them on different Class C IP ranges.
Code to Text Ratio – This tool will help you discover the percentage of text in a web page (as compared to the combined text and code).
Future PageRank – This tool will query Google’s various data centers to check for any changes in PageRank values for a given URL.
Internet Officer – Checks for redirects.
Live PR – The Live PageRank calculator gives you the current PageRank value in the Google index, not just the snapshot that is displayed in the toolbar.
Keyword Cloud – This tool provides a visual representation of keywords used on a website.
Keyword Difficulty Check – Use the Keyword Difficulty Check Tool to see how difficult it would be to rank for specific keywords or keyword phrases.
Page Size – This tool will help you to determine HTML web page size.
Site Link Analyzer – This tool will analyze a given web page and return a table of data containing columns of outbound links and their associated anchor text.
Spider Simulator – This tool simulates a search engine spider by displaying the contents of a web page in exactly the way the spider would see it.
URL Rewriting – This tool converts dynamic URLs to static URLs. You will need to create an .htaccess file to use this tool.
Keyword Misspelling Generator – Allows you to generate various misspellings of a keyword or phrase to match common typing errors. Useful for creating keyword lists around your most important keywords to bid on.
Keyword Density Analysis Tool – Finds common words and phrases on your site.
Hub Finder – Finds topically related pages by looking at link co-citation. Post about tool.
Page Text Rank Checker – Tool allows you to check where your site ranks for each phrase or term occurring on the page.
XML Sitemaps – Makes free Google Sitemaps for sites up to 500 pages in size. Sells a cheap and useful script to build Sitemaps for larger site sizes.
PageRank Toolbar For Mac – A widget to show PageRank for the site you are on.
And Even More SEO Tools
- Getting into DMOZ *Tool
- Meta Tag Generator *Tool
- RoboForm – A MUST-HAVE! *Tool
- Keyword Density *Tool
- Web CEO – SEO Software *Tool
- IBP Pro – SEO Software *Tool
- Robots.txt Generator *Tool
- Link Popularity *Tool
- Domain Age Check *Tool
- Code-to-Text *Tool
- Spider Simulator *Tool
- Who Supplies Who with Search Results*Tool
- Adwords Click Fraud Study *Information
- Abuse IP Checker *Tool
- IP Information *Tool
- IP, City and reverse IP Lookup *Tool
- Ping *Tool
- Traceroute *Tool
- PPC Hijacking *Information
- PPC 101 *Instruction
- PPC 102 *Instruction
- Comprehensive Link Building 101 *Tool
- Link Baiting *Instruction
So I hope V2 was worth the wait.
Please feel free to contact me at 0113-391-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org