This Month In SEO – 1/08

It’s that time. Time for another episode of This Month In SEO. Hard to believe, but another month has gone by with plenty of news to get to. If you’ve been here before you know a dedication is coming and you can probably even guess what that dedication will be. That’s right, this month’s post is dedicated to the Super Bowl, the true national holiday of the United States. Will the Patriots complete the undefeated season and walk off into football immortality? Will the Giants spoil the party with one of the biggest upsets the game has ever seen. You can probably guess what this New Yorker is rooting for.

Do I need to remind you that in spite of the mass of links below there’s even more at my profile and my StumbleUpon profile? Whether or not you need the reminder there are the links. I’ve even got another of my social media profiles for you just a paragraph away. Now on with the show.

Social Media

January marks the month that began my new love affair with Twitter. I wasn’t alone and Twitter seems to be suffering a few growing pains with the recent increase in twitterers. Tweets must be up as Twitter has had a few up and down moments with their servers this week. Posts about Twitter are certainly up and have dominated the social media how to landscape the last few weeks. If you want in on the fun feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Of course Twitter is far from the only social site out there and not everyone is yet enamored with social media, especially when it comes to the value of the traffic. Could it be that social media traffic isn’t even worth a single penny? And what about all those people you friend. It’s one thing to maintain social media profiles as a way to build your brand, but could the profiles of your friends be hurting your reputation? Is social media dumbing us down a little and turning us into sheep?

Digg was no stranger to controversy this month as 4 prominent diggers reacted to recent changes in the algorithm and the lack of communication about those changes. The 4 top diggers drafted a letter to Kevin Rose and staged a mini revolt that ended nearly as soon as it began. One digger responded by creating a Yahoo Pipes version of Digg that filters out the 4 revolutionaries and given the Pipe has over 3,000 diggs it seems like a clear message from the community. The new algorithm is supposed to make the voting more democratic and move power out of the hands of the few.

Not interested in what I’m doing right now? Does Digg turn you off? No worries. Maki has put together a comprehensive list of social media sites you might like instead. You can join a few of the sites and begin winning friends and influencing people or pick up a few tips first on marketing through each site. Don’t forget to assemble your social media toolkit and remember that there can still be some direct seo value in a few social media sites.


Want to create good content? Sure you do. Then you might want to know what the web’s best content has in common. According to Skellie it’s the ability to make audacious promises and back those promises up. Brian offers a three step approach to strategic content development and also gets down on his hands and knees at the crossroads to make a deal with you know who. And Darren asked a number of bloggers what was the one thing they did to improve their blogs the most last year. Less frequency and more quality was one of the top responses, but you’ll have to read the post to find out some of the others.

If your content falls in the forest and no one is there to read it will anyone care? I have no idea. But I do know that readers are important to the success of any blog. Skellie tells us how to create passionate readers and also let’s us know how to get into their heads to give them what they want. Darren says if we want our readers to be active on our blog we need to give them a little room to participate. And Michael put together a list of plugins for WordPress that will help get you more comments.

Before your readers can be passionate and leave all those comments you need to get them to your blog. Skellie has tips for breaking into Technorati’s top 100. You might not make it all the way to the top, but you can still use the advice to grow your blog. Maki gives us 16 strategies to grow the reach of your blog, one of which includes forums. Skellie also believes you can use forums to build traffic to your blog and Tina Su shares her success in hitting over 2,000 subscribers in less than three months.

Design And Development

All the calls a blog has to make to the database makes the pages load slower. Themes that need to work across many domains further complicate the matter. Joost offers a few simple things you can do to help speed up your WordPress pages again. While you’re in there why not separate your comments from your trackbacks. Michael Martin had the original idea and now Daniel runs through how to separate different types of comments again. And hey, since you’re still working on the files you might as well style your own comments a little differently than everyone else’s. It’s your blog after all. Chris Coyler shows you how to make your comments stand out from your reader’s comments

Are you taking advantage of your robots.txt file? Do you know how or why you should be making use of it? Fear not if you don’t. Sebastion put together three articles all about robots.txt including a plea to Google and the other engines to push the standards and give us more control over the file. After two posts on his own blog Sebastion moved the discussion over to SEOmoz with another post on the subject. If the posts seem a little too complicated at first glance maybe you need a little bootcamp with Jen. No matter where you start do spend some time understanding why robots.txt is important.

I always enjoy reading the thought process that went into a design or redesign. If you do too then you’ll want to read how Ben Yoskovitz redesigned the Instigator blog. Ever wonder how the Google logo design came to be? Philipp Lenssen found out when he asked Ruth Kedar how she designed it. A blog post isn’t just content. The design of your post makes a difference in how many people will consume your content. Patrick has 7 effective techniques for creating the graphics that will turn your posts into linkbait. And what roundup post on design would be complete without a landing page makeover. Roberta offers her 10th makeover, this time for

A beautiful site is meaningless if no one can use it. Smashing Magazine gives us 10 principles for effective design to make your sites more usable. Kim shares an upsetting story of usability gone bad, Stoney tells us why usability is more important than seo, and Bill has some good ideas on why your About Us page may be more important than you think.

Link Building

The seo community is quieting down some when it comes to Google’s response to paid links. Quiet, but not silent. There’s still some chatter and probably will continue to be some chatter as long as Michael Gray is still blogging and noticing that Google doesn’t always play by their own rules.

The choice to buy links is yours, but if the practice stops working don’t blame Google. Don’t blame Eric Ward either when it comes to your linking failures. What are the top linkbuilding challenges for the coming year? Justilien knows. A 6th challenge might be that your site is crappy. How can you build links to a crappy site? Ask Wiep or Roger Montti as both have advice on building links for not so linkable content.

Wiep also knows what makes for an authority link. He breaks down the four types of authority links and also shares some ways to get them. Debra Mastaler says there’s no such thing as a worthless link. She runs through many types of links and why they’re good to get and tells us how she gets them. XMCP has some do’s and don’ts on effective link building and Sugarrae gathered 11 experts and asked them a variety of questions on link building. This is one of those posts you don’t want to miss. Or maybe when it comes to linking you need to think about heat. Shaun Anderson teaches us how to visualize the hot spots in different linking neighborhoods and site structure.


If seo confuses you and you can’t find the way to success then let Matt McGhee guide you with the SEO Success Pyramid. This link gets its own paragraph this week and deservedly so. How could something that’s based on the philosophy of coach John Wooden be bad?

Joost put together a WordPress seo guide for beginners, David has on-page seo tips for your WordPress blog, and Ben humbly shares a mistake he made with his blog. The good news for Ben is he fixed things. The good news for you is he tells you how.

When talk began about the Google #6 penalty some panicked and others questions it. Aaron noticed the penalty on one of his sites and gave us his thoughts on why it was happening. Later he talked about what he did to get the filter removed. In the end #6 might be more glitch than penalty, but it’s still a good idea to understand what was going on. Google might be getting closer to reading text in images. Bill fills us in with some patent talk.

How do you become a successful seo and stay ahead of the curve? Perhaps you need to think like a search engineer. Gabriel explains why and how. Or maybe you should think like a robot. XMCP analyzes the limitations of search spiders and what those limitations mean for you. Or maybe, just maybe you really want to think like a porn star. An SEO porn star that is. Regardless of what you think about porn it’s hard to deny the industry has led the way a time or two when it comes to marketing online. The slightly shady one uncovers some tips and exposes some seo in the world of porn.

Some of the more common seo questions relate to the tools of the trade. Tamar gathered up a few from a High Rankings thread. Michael Jensen created the Link Search Tool to help you find the sites that will give you links. And Dave Davis uses a variety of tools to build and expand a negative keyword list.

Business And Marketing

What does the year ahead hold for marketers? Jeremiah Owang looks at the many forms of web marketing for 2008 and Greg Sterling talks about what’s in store for local search. Aaron considered automated forms of communication not named spam and how they can help or hurt your marketing efforts.

Frank Watson and Michael Stelzner are both talking about AdWords. Frank wants us to test our landing pages with A/B split tests and Michael offers some general thoughts and recommendations for getting involved with paid search.

The ideas of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point came under question a few days ago when Duncan Watts challenged the entire theory of influencers after conducting a series of social experiments. Guy Kawasaki jumped on board telling everyone to forget about the A-List, but very soon Gladwell’s supporters began posting why there was much hype in the new research and how influencer theory is still alive and well.

Search Engine News

I had collected a few links through the month in regards to each of the search engines, but with a quick select and delete I’ve removed them all except for the one story that broke this morning and will likely be on everyone’s minds for awhile. I did bookmark a few at before the sweeping them off the table.

I’m sure you’ve already heard the news of Microsoft’s $45 million bid for Yahoo. Yahoo is promptly looking over the offer, but Steven Ballmer has already said he won’t take no for an answer. If Yahoo declines the offer look for Microsoft to launch a hostile takeover. Any deal will be scrutinized, but will likely go through.

Should the deal happen will a combined Microsoft and Yahoo be able to challenge Google? Where will the deal leave Ask and AOL?

Another month has come and gone. I think you know what I’ll be doing this weekend. I’ll be watching the big game and celebrating the national holiday. I’ll get in a little work tomorrow, but otherwise it’s all about the Super Bowl this weekend. Looks like the weather will be nice this weekend and the snow from last month is nearly all gone. Have a good weekend wherever you are and whatever you do. I assume for most of you that means you’ll be watching the game. Happy reading.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.


  1. Thanks Jenny. A few people who like these posts have mentioned to me that they enjoy story around the links more than the links. Early on when writing these posts I want to turn the links into a story instead of just a list of links. I guess you added one more vote in favor.

    Of course, since you don’t know me that could be like the village idiot saying you’re smart, but it would be far better for you to pretend I’m smart and cutting edge. The compliment means more.

    This is just too funny. Thank you for making me laugh

  2. This is such a great compilation of links. I’m really amazed.

    Actually, I need to be honest. I was a little more amazed by the way you wove the links into an interesting story than I was about the sheer number of links.

    You’re good. Very, very good.

    Of course, since you don’t know me that could be like the village idiot saying you’re smart, but it would be far better for you to pretend I’m smart and cutting edge. The compliment means more.

  3. I’ll second those comments, Steven. This really is most impressive. It’s great that you put the effort into standing back and pulling together the key themes of the month. .. and I agree on the importance of the Microsoft move if it does happen. That’s a major earthquake in the search space.

  4. Thanks Barry. I’m glad you liked the post. It does take awhile to put these together, but they are fun to write. I try to do something a little different than the usual link roundup post.

    The Microsoft move is interesting. My gut tells me Yahoo doesn’t want to sell and is going to try to do whatever it can not to. But the offer is attractive and Microsoft sounds like they won’t take no for an answer so we’ll have to see how it will shake out. Assuming the deal goes through there are so many things that may happen. I think we’re all going to have fun speculating the next few months.

  5. Wow, what an amazing link round-up for January, 2008. Very impressive. I guess I have a lot of reading to do. :)

    Thank you so much for including my Twitter post on this amazing round-up. It’s an honor for me to be here.

    Shana Albert

  6. @Shana – Thanks. I’m glad you liked the post. Your Twitter post was good timing for me since it’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve been tweeting. Happy to include it here

    @Michelle – Thanks. I think I’ve included a few of your posts over the months. They’ve all been good. Sorry for adding to your reading list.

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