This Month In SEO – 12/07

We’re back! This Week In SEO is no more, but today marks the debut of This Month In SEO. It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these so let’s hope I’m not too rusty and can make it all the way through. Dedication? How about to the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. The New Year is a good time for a review of the past and a look ahead. Let’s dedicate this post to the looking forward and a 2008 that brings you everything you want.

As always you can find more links at either my profile or my StumbleUpon profile. And with a month in between posts you’ll find more there than usual. Now on with the show.

Social Media

A Beacon can be a guiding signal. It can also be a signal of warning. The latter definition seemed more in play as November closed and December opened for Facebook’s Beacon advertising system. Privacy advocates hailed Beacon as being too aggressive in tracking visitors and called for a change in the systems opt-out policy. Wisely Facebook changed the policy to an opt-in. The sometimes lack of privacy Facebook provides is leading college students to use the site as a status symbol for their relationship. It must be love if you declare it on Facebook.

Is social media marketing still confusing to you? Maki put together a beginner’s guide to social news sites that should help to clear up some of that confusion. Building a strong profile is key to any social media strategy, but is social media really about marketing or is it more about conversation? Are the two all that much different? Is it time to rethink what you want to get out of social media sites? Forums may not be the sexy choice when it comes to social media, but they are one place where the conversation is taking place. Who guides the conversation on forums? Perhaps that’s the real role of moderators.

Will social bookmarking sites eventually replace search engines? Arun Radharkrishnan has some thoughts to indicate they just might. Successor or not, there’s no question the social graph is is playing an ever increasing role in search. Bill discussed a couple of Yahoo patents on visualizing communities on social media sites. Yahoo also announced the launch of Flickr stats as a way for you to potentially better understand the communities developing around your images on the site.

Do you have $300 million laying around? If you do I have a bridge you can buy. Or perhaps you’d rather purchase Digg. TechCrunch reported the site is for sale at the $300 million price point. So why is Kevin Rose jumping ship and what caused the start of the downfall of Digg? Tamar’s been one of the biggest supporters of Digg, but even she recommends that nobody should buy the site.


I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how time consuming blogging can be. I marvel at the apparent productivity of some while I struggle to find one more topic to write about. If you find blogging takes up more of your time than you’d like perhaps it’s time to think more about project management for your blog. Michael Martine offers a 4 step process for developing more and better content. Want more? Then let Skellie share with you 5 methods for how she’s become so prolific.

Do you lead your muse or does your muse lead you? Jonathon Morrow has some ideas about how you can train your muse so it responds whenever you want it to. And if you’re looking for a little inspiration maybe you should start reading Cosmo. At least the headlines, which can be a great source of blogging ideas according to Brian.

Better writing leads to a better blog. Reading better blogs leads to better writing. So what blogs should you read? That’s really up to you, but Michael Stelzner has put together a list of the top 10 blogs for writers that’s worth a look. Skellie tells us why it’s important to pack your content with value instead of settling for fool’s gold and Steven Snell shows how you can take your better writing to land some paid writing gigs.

Great content is only the one part of the equation. The best content in the world still needs to be marketed and blog marketing takes commitment. Fortunately you have conversation to give you a competitive edge. Being a little opinionated doesn’t hurt either. Sometimes it’s all about perception. How are others seeing your blog? One metric others might look at is the authority Technorati assigns. However, is it possible Technorati shortchanging you? Scott Allen has some tips on making sure Technorati knows about all the other blogs linking to yours.

Subscribers are important to the success of any blog, but should you always share your subscriber count? Perhaps not if there are other indicators to give the perception that you have more subscribers than you really do. Before you can get someone to subscribe you need to get them to read. Thord Daniel Hedengren tells you how to get him to read and I suspect his advice will work to get a lot of others to read as well. And once you have them you want to keep them. Skellie has some advice on keeping your subscribers forever.

Design And Development

Conversation is important to blogging. Turns out your design can take part in that conversation. A usable design predicts the questions your visitors may ask and propels the dialog forward before they’ve even read a single word of your content. So if usability is so important why is it that so many developers have no clue what they’re doing?

When someone lands on your site you most likely want them to do something. Stoney and Lisa have some great and practical tips to increase conversions. The process begins the moment someone lands on your site. Julie Mason has some ideas for getting the most out of your landing pages. And when it comes to landing pages you should know I’m a big fan of Roberta’s landing page makeovers by now. This month we have two makeovers from the Copywriting Maven.

The first step in any makeover is a review of the current situation. Michael reviews personal blog, What Sarah Said, and as always we get to learn. Does your design flow? Jim Ramsey lets you know how you can tell. Convention is often a part of good design, but not all conventions should be adhered to. Andy Rutledge looks at the good and the bad in layout conventions. Color can have the greatest impact in any design. Susan Gunelius put together a list of colors and how they are typically perceived by people.

Link Building And PageRank

Are we still talking about link buying and link selling? The discussion was certainly active when December began. Both the Webmaster Central blog and Matt Cutts attempted to clarify Google’s stance. I found Matt’s example more than a bit contrived, but let’s face it, Google won’t be changing their stance just because some webmasters and SEOs disagree.

Of course Google holding firm to their stance didn’t deter others from commenting on that stance. As you might expect Google’s clarifications sparked a reaction.

Ok, Google doesn’t want you buying links. Does that mean you should listen? Aaron thinks the fear is unjust. Sure those links may get you in trouble down the road, but there might not be a road in a few years if you don’t buy a few links. It’s not all about Google after all. Quadzilla says forget about buying links on a site and buy the whole site instead. Bob Massa asks and answers the question whether buying links is for you. Know the risks and know the rewards and decide what makes sense for your situation. And Aaron asks if the diversity Google is seeking in search results is enough to make those results better.

Not all links have to cost money, though paid or not all links have a value associated with them. Not sure how to to determine which factors might hold the most value in the eyes of a search engine? Then give Wiep’s Link Value Factors another look. Eric Ward offers an example of making forgotten links work for you today. Eli answered reader questions with some ideas on picking up some easy links. And once you have some links into your site how can you make the most of them. Stephen Spencer has ideas on sculpting the flow of PageRank within your site for maximum impact.

One of the important value factors in a link is the anchor text of that link. Bill covered a Google patent discussing anchor text and crawling rates based on anchor text. The abridged discussion is on Search Engine Land and the complete talk is on Bill’s site.


Dave thinks the future of search is in personalization and has some tips for optimization through personalization. He’s also got a warning that Google may be watching you a little more than you’d like. Dave was all set to take off the tinfoil hat when he came across a patent detailing how Google might track user behavior as a way to present advertising. Speaking of patents Bill looked at the Google and Yahoo toolbar to give you a better idea how search engines can collect data on your surfing habits.

Subdomains or folders? Folders or subdomains? The question is often asked which is better to use. Google is making changes so both are treated virtually the same. Now we can all still decide to use one or the other, but we can base those decisions on something other than Google. It’s a good move and hopefully the other engines follow suit if they aren’t already treating the two the same.

How much impact does your domain have on where your pages rank? Depends on the domain and the particular query. Mark Jackson looked at domains where search engine visibility is concerned and later took a second look when a reader disagreed with his opinion on hyphenated domain names. Barry points to a couple of forum threads suggesting that keywords in your domain can help when it comes to ranking for those keywords.

Ever the Zen master, Stoney walks us all down the path to seo enlightenment. The three part series looks at 9 different paths discussing whether your site is good, bad, or indifferent to both spiders and people.

Some aspects of seo can be done once and only revisited every so often. Other aspects need constant attention. Carsten lists 11 steps to successful seo organized by how often they need to be done. Is all the seo advice you read the best to follow? Maybe not. Rand looked at how information spreads in the seo community. Sometimes even the smartest SEOs run into problems with their site. Sugarae wasn’t getting the search love you might expect and Rae wanted to know why. There’s good stuff in both the post and the comments.

Business And Marketing

As the web matures it becomes harder for small businesses to compete. Pay-per-click advertising costs will go up as more big businesses enter the fray. What’s a small business to do? David Wallace shares results of a successful PPC campaign that didn’t require a huge budget and Matt McGhee runs through a year-end checklist every small business should review. Maybe the answer lies in Dean Rieck’s post on raising customer response without raising your risk. If you like Dean’s post you might also be interested in the other posts in his 58 of the World’s Greatest Offers series.

Building an online empire isn’t easy. If it was we’d all be rich. One decision to make when starting a new site is which niche to target. Maki has 16 different types of profitable sites to jump start some ideas. The type of site you build is only one question you’ll need to answer. Skellie has 5 more questions you should ask yourself before beginning any project. Once you’ve asked and answered the questions, Maki tells you how to make sure your site will be a success. AdSense isn’t necessarily the best way to monetize a site, but Darren makes a good argument for why you should use it on your blog.

Viral marketing is greatly desired yet seldom understood. Jonathon Mendez is here to help with ways to optimize your viral marketing. Viral campaigns work, in part because they capture out attention. Skellie tells you why value rules the attention economy. How do you ‘get ink’ and get the attention of others? Dennis Balajadia has 10 ways to get you noticed.

Search Engine News

A quick aside about the search engine news section of this post. It’s been my least favorite to write since the beginning. There’s just too much news and most of it, while interesting to someone, probably isn’t all that important to most. The more important stories can be absorbed into the above categories and I’ve already started to do that with this post. Still habits are hard to break and for this post here’s some news specific to Google and MSN.

Google started testing the poorly named Google Knol, which comes across most like a copy of Squidoo. The goal of Knol is to have you build a repository of knowledge on Google’s servers. Michael Gray has some ideas on how you can use Knol to your advantage and Aaron has some thoughts on why Google might be looking to promote Knol.

The supplemental index has been giving webmasters fits for quite some time. According to Google it’s going away. I’ve questioned some of the things they’ve had to say about the supplemental index in the past, but hopefully they are telling the truth about it this time out. Crawl rates were part of the decision to create and subsequently remove the index. Bill has some insights into how Google crawls the web.

MSN/Live Search
MSN started showing ads on their mobile portal. The ads are untargeted at the moment, but except that to change in the future. Microsoft has also begun adding tools and training to adCenter and Live Search in an effort to help advertisers and marketers. How about an interview with one of the people behind some of Microsoft’s webmaster tools. Nathan Buggia is to Live Search what Vanessa Fox was to Google’s Webmaster Central. Rand interviewed Nathan for a Whiteboard Friday a few weeks back.

Live Search finally gave some answers in regards to the referrer spam they’ve been sending. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the decrease in that referrer spam as promised this month. My logs show it at similar levels to previous months.

I guess I made it through another one of these roundup posts after all. I have to admit it felt strange after a few weeks not writing one. As I alluded to when I mentioned dropping the weekly time frame this post is still quite similar to the ones that came before. Over time I expect they’ll evolve, but for now expect more of the same. Hopefully the monthly format works for you.

Are you looking forward to another long weekend? I know I am. I do have a few things I want to get done, but the next few days will mostly be about R&R with a lot of football in the mix. It’s cold here in Boulder and I’m somewhat snowed in due to a lazy snow plower. Good thing I was planning on staying in most of the weekend anyway. I think I have to with the snow around my truck. Have a good weekend wherever you are and whatever you do. Happy reading and Happy New Year.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.


  1. @Kim – Thanks. I try to put a little more into these than just listing the links. I wish I could have kept up with the weekly time frame, but it was too much. I think the monthly will eventually allow the posts to evolve more.

    @Bill – Thanks. I’m looking forward to the long weekend too. I had planned on making this a light work week and I just noticed I cleared 40 hours after today. I guess that is somewhat light for me, but more than I expected.

    Google Know does look interesting. I didn’t see it coming either, but in hindsight it seems kind of obvious for them. I assume it will come out of testing.

    I hope you’ve both been having a good holiday and have a Happy New Year too.

  2. I’ve always admired the work you put into these roundup posts and wanted to extend my thanks. I look forward to your finds for next year! Happy New Year to you :)

  3. A long, lazy weekend sounds good. Another great roundup post.

    Some interesting stuff happening, like Google Knol. Not sure I saw that one coming, but it makes some sense.

    I hope that the new year is a good one to you.

  4. Holy leaping frog legs… 2 mentions?? Don’t ya think yer setting the bar a little high for me man? Now I have all this pressure to perform… (I’m shrinking.. he he). Weekly news can be daunting huh? I know the feeling, a monthly sounds far more relaxing :0)

    Hope the holidays went well VG, looking forward to playing together more in the new year…..


  5. Dave I’m not sure what to think. You passed math in order to comment here, but you failed in counting your mentions. I believe there are three links and not two. Even more pressure for next month.

    The weekly was a little too much. Writing the post was fine, but it was too much reading to have to do. Monthly allows me to read a little less intently.

    Hope your holidays have been going well too.

  6. grumble mumble..3???? ugh….

    Yeah, my weekly’s were never as in-depth as yers and still I find it tough. Collecting things to report on was never a prob, just finding the time to write it up, add pics and so on was tough.

    Now, I simply keep tracking stories and report on Thursdays when I can. Last month only 2 out of 4. This year should be the same I think, if it is a light posting weekm, great – I can fill it with a news post…..


  7. Writing the posts did take awhile, but after doing them for awhile they started to become second nature. They take anywhere from about 5 to 6 hours to write each depending on how motivated I am to get it done.

    For me collecting all the links takes the most time. When I write these I don’t feel like I can skip posts so I tend to at least skim every post from all 100+ feeds I’m subscribed to. Since the URL is necessary to copy I end up clicking to visit each post and while the few seconds to load a page may not seem like a lot they add up pretty fast.

  8. Thanks Martin. I really liked your thoughts about moderators. I’m a moderator at a couple of forums and always felt the same. I’ve been recommending your article to others on those forums in the hopes they can see it’s about more than fighting spam.

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