This Month In SEO – 3/08

Spring is in the air. Can you feel it. The lion is gone and the lamb is arriving. And the best new of all for me is baseball is finally here. This month’s post is dedicated to the national past time. Back when This Month In SEO was a weekly the title of the series derived from the old Mel Allen show with the game’s highlights so how could this post be for anything other than the greatest game ever invented. I admit it. I’m a seamhead. I’ll live and die with the sport right up through the dog days of summer and to the end of the Fall Classic.

But we’re not all here for baseball are we? How about some links to a collection of the best posts from the month that was. As always more can be found via my profiles at del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. Now on with the show.

Social Media

Some see social media as all about the traffic you can get. Is that what it’s really all about, though? Are there other advantages to social media? Sure there are and you should have a social media marketing strategy in place to meet your desired goals. Maybe it’s branding you’re after or maybe you’re looking to grow readers on your blog. Maybe you’re a freelancer and simply need to get started. No matter what your situation there’s more to social media than traffic.

Since your site is unique so too will be your social media strategy. With so many sites out there how do you know what communities to participate in? How do you avoid the social sites that suck? Let Dave guide you. He’s found 108 sites that don’t suck and even has ideas on how to connect with the influencers on those sites.

Didn’t I hear something about Digg being sold? Was it rumor? Was it fact? Who owns Digg now? Maybe I do. I’ll have to check with my accountant. Whoever owns Digg now or tomorrow you’re still an active part of the community, right? If you are Maki has a dozen tools you should check out. It’s not just about the tools, though. If you want to do well on Digg (or any social site) you need to really want to be part of the community around that site. You need to digg Digg if you want to get dugg if you know what Skellie means. One way to be part of the community is to comment on submissions. But you can’t leave just any old comment. There’s an art to commenting and you want to say it right.

LinkedIn or Facebook? Facebook or LinkedIn? Which is better for your business. Both can be good and Loren has some tips for using both sites to network with others.

Twitter

Have you heard, Twitter is the big thing in social networking? I admit to taking longer than I should have to get Twitter, but now that I do I’m seeing Twitter posts everywhere. So many that they needed their own section this month. Are you tweeting yet? I am and if you want to know what I’m saying you’ll have to follow me.

So what exactly is Twitter anyway? Is it the new Google alternative? The new Facebook? How many ways can you visualize Twitter? 17 at least. You can have your RSS feed posted automatically to your followers, you can track the general conversation for phrases of interest, and you can even do some very original and cool things with the services.

Twitter seems to be different things to different people and everyone has their ideas what it does for them. Some promote blogs. Some generate traffic, but most everyone who joins gets hooked quickly.

You can maximize your networking and marketing on Twitter without being a spammer, but don’t get upset if someone you follow doesn’t follow you back. They generally have their reasons.

Not everyone is enamored of course. Some are only begrudgingly part of the conversation taking place. I would suggest if you tweet while bathing you disconnect the power supply for safety. Bring along a book on Haiku while you relax in the tub. The ancient art seems perfect for staying within the 140 character limit.

Hello my network
Twittering in the tub
Conversation good

Somewhere Bashõ rolling over in his grave.

Blogging

Monica O’Brien divides blogs into three general classifications so you can personalize your growth strategy. Skellie sees 25 paths to a popular blog. Chris Garrett has 41 tips from 10 years of blogging. But how many readers do you really need? Maybe it’s not ordinary readers we’re really after. Maybe what we want is 1,000 true fans instead. How do you get those 1,000 fans? Brian has a 20-step process and yes those 20 steps are the curriculum for Teaching Sells.

Of course if you want to capture true fans or even ordinary readers you need to have great content. First you’ll need some ideas and if you can gather enough you’ll be on your way to writing posts in advance, perhaps far enough in advance to set up a blogging account. That advanced writing will give you time to brush up on your grammar and help you fight the enemies of clear and direct writing. It also allows you to be more agile so you don’t need to get everything right the first time.

Your strategy is in place, your content rocks, and yet your business blog still sucks. Want to know the reason? Maybe you need to be more aware of the Dos and Don’ts of business blogging. Maybe it’s a lesson in attracting and converting prospects that you need. Maybe you simply need to get your fellow bloggers to start writing about you to attract all those readers and fans in the first place. Sure, it’s hard. No one said it was easy. If you don’t like it I guess you can always stop blogging.

Design And Development

WordPress has long since moved beyond it’s blogging origins. It’s more than capable of serving as a light weight content management system. You can do a lot with WordPress, especially if you’re willing to get your hands dirty and hack the system. Want to use it as a membership system? You can. Want to make WordPress faster? You can. While you’re at it, remember to lock your blog down to prevent intruders from getting in.

Think today’s faster internet connections mean you don’t need to worry about download times for your site? Think again. Google confirmed that load times are part of quality score. Faster sites means less money spent for traffic. Since it also means you’ll keep more traffic on your site, what are you waiting for? It’s time to make your site faster.

Designers sometimes forget we’re not typical users. We know how the site works because we’re so familiar with it. Our users may not be. We need to learn to bridge the gap. We need to take care that visitors can understand how to use our sites, especially if it’s their first visit. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expand our skills and try to add a little design “wow.” We need to grow and challenge ourselves with every project. Why not start your learning now with 20 free design ebooks.

One goal of design is to make your website stand out from the crowd. How do you balance visuals that stand out with organizing all your information. You might try using a grid structure to organize and then break out of your grid to make your design pop. Whatever you do don’t require your visitors to sign up before they can use your site. Do style your text links in a way that makes them obvious and also adds to your overall design. If you get it all right who knows, you might just have your customers singing yet.

Link Building

PR sculpting through nofollow is the latest link building tactic promising the riches of better ranking. But is it really all that new? Hasn’t this been going on for years through other means? Is it really necessary if you properly structure your site in the first place? Some SEOs swear by it, others think it’s unnecessary. Some wonder what the fuss is all about since they’ve been doing it for years and one thinks no one has sufficiently created a test to prove anything. Varying opinions, but well worth reading.

Would you think a post that’s over two years old could still offer great advice about getting links? It does and when you get down to it all you need to do is go back to kindergarten and be creative. Could it really be that simple? Once you’ve graduated from the crayons and finger painting step up to a class on the fundamentals of link building. And after you’ve passed the primer you’ll be ready for some secrets from the experts

Class is over and you have some questions. Should you acquire links organically or should you pay for them? Can you gain links through email marketing? What role do directories play in today’s link building campaigns? Is it spammy to build links through blog comments? So many questions, and so many ways to build links. Remember link building opportunities are all around you if you’re paying attention.

Also remember that it’s not just about links. Sometimes you need to think beyond the link and look for exposure. Sometimes you need to think about the other and original PR, public relations. Keep in mind the balance in where you get links, how fast you get them, and how many you ultimately get. Think of what the anchor text of your links tells search engines about your site. And now that our link building education is coming to a close you probably want to know who’s linking to who so you can analyze all those links. Good news. Patrick Altoft created a free tool to give you all sorts of competitive link data.

SEO

Speaking of tools how about some that aren’t necessarily about links. Lauren Vaccarello put together not one, but two great lists of tools to help make your seo easier. One list deals with competitive research and the other with keyword research. Ann Smarty has some tools to use to check your rankings and she also tells us about her favorite seo extensions for Firefox. And just last night Aaron Wall released rank checker, a new extension to check where your pages rank for your keyword phrases.

What’s that? You want to know why you should be checking your rankings and doing competitive analysis. Look no further than the two links below.

Are there really secrets in seo or does it all come down to building a usable site for your visitors? There is more to seo than usability, but usability does play it’s role. Yahoo filed a patent to provide a list of factors that might help determine how usable a page is. Yahoo is also interested in your page layout to help them decide which sections of your page are more important.

Hmm? Deadly questions for Matt. Breaking sites to fix them. Does that mean SEO really is the worst thing ever invented?

I don’t think it’s the worst thing either. I want to know how to write better page titles and how to optimize my images. I want to understand the internal linking power of my site and know if it’s important to have a dedicated IP or if a shared IP is just fine. I figure you do too so I’ll link to some posts that will help in all of the above.

Business And Marketing

It’s no secret that Aaron Wall has a strong grasp of what’s going on in marketing and when he tells you what’s to come he’s more often right than wrong. So where does Aaron see future growth areas. You’ll have to read his interview with Gabriel Goldenberg to find out. Aaron also gets a little more in depth with thoughts about the future of outsourcing.

What do you do when you hit a plateau with your marketing. Skellie tried turning inward, but found the key is to consistently share your content with new audiences. You need to be nomadic if you want to keep growing. More isn’t everything, though. Better is just as important. It’s not all about traffic, but the right kind of traffic. And if you do it right you may just find your site has exactly what advertisers are looking for. If not then perhaps a group interview with the people who spend advertising dollars will tell you what you need to do.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good success story? How about one that involves cake? Matt McGhee interviewed Jesse Heap about the success of Pink Cake Box. It’s not what you know, but who you know so how do you get to know all those people. Ben has some tips on successful networking. What are your customers really looking for? Not to fill an existing need, but rather they’re looking for an achievable dream and it’s your job to sell it to them. Of course no one likes to be sold to so how transparent should you be? And when someone buys a cornflake for $1,350 isn’t that a bit of idocracy in action?

Search Engine News

Google’s deal with DoubleClick finally passed the last hurdle and now the two companies are one. Danny called for Google to do the right thing and divest themselves of the conflict of interest created by the acquisition of Performics. It’s not all good news for Google. The stock has gone down with the market in part due to the decline in paid clicks. In fairness to Google they’re reworking things to provide more quality in their ads including new demographics.

Yahoo and Microsoft are still two separate companies. Seems to be how Yahoo wants to keep things, but Microsoft has no intention of backing down. Things have quieted down for the moment, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing more twists and turns in this story over the next few months. For now Yahoo is forging ahead with business as usual. Perhaps it’s more than usual as Yahoo has been releasing something new a bit more often of late, including support for an open ecosystem for search.

Ask on the other hand can’t seem to decide if it is a search engine or not and if it is who it’s users are. Ask let go 8% of its workforce, went back to a 1996 algorithm, and decided it was best suited to Midwestern moms. They tried to backtrack off that last one shortly after the announcement, but it’s not surprising that there’s been little news about them since.

Normally I’d be gearing up for the start of the weekend now and wishing you all a happy couple of days away from the office. Unfortunately it’s Monday and we’re only now beginning the work week. I think I’ll have to speak to the calendar about making the last day of every month a Friday. It feels like it should be don’t you think. Monday or Friday I’m still in a good mood today. The baseball season has started for real and to me that’s a national holiday. Enjoy the week and I promise we’ll get to another weekend in a few days. Happy reading.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

14 comments

  1. Glad to link to your post Kimberly. I’m trying harder to link to people in these posts that I haven’t linked to as much in the past, but mostly you wrote a really good post that was well worth being referenced.

  2. I’m really not one to wonder past sites and leave “great post” comments, but Genie Mac, that was a bloody good post.

    Only problem is what category does it fit into Sphinn where it undoubtedly deserves a lot of recognition.

  3. @Mohsin – Glad to supply the link. The post does take awhile to write and naturally all month to collect the links. If you’re interested I did a write up of how I put the post together and the time it takes.

    How I write This Week In SEO

    The title reflects when the post was a weekly.

    @Liam – Thanks. I think the post ends up in the SEO category at Sphinn. The last few have gone popular and I think that’s where they ended up. I’m not 100% sure though. And thanks for following me on Twitter. I’ll return the follow next time I log into the site.

  4. I’m normally a strong follower of that Mark Twain comment, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, but I didn’t have the time to write a shorter one”, i.e. short and sweet. But I can certainly relate to long and sweet too. :) Thanks for the mention, too.

  5. Wow, that’s a lot of material.
    I’ve clicked through on some of them, but it’s going to take a while to really digest all of them.

    I’m debating about setting up a Twitter account. Isn’t it a lot of interruptions each day?
    Chris

  6. Chris, one of the great things about Twitter is it’s easy to ignore if you want. It’s like a stream of conversations and you have the choice of being part of the stream or ignoring it any time you want. I use Twhirl as a Twitter client and I have it open all day. I listen in most of the day and participate here and there when I have the time.

    It’s easy to keep it from interrupting you.

  7. Yes Yes Yes!

    I read your summaries monthly, and I just wanted to take the time to say thank you – its incredibly useful and valuable and you do a wonderful job of compiling all of the information. Much appreciated! Thank you for taking the time to do it.

    I’ll recommend you any opportunity that I get.

    ABH

  8. This post is over the top, why only 16 comments? Goes to show that content needs not only to be top quality, but needs a good shove to get it going…

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