Don't Be Fooled By April's Links – This Month In SEO 4/08

The first This Month In SEO on the new site. Does it feel any different? The post should look familiar, but the title is new. Some constructive criticism from Lyndon Antcliff after last month’s post is responsible for the change.

I guess we should dedicate this month’s links to Lyndon for his suggestions, though it was hard not to dedicate this one to myself for once as April not only is the beginning of a new site for me on a new domain, but it also marks the month of my birth. Maybe we could call it a tie and dedicate things to both Lyndon and myself.

As always a number of great posts just didn’t quite fit in here. You can find some of them at my del.icio.us and StumbleUpon profiles. Now on with the show.

Social Media

As more people sing the praises of social media, more people are asking where the value is. How do you use social media to market yourself and your business? You’d certainly choose a different strategy than if you were marketing directly. And while it may be difficult to measure, the ROI is still there. All in all there are opportunities for small business to succeed using social media. There’s even a natural fit for artists.

Want to increase the chances your content makes the front page of Digg? Understanding the milestones your post needs to go through to get there might help. No luck with Digg? Maybe it’s time to give Mixx a try. Some think it could be the next Digg. So why doesn’t it have the following it deserves yet?

Maybe StumbleUpon is your thing. If so you might want to pay close attention to who you friend. Clean out your closet before SU cleans out you. Of all the profiles on all the social sites on all the internet she visits mine. How do you keep track of everyone you want to follow? It’s time to give FriendFeed a try. But remember you don’t have to be friends with everyone who asks. You do have your rights.

Maki has certainly built himself a strong social media profile. What seven essential characteristics of successful profiles did he observe along the way? You’ll need a strong profile if you want to get noticed. It’s hard to be everywhere, but you can be in more places than you think and it’s not illusion. You publish an RSS feed of your blog posts, but are you taking advantage of the RSS feed your social media profiles offer? Those three letters could just improve your success.

Twitter

The best way to understand Twitter is simply to use it for awhile, but that’s not stopping people from doing their best to explain the service and tell people why it’s so great or how essential it is as a social tool. Twitter is like sex, it’s a blogging sidekick, it even writes posts for you. Still if you don’t get it yet, just give it a try. Follow me and a few others and see what it’s all about. Joining is really the best way to see the benefits.

Twitter isn’t just for marketers. It’s gone mainstream. Presidential candidates and British Parliament are tweeting. So how come the journalist community hasn’t joined in on the fun? Are they afraid someone will trash their reputation? Probably not. Perhaps by year’s end they’ll be just as enamored with the twitterverse as the rest of us and twittering right along. Hopefully the won’t make the eight mistakes some bloggers do.

Blogging

Should your small business be blogging? The answer of course depends on several factors, but those of us who are blogging would probably lean toward answering yes. If you do take the plunge remember that the first rule is you don’t have to do anything, though there’s plenty you should do. One thing you should do is engage your readers and along those lines you may want to give podcasting a try.

Not all of us can pick up 3,000 subscribers in a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones picking up piles of links and comments as your subscriber base grows. A great way to reach new audiences and pick up new readers is by guest blogging for others. Commenting on other blogs in your industry helps too. They’re about more than quick traffic you know. Still there’s a right way and a wrong way to leave comments.

There’s certainly a lot more to running a successful blog than guest posts and comments. How about a big resource of tips. With links to 60+ articles you’re sure to find something to help improve your blog. 60+ tips not enough? How about an additional one for optimizing your post titles? Is a forum the right addition for your blog? It could be just the thing to keep readers at your site longer. Before you jump right in and add one think about how the code from different sources works together. Applications like WordPress and others may not be as secure as you think. Are they appropriate for SEOs?

Design And Development

Every time I start a new design I seek a little inspiration, often from css galleries. I’ll also spend time looking through some of the best tutorials to learn a few new tricks. Maybe it’s your contact forms that could use a little more creativity, maybe it’s your footers that could use some out of the box thinking. Maybe it’s your entire blog theme that could use a little guidance on style.

Your logo isn’t your brand, but it is a visual symbol of your brand and as such might be the most important graphic created for your site. You might want to think how your logo will look as a favicon while you’re creating it. Are you getting tired of seeing the same old RSS icons everywhere? You don’t have to make your visitors feel that way if you opt for something a little off the beaten path. And while you’re working on all those images, perhaps it’s time to get a little more transparent with them. You can get around those pesky browser limitations with a little know how.

Don’t forget who you’re designing for, though. It’s not you, it’s your visitors, so make sure your design is usable. Please stop abusing Hx tags and using them as design elements. Take the time to use them properly and both your page and your visitors will be smiling. Treat your other html tags well and use them how they were meant to be used. Pretty soon you’ll start to see the convergence of usability and seo on your site and everyone will be happy.

Link Building

Can you define a list of best practices when it comes to link building? Apparently not, as one size really doesn’t fit all. But let’s say you wanted to try. Might you include some thoughts about deep linking and anchor text? Would you include some link development shortcuts? Maybe backlink checkers would make your list or maybe you’d offer up ways to find new links through Google Alerts.

Of course you could skip the whole ninja thing and focus your efforts on developing linkbait even if the name has never been the best. Be careful with your widgets, though. They might get out of hand and if you go so wild that Google defines you as a black hat they may never trust you again.

SEO

Speaking of losing Google’s trust, can you force that on your competition? Are there things you can do to penalize your competition? What if they’ve done it to you. How can you tell if your domain has been banned and shown the door from search results. Then again maybe it’s not your competitors who’ve gotten you in hot water. Would your site pass a manual Google review?

All this banning talk is depressing. Let’s look at the positive side of things and start improving our situation. The first step is diagnosing the health of your current site. You have to know where you are before you can decide what direction to take to your goal. Your analytics can help in determining what’s working and not working now. Your stats can help you decide if you can compete for competitive keywords or if you still need to work the long tail. And when choosing keywords to target it only makes sense to target the ones people actually use. Why not let Google tell you what those keywords are?

Is your business local? Could people be searching for you in local directories? If so you may want to do a little more than submitting a quick profile and forgetting about it. And why limit yourself to local. There’s no reason you can’t try to dominate your market a few months down the road. A little bit of seo experimenting along the way will help you see what’s working and what’s not. That testing might even suggest some advanced ideas you can put to good use.

An aged domain is often preferable to a new domain. A link from a popular and trusted domain is usually preferable to a link from one not so popular and trusted. Is Microsoft adding another layer of complexity? Might the age of the domains linking to you also affect how well your domain ranks? How about user performance metrics? Has Google confirmed it analyzed queries as part of the ranking signal? And what about duplicate content? Has Yahoo finally figured out how to handle duplicate pages at different URLs? You’ll have to read the patent coverage from Bill and Dave to find out.

Business And Marketing

Everyone wants their sites to be more valuable. So how do you get more value from your site? You might ask someone who consistently buys sites and find our what he generally looks for. You might also ask that same person what kind of business models he turns to after buying a site.

Was your tagline an afterthought? If you’re like me you know they’re important, but aren’t quite sure how to come up with a good one. If you can manage to capture your mission, your promise, and your brand in a few words you might just end up with a tagline that truly works. It’s certainly not the only thing you might change when making over your site. The landing page makeovers are no more, but Roberta has started anew with complete marketing makeovers. The first two debuted this month.

How well does your copy sell your products and services? Can a simple 3 part formula help you help your copy? Could following 4 essential rules make your copy more persuasive? Maybe the problem isn’t your copy. Could your site be doing one of 50 things to discourage conversions? Perhaps you need to apply one of 7 strategies that have been proven to increase your site’s conversion rate.

Google doesn’t have its hand in every business…yet. But they sure use their web supremacy to get into as many markets as they can. They’re taking their natural competitive advantage and using it to expand. Don’t be mad at them. Learn from them and see if you can follow their marketing strategy to grow your own business.

You’ve probably heard that advertising isn’t quite working as hoped for many. You might be struggling to build a site around the advertising model. No worries. Affiliate marketing to the rescue. Instead of serving ads people don’t want, help them find the products they do want. Do you have an affiliate program for your products yet? Yes or no you may find it helpful to discover the advantages and disadvantages of different affiliate management software. And while you’re setting up your affiliate programs and sites take the guesswork out of PPC and follow along with step by step instructions for setting up your campaign.

Search Engine News

All month long I had been collecting stories about Microhoo or is it Yicrosoft, but let’s face it you already know what’s going on. How could you not. So instead of links how about a quick summary.

Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo so they can compete with Google. Yahoo either wants to remain independent or appear like they want to remain independent so Microsoft will raise the price of its offer. Yahoo is working on all sorts of deals with companies like Google and AOL in order to show how much more valuable they are than Steve Ballmer seems to think. Microsoft has never taken ‘no’ very well so they’ve thrown down the gauntlet and insist it’s either sale or hostile takeover. Now that the deadline has passed they seem awfully quiet.

Stay tuned next month for more in the sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying search engine acquisition drama.

How about quick and useful things from Google and Yahoo?

Google is giving small business owners more control over the address that’s displayed in the plus box. They did the right thing in selling Performics and revealed a few secrets about how Google News works. Perhaps the biggest news was that googlebot can now crawl and fill out web forms, which opens up both worries and possibilities for SEOs. And Udi Manber offered an interesting interview to Popular Mechanics.

Yahoo is becoming more open revealing details of it’s new ad system while it tests selling Google’s ads. They’re looking to improve social search and unifying profiles across social properties. It may lead to a new sticky, viral, and friendly Yahoo.

Well I made it through the first round up post on the new site. No weekend in front of us just yet, but hopefully I’ve helped make hump day a little more useful or enjoyable in some way. The good news is the week is more than half over and the coming weekend is closer than the previous one. Thanks again to Lyndon for making some good suggestions after last month’s posts. Hopefully you like the new title idea. Feel free to let me know what you think and make some suggestions for next month.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

26 comments

  1. Congrats on the new digs…and thanks for the reading as I find myself with reading time now being a gimp for a spell. Thus I must also keep this short …ugh…

    Congrats again..I like it

    • Thanks Dave. I saw the pic of your hand all bandaged. How’s it feeling? How long till you’re typing again like your old self?

      I’ll see what I can do about getting you a guest post to help out while you’re reading more than writing.

      Thanks again. Glad you like the new digs.

  2. I’m always amazed when people take my advice, flattered indeed, thanks for the mention.

    Another great bunch of links btw, I missed a few of them.

    • Cool. I didn’t think anyone had goals of making one of these posts.

      I liked your post. I know the advice about guest blogging and believe the advice good too, but you don’t see many actual case studies that show it works.

    • Thanks Adam. I guess I should have had your post in last month, but I didn’t discover it till this one. That’s ok though, since it led me to subscribe and I should end up including more posts in the future.

  3. Steven, this is like getting the Sunday NY Times in the middle of the week — I’m going to need a wifi connection, and giganto Starbucks, and several hours to go through it all!

    • Funny. I know what you mean, though. The Sunday Times is an all day affair isn’t it, especially if you try to tackle the crossword.

      What’s been interesting to me is that different people seem to read these posts for different reasons. Most everyone tells me they find at least a few links they hadn’t come across, but some people want to go through all of them and others just enjoy the commentary around the links.

      There are a lot of links to go through and I don’t expect anyone to click to all of them. Hopefully people discover a couple new blogs they might not have known about.

    • Thanks Dave. I’ve been waiting for you to write another post. I kept checking every week and didn’t see anything and then there it was.

      I remember you mentioning a month or two ago how if I don’t include a post of yours here you look through to see if it could have been better. Now I find myself going through your posts and wondering what you’re going to think if I do or don’t include the post.

    • Thanks Jaan. I could have sworn I had gotten you into one of these posts already, but I guess not. It’ll happen. I’m certainly reading your blog so it’s just a matter of time.

  4. Wow. I certainly know what I’m going to be reading this weekend! You know, you’ve just given a show-and-tell tutorial in how to write a round-up post, too.

    • Thanks Rebecca. I hope I don’t keep you in reading all weekend. It’s good to get out an play too. I’m glad you like the round-up post. I had seen too many round-ups that came across to me as lazy linking to fill space so I try to make these a little more.

  5. This is a wealth of knowledge, going to take me forever to get through them all but definitely worth my time.
    Thanks so much for posting this!

    • I just collect everything in a text file so I don’t have to go back and delete the bookmarks. I try to keep things organized from the start though, or the links could get out of hand really fast.

  6. Wow this is quite a read! I stumbled upon your page while at work, I have neither the time nor the will to go through all this now, but once I get back home, kick back, relax, open a beer … or maybe just make some tea, I’ll get to it. I’ve been out of the loop for some time now and posts like yours are really helpful. Keep up the good work!

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