An Engaging Collection Of Links – This Month In SEO – 7/08

When July rolled in I had every intention of dedicating This Month In SEO to independence. The United States, France, and Canada all celebrated independence days early in the month, but sometimes events happen that change your plans.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that two of our own have fallen in love and agreed to spend their days together. Bill and Kimberly, this post is dedicated to you both. I can’t think of two people more deserving.

I collected more links this month than any time previously. There’s a lot, and I mean a lot more to be found at my del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, and Sphinn profiles this month.

Now on with the show.

Social Media

What’s the value in social media? Are you better getting 1,000 visitors from social media or search engines? Which brings more quality traffic? Many will probably tell you the smart road to success is consistent organic growth, whiles other will insist social media is the key. If your aim is the latter what traits will you need to market yourself through social media and how can you promote yourself without doing too much promotion?

Can you cheat your way to the front page of Digg? Cracked.com seems to think so in their tongue-in-cheek way. Of course Cracked.com does have success making the front page and Maki took a look at the template they use for crafting Digg friendly content.

Does Digg really offer a level playing field? Maybe what you need is a network of diggers to increase your odds of making it to the top. And if you’re going to build a network of diggers you need to speak the language of Digg.

So Google didn’t buy Digg and rename the company Giggle. It was still fun to speculate how the combined company would have changed things.

Social media is about starting conversations and building relationships. Remember to read between the lines and take some time to realize what you might be saying between those same lines. What’s unsaid is often as important as what is said. Are you following the herd or are you willing to let your ideas lead the discussion? Seriously, when you get down to it social networking isn’t all that different from trying to get your date in bed.

Twitter

Others try, but Twitter is still the king of micro blogging. Sure, you can engage in conversation, but Twitter is still a one way monologue at heart. That’s not to say you can’t build relationships through Twitter. You can even if you’re just a beginner. Perhaps the best news for Twitter is their recent purchase of Summarize. Could it be that Twitter now has a business model and does that mean we’ll see the fail whale a little less often in the future?

Plurk

As Twitter is to micro blogging, Plurk is to micro forums. The community is more welcoming and designed to promote dialog as opposed to monologue. Plurk is the smaller network at the moment, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s quietly achieving while others are whaling. So what insights have early plurkers learned and shared

Blogging

Traffic doesn’t mean much if it bounces right away. You want your traffic to stick. In order to get your readers to stick around you first need to hold their attention. If done well you may even find your readers participating and interacting more. Naturally you want your visitors to subscribe and become readers, but do you know how to measure what’s getting them to sign up? What’s your subscriber conversion ratio?

You’ve likely heard that guest blogging can be an effective way to build your subscriber base. It can also enhance your search engine presence and help grow your social networks. But does it really work? You bet it does if you’re properly motivated and align your guest posts with your goals.

Promote all you want, but your blog’s success still relies on your content. Don’t worry about word count, but do make sure you say something. It can be surprisingly simple to persuade and by following a few tips your blog will have all the signs of producing effective posts. You can’t miss.

You can avoid common mistakes and make your blogging stronger through bullet points. You can boost productivity with a template and learn by actively watching what other bloggers do. But in the end, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Your blog either has it or it doesn’t

WordPress

Are you using WordPress yet? Many businesses are, not only as a blogging platform, but as a full CMS. Still using Blogger? You have my sympathies. You also have some instructions for migrating to WordPress. Don’t stop with the migration though. There are some things you might want to do shortly after installing WordPress to make your blogging life easier and your blog running smoother.

You don’t need to be an database administrator to run your blog, but it’s still a good idea to become familiar with your DB. At the very least make sure to back up your database by sending it to your gmail account. With a few plugins you can simplify the administration of your backend and like it or not the popularity of WordPress makes it a target. Make sure to lockdown your WordPress installation to prevent unwanted breakins.

WordPress installed? Check. Administrative details accounted for? Check. Now let’s have some fun. Are you up for developing your own magazine style theme? No? How about starting with your sidebar?

What makes for an effective sidebar and did you know you can display different content in your sidebar on different sections of your site? Still more than you want to tackle? How about making sure all links to your feed are pointing to the same place? They are? Good. Then why not simply code your links so they’re all styling.

Design And Development

Navigation can make or break your site’s usability and effectiveness It can be a challenge to get right, but it’s worth it. It’s possible a few simple changes in your ecommerce navigation can lead to a significant increase in conversions. And how you architect your site can impact how well your pages and site rank. You may even be able to let search engines know which parts of a specific page are more and less important for them to take into consideration.

If you’re not yet developing with css and designing to standards, please enter the 21st century. CSS is not the latest thing. It’s a better way to develop websites. I know, I know, some browsers don’t want to cooperate, but there are plenty of tips to solve the most common css headaches.

You’ll find working with lists invaluable, especially when it comes to coding your navigation and as you find yourself reusing more and more blocks of code from other projects you can put them together into your own css framework.

Can everyone use your site? Do you know how it looks in a screen reader? Will everyone see the same colors you do? We all know making our sites accessible is the right thing to do. At least we should know. Knowing it’s right and understanding how are two different things. Fortunately Yahoo is helping developers simulate the experience of a disabled surfer.

Accessible design isn’t as hard as it first appears and you don’t have to lose your mind in the process. Remember, though, that accessible design isn’t SEO even if the two often overlap.

Depending on your perspective web design either got a whole lot better or a whole lot worse when Adobe announced they were helping search engines index Flash content. More to the point don’t expect much to have really changed.

Indexable Flash is a good thing, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You’re still better off using it as you always have, in limited doses. Flash isn’t as bad as some would have you believe, but it isn’t always good either. If you’re going to use Flash understand the pros and cons and use it appropriately.

Link Building

Links matter. We know that. We also know that all links are not created equal. Who links to you and how they link to you say a lot about your reputation. Do you know what your reputation is? If good links offer a better reputation for you, what exactly is a good link?

Are paid links good? Google doesn’t think so, but does Yahoo feel the same? Does anchor text increase relevancy? How about directories? Are there still good ones out there? And once you’ve finally figured out which pages will give you the best links should you get more from that same page or move on to the next?

Too much of a good thing isn’t so good after awhile. Same for links. You want to diversify your link profile so it’s more natural. Keyword research can help and so can a greater understanding of how to search. Through the power of search queries you can identify where the best links come from. It’s time to start collecting your favorite queries to find those known, quality linkers.

Would you trade a smarte car for a link? Depends on your perception and the authority of the link. Maybe you’d rather build links by giving away widgets. Be careful though or you could find yourself in trouble with the widgetbait police. Yes your content is important, but you still need to get the word out. How do you reach the messenger who’ll spread the word for you?

SEO

What’s the best way to learn SEO? Has How would you advise someone to learn SEO in 2008? Would you share some of your favorite analogies? Would you show them how to improve their ranking through content management?

Maybe what they need to know is how to identify how many pages of their site Google has indexed despite the seeming 1,000 page results barrier. Once they can see all the indexed URLs that don’t need to be there they could use a robots.txt file to block some of the duplicate content.

SEO shouldn’t be entirely automated, but there are a wealth of online tools available to help you collect data about keywords and links and most anything else that can be measured. If you prefer you can get some of the same functionality by installing a few Firefox extensions.

One tool that became more useful this month was the Google AdWords Keyword Tool as it began showing numbers. But are those numbers really as useful as they first seem?

One of the best ways to learn SEO is to talk to those who have been at it awhile with proven success. Fortunately we can do that this month as some of those successful SEOs happily responded to questions asked of them. For your enjoyment and education here are interviews with Aaron Wall, Tood Malicoat, Michael Gray, and David Harry.

Business And Marketing

You can’t have a site without first buying a domain. Ok, you can, but not if you want the site to be taken seriously as a business. Time to get started on your virtual real estate deals. You might even want to use Google’s content network to determine what a domain is worth to see if you want to invest. You’ll need to decide what to do with those domains and you may want to evaluate running an ecommerce store.

Article marketing has fallen on tough times in some circles. Can it still work? Can it still bring in the dollars or help increase your ebook sales? Are eBooks still a viable business model and if so how to you write and publish one? Think paid content can’t work? Wondering how to sell content when so many give it away free. All that free content and the misinformation associated with it may actually add value to the paid content business model.

Traffic that doesn’t convert is like holding 4 aces and watching everyone else fold before you can make a bet. It’s not quite as valuable as it could be. Conversions matter and you should be working to improve them. Creating a sense of urgency is one way to get people to take action. Scarcity is another way to increase the perceived value of your offer.

If you want people to talk about you it pays to be remarkable. It also helps if you look at how others have managed to get their ideas to go viral and identifying the design patterns they used. The key, of course is to effectively engage people in an emotional way. Before you begin your marketing make sure you understand what part of the tail you’re targeting and if you have what it takes to get through the dip.

Search Engine News

Can we put the Microhoo/Yicrosoft news behind us yet? Probably not, especially as Yahoo’s board is getting ready to meet. What happened in July?

Investigations formally began over the deal for Yahoo to display AdSense. Microsoft doesn’t want to buy Yahoo anymore, but they may be interested in buying Yahoo search. No they don’t want to buy it. Wait maybe they do. Carl Icahn wants them to buy something though for now will settle for a seat on the Yahoo board. Are you keeping up?

So what if Yahoo isn’t selling to Microsoft. They’re letting us play with their search technology so we can build search engines of our own.

Meanwhile, back in Mountain View, Google launched Knol. Some like it some don’t and somewhere in the office of Wikipedia they’re counting the days till they lose all their traffic from Google.

And if you’re tired of all the major search engines you could always give Cuil a try. It looks nice, but you won’t be able to find what you’re looking for. Was the launch just hype or does Cuil really have something to make us pay attention?

I’m not sure how I managed it, but I made it through another post. Believe it or not this one started with a collection of over 250 links, which led me to think it might not make it’s scheduled publication date.

I wish I could say it was the weekend, but we have one more day to get there. The weather looks to be hot, hot, and hotter. We’ve now had 17 staight days with temperatures above 90 here in Colorado, a few of those days topping 100. Oh, how I look forward to the fall.

Enjoy the end of your week and the weekend that follows. Happy reading.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

24 comments

  1. Steven Bradley, you rock! This is always the most comprehensive, organized and engaging “lists” around. I don’t need Sphinn, I just need Vangogh. Thanks for filtering through the cr@p for us.

    • Thanks David. I try. I just read all month like most of us do and save all the links I think are worth reading again. Then I prune that list down and hopefully come out with a nice assortment of links.

    • Glad to Steven. Vandelay is one of my favorite sites. I always look forward to reading your new posts and have learned a lot. I’m sure you’ll be featured in a few sections here next month too.

    • Thanks Alex. Would you believe I had more than twice as many links collected as you see here. Some weren’t quite as good as I thought when I looked back and some just didn’t fall into a theme with the other posts collected.

      Thanks for subscribing. Hopefully my other posts won’t disappoint.

    • Thanks Michael. I’m glad to see you posting again. I had missed your posts. If you’re still looking for guest posters let me know. I should be able to come up with some things that will fit well on your blog.

    • Glad to include you Adam. Keep writing good posts like you do and you’ll keep finding yourself included.

      It does take some effort, mostly in keeping up with reading and collecting links. Fortunately I like to read and the posts get easier to write each month.

  2. Very nice list of links. Must’ve taken you as long to surf and find these as it did for all the writers in the list to pen their articles combined ;) Just kidding—stumbled.

    • Thanks Joel. I do read and surf a lot. I’m subscribed to a few hundred blogs at this point and I do manage to keep up with all of them. I do miss some posts, but somehow I at least manage to take a quick look at most in order to find what I hope are the best of the bunch.

    • Thanks Giorgos. It’s a lot of material for me too. This post actually started as a collection of 250 links. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to narrow it down at first.

  3. Hi Steven, thanks for including “The Twitter Monologue” in your list, it’s much appreciated! I am still trying to come around to Twitter as I am not one for monologues. In the process I’ve met some great folks.

    -Beth

    • Glad to include you Beth. I think you plurked this post and I immediately read it and then subscribed to your blog.

      I have been plurking a lot more than tweeting the last couple of months, but I still like Twitter. It’s still a good way to communicate with a specific group of people who you already know. I think Plurk is better at helping you meet new people though.

  4. You may want to change your link to the “How to Say Nothing in 500 or Less” article, the original article is no longer at that location this post says it is. This is a common problem we find in SEO, and I recently wrote about it on our blog, which you may find interesting, and also includes an updated link to this great article.

    Portland Search Engine Marketing Blog

    • Thanks Tyson. I guess something changed in the URL. The post is still there and I fixed the link. I couldn’t tell what changed in the URL, but at least the link seems to be working now.

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