A Playoff Worthy Lineup Of Links – This Month In SEO – 9/08

This Month In SEO almost wasn’t as my laptop decided last week was a good time to call it a day for good. Fortunately the laptop’s hard drive didn’t agree. Should we dedicate the post to Steven Jobs and my new Macbook? Maybe fall would make for a good dedication as the season’s recently changed.

Even better would be the Fall Classic. Baseball playoffs started a few hours ago. There’s only one October and a seamhead like me has to dedicate most anything this time of year to the greatest game every invented.

You know the drill by now. Lots of links below and even more at my Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Sphinn profiles. And once more I’ll throw a little love to my new Small Business Forum. I hope you’ll join the conversation there.

Now on with the show.

Social Media

Why get involved with social media? Because organizations and individuals who build a community around their brand win. The secret weapon in that win? Perhaps combining social media with a little empathy. So if social media is such a good thing, what’s the value of a social media visitor? Is the goal to bait people into linking to you and spreading your message? Is the value ultimately in how social media affects search? Maybe what we need is some quality metrics.

Many will tell you the goal of social media is branding and when it comes to branding you can’t beat microblogging through a service like Twitter. Not all is sunshine in Twitterland though as the company recently bowed to Google pressure and nofollowed bio links. Some would argue that Twitter was never about link building in the first place, but still…

Then again is microblogging really all that hard? It’s simple isn’t it. It’s just a dialogue after all.

Social media is more than microblogging. It’s actually two crazy monkeys and one clever fox. The monkeys are Digg and Reddit and if you want to influence social media you might want to first learn what drives Digg and Reddit users. And if you want to know what drives a top Digg user why not ask. Brian did. And Diggboss answered. The fox? It’s not Sphinn. Sphinners are a dysfuctional lot. The fox is StumbleUpon

Blogging

It might not be as important as the state of the union, but the state of the blogosphere seems to indicate it’s still growing and the lines between blogs and mainstream media are blurring. Blogs have attracted somewhere between 77 million and 184 million unique visits, depending on who’s numbers you believe. Either way it’s a lot and you probably want a piece of that pie.

It all starts with blogging ideas and here are 50 ideas you can adapt to your blog. What to do with those ideas? Follow these 7 steps and you can turn them into more coherent posts to attract some of those millions of visitors.

You have your ideas and know how to construct a blog post, but what makes for good content? Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Be opinionated. Be emotional. You can even take a cue from politicians and launch a negative campaign on occasion. Just don’t be spineless.

No matter how well written, your post you can always add a few new dimensions to improve things. Your post design matters and could help lead to new visitors subscribing. Where should your calls to action be? Might they convert better at the bottom of your post? If you want someone to subscribe after reading it only makes sense that’s where the subscription form should be. Done right you could end up with one very effective blog theme.

With everything in place to convert visitors to loyal readers, now it’s time to promote your next post. Don’t stop at a single post, though. Mine the long tail to develop an overall seo strategy for your blog. With a little work you might be able to take your blog to the next level. But keep in mind through it all who you’re trying to attract. Is it eyeballs or brains you’re after?

WordPress

WordPress 2.7 is on the way and it aims to be another big release with some pretty major changes. The future of WordPress is looking good. Or is it? Not everyone thinks all is rosy in WP land. With all the love thrown in WordPress’ direction a little critique can be a good thing. Still it’s unlikely WP is going anywhere so make sure to keep building your WordPress developer toolbox.

Your toolbox could start with knowledge from more than 25 beginner articles. You could then include some advanced rss parsing so readers can subscribe to only those posts they’re really interested in. Toss in a little Ajax for a better auto completing search form. And did you know there are a variety of ways to display content in WordPress, giving you more control of what readers see on different sections of your blog?

With your toolbox full it’s time to start designing your WordPress theme. You can build one from scratch or use another theme as a framework and build on top of it. Magazine style themes are popular. Regardless of the style make sure to understand how WP handles and displays categories. There’s a lot you can do with categories. More than you might initially think.

If you work with themes you’ve likely spent some time customizing WP files. Stop. Instead of customizing the existing files, write a plugin instead. It’s easier than you think. Speaking of customization and plugins, have a look at the new Customize Your Community (CYC) plugin and give your readers their own profile page. Have you installed the AllinOne SEO plugin? Sure you have, but are you taking advantage of its full potntial?

Design And Development

Looking for design inspiration? Want to create outside the box? Would 40 layouts give you some inspiration? Maybe your design needs a little energy to make it irresistible. Maybe a deeper look at the color brown is all you need for inspiration. Working on a logo? Want to know the process one graphic designer uses to create them? Inspiration is all well and good, but remember others are being inspired by some of the same designs. It can lead to some techniques being overused.

Design aesthetics are important as long as you remember your design is meant to communicate. Are you aware of all the issues involved in website communication? Did you know that contrasting elements aids in that communication and enhances the meaning of design elements? One thing your design should aim for is to communicate a strong brand. What colors should you use to convey your message?

How well do you know JavaScript? If your JS skills are still a bit lacking you might find these 75 techniques really useful. Only 75? Ok, how about 10 more techniques to make your JavaScript smarter. Among the tips you’ll find is to adopt one or more JavaScript libraries to speed up development. jQuery is becoming one of the more popular libraries around and it’s about time you took a look.

Is a website ever truly done? All sites can be made more effective, but to do so requires some analysis of how it’s currently performing. You might think alternating table rows with color makes it easier for readers to absorb the information, but it it true? Does zebra striping tables aid or hinder communication. And why make people come to your site when you can send your site to them. HTML emails can be a great way to interact with your audience and remind them you still exist.

Link Building

The total amount of link juice in an isolated system remains constant. Oh way that’s the first law of thermodynamics about the conservation of energy.

Still link juice is a finite resource. It creates a gravity around a site the pulls search traffic to it. Build more links into a massive site and the gravity increases. What happens when those massive sites stop linking out. Much as light doesn’t escape a black hole, links don’t escape black hole seo. Then again a site that does nothing but link out can bring people back every day.

Once upon a time link building was synonymous with directories. Few would argue that’s the case today, but that doesn’t mean directories can’t be a valuable part of a link building campaign. They still have power so how can you get the most from web directories? All directories are not created equal. Before you start submitting your site know the red flags to watch out for.

Once upon that same time reciprocal linking was an effective way to build links. The future though, is in building relationships that lead to links. One way to build a relationship with a blogger is through their blog. Leaving comments that add value to a post is a great way to get to know someone. Don’t stop with bloggers. Start looking to build relationships with the general media. It’s not what you know, but who you know after all.

It’s still a bit confusing I know. Let some experts demystify it for you. You’re right, experts can sometimes talk over your head without realizing it. Why not let an SEO kindergartner explain things instead. You could always grab a guide to one-way link building or watch a video on developing hooks to get others to link to you.

No matter how you build links, please don’t be an idiot about it.

SEO

What are the top search marketing tools? Are they Firefox extensions? Do they analyze backlinks? Will they help you with more than PR and SERP analysis? Sometimes the best tool is your own brain. Amazing what real people can figure out when they put their mind to it.

Me no unnerstand URL rewriting. Google say no worry. They good at unnerstanding and figuring out. Ummm…no offense Google, but I’ll continue to rewrite my dynamic URLs and make them search friendly and people friendly. Most of the industry agrees with me too. Maybe next time you could just tell us how to redirect things the right way.

And penalty of not I’m still on the side that thinks duplicate content is a big issue and can hurt a site. Google, I know you’re trying to help, but sometimes that help confuses the situation more.

Should you be concerned with measuring search rank? There’s a loaded question. Instead of arguing it based on opinion, how about testing to see whether or not a given rank is worth holding onto. You can learn a lot from some time tested advertising strategies. You could also turn your attention to images and worry about how to get them to rank.

Once you get past the idea that your rank is the end goal you’ll be ready to write effective SEO articles. Sure they can improve rank if done well, but they can do so much more. And no, seo copy writing is not all about stuffing keywords. It’s not natural. Think about using phrases related to your topic instead. Everyone else is using that phrase, shouldn’t you include it too?

It’s tiring being an SEO isn’t it? So much to learn and as soon as you think you have a handle on the rules, the rules change. Might be time for a break from SEO. Go enjoy a bowl of fruit instead.

Business And Marketing

Need a lesson on affiliate marketing? One lesson you may be interested in is on the mechanics of arbitrage. You know to buy low and sell high, but how do you measure each side of the equation to understand if you’re going to make money.

Of course if your arbitrage is buying AdWords to sell AdSense you may not make Google so happy. A large audience can certainly help with marketing your affiliate products, but stop complaining that you don’t have that audience. Just grow a pair, will you.

Many offline wholesalers and retailers are moving their business online to expand their market. If your business is selling products through a website shouldn’t you spend some time analyzing the online retailers with the highest conversion rates. Are you still using manufacturer product descriptions? Why not take a look at how customers review those same products on your competitor’s sites. In the end you just need to be a better choice than your competition.

Mini or micro sites have lost some of their luster as the Google algorithm seems to favor large authority sites, but can you create a bunch of mini sites that funnel search traffic to your main site? WordPress makes setting up a mini-site easy and with some decent content you can make a few bucks from each. A network of micro-sites could even help build links and build brand awareness.

There’s a lot to know when it comes to building and marketing your website. Would a checklist help? How about the best damned checklist ever? How about 6 tips for making your message sticky? Did you know that listening to your market is one of the surest ways to success. It could help you craft a message and build your brand without having to spend a lot. And once your basic message is in place you can put some money into AdWords to extend your brand’s reach.

Search Engine News

What does search mean to you? To search engines, search means advertising. Google is expanding where they place ads. Look for some on NBC in the near future.

If the deal goes through they’ll be displaying ads on rival Yahoo. Does Yahoo need the extra ads, because more advertisers use Google or because Yahoo’s targeting is so poor? No question Google is the 800 lb gorilla in search, but is the company really a primate or would bees in a hive be a better analogy.

Oh yeah, did you hear Google released a browser? You downloaded it and used it and formed an opinion of it already. But just in case you wanted to read or reread the initial thoughts or compare it to IE8…

My first TMISEO on a new laptop. Seemed to go ok, even if I’m getting it to you a day later than usual. This was the post that almost wasn’t. Fortunately the old hard drive was in tact and a few weeks of collected links were able to be easily transferred.

It’s autumn I know, but summer’s still hanging on here in Boulder, at least on this Wednesday. Works for me since it should mean nice weather for softball in a couple hours. Enjoy your mid week wherever you are and know you’re closer to the coming weekend than the one that recently passed. Happy reading.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

16 comments

    • Thanks Mich. Sorry I missed you this month, but in time I think I’ll get to everyone. So many blogs out there and as many links as might be here so many more get missed each month.

    • Thanks Michael. I’m subscribed to a few hundred blogs and try to keep up as best I can. After writing this post all these months the copy/paste is just habit at this point.

      I have things set up to collect the links in Scribefire so it’s a button click and some quick copy/paste. It does make reading go slower, but it also gives me a chance to actually read some things I might only have skimmed.

    • Thanks Steven. You’re making it hard on me, because you have more than one site with great content. I’ve been reading your blog at Vandelay for awhile and now I’ve moved Designm.ag right up to the top of my feed reader.

      I’ve been finding so many more great design blogs through it. I think you’re responsible for about half the design blogs in my reader at the moment.

    • Thanks Max. I liked your post. You collected some good sites for inspiration. Oddly enough I was looking for some ideas for using brown so the timing was perfect.

      It also led me to subscribe so I’m sure I’ll be linking to you again in the future.

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