Father Knows Best When It Comes To Links – This Month In SEO – 6/08

Last month we celebrated moms here at This Month In SEO so is it any surprise that dads get the dedication for the month of June? Sure I could have dedicated this post to the change in seasons, but we have two parents and it only seemed fair to give each a post. Hopefully you had a chance to celebrate with dad a few weeks ago or had everyone celebrate with you if you happen to be the dad in the in the family. Either way this post is for fathers everywhere.

It was very difficult to cut posts from the month’s collection. If the links in this post aren’t enough for you feel free to visit any of my social media profiles where many more links have gathered. del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Sphinn. While you’re there don’t be shy. Reach out and friend me. I promise to reciprocate.

And don’t forget to follow me at Twitter and Plurk.

Now on with the show.

Social Media

Do you get social media? Your answer may depend on which side of 40 you’re on. Does social media truly connect us or is it missing one necessary ingredient for bonding? Maybe it’s all about the words we use on social sites. A little diplomacy can go a long way. Or is the problem the ethics we bring to the sites? Could it be that marketers can’t step outside the marketing and instead of seeing social media as a platform for promotion we’d be better off seeing it as a platform for communication.

Ok. Forget that last line. We’re marketers after all and can’t help looking for opportunities. Oh, the irony. Then again instead of always thinking about self promotion, why not promote someone else’s content. Your good deed may just lead to more traffic for you as well. If you do want to promote your blog (it’s ok I do too) maybe what you need is a guide to help you work smarter. Working smarter can also put you on the fast track to authority.

Of course, there are ways to market yourself without straying from your ethics. Observing what the community wants and then giving it to them is a win-win for everyone and it’ll increase your odds of success on sites like Digg. Sometimes all you need to do actively participate and use the tools the sites provide for you. Doing so could be the secret to landing your dream job through LinkedIn. Job hunting or no you may still want to set up that LinkedIn profile. It might be the one social network you can’t live without. After all it simply takes some curiosity about you to find B2B success.

Plurk? Twitter? Both?

Are you plurking yet? When most of your Twitter friends are posting links to a new social networking site it’s hard not to be curious. Plurk took many of us by storm this past month. At its core it’s another social networking site like Twitter. On top of that core is a timeline interface, threaded discussions, and a system of karma that either sucks you into plurking all day or makes you quickly run back to Twitter. Some like the new service, some don’t as you’d expect, but like it or not Plurk seems here to stay.

Plurk isn’t replacing Twitter though, by any means. Twitter may be a waste of time, but it’s still a great tool that can be used in many useful ways. New tools to increase its benefits are arriving faster than you can find them and it’s still the talk of the web. Tweeters are wishing for new things to be added and as long as Twitter can keep the service running we’ll likely be tweeting for a long time to come. Not everyone is enamored though, and some are still predicting the death of the little blue bird.

Truth is both services have their place. Each is essentially about connecting us to each other and when you get down to it I really don’t care where I connect with you as long as we connect. Both Twitter and Plurk are really about building relationships online. Each has a few things the other doesn’t and the main differences have less to do with connecting to each other than they do in how those connections appear onscreen. Then again maybe the two aren’t really playing in the same league.

Blogging

Many of us want to think our decisions are based on logic. Think again. You’re swayed by emotion the same as the rest of us. And if you want people to read your posts you may want to try using emotion-based headlines. Don’t push it too far, though or else no one will believe you. It’s the almost unbelievable promise that remains credible that gains the click. But don’t worry if you need a little help writing those headlines. There are plenty of headline starters going around to get your mojo moving.

Now that your headline is written it’s time to write that post. Blank page somewhat scary today? Maybe you need an innovative way to plan your posts so they write themselves. Shocking how effective old friends like pen and paper can be. Bloggers can learn a few things from Boy Scouts. Be prepared, right? If you get started on 3 things today you’ll find they have explosive potential for better posts a month or two down the line. Yes, it takes time to be prepared, which is why you should get your work done in batches. It’ll make you more productive.

Once your posts are written you’d like people to comment on them. Lets you know your time was well spent and helps you understand your readers better. Not all comments make us feel good, though. Do you give your readers any direction about what is and isn’t allowed on your blog? Do you have a commenting policy? How much moderation do you do when it comes to your comments? Do you use moderation as a way to control the conversation? And what do you do when a comment requires honestly, but you know that honesty could lead to some hurt feelings?

Why do you blog anyway? What are the reasons for sharing your content? Do you have specific goals as a blogger? Are they worth it? Any trends emerging to help with those goals? Just be careful with who you quote. Apparently the AP would prefer we all ignore them and wants to set new rules for what constitutes fair use. They quickly backed off their stance and settled the issue that started the controversy, but expect more news in the coming months.

Headlines? Check. Posting Process in place? Check. Comments flowing? Check. Links to AP stories? Umm…maybe not. Time to get your posts ranking. What you need is a definitive guide to WordPress SEO. Not enough? How about a few more tips thrown into the mix, complete with plugins you’d better use if you don’t want people questioning your intelligence.

Design And Development

How does your blog really look? You like it. It looks great in your browser, but does it look good in the browsers your readers use? OK, I know you did some testing, but couldn’t your blog stand a little more creativity for a more unique look. Maybe just a little bit of creativity like highlighting posts you want to feature? And what about all those widgets. You’ve got them cascading down your sidebar, but wouldn’t it be nice to widgetize your posts and pages too?

Testing your site in different browsers might have you cursing a few of them for their lack of css compliance. Well maybe it’s just the one browser that you’re cursing. There really isn’t a need to get angry, though. Not when you have solutions to more than 20 common bug fixes at your finger tips.

CSS coders make a lot of use of lists. They’re flexible and probably the best structure for your navigation. You’re not limited to the default bullet points as this post should make very clear. Do you get frustrated feeling you have to stick with the same few fonts on every site? I do. We don’t have to be frustrated anymore. Not when we can make better use of css font stacks. It all leads to better post formatting and design.

When you’re stuck with a design and staring at the blank page what do you do to get the creative juices flowing? Do you look offline for inspiration? Do you experiment with the look of elements like block quotes? Experimentation is good. Trends are always changing and so should you. 2008 is the year we put more art into our designs including hand-drawn images. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration or studying the trends. Fortunately we can always turn to some “on the fly” design tools.

Design is more than aesthetics. No one is going to care about your beautiful site if they can’t use it. So how do you go about building a useful site? You can start with your directory structure. Done right you can please both people and search spiders. You can do a variety of things to help make your site more accessible, but that could leave an unintended consequence. When you make your site more accessible that includes making it more accessible to spammers. Where do you strike the balance? Maybe you can catch them by their footprints.

Spammers probably won’t honor your robots.txt, but others will and you can use the file to manage access to your site. Sometimes no matter how careful we are visitors to our sites can lose their way. What’s a 404 to do?

Link Building

Internal linking often gets overlooked. We seek to have others link to us, but how you link inside your site is very important. It’s the one place you have full control over things like anchor text. It’s a way for you to direct how and where the juice flows. One of the decisions that needs to be made in regards to your internal links is whether to use absolute or relative URLs. Both have their uses, though when it comes to SEO absolute URLs are generally the way to go.

How far should you take your internal linking? Is it worthwhile to use nofollow for PR sculpting? As with most everything SEO some will tell you yes and some will tell you no. Good arguments exist on either side, but whether or not you want to pick up a link chisel or wire sculpting tool you might want to at least know both sides of the argument so you can decide for yourself.

You may also want to add nofollow to the links you’ve sold. At least if you want to ensure staying on Google’s good side. But should you? Do you even have to? Probably depends on who you are as Google sometimes has different rules for different types of paid links. When you get down to it most every kind of link practice can be used for good or evil.

Link building is an often time consuming and tedious process without shortcuts. The lack of shortcuts makes for a good case to build relationships as opposed to links. If you want to focus on the links how do you set up your campaign? Perhaps a little backyard cleaning is in order. Remember to measure your distribution channels. Not all of us have the attention to get people talking by simply casting a few lines. Since we can’t always guarantee mass inbound links we need to think smarter and understand how much each link is really worth.

How many times has a client asked you how links work in SEO? Have you ever struggled to explain link-theory to a layman? I know I have and I’ve usually turned to an analogy involving a system a roads and highways to explain links. There’s a much better analogy you can use now thanks to Ken Jones. Think light. It’s a flexible metaphor that makes it easy to talk about the effects of various types of linking strategies. Read this post and you may never struggle again to explain how links work to those not in the know. Thanks Ken.

SEO

What kind of SEO are you? Do you work in-house or for yourself? Is your goal to rank or educate? What’s your SEO Business Model? Your answer might determine the strategy you pursue with the site or sites you work on. It might also go a long way toward defining what principles you consider ethical within the industry.

But who gets to make the rules of ethics? Do we all need to follow ethical practices as put forth by others or do we each get a say? And when it comes to the dark side of SEO and hat wearing is it really pure evil or is there a lot to be learned in pushing the envelope?

You can guess how Google would answer some of the above ethical questions or you could go directly to the source and read what they say. Matt Cutts announced the addition of some improved SEO documentation on the part of Google, including information about IP delivery, geolocation and cloaking, and duplicate content among other topics. That doesn’t mean you should see Google as the final word on SEO. Sometimes there are better answers to SEO questions than the ones Google gives.

Are Sitemaps an important part of SEO? Not the HTML sitemaps you should include on your site, but the XML version you submit to search engines. Some would say they’re as overrated as it gets, but you should probably know the FAQs. Me. I’ve never used one. I’ve also never had a problem getting a site indexed. I see Sitemaps as a crutch for not developing your site well, but others may disagree. Read the FAQs and nothing but the FAQs and decide for yourself.

Keyword research on the other hand are the building blocks of the SEO process. Do you know the basics of that iterative process? It’s important to remember that there are different approaches your research might take depending on your purposes. One size doesn’t fit all research. Where should you go to discover new keyword phrases? The answer could be the source now that Google has added a few features to Google Trends.

Do you know what to do with all the phrases you collected? How many times should you use them in your copy? How many phrases should you target on your page? Is your target in the head or in the long tail of search?

Local search is still an unknown to many. Hopefully that will change for the better thanks to David Mihm. In the spirit of SEOmoz search ranking factors, David presents the Local Search Ranking Factors. With a cast of local search experts the ranking factor discussion is a good place to begin your local search education.

Advanced SEO?

SES Toronto set off a debate this month about advanced SEO. Does advanced SEO exist? If so what it is? Is an SEO Ph.D only available at black hat college or do whitehats also have their advanced practices. Does advanced equal spamming? Are you an advanced SEO? And given that forums have usually been the place for newbies are they still necessary?

Business And Marketing

If a search engine revealed more about how people search and interact with ads would it inspire you to advertise more with that engine? If you would you’ll probably be interested in the Yahoo patent about how commercial different search categories are. With or without the info you’re probably interested in maximizing the impact of your search advertising. Is your AdWords account dying? Does it need an emergency fix? Hopefully you didn’t make one of the 26 mistakes that could cost your small business money. If your business is local, geotargeting may be the answer to revive your account.

Getting people to your site is meaningless if your copy can’t convince someone to buy. Your customers have questions and your copy better have the answers. Your copy needs to overcome objections to the sale before those objections are raised. But what’s the right approach? Should you throw the harpoon to strike quickly or is it a better strategy to gently cast a net and nudge people in?

You might try using better product images to boost conversions. A better looking pear can sell 147% more fruit. That pear images does look good, but am I the only one who sees the sexual imagery. Better image or sexual imagery? I’ll let you decide.

Did you write a marketing plan? How complex was it? How complex did it need to be? Could you have summed it up in five easy pieces? One thing is certain, you’ll do better if you create more value than you capture. And don’t forget to check out your competition. You can learn a lot of valuable lessons from them.

Search Engine News

Who owns Yahoo this week? Is it for sale? For rent? Can you buy it piecemeal? What’s the deal? The one with Google or is Microsoft still interested? Does Yahoo have a preference for who owns it and who’s left on the board? I’m as confused as you.

The answers change from week to week, but June seemed to indicate the deal is to use Google ads on Yahoo search. Some liked the deal and some think it’s the worst thing Yahoo could do. About the only thing certain in the continuing saga is that what we think we know today is probably wrong and we’ll be fed a new story next month.

Another month has come and gone and with it a host of educational and entertaining posts from around the web, or at least the part of it I hang out in. Another non Friday wrap up this month, which still throws me off. I’d like to wish you a good weekend, but seems we just started the week. Of course this week brings a couple of holidays to North America and for those of us in Canada and the U.S. it should be a four day week. For the rest of you don’t despair. We’ll be working the 5-day when it’s your turn for a holiday.

Enjoy the week everyone. Tomorrow it’s back to collecting links so I can share them again next month. Until then happy reading.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

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