Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips From Google

Where better to learn about how to optimize your website than Google, the top search engine. If you’re new to search engine optimization (SEO) or wish to improve your site ranking, Google offers a great number of tips. I’ve explored some of Google’s greatest tips and SEO strategies in a variety of places, including their official blog (www.google-success.com), a how-to video published by one of Google’s engineers, and related news sources. Take a brief glimpse at the most useful recommendations from the search experts.

Recognizing “Trustworthy” Information
According to the NY Times article on Google in 2007, Google has a unique search algorithm that ranks Web sites and blogs based on over 200 different signals. The Web search engine is able to pick out trustworthy news sources that will best benefit Web users in their keyword searches. For instance, Google News is able to rate sites based on click-through data on news stories. This calls for more interesting and catchy page titles, and topic-specific terms that appeal to a targeted audience.

Also, Google identifies phrases like “according to the Washington Post” in wire stories. So, it is far to assume that if your story is mentioned in multiple places, your site will gain a higher ranking. And a post about a popular news story will gain a stronger presence.

Don’t Spam Your Articles
One of the things that will weaken your site is weighing it down with too many external Web links. It’s not a good idea to rely too much on link building to draw in new readers or raise your Web ranking. Avoid using excessive links that aren’t related to the posting, and try not to list your page through other Web sites that aren’t related. The content of your site should be, above everything, original, informative, and appealing to readers. Using too many links will likely harm your site’s reputation in the long run.

Comment, Discuss, and Network Often
You can subtly draw readership to your site by expanding your online network. Keep plugged into related blogs and Web sites that cover the topics you’re passionate about. Comment on other authors’ blogs, and also participate in discussion forums and chat rooms that interest you. Be careful that you don’t post your link forcefully at the end of every online conversation. Not only does this convey shameless self-promotion (and not a genuine interest in the topic), it could get you banned or kicked out of online conversations. Most forums allow you to create a signature, which is the ideal place to list your site.

Video & Photo Tips
According to Maile Ohye, Google’s Developer Programs Team Lead, their search engine does favor certain types of formats. As you post SEO photos to your site, keep in mind that Google particularly favors JPEGs over PNGs. Also, be certain that your images are tagged with your top keywords to boost your Web site’s overall search optimization. Videos hosted on YouTube, which is currently owned by Google, can significantly increase your Web ranking more so than videos hosted through other sites.

Online Marketing Tips for your Press Release

When most people think of public relations, they understand it to be the act of relaying news to a media source via a press release. They believe once they submit a press release, that’s all they can do. They wait to see what the press release can do for them. Too many people submit a press release to a variety of news outlets-thinking they have a great story the media will pick up-but they hear nothing back.

Instead, they wait, and wait, and wait. Nothing happens. Ever since the first press release was published on October 30, 1906, public relations has been shaped and defined by more than a written release. Networking, relationship building, trustworthy practices, and brand presence are just a few additional elements that help define public relations.

Today, with a wide variety of news mediums to choose from, the public has spread itself across several channels. If you choose to convey your company message only through one medium, such print media, you may find the public is elsewhere and your efforts wasted.

If you’re not using online platforms to enhance your public relation efforts, then you’re missing an opportunity to expose your brand to the public, generate leads, increase sales, and boost credibility. Some of the most innovative and effective ways to reach your target market online include PR 2.0 and optimized press releases.

• PR 2.0: By definition, PR 2.0 is a social media press release. This newly developed public relations tool was born from the rise in social media popularity. As more and more people use flickr, del.icio.us, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Digg, they are more desensitized to newspapers and traditional media outlets. Because of this shift, using modern media forms, in addition to traditional forms, is the most effective way to get across time-sensitive news items related to your business. PR 2.0 incorporates a variety of interactive social media elements including video, Twitter pitches, share options, bookmarking capabilities, photos, slideshows, bulleted information, links to your website, blog, and social media sites, and contact options. Because social media press releases are viral, the audience base you can reach with it is infinite.

• Optimized Press Release: Also known as search engine optimization (SEO) PR, an optimized press release is search engine optimized to ensure it pulls up on search engine result pages. In other words, the optimized press release is written to incorporate important keywords that prospects may be using as search terms. One of the most popular places the public and even the media go for their daily news dish is the Internet. Google News, Yahoo! News, and Bing, to name a few.

If you post an optimized pr in popular search engines, you can be sure to get some hits off of it. Similar to a social media release, an optimized pr is viral and has the ability to reach a countless number of prospects.

It’s obvious the public relations model has shifted over the years, but public relations still, without a doubt, embodies the same principles it did over 100 years ago: provide the people and the press with truthful, accurate information that is both newsworthy and valuable.

If you have additional questions about how I can help your press release generate more leads and how important it is to helping your company receive more exposure online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Content is King

By design, online search engines like Google create result listings based on hot and relevant SEO (search engine optimization) keywords. The most ideal website rankings mostly rely on the strategic use of common SEO practices (i.e. long-tail keywords, blog entry tags, meta tags, link exchanging, etc). However, no matter how visual or audible any Web page may be, the actual content matters the most.

Not only do search engines rank your site by keyword relevance, they also determine whether your site is relevant and unique to a user’s defined search. So when it comes right down to search results, it is more valuable to have something worth saying rather than a page designed with repetitive key phrases.

Following are a few useful writing tips that can enrich the value of your site, increase your readership, and raise your overall web ranking:

1. Stick to a solid writing format: introduction, body, and conclusion. The copywriting should smoothly lead readers to the climax of the story. With a Web audience, you have only a few seconds to make a connection, so your writing should reveal the main point within the first 150 to 200 words.

2. Say more with fewer words. Are there any unnecessary pieces of your copywriting that are clouding the core message? Consider how you can avoid wasting words, or using up your space with ranting, musing, or stream-of-conscious writing that lacks direction. Readers who keep coming back to your site desire originality, and sometimes, meaningful information that may be read, recommended, and linked to over the next 10 years.

3. Think creatively with titles. There are many ways to entice readers with new headers or titles. For instance, you can pump it with SEO keywords to show up higher on the results listing. You can pose a stimulating question or startling statement (i.e. “10 worst predictions in 2009 politics,” “sex, lies and health care reform,” or “will your investments be worthless in 2020?”).

4. Encourage interaction with readers. One of the best ways you can expand your audience is by making your site more interactive. In addition to posing intriguing headers or titles, you can assert your take on a controversial topic instead of presenting an informative and neutral position. You can add a kicker in the middle or end of the copywriting, which will encourage commentators to post their opinions.

5. Offer something unique or original. Above all, make sure that your website benefits readers with unique information that they wouldn’t necessarily find on a related blog or site. Think about the entire online experience that you would want to create with your readers. Is there something extraordinary about the opinions you offer (i.e., are you an expert in your topic?), do you allow your audience to get more involved, and does your site provide the full multimedia experience? What is the true value of visiting your site, and what keeps users coming back for more?

If you have additional questions about how I can help your website generate more leads with great copywriting and how important copywriting is to helping your company increase their presence online, please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Copywriting

Can your copywriting be effective without the awareness of search engine optimization (SEO)? Sure it was probably possible in times of typewriters, but now submitting articles in online directories or to search engines without a proper density of keywords nowadays can ruin an article or a website page by not giving it opportunity to be noticed.

There are two factors on the basis of which your article or website page will be noticed or not. First, the content of it. If it is interesting, vivid, catchy and attractive, you will definitely get the readers your article deserves. Second, keywords which should appear in the title and the beginning of the first paragraph. But how often should the keywords should appear in the article? Once per paragraph or more, or maybe less. No matter what the answer is – one must be aware of SEO as it will bring some great benefits and popularity.

SEO copywriting is also especially popular among business owners nowadays who find it very beneficial for their link building campaigns. By writing great quality articles and submitting it to the top directories they gain backlinks. It makes the search engine rankings better for the given website which means that the company becomes more popular and has a higher probability that it will be noticed by its potential clients. Article marketing becomes the top marketing method now and online businessmen are fighting to get the best SEO copywriters for their website.

If you have additional questions about SEO copywriting and how important it is to helping your company receive more exposure online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Dos and Dont’s about Link Building

Bing recently published a document about link building. Although it focuses on how Bing deals with inbound links, it can also help you to get better links for Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. The most important points of Bing’s document can be found in this article.

The importance of link building

The Bing engineers know that link building is important and they describe link building as follows:

“Link building is a very important form of self-promotion on the Web. You contact webmasters of other, related websites and let them know your site exists. If the value that you have worked so hard to instill in your site is evident to them, they will assist their own customers by linking back to your site. That, my friend, is the essence of link building.”

In other words, reciprocal linking is fine. They also remind webmasters that link building is an ongoing process:

“Think of link building as your chance to build your reputation on the Web. As your website is likely one of your business’ most valuable assets, consider link building to be a primary business-building exercise. Just don’t make the mistake of believing it will result in instant gratification. Successful link building efforts require a long-term commitment, not an overnight or turnkey solution. You need to continually invest in link building efforts with creativity and time. Good things come to those who wait (and work smartly!).”

Things that you can do to get good links to your website

Here are the things that Bing recommends:

  • You should develop your website as a brand and brand it consistently. People like to link to high quality websites.
  • You should find relevant bloggers, industry websites and product reviewers and make them aware of your website.
  • You can publish concise and informative press releases online.
  • You can publish expert articles in article directories.
  • You can participate in relevant conversations on blogs and forums and add a link to your website when applicable.
  • You can use social networks to connect to industry influencers. Your profiles should contain links to your website.
  • You can use email newsletters to notify people about new content on your website.
  • You can launch a blog or a forum on your website.
  • You can participate in relevant industry associations and their online forums.
  • You should strive to become a trusted expert voice for your industry while promoting your website.

Warning: the following things will get your website in trouble

Just like Google and other major search engines, Bing doesn’t like to be cheated. If they detect unnatural linking patterns, your website might be penalized. The following things can trigger search engine filters:

  • Your website get a lot of additional inbound links a very short time.
  • Many links that point to your website are from unrelated websites or blog comments.
  • Your web pages contain hidden links.
  • You get links from links farms or automated link exchange systems.
  • Paid links point to your website.
  • Known spammers link to your website.
  • Your website links to known spammers.

Here’s what Bing does when they find suspicious data that is related to your website:

“When probable manipulation is detected, a spam rank factor is applied to a site, depending upon the type and severity of the infraction. If the spam rating is high, a site can be penalized with a lowered rank. If the violations are egregious, a site can be temporarily or even permanently purged from the index.”

Getting inbound links requires some work. The Bing engineers are very clear about this fact: “Make no mistake: getting legitimate and highly valuable, inbound links is not a couch-potato task.”

If you have additional questions about getting more links for your website  and how important these links are to helping your company get more exposure online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Google’s Search Engine Ranking Factors

You would think that listing all the factors that Google uses to determine your ranking would be a near impossible task, right? Well, apparently not. Today we have your first sneak peek at the list of the almost 200 search engine ranking factors used by Google.

How did this list get started? Well, apparently Mr. Google, Matt Cutts, mentioned at a conference recently that there are over 200 variables in the Google algorithm. So the folks at the WebmasterWorld set themselves a challenge to list them all.

Here is what has been included so far:

Domain

  • Age of domain
  • History of domain
  • Keywords in domain name
  • IP address of domain
  • Location of IP address / Server

Architecture

  • HTML structure
  • Use of Headers tags
  • URL path
  • Use of external CSS / JavaScript files

Content

  • Keyword density of page
  • Keywords in Title Tag
  • Keywords in Meta Description (Not Meta Keywords)
  • Keywords in header tags (H1, H2 etc)
  • Keywords in body text
  • Freshness of content

Per Inbound Link

  • Quality of website inbound linking
  • Quality of web page inbound linking
  • Age of website
  • Age of web page
  • Relevancy of page’s content
  • Location of link (Footer, Navigation, Body text)
  • Anchor text of link
  • Title attribute of link
  • ALT tag of images linking
  • Country specific top level domain
  • Authority of top level domain (.edu, .gov)
  • Location of server
  • Authority links (CNN, BBC, etc)

Cluster of Links

  • Uniqueness of class C IP address

Internal Cross Linking

  • Number of internal links to page
  • Location of link on page
  • Anchor text of FIRST text link

Penalties

  • Over optimisation
  • Purchasing links
  • Selling links
  • Comment spamming
  • Cloaking
  • Hidden text
  • Duplicate content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Manual penalties

Miscellaneous

  • JavaScript links
  • No follow links

Pending

  • Performance / Load of a website
  • Speed of Javascript

Misconceptions

  • XML Sitemap (Aids the crawler but doesn’t help rankings)
  • PageRank (General indicator of page’s performance)

If you have additional questions about getting your website ranked higher on Google and how important these factors are to helping your company get more exposure online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Link building

The links that point to your website are one of the most important factors that influence the position of your website in Google’s search results. The better the links to your website, the higher the position of your website in Google’s results.

It is possible to get high rankings with only a few links if you want to be listed for keywords that don’t have much competition. As soon as more than one website competes with you for the same keywords, the website with the best inbound links will outrank the other websites.

If you want to get high rankings for competitive keywords, you have to go out and encourage people to link to your website. It’s not necessary to get as many links as possible. It’s necessary to get better links than your competitors.

The Internet has plenty of websites for every category. The following websites can be good link partners:

1. Websites that are listed for the keywords that you are targeting can be good link partners. If a website has high positions for the keywords that you are targeting and if the website is not a competitor, you should contact the owner of that website.

2. Some websites have content that is related to your keyword. If these websites have no examples or references, they could link to your website.

3. There can be many websites that contain a review or a comment about your company without linking to your site. These websites will often link to your website if you ask.

4. If another website links to your website and only uses your domain name to link to your website, ask the owner of the other website to link to your website with your keyword.

5. Blogs that deal with the topic of your websites are often willing to link to your website.

6. If a website links to one of your competitors, it is likely that they will also link to your website if you offer a similar product or service.

If you have additional questions about link building and how important they are to helping your company get found online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Focusing on the right keywords

Depending on the keywords for which you want to get high rankings, you have to employ different tactics. Keywords with less competition require different tactics than keywords with high competition. If you target long keyword phrases with little competition, then the relative value of on-page web page optimization is very high.

For example, if you want to be listed for the search term “buy black adidas samba sneaker in knoxville” then it is enough to optimize one of your web pages for that search term because the competition for that search term is not high. You don’t need many inbound links to get high rankings for that keyphrase. The more competitive the targeted keyword is, the higher is the effect of inbound links on the position of your website in the search results.

Which search engine optimization tactic should you use for your website?

1. The best web page optimization tactic: When you optimize your website, optimize different pages of your website for different keyphrases. Start with longer keyword phrases that don’t have much competition and then proceed with more competitive keywords. For example, start with the keywords “buy sneakers in knoxville”, “buy cowboy boots in knoxville”, “buy pumps in knoxville”, “shoe shop knoxville”, etc. When you have managed to get high rankings for many of these keyphrases, Google will know that your website is relevant to the topic “shoes”.

As soon as Google knows that your website is relevant to the topic, it will be much easier to get high rankings for more competitive keywords such as “buy shoes” or even “shoes”. The more pages of your website you optimize for different but related keywords, the better.

2. The best link building tactic: It’s not always necessary that you have more links than your competitors. You need better links. Try to get links to your website that use the targeted keyphrase as the link text (also called anchor text) and that point to the web page on your website that has been optimized for that keyphrase. Don’t focus on quantity, focus on quality. Getting hundreds of links from a link farm won’t help your website as much a few dozen links from relevant web pages with authority. If your website has both optimized web pages and good inbound links then it will be easy to outrank web pages that only have one factor. 

If you have additional questions about keywords and how important they are to helping your company get found online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

Getting Found Online

There are many things that you must do if your website is going to be found online and that it is optimized to be found in the search engines. One of the most important items you must do is title tags, and below is some information that explains title tags in a little more detail.

Title tags
Although they are not visible on the page, it is the single most important on-site search engine optimization (SEO) factor so it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

1) Aim for 65 characters, this is the cut-off point in Google when listed with search results and it also helps to keep your title tags concisely targeted towards the most important keywords.
2) Include keywords towards the start of the title tag.
3) Include consistent branding in the title tag. This comes down to preference, but the branding value of having your company name seen several times when listed in search results can be very valuable. I normally opt for a consisitent style of “Keywords | Brand” but this really is down to personal preference, if you have a long brand name it may be worth abbreviating or cutting this down in some way.

If you have any questions about Title Tags and how important they are to helping your company get found online please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.

How Small Business Owners Can Get Started with Online Marketing

Small business owners don’t have the resources that larger businesses have, but in most cases they can move much more quickly.  They need  to take advantage of their ability to move quickly especially in regards to online marketing, but where do they start?

The first step is to get educated or find someone you trust to help you along the way (subliminal message -> think Matt Shifley).  Find a blog or two, like this one, to follow and pay attention to industry trends.  Making uneducated decisions can lead to money in the hole and wasted efforts.

Next, it’s important to prepare a strategy that works for your business.  Do you run a service business, e-commerce website, or retail store?  Do you need search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) or both to get targeted leads?  Get your campaigns going and enjoy the process of refining and optimizing.

One of the easiest steps to success that provides lasting results is to start a blog on your website.  WordPress is a great  starting point.  Even if you only update your industry specific blog once a month and you don’t get hundreds of comments it’s still providing great SEO value.  There are lots of great sites that allow you to submit your blog to their directory.  By doing this you gain a link to your website and set yourself up to get noticed.  More importantly, blogging helps show your passion for your business and allows you to express your expertise.

Another method that works well for some and wastes time for others is social media.  Twitter, Facebook, and community websites can be valuable ways to find prospects as long as you stay focused and don’t let the hours go by as you explore.  Setup accounts specific to your business and provide meaningful information about what you do best, your business.

Finally, plan on revisiting your campaigns regularly.  Dig into the numbers to see what’s working, what’s not and where you need to put more money.

And if you want to go the extra mile try podcasting or creating a video to put on youtube.

By putting time into all of these different methods you can spread a wide net and capture a larger client base.  And don’t forget, while you’re getting things done the big competitor down the street is still working it’s way through all the corporate red tape.

Please give me a call today at 208.598.0084 or contact me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com for more information to discuss how I can help you or your company with its search engine optimization, online marketing, or copywriting needs.