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Top 5 Blogging Tips for SEO

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Top 5 Blogging TipsI just got back from a radio interview where they asked for my Top 5 Blogging Tips. Since I’m a strong supporter of business blogs, and our own web marketing blog generates so much search engine traffic, I figured I’d share those tips here on the Maine SEO Blog.

Own Your Own Domain Name

Make sure that you own your own domain name for your blog. That means you want to blog at mycompany.com/blog or mycompanyblog.com, but not mycompany.typepad.com or mycompany.wordpress.com. Two reasons for this:

  1. When you blog on a domain owned by someone else (i.e., wordpress.com or blogspot.com) you’re building up trust for that domain, not for your own. Why would you want to blog for the man when you can blog for yourself?
  2. If you ever need to change platforms (we did a couple of years back, moving from TypePad to WordPress) you will lose all of your inbound links if you didn’t first establish your own domain name. All those links to mycompany.typepad.com/whatever? They don’t get to come with you.

Blog so That the Search Engines Can Find You

That means starting with a keyword analysis to determine what keyword phrases your audience is using at the search engines. Then using those keywords in your blog post title, headers, in the first sentence or two, and sprinkled throughout your post. Also drop them in your meta-description, meta-keywords, tags, categories and alt-tags.

Create Keyword-Rich Links Back to Your Website

For many of us, a blog is the place where we establish our credibility and engage with our audience, while our website is where we do our sales. If this is the case for you, you should link your keywords in your blog post to appropriate pages on your website. For example, if you wanted to promote your web design skills you might blog about the top 10 web design mistakes and then link the words website design to the page on your website where you talk about your mad design skills.

Engage Your Audience On and Off Your Blog

If someone takes the time to comment on one of your posts (unless their “name” is SEO India, Whiter Teeth, or Natural Cialis) then you should respond to their comments. Likewise, you should be active in social networking on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as applicable for your business, and engage your network; ask questions, answer queries, and promote their stuff as well. They will be more receptive and interested when you post a link to your most recent post.

Be Patient and Persistant

Blogging is not like PPC ads on Google; you don’t get page one results from day one. Instead, it takes time to succeed. I’d recommend 2 – 3 posts a week for six months before you start to get the results you’re looking for. Although that may seem daunting, those posts continue to drive new qualified leads to your site for as long as you have your blog. I have posts from 2006 that still bring in hundreds of new visitors every month. Now that’s return on investment.

Rich Brooks
Top 5 Lists Are Easier Than Top 10 Lists

Photo credit: WoodleyWonderWorks

Business Blogs or Pay-Per-Click: Which is Right for You?

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Cooking PansDear Maine SEO,

We’re trying to decide whether we should set up a business blog or do pay-per-click advertising. Which will provide a better return on investment?

–Marketing in Maine

Dear Marketing,

We’ve never recommended putting all your eggs in one basket, be they proverbial or free range. Both blogs–which help with your organic search rankings–and pay-per-click (PPC) ads–which appear on page onecan help deliver qualified traffic to your website.

One way to look at this is the difference between cooking in an aluminum pan vs. a cast-iron pan. The aluminum pan heats up quicker, but it also cools off quicker.

PPC advertising is a lot like that aluminum pan. If you need to get page one results on Google or Bing, you just need to pay them and your ads will start running immediately. Same day results. That’s fantastic for sites that may not otherwise do well in the organic results, such as new sites or sites that rely heavily on Flash.

However, the moment you stop paying them–whether because you hit your daily budget or you’ve decided that PPC is no longer for you–that traffic stops just as quickly. You’ll get no more benefit out of the money and time you’ve invested.

Compare this to blogging: you may not enjoy much search engine visibility for the first few months of your blogging and you’ll be putting in a lot of work…we’d recommend 2 – 3 keyword-rich posts a week of 300 words or more. However, once you’ve established your blog and built up trust and inbound links, your blog stays hot like a cast-iron pan.

In reviewing the top ten traffic generating posts this month at our web marketing blog, five of the posts are at least a year or two old, the oldest one was written in 2006! Five years later and it’s still pulling in hundreds of new visitors each month…that’s a much better payoff than most PPC campaigns in our opinion.

So, if your budget allows it, we might recommend setting up a small budget for PPC, but develop develop a business blog for your long term success.

Rich Brooks
Now You’re Cooking with Gas

Photo credit: Jeremy Noble

SEO: When Should You Begin Search Engine Optimization for a New Site?

Monday, June 15th, 2009
Dear Rich,

I’ve seen you say that one should start SEO (search engine optimization) before the launch of a new site. How is this possible?

–Confused in Calais

Dear Confused,

Although you can perform SEO at any point before or after the launch of a Web site, I can think of three good reasons why it’s better to start with SEO:

  1. It’s less expensive. A good keyword analysis (an important part of a healthy breakfast an SEO package) will drive your content and your copy; if you do it after the site is built, you’re in effect doing the work twice.
  2. It’s market research. A keyword analysis may uncover some opportunities that you hadn’t thought of yet; new topics to cover, even new services to offer.
  3. It will help focus your social media strategy. You can take your optimal keywords and start working them into your tweets, your Facebook fan page, your YouTube videos and your LinkedIn profile…all things you can be working on while your Web designer builds out your new site.

There is some parts of SEO that can’t be performed until after the site is launched, specifically a link building campaign. Obviously, other sites, blogs and directories won’t want to link to a coming soon page; they’ll be looking for something of value if they’re going to be linking to you.

Rich Brooks
SEO for Small Businesses

Does Duplicate Content Hurt You At Google?

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

(Geez, I hope not. I’ve now posted this same article in three places!!)

Last night during a presentation I gave at TechMaine, someone asked a question about whether it was a bad idea to post the same content at multiple blogs. I said that it wasn’t; that except for your mom, you can’t expect anyone to read all of your content so repurposing that content across multiple blogs is OK.

In fact, the content of the flyte blog and my Internet Marketing 101 blog often overlaps, so I’ve placed certain posts at both blogs. Occasionally I might change up some of the language to be more specific to one of the audiences, but often there’s just not enough time in the day. Plus, I actively engage in article marketing which–when done right–gets your article posted to mulitple Web sites that link back to you.

Her question may have origins in many people’s belief that there’s a Google penalty for duplicate content, and somehow Google will punish you for having the same content in multiple places.

Coincidentally, Google came late last week on their own blog and stated that there is no Google penalty for duplicate content…although some exceptions remain.

<tangent> Google cites an example of duplicate content that mentions the book Everyone Poops; a great kids book that we have in our house. It also inspired this politically themed t-shirt over at Threadless that I love and own. </tangent>

So, go ahead and post your content in more than one place, Google’s cool with that. Just make sure you read their whole blog post first.

Found via Search Engine Roundtable.

Rich Brooks
You Can Say That Again

Do Search Engine Rankings Even Matter Any More?

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

A few years ago a book came out called Moneyball. It was about how Billy Beane, GM of a small market team, the Oakland A’s, competed and beat teams with a much bigger payroll, like the evil Yankees and the beloved Red Sox.

The idea was that baseball teams had been measuring the wrong things when looking at players: batting average and pitching speed for example. Instead, he looked deeper into the data and found that on-base percentage (which would include walks, hit-by-pitches, etc.) and pitchers who got ground outs were much more valuable, and completely ignored by other teams. In this manner he built a successful team at a fraction of the cost of the Yanks or Sox.

Did it work? Well, some of those big market teams took his advice (why did he share that info anyway?) and the Sox have won two world series since. Now on-base percentage is viewed as an essential metric for hitters, and shown on NESN for every at-bat.

It feels like the same sort of transition is going on now in the SEO world. The leaders in the industry seem to feel that we’ve been measuring the wrong things.

  • Last week I read an article by Stephan Spencer called The Latest SEO Trends and Metrics which argues we’re measuring the wrong metrics.
  • Just now I read 5 Reasons Why Rankings Are a Poor Measure of Success by Jill Whalen, who claims she hasn’t checked clients’ rankings in years. This is an excellent article that clearly explains why rankings are more subjective than you’d like to believe.
  • A few weeks back Google blocked Web Position Gold, a tool used by SEO professionals (including flyte) to measure if and where their clients appear in the first three pages of Google.
  • When Nicki in our office manually attempted to check a client’s visibility last week Google banned her after a dozen checks! In fact, the ban affected other computers in our office as well. (Not her fault; I think I asked her to do it. Shame on me.)

For years I’ve argued that search engine rankings don’t matter, Web sites don’t matter, and even conversions don’t matter. The only thing that matters is you sell enough widgets, book enough rooms, or mobilize enough people to your cause. Of course, conversions, attractive Web sites and good search engine rankings all lead to those successes.

So, do search engine rankings matter? Yes, I believe they do. Good search engine visibility will continue to help businesses and organization bring in new traffic. However, measuring is getting tougher as personalized search and localized search continue to evolve and affect search engine results on a person-by-person level.

Perhaps we should be less worried about our search engine rankings, and more about whether those results are driving qualified leads to our sites.

Can You Guarantee SEO? How About a Warranty?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

I’ve never been a fan of giving guarantees on search engine optimization. Sure, it would be nice to promise that we can get a client on the first page of Google, or that their traffic will increase 100% or their business increase 10 fold.

Unfortunately, guaranteeing search engine results is like guaranteeing a fishing trip will bring in fish. You can have the best boat, the best bait, and the best gear, but if the fish ain’t biting, they ain’t biting.

What a good fishing guide can do is increase your chances of success; making sure that you’re using the right bait, that you’re going to fishing grounds that have traditionally fished well but not been over-fished, and bring sandwiches and beer if things don’t go well. You want guarantees that the fish will bite? Call Aquaman.


What a good search engine marketer can do is put you in the best position to rank higher at the search engines. She can do her research, help you craft effective titles and copy, and encourage quality incoming links. But she doesn’t own Google, or Yahoo or any other search engine.

This all came about after reading an interesting post entitled Manage Client Expectations And Reduce Your Risk By Including A Warranty In Your Client Contracts by Sarah Bird. The warranty is meant not to promise the world, but to manage expectations.

Clients often think search engine optimization is a trick, some sort of magic. More often than not, when I explain that their search engine visibility comes directly from the words they use on their site they’re stunned. Like I’ve just pulled back the curtains on Oz.

Ms. Bird also gives some language they use on their contracts. I have to admit, the first half was a bit too lawyer-y for me to understand, but I definitely liked the second half:

By signing this agreement, you acknowledge that SEOmoz neither owns nor governs the actions of any search engine. You also acknowledge that due to fluctuations in the relative competitiveness of some search terms, recurring changes in the search engine algorithms and other competitive factors, it is impossible to guarantee number one rankings or consistent top ten rankings, or any other specific rankings for any particular search term.

From a client’s perspective I can understand the allure of a guarantee. However, as a vendor, I know that it’s like guaranteeing that it will be sunny on our camping trip in a month. The best I can guarantee is that I’ll bring an umbrella for you. And a change of dry clothing. And the number of a nearby motel. That has cable.

Rich Brooks
Guaranteed

What’s the Difference Between a Directory and a Search Engine?

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

What’s the difference between a search engine and a directory?

–Searching in Scarborough?

Dear Searching,

Search engines and directories are both tools people use to find information on the Web. The difference is in how they get and organize their information.

Search engines use little programs called spiders or bots that scour the Internet, follow links, and bring back this information to the search engine’s index. When you use Google you’re not actually searching the Web, you’re searching Google’s index of the Web. Search engines use complex algorithms to determine which Web pages are most likely to answer the questions you pose and return these pages on the search engine results pages (SERPs.)

Directories, by contrast, are human-powered. Site owners submit their sites to directories (sometimes for a fee, sometimes free) and human editors determine the value of the site and whether it should be included in the directory. Directory visitors can search the director or drill down to the appropriate category, i.e., Arts & Humanities > Museums, Galleries & Centers > Modern & Contemporary.

Although directories have fallen out of fashion (even Yahoo’s directory is now hidden at Yahoo.com under the “more” tab), there are still benefits to being listed there. Being listed in an important directory helps your search engine visibility because it counts as an incoming link, which is one of the variables in the search engine’s algorithm.

Rich Brooks
Maine SEO

The Other Voice of Maine SEO

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Does this Webcam Make Me Look Fat?My name is Rich Brooks. You may remember me from such get rich quick schemes as “Rank #1 At Google for Every Word Ever…Today!” and “Make Money While You Shower and Other Ways to Get Rich with a Webcam.”

I’m not just the president of flyte, I’m a member. Whatever the hell that means.

Obviously, I’m not the voice of reason.

While Nicki documents her ascent up the learning curve, I’ll be throwing in some of my own .02 on search engine marketing…some of it will be fresh, some repurposed from our flyte blog. My personal belief is that although search engine marketing is the sexiest part of Web marketing, it needs to be part of a bigger strategy we call “holistic Web marketing.” That includes:

  • Attraction: Getting qualified visitors to your site through search, blogs, podcasts, links, traditional media and more.
  • Retention: Keeping the communication going even after the visitor has left the site through email marketing and RSS.
  • Conversion: Getting the sale, or getting the visitor to take the next step towards the sale.
  • Measurement: Use Google Analytics or a similar tool to measure where people are coming from, how they’re finding you, what they’re doing on your site, and how you can improve what you’re doing.

Well, I gotta get back to work now. Those mines aren’t going to sweep themselves.

Rich Brooks
Coffee Brewer



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