Posts Tagged ‘SEM’

10 SEO Misconceptions (or How to Sound Smarter the Next Time You Talk to Your SEO)

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I don’t expect clients to entirely understand search engine optimization when they come to us – or really even know what it is at all. And in all honesty, that’s fine, because that’s why I have a job. (Thanks for that.) 

But, after reading this perhaps you’ll know a lot more and be that much the wiser when you talk to your Search Marketer.

1. How bad is it to use white on white and write in a bunch of keywords?

Umm really bad. Probably as bad as you can get actually. In the olden days (probably all of 10 – 12 years ago), you could possibly get away with stuffing keywords. Today? Not so much.

2. I know SEO is important, so I’m going to do it this once and get it done with It’s a one-step process, right?

Sorry, no such luck. We’ll talk about it a little more later, but with search moving toward other venues like social media, local reviews, RSS, blogging, and other modern forms of web marketing, there’s no way you can do it once and be done. SEO requires constant massaging and experimentation.

3What are these meta-keywords I keep hearing about? Can you make me a huge list of them?

Well I could. But it probably wouldn’t do a whole lot.

The thing with meta-keywords is 1) only Yahoo uses them and 2) if you use too many, they’ll hurt you. So, what do I suggest? Using a small group of focused keywords for each page if you’re intent on using them. And remember – even though Yahoo uses them, they don’t have much weight at all.

4. I just don’t have time for social media. Plus, I can get away without doing it.

Again, it’s really not an option any more. Soon, folks who haven’t hopped on the social media bandwagon are going to be struggling to catch up with the rest of the crowd.

So…create a LinkedIn account, get yourself on Facebook, and – if you’re feeling really socially frisky - join Twitter!

5. I’ve heard about this nofollow thing. Do I need to do that to all of my outgoing links?

Nofollowing links is sometimes a good strategy. But that doesn’t mean you should do it to every single outgoing link. 

Nor is it PageRank sculpting. To demonstrate that point, I like this short, sweet description by @Halfdeck.


My Eight Favorite SEO Tools

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Let’s get right to it, shall we?


  1. Keyword Discovery – for all the keyword research you could ever care to know. It does require a subscription – this or Word Tracker (which I’ve never tried) are considered the best.
  2. Google AdWords Keyword Tool – supplement keyword research; also gives better stats as to what people are actually searching for.
  3. Keyword Density Tool - there are a million keyword density tools out there, but I’ve found this one to be the most user friendly.
  4. Google Insights/Google Trends – both give good insights as to what’s hot and what’s not.  Insights will also give you upcoming popular search terms.

Link Building

  1. Marketleap’s Link Popularity Checker – gives you both Google and Yahoo!’s index of backlinks, plus others.

Plug-ins and Apps

  1. SEO for Firefox – see nofollow links; look up PR, backlinks, meta-tags; plus much much more!
  2. SeoQuake – many of the same benefits as SEO for Firefox, but you don’t necessarily have to have Firefox.  Plus, when activated, SeoQuake will give you a handy little toolbar with at-a-glance SEO stats.

Analytics (the one and only)

  1. Google Analytics – it’s free and gives you everything you need.  Why go for something else??

I use quite a few more, but these are my favorite, and the ones I use the most often.  Do you have any favorites?

Nicki Hicks
I think I need a bigger toolbelt…

SEO and the iPhone

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Shortly after I purchased my iPhone, I realized how much easier it was to access those websites that have a specific site for the iPhone (and smartphones, in general, for that matter).  Websites I use all the time and do not have an app are especially helpful – such as my bank’s site and (a microblogging service that “pings” what I write to several social media sites).

Here’s what looks like in my Firefox web browser:

Ping’s iPhone version is a much simpler version, and therefore much easier to upload:

Not only will special iPhone websites upload more quickly, but you can actually increase your search engine visibility by creating one.  I just read an article by Denver SEO Guy Knox about SEO for the iPhone.  This gentleman from Denver gives a step-by-step plan to creating your very own iPhone site using WordPress.

With the direction web users and smartphones are headed, it’s silly NOT to think about SEO for iPhones.  I’m excited to learn more about Search and the iPhone at SMX East next week!

Nicki Hicks
I love my iPhone

Simple SEO For Web Developers (AKA The Web Developer’s SEO Checklist Part II)

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

I made a post when I first started blogging with an SEO Checklist for Web Developers.  I recently reviewed the list, noticing that while all those things are great to remember, sometimes it’s the simple parts of SEO we forget.

I also decided to write this post after thinking about office alignment.  Ahh, alignment, a term I grew sick of all through college (and one of my professors in particular, I’m sure, would be ecstatic to know I noticed it in the real world).  I realized that even though I work in an office of only eight people and our work constantly overlaps, we sometimes forget the effects our roles have on others’ work.

I, for example, forget that even though I have knowledge about so-called “easy” SEO best practices, not everyone I work with knows them.  So here are some major points to remember (and I apologize for any repeats from other posts):

  • Use hyphens (-) NOT underscores (_).  It seems to have been handed down from the old school programming and web developing generation to tech gurus today that underscores should be used.  Don’t use them!
    Search engines see hyphens as a space (example-page is example page) and underscores as no space (example_page is examplepage).
  • Keyword rich domain name.  There is debate about this – some say a domain name doesn’t matter as long as you can say it out loud and someone can easily spell it back to you (which is very true).  But I say – why not make it keyword rich while you’re at it?!  (While also remembering other domain rules: short, sweet, and memorable.)
  • Title URLs intuitively.  When creating secondary and tertiary pages, make sure they make sense!  For example, NOT category2/animal12.html, BUT marsupials/kangaroo.html.
  • Titles/Headers/Meta-descriptions.  These should all be keyword rich, unique, and accurate portrayals of what is on each individual page.  However, I caution you: these become difficult to create when a keyword analysis has not been done.
  • Links. Links should be those important points web users will want to click on.  Links should have keyword rich anchor text, not a simple “click here”.  Also, try to use as many text-based links as you can; if images are necessary, use keyword rich alt tags.
  • To have a site map or not to have a site map? I wrote in the original Web Developer’s Checklist that yes, you do need a site map.  This is another SEO conundrum.  What I’ve heard most recently is that site maps are important for large sites (retail, especially – with a ton of products).
  • Directories…do I submit? Every SEO has his/her own opinion about this one too.  In my mind, you should absolutely submit a client to niche directories for their specific industries – especially a free directory.  Also, submitting to a well known directory like DMOZ never hurts either – it’s free!  I’ve heard it’s also good for new sites, especially, to buy a $299 for a Yahoo! directory listing.  Since you have to pay this fee every year, why not have the link for the first year for getting started??
  • Most importantly…(drum roll, please)…design sites for web users AND search engines.  Site design and development is an art, and should be treated as one.  However, try not to get caught up in the fever that is making a website beautiful instead of the web user’s pleasure of a site being functional.

I’d like to add that SEO is most successful when done before and during a website’s existence.  Therefore, this list should really only be necessary when a site is built without optimization being done simultaneously.

Nicki Hicks
Advocate for Alignment

Search Tools: How Insightful of Google

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Google has put its algorithms to good use and given a great gift to SEOs everywhere: introducing Google Insights! The great part is that you don’t necessarily need to be an SEO to appreciate this, so let’s see all the fun things it can do, shall we?

I performed a search for “SEO” under the default location setting of “worldwide” and time range “2004 – present,” and added the “Internet” category. This is the map of where those searches come from globally:

SEO Google Insights Search

You can see both with the colors on the map as well as the numbers to the left how easy it is to see where the majority of searchers are coming from.  Then I changed my query to view a graph that shows the growth of the search term “SEO” as it is relative to the “Internet” category over the past four years (this graph still shows the global results):

SEO is going up..Up…UP!! (As is the “Internet”!)  You can also compare a given search term over a given period of time with Insights. The following graph shows how the search volume for “SEO” has increased between 2004 and 2007 (this time we’re looking specifically at the United States):

It seems there are tons of possibilities with this new program. In a nutshell, you can cross reference any of the following with one another: search term, location, time range, and category – essentially making it possible to look through search history (since 2004, that is) pretty easily.

Nicki Hicks
“Insightful” SEO

Blogging about SEO: Using Your Resources

Friday, August 8th, 2008

I’m pretty sure I got into one of the most exciting fields there is. I’m learning a ton of new information every day, and as Rich says, SEO is one of the sexiest topics in e-marketing. Plus, it’s fun for me…that never hurts.

The issue is that I’m a relatively new blogger, so I’ve found it increasingly difficult to come up with new and different ideas to blog about. Sure, I read a ton of SEO and SEM newsletters, forums, and articles everyday; but I need new, fantastic blogpost ideas! Because, let’s face it, who wants to read regurgitated stories – that is, unless they have a new and different twist to them?

Then it hit me…I’m an SEO. I’ll just fire up my Keyword Discovery tool and find some perfect blog titles! So I did just that, and these are some of the “hot” topics I came up with that could pretty easily be turned into titles:

  • Organic SEO Services
  • Search Engine Marketing Case Study
  • SEO Complete Link Building Service
  • SEO Basic Tips for New Web Developers
  • SEO Tips for Joomla
  • Copywriting for SEO

Other fun ideas that seem to rank relatively well (but just sound spammy to me):

  • Certified SEO Professional (There’s no “certification,” just so everyone knows.)
  • Free SEO Tips and Tricks (I’m pretty certain that if you even *mention* the words free or cheap in any blog/article title, you’ll get [completely irrelevant] traffic in no time.)

Perhaps I’ll work off from this list for a while…

Nicki Hicks
Blog Newbie

Learning Another Perspective on Search: Training at High Rankings

Monday, July 28th, 2008

The world of SEO is such a strange one. No one really knows what is best to do. So it’s not really a science: it isn’t as though there’s a proven formula to follow in order to rank better (and therefore profit). It’s really much more of an art: where certain artists have had more success with different tools (be it graphite, watercolor, or oil pastel), with different mediums (canvas, paper, multimedia), and with different styles (impressionism, modernism, abstract). Sorry for the tangent, I’m a dabbling artist myself – it’s easy to relate.

Back to search marketing…I had my second official SEO training seminar with Jill Whalen at High Rankings last Friday. (My first was with Dan Thies in Texas.) Jill is an SEO guru and has an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in the field.

Today, as I sifted through the notes I took and Jill’s presentation, there are so many new things I learned! I’m just going to touch upon a few: some “freebies” if you will – specifically the ones that made me say, “Woah! REALLY?!” This is where my art tangent comes in: even between just the two trainings I’ve been to, I’ve seen differences between what SEOs think/say. Which is what makes it so great! Each SEO will teach what has worked for them, so these are some of the things that have worked for Jill:

  • You do not need to update your site frequently. That isn’t to say NOT to update your site regularly. Basically, all you need to do is update naturally. Most good SEO policies follow this “natural” growth idea. Another is that your copy does not need to be a certain number of words, simply what is (you guessed it) natural.
  • You do not need to submit to directories or search engines. Gone are the days that search engines will only find you if you submit your site to them! To check what Google has indexed, use the site:your-site command.
  • The most important on-page optimization is in the title tags, body text, and anchor text. Headers don’t need to be keyword rich, according to Jill.
  • Finally, you do not need a sitemap, or even a Google Sitemap for that matter. Sitemaps are really only good for sites that have a large number of products – that way, products can be found more quickly and efficiently.

That was just a taste of tips and tricks I found from this training session. To find out more, why not take Jill’s class, or better yet call flyte today!

Nicki Hicks
Student for Life

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 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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