Tag Archives: Link Building

SEOmoz PRO Seminar Day 2

It would probably take me four years to execute on all the information I’ve absorbed (or at the very least tried to absorb) at the SEOmoz PRO Seminar here in Seattle.  I can’t express the value of that, typically we go to seminars to learn from folks who are repeating the same old crap we’re used to hearing, and we walk away with maybe a few nuggets of information, but I have been just blown away by the wealth of knowledge at this Seminar.

Ryan Kelly @PearAnalytics, Rand Fishkin @randfish & Matthew Egan @ImageFreedom

Ryan Kelly, Rand Fishkin & Matthew Egan

Yesterday, Day 1, featured a fantastic line up of speakers.  Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, broke down the changes to what we see in typical Search Engine Results (SERPS), David Mihm got into the range of options available to those targeting Local Search or Google Places results and my very favorite session came from Lindsay Wassell from Keyphraseology who broke down the magic and presentation of a superior SEO Site Audit.

On the Social Media side of things, Dan Zarrella broke down analytics and observations from Social Media resources.  Did you know that the volume and frequency of the links you post on Twitter impacts how likely they are to get clicked?  Did you know that men tweet less than women, and women follow more people than men do?  Dan’s research and insight was invaluable as we construct strategies for SEO that greatly involve Social Media integration.

Meet and Greet with Will Critchlow @willcritchlow

Meet and Greet with Will Critchlow @willcritchlow

The best part of any seminar like this is the chance to meet others who share the same passions that you do, and those who may create content that you follow.  One such chance was with Distilled’s Will Critchlow, who has been one of the inspirational bloggers I’ve followed as the owner of an SEO Consulting group.  During a powerpoint battle with Rand, Will shared that overnight successes take years, an idea I’ve always subscribed to and loved seeing up in the talk.  I have a lot of respect for these guys and what they’ve been through to get to where they are, it gives me a lot of inspiration and drive seeing how far we’ve come in our short time, and also where we’d like to see ourselves in a year, in five, etc.

We’re halfway through Day 2 of the Seminar series and I’m really looking forward to Will’s final session, “How to Make SEO Data Reporting Sexy”.  It’s one thing to be factual, it’s one thing to be easy to follow, it’s another thing to make data reporting inclusive and I’m excited to see his thoughts.

Just a fantastic workshop so far, and we’ll be sure to bring more tidbits and wisdom as the event wraps up and everyone returns to their little corners to spread the SEO love.

SEO for Dummies

I follow a lot of really cool blogs about Search Engine Optimization, I can’t say I read them all but I try to.  It’s my job to do that.  I don’t expect you to do the same.  My job is to know about SEO for when you have a question, or God willing need my help.  I’ve been in business in San Antonio for under a year, but I’ve been blessed by tapping into various communities who change me practically every day.

Today I was sitting down at Week 2 of a new Camp Sanera class.  @AliciaSanera asked me to come by and share how I’d grown personally, and I was happy to meet the new class.  Afterwards a few of us stayed behind and were talking about SEO, and how most people, including I’m sure some of you reading this, are completely clueless as to what SEO is, how it actually works and when it is necessary.

The problem is your average SEO is a crook.  Makes my life harder, because I’m always doing damage control for the lies spread by other SEOs.  I’m not perfect, sometimes I reach for goals that are unreasonable, but I’d like to think I’m very honest about what is possible, but also what I’d like to achieve.

My new buddy Mani Karthik wrote a blog titled “5 Ways to find out if an SEO is lying to you“.  He touched on some really sad realities within the Search Engine Optimization community.  So let’s talk about some of these things, do you really need SEO?  What is SEO going to provide you?

How does SEO Work?  What is it? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  Different people will define it differently, but I’ll define it as being aware of trends and tactics to create web content that will place highly on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.  SEO works by targeting the keywords people use to find content on Google.  One of my keywords for Image Freedom is “San Antonio SEO” so often on my site you’ll see images titled “San Antonio SEO” or that phrase placed in my content (like in this blog, shameless).

When targeting a keyword, you want to be aware of two things.  #1) Is this a keyword people will ACTUALLY search for, and #2) can I place this keyword in a way that won’t look out of place or obstruct a users experience reading my content?  Number one, take the keyword you want to target and log over to The Google Keyword Tool which I talk about a lot.  Type in your keyword and you’ll get results like this.

I used the Keyword Tool to search for "San Antonio SEO"

I used the Keyword Tool to search for "San Antonio SEO"

The graphic here shows that there are 1,300 searches each month for “San Antonio SEO” which isn’t a whole lot but is enough that it’ll make the phone ring if I’m the one that comes up on Google when a company is interested in SEO.  For most businesses, you’ll want to go after keywords with more search volume, but sometimes the keyword you come up #1 for is easy to do because it only gets a few searches a month.  The more search volume a keyword gets, the most potential value that keyword has.

Does that make sense?  The more people who are interested in “San Antonio SEO”, in my case, the more potential visitors to my site are out there.  So if I can rank really high for a keyword with tens of thousands of monthly searches, my web site traffic is going to spike because so many people will be seeing my site.

Secondly, you want to place your keywords on your site in a way that doesn’t obstruct the user experience.  If I’ve learned anything from my six weeks in Camp Sanera it’s that user experience is everything.  This is where design comes in and your web site needs to be setup as easy as possible, so you don’t make the user work for what they want to find, and don’t pack each line with so many keywords that it becomes unreadable.

“San Antonio SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEO San Antonio, Web Design, Internet Marketing, Experts”
OR
San Antonio’s SEO Marketing Solution. No hidden costs. No drama. Just the web design your business has always deserved.”

Which line speaks to you more?  Do you want a list of keywords, or do you want an honest statement?  See how my description still targeted my keyword, but did so in a content driven way?  I’m from the camp that you don’t insult your user by cramming so many keywords into a paragraph that it becomes unreadable.  That will cost me business, guaranteed, but I’m not going to do that for you, so why should I do it myself?

What are backlinks?  Why do links matter? Besides putting keywords on your site, and naming things with keywords in mind, you want to also build links to your web site.  Why does it matter if people link to you?  The way this works, is Google is asking other web sites if they’ve heard of any cool sites worth visiting, and most webmasters wouldn’t link to a site unless they liked the content, the design, or SOMETHING offered by that site.  So when Google visits and sees that you are linking to someone, they check that person out and you’re basically giving that other site your seal of approval.  You have just created a backlink.

The more backlinks you have the higher you typically rank on Google.  Sites like mine with hundreds of backlinks might have a PageRank of 3 or 4, where sites with 10,000 easily have a 5 or a 6 PageRank.  There is also a relevance factor to these links, you want to be linked to by sites that are related to your business or your blog.  So if you sell Tennis Balls, consider building relationships with a Tennis Racket or Tennis Shoe company because a link from those sites is going to be more valuable than a link from, say, a Tire Company.

I can’t afford an SEO consultant, what can I do? The cheapest way to build your SEO is to create awesome content.  Be authentic, be genuine, be yourself and share honestly with the world.  Marketing messages don’t work anymore, the second you tell me what to think, I’ve already tuned you out and am probably off playing Peggle on my iPhone.  If you build relationships with your web site you can reach a much higher potential than if you stick to “HOLY CRAP BUY THIS” methods of advertising.

Did you learn anything?  Awesome!  I’ve got some homework for you:

#1) Consider Blogging: If you had to write 5 blog articles about your business or your web site, what would you blog about?  Take those ideas and put them into The Google Keyword Tool and see if any of those topics get a lot of search traffic.

#2) Admire the Competition: If you have competing businesses that are getting the kind of sales you’d like to achieve, take a look at their web site.  Is it obvious what that site is about?  Is it easy to find a map, a phone number, a product?  Could your web site do this better?  How could you stand out next to their web site?

#3) Oodles of Backlinks: What web sites out there would link to you?  Are you a member of an organization that would link to your business?  Have you donated money to an organization that might spotlight your service?  How could you generate references of your business out on the web?

My goal is to make SEO accessible to everyone and hopefully by educating folks on what is out there, it’ll be a lot harder for you or your friends to be taken advantage of by shady SEO’s promising the stars.  Comments and questions appreciated!

The Value of a Blog Comment

I’m fighting off a monster of a throat cold today, so forgive me if none of this comes together to form a coherent thought.  I wanted to talk very quickly today about the value of blog comments in your SEO.  If you have a blog, for certain you have been spammed by some ass kissing commentator who says one line and then links to their sale of Cialis.  These are bots, automated processes that find Word Press and similar blogs, posts a comment and hopes that site shares their URL on the approved comment.  Obviously never approve and quickly delete those posts.

Why do they do this?  The reason is link building.  Link building is the process by which an SEO places links to a web site around the internet, so that when Google visits that blog, they will see your link, and travel to your web site to check you out.  The more back links you have to you, the more important you must be on the internet (which obviously isn’t always true).

The relevance, or similarity of your content to the content of the site you’re linking from, is very important here.  As an SEO myself, posting a link on a web site about Tennis Balls doesn’t do me as much good as if I were to be featured on a site about Google, or Web Sites, or something specifically SEO.  You want to pick a very specific URL to link from, and make sure you always link from that exact syntax.  http://www.imagefreedom.com is different from http://imagefreedom.com/ so I always use “http://www.imagefreedom.com/” in all my backlinks so that to Google it is one consistent link and you don’t wind up with link value divided by different syntax.

The moral of the story here, is that if you have colleagues in your industry, or even outside of your industry, comment on their blog, read their blog, become involved in their community.  Not only do people really appreciate genuine comments, but each comment posted on their blog becomes a permanent backlink to your site that will help elevate your importance in the grand SEO scheme.

ALL OF THIS SAID – Please don’t take this as me saying “go spam peoples blogs”.  You need to truly read and be a part of the conversation, offer something of significance or the odds are good your comment will just be deleted.  Nobody likes spam!

How do I get people to my Web Site?

Now that you have a web site, now that you have placed key words all over your site, your topic is well described, how come you’re getting zero hits?!  Getting listed on Google is about so much more than placing Keywords on your site.  The process, called Search Engine Optimization, is about being linked to by other sites, both in and outside of your industry.  How do you accomplish this?  If you’re a big business, you may turn to an Optimizer like myself who cycle through link directories in our sleep, BUT if you’re willing to do your research you can optimize your web site without paying anyone a dime.

Back Link Watch

The first step in any optimization campaign is research.  What is the competition doing?  What is working?  What can you easily do?  Start your campaign by finding your biggest competition, and putting their web site URL through Backlink Watch (www.BacklinkWatch.com).  You’re probably not sure what you’re looking at, so I’ll explain.  Each site you see in a Backlink Search is a site that links to the web site you entered, in this case your competition.  Every directory they are posted in, every friendly site that links to them, or maybe even a blogger who liked their service (or was paid to say they liked it) linked to them.  Every link to your competition raises their Page Rank in the eyes of a Search Engine like Google, so building your own backlinks is step one in bumping them off page one.

How do I get linked to?  The number one most ethical most tried and true method of getting your site linked to is by simply creating compelling content, and creating it often.  If you post a blog article about your business, about working in your industry, and you do this twice a week you can create content that when found will be shared and linked to by bloggers and in social networks.  Now, don’t misunderstand me, compelling content is not an announcement of an upcoming sale or some other kind of advertisment.  Internet users are savvy folk, they’re looking for insight into your business, your team, not your marketing spiel.

But I don’t blog, will people still link to me?  The best way to gain easy backlinks is through Web Directories.  An example of a Web Directory is Best of the Web, which is one of the oldest and most indexed directories on the internet.  Submission to Best of the Web involves a yearly or lifetime fee, but because of its size and the frequency that Google and other engines index them, this is the one site I’d recomend paying for a listing.  Do you remember the backlinking tool, BacklinkWatch?  Take a look at your competition, are they listed in directories?  Why not go ahead and submit yourself to those directories and even the playing field.

Google Local Business Center

Is your business listed in the Google Local Business Center?  Does your business have a Facebook Page?  Have you posted to Yelp?  Are you active enough online to micro-blog via Twitter?  These are all excellent ways to generate references to your business online without spending any money at all.  When I first arrived in San Antonio I utilized these methods for Image Freedom and quickly became the #3 local hit on Google, and shortly after my competition started copying these methods and I’ve had to stay on top of the game.  Do a search for “San Antonio SEO” and you’ll see a handful of businesses only listed as “San Antonio SEO” in Google Local because it worked for me.

I’d wager in a month or two all of my competition will be similarly listed, because I passed them having only been in town for a few months.  That’s page one placement, and I haven’t spent a dime on paid listings, advertisements, or text links.  So in the end, you get what you put into your optimization campaign.  Professional SEO is always the sure fire way to gain page rank, but on a budget, there are plenty of steps you can take without a professional to elevate your web site to online success.