Browsing articles tagged with " search engine optimization"

SUBREDDITS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AND SEO

Aug 10, 2012   //   by Abel   //   internet marketing, link building, SEO, SEO Blog, Social Media  //  16 Comments

Reddit has been continually rising in popularity since first emerging on the scene back in 2006. Today, it is one of the most popular social news sites of its kind, proving to be a great alternative for those who have grown tired of competitors such as Digg and StumbleUpon. Reddit often calls itself the front page of the internet to play on its growing reputation as a digital newspaper of sorts. And just like newspapers have categories and sections, this site has something similar known as subreddits, a feature that can come in handy for the savvy social marketer.

Screenshot from reddit.com

A subreddit is essentially a category or subcategory that has a community of reddit users built around a specific topic or area of interest. These categories are finely targeted and can be set to either public or private by the creator. Examples of popular subreddits, as chosen by the user community include:

- Askreddit

- Gaming

- Pics

- World News

- WTF

These examples represent broad general interests, of course, but the subcategories on reddit go much much deeper. For instance, you can find subreddits on specific topics such as World of Warcraft, Indie Gaming, and even presidential hopeful Ron Paul. While each area of interest has its own moderator, community members are able to contribute by submitting and rating content from around the web that is related to the topic at hand. For everyday users, subreddits provide an easy way to quickly access the content that matters most. For marketers, they provide a way to generate visibility and meet business objectives.

Benefitting From Your Own subreddits

Perhaps the best thing to like about subreddits is the fact that anyone can create them. There are numerous benefits to setting up your own, starting with the community aspect. If fellow redditors share your interest, it could easily lead to a situation where users are commenting, sharing, and engaging in other ways that keep the community alive with activity. The site has millions of active users, all interested in something. What this means is that unless your area is built around an obscure topic like “overhanded Bolivian bowling techniques”, there is a great chance that you will be able to attract others who share your passion.

subreddit for seo anchor text
Anchor text is “Lil Wayne quits music” under “Music” subreddit

The big payoff to having your own subreddits is increased traffic. All that activity combined with solid content means it is highly likely that people will want to pay a visit and learn more about what you have to offer. Make sure your newly created subcategory is listed on the subreddits page, pass the word along to your connections on the site, and the possibilities are endless.

Summary

Some observers have gone as far to say that subreddits are what have enabled reddit to surpass Digg in the social bookmarking arena. This is not as farfetched as it may sound considering it is one of the platform’s most important features. Whether it is streamlining content discovery or building a community around your own, social marketers can make great strides by putting this essential element to use.

Abel

Abel is a writer, online marketing expert, and advocate for email marketing software company, Benchmark Email.

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Using JavaScript to Hide Content: Advanced White Hat SEO?

Oct 18, 2011   //   by Darren Slatten   //   Contests, Copywriting, Google, SEO  //  28 Comments

If you provide some kind of SEO-related services, there will come a time when your client or boss looks you in the eye and says something like this:

“Yeah, so about those page edits you recommended…

We’re actually quite happy with the current design of our landing page, and our tests have shown that adding text to the page actually decreases conversions. So…um…is there any way you could optimize this page…like…without adding all those words to it?”

To most SEO’s, the idea of achieving top rankings in a competitive niche–without putting keyword-rich content on the page–is unrealistic if not downright ridiculous. But from a design perspective, we also have to acknowledge that text and keywords are not always what’s best for Users. Sometimes, the best User experience comes from a simple, minimalistic interface with no distractions.

The Google home page itself is a perfect example. Arguably one of the most valued resources on the Web, and certainly one of the most visited, google.com currently displays a total of 25 words.

+You Web Images Videos Maps News Gmail More Sign in Google Search I'm Feeling Lucky Privacy Change background image About Google Advertising Programs Business Solutions

But what if Google was your client, and they wanted you to optimize their home page to rank for keyword phrases related to search engine

Would you recommend something like this instead?

Google home page with Wikipedia-style text

Hmm…no, that’s not going to work. So it’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it? On the one hand, you’re trying to satisfy your client and their Users by providing a slick, clutter-free interface…and on the other hand, you’re trying to be mindful of Google’s relentless addiction to plain text content. So what do you do?

Well, if you don’t know how to code basic JavaScript (or you’ve seen how bad Google sucks at reading JavaScript and thus avoid it entirely), then you probably pick content over User interface, pollute the page with stacks of keyword-dense garbage, and hope that the potential increase in search traffic eventually makes up for the immediate loss of conversions.

But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could fill your landing pages with SEO-friendly content…without it getting in the way of your Users?

Luckily, there’s a solution. It’s called hidden content.

* GASP! *

That’s right, folks…if you’re trying to improve your website’s User experience without hurting your search engine rankings, then you need to start hiding some content–ASAP. But you can’t just hide it anywhere–you need to hide it somewhere where search engines will see it for sure…but Users won’t.

Wait... isn't that SPAM?

That depends on a number of variables, but the short answer is:

No, it’s not spam. It’s not even gray hat SEO. Hiding content is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do it right.

Which brings us to the million-dollar question…

What is the right way to hide content?

Unfortunately, Google isn’t likely to provide a useful answer anytime soon. So you know what? I’m going to take a crack at it. Seriously. I’m going to make a genuine effort to lay down some technical guidelines for all the aspiring content-hiders out there, and I’m going to do so without pretending like “your intent” has anything to do with it.

So here we go. First I’m going to suggest the guidelines; then I’m going to provide a working example that incorporates all of these best practices.

Basic Implementation Techniques for Content Hiding

  • User Friendly – Hidden content implementations should improve the User experience and must not impair the User experience.
  • Dynamic – Hidden content elements must have a visible state–a set of conditions under which the hidden content is visible and readable by Users. The visible state must be capable of being activated by a browser event. The event should be automatic (e.g., document.onload) or it should be triggered by Users’ actions (e.g., element.onclick). In the case of Users’ actions, the trigger element should be conspicuous and intuitive.
  • Accessibility – Hidden content should not be implemented in such a way that it causes the content to be inaccessible to Users with disabilities or Users who rely on screen readers or similar devices.
  • Progressive Enhancement – Hidden content must default to a visible state when rendered in a browser that either doesn’t support JavaScript or doesn’t have JavaScript enabled. A document in which all hidden content elements are in the default visible state should provide a User interface that is functional, cohesive, and reasonably intuitive.

A Perfect Example of Hidden Content

If you don’t really understand the BITCH, don’t worry–I have an example for you. And this isn’t just any ol’ example; this is my attempt at creating a perfect example.

Let’s say you have a news blog with the 10 most recent stories showing on the home page. For whatever reason, you decide that the home page should include the full text of each post. The problem is…your Users are overwhelmed by all that text, and all they really want is an easy way to scan the latest headlines before they choose a story to read. The solution…hide some content!

This example has two versions: the original plain text version and the modified “hidden content” version. As you can see, the User experience is much better in the modified version, simply because it’s easier to navigate (especially on a mobile device that requires swipe scrolling). But the real magic is in the code, so take a few minutes to view the HTML and JavaScript source. Before you go check it out, I’ll leave you with some questions/concepts to think about:

  • Compare the HTML source between the two versions. What differences do you see?
  • What happens to the Hidden Content version when JavaScript is disabled?
  • What is the likelihood of Google flagging the Hidden Content page as suspicious or deceptive?

Plain Text Content

Plain text content example

Hidden Content

Hidden content example

 

Download the Hidden Content Example

The live examples linked to above are hosted on GitHub. This means you can easily download the source code files for your own personal or commercial use (files are released under a non-restrictive free software license). And for the truly advanced SEO’s out there: you can even fork it or suggest improvements via pull requests.

Download the Hidden Content example source code files!

Darren Slatten

Darren Slatten is one smart mofo. Some say he's the World's Greatest SEO. When Darren isn't studying SEO or web programming, he's usually busy developing online marketing strategies and web hosting solutions for local small businesses. Darren also likes to use keyword-rich anchor text in his guest blog bio links, but only when it makes local SEO for small business sense to do so.

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How to Optimize 7 Popular Social Media Profiles for SEO

Oct 10, 2011   //   by Kristi Hines   //   Contests, SEO, Social Media  //  248 Comments

If you want to strengthen your personal or business brand’s visibility, then one of the top things you will want is to have strong social media profiles that rank in the top results for your name along with your website and blog. Having a strong online reputation that is comprised of nothing but content that highlights the best about your personal or business brand will allow you to keep undesirable results at bay, such as bad online reviews or mentions.

You’ve probably read lots of posts talking about how to properly optimize your social media profiles for search, and they’ve probably all sounded a little like this.

  • Be active – Yes, this is true. Just like Google loves regularly updated blogs and websites, they equally love regularly updated social profiles.
  • Optimize photo filenames – This only works on some networks, which I will mention below. It doesn’t hurt to upload photos with your name or keywords in the filename, but networks like Facebook rename the photo filenames anyway, so for some networks, it’s useless.
  • Engage with your followers, fans, and connections – This is a good thing to do regardless of the SEO value of it. Engaging with others will keep your profile updated often, and being helpful will also lead to other’s recommending you to their audience. Search #FollowFriday to see what I mean.
  • Vanity URL – From what I can tell, the URL does not count for anything but branding except on specific networks. For example, my Facebook fan page name is Kikolani, and the username for the URL is artofblogging. The fan page does not rank for art of blogging, but does rank for Kikolani. But again, it all depends on the network.

While these are great tips for your overall social media strategy, they are not the end all of SEO for your social network profiles. Certain networks use specific elements of information that you supply in your profile to optimize each profile on their network. The following will guide you to the right fields to optimize for the best possible search optimization of your social networks. The best part is that all customizations noted are using each site’s free accounts – no need to upgrade to Pro if all you’re looking for is optimization!

Quick and Dirty Onsite SEO 101

Before we get started, here are some key things to keep in mind about the following mentioned SEO elements of your social profiles. The order of importance is generally SEO Title, Meta Description, header tags (H1, H2, H3), image ALT tags, image filenames, and bolded text. Also, when it comes to search results, the typical result will look like this with the SEO Title as the linked information and the Meta Description as the details beneath it:

But what if you don’t care about the SEO?

That’s ok – this post still has some great information for you! Usually the parts of your profile that are used for search optimization are also used for the network’s own search results. So if you don’t want to think of it as SEO work, think of it as simply social optimization!

Google+ Profiles

Let’s start with the hottest new social media network of them all – Google’s own Google+. Whenever you are filling out your Google+ profile, be sure to note the following areas of information that will enhance the search optimization of your presence on this network.

Google+ Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name – Google+

Google+ is all about the personal branding, and they insist that you use your real name for your profile. So don’t try to stick keywords or business names in your profiles – not yet at least!

Meta Description: Your Name – Your Headline + Your Occupation

The Meta Description for your Google+ profile is a combination of different pieces of profile information, starting with your name followed by your headline (the line below your name), your occupation, your first employer listed, and then your introduction text. So make sure that the first 160 characters count by writing a great headline and occupation title. Also make sure those areas are set to be seen by anyone on the web.

Extra Search Tidbits: Your Links

From what I can tell, the links within the introduction content as well as the ones under other profiles, contributor to, and recommended links are all dofollow. So don’t shy away from anchor text as this is a prime Google property!

Facebook Pages

Assuming that not much changes when Facebook decides to revamp the fan pages as they have recently with the personal profiles, the following areas of information contribute to your fan page SEO.

Facebook Fan Page Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Page Name | Facebook

If you didn’t consider keyword optimization when you created it, and you have less than 100 fans, you’re in luck. You can still change your page’s name. What you will want to keep in mind is that your branding may be more important than your keyword rankings, especially if you want people to be able to find you if they are searching your brand.

Meta Description: Your Page Name + Your About Description | Facebook

To edit your About information to make a great Meta Description, go to your page and Edit Page > Basic Information, and fill in the About field with a 140 character description like you would with any website Meta Description.

Extra Search Tidbits: Your Fan Page Updates Have SEO Value

Did you know that each of your status updates on your Facebook fan page have a page of their own (click the timestamp of one to see). If you’re posting a standard status update, the SEO Title for the individual page of your updates will be pulled from the first 18 characters (though sometimes it is a bit less). If you’re posting a link to your fan page wall, you’ll have an option to “Say something about this link…” – the first 18 characters of what you enter in this field are going to be the SEO Title of that status update.

If you’re concerned about optimizing your updates while considering them as individual pages under the umbrella of your fan page, then you might want to consider sticking some keywords right at the beginning of your comment. So if you’re posting an update about keyword research, just start the update with keyword research. It is a simple, effective way to keyword optimize each update.

Twitter Profiles

Twitter doesn’t have much in the way of traditional SEO elements for your public profile, but it has a few important things to keep in mind.

Twitter Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name (username) on Twitter

On Twitter, your name under the Profile Settings and your username are the title tags for your profile. So keywords in your username might just be worthwhile if they are still available.

Profile Image: Filename and Your Name as ALT Tag

When it comes to your profile image, be sure to optimize it by using your name as the filename. Twitter will automatically use your name under the Profile Settings as the ALT tag for your profile image as well.

Extra Search Tidbits: Keywords in Your Bio

While they may not come up in the standard SEO elements for your profile, your bio information is key. Services like Klout pull your Twitter bio information as your Klout profile description. FollowerWonk, Formulists, and other Twitter search engines use keywords in your bio in search results when people are looking for similar tweeps to follow. You can also include a link or another Twitter handle if applicable.

LinkedIn Professional Profiles

LinkedIn, the leading professional social network, has the most user-controlled SEO elements out of any other network I’ve checked out. Here are the areas you can customize!

SEO Title: Your Name| LinkedIn

While some people suggest adding keywords to your name field, the LinkedIn terms of service discourages this practice. Be confident that your personal branding is strong enough not to need the extra keyword stuffing that you can do later in your profile.

LinkedIn Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

Profile Image: Filename and Your Name as ALT Tag

Just like Twitter, you should make sure you use your name as the filename for your profile image. LinkedIn will use your name as the ALT tag for your image as well.

H3 Tags: Your Job Titles

Are you ready to get some keywords into your profile? Make sure your job titles for current and previous positions include some great keywords and those keywords will be in your profile page’s H3 tags. Mine include freelance writer, blog marketing expert, photographer, and guest blogging contributor.

Extra Search Tidbit: LinkedIn Search Optimization

According to the LinkedInfluence program by Lewis Howes, if you want to rank well for keywords searched within LinkedIn’s people search, you will want to include your targeted keywords in the following:

  • Your Professional Headline
  • Summary
  • Specialties
  • Skills

I also think that belonging to some industry appropriate groups that are publicly listed on your profile can add to extra keyword usage on your profile. So choose your groups wisely!

YouTube Channels

YouTube offers a lot of great SEO options, from the channel to the videos. Here is what you’ll want to make sure you include in your profile.

YouTube Channel Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Username’s Channel – YouTube

This is one of the cases where your username which doubles as part of your URL counts in terms of the search optimization, so make it count – just be sure you do so with your branding in mind more so than keywords. It will be a lot harder for people to find you if they search SEO company vs. Your Uniquely-Named SEO Company.

Meta Description: Your Channel Description

Whenever you are setting up your channel, pay extra attention to the Channel Description which is under the Profile > Edit settings. This will be your channel’s Meta Description!

Extra SEO Tidbits: Your Website & Your Videos

Ever wanted a backlink from a PR 9 domain? Then your search is over – whenever you create your YouTube channel, be sure to fill in your website link. Granted it has no anchor text, but it’s a dofollow link sitting on a strong Google property.

When it comes to videos, the reason they do so well in search is because the video title doubles as the SEO Title and the video description doubles as the Meta Description. And even though Google doesn’t supposedly care about Meta Keywords, they do use the video’s tags in that space – just group multiple keywords in quotations. My search story uses the tags “kristi hines” “freelance writer” “online marketing consultant” scottsdale arizona. Keep these fields in mind to rank well in both the YouTube and Google results.

Also, be sure to get your video-specific keyword ideas using YouTube’s own keyword tool. It looks at what is searched the most on YouTube itself.

Biznik Professional Profiles

Biznik, another popular professional social network, has some areas that you can customize to optimize your profile for SEO.

Biznik Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Job – Your Location – Your Name

The SEO Title for your Biznik profile combines three important parts of your profile – your current job title, your city and state, and your name. It’s perfect for keyword optimization, local search optimization, and personal branding!

Meta Description: Your Google Summary

Unlike most profiles where you have to condense your About Me information into 140 characters, Biznik allows you to have a What You Do description for visitors and a separate, optimized Google Summary for your Meta Description.

H1: Your Name + Your Job

In case the SEO Title and Meta Description are not enough, Biznik also uses your name and job title as your profile’s main H1 Tag. Nothing like a little extra optimization!

Profile Image: Filename and Your Name as ALT Tag

Just like Twitter and LinkedIn, you should make sure you use your name as the filename for your profile image. Biznik will use your name as the ALT tag for your image as well.

Extra SEO Tidbits: Your Website

Your Biznik profile allows you to add one website link with your preferred anchor text (you can have two if you go Pro for $10 / month) . It’s dofollow, so don’t miss out on adding it for visitors and for search engines!

Quora Profile

Quora, one of the hottest question and answer networks, offers a little SEO optimization for users who join their community.

Quora Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name – Quora

As is the trend for most networks, Quora uses your name in your profile’s SEO title.

Meta Property: Your Long Bio

Quora is a bit unusual in the sense that they use the Facebook Developer’s Meta Property=”og:description” instead of the traditional Meta Description for search results. For this, they pull the information that you include in your Long Bio which should be one to two sentences long. If you search your profile in Google, however, you will see that it pulls your name, your Short Bio, and then your Long Bio as the actual Meta Description snippet.

H1 Tag: Your Name + Your Short Bio

The H1 Tag for your Quora profile will be your name plus your Short Bio. It unfortunately cuts off your tag at 50 characters, so be sure to get your main keyword into your short bio first.

Extra SEO Tidbits: Including Your Websites in the Long Bio

Although the links are nofollow (and mashed up into some crazy looking code), one thing I have noticed about Quora is that you can generate a lot of views and followers fast by answering questions. So SEO value or not, be sure to include your main website links in your Long Bio box. Just type out the URL – it will automatically hyperlink.

About.me Profile

About.me is one of my favorite online business card sites. It allows you to compile your social profile links, blog, and a short description all on one page. The nice part is that it is a well-optimized page!

About.me Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name (Your Username) on about.me

About.me is another network where both your name and your username count heavily in the optimization of your profile.

Meta Description: Your Biography

Although you can write as long of a biography as you want on your profile, remember that the first 160 characters count for your Meta Description. This also means if you use a link in your biography, it will be counted as part of the Meta Description, so try to save the links until after the first 160.

Extra SEO Tidbits: Website Links

There are two ways to add website links to your About.me profile. One is through the biography mentioned earlier. The other is through the Services as Flat URL’s. I prefer adding them in the biography because not only are they dofollow, but the coding within the biography is cleaner than the coding used for the Flat URL’s. It may not make much of a difference, but since every bit of link juice helps, it doesn’t hurt to use the most cleanly coded HTML possible.

Bonus: How to Check Your Profile’s SEO

Curious about more networks than the ones listed? Check out your social profile’s SEO by doing the following in Google Chrome using the SEO Site Tools extension.

Google Chrome SEO Site Tools for Social Media SEO Optimization

  • Logout of the network. You want to see your profile like a search engine sees it with whatever information you have made public and accessible to anyone, not just those logged into the network.
  • Click on the SEO Site Tools magnifying lens button and look under Page Elements. Here you will see your SEO Title, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords.
  • Scroll down through the Page Elements for additional information such as Img Tags, H1 Tags, H2 Tags, H3 Tags, and H4 Tags.

Chances are you will see elements in your social profiles that you can control in those tags – be sure to optimize your profile accordingly from there!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please be sure to share it with others so they can also reap the benefits of a SEO optimized social media profile for better personal and professional branding! If you’re curious about the SEO optimization elements of other social networks, feel free to ask in the comments and I will check them out for you! And let us know what profiles rank the best for your name or brand!

Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Don't miss her Web Domination Review on Kikolani. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!

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Search Engine Optimization and Football…They Aren’t So Different

Sep 2, 2011   //   by Chris Help   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  2 Comments

September is here and that means two things for the Gulf Coast—hurricanes and football. And since hurricanes are so depressing, let’s talk football (although football has been quite depressing the last decade for Houstonians).

So I’m sitting here watching the 4th preseason game for the Houston Texans and suddenly I have this epiphany—football…SEO…they aren’t all that different. A successful football team shares quite a bit in common with a worthwhile SEO firm. Let me show you what I mean.

They have experienced management in place

Ever heard of a first year coach taking his team to the Super Bowl? Not likely. Coaching a team to the highest level of the game takes years of experience. It also takes being surrounded with the right people. Just look at Houston—Gary Kubiak seems to be a good enough coach, but his defensive coordinator sucked. Now he has Wade Phillips on his side and the preseason has looked pretty solid (besides tonight’s game).

Now let’s apply this to the world of SEO. As you probably know, rookie SEO “coaches” are popping up all over the place. But can they deliver the results of an SEO with years of experience? The fact is, you find the right guy with the right experience then you can rest assured he’s going to boost your rankings.

The underdog may be your best option

Look at the Packers last year. Who thought they’d win it all at the onset of the season? Not me. And even in the Super Bowl, most people thought Pittsburgh was going to hand their butts to them. Wrong again! It’s good business to go with the underdog (just ask Vegas).

Now let’s look at SEOs. You have the big marketing companies that you can go to for the supposed big results. And you can wind up with an even bigger hole in your wallet. Or you can choose an underdog, a smaller SEO organization, and take your chances. Hey I did it. And I’ve seen nothing but positive results.

They have multiple players producing outstanding stats

How often do you hear of a winning team only having one player putting up good stats? Not usually. Instead, the best teams usually have multiple pieces producing winning results. Compare this to SEO. The SEO company you really want isn’t going to push everything aside in hopes for a single high ranking keyword. Instead, they are going to produce results across the board. They’ll start with your highest ranking, produce quick results, and then move on to the next. And you can see proof of these reports through their free SEO report.

Here’s to a great season

I’m excited to watch some football this season. This is also my first year to play fantasy, so I have some added interest. I’m also excited to watch my SEO guy produce results and bring me more traffic.

Here’s to a great 2011 season!

Chris Help

Chris HELP started his own copywriting agency, HELP! Copy and Design, a few years back as a sort of side project to showcase his passions. But what ended up happening is it snowballed into full-fledged thriving business. So whether you need press releases, SEO articles, or good old fashioned high-conversion copy--he's ready, willing, and more than able.

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The Golden Rule of Effective SEO Link Building

Oct 12, 2010   //   by HeinrichM   //   link building, SEO Blog  //  14 Comments

SEO link building is a very important part of any search engine optimization strategy. If you do it right your keywords will improve on the search engine result pages and the organic traffic to your website will increase. But what exactly do you need to do?

The golden rule of effective SEO link building is to diversify your link building methods. Think of it this way, if you are a boxer that can only throw a left hook you will most likely lose all of your fights. In the same way links that are built by using only one method will not be very effective.

There are plenty of SEO link building methods around and when you combine them the impact of your link building efforts will visibly improve. Two link building methods will be discussed in more detail in this article and you are welcome to use them to diversify your link building (Tip – make a list of the link building methods that you intend using and draw-up a weekly link building schedule with slots for all of the methods.)

Content traps and article marketing:

  • One of the most effective link building methods available today is the use of original and unique content to build links and generate traffic.
  • Start by researching popular search phrases for your website, product or service and choose keywords with a low level of competition.
  • Write original articles using the keywords that you have chosen.
  • Submit the articles to article directories and Blogs.
  • Build new links by linking back to your website in the resource box of each article.
  • In addition your articles should show-up in the search results for the low competition keywords that you have chosen thereby generating traffic to your website (content trap).

Blog commenting:

  • This method has been abused but it is still very effective when used in combination with other link building methods.
  • Search for Blogs that are relevant to your website, product or service and ensure that they allow you to enter your name and URL when posting a comment.
  • Read the article and post a comment that is useful and informative (you need to give in order to receive.)
  • Webmasters delete comments that they view as spam and it is important that you add value with your comment and not try and sell yourself.
  • Post comments on both do-follow and no-follow Blogs to ensure that the search engines view the links as “natural”.

In addition to the two methods discussed above you can build new links to your website through the use of bookmarks on social sites, forum profiles and posts, submitting your website URL to link directories and the uploading of videos to popular video sites.  SEO link building is very effective when you combine three or more of the available methods. Start improving your keyword search optimization today by becoming a boxer with more than just a left hook in your arsenal.

HeinrichM

H.E.Muller is the owner of The Link Building Guy and he provides keyword optimization services to small business owners. Feel free to visit his website for more information on SEO Link Building and Keyword Optimization..

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How to Stop Competitors Copying Your Links

Sep 1, 2010   //   by John McElborough   //   Contests, SEO Blog  //  19 Comments

This is a guest post from John McElborough. It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.

One of the first things we do when building links for a new client is to identify their competitors, work out who’s linking to them using link research tools and try to copy as many of their links as possible. But if you’re an established site how do you stop SEO’s like me mining and cloning your links?

A while ago I wrote about a technique I use to throw competitors off the scent using a redirect. Its certainly not full proof but following some discussions I had with other SEO’s after writing that post its clear that there’s a concern about link data mining so below I’ve compiled a definitive guide to the methods you can use to keep your links private and prevent cloning of your backlink profile.

(If you read all the way to the end I’ll share the results of some recent testing I’ve done which may give you a new technique to try out)

Blocking crawlers and backlink analysis tools

zero links- what's wrong with my backlink tool!

The simplest way to stop link mining is to block your site from crawlers used by link research tools. There are 3 common data sources used to power most backlink analysis tools:

Majestic SEO

Majestic SEO uses data from the Majestic12 crawler. It adheres to robots protocol so you can block it using this line in your robots.txt file:

User-agent: MJ12bot
Disallow: /

SEOMoz / Linkscape

SEOMoz’s linkscape index is used by an increasing number of SEO’s via their Open Site Explorer tool and the API. You can block SEOMoz from showing your links using a meta tag in the <head> of your pages.

<META NAME="SEOMOZ" CONTENT="NOINDEX" />

Yahoo

This one is subject to change when Yahoo moves fully over to Microsoft.

The only real way to block data from appearing in Yahoo Site Explorer and the multitude of 3rd party tools it serves like Linkdiagnosis and Market Samurai is to block the Yahoo crawler. This can be done in robots.txt:

User-agent: Slurp
Disallow: /

This however will block you entirely from Yahoo search results. Most of my sites get less than 5% of search traffic from Yahoo these days but still, its hard to justify cutting this out entirely. I’ve got a better solution below for dealing with Yahoo data.

Obfuscate your link data

Even if you can’t block competitors from seeing your backlinks entirely you can take steps to make their life more difficult. Building high volumes of low quality links to your site is a good way to obfuscate your data, making it harder for competitors to locate and copy your best links.

thats a lot of links, where do i start?

Yahoo Site Explorer and data accessed via the API will only show the first 1000 links pointing to a page. While Yahoo does tend to show the most important links near the top of their data this isn’t limited to unique domains and doesn’t exclude nofollowed links. As such in order to render your sites backlink data useless to competitors you need to build a few sitewide links on big, well established sites. Blogroll links are good for this. These links are pretty easy to buy because you can use the nofollow tag to avoid penalties. Facebook pages and forum signatures are also good for this.

Build links which can’t be mined

Create an un-copyable profile

This is certainly the best practice approach. When building links you should be aiming to build links which are going to be hard or impossible for your competitors to replicate. Typically these will be the types of links which manifest from great content and personal relationships. Your competitors won’t be able to offer cash to replicate these links.

requsts for paid links will be inneffective against this type of link

Run your own link hubs

The hardest links in the world to copy are links on sites which you own (you’re not going to link to your competitor now are you?!). If you’re part of a group of sites you might already be getting links this way. Beyond this you can look at everything from building a single microsite to developing a fully fledged distributed link network.

Build links downstream

One thing which no link analysis tool does is looks at the links which point at the pages which link to you. If you’ve got some good quality links on authoritative domains think about building links to those pages. You can bet your competitors aren’t thinking about who’s linking to your links.

diagram showing downstream linking process

Buy presell pages

If you’re in a competitive space and are buying links you should be thinking about how you can buy links which both minimise the paid link footprint and which are hard for competitors to replicate. The latter I feel lends itself to buying links on dedicated ‘presell pages‘. If you negotiate a presell page you can stipulate that the webmaster can’t add any extra links (to your competitors) on the page you’re renting. You can then build some links to the presell page. That way even if a competitor rents a page on the same site as you, they don’t get the same value from it as you do.

Place links on noindex pages

I’m planning on covering this in more detail on my blog soon but an idea I’ve been testing is building links on pages which aren’t indexed. A page which uses the noindex, follow robots meta tag will still flow PageRank and anchor text to sites it links to, but from the tests I’ve been playing around with at least,  these pages won’t show up in any major link analysis tools.

process for adding links to noindex pages

This has huge potential for anyone concerned about competitors spying on their backlinks. Certainly it will stop competitors finding and copying links (and meaning they can’t report paid links) it also creates an opportunity to distribute content without duplicate content penalties. Here’s some possible applications:

  • Buy presell pages which are noindex, followed
  • Let webmasters republish your content on their sites (with links)
  • Hide links on other sites you own to avoid network detection

Questions on any of these techniques or have your own methods? Please ask or share in the comments.

John McElborough

John McElborough is a search marketing consultant from London, England who runs the PPC management agency inbound360. Read more of his posts at johnmcelborough.com.

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Combating Online Plagiarism

Oct 4, 2008   //   by Gerald Weber   //   Plagiarism, SEO Blog  //  18 Comments

Plagiarism is a growing problem for webmasters these days, given the implications that plagiarism can have on a webmasters search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, this is an area that deserves some attention. Many webmasters spend hours upon hours writing content for websites, only to sometimes have it stolen or scraped by unscrupulous webmasters, who are either lazy or do not want to take the time to create their own content for whatever reason. Aside from the obvious fact that it is unethical for someone to copy original content and pass it off as their own, the implication that duplicate content can have on search engine optimization goes much deeper than that. Duplicate content can and probably will depreciate the search rankings for one or both of the sites with duplicate content. Read more >>

Gerald Weber

I founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. More recently I co-founded viralcontentbuzz.com. which is the free platform that helps bloggers generate REAL "social buzz" on their best content. Feel free to follow me on Google+

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