Discussions and tips regarding SEO.

Business bloggers, why do you hate America? I know you have deadlines and a paycheck to justify but you’re creating fear in the damaged psyches of the easily influenced. A better solution for your readers is right here and nearly any writer can achieve the goal. Forbes has an article about 25 Things Influential People Do Better Than Anyone Else. This kind of article hurts the Interwebs and also my head as a writer and thinker. (I don’t necessarily do both of those at the same time. It’s hard. Like the Maths.) It’s one of those “list posts” that web writers have learned to conjure up when they can’t think of anything else to write. I shouldn’t slam lists, I use them myself and even recommend them in my book. But they’ve become a kind of “go to” post that often doesn’t do anything to help the reader. They’re just there to take up bandwidth and the world is rapidly running out of bandwidth. We are heading toward a global bandwidth crisis! If I had any influence, this paragraph would scare the shit out of you. List posts are…listful The best thing about “list posts” is that the headlines offer the reader the promise of easy consumption of the content. You know the article is offering steps that are easily scanned and might be capable of implementation. Although a list of 25 or a 101 of anything is generally more than the twitchy Internet audience wants to read. Seriously, if you can sit through reading a list of 101 of anything, you are desperate, my friend, to find SOMETHING to make your life better. Anyone offering you a list of 101 things is really reaching, really stretching their ability to…list things. There is unlikely to be much there that will change your life or your level of influence (or the specific gravity of nickel, which as we all know would benefit almost no one. I have no idea what that means but I like how it sounds on the page). You need to re-prioritize your methods of gathering useful information. In fact, Forbes’ list of 25 doesn’t really fulfill its promise. It provides few usable examples for each of the 25 characteristics of influential people. But it probably does achieve the goal of getting clicks because the target demo for the article is…people who don’t have influence but crave a portion of it scooped up like non-fat ice cream and delivered to them for free. That’s not how actual influence works. Real influence arises from having something useful to offer a specific audience. People like to say that someone like Guy...

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SEO Mastery

Posted By on Oct 4, 2011

I’ve had clients ask if they could pay for an hour or two of SEO lessons. I laugh. Not to them. Silently. To myself. Then, I cry. SEO is not something you can learn by reading a book, not even a good one like Danny Dover’s Search Engine Optimization Secrets. Why? Because SEO is something learned by the doing. It is hardly rocket science but it is a massive ocean liner ever moving, with millions of moving parts, submerged icebergs in its path, other ships to distract from its being viewed from shore, and a regulatory body (Google) setting constantly-changing rules that must be inferred rather than read. While someone with a mind that cannot but analyze everything all day long finds this fascinating and even at times exciting, if you dread the kind of detail that can reduce an accountant to tears, run away. You’ll think you’ve done everything you know to move needles in rankings only to find a one-line error in a file somewhere has tripped you up. Or you get a client with reasonable rankings whose host service company has sworn they’ve redirected the clients old web pages only to find they never set up the redirects and your client’s sole source of income, their e-commerce website, tanks in the rankings for having lost nearly every shred of their backlink juice. So you set up the redirects and wait. There are no real secrets to SEO work. Yes, Google has secrets about its algorithms but the work of optimization is not a dark art. It’s just a lot of work and no businessperson who is spending the time to run their business can take on SEO as a hobby. N-o-t possible. Like hiring a good real estate agent to sell your home, hiring a good SEO agency or specialist is worth every penny, because SEO should provide a measurable return on your investment. It should bring targeted traffic to your site. And your website design should convert that traffic into leads and sales. Otherwise, all you have on the web is a pretty calling...

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SEO Copywriter Basics

Posted By on Feb 24, 2011

I’ve learned in my time as an SEO consultant, SEO technician, and SEO copywriter, that there is no learning substitute for hands on work. SEO is not something that I’m sure can even be taught all that well because there’s a certain level of intellectual curiosity and engagement you have to have to stay with it. It takes so many hours to learn to do good SEO work and a lot of it is trial and error. Let me show you what I mean. The Real Work of SEO I have a client I picked up a few months ago who was doing fairly well in rankings for certain keywords. The client does large architecture and construction projects. Looking at their Google Analytics, I saw that they were getting found mostly on keyword variations of their company name. That’s not bad but if most of the keywords in your Analytics account are variations of your company name, you’re mostly getting Googled by people who already know about you. I see this so often when I first look at a client’s Analytics. Most clients don’t stop to think about the fact that if their company name is not generic, they’re probably going to rank well for their business name. Keyword Krazyness When I first started SEO, I would have been at a loss to know what to optimize for to replace, for example, the Title tags that had little more than the client’s company name. I would have been guessing or I might use Wordtracker but I didn’t have a solid sense about what I should be using for keywords. My keyword strategy evolved quickly out of necessity but, my god, it took a lot of experimenting and then trying the keywords out on the pages. And it took a lot of experimenting to find out what worked in terms of changing tags, body copy, creating certain kinds of links, registering with directories, article marketing. Your SEO Toolbox is Unique So over time, you end up with a set of tools that are unique to you as an SEO. Someone else might use similar tools but I find that my process is unique in the way I analyze and execute an SEO strategy for any specific website. For me, that’s a lot of the fun and this is where the intellectual engagement comes in. When I find a new way to do something, I get very excited to duplicate it across several websites to see the effect. When it moves the ranking needle, it’s very exciting (and fun to tell clients about). What Was I Talking About? But back to the...

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1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Keywords

Posted By on Jan 24, 2011

I’ve never understood the idea of SEO consultants offering packages that are priced by how many keywords they research. What sense does that make? My process in analysis is not to target a certain number of keywords but to find the keywords that will get my client on to page one. Because the goal of getting you on page two or three, regardless of the fact that some people do click through that far, is inadequate to me. The number of people who will find your link if it’s not above the fold on page one of Google rapidly diminishes. I’m much more interested in who your competitors on page one are and how they got there. I can analyze your page and their pages and come up with a pretty good idea of why they are there. That informs my strategy for going after placement. But in the process, I’m going to analyze many more than just 50 or 150 keywords. When I optimized JOEY’s Tacoma Hair Stylist website, I put her competitors through Rank Tracker, the Google Keyword Tool, SEO Spyglass, and other tools. By the time I was finished, I could see every keyword and backlink, knew how many pages they had, and how many pages were optimized for the target keywords. Then I set about optimizing JOEY’s site to compete. She’s on page one for several keyword phrases now. But the idea that you can just get 15 or 100 keywords from a client and look at the global monthly searches to determine which ones to use mystifies me. If you do that, you’re going to leave business on the table. So here’s one methodology: 1. Use the GKT to pull keywords out of competitor sites. 2. Eliminate the duplicates. 3. Find out how the client site and the competitors rank for keywords. 4. Choose the top-ranking keywords with the most volume. This is incredibly simplified but it’s along the lines of one process I use. You have to tailor things to specific websites but this will...

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Who’s on First

Posted By on Jan 2, 2011

I love data. I really like to find logical, methodologically sound ways of approaching a problem to find a solution. SEO provides this kind of challenge because we essentially have to reverse engineer what the search engines are doing. We can’t ever reverse engineer it all so it’s logical that it comes down to a sensibly-sized set of questions. To approach any new project today, my overriding question is, “Who is on the first page of Google?” Yes, Google. They’re still the 800 lb gorilla and if your goal is to drive traffic to a site, you want Google paying attention. You can ask a client who they think is their competition but they often think in terms of the real world, not the web. Whoever is getting the business in the real world, on the web your competition consists of the sites that rank ahead of you. If I get a list of competitors, I can extract keywords from all of those sites and compile them to get an idea of the common important keywords and who is ranking for them. Then by analyzing page counts, backlinks, and several other factors, I get a sense of who is the competitor to watch and beat. Sometimes they can’t be beat. Clients often want to rank on page one for a keyword that is very broad. I can’t tell you how many times a client wants me to get them on page one for a keyword that returns a SERP that is full of Wikipedia articles and online directories. There is no way to get ranked ahead of Wikipedia unless you’re Amazon or something similar. For JOEY | Hair Salon Tacoma, I started with a number of phrases that were all optimized for local search. Now that I’ve got her site ranking for some of them, I’m broadening the search and getting backlinks to the site. I believe that within about 90 days, she’ll be on page one for most of the important terms that a Tacoma hair stylist would want to rank for. She just got her first booking through her website. And that’s...

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JOEY’s Style

Posted By on Dec 23, 2010

Getting to the top is hard work. It doesn’t seem like it sometimes when you start a new venture that is in a realm that you’ve already mastered. But we forget that it seems easier because we’ve mastered the parts that seemed so hard before. Take the WordPress site I made recently for JOEY | Hair Salon Tacoma, my hair stylist in Tacoma, WA. I’ve worked pretty intently on WordPress sites for about a year, so the speed at which I was able to plan, construct, and optimize JOEY’s site surprised me. The first thing I did was look at who was ranking for keywords I wanted to go after. The same websites tended to show up in several searches; not surprising. I extracted keywords from all of them and used Rank Tracker to see how they ranked comparatively. More surprising is how quickly I’m able to get niche sites like this to rank for specific terms. I have a formula of sorts, but every site is unique so there’s no real formula you can apply everywhere. But there are certain things you must do to optimize for local search. Google Places and Bing Local Listings are indispensible. You’re not going to rank well locally if you don’t set up AND optimize those two accounts. Google now has the Magnificent Seven. The organic rankings are getting pushed farther down the page when you search on a keyword phrase that includes location. You have three sponsored listings at the top and then seven local listings before you get to the organics. Of course, the local listings are organic but they’re optimized for local search. They have Google Places or Bing Local accounts and if the space is competitive, they’ve gotten happy customers to leave reviews. If you’re optimizing a Google Places or Bing Local account, don’t forget to use images and as many categories as there is space. JOEY is already ranking well for some of her keywords and her Yelp reviews are positioned well too. She’s extremely good at hair color such as bleaching and is well known for this. This is a very fun exercise in local...

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