Saturday, November 11, 2006

Beta Blogger and Trouble in List Land isn't at fault, but today when I switched my Blogger blog from blogspot to the Beta, (newer, cooler, better, you get it...) - Aweber's list system sent out around 20 e-mails thinking that all of the posts in the past few weeks were new messages.

My apologies to everyone affected by the multiple posts and I will alert Aweber so they can come up with a fix.

Thank you for your patience and your subscription.

Kind regards,
Dave Jackson
Naples, FL

SEO Tips - Found in Search Engines

My eyes are glazed over from all the "SEO advice" sent to me and lodged in the nooks and cranniesSEO tips of the web. Take a look - over 9 million entries just in Google. Enough to make your head spin?

I was fortunate enough to hear Mike Murray of FathomSEO talk about his top SEO tips, and since I haven't discussed this in a while, I thought I'd go over what I feel are some of the best. Mike had a list of 8 tips, but I'll make this an even 10, incorporating his with mine.

Before you get into this too much further, let me tell you a couple of things. First, SEO is hard work. It entails a lot of coding, time, and testing. But, the work can payoff... just don't give up, as many do, before payday. And, secondly, don't take my word for it - or someone else, either. Get the general consensus; the collective wisdom of SEO and use that. (That's what I do, so maybe you can follow what I say, he he).
  1. Have keywords in the domain name. This is one that no only works with ranking, but also plays highly with the algorithm AdSense uses to put ads on your page. No, don't forget context/content - but domain name scores higher.
  2. The age of the website. Forget the age of the domain name. It's rather, how long have you had that content up and available on the web? How many quality inbound links do you have? How often do you update your website? I covered how valuable old domain names are - and how you can bypass months of hard work by mining expired domains.
  3. Quality of inbound links. This speaks for itself, but ranks higher than content and Page Rank. My rule of thumb is try to secure links of a PR higher than yours. Make sure that page (link) has no more than 15 outbound links. And above all, make sure it comes from a site on the same topic as yours.
  4. Consistency of source code. If it's just you, you probably don't have to worry because you code all your pages the same. However, if a team works on a site, make sure everyone codes the same - i.e. same URL format, alt text, simplicity - this is so the bots can crawl your site without problem. Inconsistency is a red flag.
  5. The amount of content on your page. There are dozens of opinions on this, but most gurus agree on 350 words. Again, know that because of your high quality inbound links, you can rank right up there in the top for a page with little content.
  6. Work on your home page. If you have little time to work on your website, make it all work on your home page - it's the most powerful page of your site.
  7. Change up your text. Murray says this is useful because you can miss keywords by not carrying another iteration of them, like plurals, etc. Change it up a bit and track your results.
  8. Study page cache trends. Okay, this is a good one because many don't do this. In Google, you can easily see the Cache of the website which is what Google saw on that date. It's cool to click on the text version of the cache to see what the bot picked up. You want frequent caches. If your caches are not frequent it is because the search engine doesn't know your page is there, or because each visit nothing has changed. Pretty soon the visits die down to once a week, once a month.
  9. Title tags. Try different things, keywords. You can get away with saying: Great SEO Tips from a SEO Master. There we used "SEO" twice. Is that title tag stuffing? No. But stay away from something like: Great SEO Tips - SEO Tips - SEO TIPS for you. That's stuffing. I know it's November, but remember - don't raise a red flag or you'll get your turkey cooked.
  10. META tag "Description" formula. Here's my advice, and Murray agrees; Use your keywords, company name, and then why you are different from and better than the competition.
I've followed these rules and found you can get even a Blogger blog ranking high, with a PR of 5 or more, and cached every three days or so. As I look through the logs it's amazing to see where traffic comes from.

Sam's Club clickFor instance, on my post about Sam's Club Christmas Catalog, I noticed a click from Sam's Club home office on the very day of my post, November 3!

Another experiment I did, early on, was to put the words How to Raise a Parakeet in H3 tags and held a spot on page 2 of Google's SERPs until after a few updates concluded there was no info about parakeets on the page. But try the same entry with quotes, "How to Raise a Parakeet", and we're #1 in Google. Of course, nobody searches that way.

Work on these 10 and let me know if you have any questions! Let's get your pages noticed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Google Website Optimizer Beta

Google Website Optimizer Beta If you're into analyzing your data, Google's Website Optimizer is a welcome tool, and one that can certainly help you find the best landing page for your site. It just makes total sense. Isn't that exactly what you do when you're tuning a car?

I've always loved working with numbers and patterns. You'll find that if you get enough feedback, you can sit and tweak just about anything to make it give you its full potential.

Google Website Optimizer BetaWhen in shop class, our teacher always told us that we needed three things for an engine to work: spark, gas, and air. But mainly, he said, spark and gas. There's a bunch more to an engine, such as oil and compression, etc. But if you're looking to get an engine going - check spark and gas, first.

Any auto mechanic worth his salt knows that with spark, gas, and air - just those three - you can tweak, or tune an engine to a soft purr. Likewise, you can get every combination of sputter, backfire, gas guzzling you can imagine.

With Google's Optimizer, or "tune-up", you can change your landing page for your AdWords ads to a point where they are performing best. In fact, you can have many versions of the same page running simultaneously and Google will advise you based on goals you create (sales, etc.), how well your page is performing.

As of this writing, you can sign up for the program and be considered. I strongly recommend this tool. From my experimentation, it works well and ... who wants to run around with a poorly tuned page?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Vote

Dave Jackson VotesA reminder to my American buddies to go out and vote today. It's drizzling here in Naples, but the poll people tell me that turn out has been great!