Thursday, August 28, 2008

Does Your Web Site Need a Workout?

Here's an analogy for you. Yesterday, I was working my butt off in the gym on the cardio machines, panting wildly with sweat dripping off me and my face as red as a beet. Not the most attractive sight, but I figure, you're at the gym to work out right? I might as well "go hard" or "go home", as they say.

As I looked around me, I could see all these people simply going through the motions. There they were, minus perspiration in their shiny new lycra and expensive gym shoes, casually walking on the treadmill or lazily turning the wheels on a bike while reading a book or glued to the TV screens in front of them. Only a few seemed to be there for the actual purpose of working out. The rest seemed to be there to check out the talent or to simply keep up the appearance of fitness, while doing the bare minimum.

Huh? I don't get it. Why have these gym bimbos paid so much money for a gym membership and all the related gear if they aren't going to take full advantage of their investment?

Then it struck me - these gymbos were just like those companies who spend thousands of dollars on a shiny new website with all the bells and whistles like graphic design, blogs, shopping carts, web analytics, the lot and then fail to take advantage of it. I see it so often, regardless of company size. Web sites that could easily be bringing in loads of traffic and revenue simply wasting away because nobody can be bothered tracking visitor activity, analyzing trends or checking for search engine compatibility and usability.

These companies are simply keeping up appearances, investing heavily in Internet technology because their competitors are doing the same. But no thought has gone into the search engine compatibility of the site, how usable it is for visitors or whether it meets accessibility guidelines. They don't look at their site statistics, they don't check for broken links and they sure as heck don't investigate why their sites aren't converting traffic into customers. What a waste!

Is your web site working hard enough for you? Run it through the following 20 point fitness assessment to find out:

  • Is your site fully search engine compatible? Are all your pages being indexed by the major search engines?
  • Do you track your visitor statistics on a regular basis? Do you use the information provided by your visitor statistics to improve your site?
  • Is your web site accessible to visually-impaired visitors? Does it meet the international standards set down by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)?

  • Do you know which sites and search engines provide you with the most traffic? Do you use this information to improve your traffic further?

  • Do you track the source of all reported errors in your site statistics and fix them promptly?

  • Do you know which keywords your site was found for in the search engines? Have you conducted keyword research to determine what search terms your target markets are looking for so you can optimize for them?

  • Does your web site HTML code validate to W3 standards ? Do you check for validation regularly?

  • Does your site contain zero broken links? Do you check for and fix broken links regularly?

  • Has your site been fully search engine optimized to integrate your target search terms into your Page Titles, META Tags and visible page text?

  • Have you created and submitted an XML sitemap to Google Sitemaps ?

  • Have you created and submitted a sitemap to Yahoo Site Explorer ?

  • Have you checked to see if your site meets Google's Webmaster Guidelines ?

  • Do you measure your visitor sign-ups and conversions on a regular basis?

  • Do you tweak your landing page copy to improve the conversion rates?

  • Is your site navigation intuitive and are your visitors following the navigation paths you intended?

  • Do you encourage feedback from your site visitors and provide an obvious way for them to provide such feedback?

  • Are there at least 250 words of text on your home page to satisfy search engines?

  • Does your site contain a visible, text-based site map to aid user navigation?

  • Do you have an ongoing link building campaign running to secure more incoming links to your site and improve your site's link popularity score?

  • Does your site have a high percentage of repeat visitors? Are the majority of your visitors staying on your site for more than a minute?

  • Do your search engine referrals and site traffic figures grow each month?

Unless you can answer yes to all the questions in the above checklist, your web site is not working hard enough for you and needs a workout. Get to it!

About The Author

Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column , Kalena manages Search Engine College - an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.

What To Do When Your Website Does Not Rank Well In Google

Online marketers frequently struggle with the question of how to compete when Google fails to look positively upon a particular website. In this article, I will focus on how to build rankings and drive traffic to your website, using Google and the other search engines.

What Motivates Google's Algorithm

Over the years, many have tried to claim, even in court, that Google was unfairly keeping their website out of the top of Google's search results. But, the truth is that Google is not beholden to the needs and desires of the webmasters who want to be on page one of Google's natural search results.

Instead, Google is beholden to its stockholders and its need to earn profíts. Google has determined that the best way to keep profíts high is to keep Internet users flocking to its websites. Google accomplishes that by giving its users the kind of information they are looking to find, and Google weights its search algorithm towards what Google believes its search audience wants to see in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

It is important for online marketers to understand that it is not always in Google's best interest for our websites to rank well in Google.

How Important Is Google In Search?

Worldwide, Google is currently providing 78% of all searches .

But in 2007, Google only provided 52% of my website's total search traffic. Yahoo, Windows Live, Ask, and MSN provided the next 42%. The remaining 6% of my website's search traffic came from another 55 smaller search engines.

On my website, only 48.8% of my 2007 traffic actually came from search engines. The remaining 51.2% of my website's quarter million visitors came directly from article placements on other websites, recommendations from other people, forum posts, and from people who have bookmarks for my website.

Tips For Ranking Well For Specific Keywords

It has been my experience that it is easier to rank in 1) MSN / Windows Live, 2) Yahoo, and then 3) Google, in that order. Quite frankly, I have always ignored the role of Ask in the search market. While MSN is the easiest search engine to rank in, it only delivered 4.6% of my total search traffic in 2007.

I read a question in a forum, where the poster was asking how he could get his website to rank well in Google for the search term, "software".

The truth is that it is nearly impossible in nearly every search engine to rank well in the natural results for such a singular keyword as "software". In a nutshell, if you want to rank well in Google, you need to build inbound links (IBLs) to your website with your targeted keywords in the links.

But, you don't want to put all of your links together with one keyword phrase. One of Google's red flags is when they notice a link to a particular website appearing more than 60% of the time with one specific keyword phrase.

Utilizing a variety of long-tail keywords will actually serve you better in the search-engine ranking puzzle, in more ways than one. After all, when I do a search for software, I don't type in the search word, "software". I type in search phrases like: "accounting software", "small business accounting software", "windows software accounting small business", "windows image editing software", "windows software image editor", "windows xp photo album manager", etc.

People searching the keyword "software" have yet to figure out that they are looking for specific kinds of software. Once they do an initial search, they are going to type in more specific search terms to find what they actually want. So, once you start targeting a variety of long-tail keyword phrases, then you will start seeing more success in your search marketing efforts.

How To Start Your Search Engine Optimization Journey

If you are wanting to get into the natural search results of Google and the other search engines, you must know before you dive into the project that getting good rankings in the search engines for your chosen keywords can take a really long time, before you begin seeing results.

While inbound links to your website, targeted to your chosen keywords, will help your website climb in the search results of your favorite search engines, it may be a frustrating journey.

Your competitors want to rank well for the same search terms you do. And since only ten of you can be on page one of the search results, you may have to work really hard to topple those guys already on page one of the results, and you will have to fight to keep your ranking once you get it.

There are some keyword phrases that are nearly impossible to rank for, even if you have really deep pockets. For example, most every keyword phrase for the financial industry will be extremely difficult to rank for in Google. Competition in this industry is fierce, so achieving top search rankings will be tough to say the least.

This is the reason why so many SEO experts encourage marketers to target "low-hanging fruit". It may be fairly easy to rank well for a four- or five-word search phrase, and extremely expensive to target a two- or three-word search phrase.

My personal approach has always been to rotate through a líst of more than 100 target keyword phrases, over a longer period of time. In doing so, I capture a lot of low-hanging fruit quickly, and at the end of the loop, I am a bit closer to snagging the fruit in the upper branches of the tree. At the end of my líst, I analyze my keywords again to see where I am strong and to see where I am still weak, and then I begin the process again. (According to, I have better than 950 keyword phrases in the top twenty results of Google.)

How To Get Links

The challenge most people face when they begin building links to a website is where to get those essential links.

Article marketing is my chosen method for getting inbound links.

Because of Google's news feed strategy, the initial placement of your article might appear immediately in the SERPs, but then it will disappear. During the news cycle phase of the Google algorithm, new materials are given an added boost in ranking. Once the news cycle is done, any new pages will sink back down to where they would be based on the general Google algorithm.

If you are honest with yourself, you know that every page on the Internet started life with a PageRank Zero, but given enough time, many pages will gain in PageRank, as they begin to be linked. For a more detailed look at the process of how reprint articles gain value for a website in Google's search index, see my article about " Fishing for Links in Google" .

Utilizing article marketing as a link building method, I have put one website on the map in as little as eight weeks, with only three articles. This website has one #1, one #2, eight results on page one, and twelve results in the top twenty listings of Google. Most of those keywords also rank well in Yahoo and MSN.

On the other hand, on my main website, I started looking at the keyword phrase "article marketing" just eighteen months ago, when my website sat at #79. Today, my website sits at #12 in Google for that keyword phrase.

I believe that given enough time, investment and commitment, I can use article marketing to elevate any web page on the Internet to multiple page-one listings in Google. But, not everyone is willing to make the kind of investment and commitment one needs to get to the top of Google's search results...

What To Do When You Need Results Now

If you simply cannot wait as long as it takes to build top rankings naturally, then you need to look seriously at Pay-Per-Click advertising models, such those offered through Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing .

About The Author

Bill Platt offers Article Distribution and Article Ghost Writing services through his website at: . He has written an ebook that has been designed to help people create more effective articles. One customer said of his ebook, "I've read almost every ebook out there on article writing and article marketing and this one tops it all." To learn more about Bill's ebook or to get your copy, please visit: .

Social Media Newsrooms: The Ultimate Web 2.0 Tool for Your Business

Imagine having just one place to send the media, prospective clients, book reviewers, or anyone who wants to know all about you, your business, or your books; a place where they can:

• View all your major media coverage.

• See all of your past and present press releases.

• Look up all of your past and future events.

• Read and link to all of your book reviews.

• Download multimedia material like photos, company logos, podcasts, vidcasts, etc.

• View bios on each key person in the company, along with links to their social or business networking profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, Second Life, etc.

• Check out your own purpose-built page linking to other sites relevant to your business.

• Subscribe through RSS feeds to any portion of information on the site.

• Share any content of the site with their friends or colleagues, via email or by posting to social bookmarking indexes like or Digg with one click.

• Send you an instant message using AIM, Yahoo Messaging, MSN, Skype, etc.

• Link directly to your latest blog posts.

• Search the site or the entire Web using either Google or Technorati.

• Link to other blogs or Web sites that are relevant to your message.

• See all Technorati tags related to your content.

• Comment directly on your media coverage, press releases, and events.

That place is a Social Media Newsroom (SMNR). Similar to a traditional online newsroom, it lists media coverage, news releases, events, media contact information, and so forth, but also includes social media and Web 2.0 elements that allow visitors to share and interact with its content.

The SMNR fulfills this traditional purpose while taking advantage of the tremendous indexing opportunities social bookmarking and RSS feed services like Technorati,, Digg, and Feedburner provide. Imagine that every entry made in your newsroom (all of your media coverage, press releases, bios, photos, vidcasts, podcasts, events, etc.) was not only indexed in Google and all of the other search engines, but also in popular bookmarking and RSS feed services - accessible by millions of bloggers and Web surfers. This is the true power of the SMNR for entrepreneurs, small businesses, authors, and small presses - exposure.

This fantastic exposure is a byproduct of the original reason the SMNR was created, but it has grown beyond a mere electronic repository. It has become the blueprint for the new media - a media that understands multimedia and wants a one-stop shop for every bit of material they will need for their coverage. This new media wants something that is fully downloadable and print ready, easily shared with their colleagues, with links and searches that will lead them directly to more relevant information. Most important, though, they want a place that welcomes their comments and invites interactivity.

If you already have a Web site with most of these features, you might wonder why you need a newsroom. First, a newsroom tells the members of the media and prospective clients that you are making a serious effort to make their jobs easier. A social media newsroom is akin to a press release, in that standardization is essential to allow for easy navigation and content extraction by the media.

Second, as mentioned earlier, a social media newsroom (if built using a platform such as WordPress) means that each entry in your newsroom, from a press release to a simple image, can be automatically indexed in search engines, RSS feed indexes, and social bookmarking services, since each entry is itself a separate page of sorts. This means someone can find your site by running into your company logo image, by searching for a blog on the subject of your business expertise, by looking up relevant sites tagged in Technorati or, or by searching for RSS feeds. Think of it this way: You can have one lottery ticket in the pot or one hundred - you figure the odds.

But, a social media newsroom should not replace your existing Web site. You still want a place for blogging and to have a more traditional place to present other information. You will also do all of your "selling" on your Web site. Your SMNR is not a sales tool! Your newsroom is meant to be a neutral place to present all of your media materials - just like a mega-press release.

Many small businesses or entrepreneurs may not have enough media coverage yet to justify a complete newsroom, but that does not mean they can't take advantage of social media optimization. These businesses and individuals should consider building their Web sites using a blogging platform like WordPress to power their sites. This provides all of the benefits of social bookmarking, RSS feeds, etc. and is a very easy way to build and maintain a feature-rich Web site. Of course, the perfect scenario would be to have both!

About The Author

Deltina Hay is the principle of the companies Dalton Publishing and Social Media Power. She has worked in programming and Web development for 25 years. Ms. Hay's graduate education includes computer science, applied mathematics, and psychology.

What Google Thinks Of Your Site?

How Google views your site does matter if you want to succeed online because Google has become the dominant search engine on the web. It now has over 60% of the U.S. search engine market. In other countries around the world that percentage rises to 80% or more. In addition, the Google Brand Name has solidly permeated the popular psyche and any top rankings within Google will bring much weight and prestige along with all that traffic.

If you're a webmaster, you will already know how vital Google is to the success of your site, especially if you rely upon organic keyword rankings for your traffic. This free organic traffic from Google is highly desired by webmasters because it is extremely targeted and delivers high conversion rates.

In trying to reach the highest rankings possible, I (like most webmasters) have to be constantly aware of what Google thinks of my site and content. As a webmaster and marketer I have always geared my onlíne marketing towards Google. I have spent years building my keyword rankings within Google; if you take out the fact that it has nearly driven me insane, it has mostly been a positive experience.

This experience has also shown me it is indeed important for anyone to know how Google views and rates your site or content. The more knowledge you have, the better able you will be to tackle any obstacles and challenges that will come your way.

SERPs Is The Only Opinion That Counts

And like most webmasters, I try to find out as much about Google as is humanly possible, but Google doesn't give up its secrets easily. In fact, many webmasters would argue the only true opinion Google has of your site is shown in their SERPs - if your keywords/pages are ranked in the number one spots in Google's "Search Engine Results Pages" then Google must think your site or content deserves to be there.

However, there are other ways of finding out how Google is viewing your content. Below are several Google webmaster tools and things you can do to discover just how Google views your site or pages. They will give you a better picture of what Google thinks about your site.

Checking Your Content/Keywords In Google

One handy tool that will show you what Google thinks your pages consist of is located here:

Just type in your URL and tick off website content and you will get a listing of the major keywords Google has for your content. If your targeted keyword or keywords are not listed, then you have to do some re-writing.

Checking Your Backlinks In Google

If you want to find out how many backlinks your site has in Google, just open up Google Search and type in:


and it will show you the number of backlinks you have.

Since Google doesn't give you all your existing backlinks, many webmasters also use Yahoo! to find a more exact number of links your site has on the web.

Just open Yahoo! and type in: linkdomain:yourURL

Now whether Google is using or considering all these backlinks is the big question? Finding the exact number of backlinks you have in Google has always been a problem because Google is not giving you the exact number or at least this is the general opinion of most SEO experts.

Another way I monitor my links in Google is to place quotation marks around my site name or my name "bizwaremagic" or "titus hoskins" and do a search in Google. This gives me the pages containing references to me or my site. This is usually 50,000 to 100,000 pages, I have also noticed my online income usually correlates as this number goes up or down.

Checking Your Indexed Pages In Google

Obviously, it is very important for you to know what content the search engines have indexed from your site. You can also check to see how your links are displayed and to see if any titles or descriptions are missing from your pages.

You can see how many of your pages are indexed in Google by using the site command.

Just type into Google Search:


A little while back, having your pages indexed in Google's Supplemental Index caused webmasters much stress as it seemed Google was judging these pages as "second class" pages. Since then, Google no longer uses the Supplementary Label in grading pages but that doesn't mean a supplementary index doesn't exist; just that Google has promised to crawl and consider these pages as well in any search query.

Checking Your Google Cache

You can also check to see the Google Cache of your site by using the cache command. You will also discover when it was last retrieved.

Just type into Google Search:


Checking Your PageRank Within Google

Another tricky issue is PageRank. This is supposed to be the heart of Google's ranking system created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin; each link is considered a "vote" for your page and the higher the number of "votes" you have, the higher the PR your page receives. However, again Google is using "smoke and mirrors" to conceal your true PageRank mainly to cut out abuse and manipulation of their results. Some experts say PageRank still counts, other say it doesn't.

You can check your Google PageRank here:
From my own experiences, I have receíved more traffic when my site was at PR4 than I receíved when it was at PR6. What's important is getting high rankings for your targeted keywords... if you get top spots, it doesn't matter if your main index page (site) is PR4 or PR6, you'll still get the same amount of traffic. In other words, don't become too fixated on PageRank because Google in many cases is not letting you see the true PR of a webpage.

I would like to add one point to the whole PageRank issue and that has to do with perception. If you're running an online business, then having a PR8 site does matter for it will bring in more business and customers (especially if you're in the SEO industry) mainly because of the "perceived value" of your site or business.

What Google thinks does matter!

In other words, what Google thinks of your site can play a major role in your success. Mainly because, like it or hate it, Google has become the supreme authority on the web and what they say, counts. Therefore, you should always be paying special attention to just what Google is saying about your site and acting upon that knowledge accordingly.

About The Author

The author is a full-time online marketer who has numerous websites. For the latest web marketing tools try: Marketing Tools . Everyone is profiting from Google, find out how you can too! Clíck here: Google Cash File

Copyright (c) 2008 Titus Hoskins. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.

Using Social Media To Drive Traffic

SMO, or Social Media Optimization, helps build website traffic by using social media based websites. The dawning of web 2.0 has seen many different social media websites crop up in an equally large number of different guises. Content sharing, social bookmarking, and collaborative websites form the basis of this initiative and it is these types of websites that you need to use in order to leverage the power of the social web.

SMO as Guerrilla Marketing

The nature of Social Media Optimization is such that it could be considered a form of guerrilla marketing. Website owners and blog owners have the choice of either investing money or their own skills and time in order to generate traffic from social sites. As long as your efforts are directed appropriately, the more work you put in the more reward you will reap.

SMO as a Link Building Technique

Social optimization also has a happy side effect - it helps to build your link profile so you will usually gain search engine traffic in the long term. Becoming a part of an online community is essential to your social optimization and this, in turn, will naturally provide links to your website. The links will usually be from relevant pages based on a similar topic to that of your page. The more popular social sites are also given a lot of weight by certain search engines.

Optimize Your Existing Site

Create genuinely interesting, intriguing, or informative pages. Include images, links, video, and collaborative tools so that visitors really get involved when they do visit your site. SMO is basically digital word-of-mouth and, if your website doesn't provide some kind of appealing experience to your visitors, then it simply won't attract the positive word-of-mouth that you want.

Add new pages, if necessary, so that you can include more information. However, don't just add pages for the sake of it - ensure that each page really does have something unique to offer. A website still needs to be well structured.

Get a Blog

Add a blog. Every website has potential blog posts in it so find yours and start blogging regularly. Blog posts tend to attract links from other blog posts and those in turn will spread the word of your website. The more popular your blog becomes, the more value it is perceived to provide and the more visitors you will continue to get.

Be active in those blogs that are within your industry and use your link where permitted and relevant. Don't spam because that will lose you more friends than it will make but, if you provide relevant information and a forum or blog allows you to link to it, then provide an insightful comment and provide a link.

Be Active

Being active is a vital part to your whole SMO campaign. Simply registering with social bookmarking sites and content sharing sites is not enough. You need to be involved, post regularly, and generally become a part of the community. If you don't have the time or the inclination to do this, then find somebody else to do it instead.

Some Social Sites To Join

You really do reap what you sow in terms of SMO. Determine the sites that are most suitable to your website, join them, and become an active member. Choose some broad topic sites as well as some that are specific to those interested in the industry in which you operate or topic that you cover. Look at social news submission sites, content sharing sites, bookmarking, and networking sites and try to get a broad coverage of all of them. Here are just a few of the sites you should seriously consider using:

Social News/Media Sharing Websites

Reddit - Reddit is a very popular social news website that boasts a lot of subscribers and covers a wide range of topics.

Digg - Initially, Digg was reserved to technology and related topics but is now a broad topic news site that again has a lot of subscribers and regular readers.

Newsvine - Not as popular as the two above but offering a slightly more formal tone to its content. Again, a good range of topics are covered.

Social Networking Sites

MySpace - It may be largely riddled with spam, but there are still too many genuine users for you to ignore MySpace. You don't have to be an unsigned band to take advantage either.

Facebook - Has caused quite a stir and offers users the chance to create and distribute their own applications as well as content. Another very popular site.

LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a social networking site dedicated to professionals and businesses. It can really help to build a huge network of partners, customers, and other useful contacts in a business network.

Social Bookmarking Websites - Register, store bookmarks that you find useful, and include a bookmark to your website and use a public profile.

Stumble Upon - Same again. Alternatively, you can add a Stumble icon to each of your pages, blog posts, and other media and let your readers do the walking for you.

Buttons For Your Pages

Many social websites provide a button that your readers or visitors can use to automatically add a page. Bookmarking and content sharing sites, in particular, have these buttons and, if you've ever read a website or an article site, then you will have seen the Digg This and Stumble buttons at the bottom of each entry. Users registered with these sites can click the button and quickly add your page. The most popular websites are usually displayed on the high traffic home pages delivering yet more visitors to your site.

Offering Quality

The Social Internet has opened up a whole new avenue for promoting your business, but it needs to be done properly and carefully. Simply tagging, bookmarking, and sharing every page you have regardless of its quality will not bring you the desired results. You may find that it does you more harm than good in the long run.

About The Author

Matt Jackson is a web content writer offering appealing and professional web content. Whether you are looking to implement an SEO or SMO campaign, or you want to improve your visitor's experience while on your website WebWiseWords can create the content you need.

Targeting Niche Audiences - AOL's New Branding Strategy

AOL, once considered a pioneer in internet technology, has fallen on hard times over the years, unable to devise an effective branding strategy. A failed merger with Time-Warner, a non-focus on search while Google built an empire (the AOL search engine eventually began serving up Google results on its portal site), and declining dial-up business are all contributing factors to the ongoing difficulties of AOL and its search engine.

However, AOL seems to have a new branding strategy in mind for the AOL search engine, which would revamp its services and target specific niches. And while many "analysts" claim that it is already a failure before the results are in, it is too soon to tell how this will affect AOL and the search engine that bears its name. Personally, I think it's a smart play for the company - and something that bears watching. If the branding strategy is successful, another huge company may want to follow AOL's example.

You see, AOL understands that the AOL search engine and its other services are not a brand beloved by many. The AOL search engine and AOL itself are seen as somewhat ancient, old school, 56k, etc. Nightmare stories about its online services are not in short supply. I haven't done any specific studies on this, but in my circle of friends and business acquaintances, people consider an AOL subscriber a little behind the times.

The point is (in my opinion) that the "AOL brand" itself has decreasing value and may actually have negative value if the specific sites that it owns or has recently purchased are brought in under an umbrella branding strategy. These sites include those catering toward everything from country music fans to moms sharing photos to guys trying to pick up women. In some cases, the niche sites do not even display their affiliation with AOL or its search engine (or if they do, it is not featured very prominently).

The logic behind this branding strategy is clear. First of all, the AOL search engine and portal weren't attracting new visitors. Secondly, the AOL search engine and brand itself are not particularly hip or fresh. Third, and probably most importantly, specific portal sites attract specific types of users, which are usually highly targeted, prompting a potential for more ad revenue (in theory).

Basically, the AOL portal has stopped trying to be all things to all people. Google is able to pull off the "all things to all people" approach primarily because it doesn't have issues with a branding strategy yet - in fact, the new vertical searches that it adds under the Google "branding umbrella" are augmented by implied hipness and coolness. However, as AOL has discovered, hipness usually has a shelf life. If people began to see Google as the huge corporation that it is now, rather than the uber-cool underdog, the company may not be able to keep this record up. There have already been some cracks in its veneer, although by and large, the Google brand is still very positive and powerful.

There is another company much bigger than AOL that suffers from much of the same problems (and in some cases, worse problems) than AOL does but still wants to take on Google head to head. I refer, of course, to Microsoft.

In terms of a brand, Microsoft is almost universally disliked. The monopoly issue may be one thing. The fact that it is seen as 'old school' may be another. Gates and Ballmer don't exactly have reputations as "nice guys," like Sergei and Larry do (the fact that it seems natural to refer to the former two by their last names and the latter two by the first may help illustrate this point). And the list goes on.

The bottom line is that I have a hard time seeing gaining the kind of traction that Google has, simply because the brand is less than sexy. This means, of course, that any additional vertical search options that MSN adds to its site are bound to be appreciated only by the dwindling few who already swear by the portal.

AOL has decided that its branding strategy for the AOL search engine and niche sites is not nearly as important as the amount of traffic and ad revenue that the site commands. This is not uncommon in the publishing industry, where many different publications on many different topics may be owned by one large (but largely silent) entity. Many of these offline publications have moved online and are beginning to monetize their diverse base of websites. AOL seems to have a similar model and branding strategy in mind for the AOL search engine and other niche sites.

If it works for AOL and its search engine, it could be the best possible branding strategy for Microsoft to follow. Lord knows Microsoft has the money. The company has already bought the ad networks that can service sites under its own new branding strategy. But if pride dictates that it keep everything under the MSN name or add a huge "brought to you by Microsoft" banner across the top of any popular online property that it decides to buy, MSN is, in my opinion, shooting itself in the foot.

I never said it was fair, but your brand and branding strategy can either be an asset, neutral, or a detriment. Microsoft has to realize that most people consider its brand to be in the neutral to detrimental range and that most people consider Google to be in the neutral to asset range (and that's probably being charitable). Microsoft should not try to compete with Google head to head without considering the disparities in the conceptions of their respective brands.

About The Author

Scott Buresh is the founder of Medium Blue , a search engine optimization company . His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including MarketingProfs, ZDNet, SiteProNews, WebProNews, DarwinMag,, and Search Engine Guide. He was also a contributor to The Complete Guide to Google Advertising (Atlantic, 2008) and Building Your Business with Google For Dummies (Wiley, 2004). Medium Blue has local and national clients, including Boston Scientific, DS Waters, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and was named the number one organic search engine optimization company in the world in 2006 and 2007 by PromotionWorld. Visit to request a custom SEO guarantee based on your goals and your data.

Top Google in Record Time in 2 Simple Steps!

I got into search engine optimization back in 1998. It sure has changed a lot since then. Back in the day you could use invisible text, load keywords to the point of overflowing and fill META tags with anything even close to what you had on your page. And you could do well on Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista; all the biggies. Not anymore.

Today SEO is about a 75% / 25% split between links and content, with inbound links being the most important thing. Especially on Google. When all is said and done, you can get to the top of Google in just two simple steps. Seriously. I've done it hundreds of times and it's easier than you'd imagine.

Step 1: Develop Great Content

Writing great SEO content is a snap if you follow this simple 5 step formula...

1.) Write naturally as if speaking with a friend. Record yourself actually speaking to a friend about the topic of your Web page and it will all come together automatically.

2.) Limit each page to 2 to 3 keywords or keyword phrases.

3.) Mention each keyword no more than 4 times per page and split the usage somewhat equally between paragraphs. Two mentions of your most important keyword in the first paragraph is the only real exception. And be sure you mention each toward the end of the page to show overall consistency and topic authenticity.

4.) Try to incorporate the first mention of each keyword into hyperlink anchor text. The link should lead to another page of your site. (Note: The keyword would then be the clickable text leading to your other page.)

5.) Have between 150 and 250 words of text per keyword. So if you have 3 keywords on one page, you will have about 600 words on that page, in total.

That's the quick and dirty SEO content writers course. And believe me, it works!

Step 2: Link Like the Pros (Part 1; Strategize)

Linking is a bit more involved. The main thing to remember is that you want as many high quality, topic relevant links as you can get. And you want them all using the same exact URL since Google sees URLs that begin with "http://www" differently than links that begin with just "www". In other words, even if you have 200 links to your page, if they are split between URL formats, you are not getting full credít for the links.

And forget all that stuff about links to the homepage being "a must." Sure, having inbound links go to your homepage is great but Google has smartened up. They figure your site overall is probably not that great if nobody bothers linking to your actual content pages. While it's true that Google ranks pages rather than sites, they do still base each of your page's worth on its supporting pages.

I won't bore you with a bunch of techno babble. In short, if you keep this in mind, you'll always be ahead of the game:

1.) Inbound links should be from pages containing relevant content of a similar nature.

2.) Links to your pages from outside pages with high Google PageRank (GPR) are most desirable. ( Note: GPR is NOT the page's position on Google. It is a value, from 1 to 10, that Google assigns to all Webpages.)

3.) Links from (not to) a homepage are typically most valuable, unless they have a higher GPR page to link from. Focus on the GPR. If you use software like that mentioned below, it will do all this automatically. If you do it all manually, get the free Google Toolbar . GPR is shown for every page (that has any) on the Internet.

4.) Inbound links to your pages should feature your keyword as the anchor text triggering the hyperlink (keyword is the clickable part leading to your page.)

5.) Do NOT use generic text for your link's surrounding content. Make the sentence as relevant as possible.

6.) Use as many variations of your link's surrounding content as possible so the search engines don't view your inbound links as duplicate content.

Step 2: Link Like the Pros (Part 2; Do It)

As far as actually getting great links, avoid the automated script based reciprocal link services. A lot of these services link your pages to "gray barred" pages, which means your site can get kicked off Google as well. And to be honest, reciprocal links are not nearly as valuable to Google as they once were, especially the junk link pages most of these services create.

If you want the "set it and forget it" convenience of a linking service, but not the problems I just mentioned, you might want to try one like . Although I'm not a fan of any linking service, this one is the best I've come across so far. They set it up so your page links to another, which links to a third, which links to you. There is no direct reciprocal beeline back to your page and each link is counted as a one way inbound link by Google, which is the most valuable type of link.

Of course, natural linking is the way to go whenever possible. Google LOVES links that are part of page content (see the anchor text notes above.) And getting great links like this is easier than ever with the right software so don't sweat the time or effort. Both are minimal.

The product a lot of SEO pros use (myself included) is SEO Elite . It works great as both a full function link building tool and ranking checker for all major search engines. Even if you don't need the app, take advantage of the free videos on the site. They explain special linking considerations, like special reserved commands such as "allinanchor" and how to find Google "Authority sites." You can still benefit from the information, even without the tool.

Big Tip: When approaching other sites for links, try to get your link as anchor text in the actual page content, or a margin. Also do their link that way and explain the benefits and how much Google loves this type of natural content linking.

So there you have it; everything you need to get your pages on top of Google in record time. Best of luck. You'll do great!

About The Author

Mike Small is a ten year veteran SEO specialist with thousands of top search engine rankings to his credít. He is the author of seven SEO books and founder of .

Be Obvious. Be Simple. Be Smart: Tips for Designing a Stellar Website

You have the layout complete. The text is done. Let's Build! Wait. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row first before throwing up any old website. Stand out, be different, and showcase your product in a stellar setting. Check out these tips for designing a website that will quickly convert traffic to sales! Clean code with a crisp marketing message, coupled with a search engine friendly design might just knock the socks off any search engine that comes crawling your way.

Slappin' Ya in the Face Obvious

You'd be surprised by how many people say, "...but my phone number is right there!" ...But is it, really? Is your call to action on your website so pronounced that it practically hits your potential buyer-customer square between the eyes? If not, you might want to fix that. Studies show five seconds is all you've got to captivate your audience with a bright call to action, or a custom graphic to make it obvious. Hook, line and sinker them with a sheer cut, eye popping call to action! Whether it's a "Call Today", "Book It", or "Buy Now" - make sure the Pick ME cue is apparent and obvious to your target audience.


Get Ready to Rumble...

We're all human. Competition runs in our blood. Everyone wants to be first or "the best"... carry this attitude over to your website and you are sure to beat out your competition! Your website is your virtual store, and if you don't possess this thinking already, you need to. Invest in your website, as its seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week by potential clients all over the world. Be prepared and get educated, as a website is a terrible thing to waste. The good old days of tweaking things here and there and wham! ten placements, is over. Invest your time and hire a good SEO firm to help you market your business the right way.

Find out who's the hottest in your industry and make it a goal to beat them. With over 180 million searches on the web today, it is imperative to research keyword phrases that your competition is going after. What are their marketing tactics and are they working? Do they have an email campaign located on-site? What are their credentials? Does the website provide coupons, discounts or hot deals? It's the internet my fríend, the competition is steep and all bets are off. So, roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves, and get ready to rumble! Or, research an internet marketing firm that specializes in both search engine optimization and website design that can fight the battle for you.

Simple Simon Wins

Being a "Simpleton" ain't all that bad these days. Just because the world turns at record breaking speeds doesn't mean your website has to. Too much going on, whether there are words upon words, or graphics up the wazoo, can do more harm than good. Be cautious before slapping up just any old image or using too much text to get your point across. We all know that "Content is King!", but Optimized Content reigns supreme. By strategically placing the right keywords in your Title Tags, Meta Data Tags and throughout the body of your website, your business will benefit. Clean design, concise code, and fresh marketing ideas that are clear to the end user will help you get the leads and generate the desired sales you are looking for.

Optimize, Optimize, Optimize!

Search engine optimization... what's all the hype about!? Internet competition is booming - open your eyes and smell the code! If you have a beautiful website, but it's not've wasted your time and money. A well built website with search engine optimization in mind is a goldmine at your finger tips. What's the first step in optimization? Researching and determining a líst of keywords that will drive traffic to the site and convert into sales. Test out various keywords, find out what your competition is and let it ride. For the keywords that don't convert, bag 'em. Expand your focus to reach broad based keywords as well as long tail keyword phrases. The narrower the keyword is, the more likely the user will convert on your page.

Widgets are In

What is a widget? Widgets aid in the process of interacting with your target audience. When your potential customer/buyer installs your widget on their webpage, blog or social media networking profile - you wín a valuable fríend! Widgets provide a great way to strengthen the bond between your existing customers and any newbies who are interested in your product. Get new customers and provide a widget for them to interact with you. Personalization is "key". Almost anything can become a widget - from games to stock tickers or audio players - put your thinking caps on and give your customers the option!

Smarty Pants Always Test

This is true. Successful websites are successful because webmasters test their work. A great way to test your website to see if your design is working is through the A/B Split method. These tests run concurrently, at least for a couple of weeks to gain true results. A/B testing provides real world, data-driven, unbiased results based on your target market. There is now even an easy to use A/B Split testing program through the Google Website Optimizer tool! Check it out and win big. Go ahead - be a smarty pants... you know you want to!

Time to Analyze

Yes, folks - it's time to analyze. You might think the hard work is done, but it's now time to see if all your work has paid off successfully. You've created this gorgeous website perfectly equipped with clear calls to action, clean code and search engine friendly site architecture - now what? Let it ride and hope for the best? NO! Test, test and analyze your findings.

Does your hosting company provide a stats program? If so, fire that baby up and analyze what is working, what can be tossed out and what needs to be amped up. Focus on unique visitors, time on site, referrals, and what keyword phrases are driving the most targeted traffíc. A stat program is your fríend, NOT your enemy. Embrace your website's analytics and learn from them to tailor your website, your search engine optimization and your business model after this information. Google also has a free analytics program that involves placing a simple code before the </body> tag on pages you'd like to track. Fast, effective and proven.

If you are a "do-it-yourselfer", I hope these tips helped you with the marketing of your business. If you are too busy and are looking for a firm to handle both the building of your website and the marketing - research a good SEO firm . Count on a professional internet marketing company to shine through and get your hard work to pay off. Good luck!

About The Author

Sarah Lamansky is a Search Engine Marketing Manager at Mannix Marketing, Inc. in Glens Falls, NY. Please contact us for all of your search engine marketing, website design/development and advertising needs. With a positive approach, streamlined goals, and over Ten Years in the search engine optimization industry, We Get You Found On The Web AND improve your sales. For website tips, advertising ideas or a FREE search engine optimization quote, please contact us. Got ten minutes? Let's talk.

Does the Cutting Edge of Social Media Really Pay?

So someone asks you: "What's your Twitter name?" and you look at them like they are a loony. Twitter? Huh?

And then the next person asks you, "You blog, right? What's the URL?"

Hold it. What happened? In the seeming blink of an eye, suddenly there's all this new so-called 'social media' on the web, and you know nothing about it.

What's worse, is that everyone else seems to be there already. It's like you went to the bathroom, and when you came out, the party moved on, leaving you in a dark room with empty glasses all around you.

Time to drop everything and catch up with the party... quickly! Quickly!

And let's say you catch up with the party...

You've got your blog, your Twitter name, and all of those things. And no matter how fast you run with it all, it doesn't seem to be making much of a difference.

The world IS moving, you can't safely ignore it. And yet chasing after it isn't working. What to do?

Innovation is a no-no.

There is a teaching in Sufism that speaks against innovation. Well, not all innovation, and only in certain circumstances.

This is sometimes where people get the idea that Islam is anti-science or anti-progress. Not true.

In the twelth century, during Europe's 'dark ages,' Islamic culture had some of the most advanced universities, scientists, and doctors in the world, at the very cutting edge of modern technology. The problem with innovation is that it can feed on itself.

Innovation is forbidden when it becomes a false idol.

We've come to think about technology as 'computers' or 'science.' But, the word 'technology comes from the Greek 'tekhnologia' meaning, an interest in an 'art or craft' (Oxford American Dictionaries) .

The problem comes when someone studies technology for its own sake. For our personalities, our egos, the lure of 'newness' is strong. New sensations and learnings can encompass all of our attention, immerse us in the experience.

This can be a good, because immersion is a great way to learn. The problem with something like all the innovation happening in web technology, is that there is no defined 'end' point. There is no way to tell externally when you've done enough.

If you get caught in this loop, you can emerge months or years later, having totally lost track of the path you are on.

The irony is- people want connection.

The irony of web-based social media like blogs and Twitter is that it's coming out of the deeper hunger to connect to community, to love, to Source. Yet all of this innovation in the internet can leave you exhausted and isolated- even if you're good at it and like it.

As you may already know, that connection you're yearning for is in your heart, not Twitter. It's in the hearts of other people, not in the technology. If you forget that, you'll be lost. By remembering your true intention, then technology can be useful to you.

So do I blog and Twitter, or not?

Well, I'll give you a definitive answer: it depends. :) It depends on your business, and the hearts of the people you are trying to reach.

If you work with younger adults or teens, or with engineers or gadget geeks, then yes, you're going to want to meet them where they are, which is usually on the cutting edge of the latest toys.

If you don't, it may not be as critical. And, even if you suspect that a good portion of your audience is found in the 'blogosphere' as it's sometimes called, there's still no need to be so urgent about it.

How do you proceed? Well, take breath, connect to your heart, and let's take a look.

Keys to Technology

* Your current website and newsletter is not obsolete!

Don't panic and discard what you've got now. Just because all of this new stuff is out there doesn't mean what you already have isn't perfect for what you're doing. My bicycle is more than fifteen years old, and it gets me around just fine. And, if you haven't even gotten your website done yet, it's still more than worthwhile to finish.

* You don't need the latest, just adequate.

Unless your business is about social media and cutting-edge web technology, in which case you probably aren't even reading this article (hiya!), then forget about Twitter, Pownce, Digg, Stumble-Upon, for right now. You don't need anything but entry-level basic. Just start reading some blogs, without being in a rush. Here's a few to start with:

Dawud Miracle

Michael Martine

Adam Kayce

Heart of Business (my own)

* Set a 1-3 month 'safe zone' of learning.

As you begin to learn, tell yourself that you don't have to do anything about it for one to three months, that you are just going to learn. It will work even better if you find a friend or colleague who can give you an hour or three for a personal guided tour of this stuff.

This approach doesn't just apply to blogs, but it applies to most anything new you need to learn about your business. And, once you understand the basics, the more obscure pieces will come MUCH more quickly.

You might actually find yourself enjoying the technology. :)

With blogs and other social media, remember that technology is just a tool, and that the craft you are studying is not blogs. You are involved with the craft of connection, and you're just learning a new tool to do what you already know something about.

Don't let gurus rush you. Take a breath, and dip in. You may find that all of this innovation and technology can actually improve your connection to what you care about most.

The best to you and your business.

About The Author

Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How Money, Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your Bottom Line. He has helped hundreds of small business owners around the globe succeed in business without losing their hearts. Get three free chapters of the book online:

Do This and OWN Google's Top Spots!

Ranking well on Google takes two things, good content and great links. But it's not an even split. Because Google assumes only a page with good content would get great inbound links it puts about 70% of the importance for ranking on links and only about 30% on content. That little tidbit alone will put you head and shoulders above all those competitors still messing with META tags and spamming keywords. But if you want a huge advantage over the rest of your competition, keep reading. I'm about to show you how the pros do it and win every time.

Part 1: Perfect Your Anchor Text

So just what is anchor text and why is it important? Anchor text is the clickable word or words that make up the hyperlink. You've seen anchor text a million times (the underlined words that are typically blue.) Google figures any words special enough to be used as a guide in a link are extra valuable, which makes anchor text extremely important for you to use properly.

Just how powerful is anchor text? More than most people dream. Try an experiment. Go to Google and search for "clíck here" (without quotes.) The top match for years has been a page for Adobe Acrobat Reader. So does that Adobe page have "clíck here" copied 50 times in the text? No. In fact "clíck here" does not even appear on the page a single time! Does it have "clíck here" embedded in its META tags. No; again, not even once.

So how can it possibly rank number 1 on Google for a term it doesn't even reference? Because of the thousands of Webpages that use "clíck here" as the anchor text linking to Adobe's free download of Acrobat Reader.

By the way, did you happen to notice how many pages Adobe beat out for a term they didn't optimize themselves for? Almost Two Billion! So yes, I have to say anchor text is extremely powerful.

Part 2: Build Linking Consistency

Most people don't realize that even though and lead to the same Wikipedia homepage, they are seen as two different links by Google. Let's take it a step further. If you keep the "www" and lose the "http", you have another link that goes to the same place but is treated as unique by Google.

All that said; be as consistent as possible when requesting links. Find one format and stick to it. One hundred inbound links to the exact same URL is much better than 25 links each, using four different URLs that lead to the same place.

Part 3: PageRank Leads to Page Rank

Google's PageRank algorithm can make or break your search engine optimization efforts and plays a big part in your eventual Webpage rankings. So PageRank and page rank? Here's a tip to end the confusion. When you see the single word "PageRank" it is referring to a trademarked name that Google owns. PageRank is a unit of measurement that Google developed, and uses to determine the value of a Webpage. When you see the words "page rank" we are merely talking about how a Webpage ranks, or is positioned on a search engine for a given keyword.

So how does it work? A page with a GPR of 6 is considered very important by Google, while a page with a GPR of 0 is not so much. If you get links from pages with high GPRs, you will build your PageRank. If you get links from pages with no GPR, they can still help you but do not lend any additional PageRank credibility.

Higher GPR leads to more credibility with Google and possibly becoming what they consider to be an "authority" which can double your top placements, literally. To see what I mean, search for "cats" on Google (without quotes.) The number 1 match is and references furry little felines. The number 2 match is also from Wikipedia but is about a Broadway musical.

So what? Notice how that second match is indented? That means it was not meant to be number 2 and might have actually been number 10 or 16 or more. But since is what Google considers an authority, it get's little bumps like this. Pretty nice huh? And trust me, you don't have to be Wikipedia to become an authority. Everything you need is in this article. I've done it many times.

There are different ways to see a page's GPR. If you don't already have it, visit Google and download their "Google Toolbar." It will show you the GPR of any page on the Web.

Part 4: Use the Best Tools

Last but not least, SEO is like anything else, if you use the best tools for the job your results will be faster, better and longer lasting.

Back in the day, search engine optimization professionals and do it yourselfers had to do everything by hand. It took forever and one simple mistake could mean weeks of work down the drain. Today however, there are plenty of software tools to help get the job done in a fraction of the time. Just find the BEST one for what you want to accomplish.

For our particular needs, we're looking for an app than can help with linking and build our "authority" status and check ranking progress. Over the past six or so years I've used nearly a dozen pieces of software claiming to be the best. Some were pretty good. Others were a waste. The one I most often recommend to my SEO seminar students is SEO Elite because it gets fantastic results and is one of the most affordable options at $167.

Even if you're not ready for a tool, you might want to check out the above link and go through some of the video tutorials. They show you how to find "authority" link partners, get special insights on anchor text and how to best spy on your competition.

That's it for now. Good luck and keep at it!

About The Author

Michael Small is the founder of free SEO (search engine optimization) site and author of numerous search engine optimization books and whitepapers including the SEO Notebook .