Posts

Here is Why Now Is The Best Time To Be In The SEO Business

It seems like every time I check up on blogs someone is decrying the bygone days of search engine optimization as if it has been dead for years. This strikes me as more than strange. Granted, many of the old black hat techniques are certainly no longer viable. Google continues to create better and better algorithms to stop search engine spammers from ruining the web, and because of continual failure, many old school SEOs (myself included :-)) have hung up those black hats and decided to pursue something else.

But here is the reality. SEO is thriving! I might even go so far as to say it is in its prime. A number of key factors have come together very recently to cause a dramatic uptick in demand for SEO services. Among them are the following:

  • Paid search is becoming more and more popular and very expensive as an advertising method
  • Google is no longer shunning most SEO as black hat. The company is embracing it with guides, videos, and search engineers who now act as SEO evangelists
  • The complexity of paid search is almost on par with SEO
  • Serious investors are getting involved in SEO

 

Paid search is becoming more and more popular and very expensive as an advertising method Read more

Recording of the Inaugural RankSense SEO Webinar Now Available

On Friday, we organized the very first RankSense SEO webinar entitled Searching for Results. If you missed the webinar you can access a recording of the live event here

During this inaugural webinar, Hamlet covered several key SEO topics including:

  • Solutions to Common SEO Problems
  • Creating successful content
  • How to attract successful traffic
  • How to use the “Brand Hijacker” technique to attract visitors
  • A look at the concept of link opportunity
  • Viral Link Building
  • How to scale your SEO efforts
  • Hamlet’s SEO mind map

Read more

Us and Them: Why Smart SEOs Should Guarantee Results

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while—especially after following the contentious discussion in the comments of my last post. Rand Fishkin talks about why SEO firms should not guarantee rankings, and for the most part I agree with everything he says. But I am going to come down on the other side of the fence on this because it concerns a more profound issue that I feel most of us have been sweeping under the rug.

The problem is scammers who claim to be SEOs and who disrepute all of us with what they do. Wherever we draw the line between who is and who isn’t a “real SEO” is not important. There is no central authority or watchdog group that validates which SEO claims are true and which are false. But—and this is a big but—there is one way we can turn the tables. You guessed it: unlike scammers, we can guarantee our results.

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The SEO feasibility report: When SEO is a good idea and when it isn’t

This is a guest post by Paul Burani from Clicksharp Marketing, a very sharp search marketer I met in NY

In the search engine world, it’s easy to think in terms of black and white.  Some traffic you pay for, some you don’t.  There’s page one, and there’s everything else.  And of course we use the terms “black hat” and “white hat” SEO to differentiate the practices which push (or exceed) the limits of what is deemed acceptable by each search engine’s terms of service.

This view often creates a temptation to pursue Search Engine Optimization at all costs, when in fact it may be an ill-advised strategy.  What would lead a CEO, marketing manager, publisher or webmaster to make a dubious investment in SEO?  In many cases, this is based on the simplistic notion that clicks from Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising come at a significant price, whereas in organic search, they cost nothing.

The idea that SEO is free is patently false. Read more

Using pay-per-click guinea pigs: How to leverage PPC for more successful SEO campaigns

It happens to the best of us. You work on an SEO campaign with a few carefully chosen keywords for months. But when you finally get to the top of the search engine results…nothing. The traffic you expected doesn’t come in or, even worse, neither does the money. You start to wonder, “What went wrong? Is it that people don’t like the search snippet? Are they finding what they want on the website?”

It’s perhaps the most frustrating thing that can happen to an SEO. But it’s also something you can often avoid completely with a little planning. In this post I’m going to talk about a technique I like for using pay-per-click first to test out my SEO game plan. This way the next time you make it to the top of the search rankings, the traffic and money will start pouring in! Read more

Simple SEO: explaining and understanding SEO in the simplest way possible

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post here as I am extremely busy with RankSense. In selling an SEO software suite I answer a lot of technical questions, but, oddly enough, I feel I have become much better at explaining what SEO actually is. As SEO has become more mainstream, and more people are curious about what exactly it means, I think it’s important to find ways to explain SEO in simple terms. That’s exactly what I want to do in this post: simple SEO in terms of goals, strategies, and tactics. Read more

Link Mass: How to determine how much effort it takes to rank for any particular keyword phrase

Based on the emails and response I received for my contribution to the “Link Building Secrets” project, I know that I am not the only one that loves to use metrics to measure how close I am to my goals. Thanks to everyone for your emails and encouraging comments. In this post I want to reveal another useful metric I use for our internal and client projects.

When you check the backlinks of sites ranking for competitive keywords (terms with many search results) you see that those sites have a large number of links pointing to them. But if you count the links of the top ten (using Yahoo Site Explorer, as the rest of the backlink checkers are not very useful), you notice that the results at the top don’t necessarily have more links than the ones at the bottom. This is the case because each link carries a unique rank-boosting weight (real PageRank and other link-value factors in the case of Google) that contributes to the ranking of the page for that particular term. In order to simplify things, I like to refer to the combinations of positive and negative link value factors of a page as its Link Mass. Read more

How to Act Like an SEO Expert: Four mistakes to avoid when performing SEO experiments

In yesterday’s post I explained my creative process for uncovering new and interesting search marketing ideas. In this post I want to focus on the other critical element toward becoming an expert: endless experimentation. Of course testing must be done carefully to avoid arriving at the wrong conclusions, which will bring us to another of my favorite topics: human error.

As I like to do, let me explain my process with an actual example.

Last month there was an interesting post on SEOmoz about session IDs and HTTP cookies. In the post, Rand asserted that search engines don’t support cookies, and it’s therefore another alternative to controlling robot access to a site. Very clever; I don’t know how I didn’t think about that first! :-)

Well, in the comments, King questioned the validity of the original assumption that search engines don’t accept cookies. Here is what he had to say:

I’m not sure its [sic] really true that search engines (Google at least) don’t accept cookies. I recently (well 6 months ago) created a site that checks for cookies before allowing customers access to the shopping cart. If cookies are disabled it sends the user to a[n] info page on the topic Google indexed the actual shopping cart page perfectly well, they totally bypassed the “cookie info” page, and never indexed that at all. Cookie checking was done entirely via PHP code.

For a while I have assumed that Google does not support cookies, but the truth is that search engines are constantly being improved and have evolved over the years. For instance, years ago search engine crawlers did not follow links embedded in JavaScript, but recent experiments have proven that at least Google does follow the less intricate ones.

So, this was a perfect candidate for a simple experiment. Let’s confirm whether search engines accept cookies or not. As best I can, I like to follow the scientific method. Read more

How to Think Like an SEO Expert

If you want to become an expert you need to start thinking like one. People perceive you as an authority in your field not because you claim you are, but by listening to what you say or reading what you write. From my personal experience, the key seems to be the originality, usefulness and depth of what you have to share. Recently I was very honored to contribute to a link-building project. I wanted to share with you my idea, but more than that, in this blog I like to take extra time to explain the original thought process that helped me come up with the idea in the first place.

The Challenge

Toolbar PageRank was a very important factor in measuring the quality of a link for a long while. But Google has played so much with it that it can hardly be considered reliable these days. I like to see problems like these as challenges and opportunities, so I decided to look hard for alternatives. I know there are several other methods (like using the Yahoo backlink count, number of indexed pages, etc.) but I did not feel these directly reflected how the link was important to Google, or to any other specific search engine. Each search engine has its own evaluation criteria when it comes to links, so using metrics from one to measure another is not a reliable gauge in my opinion.

I knew the answer was out there, and I knew just where to look. Read more

My SMX West Experience and Pitching the Business Value of SEO

I haven’t been blogging as often as usual lately and it’s about time I get back on track. I attended my first search marketing conference last week. I do not consider myself much of a conference-goer and I am not really much of an extrovert. Previously, I’d been to only two conferences—JavaOne in 2003, but that was before I fell in love with Python and had the team port all the server-side code to Python/Django—and LISA ’04 (Large Installation System Administration), a conference for Linux/Unix system administrators. I was tempted to go to one of the webmaster conferences, too, but I never saw much benefit in sharing tips and techniques with potential competitors. That was before I started blogging and began to understand the value of sharing, building authority and trust. Boy, after going to SMX West, I realize I have so much catching up to do in terms of networking!

This conference was particularly important for me because I wanted to use SMX West to help launch our flagship product, RankSense. We have worked on the software for more than three years (including several months of beta testing) and I think SMX was the just the right place for its debut. The first day I had to work with my team in final preparations for the booth, and the other two days I ended up staying on to answer questions and speak with guests, so I was not able to attend all the conference sessions. But I met a lot of wonderful people with whom I have exchanged emails, phone calls or instant messages, or whose quality work I simply enjoy online. Thanks to all of you, the conference was big success.

Although I was not able to attend the sessions, which from what I heard were extremely helpful, I did learn something very important. While I began by explaining the value of RankSense to people visiting the booth, on many occasions I had to back up and explain the value of SEO. Many folks I spoke with were unfamiliar with organic SEO because they primarily did pay-per-click (PPC) or were completely new to search marketing (some were coming from email marketing or other online marketing disciplines). I learned to perfect a pitch that worked very well, and I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you.

Here is how I explained the business value of SEO… Read more