Q & A Open Thread

Nov 17th

Feel free to ask any SEO or internet marketing related questions and I will try to answer them below.

I prefer to answer broader industry questions than site specific questions. It can take a day to do a strong site review, and I could miss a lot of things that are wrong if I give your site a 5 minute once over.

Questions like "I have a new site and want to know where to start with link building" are better than comments "please review everything about my site". Also I can't guarantee that I can do anything to get your site unpenalized by Google if you were recently penalized.

[Update: I just closed this thread after a few hundred comments, so I have time to write more new posts.]

Published: November 17, 2007

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Comments

November 17, 2007 - 10:01am

Hi Aaron,

I've been having loads of problems with Google properly ranking one of my older sites since it was basically created. The domain was put into use July of 2004 and has a thriving Blog and Forum on it. The forum is pretty big, 26k threads, 414k posts and active. The blog has had articles featured on Digg's main page (in fact have one on there right this second) and Propeller through it's life. All the content was highly related to the topic, Ford Mustangs. It seems like no matter what I do nothing improves my rankings. My Google webmaster area says I rank 380th for Mustang, 96 for Mustang Forums and doesn't even list many of the other popular keywords that a Mustang site should rank for.

I've filed for a reconsideration but honestly have no idea what to tell them. I don't use spam techniques and all the content is on target. Webmaster tools says I have 50k links to my main page and many blog posts with 200+ links from the Diggs. I've even been featured on popular blogs like Autoblog more times than I can account. It's very discouraging to see Google treat us the way they have.

You can see screen shots here: http://www.brent-wilson.com/archives/3/. I have also talked to others who have authority sites such as Kathy from Hystersisters.com who has been having lots of problems with Google lately.

I'm not sure what to do right now as I am losing lots of traffic because of this. It's very discouraging. I hope this doesn't break any of your rules and I have hesitated to try to ask personal questions but I've got to the point where it's just getting discouraging to know that nothing I am doing or will ever do, it seems, will help me improve in Google.

November 17, 2007 - 10:57am

Hi Brent
If you want to move yourself up the value chain then a large part of that is perception, and AdSense top and to the left on the homepage is no good. Without even having any idea of your revenues I think AdSense top and to the left on the homepage scares off more users than it makes in revenues. And that ad placement might be hurting your ability for Google to consider your site a quality site. If you were ever hand penalized that penalty will likely stay as long as the site has that aggressive ad placement.

The homepage should be an advertisement for the site. Look at the SEO Book homepage. See how it guides people around the site? You want to do that. Sell the site.

After you get enough authority to rank you where you want to then you might want to get more aggressive with the ad placement, but not right now if you are trying to gain authority and rank for the shorter phrases.

There are only so many quality links you can buy / rent / get, and that nasty ad placement is probably costing you many of the in community links that you would need to compete better for the core shorter phrases.

Are you still ranking well for the longer keywords? Compete.com shows 51 keywords for your site, which seems low given that it is a large forum. And your site is not ranking for many of the terms it was ranking for on the last crawl by SEO Digger.

On internal pages I have to scroll an entire page before I get to any content, which to me seems like overkill with the ad placement. If you want ads top and to the left try some of the 160 by 600 adsense ads and float the forum right of them.

BTW...if you are a forum you need to compete against the other forums before you can beat out everyone for the broadest industry terms. My plan would require short term pain before getting rewards, but I would look at my Google traffic trends and crawling patterns and try to figure out if I was penalized or just lack authority. From there, if you were penalized I would...

  • redesign the homepage to feature the site
  • kill the aggressive AdSense ad placement, kill the paid links, and request a site review at Google Webmaster central
  • put forums in my business name (at least temporarily) to be able to get anchor text with Mustang Forums in it when building links
  • make it obvious where people are in the site...make the blog part look like a blog
  • build links with the hope to rank for Mustang forums or Mustang forum or Mustang community, etc. in 3 to 6 months
  • go from there
November 17, 2007 - 11:37am

Thanks for the feedback Aaron. I'll see what I can do to dig into whether I have been penalized or not. I'd really hate to give up my ad location for the chance that it was Google who hand penalized me for it as the ads perform really well. I get 12-20 google referrals a day so even the really long search terms aren't doing anything for me.

November 17, 2007 - 12:30pm

If you are only getting 20 referrals a day with a forum that old then they most likely penalized your site.

I think some of your competitors are probably getting 1,000+ Google referrals a day, so lowering CPM may not lower your revenues. Look here to see what I mean.

November 17, 2007 - 2:54pm

Looks like you been penalized by Google for SpeedLinking.

Now how to get out of the speed trap, is another question.

Maybe Aaron has some suggetions, but I would not be intentionally Digging for a while.

November 18, 2007 - 12:16am

It is hard to say if the issue is just algorithmic or algorithmic plus editorial. My guess is that if this site got flagged for manual review it would not have passed.

November 17, 2007 - 12:03pm

Hello Aaron,

Would love to hear your thoughts on marketing a 300 Acre Tennessee Mountain Retreat - http://www.sugarhollowretreat.com is the link. The company targets large groups such as corporate retreats, church retreats, family reunions, weddings, etc...

We are redesigning the site, so any recommendations would be great to include in the redesign and later promotion of the site.

November 17, 2007 - 12:35pm

A natural mountain retreat does not pull me in. I think if you are a retreat you really have to stand for something. Like give me more about natural mountain or give me another angle.

The two column design confuses me. The link colors do not pop. In fact, it makes it look like there are no links in the content.

Pull up the section about who the retreats are for. Look at where most of your business comes from. Aim to depreciate some of the lower value ones while actively speaking to your top market or top few markets on your homepage. Compare how your homepage calls out to people to how well Dan Thies does it here. Your site should be more aesthetically pleasing than his (you are selling a getaway, etc.) but you should still call out to your core markets.

Also use some bulleted lists, subheaders, and other formatting elements to help break up your content.

November 17, 2007 - 12:38pm

Hi Aaron,
I'm just wondering if there is much SEO value in the Yahoo Directory (still recommended by Google I think?)and Business.com listings anymore? I get no traffic from them, although I do rank no. 1 on Yahoo for my main keyword - skiing holidays - although I get little traffic from Yahoo.
My site chalet1802.co.uk has around 6000 links mainly from directories with some press release, articles and social bookmarking thrown into the mix.
Are the Business.com and Yahoo Directory links worth it just for the trust/authority alone - ie. 2 trusted links enable me to acquire 1000/2000 weaker links - or would I be better off spending the money ($500 a year?) elsewhere?

November 17, 2007 - 12:59pm

I like to have a mix of links. So if you already have lots of weaker links then go for the Yahoo! Directory and Business.com links.

With Yahoo! make sure you pick a category that is relevant to you with a limited amount of competition such that you end up on the first page of your directory category page.

If my site does not make it to the first page of the category sometimes I even sponsor the category until my site's authority grows. I think the first page counts a bunch more, plus you might get some clickthroughs to help offset the additional sponsoring costs.

November 17, 2007 - 12:38pm

Hi Aaron

I'm glad you had an open session this morning. A subdomain on our site seems to have been hit by a Google penalty. About 3 weeks ago, Google referrals to the site dropped off almost completely where previously it had been the primary source of traffic for us.

I can't understand the reason for this. We've had no problems or penalties in the past, and I don't think we've violated any webmaster guidelines. The subdomain is music.unrealitytv.co.uk.

Any feedback gratefully received!!!

November 17, 2007 - 1:09pm

Aaron,

Since you've made the move to adding videos to your website as part of your long term marketing strategy I was wondering what Video software you use to create your videos and if you'd recommend using it.

November 17, 2007 - 1:15pm

I use Camtasia to create screen capture videos.

November 17, 2007 - 1:13pm

Hi GerryBot
Not sure if this is everything, but it is a start.

You have lots of duplicate content related issues with your site. Duplicate page titles, date based archives, author archives, tag archives, category archives, etc. getting indexed.

You should get category pages indexed, but you probably do not want to get all the date based archives indexed. Also, if you have a category page named concerts then you don't need a tags page by the same name...or the other way around...either way is fine, but pick one.

Amongst those issues, you also have a canonical URL issue with Google indexing some of the contents at www. yoursubdoman . yourdomain .com and yoursubodmain.yourdomainname.com.

November 17, 2007 - 1:23pm

Thanks Aaron

On duplicate content, would you recommend removing the date based archives (for instance), or leaving them there and using robots.txt to do a noindex on those types of page?

Also, presumably a bit of .htaccess magic will sort out the canonical url issue?

November 17, 2007 - 1:32pm

On the duplicate content issue stuff I would recommend using robots.txt to block it from getting indexed or using link nofollows to not pass it much link equity. Caution: please do not accidentally just block all URLs with dates in them if you have dates as part of all of your blog URLs.

Also look at things where you have page# too. There is probably a workaround to that issue by like adding more posts to each page to create less of the urls that are like page/2/ page/3/ and whatnot.

Yup... .htaccess should work, but make sure you save your current file before editing it.

November 17, 2007 - 1:47pm

Hi Aaron,

I have been reading your blog for the past year or so and read your book (easily the best SEO resource i have come across) but have just registered on the site today.

Anyway, i have an Irish region based Alternative Health site www.alternative-health.ie which is up and running about 5 months now. The google.ie hits are slowly starting to increase, not too much competition in Ireland.

I read your first reply on this thread about not placing google adds too aggressivly on your homepage as google might penalize you. I dont make much off it at the moment and the only reason i put it up was because i thought google would push my site more when i had the adds on. Would you recommend removing them from the site completely until i get more established?

Any other feedback on the site would be great!!

Thanks

November 17, 2007 - 11:19pm

Hi Ronan
I don't think Google wants to penalize sites for user their ads. They want to penalize sites that look like they have no purpose other than Google ads.

Your ads are not placed very aggressively. The other site I reviewed literally required scrolling about an entire screen before getting to the content. That scroll a whole screen style turns off many users and that means many people who would have contributed content or linked at the site do not.

Your site does not suffer from that issue though.

November 17, 2007 - 1:45pm

I'm relatively new to AdWords, and I have one account. From that account, I am running campaigns for several clients.

If more than one client bids on the same keyword (columbus ohio new homes) then wouldn't the best approach to be to have an separate account for each of them?

November 17, 2007 - 11:15pm

Hi Rsquared
What you need to do is set up an account for each client and then connect them through your AdWords My Client Center.

This will also make your accounting far easier.

November 20, 2007 - 2:48am

Hi Rsquared, Aaron,

Sorry, but the first thing you should do is to tell your newest client to look for another SEM Agency, based on the fact you don't think it's a good practice do keep two clients bidding on the same keyword. Isn't it odd to know how many those two competitors (they are, keep this in mind) are bidding, what they CTRs are, if they are using broad mach, exact, and what negative keywords they are using? What do you feel they would think if they knew you have all this information about their competitors?

Have you ever seen an offline Marketing Agency keeping accounts of two competitors? Like GM and Ford? No, once you have a car account, you're closed to another car account. That's known, in Brasil, as something like "conflict of interest" - I think you're are famliar with this concept in US too.

So, my advice as an SEM professional is to create a fair relationship with your clients, with no conflict of interests. No matter you loose a client now, you will find two new clients as soon as you deserve it.

Sorry about the poor English.
Regards,
apieve

November 20, 2007 - 3:55am

Hi Apieve
In some cases that might be true, but some merchants do not have a budget large enough to buy exclusive service rights.

Also, in some cases an SEM might run geotargeted campaigns where are clients benefit from the efficiencies of the vertical knowledge gained by the marketer, but do not compete against each other even if they are bidding on the same keywords.

November 17, 2007 - 2:11pm

Hi Aaron,

I am trying my first attempt at a blog (Wordpress) and with SEO. I installed the SEO All in One plugin. Do you think it is a helpful plugin and how would you recommend to configure the titles? I have each title (post, page, category, archive, etc..) with the title | Blog name currently

I still need to do proper keyword research (your tools section is awesome BTW!) and initially I just took a stab in the dark at a few keywords. I've been doing keyword searches in google for the individual posts and I'm starting to see my posts in the top 100 for the main keywords (slowly making progress). I also want to focus on overall SEO and main keywords.

Also, when you write a post do you have specific keywords in mind that you are writing the post for? I'm trying to do that as well to reach a larger audience with some specific long tail keywords.

Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions! My blog is http://lastminutecaribbeandeals.com

John

November 17, 2007 - 11:22pm

Hi John
I have not used that plugin yet, but think it was created by a smart fellow, so I think it is probably pretty good stuff.

Many posts have keyword ideas in them when I post, but some of them are just focused on stuff I want to write about. As your blog gains in authority in a saturated market the game of optimization not only includes looking at keyword stuff, but also trying to ensure you have some unique content and a unique user experience that reflects your personality or the personality of your website.

November 17, 2007 - 11:55pm

You need the HeadSpace2 plugin from Urban Giraffe. It's been around for several years, is consistently updated, does Title element , Description Meta and a BUNCH of other stuff.

The Seo plugin is good but only does the title element.

November 17, 2007 - 2:13pm

Hey Aaron,

I am building alot of sites (100+) using the same site architecture and design. The sites target similar, but unrelated users (think one type of career compared to another - so like laywers, doctors, teachers, etc.) I didn't go with 1 site because of the value of the sites individual domains to brand the sites, and, in reality the users of 1 site will not care about content on any other sites.

The sites will not contain duplicate content except for the underlying page design and site architecture. And the sites will NOT link together (so they are not a link network).

What possible problems (if any) do you foresee with these in terms of how the search engines may rank the sites for their individual target keywords?

Thanks a bunch!

November 17, 2007 - 11:26pm

Two three issues I see Shawn

  • It is hard to build 100 brands unless you have a lot of workers. You need to make sure that the channels that are the most profitable get a disproportionate amount of attention.
  • Eventually you are going to end up recycling many of your link sources. Do your best to mix up some of them if you can by getting at least a couple quality industry specific links for each site.
  • If search engines come across one of your sites and do not like it they can use the site structure to find the other related sites. If they view the 100 site setup as spam you can lose the 100 sites in a single day.
StevenInc
November 17, 2007 - 2:16pm

Hi Aaron,
I am creating a new site with randomly selected images for the home page. This means that the image names will be changing for each visitor. What are the SEO implications for do this.

Thank you.
S Benjamin

November 17, 2007 - 11:29pm

Hi Steven
If the image links to other pages and the image alt tag also rotates then it might matter, but most likely this will have minimal SEO implications.

November 17, 2007 - 2:28pm

Hi Araon,

Great website and blog contents!

Quick question: I found uncoverthenet.com is listed in your SEO book (the latest version) as a directory to submit websites. As far as I know, that site was "penalized" by Google recently. Can you comment on that as well as the "penalized directories" in general?

Thanks!

November 17, 2007 - 11:38pm

Hi Neotec
I think you are right, but I also think UTN spent a lot of money on advertising, so their submission price might be justified just for direct traffic and link equity from Yahoo! and MSN.

I would probably focus on submitting to some of the directories that were not penalized by Google first.

November 17, 2007 - 2:29pm

Hi Aaron,

I recently purchased a domain which is in 1st position in google for a fishing related phrase. It gets about 6000+ unique visitors each month. Although the website is in 1st position, its name is very low quality (a generic name which has already been closely copied by the competition) and the website construction itself is low quality.

I’ve therefore decided that the best idea is to buy a new domain and build a completely new website. But what should I do with the old domain?

Option 1) Leave the old website live. Put links on it to my new website/domain.

Option 2) Put the new website on the old domain for a few months and then do a 301 site wide redirect to the new site/domain.

Any advice or tips for me?

Thanks for this opportunity - I really appreciate it.

Sam

November 17, 2007 - 11:41pm

Hi Sam
301's typically work fine, but you don't want to risk something you can't afford losing.

If you have a high risk tolerance you might want to 301 the old domain to the new one... in the process of doing so, make sure you 301 all useful pages to equivalent pages on the new site.

If your risk tolerance is low maybe you can list your new site as the credit on the old site for a while and just use advertising to drive the traffic stream over to the new site.

November 19, 2007 - 5:31pm

If there is a reasonable chance that I can 301 the site and keep my number 1 position then I think I'll go for it and take the risk.

Thanks for your help!!

Sam

November 20, 2007 - 1:05am

Hi Sam
I think there is a pretty good chance it will work. But keep in mind that you want to redirect all URLs that have decent link equity, don't just redirect the homepage.

November 17, 2007 - 2:32pm

Hi Aaron,
Thanks so much for bringing up the algorithmic value of the exact match domain. I have tried this twice and it worked well.
But now I am facing bit of a problem acquring the exact match .com domain. These days domainers are pretty aggressive about picking up every conceivable keyword domain. (For instance, try even a difficult one -
methicillinresistantstaphylococcusaureus -and you won't get this with .com)
1) Do you think .org might be a good idea if one can choose from .net and .org ?
2) Any problem with .org if you are not a bonafide organization? (Problems like a need for some proof in the future or domain taken away for lack of it)
Thanks.

November 17, 2007 - 11:43pm

Yes I still think you get the exact match benefit. And I am a big fan of .org.

November 17, 2007 - 2:50pm

Aaron,

How do I block all spiders not just Google from accessing my trackback pages on my WordPress blog?

Here is my current txt file on RentVine.com:

User-agent: ia_archiver
Disallow: /

User-agent: ia_archiver/1.6
Disallow: /

# Anc, WordPress, Admin, Map
User-agent: *
Disallow: /anc/privacy.cfm
Disallow: /vacancy/privacy.cfm
Disallow: /anc/termsofuse.cfm
Disallow: /blog/wp-admin/
Disallow: /blog/index.php/feed/
Disallow: /blog/index.php/page/
Disallow: /blog/index.php/2006/
Disallow: /blog/index.php/2007/
Disallow: /admincrud/
Disallow: /map/privacy.cfm
Disallow: /map/termsofuse.cfm
Disallow: /map/admincrud/
Disallow: /map/mapvine-core.cfm
Disallow: /map/mapvine-core-lg.cfm

# To validate leave blank line below

November 17, 2007 - 11:55pm

I think I use this stuff in my robots.txt files for Wordpress

User-agent: *
Disallow: /*?p=
Disallow: /*?q=
Disallow: /*trackback
Disallow: /*feed
Disallow: /*wp-login

The q stuff prevents your search query pages from getting indexed. The p stuff prevents alternate versions of your post URLs from getting indexed. Only use that P part if your main post URLs do not have p= in them.

Trackback, feed, and wp-login block the associated pages.

November 17, 2007 - 3:55pm

Hey Aaron

My site www.fotoviva.co.uk has slowly built a decent ranking with google uk for our keywords (can't seem to get on page 1 for our most competitive 'canvas art' yet tho!) - but we're getting no traffic from yahoo or msn.

Is there something we could focus on to help improve that without denting the google rankings?

The site is nearly a year old but has only been seo'd around 9 months. Maybe it will just take more time?

Thanks

November 18, 2007 - 12:14am

Hi Bill
I think what you are seeing is

  • Google has an extreme majority of UK search traffic.
  • Your URL structure and some duplicate content issues might be hurting Yahoo!'s crawling depth.
  • Yahoo is indexing these lower value popups that are bleeding away your link equity. You either want to not link to those directly or block their indexing using onpage noindex or robots.txt disallow.
  • Using the website health check tool, I also saw that all these link.asp pages have duplicate page titles...which is bad, too.
  • I didn't look through your link stuff yet because that can take quite a while to evaluate. Make sure you have some diverse anchor text and diverse link sources.
November 17, 2007 - 4:04pm

Hi Aaron

Thanks for this free for all session.

We've had a '.com' site for a number of years for a UK business. Do you think that a '.co.uk' would achieve any improvement in ranking on the UK version of Google?

Search engine's lust to provide local results, but might the '.com' create a small smokescreen as the country of origin?

Best wishes

Dave

November 18, 2007 - 12:00am

Hi Dave
If the .com has a lot of history behind it and already ranks well then I would probably be more inclined to change the host country to the .uk than to change URLs.

If you don't think it ranks as well as it should you can try 301 redirecting. If you are afraid to risk the whole site you could move one folder first and see if it ranks, and if it does rank well perhaps move the rest of the site.

November 18, 2007 - 11:30am

Thanks Aaron. I really appreciate your time.

Hope you and the Mrs have a great future ahead of you.

Best wishes

Dave

November 17, 2007 - 4:28pm

Hi Aaron

I've really enjoyed reading your SEOBook, and have linked back to it from my Blog.

I have a question with regard to duplicate content. I have several domain names that all point to one of my web hosting business sites. The domain names don't relate to the site itself, they're just parked on top of it where the domain owner just wants e-mail access and so I pick up any traffic to thier web address.

Is this bad duplicate content from Google's point of view? I'm concerned now that Google will see several identical sites just because I have a bunch of domain names all pointing at the same physical site. They're all currently in Google's index.

What do you suggest?

Kind regards,
Tim Skipper

November 18, 2007 - 12:18am

Hi Tim
I probably would not do that. If you see the content getting indexed on multiple URLs then you have a problem. Until then you might not have one, but you never know when one can pop up.

November 17, 2007 - 4:56pm

Hi Aaron and blog friends,

My site is dedicated to raising money for children's charities using affiliate links and adwords as the source of revenue generation. Even though affiliate sites were pounded a while back, Google (seems) to not hate my site, as the rankings for keywords are improving, and traffic is improving.

My dilemna is that people are not "converting". As I work on the site at night as a volunteer (after putting my own children in bed!) I have limited time to make significant immediate improvements, but am lost as to how to make this model work. I know igive.com is working, and they take a nice cut for themselves. Why would the public not use a site that gives everything to charity? Is the alphabetical listing model (with the donation amounts for each purchase made) a terrible approach, or should I start from scratch with a page for each merchant, product, etc..like I've been reading to target the niches?

With the holiday season here, any advice, help, guidance, etc. from you, your collegues, and post members is truly apprecated.

November 18, 2007 - 12:24am

You need to editorialize the merchants. Break them down by categories, not just alphabet organization.

  • Sites offering the biggest donation rebates
  • Deal of the day
  • Consumer Electronics, Toys, Clothes, etc.
  • Gifts for wife, Dad, Grandma, Mom, Gandpa, etc.

Another option to help market it is to tie up with a strong charity and get them to market it.

November 17, 2007 - 5:03pm

Hi Aaron,

I'm a little confused with one of my sites I redesigned - www.nicerink.com - we used to rank #1 for "backyard ice rinks" and now we're somewhere buried on pg. 8. The home page still gets a PR of 6 from the Google Toolbar. Just wondering if you notice anything glaringly wrong with the page that would cause it to get dinged so bad.

Thanks in advance,
-Kevin

PS - Great books...I just got it last week and am starting to work my way through it! :)

November 18, 2007 - 12:31am

Hi Kevin
PR6 should be plenty enough to rank for that query. My suggestion would be to look at your anchor text and see how mixed up it is. If you don't have any relevant anchor text consider adding some. If you have too much relevant anchor text try to build some non-optimized anchor text. for example

  • NiceRink
  • NiceRink.com
  • Nice Rink

If you feel keyword focus is an issue you may also consider de-optimizing the homepage page title by putting filler words at the start or changing the word order of it. for example

  • Buy the Best backyard ice rinks...
  • An Ice Rink in Your Back Yard? Yes You Can...Here's How

Also, many of your product level pages start off with back yard ice rink. Try to mix those up too. There has to be a wide number of ways to say that without using that exact phrase.

November 17, 2007 - 5:11pm

Can you tell us what do you think about paid links? What about text-link-ads.com, reviewme.com, payperpost.com. Do you consider them as good value comparing to other time consuming and expensive ways of link building?

Is it too risky to rely on paid link building?

Thanks for answer.

November 18, 2007 - 12:55am

I like links that I think can lead to indirect links. And I like brand exposure in widespread related channels. That is why I came up with the ReviewMe idea.

Generally with paid links I think it is best if they comprise a small portion of your link authority, and are offset with organic links and directory links and a bunch of other link sources. I also usually prefer independent link sources rather than links from link networks.

  • If the only way you can get links is by buying them it is hard to have a long-term sustainable advantage because
  • It is a technique that is easy for anyone to clone
    stronger more organic competitors can clone your strategy with less risk of getting caught up in a paid links algorithm or hand edit
November 17, 2007 - 5:18pm

Hi Aaron,

First off. I find your blog/book super helpful. Okay, so now my background and question.

I am a student at Purdue but I manage the online marketing for my Martial Arts school up in Minnesota. I will be re-doing the website once I graduate here in December since I actually made it in a night before I went to study abroad. The website is at Kuk Sool Won of St Paul, and I also write the Wordpress blog at Kuk Sool Blog. I actually did an Internship at TopRank with Lee Odden this last summer which got me really interested in this stuff. I actually rank really well for all the keywords I am targeting like "Martial Arts st paul" and "Martial arts twin cities" but I barely get any traffic. I just need a lot more local search traffic and what I am doing is not producing enough. I feel getting Local traffic is really tough.

So my two questions are:

1. What should I do Local SEO and SEM wise to get more local traffic to my site? Should I find new keywords to optimize for? I just need more traffic to our site from the Twin Cities Area in MN.

2. I will be redesigning the site here this coming January and December and what specifics should I keep in mind when designing the site SEO wise to rank higher and get more visitors. * The site looks pretty bad right now, it will look 200 times better as I did this site when I was a sophomore and now I am graduating. I have my portfolio here maxkpage.com

Thanks Aaron!

November 18, 2007 - 12:59am

Hi Max
I think if volume is low you can't just create volume unless you build a brand that people are talking about.

A few solutions I can think of

  • Offline marketing and business partnerships and local media exposure can help increase local demand.
  • Bid in a wide array of keywords at Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Create geo-targeted campaigns with generic related phrases and create other campaigns that use locations as modifiers. Go a bit broad and track conversions...see if there are any other terms you are missing.
  • Consider selling training to go products like DVDs so that you can also sell to people outside of the local market.
  • Build a world class brand that is searched for all over the world... that one is hard, but doable if you are passionate and ambitious.
November 18, 2007 - 7:02am

Thanks a lot Aaron. I know I need to do offline marketing to really jumpstart this thing. Thanks for the input. It really helps.

November 18, 2007 - 10:24pm

Just an FYI, I have been doing SEO localization work for a criminal defense law firm here in Minneapolis, MN for the past year with excellent results. It's not that hard..it's all in the MN modifiers and your CPC campaigns that make all the difference. Not to mention PR links and such.

scott@zoselandcompany.com

November 17, 2007 - 7:38pm

Hi Aaron

Thank you for starting this thread and giving your time to answering these questions. Here is mine.

We manage a country specific Hotel/Accommodation/Travel portal. There are 3 major players/websites in this market that have been going since 1999 and about 10 slightly smaller ones that have also been around for a number of years. Here's the thing... there are about 400 new sites that entered the market in the last 18 months, all of which are making inroads into the rankings with varying success.

My question is this: We are all advertising almost the same hotels/accommodation providers. (I estimate from what I am seeing online that 80% of the hotels are all trying out the bulk of these new sites, especialy the "free" ones i.e. free for the first x number of months!).

We are quite specific with our site on how we lay out the texts and details but 9 times out of 10, the hotels insist that the text they provide be displayed as they have given it to us (and are giving to hundreds of other sites!!). We have an advantage obviously in that we have been around for 8 years so have built up trust with the SE's and our domain is well aged. BUT ... how do Google etc view these texts that appear on 400 sites? And these sites are also going to "age" and develop trust, so in the long term, where will that leave us?

Just to mention that we do change things a bit, mix it up, add our own headings, do grammar and spell checks (yes they sumbit some awfully written texts!) and generally improve the texts so they "flow" better for the reader. So our texts do differ slightly from the rest, but the gist of it is the same.

What is your opinion on how the search engines deal with this and what would you do if you were faced with the same situation?

I think this question may apply to other industries and certainly does apply to hotel and travel sites world wide so I have left out website and country details to keep it as a general interest question.

PS: This "duplication" of texts does not appear to have hurt us as yet, but you never know when things will change, which is why I worry about it and why I am asking you now, so that I can start to take some precautionary action.

Thanks again for your time.

November 18, 2007 - 1:48pm

Hi Christine
Most likely the newer sites will not outrank you unless they are far more focused on one area or have a far better marketing strategy than you do. I would work to add TripAdvisor type elements to my site to make it rich in consumer reviews.

November 17, 2007 - 7:44pm

Aaron,

You answered me when I emailed about this. However since I had such a hard time finding the answer before I emailed you, I want to get this question indexed :)

I have a Yahoo store. When you have a yahoo store you have a bit of a problem because if you want to add a lot of content, or use a blog you have to use their hosting, which can only live on a sub-domain.

So the store lives on example.com, and the blog lives on site.example.com/blog.

I think that you can also make the store live on a sub-domain, and have the blog be the main page.

What would be the best approach when crating a yahoo store?

Options are:

a) Blog on site.example.com/blog and store on example.com

b) Blog on example.com and store on store.example.com

c) Both blog and store on sub-domains, with a page on example.com to link to both.

Thanks for the input!!

~NickB

November 18, 2007 - 1:27am

Hi NickB
Deffinently not C, IMHO.

I generally do not like B either because it is easy to filter out the store subdomain if it is low authority and not well linked to from other sites outside of your site.

The two options I would consider are site.com/blog or making the homepage a blog. Which of these routes I chose would depend on how much effort I wanted to put into the blog, and if I thought I would do it well enough to compete with the leading competing editorial channels.

November 17, 2007 - 7:45pm

Since I bought/downloaded SEO Book a...LONG time ago. (Printed off the 100 or so pages I always use) Well wasn't sure where I stored it, and couldn't remember what I used for a user and password. I re-registered, and updated my profile. But the "new" password doesn't seem to work with the e-mail link to the "updates". Ideas?
Thanks
Denny

November 18, 2007 - 2:16am

Hi Denny
Please email me at seobook[at]gmail.com and I will try to get this fixed for you.

November 17, 2007 - 8:24pm

Hi Aaron,

Are you going to fix the "Competition Finder" tool that retrieves the InTitle & InAhchor numbers?

If you do fix it or rebuild it, is it possible to export the results to Excel somehow?

If you have no plans on fixing the tool, can you post some links to other tools that do about the same thing?

Thanks,
Dave.

November 18, 2007 - 2:18am

Hi Dave
I am actually surprised with how many people used this tool. Many have complained about it being broke and I am looking to get it fixed hopefully next week (or two at the latest). My programmer has been busy with a lot of stuff but I hope he has time to get around to this soon.

November 17, 2007 - 8:30pm

Your thoughts on Google penalties:

1) How can someone recover from the -950 a penalty

2) If a site ranks well for everything but pages in a specific /subdirectory/ of that site... what's the deal??? The pages in this specific /subfolder/ use to rank very well and are well written articles... no duplicate content. Is this a 30 day penalty for link building?? Something else??? Have you seen this???

3) Did the sandbox effect go away or I'm I getting better at the SEO game??? It seems like I can get some *new* sites to rank a lot faster than 2005 & 2006.

4) Your discussion with Matt C. was over a Google penalty... can you share any general information that might be helpful to others???

5) Does having too many adsense ads put up a red flag for Google??? Does it trip a spam filter??? If so what's a good number of adsense ads???

Thanks,

Stuart

November 18, 2007 - 2:16am

1) I think getting in community links helps. Also some pages are filtered for being too optimized for the query at hand. Mixing up anchor text, page title, and on page SEO can help bypass that if that is the issue. Also in some cases pages get scraped and a scraper is ranking for your stuff. Rotating the page title can help you combat that sort of stuff.

2) I have one site where a section of it is just flat out banned in Google. You might be experiencing a different type of penalty, but have a number of options here though. First look for obvious issues with that folder like duplicate content or page titles being too similar and fix those. If those were not an issue then put the content in a different folder and see how it ranks is one idea worth trying, and you could do it on a single article basis or move everything in the folder at once. You can also try redirecting some of the damaged pages in and see if the penalty follows along or not.

3) It is a bit easier than it used to be to rank new sites. That was one of the things that Eli highlighted when I interviewed him.

4) I think it was more of us talking through our perspectives rather than creating general guidelines to follow.

5) I think a site can fail hand inspection if it looks and feels like a MFA site. Also sites that are too aggressive with ads are less likely to be linked to from other quality websites.

November 17, 2007 - 8:37pm

Hi Aaron,
How do you decide what goes in your SEO Book, and what should be blogged about to the public?

November 18, 2007 - 2:01am

Hi Collin
As I write blog posts, read stuff, and gather algorithmic research from tracking search results I take notes of the most important stuff, and then when I do an update I pull out that list and try to include it all.

I blog about most everything related to web publishing and marketing that comes to mind, especially if I have a unique angle for it.

Some of the potential posts get saved as drafts and await me refining my thoughts or collecting more related references prior to publishing them.

November 17, 2007 - 8:47pm

Hey Aaron:

Thanks for the opportunity.

Where would you suggest a person market a blog or website for sale? I know of several reputable sites selling domain names but none for entire sites, etc. Also, where would you advise someone to look for site/blog valuation.

Thanks again,

Ed

November 18, 2007 - 1:58am

I think you just have to look around in your niche and do lots of research of what people are paying. Because complete sites usually sell for a decent amount and the site transfers are so complex (CMS issues, server issues, domain transfer issues, etc.) there is no large marketplace for them. Sitepoint might be a decent part to start though.

November 17, 2007 - 9:30pm

Hello Aaron,

I read your site quite frequently as it has great information!

My question is regarding traffic. I FEEL like I am doing a lot to try and generate traffic to both my site and my blog, but it doesn't seem to be getting me very far. Here are the links to my sites:
http://womensdietandfitness.com and http://womensdietandfitness.com/WDF

I don't seem to get any traffic from yahoo, but google seems to bring in some for me. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

November 18, 2007 - 1:10am

In a market that saturated it is hard to get in the game this late with an ebook salesletter type homepage. You probably want to feature the blog page on the homepage for at least 6 months if your goal is organic rankings in Google.

Right now on your site feedburner is only showing 1 RSS subscriber. It takes a while to build attention and authority. You probably want to participate in some of the more active blogs and forums in your community until your authority and mindshare increase. You might also want to consider advertising too.

After you get to a certain point it sorta becomes self-sustaining, but you have to put a lot of effort in to get there in such a competitive marketplace.

November 17, 2007 - 9:47pm

Hi Aaron,

This is a unique entry and generous offer. I hope you are not winded by now. :)

I make custom maps are have been had a site up for about 1 yr. I just started thinking about SEO and I believe I have done all of the major steps, but am frustrated at <30 hits a day, even though I spent ~$15 day on Google ads.

My holy-grail keyphrase is "custom mapping" and my site is www.geointel.com

Its unranked :(

Any tips? Thank you so much, Chris

November 18, 2007 - 1:06am

Hi Christen
I did not look at your on page stuff much because backlinks were an obvious issue. You need a much more diverse set of backlinks and some focused anchor text.

Also consider brochure map printing, and other keywords like that. Maybe partner up with some brochure companies and allow them to white label your offering as a part of their stuff until you improve your brand.

BTW there are lots of cool linkbait type ideas you can create using maps or series of maps. ... events like natural disasters, changes in electoral voting, the spread of religions or other ideas, etc. You might not get paid to make some of these, but if you make them free and market them well it may get you well enough known to where people link to your site and people want to pay for other stuff.

November 18, 2007 - 7:14am

All great points, thank you. I appreciate your insight and will implement your suggestions. Cheers!

November 17, 2007 - 11:25pm

Any chance you'd provide a list of domains that you feel have the strongest ability to rank for UGC profiles or pages. I'd love to hear which sites you think are valuable for reputation management.

November 18, 2007 - 12:42am

Hi Rand

  • I like Work.com a bunch. Part of that is because if your topic does really well it can get a cross promo on Business.com. Others pay $199 a year for a link, and you can put a half dozen in your article and pay a writer a one time fee of $199 or less.
  • Youtube is great given that Google owns it and is mixing it in universal search.
  • Wikipedia is wonderful if you can pull it, but people may edit that into a negative page, so there is a risk there too.
  • Since many popular bloggers are pushing Twitter right now that is probably quite effective, and on the upward slope. StumbleUpon is also heading in that same direction.
  • I have seen spam pages and regurgitated search results from newtworks like IGN and sites like Weather.com frank for competitive phrases. Easy to find the flavor of the moment stuff by just doing a few longtail searches in consumer finance or searching for things like buy Viagra.
  • Some of the everyone sit around and make content sites like eHow, Wikihow, and Associated Content do well. I actually found a real useful article from Associated Content in Google's SERPs just yesterday. :)
  • The QnA services like Yahoo! Answers are powerful.
  • Delicious is pretty easy to spam to flow link equity internally to a profile page that matches your brand name.
    I see a lot of Digg profiles in the serp, and see Redit ranking too, though typically not quite as well.
  • DomainTools has great authority, I also have seen Quantcast and Spyfu ranking better for URL like queries recently.
November 18, 2007 - 12:09am

Hi Aaron

Thanks for taking the time to share your valuable knowledge.

I'm in the process of building a new site and have a question regarding link building. How fast should I build inbound links? Should it be five a day, 100 a day, or even more? What is the threshold before I get put in the Google Sandbox?

I would like to simulate an organic growth curve, but have no idea about the numbers.

Thanks Again,

Dave

November 18, 2007 - 12:33am

Hi Dave
The rate of change and the quality of the links probably matter more than just the sheer number. Ideally your link growth rate should be at least flat or have an upward slope to it. New sites rarely start off getting 100 links a day.

November 18, 2007 - 12:34am

Always enjoy your posts... and gosh what a heck of an offer.

Background...
Over the last couple years I have been able to get my keywords to the front page of google. Typically I enjoy one of the top five spots for my targeted keywords.

I started with the approach of long tail words and then systematically built my site up to more industry and/or generic keywords. (I think I picked up from you.... :)

This approach has worked... but -

I am wondering how I can increase my traffic even more. Where do I go next and still stay in my niche? I know that my number one competitor is approximately 1.5 to 2 times bigger than me.

I just feel that I missing something big from a keyword standpoint in order for him to have that much more traffic than me.

So to make this more generic -
'How does one find the differentiator between two competing sites that would make a two fold difference in traffic? Any ideas? Wordtracker, yahoo search marketing, and your tools seem to point me to the same keywords that I am optimizing (or already optimized) for...

Thanks,
Michael
g r e e k f o r m e (dot) c o m

November 18, 2007 - 12:48am

Hi Michael
A few things to look for

  • Compete.com Search Analytics allows you to buy a comparison report and a report on the specific competing site. That can tell you where they are that you are not, at least in terms of keyword strategy and rankings. A few other competitive research tools also track organic rankings and paid search rankings.
  • Then you have to look at how well the on page optimization is done, how much content is on each page, and how many pages of content each site has.
  • Then you have to look at link quality and quantity. See what ideas and partnerships got them their best links. Try to think of something that someone in related markets is doing that you could do to gain you buzz, mindshare, brand afinity, and eventually rankings.
November 18, 2007 - 1:02am

Hi Aaron,

do you have an idea where I could find SEO-friendly website templates? some that are not using frames or anything else that's bad for SEO purposes design-wise?

thanks

November 18, 2007 - 1:13am

Hi Patrick
If you are using flat file HTML some of the stuff at OSWD should be able to help you. If you are using a content management system then search for "your CMS name" + words like templates, or themes, or etc.

Also with some CMS systems such as Wordpress there are SEO friendly plugins that you can find by searching for stuff like Wordpress SEO plugin.

November 18, 2007 - 1:24am

thanks Ill try OSWD for now.

November 18, 2007 - 1:24am

thanks Ill try OSWD for now.

November 18, 2007 - 1:39am

Aaron,
I fear I may not have the time to go back through the book and search for the answer to this question.

I will search for the answer for myself, but I thought it would be nice to have some pointers on "emergency" SEO. If indeed this question is of the "emergency" kind.

Anyway, I tested my URL in your "Website Health Check". It says I have tons of duplicate links. Is this bad? If so where should I start in my research?

-DealerISM

November 18, 2007 - 1:52am

Hi DealerISM
That tool shows the URLs that have the issues, so you just have to go to them and look at why you have duplicate content and work on fixing it...be it templating issues, content management issues, or anything else.

November 18, 2007 - 1:59am

Aaron,

Loved the book and appreciate a chance to ask these questions.

I am having a blog based website built with Movable Type 4.0. The site will have a static home page and several other information pages. The blog will be located here www.domain.com/blog

1. What duplicate content issues should I be aware of when using Movable Type to serve up my blog pages? How do I fix them? There is not alot written about Movable Type 4.0 and SEO. I think the pages of Movable Type are actually created instead of served up as Wordpress does, but not sure.

2. I am trying to rank for two keywords of the same type (Cash Flows) but uniquely independent of each other,(ex. Annuities & Structured Settlements)(not the actually KW's). I plan to write about the 2 keywords on the home page as well as have one a static page further describing each of my buying propositions for the particular keyword. I will write blog entries on subjects related to these keywords. When I create my page titles and Meta Descriptions for the static pages where do I put the focus for each keyword? The home page or their individual static pages? And how do I tie in the blog posts I created for the keyword content?

Thanks in Advance!

November 18, 2007 - 2:20am

Thanks Aaron for the opp to ask questions.

I have a client that is a criminal defense law firm. We have had excellent success generating leads through their website by optimizing for the keyphrases 'minnesota DUI attorney,' 'mn dwi attorney,' etc. My client can only market in MN and WI, so localization is key. We sometimes get leads from outsite MN and WI, and can do nothing with them.

When we originally did a wordtracker keyword search for those keyphrases, a number of localized terms surfaced ('minnesota DUI attorney,' 'mn dwi attorney,'. However, we are now expanding oour effots to optimize more pages for other practice areas. My wordtracker keyword research for terms like 'sex crimes' drug crimes, etc turned up many phrases but none of them localized with 'mn'.

Any suggestions? Will our localization setup in Google Webmaster tools help keep our searches limited to MN and WI? Or it here something else i can do.

Thanks you for your time. I'm a big fan..love your videos.

November 18, 2007 - 5:39am

I think this is the type of service where it does not hurt to set up some PPC campaigns and track what terms are leaders. Set up a campaign with the local modifiers in it, and then set up a second campaign that includes the broader phrases but is targeted to the local market using Geotargeting.

Also, some portion of the broader generic phrases are also going to happen with the localized modifiers. Maybe just assume that like .5% or something like that will add local modifiers to the queries and 5% of the people searching for the broader queries are actually local people.

November 18, 2007 - 2:25am

Hi Dave
I have not used MT4 so I can't tell you what duplicate content issues to look out for. One helpful tip would be to look for duplicate junk getting indexed by Google once your site starts getting indexed. My Website Health Check tool should help you do that.

Another tip is to place more emphasis on the category based archives than the date based archives.

I don't think it hurts you to target each phrase using one independent page and target them both on the homepage.

November 18, 2007 - 4:20am

Aaron,

Quick reply!!! Great info!!

When you say place emphasis on the category based archives how am I doing this? Does this involve using no follows on the date base archives or some other technique? Still reading Seobook for the 2nd time trying to understand it all.

Do I link my keyword related blog entries to those static pages to reemphasize their site authority for those keywords? Given that I would have many blog entries on this two keywords I worry that some of the authority of the two pages would be lessened.

Thanks!

P.S. Will you every do an SEO advanced book?

November 18, 2007 - 5:16am

Hi Dave
So your categories or tags should mirror some of your core keyword phrases, and the date based archives should be linked to with nofollow or linked to less prominently on your site.

The fact that you are reading my book a second time to get more of it hints at the limited value of creating any book that is more advanced. I think what is needed to improve the transfer of value is better formatting, using more interactive elements, grouped in smaller logical chunks.

Just about any information I could sell that was at a higher level than my current book should not be sold as a book, but would need to be sold as a service.

November 18, 2007 - 2:51am

Aaron first of all I wanted to thank you again, I initially had some trouble getting to download your book, I sent you a quick note, and was quite impressed with your turn-around in addressing my concern.Thanks..
I have two questions:
1) I am looking at building a site using Joomla. Is there any problems in applying SEO methods to this type of site (the entire site will be developed using Joomla.)
2) Looking to develop a marketing mix that will incorporate the use of affiliates. (Tickets to a family related exhibition promoting outdoor recreation Ticket price will be priced @ 10.00 per adult and kids will be less). What software source do you recommend, and is their a definitive source of information on the subject and who might that be? I would have loved to enclose the site but not built yet. Thanks I appreciate your candor and honesty. R_Northerner

November 18, 2007 - 5:22am

Hi R_northerner
1) I have not used Joomla much so I can't claim to be an expert on any issues associated with it.
2) I am a big fan of Idevaffiliate because it gives you a direct relationship with affiliates, and after you install it there are no recurring affiliate management fees. Idevaffiliate also has a package specifically made for Joomla.

November 18, 2007 - 3:49am

Hi Aaron,
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I appreciate it and your blog.

Question 1:
Most of my sites rank very well in Google and MSN/Live, but they do very poorly in Yahoo!. What is the trick to ranking well in Yahoo!?

Question 2:
You've written many times about how Google likes old web sites and old links. Will it benefit me to buy a domain name that had a site on it for a few years earlier this decade but hasn't had a site on it in for at least the last two years? There are also no known back links pointing to the domain.

Thanks so much.

November 18, 2007 - 5:29am

Hi Kinoli

Many of the things that work on Google work on Yahoo with four big deviations

  1. Yahoo!'s algorithm is more literal in matching page text than Google's is.
  2. Yahoo!'s crawl is nowhere near as deep or comprehensive as Google's.
  3. I don't think Yahoo! puts as much weight on exact match domains as Google does. There looks like there might be some bonus, but nowhere near as much as Google's.
  4. Yahoo! still counts many of the spammy links that do not carry as much weight in Google. In spammy verticals more of the top results in Yahoo! are dominated by spammy sites with keyword rich inbound links.

Question 2 is hard to answer because it is really a "it depends" sort of question. If the page has some text on it look to see how well it ranks for text variations on it to get an estimate for the base level of trust.

November 18, 2007 - 5:22am

Hi Aaron,
Thanks for your reply to my earlier question. I hope I am not putting undue load on your time resources by placing another question. So I will try to make it precise.

One of my site ranked well in Google for an exact match domain within 4 days. It's a single page site and still ranking well for its core keywords.

My question is -
1) Is it OK to have a single page site with good quality content instead of making another 10-20 pages stuffed with low quality junk just for the heck of adding them?
2) Or having a single page site may itself be be taken as a sign of low quality by Google?
3) If it is really necessary that you have certain minimum number of pages in a site, what that number possibly could be?

Aaron, Thanks again for this great resource.

November 18, 2007 - 5:36am

Hi SEO Nirvana
Different sites have different purposes. XE does not need a lot of pages to do well as their currency converter is a sweet resource.

They could hang a ton of extra content off it to leverage their authority or to thicken up the site, but it may not be required (and make money from related categories). In the xe.com case, they added a few thousand pages to leech off of the core authority of the main page. And I bet that was a profitable decision for them.

SearchEngineHistory.com is a one page site, but is of high quality, IMHO. I could probably recommend books and other resources on one page, conferences on another, etc. There are always logical ways to extend sites and make them more profitable if monetization is the goal, but if you are not worried about profit you do not need to make a big site.

November 18, 2007 - 5:51am

Hi

My question is about similar content on sites that provide state by state directories. I'm pursuing a private pilot license and started a flight school directory when I had a hard time finding testimonials about specific flight schools.

Am I getting penalized by Google because most of the pages on my site are so similar? Would it be better to use robots.txt to avoid having these pages indexed?

Also, my hope for the site is that pilots would start leaving feedback about specific flight schools so that prospective students could have some candid info when selecting a flight school (an expensive endeavor). But I'm finding that very few visitors to the site actually leave comments.

I know this is coming at the end of a long day - thanks so much if you still can get to this!!

November 18, 2007 - 6:03am

Hi Locomo
I think it is hard to set it up and just hope for the data to come in.

A more effective solution might be to go to the schools directly and ask them for information about their schools, and then try to get people to add info from there.

You may not be penalized...your site just might not rank as well as you would like it to due to it being somewhat new and having limited link authority.

November 18, 2007 - 5:57am

Hi aaron,
I have been a regular reader of your blog(although I was not a member & I thought to become a member this time only because I thought none can be better than you to solve my problem)
My site is www.thereliableinfo.com .It was set up around 2years back.I used to update it frequently in the begining but then I stopped updating it.My SERP fell down drastically.So I decided to update it automatically with new pages created from rss feeds.The rankings went up for sometime but then again started falling back.All the new pages were being in the supplemental results.So I thought that I should create new content rich pages so that google does not supplement them and removed those bad pages filled with rss feeds.But this time too all my new original pages were also put in the supplemental results.I have a good in-site linking to those new pages(even from the homepage) but they are still in the supplemental results.Even some pages which were having a pr3 were put into supplemental.My link campaign is quite good in comparision to others and I have a bit of good links from related sites also.The primary keyword is "hyip" and I am in the 4th page whereas other sites who are have less seo and backlinks rank higher.I think that my site is being targeted by google as a bad site and hence even original content is sent to the supplemental & am not able to rank higher.What do I do?I am desperate and am thinking to start up a new website.Can you please comment on this situation and help me how not to get my original content as supplement.

November 18, 2007 - 6:07am

Hi Piyush
Well perception becomes reality, and with your ad placement being so aggressive, I think that makes your site a likely candidate for doing poorly if it came under editorial review. And I also think the ad placement being so aggressive prevents you from getting some of the organic links you might have been able to get in the past.

Once you put ads above the content (top and to the left in the content area) on the homepage it is a quick race downward toward irrelevancy.

November 18, 2007 - 6:27am

Thanx for the fast reply.I will definitely think about replacing my ads.But do you think that I should do something else also or just reducing my ads.

November 18, 2007 - 6:36am

If you think your site is penalized get it reviewed by Google after you clean it up. It also helps to have marketing strategy, brand strategy, and public relations take your website where it needs to go. But I can't tell you how to do all that stuff. I don't know what your personal strengths and weaknesses are.

November 18, 2007 - 6:55am

Thanx for the immense help.You are a great preson I feel!

November 18, 2007 - 6:32am

Hi Aaron,

First thanks for opening the forum for questions!

My site, www.palaestratraining.com has been up for about 8 months or so now, and our biggest challenge is knowing if what we're doing is right (from an SEO perspective) and building links. Based on our industry, IT Certification and Training videos, it's challenging to identify places to get links from, since it seems the majority of sites within this vertical would be competitors and not interested in linking to us.

We make use of video (that's what we do) but we have free videos on the site, some of our YouTube videos have gotten over 20,000 views in that 6 months, etc., so we're generating some definite interest but I know we can be doing things a lot better.

We're definitely up for some outside of the box thinking, and would really like to get a fresh opinion on things. Thanks again, I've been reading your blog (and posting occasionally) for quite some time.. keep up the great work!

Christopher Rees
www.palaestratraining.com

November 18, 2007 - 6:44am

Hi Christopher
The Youtube angle sounds great. How about working with specific people to create information products with them, and a free video with each of them.

For example, what if you paid Eric Myer $20,000 to create 5 one hour CSS videos for your site and two or three 5 minute examples for YouTube and for free trials on your site?

And then what if you did the same with Zeldman on web design? Pretty soon your stuff is the most credible stuff on the market, especially if those people do any self promotion and link to it from their own sites.

Also some of these inner pages have non-optimized titles. Like why not have words like training, videos, and courses somewhere in the page title here?

November 18, 2007 - 6:54am

Hi Aaron,

I used to be pulling in a good amount of traffic with my sites about a month ago. At that time I decided to merge the user database from some of my sites (5 or 6 sites). Everything from this appeared to create no problems. I then added a module onto these sites (I'm using Drupal) that enabled users to log in from any one of my domains and stay logged in no matter what site they visit. Now here's the problem:

Unfortunately, a few days ago I found out that this module was 302ing every page to my master domain that held all the user data. So I had about 5 sites all redirecting every page (about 2k - 5k pages per site) to my main master site. For the past month Google (as well as Yahoo and MSN) have been dropping pages and I highly suspect this is why.

I have since nuked this module completely. Now that my pages are returning the correct 200 response my site should be good for Google again, but it hasn't started crawling my site again (according to G webmaster tools). I've given it about a week or so and was wondering what your advice would be. Most of these sites are around 6 months old and have around 1k - 4k links. Before this 302 problem happened all of them were doing extremely well Google-wise.

Thanks Aaron,
Quinton

November 18, 2007 - 6:53am

Hi Quinton
I would probably do little to shock those sites any further with drastic onsite changes. I might try building a few authoritative links for each site, but I would probably check where they were in a month after another Google deep crawl to see if the indexing trends have picked up again. If the sites were clean and after another deep crawl they still seem hosed I would probably try contacting Google.

November 18, 2007 - 6:57am

Appreciate the reply Aaron :)!

November 18, 2007 - 8:45am

Hi Aaron --

I have a question regarding a competitor in a very competitive market real estate. Over the last 6 months they have begun to be in the top key words in this market. They have a number of domains on different Class C IPs. On their main domain they have 1,000s of back links (none ranking high). These links are basically reciprocal links, but they link to these sites and others via a sub domain that is on another Class C ip.

To the uninitiated (the reciprocal linkers) this 'looks' like just part of their main web. This sub domain is broken down by geographical locations and then further by regions. Each of these pages has census data about the areas.

Complete.com says they get low five figures of visitors to the main site. My question to you is that being that this 'network' consist of no more than five domains and in a specific region in a competitive industry would google or other se consider this spam? How would you compete with this besides providing better content -- they did spend a lot of money developing their web sites? If it is spam, would you wait until our site has been upgraded before filling out a spam report?

Thanks for your info and expertise. (Oh yes, these sites and ours are not blogs per se).

I enjoyed reading your book.

November 18, 2007 - 9:19am

Hi Runner2009
I don't think you beat what you consider to be spam by cloning them. If you consider their techniques shady then maybe try it away from your main domain, but don't do it to your main domain.

As far as "how would you compete besides providing better content" that really is not a way I approach any project. If I want to pick up marketshare and momentum from current leaders I try to beat them every way I possibly can, starting with as many of the following advantages I can

  • domain name - buy an old one or a strong exact match one
  • site design - sometimes looking good makes links easier to attain
  • site usability - increases conversion rates
  • link building - boosts rankings
  • content quality - increases conversion rates AND filters bad prospects
  • brand development - allows you to charge what you are worth
  • building social relationships - that is what builds the organic links
  • better business model - fatter profit margins means you can reinvest more into growth

You can't predict which one will help you, but if you beat them 3 or 4 different ways eventually the search relevancy algorithms notice.

November 18, 2007 - 10:36am

Good points, I do like your ideas about building social relationships it does take some creative thinking in trying to 'sell' this to old schoolers and if I do recall you did mention the Paris Hilton analogy in your book as a way of building relationships.

When I first saw this reciprocal link set up, I thought it was creative and as I checked further as to who developed the web site(s) -- done by a well known vertical web development company that also advertises SEO services. How I determine if it is spam or not is by asking whether or not if I was one of the reciprocal linkers and I understood what was happening would I feel ripped or not.

MY question is at what point do the SEs look at this type of gaming? Is it based on volume/value of the key words used in the site and or number of sites in a network?

Hey Aaron, do you ever sleep?

thanks again...

November 18, 2007 - 10:57am

Hi Runner2009
I think the search engines are ALWAYS looking at this type of gaming, but they don't catch everything. This will work for a while then search engineers will see it is getting out of control, then a new algorithm will wipe most of it out. When will that happen? It is anybody's guess.

At any given time there is a lot of spam in the search indexes. Every hole they close has some unintended consequences - closing some holes opens up new ones, while closing others kills a bunch of innocent sites.

November 18, 2007 - 11:38am

I understand about the law of 'unintended consequences'. It is my experience that many things that we believe or label as intended actions are really unintended consequences. Thinking about factorials (n!) shaped my thinking on this especially when dealing with variables and the different possible out comes when arraigning these variable 5! is 120 just adding 5 more variables to 10! makes 3,628,800 permutations. At least for me it is easy to see how things can get out of control. Whether we like it or not we are all under this numerical control when dealing with lots of variables and it has been helpful for me to see how quickly things can get muddled.

Late here got to stop rambling... Just a note, I've gone through a lot of the post and it really seems like you put a lot of thought into many of them.... Thank you for your TIME!!

November 18, 2007 - 12:38pm

Hi Aaron

:( everybody after me got replies, except me. What did I do wrong?

November 18, 2007 - 1:48pm
November 18, 2007 - 2:22pm

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the opportunity to ask you questions. I have several:

1. What are the effects of changing some links (in my case - example searches) on the front page for every request? Does Google see that as a frequently updated site or a spam site?

2. Is there a benefit in splitting up content into subdomains? For example, having subdomains for every state eg NY.example.com, assuming the subdomain keyword is often what users are looking for. Or does it cause individual subdomains to be ranked lower than if they were on example.com/NY (assuming they only have links from example.com)

3. I own a site that Google now considers to be a misspelling. My traffic dropped significantly since, and I'm on the verge of switching to another domain. Can anything else be done?

Thanks!

November 19, 2007 - 4:56am

Hi AK102

1. As long as the pages are unique that should be fine. It gets dicier if that change is sitewide, the site is brand new, and the site has few authoritative inbound links.

2. If you set content out on a subdomain and try to make it remarkable that makes it appear more memorable and marketable to some. For example, some people might be more willing to link to tools.seobook.com than to link at seobook.com/tools/

Some search engines allow multiple subdomains from the same site to rank in the search results for some queries, but if you were breaking it up state by state most likely you wouldn't have enough authority to rank both state subdomains against each other (plus most of the target queries would be geospecific oriented and only relevant for one subdomain).

3. If you do some advertising, brand building, and link building then perhaps if enough people visit your site Google will be less likely to consider it as a misspelling. Google, after all, was a misspelling. In some instances you can teach Google that misspellings are real words - which they become if you develop a brand based on a misspelling - like Google did.

DEXTERITY
November 18, 2007 - 2:43pm

Hi Aaron,

First, thanks for taking the time out to help everyone and second your book was worth every penny. It helped me a a lot.

I've put a lot of time into my site in regards to making sure I have relevant content, my meta tags, description and text all contain my main key words. I've also paid for some listings in certain directories you recommended (yahoo, business.com, botw, gimpsy) as well as a few other high pr directories.

For my main key words (reggae cds, reggae dvds, jamaican dvds) I used to fall on the second page of google rankings and would flirt with the last two spots of the first page. I'm always in the top spots on yahoo and msn. Google was my week point (most orders came from yahoo organic clicks).

Recently I decided to go the route of paying for links and submitting my site to 1000 directories. That seemed to make my page rank 3 with google and now has me on the first page for my keywords on a regular basis. Even top 5 for one of them.

What can I do to move to the top three spots on google. My competitors sites look like terrible and really have no content, but they are always in the top 3, some with multiple links.

I'm not sure if they are ranked so high from the age of their domain or if I'm missing something here. Or they are doing something shady.

Is it a bad idea to pay go the route of submitting your site to endless directories or paying for permanent links?

I don't like being shady so I'm trying to figure out what else I can do. I think my site is pretty user friendly. However, there are some things I want to do change in the future (menu and check out process).

Sorry for the long post would appreciate any advice or suggestions.

Thank you.

http://www.reggaeplanet.com

November 18, 2007 - 10:37pm

I think Patrick's reply is better than mine would have been. You are so close that there is no need for shady stuff...just get well integrated into your community.

There are many artist sites, many of interview options, many music aggregator sites, many fan sites, many giveaway and contest ideas, tons of opportunity.

DEXTERITY
November 19, 2007 - 7:03pm

Thank you very much guys for your help and feedback. I appreciate you taking the time out to reply. I will definitely follow your advice!

Thanks again.. I look forward to more articles and books from you.

November 18, 2007 - 3:50pm

@Dexterity:

I would advise you completely against using shady techniques. Normally I wouldnt say this, because I dont think its all that bad, but youve obviously put a lot of work in your site and it's your business..so taking the risk of having your site banned over using shady techniques isnt a good idea.

Plus if you're already in the top10 on doing mostly directory submissions (which hardly have any value anymore), I think it should be perfectly possible to move up the SERPs by getting natural links from other reggae & music sites.

I might be wrong, but I think in your niche that could be easier than in most niches, because people who listen to reggae music (and have websites about it) are usually fairly nice people who are probably not as opposed to linking out to a valuable site as people in other fields.

There are a few reggae artists I listen to every now and then and I remember once contacting kashief lindo on myspace who gave me a quick reply. What I'd do is try to get some reggae artists (who are not *that* popular, yet but have a fanbase already) to do an interview with me. If you place it on your homepage (for a while..maybe sort of like a blog) they shouldn't mind doing it b/c it'd might help them sell more records/increase their mindshare (among your site's visitors)...and you could tell people who have websites on those artists about the interview you recently did with them (hoping some of them will link to that interview).

Not sure, if this would work well in your average field, but i think it could work out well in the niche of reggae, b/c many of the people are rather nice and helpful.

What do you think of that idea, Aaron?

November 18, 2007 - 4:45pm

Hi Aaron,

Nice initiative to answer all your readers questions! This is so helpful for me today as I have an important question for which i can't find an answer

ITerating.com (http://iterating.com) has a page rank of seven and pages across the website have rankings from 2 to 6. For software tools the URL is ../product/product_name and for software classes /productclass/class_name. Do you think it's worth the effort to change all the URLs into ../product_name and ../product_class? For sure we'll loose page rank across the pages but will we loose the page rank for home page as well?

I'll surely appreciate an advice,

Alina

November 19, 2007 - 5:04am

Hi Alina
Your two potential wins with this would be

  • greater URL relevancy - having your product names closer to the start of the URL will increase your perceived relevancy and clickthrough rate
  • more focused anchor text - as some people link using URLs, and one less irrelevant keyword in the URL would improve your anchor text when they link to your site using the URL as the anchor text

The word product is not that long of a word though, and I don't think the potential upside is worth the risk of having issues with how search engines may or may not follow the 301 redirects if you move your files.

November 18, 2007 - 5:05pm

Hi Aaron

I've been reading your posts for a while now. I really aught to invest in your book and lock myself into a room and then read and understand your advice, as to be honest I struggle with a lot of the SEO stuff.

My main question is this:

Our company has a number of websites, but I have been concentrating on one website over the last six months http://www.conservatorytv.com

We invested in Membergate software to build the website. We've also invested in two members of staff to develop the website - one to create the content, and another to film, edit and produce videos about the products we sell (windows, doors and conservatories in the UK) to add to the website. They're all hosted on YouTube.

I believe the website is now starting to have better content than competing websites, but we are still only getting about 50 unique visitors per day. We started the website about 6 months ago.

I would appreciate your advice on how we progress with getting the right kind of customers to our website. Do we:

1. Just keep adding good content and eventually Google will notice us.

2. Pay an SEO company to optimise and build links.

3. Use Pay Per Click

4. Or, lock myself in a room and read your book!

I really would appreciate your advice on how we should proceed.

Thanks

November 19, 2007 - 2:14am

Hi Matthew
This is going to sound self promotional, but I think #4 is the spot to start.

My book is not just about SEO, but is more a book on marketing with a focus on online marketing and SEO. Your site needs a lot more than SEO, and some of those tips you should be able to get from my book.

Here are some examples of non-SEO marketing issues that could be improved

  • your homepage content area does not guide people toward conversions. compare your homepage to seobook.com or seoresearchlabs.com
  • your quote page says "How to get a free quote - with the minimum of fuss and hassle!" - that does not even tell me what I am getting a quote for...just that I am trying to get some sort of quote.
November 19, 2007 - 9:09am

Hi Aaron

I've been considering ordering it for some time, so I will invest now.

Thank you.

Matthew

November 18, 2007 - 5:09pm

Hi Aaron,

If I was to 301 redirect a site that has been previoulsy banned or heavily penalized by Google to another site, is it possible the penalty could hit the new domain?

Thanks

November 19, 2007 - 2:05am

Hi Philip
In the past under most cases I would have said no, but in some cases I think the answer might be yes. I have not done enough spammy stuff to have a sample set large enough to give any sort of definitive answer on that. I also think that why and how a site got penalized might play into it to (ie: how certain are they that the site is spam? and how certain are they that the sites are somehow affiliated?).

November 18, 2007 - 5:22pm

Aaron,

I will try to make this as broad of a question as possible even though I would like to be able to consider your suggestions with regard to a couple of specific sites.

I wonder Aaron, do you often get approached for consulting by the large e-commerce websites for major corporations? And if you do, is there a trend of mistakes that they may make in common? Or a single most overlooked mistake?

I have an interview soon with a big company hiring in-house seo and while I have done my due-diligence and know what I'm going to recomend (site architecture audit, social media - positive user generated content, corporate blog, articles and educational newsletters, target long tail key phrases, deep linking to optimized landing pages) I am constantly wondering if the master might have suggestions that I have overlooked. Or perhaps a more appropriate question would be what resources or methodology would you use in performing a strong site review?

I almost would even say that I wish you had a $200 charity case consulting package for broke seo's who have been working for SEO Tyrants making peanuts for the last few years but who now have a better opportunity in front of them. My check would be in the mail!

Thanks for all you do Aaron,

Eric

November 19, 2007 - 1:57am

Hi Eric
Yes. We work on many large corporate sites. The most common flaws I have seen are:

  • duplicate content issues and indexing of noise pages (often print pages or low information tag pages or photo pages)
  • site canonicalization issues (ie: www vs non-www both getting indexed)
  • improperly funneling link equity to low quality pages
  • wasting lots of link authority on partner pages, contact us pages, privacy policy pages, etc.
  • confusing navigational schemes that make it hard to access the highest quality pages, and split link equity across higher and lower quality pages
  • excessive duplication across page elements and/or page titles in the wrong order
  • sometimes user generated content is placed on another page or stuck in Javascript or something similar.
  • on really large sites and networks another big issue is not actively building any deep links...ie: mainly marketing the core brand but not marketing the sub-sections of the site to become strong brands and gain mindshare as leaders in those markets

I think using the website health check tool is a good spot to start looking for noise in Google's index.

November 18, 2007 - 6:05pm

Hi Aaron -
a) Thanks for the tools and the book - much appreciated by us all.

The thing that worries me most is too much reliance on Google for our traffic - be it organic or paid and willingness to bend to their sometimes out of whack rules (paid linking, quality score, etc). Besides concentrating on MSN and Yahoo what other places would you suggest using for targeted traffic (I'm thinking domaining, social marketing)?

Cheers
Ari

November 19, 2007 - 2:03am

Hi Ari
I think the issue with the other networks is that they are still networks...meaning they exhibit many of the same problems that one has with being too reliant on Google. So diversifying into the other networks probably isn't a longterm solution. Plus the social media channels are dominated by clickers instead of buyers.

I think the solution to the problem is to become a network - turn a site into a community of sorts to build a brand that people actively search for. It is a lot of work to do all that, but it lets you sleep better at night if you have thousands of RSS subscribers and/or many customers paying you on a recurring basis.

Sometimes you have to spend a lot on content and a lot on advertising to get the brand awareness where you need it to be. On some ad spends I consider myself ahead if I break even because there are still intangible and untracked values in getting more exposure. Exposure leads to more exposure.

And if your brand is strong enough you can also get additional exposure via affiliate programs.

November 18, 2007 - 7:01pm

Hi Aaron:

Sorry to jump in late. I hope it is not too late.

I have been doing some part-time web work for a friend in the professionals.

I have been approached by a directory that claims to have a way to generate improved SERP through links.

The difference is that the links they are offering - at a substantial cost - are accessed by visitors to the directory page only by going to the bottom of the page and clicking on a mouse-type "web marketing" link. The link takes the visitor to a page with about a dozen links to other similar professionals.

Question: While not "spam" as I know it, (ie. not invisible type) this comes close since it is not obvious enough to the site visitor to be consider "helpful" and, therefor appears to exist only to build links.

Moreover, since one must pay substantially each month to be in the link list, it clearly qualifies as "buying a link" to my way of thinking. I understand Google has been policing links actively to downgrade the value of paid links.

I've advised my friend not to put any money into this.

Is my advice valid or am I missing a good way to build links to his site? Thanks for your insight.

November 19, 2007 - 1:48am

Hi Eyewriter
If the pages are not generated with end users in mind then Google considers it spam. It may work for some period of time, but it may eventually get caught too.

It is hard to advise for or against doing it without knowing where your friend's site is against the competing sites and if your friend has exhausted all of their easy link opportunities and good marketing ideas they can think up.

November 18, 2007 - 7:09pm

Hello,
Do search engines still see white text as spam? Seems like more and more 2.0 designs are more colorful and include white or light text. And, is there a difference between white or light colored text? Thanks!!
Chris

November 19, 2007 - 1:25am

Hi Chris
I don't think they think of text as spam just because it is white. Just flagging white text would provide many false positives, so they are not too aggressive with identification.

They are more concerned with intent than text color. And brand strenght matters too. If you look at the Target.com homepage right now they are cloaking a bunch of navigational links for Google in an attempt to rank better for queries like Wii. But it is a product they carry and due to their brand strenght this move was fine. A year so back BigMouthMedia, an SEO company, stuffed a bunch of visible text in a small form area (as an example: like 13,000 characters in a 60 by 60 box) and got banned from Google for it.

November 18, 2007 - 8:25pm

Hi Aaron, I love your stuff!!!

Thanks for this page.

Any idea how long Google penalties last? I made a site 24 June this year, the index page does not get into the Google SERPS for its keywords yet subpages (there are 3 subpages) are on the first page of Googles SERPS for terms on their pages.

I don't know if I'm waiting for 3 months for G forgiveness or 1 year.

OK to make it interesting I SEO'd the site as much as 2 of my other sites which live at 2 or 3 in Google for their keywords.

I'd love to see you do something like Google answers used to be, i.e. I/we send you SEO questions - requests, and how much we'd pay for a reply/answer/solution. You could look through the questions, answer those you like and get paid.

Thanks Aaron and anyone else who reads/answers.

Tony

November 18, 2007 - 10:33pm

Hi Tony
If they are automated the length of penalty can change.

  • Some penalties are not penalties but are filters that go away when you fix the issue.
  • Some penalties are like a few weeks for the first infraction, then a few months, then forever. The penalties might need cleared through editorial review, and the penalty period might be for that much time AFTER the the issue is fixed and the penalty has been removed.

Some manual penalties might last years or ~ forever. The reason they make manual penalties so over the top is because using human time to directly solve problems is expensive, so they want to make it hurt pretty bad.

The penalties may or may not be cleared once the issue is fixed and you request a review inside Google Webmaster Central. They are still not very open with those communications channels.

November 18, 2007 - 8:09pm

Hi Aaron,
If I wanted a page on my site to rank well for the following search:

keywords.com

what would be the best filename for that page?

keywords-com.htm
keywordscom.htm
???

Thanks, and you da man.

November 18, 2007 - 10:51pm

Hi Kinoli
Look at sites like DomainTools, Quantcast, and StumbleUpon. Their profile pages rank for many domain names like that. If possible I would try to mimic what they are doing. Right now they do something like
www.stumbleupon.com/url/www.seobook.com/
www.quantcast.com/seobook.com
whois.domaintools.com/seobook.com

I like using the www part in the URL too as it helps you match more search queries.

If doing that does not work for you given your current CMS, then I would probably use something like
/www-domainname-extension/
or
/www-domainname-extension.html

November 18, 2007 - 8:09pm

Quick question:

When is it necessary to do a 301 re-direct? If i start changing a handful of URLs on a site, is it necessary?

For a site that is already ranking well, but i want to expand, add pages, re-organize, add new URLs, is it necessary, or can i simply resubmit a site map?

hard to find a definitive answer on this topic, so thought i would ask you.

Thanks in advance.

November 18, 2007 - 10:41pm

Hi Scott
Your old URLs have some amount of trust, history, and link reputation built up. If you 301 redirect those URLs you pass that on to the newer pages. If you have a large site and are redirecting a few pages that have no inbound links from other sites then you may not need to redirect them, but if the page has any incoming links make sure you map out where the links come from and what the anchor text is in those links so you can redirect it to the most relevant page.

You do not need to map out the anchor text provided by spammy MFA type sites, just the anchor text of the real quality links.

November 18, 2007 - 10:42pm

Aaron,

I have a question, how can you be successful in SEO/SEM but not interested in creating "quality content".

I've been working at the SEO/SEM game for a couple of years now. I've learned that I am interested in the SEO techniques but not necessarily the "quality content". Don't get me wrong I am not looking for a shortcut but I don't believe "quality content" trumps all.

What strategies can you recommend; outsource all my content, focus on PPC or consult for clients?

Also, how do you do it? You often write about your successes with the sites you own. Some are probably outside of the seo world. If so do these sites have lots of quality content or are you having success with your seo knowledge?

November 18, 2007 - 11:00pm

Hi Isonline
You might think that I am more successful than I am because I share the majority of my best ideas on this site.

But as I have learned more about the web I think my interest is not in SEO so much as it is in marketing. And much of my best marketing is typically an extension of a passion I have in yet another market, which is like layering passions. :)

I know some techniques to increase ROI when I don't have passion, but I typically only use those to boost the ideas I am passionate about. I suppose referencing the video How to Spam Google Without Being Viewed as a Spammer would be good, as it shares many of these ideas.

I have writing partners or business partners on other sites. Like one site I funded and brokered ad deals on to get a chunk of the profits, and on other sites I have writers who do the day to day stuff and then I offer featured content / linkbait ideas.

I always suggest having at least one site you are passionate about because...

  • it teaches you how and why ideas spread
  • it gives you opportunities that spammier stuff does not
  • it makes you less reliant on central networks such as Google, and gives you defense from their ability to attack your business model
November 18, 2007 - 11:58pm

Hi,

I would like to know if there is there is any *real* money to be made in affiliate marketing?

I'm beginning to suspect that the big dollars can only be made selling your own products or services.

Regards
Peter

November 19, 2007 - 1:40am

Hi Peter
Like SEO, ppc, domaining, and just about every other field of marketing...most people who get in it don't make any money. But those who stick with it can make a lot.

Having said that, some of my smart friends in the affiliate field are looking to move away from lead generation and toward selling subscription based services because it is worth far more to keep a customer than it is to go through all the work to generate one only to sell them off to a third party for crumbs of their value.

In affiliate markets that are not very liquid some leads are bought for $8 to $12 then sold to a half dozen to dozen end merchants at $50 a piece. Meaning that for the ~ $10 that the affiliate gets, the affiliate network is getting $300 to $600, and to be honest, some of those networks do not add a lot of value.

BTW...if you ever go to sell an affiliate site they tend to sell for a higher multiple than an AdSense site would because those affiliate networks paying a 5x to 10x multiple to buy a site might only be paying a 1x to 2x multiple after they consider their backend profits from buying the traffic stream.

Also, if you have a trusted editorial site, you can sell a ton of particular products that you endorse. I have an affiliate program and some affiliates make a decent chunk of change for promoting my ebook. Most do not make enough to live on by promoting just that, but most that promote it also promote other products and services.

November 19, 2007 - 1:15am

Hi Aaron,
Can you please give me some tips on the best internal linking strategy for SEO purposes?

This tactic used to scare me until Matt Cutts said several months ago that sculpting PR within your website is okay with Google. Now, I'd like to be sure I'm using it to it's best advantage. Any advice? Thanks

November 19, 2007 - 4:59am

Hi Mary
Please check out this recent video on internal site architecture.

November 19, 2007 - 1:17am

If it can take up to three months to see results from applying SEO to a site, how/when do you know that you have done enough, and you're ready to move on to a new site?

November 19, 2007 - 1:33am

Hi Ehinchman
I tend to do some things in waves. So I might have a site built and do a basic level of link building, then let it cook for a month while I start working on the next site or while I work on earlier sites. Then I might come back to that site again at some point in time. Build a few more links the next month, and possibly some more content.

The channels that perform the best get more heavy investment to help them grow further and try to solidify the market position.

Some channels may require having an active voice in the community, so those sites might have paid bloggers who write some number of posts each month.

When the search results are fairly stable and you are comfortable with the risk tolerance of what got it ranking then you can be done with that project for a while. If results start looking like they might head the wrong way or you see a competitor coming up fast then you can work to solidify the position.

If you ever come up with great marketing ideas or great value add ideas to layer on a site to make the position more self reinforcing and/or increase cashflow then do it. If you are sitting on a great marketing idea don't just keep sitting on it because eventually a competitor is going to have the same idea. If they launch before you they get credit for the idea.

November 19, 2007 - 1:27am

Hi Aaron,

I really like this thread you're running here. Something just came to my mind:

I remember your saying that some of your low-competition niches in which you had sites only had say 200 links or so that were all easy to duplicate except for a dozen or so.

What Im wondering is: If youre trying to compete with a site that ranks on say 200 links out of which 190 are low quality links (directory submissions, etc.) and only 10 or so are high quality links..wouldnt it make sense to simply try to get 20 high quality links?:-)

Im trying to understand whether there really is hardly any value in low quality links or if they have the value of making your 10 high quality links look more natural (as theyre embedded in a natural link pattern) and thus still are pretty helpful (but only in combination with high quality links).

Thanks!

November 19, 2007 - 1:35am

Hi Patrick
I think that low quality links layered on top of trusted domains and a bed of trusted links help. Especially if they have a good mixture of relevant anchor text.

November 19, 2007 - 2:23am

My new sites two main keywords exist in two different categories of the directories I submit to, what is the best approach when submitting to a free or paid directory if it is not keyword niche specific? Will it hurt my SEO to submit to two different categories on sites like yahoo directory, BOTW, business.com? Not even sure if this is possible.

Thanks in Advance!!

November 19, 2007 - 4:45am

Hi Dave
I gave some hints on category selection and submission to the Yahoo! Directory here.

Some of the directories have rules against double submitting, but I also own pages that editors working at such directory companies put in multiple categories, so it is a fuzzy area.

I submitted my tools subdomain to both BOTW and the Yahoo! Directory, so if you have a way to have a clean break in your site you can always submit the other piece like that.

As far as Business.com goes, I think they allow you to select multiple categories, but charge you multiple times to do so. A solid way around the recurring Business.com fee is to write a popular Work.com guide about your subject, and sometimes they will syndicate those into Business.com. That was not my intent when I submitted my Guide to Learning SEO to Work.com, but they put it in the SEO category of Business.com.

November 19, 2007 - 2:42am

Hey Aaron,

Regarding Wordpress....

I have a blog in that is ranked fairly high for a pretty competitive keyword in the beauty/fashion industry. The blog is hosted on my own domain.

I am currently showing the past 15 posts on the front page of the blog, and am ranked #1-3 in Google for various keywords. The problem is that my main page file size is well over 100k.

Will Google (and Yahoo!) lower my ranking if I only show the past 2 or 3 posts on the front page?

I am worried that if I only show the past 2 or 3 posts, that my "keyword density" might drop dramatically. I am not keyword stuffing my pages at all, I just use the same keyword in each of my posts once or twice.

Edit: The majority of my backlinks point to the home page. I have very few backlings pointing to my posts. Got some good .edu links as well as links from other trusted sources to back me up. I would rate the quality of my backlinks as "great".

Thanks,

Thelma

November 19, 2007 - 5:24am

Hi AuntThelma
You homepage has a large portion of your site's authority. By featuring the last 15 posts on the homepage your homepage might rank for keywords that are in those posts.

Lets imagine that your homepage ranks at #4 for some keyword phrase that is in one of your last 15 posts. Now lets imagine that the post is no longer on the homepage, and it is on an internal page. That same post may rank at #7 or #9 because it has less authority.

So that is one side effect of the change. Here is the other.

Right now you are pushing a lot of your link equity into those last 15 posts. That means that those 15 posts rank better than they otherwise would, but at the expense of not as much link equity flowing through your categories to get your other older posts as well indexed.

If you had less link equity flowing to recent posts on your homepage that means that more link equity will be flowing through the categories and down to older posts, which will help those posts rank better.

Things to Consider
The optimal number of posts on your homepage should depend on how frequently you update your site, how verbose your style is, how people typically read your site (RSS reader, direct navigation, or from search engines), and how good you are at getting people to link to your posts.

The #1 criteria out of all that is how people typically read your site. You want to make your site appealing to the people who are most invested into it. The people who keep coming back to it and those that are helping turn it into a community.

November 19, 2007 - 6:16am

Thanks Aaron,

I suspected that was what would happen if I only showed the past 2-3 posts instead of the past 15 posts.

So correct me if I'm wrong....but if I were to show the last 2-3 posts only, I can expect a slight drop from #1-#2 in Google to maybe #7-#8 for a period of "X" number of days/weeks/months?

Then in theory.....after 3-6 months of solid back links coming to older posts, I should get right back up there in the #1 spot (assuming Google doesn't radically change the algorithm that has allowed me to rank so high between now and then).

Also, how long has this book of yours been out for? I went shopping for an SEO book about 6-7? months ago and did not see yours (I know because there wasn't much of a selection @ Borders bookstore). I instead picked up another book....."SEO with PHP" or something like that. I went to that author's website and he hasn't updated it since he first published the book.

I think I am going to buy your book for the simple fact that you make yourself available to your readers.

Keep up the good work !

- Thelma

November 19, 2007 - 6:20am

Hi Thelma
The first version of my ebook was published on Christmas of 2003. It is not available on other sites because I published it myself as an ebook and am the only person with sales rights to it.

Having less content on your homepage should not make you rank worse for the core terms your site is targeting, it just means that the homepage will not rank for the pieces of text that are no longer on it.

November 19, 2007 - 8:44am

Hey Aaron,

The core terms that I am targeting....are indeed the keywords that are on the first posts of my home page. Again, I am in no way, shape or form, "keyword spamming", but I have a certain density that allows for a natural read and doesn't look like spam.

So in your opinion....is it worth a try? I want to put more original content on the main page (that doesn't relate to my core keywords as much) and still be ranked #1-3 for these keywords. Can I have my cake and eat it too?

I just got an eReader book for my birthday so your SEO book will make a nice addition to my library :)

November 19, 2007 - 11:30am

Hi Thelma
You can always test it and see what happens. If you don't like the results then switch it back.

If you do not think you are spamming and you are ranking well then I don't see why you should be worried about doing something that you think makes your site better for site users.

November 19, 2007 - 2:39am

thx for the reply, Aaron. I'd like to ask you another quick question:

Would you suggest placing the navigation links on the right side or on the left side of the page (in addition to creating possible sections of the website at the top)?

I was thinking for right-handers such as myself having the navigation to the right side would be more natural - but on the other hand navigation to the left is probably what internet users have become used to and thus the way to go(?)

November 19, 2007 - 4:31am

Hi Patrick
If your site is really deep and large and navigation is a large function of the site then I think it should go in the left rail. Beyond that I think its location is mostly a point of style.

If you have top navigation the sidebar navigation should be there mostly to help bots weight important pieces of the site and show interactivity to site members.

Ideally the sidebar navigation is not needed for visitors to work through the site - they should be able to get where they need from looking at the content on the homepage.

November 19, 2007 - 3:32am

Do you know of any sites that get more than approx 10k googlebot requests per hour?

November 19, 2007 - 4:27am

Hi Pittbug
I don't have those types of stats for a wide array of sites, and most of my sites are smaller editorial sites, but you could guess some of the leading sites based on site size and community interaction. I would guess Wikipedia, Amazon.com, Yahoo!, YouTube, About.com, Craigslist, and eBay get a lot of deep crawling.

November 19, 2007 - 5:03am

Do you place any unique identifier hooks on all your pages.
Example:

Then find, search, replace with new word.

I can do a global CTRL H, then change this using Frontpage and more or less modify all pages, therefore I am showing as a new page in the search or this is my theory. Database sites are more of a problem. However we are developing static pages also, then a PHP push.
Andy of HoboTraveler.com --- Free Hotel WebPages

November 19, 2007 - 5:06am

Hi Andy
I don't do anything like that at this moment.

November 19, 2007 - 5:10am

does the older domain names have an advantage of better rankings in the Search Engines over the new domain name.

November 19, 2007 - 5:17am

Hi Deepankar
In general, yes, and for three reasons

  • When search and search spam were less sophisticated it was easier to get links from the good clean parts of the web. Now you have to be a much better marketer to be linkworthy than you needed to be just a year or two ago.
  • An older domain has more time to pick up natural citations and grow due to self reinforcing effects of early market leading exposure.
  • Domain age is a sign of trust. If a domain has had content on it for years and people have been linking to it for years and it has never got in trouble for spamming then there is some level of trust associated with that - especially since it is hard for the common webmaster to come up with workarounds for spoofing domain age.
November 19, 2007 - 8:20am

Hi Aaron,

I need to target the same website for 5 different languages. I heard I have to buy 5 different country-related domains (.com, .it, .es)...There's no way to have a good position in the SERP of Google.com, Google.it, Google.es etc...with a unique, multilangual website?

Thank you!

November 19, 2007 - 11:26am

Hi Alessio
You can put the main site on a .com and use subdomains for the various country codes. Or you can register 5 different domain names. Either way will work, but you need clean breaks between the languages, and it helps if you can...

  • host each site in the country you want it to rank in (on a domain by domain basis or subdomain basis)
  • have the associated extension if you are using separate domain names
  • get inlinks from other known local sites in those countries
  • have a local address in each country that is on the associated web pages for that country
November 19, 2007 - 8:37am

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for your reply above.

I hear Google is shutting down adsense accounts which use arbitrage - getting traffic from Adwords and making a few cents when a visitor clicks out on an Adsense ad on the landing page.

Do you know if we can safely use 7searchDOTcom or others to get traffic without Google knowing or considering that we are doing arbitrage?

I'm quite happy to give health information away if I get a few Adsense clicks and prefer this method to less people having my info if only a few people click on a $10 buy link.

Thanks again,

Tony

November 19, 2007 - 11:28am

Hi Tony
I think the accounts that are getting shut down are typically exceptionally thin...like no content accounts. Some of them are getting shut down while others just get priced out of the market.

But in Gmail I regularly see stuff like currency-trading.name, so some of the garbitrage is still competing in Google in some ways.

I don't think they hate 7search per say, but if advertisers get a low return on the ads then eventually your ads might get smartpriced downward.

November 19, 2007 - 9:53am

Hi Aaron,

I'm finally posting a question. I have been looking at domains for sale to have the advantage of having an site that has been indexed by google for at least a year and possibly already have some links. I have searched on sites like afternik and have found names I like. How do I check the age? I go to acrchive.org and nothing comes up. Nearly all of them are parked (I believe thats what it's called) and the only content they have are one page of paid links. Have these domains never been developed or indexed by google? If not, there isn't any age value. How would you go about finding an aged site or knowing if a domain has ever been indexed?

Thanks,
Debbie

November 19, 2007 - 12:26pm

Hi Debster
Google and other search engines may look to scrub the histories of any old sites that expire and turn into PPC parking pages, so domain marketplaces are not a good spot to find old aged trusted sites.

A better bet is to search Google for keywords related to your business interests and look for old sites that are not well maintained. Via email and phone call ask the people who own them if they would be willing to sell them. Most will say no or ask way too much for their sites, but if just one says yes that sets you up for a good day, week, month, and year. :)

November 19, 2007 - 7:10pm

Thanks Aaron, I have thought of doing that and might as the domain marketplace looks to be a bad value.

I wonder how many domains actually get sold that have never been developed. A lot of the names aren't that great and are expensive for what you get. I suspect a lot are owned by the same people and are just hoping to sell a few at a high price. There would be a lot more value, if they just made at least a page of search related content. They could still put some PPC up along with some minimal content.

Debbie

November 20, 2007 - 1:38am

Hi Debster
I think that is sorta how the business model works. You register thousands of them and hope that when one sells it pays for the registration fee of at least a few hundred of them.

I have spent a lot of money buying domain names though. Not all are of bad value. I bought Scores.org for $2,300 a week or two after Scores.com sold for $1,180,000. I also bought another name for $2,500 where an alternate lesser version of it sold for about $40,000 a few months later.

November 19, 2007 - 10:14am

Hi Aaron,

Been reading your blog for a very long time now and have sold a few of your books using your referral centre - glad I could pass on your brilliant work.

I have been running a small SEO & Viral based news blog for a while now and I have been achieving good results for many keywords. I have not been targeting it aggressively, it has been a side project for me. I have recently posted an article detailing my results for the keywords I have targeted, and I suspect google has gave me a -950 penalty :(

The page in question is: http://www.kevstrong.com/news/SEO/My-own-long-tail-keyword-rank-review/ and looking at it now I think I was fairly stupid to write that page up as it would appear to be content stuffed if manually checked (although that was not the intention).

Would you tend to agree that this is the reason why I have gone from 32 for Web Design Newcastle to at least 683? Also as a side question, how would you go about showing those kind of results? I think I may do it as a downloadable, nofollow, noindex pdf file in the future.
Many thanks for your time.

November 19, 2007 - 12:23pm

Hi Kev
You can always take an image of the keyword dense and stats heavy area and then put that image where the text once was.

I don't think your site was dinged too bad for most queries. I would probably just try to build a few more links and see where that puts you.

November 19, 2007 - 1:24pm

Thanks Aaron, I'll give that a go and see if the site climb's back up.

November 19, 2007 - 12:48pm

Hi Aaron...

This page is probably going to have to be included in the next version of your eBook as an appendix. Or, at the very least, tidied up and made into a FAQ as an appendix. This page is excellent...

Anyway, a quick question about your Drupal setup. I'm just curious as to what modules/plugins (I'm new to Drupal) you have installed to help with SEO.

In particular, I'm curious about the URL structure. The last module I installed was a pain, as it only "beautified" the URL once it had been visited...

Oh, and a comment on AuntThelma's questions: Don't forget about enabling gzip compression. It can help cut down the size of the page quite dramatically, if you need to. I had to try and figure out other ways to lower my bandwidth usage due to limits on my hosting account...

thanks again,
James

November 20, 2007 - 12:50am
November 19, 2007 - 12:51pm

I definitely have found this page to be chock full of very useful information. One of my new favorite methods for a company that has just put up their website and optimized it but has no inbound links or rankings yet is to purchase a few hundred deep link directory submissions combined with a good press release or two over the next couple of months. This combination offers the links you need to rank for your optimized keywords, and then a strong link with tons of traffic from your press release. Either way, it is a good way to spoil your self after just setting up a new website.

Thanks for all the help Aaron, I love the blog!

November 19, 2007 - 1:10pm

Great thread, learned a lot from reading all of the above!

A long time ago Gray Wolf posted about controlling the top 10.

Does that trick still work? And what kind of URLs should I target if I'm targeting a keyword phrase (i.e. squidoo.com/super-excellent-seo-book or squidoo.com/superexcellentseobook)?

Thanks,
Jesper

November 20, 2007 - 12:26am

Hi Jesperz
You have to look at how the URLs and internal anchor text of the site are set up and match those against the keywords you want to rank for.

For example, if you wanted to rank for seobook then you would run those words together. If you wanted to rank for seo book then you would likely use a hyphen or some other word separator.

November 19, 2007 - 2:57pm

I have a new site that I thought I had done on page SEO fairly well. Plus I chose good keywords with low competition. However I cannot seem to get my high kei keywords to appear in the top 10 of G. I can't figure it out. Can you do a quick glance and see if there are any glaring problems? onemanknifefight.net

November 20, 2007 - 12:49am

Hi Kokopoko
I don't think Google wants to rank sites that are eBay affiliate feeds. At the least you need a bit more of an editorial component to the site, especially on the homepage. It is also hard to get real organic links to a site like that unless there is some editorial component.

November 19, 2007 - 3:00pm

Aaron, what is the top-3 techniques that you recommend for getting quality links for a new site, even if you don't have much money?

November 20, 2007 - 12:45am

Hi Omarinho
If you have little money that means you do not have a large premium on your time, so the first step is being willing to work hard for long hours. You don't catch up and get ahead without investment.

The three strategies I think work best are

  • create unique content which is focused on your passions
  • interview well known people and/or talk about them
  • create community based projects where you get input from market leaders. after a few say yes make sure you mention that they are participating when you pitch the idea to other thought leaders in your space.
November 19, 2007 - 3:49pm

Hello Aaron,

nice work and nice career, well done.

I'm just trying to copy you in your hard-working manner and wanted to ask you if you could share your stats about the seo book sales.

How many did you sell? When did you start selling? And if possible a monthly statistic if you have such.

I would be intrested about the process of the book writing. Did you sit down and wrote it all and then made corrections or did you rearrange your blogposts into a book? How many days did it take you to write it?

Thank you very much for all your sharings,
I've learned a lot from you.

Greets,
Nex

November 20, 2007 - 12:42am

Hi Nex
At this point I am not disclosing exact sales figures, although that may change in the coming months. I started selling SEO Book in February of 2004.

The first version was quite small...a 24 page HTML document that took about a week to write.

I offered an ~ 10 page blog post full of tips on how to create and market ebooks.

November 19, 2007 - 4:11pm

I've been working on our site recently trying to get it somewhere for our main keyword phrase. I made a mininet last week using main and secondary keyword phrase as backlinks. I got us up to 12 for the main phrase and then when I checked today, nowhere to be found. It dropped nearly 10k in the results!
One problem is that our site is horrid www.carbase.com. We are redoing it, but for now the targeted phrase of 'dealer websites' is not on the main page. I'm trying to do link building so that when the new site does go live it will already have targeted backlinks.
What do you think caused the gigantic drop for the targeted phrase?

November 20, 2007 - 12:53am

Hi Kokopoko
When sites are ranking based on quite artificial criteria sometimes they fluctuate wildly. A small algo change can make a big difference when your site lacks many of the signs of quality that other ranking sites exhibit.

November 19, 2007 - 4:12pm

Hey Aaron,

I'm a frequent reader of your blog and also bought your book through the company I work for. I learned a lot from both sources, although I am having one major problem: I am a poker affiliate.

Even though I am hardcore white hat, doing business can be quite rough sometimes. For example, getting (quality) one way links is a lot harder in this field.

Anyway, my question is about PCC. I decided to try something completely different, so I created a landingpage for a PPC campaign (http://cdpoker.pokerkudos.com).

The thing is, there aren't many programs accepting gambling related ads. So I ended up requesting information in various forums and ended up getting a lot of people sending me their tracking codes :(

Well, I decided to give Adbrite and Bidvertiser a try, but the results were horrible! I have also set up a campaign for Yahoo targeting the UK (yes they do allow gambling ads), but my ads are still pending for review).

Finally my question, and let me start by saying that I appreciate it a lot if you are willing to give me an honest answer.

Can you come up with a few tips to do PPC in the gambling branche? I.e., I like to hear some recommendations about PPC programs if you happen to know it.

Thanks!

Best regards,

Giorgio

November 20, 2007 - 12:58am

HI Giorgio
I am not sure the best spots to start with that sort of stuff. In some cases the second and third tier networks like 7search might have a bit of volume, but not lots, especially because many of those targeting the gaming market know the value of the leads.

This weekend alone I was given multiple email solicitations for marketing gambling stuff.

I think if online gaming and affiliates are two markets that are both getting squeezed by market forces, rather than looking for ways to hunt out scraps and deals I would focus on reinvesting profits into making an industry leading site that kept getting more and more exposure.

For as competitive as gaming is, there are a lot of organic SEO ideas that are not well done yet in that marketplace.

November 19, 2007 - 4:41pm

Hi Aaron. My question involves local search marketing. For the last 6 months or so I have been buying a lot of local related domain for my industry (construction). I want to put those domains to work, build sites around them that is helpful and related to the domain’s I’ve bought. I have a main site that I want everyone to end up at, that involves must of my time, and all of my energy. (If they go to the main site or not, I really don’t care. They can contact me from the mini site, or I simply get an impression of my logo in their head….SCORE.) I am looking at hosting for the websites, and was wondering if I got an unlimited hosting account if I should link them all together. With an unlimited hosting account either the b or c block range would be the same for each site. Would it be unwise to link all of these sites together?
Would it be wise to link all of these sites to my main site? Each site I will spend time working on in the future, but for now they would be getting most traffic from organic, local search.(My domains I bought are also some of my best keywords.) The other thing….I use Google analytics, I was wondering if I have that code in each one of the sites, is that putting me on Google’s radar? Or should I use separate software instead of Google Analytics? (the mini sites will consist of about 500-1000, of which 20 of those will be further developed, the rest will do whatever, I really just wanted the domains.) The other sites will not be like what Marchex did. There may not be a ton of information on them, but they will contain helpful, useful, and very targeted information. I have read some stuff by Bruce Clay about mini sites, and others, but their whole conversation was about….should a person spend time building mini sites or should that content and energy be spent on a single domain? I’m not confused about any of that. I know my answer. So, let me know what you think. Sorry about the late post, and I’ve really enjoyed your blog. Very addicting

November 20, 2007 - 1:56am

Hi Dustinz
I don't think I would cross link all of them. I am guessing that Google already has historical data to footprint and connect your domains together, so at this point approach your forward doings as though you expect them to know that you own all the sites, and don't do anything shady on one part if you do not want to risk the other.

November 19, 2007 - 4:56pm

Aaron,
New Blog for my Fiancee' http://usedcarqueen.com has excellent Google results and decent MSN/live.com results.

After hundreds of Google hits, there isn't a single Yahoo hit yet!

Yahoo's Crawling it:
https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?ei=UTF-8&p=http://usedca...

Can it be: Google ad sense + New URL = ban?

thnx,
Joe

November 20, 2007 - 1:02am

Hi Joe
That site has almost no inbound link equity as of yet. I would focus a bit more on that front.

I don't think Yahoo! is banning new sites just for having AdSense. Yahoo! even inserts YouTube videos in their search results, so they are not as anti-competitive as some companies are.

November 19, 2007 - 4:59pm

Does the 950 penalty exist and how do you get out of it?

November 20, 2007 - 1:52am

Hi Kokopoko
Some pages get filtered for being too aligned with a keyword. Those pages can get un-filtered by being less aligned with the target keyword.

Some pages see a drastic lowering in rankings due to a lack of community based links on a local re-ranking of the results. Make sure your site has some in community links from the other pages in the result set of your target term.

November 19, 2007 - 5:02pm

Starting a blog (no comments on how long it took), and want to make sure that I "do it right the first time" from an SEO perspective. If you could point me in the right direction (no need to outline everything; links to posts covering this are fine), I would greatly appreciate it. Remember, beginner when it comes to this.

Thanks in advance,

Dan

November 20, 2007 - 1:51am

Hi Dan

November 19, 2007 - 5:13pm

Aaron:

I was wondering if you could look over www.riderstv.com and give some suggestions on how to promote the site.

Jim

November 20, 2007 - 1:47am

Hi Jim

Sooo many ideas... lets see

  • I saw someone handing out stickers in one of those videos...perhaps you can give out stickers and tshirts
  • thicken up the site a bit with featured text and video content that anchors the site. for example why not an article and video combo on how to do an olly (not sure if I spelled that correctly) or some other moves.
  • industry calendar of events
  • glossary
  • reviews of different products (these bring in revs too if they are done well)
  • typical link building
  • widgets and syndication...when people syndicate your videos put an html link back to the source inside that syndication code
  • hold community based contests with awards and prizes
  • give people a free welcome pack when they sign up, complete w stickers and tshirts...or at least give this to the top contributors

Also the link to the upload section goes to a registration page. Make sure the registration page posts the benefits of registering, such as being able to upload, comment on stories, participate in community, etc.

November 19, 2007 - 5:32pm

I am generally ranked number one on Google for one of our major terms in every English language country except Nigeria.... any suggestions on getting that last country... does Nigeria use a different algo?

November 20, 2007 - 1:40am

Hi Mate
Are you trying to screw w me? I have not done much work in Nigeria, but some companies specifically block traffic from some areas due to high rates of fraud. Maybe something like that is going on.

November 19, 2007 - 5:53pm

Any special reason why edu sites rank so well for pharmaceutical search terms and why might the Google spam fighters aren't wielding their mighty powers on a problem which is clearly resulting in a lesser user experience?

November 20, 2007 - 1:13am

Hi Todd
How you doing buddy?

For as sophisticated as Google claims to be some of these .edu ranking problems have stuck around for years.

They clean it out every now and then, but it is sorta a "whack a mole" situation where when they kill one another pops right back up.

I think the truth is that many of the .edu pages that redirect to affiliate pages are providing searchers with a good user experience. The conversion numbers don't lie.

Also remember that if few legitimate sites have published content about "buy Viagra" then it is easy for spam to rank for it. Spam pages competing for that query are mostly competing against more spam. I don't know if there are any legitimate sites using buy Viagra in their page titles and anchor text.

November 19, 2007 - 8:48pm

Aaron-

Thanks for this site, it is fantastic information.

I was wondering if you had any thoughts on Affiliate Elite?

It isnt exactly free, but definitely not as much as the others that are out there.

My need is to be able to enter my competitors domain and find all the ads and keywords they are bidding on.

Thanks,
Peter

November 20, 2007 - 1:17am

Hi Peter
I don't think it is by any means comprehensive, but it can offer you a decent snapshot. I think it probably has a database similar to that used by SEO Digger, because I remember Brad Callen asking about SEO Digger on the Digital Point forums.

It comes with a money back guarantee, so it doesn't hurt to try it.

November 19, 2007 - 9:08pm

Hi Aaron,

Is there a current problem with your Google rank checker? I'm getting a 0 result on everything now. My actual Google rank is still the same.
Examples:
#1 spot for brangelina.net on "brangelina" search

#20 spot for eyeclops.blogspot.com on "eyeclops" search

#51 to #57 spot for studentloanadvice.blogspot.com on "sallie mae" search

Thanks,
David

November 20, 2007 - 1:36am

Hi David
I will try to get that fixed soon. Sorry about that.

November 19, 2007 - 10:08pm

Hey there,
Well my web site is in a category with very little competition, and I rank fairly well on a few keywords, but I dont understand why I am not higher ranked!

Anyway, the web site is http://www.theshrimpfarm.com/

The keywords I want to rank higher on are:

Cherry Shrimp (now #4, but should be #1)
Dwarf Shrimp (now #9 should be 1 or 2)

Thank you in advance for what ever assistance you can offer!

November 20, 2007 - 1:34am

Hi Danimal62
It looks like most of your inbound links come from plantedtank.net. I would look to build links from a number of additional websites to build off of the success you have had thusfar.

If you use the website health check tool, you will see that many of your forum registration pages are getting indexed, and that you have some page title duplication issues.

November 19, 2007 - 11:01pm

Hello,

When choosing a host does location matter? Meaning, if I were intending on putting up a site for a UK audience, and hosted that site in Virginia, would there be any real negative effects in doing so? I understand that server maintentance may become an issue in terms of affecting traffic during peak uptimes but how about SEO and ranking in different search engines such as Google UK?

November 20, 2007 - 1:30am

Hi Andy
I think you are best off to host the site with a host that hosts on IP address ranges physically located inside the country you want to rank in.

November 19, 2007 - 11:36pm

First I just want to say your SEOBook is a great, I have created a hard copy version so I can refer to it regularly.

My question is to do with page titles.
Right now my page titles for each page look like this:

"Broad Keyword Phrase | Topic Name"

I wanted to change the "Broad Keyword Phrase" to be our website name now that we are more recognized kind of like wikipedia does.

The new page titles look like this:

"DomainName.com | Topic Name"

Does it hurt to have your domain name on every page title? Also, I have heard that putting the keyword first is beneficial. Would it make any difference if the page title was:

"Topic Name | DomainName.com"

Most importantly, each topic on our website has different parts. I haven't bothered changing the page titles for those pages except by adding (2) for Part 2 and (3) for Part 3:

"DomainName.com | Topic Name"
"DomainName.com | Topic Name (2)"
"DomainName.com | Topic Name (3)"
etc.

Is this hurting anything by having repeating page titles? Should I be more creative with my page titles so they are different for each page of a specific topic?

Any thoughts would be great. Thanks again!

November 20, 2007 - 1:23am

Hi Avertmat
I think it is best to put the site name at the end of the page title. Two reasons

  • Ranking: Some search engines will rank sites better if the most important words in the page title are near the start of the page title.
  • Clickability: A page title that has the most relevant parts near the start of it is going to be more likely to get clicked than one that does not.

As far as your second question goes, I do not like the (2) and (3) idea. At the best you are splitting link equity amongst the various pages, but if it is overdone that can also cause crawling issues.

It is much better to do deeper keyword research and find other relevant keyword modifiers to use on those deeper pages rather than practicing keyword canibalization.

November 20, 2007 - 12:58am

Hi Aaron,

What a huge amount of useful advice you have provided herein!

My question is a follow-up on other questions that have addressed the use of nofollow of monthly archive pages. I currently have an archive page that allows followed linking to categories and tags (Wordpress, with none of the tags duplicating the categories) and that has nofollow coding for the monthly archives and author links. An example nofollow of the monthly linking is as follows:

November 2007

Is this going to ultimately screw me all the way around given that my site titles have a date in them, with an example being

http://www.keenerliving.com/2007/11/19/my-reinstallation-of-leopard/

Note that I have not used my robots.txt file for any nofollows. This is strictly via a separate, crawlable page (an "archives" page) on my site.

Much thanks.

November 20, 2007 - 2:04am

Hi Keenerliving
You can see what pages Google has indexed and see if there are any issues there.

A few things you might want to do

  • nofollow the stumbleupon and other social links
  • use previous and next links in posts to further facilitate crawling neighboring posts

Aesthetically I would also like to see a bit more in the sidebar so the site feels more full and more active.

November 20, 2007 - 1:02am

Aaron,

Is a domain name that has been black-listed by Wikipedia worthless or shall I rather ignore WP because one never got traffic from it anyway? Some WP SPAM Cops are going way overboard and suddenly you are on the monthly SPAM archive ....! Just wondering.

Chris

November 20, 2007 - 1:54am

Hi Chris
I think at some points in time I ended up on some spam lists and it didn't hurt me too bad. Not sure how important exposure on that stream is though. Plus you can always set up a second internet connection or use open proxies if needed.

November 20, 2007 - 2:33am

Aaron,

Thank you much for the good advice. I'll nofollow the social links and add more to the sidebar. Much appreciated,
Bruce
Keener Living

November 20, 2007 - 3:07am

Hi Aaron,

I am excited and thankful that you will take the time to look at a website and give advice.

On http://www.spiralhaircase.com have had a PR6 for years and have recently moved down to a PR4. Could this be because I have recently implemented a database for my products and consequently have 7000 more pages indexed in google? I haven't noticed that I've lost any backlinks so that is the only thing I can come up with. Any other ideas?

Thanks so much for your awesome site and I wanted to let you know that I absolutely love the google toolbar SEO buttons I found on here!

:)Sherri

November 20, 2007 - 3:59am

Hi Sherri
Glad to know you liked the toolbar buttons. :)

If you haven't lost any traffic then I would not worry about PageRank. As Google adds more pages to the index the PageRank of each page goes down unless it acquires links at a rate as fast or faster than the growth of the web.

And yes, when you add a lot of pages that can pull down some of the PageRank scores because more PageRank is flowing deeper and thus a bit less internal PageRank flows back up to the top. Again, if you haven't lost any traffic then I would not worry abou PageRank.

BTW I would recommend hosting your blog on your own site instead of having it on blogspot.

November 20, 2007 - 3:14am

I have had a google penalty applied on my website and i lost nearly all of my income. I was earning around $1000 a day from all my phrases and now zilch.

Is there a specific way to figure out what i have done to trip the switch.

my site contains the following:

1) landing pages designed to rank for certain terms. with only a little content but designed to convert traffic and make money. This is a small percent of the site maybe 1%.

2) i have bought a ton of links. Not from any networks. From messageboard posts and from contacting webmasters directly. I have a diverse anchor text variety. IE not all same anchor.

3) I still rank for my site name.

4) i am 100% certain this isnt an algo change. I was getting over 70k daily uniques from google and have 400kbacklinks according to google.

5) i still maintain the same pagerank and have even more pages indexed on the site compared to before. But they are not ranking... but previously i was getting top 10 for everything i chose.

6) This was 22 days ago. Could i be caught up in a swirl and return? or does some kind of filter / penalty seemed to be tripped. I would say the site is over optimized with power indexing strategies and perfect onpage for google. h1, titles etc. + the combination of tons of links. Most on homepage but a good % deep links.

Google ruined my business. Is there anyway to get it back. Where do i start?

November 20, 2007 - 3:18am

for obvious reasons i dont want to post the url here but i can pay you Aaron for a detailed review or atleast send you the URL. i was briefly in contact with you before.

November 20, 2007 - 3:25am

also, if i have a penalty. could i 301 the whole site to a new domain and get insta rank?

November 20, 2007 - 3:36am

Hi Squizzel
Based on the background it sounds like that site is probably done for.

November 20, 2007 - 4:00am

two girls one cup... shit.

November 20, 2007 - 4:04am

If i am allowed a second question i want to ask you the following. Do you think google care 1 bit about the adult industry?

If you detail backlink lookup the top 10 sites for porn, free porn and other huge adult terms. They are all paid links. and im not talking about a few paid links. Im talking about blatently obvious tens / hundreds of thousands of dollars buying links.

Same goes for pharma, gambling, poker and a few more.

November 20, 2007 - 4:17am

Hi Squizzel
I believe that in the really dirty and competitive industries Google believes in natural market forces and market competition, and that fierce competition will drive out much of the profits. In less competitive and more mainstream industries policing is more common, IMHO.

November 20, 2007 - 4:18am

I got to get on to making more posts, so I have to close this post for now.

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