Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

SEO Myth: Having a Blog Means Top Rankings

By | Business Intelligence, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, seo, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | 18 Comments

Webmasters and site owners everywhere are looking for the holy grail of search engine optimization. They’re looking for that one thing they can do to get top rankings in the search engines. They want SEO to be easy. They don’t want to invest in time-consuming link building, article marketing, social media marketing, or website usability improvements. Worst of all they are still under the assumption that one thing will get them to the top of the search engines – blogging.

Enough websites, business periodicals, and newspapers have written about the benefits of business blogging that business owners and marketing managers with little to no experience with internet marketing have latched onto it as the holy grail of search engine optimization. Those in the business of web development and SEO have not helped matters at all. They continue to push the easy sale of business blogging on every client that walks through their door even though some businesses just have no reason to blog. Other businesses simply have no time to blog. Believe me blogging is time consuming as is often the first thing in our office to get neglected when we get outrageously busy. If you don’t have the time to manage your regular website do you think you will have time to blog as well?

Beyond the question of whether or not your business should have a blog lies the fact that blogging is not the holy grail of search engine optimization. There is no holy grail of SEO. There is no one thing you can invest minimal time in to achieve top rankings. It takes a considerable investment of time, either your own or that of an internet marketing consultant, in all of the items mentioned at the beginning of this article – link building, article marketing, social media marketing, website usability improvements, on-page content optimization and more in order to get top rankings for your chosen keywords.

Many web designers tout blogs as automagically having search engine optimized structure and code. This is a flat out fallacy. On-page optimization is dependent upon the SEO knowledge of the developer and/or designer. I have seen plenty of blogs with horrible on-page optimization. Even prepackaged free templates can suffer from under-optimized structure and leaving the blog engine’s default settings in place is virtually always an SEO killjoy. (Even our blog is not as optimized as it could be. Feel free to comment on it.)

Are we completely against business blogging? Of course not!! If we were, would we have a blog? We know that blogging can be a very powerful tool in any business’s online marketing arsenal. It is a great way to communicate directly and openly with your customers and potential customers. Blogs can give clarity as to what you or your product does and they can help greatly with online reputation management and customer service. They can even help garner good rankings for long tail terms and phrases related to your main keyword list, but it is not the only thing you, as a site owner, should be doing to create a powerful online identity. Most importantly, business blogging is not the holy grail of search engine optimization.

Reviewing SEO&Web Related Topics from the Past

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Every now and again a day comes along where posts pop up all over the web on topics we’ve covered here on this blog before. Today is one of those days. Below are the new articles and our previous take on the topic. Enjoy!

Reviewing SEO & Web Related Topics from the Past

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Every now and again a day comes along where posts pop up all over the web on topics we’ve covered here on this blog before. Today is one of those days. Below are the new articles and our previous take on the topic. Enjoy!

Vanity in Your Address Bar – WWW or no-WWW

By | Natural Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Tips and Tricks, Web Design | 3 Comments

This is one of those elliptical conversations that seems to never really go away, it just keeps coming back again and again. This time around it is SitePoint that tossed the boomerang in one of their blogs. As they say this is really a rather geeky topic that stays mid-brain with most designers and developers, but is not something most business owners would even care to think about. However this is a top-of-mind topic for most SEO experts and can carry big implications if not handled correctly. First I will touch on the vanity aspect and then move on to the SEO concerns.

Is the WWW Necessary in Today’s Internet?

The answer – it depends.

It depends on a lot of things including the psychology, demographics and the users’ comfort level with computers among many other things. In the SitePoint article they note the launch of their own site, 99designs.com, as well as the social networking service Twitter.com as two examples without the WWW prefix. However, these two sites are targeted at a younger, more technically savvy, demographic that most likely will not even bother typing the WWW prefix in the first place.

With an older demographic on the other hand I would argue it is a requirement to include the WWW. When I used to do computer training courses for a public entity with a large percentage of older employees, instinctively I would speak domain names without the WWW and inevitably someone would ask if they needed to type WWW before that. Their limited knowledge in this area dictated how they interacted with websites. No amount of explaining the how’s and why’s of the internet would make them more comfortable in their interaction.

Any Ol’ Domain Will Do

While browsing through the comments on the SitePoint blog I noticed an overwhelming majority of people stating they didn’t care either way, but they set up domains to work with both the prefix and without it. They do this by changing the setup of their domain records. Few of the respondents indicate whether they use 301 redirects. While I am a proponent of having WWW and no-WWW take the user to a working website I also understand that if you fail to set up a redirect to one or the other it is possible to create a real search marketing snafu. More and more we are finding this to be one of the most overlooked aspects of web design and development. As an example we just took on a client who has had a website for over 7 years and yet their was no domain preference set via a 301 redirect.

The problem with this is referred to as canonicalization errors or canonical problems. It is a huge ugly name for something very simple. Basically search engines will count www.domain.com and domain.com as two separate pages. It doesn’t end there either. They will also see all of the variations below as separate pages.

  • www.domain.com
  • www.domain.com/
  • www.domain.com/index.html (or index.php, index.asp, index.cfm, etc.)
  • domain.com
  • domain.com/
  • domain.com/index.html (or index.php, index.asp, index.cfm, etc.)

Having multiple instances recorded by the search engines is a bad thing. Your website will suffer in the SERPs. One quick way to find out if your site is suffering from this problem is to use the site: and link: commands in Google and look at the total number of results returned.

So for example, type in site:www.domain.com and then try site:domain.com

If the numbers vary then you may have a canonicalization problem.

Which One Should You Use?

From an SEO standpoint I analyze all of the potential versions floating around that may or may not have links to them or may or may not be indexed by the search engines before I just hop on board with one or the other. If the non-WWW version has more backlinks and is generally performing better, I might redirect the WWW version there. However, coming back around to my first point in this article, current SEO performance should only be one piece of the puzzle. Usability and understanding your demographic should also play a role, because your domain name will be on everything (remember Integrated Marketing) from business cards to outdoor billboards to email marketing and PPC campaigns and should always look the same. Right down to how it appears in your address bar.

SEO Do’s and Don’ts: Submitting to Search Engines and Directories

By | Business Intelligence, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Part 4 of our SEO Do’s and Don’ts series is inspired by a direct mail spam on SEO. They claimed they would submit your website to 2,000 new search engines every month! Every month! If you fall for these kind of outrageous statements you’re better off pulling a couple thousand dollars out of your pocket and setting it on fire – month after month.

At least that way you won’t have a negative impact on your website…

Sure there may be an 11th tier search engine for Beanie Babies, but is it going to help your online hardware store sell more hammers? The answer is no, so there is no need to submit to it.

Do: create a sitemap.xml file and upload it to Google’s webmaster tools.
Do: claim your site through Yahoo’s Site Explorer.
Do: pay for a Yahoo! Directory, Business.com, and Best of the Web listing.
Do: submit to industry related directories and search engines if available.
Don’t: pay anyone to submit your site to X,XXX search engines.
Don’t: submit your website by hand to any of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask)
Don’t: submit your website to DMOZ more than once.
Don’t: submit to link farms or sites that require you link back to them.

RFP – Random Friday Post

By | Business Intelligence, RFP - Random Friday Post, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

The best SEO Scam I have seen thus far!This is my favorite snake oil salesman trick I have seen yet (click image for full size image). Make your offer letter look like an invoice and bank that people will pay it without thoroughly reading it! Brilliant!

They’re really counting on two things here:

  1. You’re too stupid to understand what this is and you’ll pay it out of fear.
  2. You’re too busy to read it, investigate the company and then determine if you need to pay it so you just pay it anyways.

Have a Great Weekend!

SEO Do’s and Don’ts: Copywriting

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized | No Comments

We’re kicking off 2008 with part 3 of our Do’s and Don’ts series with some copywriting tips.

Do: Add new copy and/or update current copy on a regular basis. Search engine spiders like new content.
Do: Focus your copy on one or two keywords or phrases. Depending on the overall length of your copy also include 1-2 variations of your core keyword or phrase.
Do: Rewrite articles or press releases for each site you plan to submit them to.
Do: Keep the flow of the copy natural. Remember, you’re writing for your visitors first and the spiders second.
Don’t: Use exactly the same copy in multiple areas.
Don’t: Keyword stuff your content to the point where reading it does not make sense.
Don’t: Scrape content from multiple sites and post it to your own pages.
Don’t: Put blocks of copy in images. Search engine spiders can not read this copy.

SEO Do’s and Don’ts: Website Architecture (Structure)

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Tips and Tricks, Web Design, Westward Strategy | 3 Comments

This is part two of our Do’s and Don’ts series. The purpose here is to provide quick actionable snippets of information to help you avoid any pitfalls in developing a strong web identity.

Do: Link to every page of the site from at least one other page on the site.
Do: Use absolute links in your link code, starting with the “http://”.
Do: Link key phrases within your copy to other relevant pages on the site.
Do: Use keywords in your page and folder names. However, keep the names short and simple. Separate words in page and folder names with a hyphen or an underscore. Do not use spaces or special characters in your naming conventions.
Do: Validate your html code and correct any errors. Use this online validator from the W3C.
Don’t: Use javascript menu systems and links. Links of this kind may not be indexed.
Don’t: Use frames or iframes in your html code.
Don’t: Serve different pages to the search spiders than your human site visitors. Nothing will get you dropped from the SERPs quicker – just ask the German BMW website.
Don’t: Use lots of folders and subfolders in your site structure, spiders like relatively flat websites.

RFP – Random Friday Post

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, RFP - Random Friday Post, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Whenever you are going to be communicating with a mass of people, no matter the medium you plan to use, make sure you have at least one other person proofread your copy. All of your copy, even the subject line.

This email would have made a much larger impact and probably sold more tickets for the show Peter Pan had the subject line been correct. However, I bet their open rate went through the roof to find out who Peter Oan is. 🙂

Proofread and Spell check all of your copy!

Have a great weekend!

SEO Do’s and Don’ts: Link Building

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Tips and Tricks, Westward Strategy | No Comments

This is part one of a Do’s and Don’ts series I hope will help dispel some of the misinformation clients and prospects have stated to us lately about SEO.

I can understand how the average business owner or webmaster can become confused by all information, often conflicting information, that is out there on the net regarding our industry. With no way to regulate the industry the good guys (that’s us) and the bad guys (that’s the snake oil salesmen) are left to clammer over the top of each others’ message in a never ending battle of king of the mountain.

So hopefully this will help. If you find this information useful please let us know and we will continue to publish many more posts like this. Enjoy!

Do: Document all of your link building exercises and progress. Commit time in monthly intervals (minimum) to grow your links.

Do: Vary the anchor text you use for external links to your site. Don’t forget to use your target phrase for the landing page of the link!

Do: Find authority websites in your niche to obtain links from. Use your best judgment on this one by reading the content or reviewing the comments if it is a blog. Can you find the site in a search on the topic it covers?

Do: Utilize news agencies/websites in your niche to link back to your site.

Do: If you feel it is a good advertising investment, purchase links on industry and related websites.

Do: Exchange links on a one-on-one basis with other sites in your niche.

Don’t: Don’t Spam blogs, forums, user groups, guestbooks or anyone else. Ever.

Don’t: Fear Google when it comes to buying links.

Don’t: Buy links for any other purpose than advertising and traffic benefits.

Don’t: Participate in reciprocal link schemes or link farms of any kind.

Hope you enjoyed Part One!