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SEO Tricks That Will Lower Ranking

Dec 2, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   search engine, seo, website principles  //  Comments Off

So, the time has come for you to consider, or more likely than not, to reconsider your SEO strategy. Perhaps you’re new to the game, and don’t even know what SEO is. Don’t worry, we’ll explain it. We’ll also explain some tactics that seem at first glance to be good ideas, but really aren’t. Best of all, we’ll show you how to spot these bad ideas so your site doesn’t pay the consequences.
For those of you who have been living on an isolated tropical island paradise, or have been in prison, for the last few years and do not know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This term is a kind of a rubric, that rather than referring to one or two things that you can do to improve your listing, covers a wide range of possible actions and behaviors that can help you to grow your site in popularity and make you untold amounts of money. Essentially these are the actions that a site takes to cater to the searching algorithms that search engines use to determine which sites get a high ranking, and which ones land on the bottom of page 17 in the listings.

These tools can be a great thing. They can help you get your site straight to the top and bring you scores of readers, and if they are done well you can get the site to the top of the search engine results pages for several sets of related keywords, and not just one set. The name of the game here is popularity, and despite the fact that we had all hoped to get away from that when the senior prom was over, being popular still matters when you are online. The bottom line is popularity means ad revenues and that means power.

Since the world of search engines depends on algorithms, some of which, despite sounding very vague, are actually quite advanced, you have to be very careful what you do when you play with SEO tricks. Sure, some of them can raise your site up to the top spot, but others can drag you down without so much as a second thought. Choosing not just the right principles, but the right way to execute them, becomes the chief task of those people who choose to practice SEO.

That is right, you understood me just fine. You can use the right principles and still find yourself with a bad idea on your hands. This, in addition to being quite maddening if you think about it for too long, also means that you have to be extremely careful when you screen your ideas. Something that sounds like a great idea to begin with and is even based on a sound principle, can be a big no-no if you want to keep your site’s rankings up. That careful consideration is, of course, a sound practice in most areas of your life, but you should be sure that you don’t get suckered in.

That is not to say that I expect you to become an expert in the field overnight; even a seasoned professional would have to take a look at the details of the execution before deciding if this is a good plan or a bad plan. To help you get some judgment under your belt, we will talk about some of the techniques that have already been identified as a bad idea, despite the good principles that are behind them. Then we will talk a little about how to identify a bad idea on your own, because the bad ideas will always pop up in new forms now and again. So you will have to be ever vigilant before you try out anything new.

Link Building Via Service

When done in a genuine way, building links between sites is a great way to raise your listings. When you hire a service to do it, you have a problem, because you lose control. Unless the service that you use is extremely professional, very discrete and amazingly well connected, it is an absolute certainty that you should pass it by without a second glance.

When you give up control, especially to a service, you run the very serious risk of finding yourself linked with a site that is considered to be in a “Bad Neighborhood,” which means that being linked to them will actually lower your rankings seriously. If you want to build links, you should do so in a controlled environment, and with sites that are relevant to your site’s content. Don’t go crazy and don’t get lazy.

When you ad a keyword to your site, whether it be in the META tags or, if you own a blog, in the visible tags, then those tags should always be relevant to your content, and never be just a random listing of words that you think will send search engines to your site. To be honest, you always want to keep these words short, sweet and non-repetitive; while many of the search engines have stopped using these words to place sites into the top section of the results, they have not stopped using them to rule sites out.

If your site’s META tag list seems like it came from the dictionary, then you will find your brilliant strategy to increase your rankings has lowered them instead. A similar trick is done with titles on a site. This technique, more commonly known as “Title Stacking,” is another way of adding more keywords for the search engines to index, and they have caught on. Avoid both of these like the black plague.

Doorway Pages

This one sounds like it may be a good idea. You can make a lot of sub pages that direct to the information that your user wants to know, they get the information, and you get a lot of pages that can help to increase your rankings on a multitude of sets of key words. But this technique just makes most search engines upset, because these gateway sites have very little content on them, and their primary goal is to re-direct. I would suggest that you avoid this at all costs.

Borrowing Content

If you own content from another, similar site, or you are just getting content for the site from an article bank, you can run into these serious problems. Sites that are deemed to be using nothing but copy and paste content will run into problems with the engines right away, so if you are going to re-use content it should only be a small percentage of your site, and never on the main page. Also, as a side note, if you steal someone else’s content, you can end up getting your site removed wholesale. You also run the risk of getting sued.

Now that you have an inkling of some of the bad ideas, founded on good principles, it is time to talk about how you are going to learn to spot these ideas as they come up in the world of online content promotions.

To do this, you need to open up the hood and poke around at the idea’s mechanics to see if everything is in order, by asking some questions.

Question 1. Does this topic sound like any known bad practices?

Remember how I introduced title stacking as a sub-set of META tag abuse? That is because they have a set of similarities which make them sibling ideas. If you run across a sibling idea to one of the ones that you already know is a bad plan, then you should pass it by. No hesitation and no further questions needed.

Question 2. How does this serve the readers or the searchers?

If the only benefit is to the site, then the odds are that it will get you lowered. Search engines and sites are supposed to exist for end users. If the tactic causes an impairment to their finding what they want, then it will be used as a reason to knock you down. Search engines know where their money comes from, and it is not from you.

Question 3. Does this seem like spam?

If it is the kind of tactic that you would be annoyed to encounter, either while searching or in an e-mail, then you should probably skip it. No one likes a spammer, and the search engines are no exception to that statement. So if you have the distinct odor of spam in your nostrils, you should pass up this idea and go on to the next one.

Question 4. Does it just feel wrong?

Even if you can’t quantify the why of it, if an idea feels wrong for your site or for your conscience, then you should not use it, wither or not it will be treated negatively by
the search engines. You have to trust you instincts and err on the side of caution.

Now that you know, you can be vigilant to keep your site from having its rankings lowered by an honest mistake that makes you seem like you are trying to do something that is evil — even though we both know that you would never, ever do a thing like that.

301 Redirect – The SEO Way

Dec 2, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   301, keyword, linking, website principles  //  Comments Off

In this article I will discuss page redirection techniques, what works and what to avoid.

In this article I will discuss page redirection techniques, what works and what to avoid.

What is page redirection and why would you want to use it?

Let’s say you rename a page on your website, for whatever reason. Perhaps you decided to revamp your entire naming convention, perhaps you decided to restructure your site and need to move pages into different folders, or you just realized that you are missing valuable keywords.

Let’s elaborate a bit on the keywords issue, since it is part of your search engine ranking success.

Let’s say the page in question is about customized USB drives and you named it page1.htm. Then you read some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) articles and you found out that some search engines use words in the actual file name as search keywords. Next time you do a Google search, take a look at the results, most will have words in the actual file name (in the URL section) bolded, denoting a keyword match. Your USB drives page will definitely benefit if named something like custom_usb_drives.htm instead.

Now that you renamed your page, you just created a symphony of issues for yourself, for your users and for your position in search engine results.

Linking issues:

You will have to point every link on your site to the new page name. If your site is small, it should not be a big deal, but if your site is large, you will inevitably make mistakes, mainly forgetting a link or two. This will result in visitors getting the dreaded “404 page not found” error when clicking on your links, robots (also know as crawlers or spiders) avoiding you, etc. Also, if you are heavily relying on visitors from search engines, then again, people will get a “404 page not found error”.

Let’s use the previous example, for a long time your page1.htm was indexed by major search engines. If someone types “custom usb drives” in a search engine box, your page shows up on the first search results screen. That is fantastic, only if someone clicks on the link, they will be pointed to page1.htm, not to custom_usb_drives.htm, because the first page is the one in the search engine’s index. It will take time, sometimes months, before the search engines update their indexes with your new page name.

Lost Page Rank (PR) issues:

Google developed a proprietary algorithm that assigns a Page Rank (PR) to every page on the web. PR is a number from 1 to 10 (10 being the ideal) and is intended to be a representation of how useful and popular a given page is. PR is influenced by many factors, one of the crucial ones being Link Popularity. Link Popularity is a representation of how many “quality” or “relevant” sites link to your page. Without getting into too much detail, it is increasingly difficult and time consuming to achieve a high PR for your pages, especially if you don’t have a really unique website with exceptional and highly sought after content. If you are merely operating a commercial site, in a competitive market (such as selling custom branded USB drives, as in our example), then it takes a lot of time and hard work to build a good page PR.

When you rename a page and discard the old page, you also discard the PR of the page. Your renamed page will be seen as a totally new page, with 0 PR.

What is the solution?

I will start by enumerating some of the methods used by the non-initiated.

Not recommended solution 1: Duplicate content.

First thing that probably comes in you mind is: well, why can’t you just duplicate the page and let nature take its course. In other words, you will have two identical pages, one named page1.htm and one custom_usb_drives.htm. This gives you time to update all links and the search engines will eventually index the new page.

This solution is not viable because search engines will penalize you quite badly, ‘thinking’ that you are trying to scam them by using the ‘duplicate content’ technique.

Not recommended solution 2: Custom error message.

You could create a custom error page. However, you will lose rankings on the next search engine update as the file will appear to be non-existent. As discussed above, it could be some time before the page with the new name will be indexed and will appear in people’s searches. Also, your web site visitors will be frustrated by the fact that they now have to dig through your site to find the desired information.

Not recommended solution 3: An HTML Meta redirect.

You could implement a so called Meta refresh in a blank or customized page that has the name of the old page (in our example, page1.htm) that points to the new page. The redirect can be instant, or delayed by a predetermine amount of time. The delayed redirect has the advantage that you can place an extra message, such as “please be aware that the page you are looking for changed location….. etc., etc…. you will be redirected automatically to the new location”

In the past, this was probably the most used technique.

Without getting into the mechanics of the Meta redirect, which is basically a META tag statement you ad to your HEADER section, know that there are also Java Script techniques that achieve similar results.

What is bad about this is that this is a technique often used by spammers to trick search engines and it should be avoided, unless the page is in a section of your site that isn’t indexed (also known as spidered or crawled). Search engine spammers create a page that is optimized for certain keywords and phrases – it usually has no real content. The page is then picked up by some search engines, but when a visitor clicks on the search engine entry, they are redirected to another site, often unrelated. Most search engines have filters to detect this. Using this form of search engine deception will see a site eventually banned or penalized by major players such as Google.

The recommended redirect strategy – 301 Redirect

A 301 redirect is the most efficient, visitor friendly, robot (spider, crawler) friendly and search engine friendly solution around for web sites that are hosted on servers running Apache. If you are not sure, check with your hosting provider.

A 301 redirect is just a set of commands you type into your .htaccess file.

When a visitor (whether human or robotic) requests a web page via any means, your web server checks for a .htaccess file. The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and how to handle certain errors.

The code “301″ is interpreted as “moved permanently”. After the code, the URL of the missing or renamed page is noted, followed by a space, then followed by the new location or file name.

First of all, you’ll need to find the .htaccess file in the root directory of where all your web pages are stored. If there is no .htaccess file there, you can create one with Notepad or a similar application. Make sure when you name the file that you remember to put the “.” at the beginning of the file name. This file has no tail extension.

Some hosting providers offer redirect services through their “control panels”, so you don’t have to perform low level changes on the .htaccess file itself. Instead, they provide a user friendly interface for this. Check with your hosting provider to see what the optimal way to perform a 301 redirect is in your case. I will continue the article with the barebones solution.

If there is a .htaccess file already in existence with lines of code present, be very careful not to change any existing line unless you are familiar with the functions of the file.

Scroll down past all the existing code, leave a line space, th
en create a new line that follows this example:

redirect 301 /folder/page1.htm http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm

It’s as easy as that. Save the file, upload it back into your web and test it out by typing in the old address to the page you’ve changed. You should be instantly and seamlessly transported to the new location.

Notes: Be sure not to add “http://www” to the first part of the statement – just put the path from the top level of your site to the page. Also ensure that you leave a single space between these elements:

redirect 301 (the instruction that the page has moved)

/folder/page1.htm (the original folder path and file name)

http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm (new path and file name)

The same format applies not only to renamed files, but also to files moved to a different location.

The 301 redirect is the safest way to preserve your rankings. On the next indexing (crawling, spidering), the search engine robot will obey the rule indicated in your .htaccess file and index the new page name every time a link or its internal database tries to access the old page. In the next update (again, this could take months), the old file name and path will be dropped and replaced with the new one. Sometimes you may see alternating old/new file names during the transition period, along with some possible fluctuations in rankings as things settle. Don’t panic, this is normal.

What if your site is hosted on a Microsoft IIS server instead?

If you have access to the server, do this: In internet services manager, right click on the file or folder you wish to redirect. Select the radio titled “a redirection to a URL”. Enter the redirection page, check “The exact url entered above” and the “A permanent redirection for this resource”. Click “Apply”.

If you do not have access to the server, ask your host to point you into the right direction.

In conclusion, the best and the most transparent way (to both human and robotic users) to rename and move files on your web site, while preserving your search engine ranks is the 301 redirect.

Google's Search Engine Optimization Guide

Nov 20, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, search engine optimization  //  Comments Off

Welcome to Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. This document first began as an effort to help teams within Google, but we thought it’d be just as useful to webmasters that are new to the topic of search engine optimization and wish to improve their sites’ interaction with both users and search engines. Although this guide won’t tell you any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first for queries in Google (sorry!), following the best practices outlined below will make it easier for search engines to both crawl and index your content.

Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results. You’re likely already familiar with many of the topics in this
guide, because they’re essential ingredients for any webpage, but you may not be making the most out of them.

Search engine optimization affects only organic search results, not paid or “sponsored” results, such as Google AdWords Full SEO Guide Here

51% of firms cite better conversion rates for using search engine marketing

Nov 20, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   fresh traffic, internet marketing, search engine optimization  //  Comments Off

New research has found that 51 per cent of businesses use search engine marketing in order to drive better conversion rates in online and offline sales.

Aberdeen Group conducted a study of 200 organisations around the globe in order to ascertain what makes the “Best-in-Class” so much better than the rest.

Steve Lawrence, research analyst at Aberdeen and author of the research report “What Does It Take to Create Best-in-Class Search Engine Marketing?”, commented: “Companies, large and small, will need to justify to their executives the successes and failures in search marketing efforts in a quantifiable way or risk losing budget.”

Furthermore, he stated that, regardless of the market, businesses now need to maximise their return on investment as tougher economic times mean firms are fighting for fewer customers overall.

Aberdeen Group is a fact-based research company that is focused predominantly on the technology-driven global value chain.

Last year the company published over 100 extensive research studies and counts more than 93 per cent of the Software 500 among its client-base.

News brought to you by Fresh – specialists in Search Engine Optimization and Internet Marketing.

Google extends search engine optimization possibilities with voice search

Nov 20, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, internet marketing, search engine optimization  //  Comments Off

Online search provider Google has announced the launch of new voice search capabilities for Google Mobile App on the iPhone.

Gummi Hafsteinsson, product manager for the Google Mobile team, wrote in the official blog that the use of this tool can help to improve search engine optimisation for many businesses as it enables the user to input their location and retrieve results based on a user’s whereabouts and their proximity to what it is they are searching for.

Once the application is up and running on the phone, the user does not have to press any buttons to search the internet – they simply hold the phone to their ear, say what it is that they are looking for and wait for a beep to signify that the app has understood the request.

Meanwhile, Nick Fox, director of business product management at Google, recently commented in his blog that the company is continuing to experiment with advertising in unconventional places – for example Google’s sponsored content on the social video networking site YouTube.

News brought to you by Fresh – a best practice Internet Marketing Agency

Yes We Can – Internet Key to Barack Obama Victories

Nov 10, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet, internet strategy, obama  //  Comments Off

The Internet has been moving to the mainstream of political life in the US for some years.

But in this presidential cycle it has been particularly important for the Obama campaign, which was starting from scratch with few resources and little name recognition.

The Internet favours the outsider, and gives them the ability to quickly mobilise supporters and money online.

And the more nimble use of the Internet by the Obama campaign in its early stages helped him overcome the huge initial lead of Hillary Clinton in the presidential nominating race.

Ready to go

Mr Obama’s Internet strategy was at the heart of his plan to win the Democratic nomination, according to expert Phil Noble, who tracks trends in relation to the Internet and politics.

When Senator Obama announced his campaign, his Internet site was already fully developed and ready to go – with a set of tools which allowed supporters to meet and organise as well as contribute money.

According to Michael Turk, the e-campaign director for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, the Democrats had learned the lessons of 2004 very well in an “arms race” between rival teams of developers.

John Kerry depended on online fundraising in the 2004 campaign
Mr Noble says he expects Mr Obama to raise $1 billion online during the 2008 campaign, 12 times as much as John Kerry raised through online fundraising in 2004.

We here at Fresh Traffic are honored to have been at the forefront of this Internet push, see the full speech here

Stop In-House SEO Disasters Now!

Oct 10, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, seo, SEO Expert  //  Comments Off

The central focus of many SEO efforts is reaching the right people with the right information at the right time. Third-party search engine marketing firms, many of whom work tirelessly helping clients consume information in the highly dynamic world of SEO, face many challenges.

Third-party vendors or agencies are often forced into difficult situations in helping disjointed entities, such as design and programming departments, communicate effectively and achieve compromise to procreate sound discipline and ultimately achieve victory over hypocrisy.

What if you were the one on the inside, making the moves? I talked to in-house SEO folks about their daily frustrations in order to come up with a few best practices and identify problematic personalities. Here’s a discussion mash of that dialogue.

Megalomaniac Entitlement Syndrome (MES)

The MES (pronounced “mess”) brand of evil is easily identified as the “noob” with a passion for screwing up otherwise well-intentioned plans. The “noob” is not to be confused with the other form of new player, “newb,” in a particular arena who actually has intentions of getting better in a particular discipline.

A “noob” is just in the game to create chaos for the sake of his or her ego. The megalomaniac usually carries a senior management title (hence the entitlement) and can be identified by making unusually arrogant requests of the in-house search specialist.

Such requests can be identified very easily and will include irrational, ego-driven demands. For example, having just received one’s massage license, MES afflicted will demand to be number one in search results for said term and feel entitled to that position. The problem here: someone may actually promise the MES afflicted said position.

In-house SEO folks say the best way to counteract the effects of MES is to identify it early and treat it with a barrage of rational ideas. Sadly, many of the untreated MES afflicted end up either driving themselves or their staffs into a padded room.

Ill-informed Executive Decision Maker (IEDM)

Similar to the MES entry, the IEDM (pronounced “I-idiom”) is identified by making nutty decisions armed with enough information to be dangerous. For example, the IEDM may say something like, “My brother-in-law knows all about that search stuff, and I hired him to help you.”

According to many of the experts I spoke with, said brother-in-law is so poorly equipped to handle anything search related, he often causes nearly irreparable damage with his “advice,” and the in-house SEO practitioner spends more time doing damage control than achieving results.

The IEDM is a massive delegator that has yet to learn the delicate art of delegating to competence, as opposed to incompetence.

Counteracting the effects on an IEDM can be pretty simple. Many accept the nepotism or favoritism as a part of doing business and simply ignore the advice of said consultant while implementing their own strategic plan.

Screwball Consultant Meltdown (SCM)

The SCM (pronounced “scum”) is an affliction of the highest order that affects many in-house SEO folks who are either duped by consultants with a great sales pitch or have consultants forced upon them by IEDM’s.

SCM is a progressive disorder that usually can’t be treated with early detection. Those affected by the SCM often don’t see it coming. The consultants often bypass the in-house SEO practitioner and consistently attempt to undermine their efforts by abandoning contact protocols. They reach out to senior management directly and pile on unrealistic expectations, armed with misinformation.

There are few effective treatments for SCM, though the disorder has been linked to causative factors associated with the creation of IEDMs. Many have applied the IEDM treatment to SCM, though once meltdown has been realized, some never return from the abyss.

Matt Cutts Hater/Manipulator (MCHMr)

The MCHMr (pronounced M-C-hammer) spends all of his time reading Matt Cutts’ blog and attempts to counter-engineer or circumvent the efforts of Googlers everywhere. The MCHMr views everything Google does as evil, and this psychosis has bled into other areas of his or her life.

You can identify the MCHMr by intermittent but consistent negative references to either Matt Cutts or other Google representatives. They will attempt to dissuade senior management from listening to logic and reason by suggesting that Google is simply furthering its own evil agenda.

To date, the best way to counter the MCHMr is to stay on top of the information produced by the Google team, cross referencing the information with your own logical conclusions, and citing that information in each tactical execution.

And Yet, It Still Happens

The world is changing, but not as quickly as we’d like it to. Believe it or not, I still get calls from brand marketers and site owners (names withheld to protect the desperately naive) asking for advice on the best “SEO software.”

“SEO software?” Nice one. While I’m at it, I usually also pass along Batman’s phone number and contact information for the Green Lantern, just in case.

At the end of the day, whether you’re in the house or outside it, fighting the good fight is never easy. Though we don’t do it enough, hat’s off to the in-house SEO practitioners everywhere.

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce 2008th Member

Sep 30, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   online marketing, seo, Winnipeg  //  Comments Off

The Fresh Traffic Group’s Jerry Booth was recognized at a Chamber luncheon on Monday 29th as the city’s 2008th member.

He was welcomed in by the organizations president & CEO Dave Angus.

The days event was a who’s who in Winnipeg Business Circles with guest speaker Gail Asper presiding.

Jerry says the Fresh Traffic Group is hoping to get involved with all the new and exciting things happening in the city by bringing the online marketing skills required to new projects like the airport expansion, tourism and the human rights museum.

Internet Advertising will rise by 20 per cent this year

Sep 28, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet advertising, internet marketing  //  Comments Off

PricewaterhouseCoopers releases a new report suggesting that spending on Internet Advertising will rise by 20 per cent this year, with expenditure on search to soar by 30 per cent.
It cited the attractiveness of the online medium’s return on investment compared with other marketing channels as one of the main reasons for this predicted growth in the face of the slowing economy.

Yahoo!announced the launch of a new ad platform allowing businesses to buy and sell display ads from one web-based service.
The APT platform is currently being used by a small number of local US newspapers and will be rolled out to more customers in 2009.

MySpace finally launched its long-awaited music service, MySpace Music, which offers free streaming and paid-for downloads, as well as a range of tickets and other merchandise.
Users can build their own playlists and the service is primarily ad-supported.

Meanwhile, Hitwise released new figures showing that the credit crunch is prompting large numbers of Britons to look on the internet for money-saving deals and vouchers, as well as online sales.

Big Jump In Watching TV Online

Aug 26, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet advertising, online  //  Comments Off

The number of people using the internet to catch up on their favourite TV shows has almost doubled in the past year.

Watching TV online increased among the British public from 9% of households in 2007 to 17% in 2008, according to a report by the communications regulator Ofcom.

Viewers are increasingly watching programmes when they want and how they want rather than relying on TV schedules, the report suggested.

It is particularly popular among the 15 to 24-year-old age group, with 26% of them using the internet to watch TV in 2008, up 16% in 12 months.

More than half (51%) used it to watch video clips and webcasts.

The report also found that people in the UK spent a record amount of time on the phone last year.

And for the first time young people have become more attached to their mobiles than television.

They watched nearly an hour less TV each week (17 hours) in 2007 than they did in 2002.

Pensioners are increasingly surfing the internet with take-up of computers, mobiles, the internet and digital TV growing at a faster rate among older people than the rest of the population.

The so-called silver surfer, whose interest in such technology has been low until now, is particularly keen on using the internet for email, instant messaging and chat rooms, while a fifth also contribute to someone else’s blog.

Over-65s spend 90 minutes more time online at home each day than their younger counterparts.

For the first time, more money was spent on online advertising spend than the combined advertising spend on ITV1, Channel 4, S4C and Five.

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