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Canadians Google Facebook more than anything else

Dec 10, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, obama, search engine  //  1 Comment

Canadians have Googled the social-networking site Facebook more than any other website this year.

For the first time, Internet search-engine giant Google released its most-popular and fastest-rising Canuck search queries for 2008.

Google says Britney Spears topped the list for most the sought-after celeb in Canadian cyberspace and the Green party as the most-searched political party.

The California-based company ranks the massively popular Facebook first overall.

It also says the search word “Obama” rose in popularity more than any other term between the end of 2007 and November 2008.

Yahoo! Canada released its most-searched items for 2008 earlier this month.

Yahoo! says Canadians queried the online multiplayer adventure game RuneScape more than anything else this year.

The company also says Miley Cyrus surged ahead of last year’s most-popular celebrity, Britney Spears.

Marketing Lessons from Google

Dec 2, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, online marketing, seo  //  Comments Off

1. Under-monetize to buy mindshare. (almost every category Google is in)

2. Offer a free version to make sure everyone who may want to has a chance to experience your product and/or service. (almost every category Google is in)

3. Offer something that forces people to keep coming back to your website. Alternatively, bundle your stuff into the browser. (the Google Toolbar is huge.)

4. Invest heavily in distribution deals and public relations. Keep making small changes and talking about how important they are so you stay in the media. Maintain that your success is because superior products even while you are buying marketshare.

5. If a business model competes with your model, try to guide the conversation and get market participants to attack each other to your own benefit (this, above all other reasons, is why it is not smart for “professional” SEOs to publicly endorse outing each other…nobody wins but Google).

6. Offer free or low cost versions of cash cows of competing services to distract them and/or force change upon them. (Google Docs)

7. Even when you have a market leading position, keep investing heavily in complimentary markets to reinforce your position as the default. Become ubiquitous. Become a verb. (mobile operating system)

8. When you tap out the potential of your product or service look for ways to make it deeper is select high value verticals. (onebox, universal search, site search)

9. When you have enough leverage and a large enough lead, change the market to put yourself at the center of it. (the Omnibox in Google Chrome)

Use free tools from search engines

Dec 2, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   Google, search engine  //  Comments Off

If your site hasn’t added a Google Sitemap page, consider doing so. Google and other major search engines share a common feature that allows Webmasters to tell them about each page of their sites available for crawling and how often it changes and how important it is to the site. “You’re actually producing a page to have the search engine come to you,” he says.

Another free tool especially useful for small companies with a local clientele is Google Maps, a free local business-listing service, which displays an address, hours and description, sometimes at the top of a search-results page.

“It’s hard to pay for that kind of advertising

Make your site easy to navigate

Dec 2, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   content, keyword, search engine  //  Comments Off

It should be friendly not only to the human eye, but also to search-engine spiders—programs that crawl the Web looking for up-to-date information.

A site’s structure can make a big difference in how easily a spider can crawl it. Web addresses that use keywords related to the content of the page generally help a search engine better correlate them with the site. For example: www.yourwebsite.com/keyword/filename.html. The closer the keyword is to your homepage in the Web address, the more relevant a search engine will consider the page to be for that keyword, and the more likely the search engine will be to give your site a better ranking.

Another consideration is where content is placed on the page. Spiders read pages starting at the top left corner of a page, so pages, keyword links to content that’s especially important for search engines to see should be moved there.

Focus each page on one theme.

Dec 2, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   keyword, keyword phrase  //  Comments Off

The keyword or keyword phrase you choose for a page should directly reflect the page’s content. Headlines, subheads and formatting, such as bold and italics, also should be related directly to this central subject. These indicators will signal to search-engine spiders that the keyword or keyword phrase is more prominent or prevalent than other words on the page, increasing the likelihood of a higher search ranking.

Study your traffic data for trends

Dec 2, 2008   //   by freshtraffic   //   website traffic  //  Comments Off

Web-site hosting services and search engines have tools offering an array of statistics about what pages were visited on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, the Web pages that visitors used to reach your site, how long they stayed and other data. Sit down once a day or week to see how people are using your site, so you can learn what’s working and what isn’t.

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.

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