Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How Links and Linking Work

You’ve read in the last post how important links are to your SEO strategy, but how, really, do links work for improving your SEO? As you’ve already seen, a link to your site is a vote for the relevance of your site. So, if you’re linking out to other sites, then you’re voting for them. And internal links ensure that a search engine crawler can find the various pages in your site. A dangling link is a link that leads into a page that has no links leading out of it.

Each of these different types of links affects site ranking differently for engines that take linking architectures into consideration. For example, a dangling link could be ignored entirely by a search engine, or the page to which the link points could score lower on the linking metrics because all the links are coming into the page, but there are none going out. And that’s what makes linking such a fine science. You need to know how the links on your site will affect the amount of traffic the site has. You also need to know how to have links without going overboard, so that the crawler labels your site as a link farm.

Snagging inbound links

Nearly every web site has links that lead out to other web sites. It’s rare to find a site that doesn’t link to another site somewhere on the Web. That’s how communities are built around specific industries and topics. And the links that leave your site are important, but they’re not nearly as important as those links that lead to your site. These inbound links, as you’ve already discovered, are seen by search engines as votes for your site within a particular community of sites.

Anytime you’re being voted for, you want to have as many votes as possible. Inbound links are no different. You want to have a large number of links that lead to your site. You can achieve those links in a variety of ways, some more effective than others:

  • Requesting Links: The oldest method of gaining inbound links is to request them. This requires that you study your market to find out who the players involved in the market are. Then, you contact each one of the sites that you discover and ask them to link to your site. In most cases, the person you contact receives your request, but providing links to other sites is the least of their worries, so you may not even hear from them. If you do, it can sometimes be months later. So, you put a lot of time into requesting links from other sites for a relatively small return on your efforts.

  • Writing Articles: One of the most effective methods of gaining inbound links is to offer an article for other companies to use as long as they include a paragraph of information at the bottom that includes credits for you as well as a link back to your site. This method of gaining inbound links works well, because web sites are always looking for good content to include on their pages. The catch here is that the article you write should be wellwritten, accurate, and useful to other sites in your industry. Once you’ve produced an article that meets these requirements, you can begin to let others know that you have content available for them to use for free. Just remember to require a link back to your site in return for the freedom to use your article on their sites.

  • Blogs: Another way to get links back to your site is from bloggers. What started as a strange phenomenon that was mostly personal has now become a powerful business tool, and many businesses rely on links back to their sites from the various industry bloggers out there. In most cases, though, bloggers aren’t just going to stumble onto your web site. Here is the example how we use blogs to create backlinks: T20 World Cup News, T20 World Cup Photos.

    It’s far better for you to contact the blogger with information about your organization, some product that you offer, or with news that would interest them. This information then gives the blogger something to use in his or her regular posts. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t control what a blogger might say, so it’s possible that the review you get from the blogger won’t be favorable.

  • Press Releases: Press releases are one of the mainstays of any marketing program. It can be so effective that many organizations hire companies to do nothing but distribute their press releases as widely as possible. What’s so powerful about a press release? It’s just the facts, including benefits, and it’s sent out to publications and organizations that might publish all or part of the press release. Use press releases to send out new items of all types, and send them as widely as you can. New organizations, publications, newsletters, even some forums will post press releases. When you write it, make sure a link back to your site is included in the press release. Then, when someone posts it, the link you provide leads back to your site.

  • Affiliate Programs: Affiliate programs are a type of paid advertising. Amazon.com’s affiliate program is one of the best-known affiliate programs. You provide a link to people who want to link back to your web site. They place the link on their site and then when someone clicks through that link to your site and makes a purchase (or converts any other goal you have arranged), the affiliate — the person who placed your link on their site — gets paid a small percentage. Usually the payment for affiliate programs is very low ($.01 to $.05 per click or a small percentage of the sale). But some people make a good living being affiliates, and many organizations receive additional traffic because of their affiliate programs. There are some ethical considerations with affiliate programs. Many believe that because you’re paying for the link back to your site it’s less valid than if you were to land organic links. However, most search engines see affiliate programs as an acceptable business practice and they don’t reduce your rankings because you use affiliate programs. The trick with affiliate programs is to not allow them to be your sole source of incoming links. In addition, most affiliate programs utilize some click-tracking software, which by definition negates the value of the link, because the link on the affiliate’s page is going from that page, to the ad server, to your site. So the link is from the ad server rather than the affiliate site.

  • PPC and Paid Links: Pay-per-click advertisements (which i will be covering in future Chapters ) are an acceptable business practice. There is no problem with using PPC advertisements to achieve inbound links to your site. Remember that, like affiliate links, PPC links are not direct links to your site. Paid links, on the other hand, are different from affiliate links — you pay to have a direct, or flat link, placed on a page. Some search engines frown on the practice of using these types of links. Using paid links (especially those that land on link farms) is a practice that carries some business risk.

  • Link to Yourself: Linking to yourself is a technique that sits right on the line between ethical and unethical. Linking to yourself from other sites that you might own is an acceptable practice. For example: SEO Expert Blog, but if you set up other sites simply to be able to link back to your own site and create the illusion of popularity, you’re going to do more damage than it’s probably worth to you. If you are linking to yourself and you suspect that you might be doing something that would adversely affect your search engine ranking, then you shouldn’t do it. There are plenty of links to be had without linking back to your own web sites; you just have to work a little harder for the higher quality links.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Role of Links & How they Affect in SEO

Even though we have powerful search engines today to help us find information on the Web, linking from one page to another is still a powerful tool for helping your site get found. And links can group together sites that are relevant, giving you more leverage with search engines than a site without links might have.

Links are the foundation of topical communities, and as such they have as much, if not more, weight with search engine crawlers than keywords do. If you truly want your site to succeed in the search engines, a major part of your SEO strategy must focus on the importance of incoming links. The process of submitting your site to the search engines can take from a few weeks to several months. However, even a new site will be indexed rapidly, if it has incoming links.

There is a fine science to creating a linking strategy, however. It’s not enough just to sprinkle a few links here and there within the pages of your site. There are different types of links that register differently with search engines and it’s even possible to get your web site completely de-listed from search results if you handle your links improperly. When you really begin to consider links and how they affect web sites, you see that links are interconnected in such a way as to be the main route by which traffic moves around the Internet. If you search for a specific term, when you click through the search engine results, you’re taken to another web page. As you navigate through that web page, you may find a link that leads you to another site, and that process continues until you’re tired of surfing the Internet and close your browser. And even if the process starts differently — with you typing a URL directly into your web browser — it still ends the same way.

You can increase incoming links rapidly by participating in forums, provided you use your URL in your signature. Google does not however, appear to give a much weight to this type of incoming link. Submitting to so called link farms is a poor way to attempt to increase links to your site, and is strongly discouraged by Google Guidelines. "Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links."

The purpose of links, then, is to first link your web site to others that are relevant to the information included on your site. In addition, links provide a method by which traffic to your site is increased. And isn’t that the reason you’re playing the SEO game? Your desire is to increase the traffic to your site, which in turn increases the number of products that you sell, the number of sales leads you collect, or the number of appointments that you set with highly qualified clients. In short, links lead to increased profit and growth. So of course you’d want to use them on your site.

Another reason links are so important is that links into your site from other web sites serve as “votes” for the value of your site. The more links that lead to your site, the more weight a search engine crawler will give the site, which in turn equates to a better search engine ranking, especially for search engines like Google that use a quality ranking factor, like PageRank.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Are Robots, Spiders, and Crawlers?

A robot, spider, or crawler is a piece of software run by search engine program, to build a textaul summary of a website’s content (content index). It creates a text-based summary of content and an address (URL) for each webpage. These are programmed to “crawl” from one web page to another based on the links on those pages. As this crawler makes it way around the Internet, it collects content (such as text and links) from web sites and saves those in a database that is indexed and ranked according to the search engine algorithm.

When a person searches, the keyword(s) they enter are compared with the available website content indexes. Due to the large number of webpages indexed, direct text-only-matching is rare, rather search engines use sophisticated logics (algorithms) to rank potential matches. For example, the underlying information hierarchy of a webpage (semantic markup) may be factored into the ranking a webpage is assigned.

As to what actually happens when a crawler begins reviewing a site, it’s a little more complicated than simply saying that it “reads” the site. The crawler sends a request to the web server where the web site resides, requesting pages to be delivered to it in the same manner that your web browser requests pages that you review. The difference between what your browser sees and what the crawler sees is that the crawler is viewing the pages in a completely text interface. No graphics or other types of media files are displayed. It’s all text, and it’s encoded in HTML. So to you it might look like gibberish.

The crawler can request as many or as few pages as it’s programmed to request at any given time. This can sometimes cause problems with web sites that aren’t prepared to serve up dozens of pages of content at a time. The requests will overload the site and cause it to crash, or it can slow down traffic to a web site considerably, and it’s even possible that the requests will just be fulfilled too slowly and the crawler will give up and go away.

If the crawler does go away, it will eventually return to try the task again. And it might try several times before it gives up entirely. But if the site doesn’t eventually begin to cooperate with the crawler, it’s penalized for the failures and your site’s search engine ranking will fall.

Reasons a URL may not be included in the index

Below is a list of common reasons that a document may not be indexed:
  • ROBOTS.TXT ACCESS DENIES: The site's "/robots.txt" file prevents access to the document.
  • YOUR PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. If you can avoid it, you don’t want a crawler to index your site while this is happening. If you can’t avoid it, however, be sure that any pages that are being changed or worked on are excluded from the crawler’s territory. Later, when your page is ready, you can allow the page to be indexed again.
  • PAGES OF LINKS. Having links leading to and away from your site is an essential way to ensure that crawlers find you. However, having pages of links seems suspicious to a search crawler,and it may classify your site as a spam site. Instead of having pages that are all links, break links up with descriptions and text. If that’s not possible, block the link pages from being indexed by crawlers.
  • DYNAMIC PAGES: Dynamic pages are often ignored by the search engine spiders. In fact, any URL containing special symbols like a question mark (?) or an ampersand (&) will be ignored by many engines. Pages generated on the fly from a database often contain these symbols. In this situation, it's important to generate "static" versions of each page you wish to be indexed. In regard to the search engines, the simpler the page is, the better. Does this mean, for example, having a javascript to count visits to the page will prevent you from being indexed, or lower your rankings? No. It simply means that the search engine will most likely ignore the javascript and index the remaining areas of the page. There is evidence that going too far with fancy scripts and code on a page can hurt your rankings if the bulk of your page consists of java or VB scripts.
  • PAGES OF OLD CONTENT. Old content, like blog archives, doesn’t necessarily harm your search engine rankings, but it also doesn’t help them much. One worrisome issue with archives, however, is the number of times that archived content appears on your page. With a blog, for example, you may have the blog appear on the page where it was originally displayed, and also have it displayed in archives, and possibly have it linked from
  • some other area of your site. Although this is all legitimate, crawlers might mistake multiple instances of the same content for spam. Instead of risking it, place your archives off limits to crawlers.
  • REDIRECTS: If your site contains redirects or meta refresh tags these things can sometimes cause the engines to have trouble indexing your site. Generally they will index the page that it is redirecting TO, but if it thinks you are trying to "trick" the engine by using "cloaking" or IP redirection technology that it can detect, there is a chance that it may not index the site at all.
  • PRIVATE INFORMATION. It really makes better sense not to have private information (or proprietary information) on a web site. But if there is some reason that you must have it on your site, then definitely block crawlers from access to it. Better yet, password-protect the information so that no one can stumble on it accidently.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tagging: Social Bookmarking

First of all, what's this tagging business all about? Tagging used to refer just to the tags that you placed in your web site’s HTML to indicate certain types of formatting or commands. Tagging today often refers to something entirely different. When you hear the terms “tagged” or “tagging” in conversation today, it could very well refer to a phenomenon called social bookmarking.

From initial research, it seems that there are two main players in tagging. These are del.icio.us and furl.net. These are sites which make it possible for users to 'tag' any web page. Social bookmarking is a way for Internet users to store, share, classify, and search Internet bookmarks. There is some debate over how important social bookmarking is in SEO, but the consensus seems to be leaning toward the idea that social bookmarking, along with many other social media optimization (SMO) strategies, which I will discussing in future posts, is quickly becoming a serious consideration for SEO.

Social bookmarking is provided by services such as de.icio.us, Digg, Technorati, and Furl.net, which are taking the Internet by storm. All these sites do basically the same thing, allowing users to put a label on a webpage that they have visited, so that they can easily find it again. Users have the option of making their tags public or private (where only the person themselves can see what they have previously tagged) or they can share tagged site information with other individual members. Where the tags are public, other visitors can then see the tags that have been assigned to particular sites by users. They’re often referred to as Web 2.0 services, because they involve a high level of social interaction, which is the fastest growing element of the Internet today.

In social bookmarking, people create their own topics and lists for places on the Internet that they like or dislike. Those people can then give the places they choose a category (or tag) and a rank. Once they’ve ranked a site, they have the option to send that ranking out to anyone who is subscribed to their RSS feed.

The implications this can have on SEO are dramatic. For example, let’s say that one person visits your site during a web search and finds that it’s easy to use, and contains all the information they were looking for. That person could very well tag your site. The tag is then distributed to the people who are subscribed to his or her RSS feed. It’s word-of-mouth marketing — called viral marketing in today’s world — at its best.

One person tells 25, who then visit your site. Then maybe 15 of those people (60 percent) tell another 25 people each. The list keeps growing and growing. So, the question, “Should you pay any attention to social bookmarking?” becomes “How do I take advantage of social bookmarking?” And the answer is, make your site worthy of bookmarking.

Bookmarks appear to web crawlers as links to your page, and that makes them very valuable SEO tools. For some search engines, the more bookmarks that lead back to your site, the more “votes” you have on their popularity scale.

So, visit some of the social bookmarking sites on the Internet. Learn how they work. And set up your own account. Then, create your own list of links that includes your web sites, as well as other web sites that users might find relevant or useful.

On the web-site side, be sure to include the code snippets provided by social bookmarking organizations that allow users to tag your site easily. Then, maintain it all. Don’t just forget your account completely. If you do, eventually it will disappear and all the advantage of having one will go as well. Instead, continue using social bookmarking. Over time, the rewards will be increased traffic to your web site.

How Does Site Tagging Work?

Site tagging, as you already know, is about putting the right HTML commands in the right place. However, the big question from our point of view, is there an SEO benefit to be got from tagging? Well, on face value, the answer is...Yes. The difficulties come in knowing what types of tags to use and what to include in those tags. The basic tags — title, heading, body, and meta tags — should be included in every page that you want a search engine to find. But to make these tags readable to the search engine crawlers, they should be formatted properly. For example, with container tags, you should have both an opening and a closing tag. The opening tag is usually bracketed with two sharp brackets (). The closing tag is also bracketed, but it includes a slash before the tag to indicate that the container is closing ().

Notice that the tag name is repeated in both the opening and closing tags. This just tells the crawler or web browser where a specific type of formatting or attribute should begin and end. So, when you use the Bold tag, only the words between the opening and closing tags will be formatted with a bold-faced font, instead of the entire page being bold. There’s another element of web-site design that you should know and use. It’s called cascading style sheets (CSS) and it’s not a tagging method, but rather a formatting method. You should use CSS so that formatting tags are effective strictly in formatting, while the other tags actually do the work needed to get your site listed naturally by a search crawler. Think of cascading style sheets as boxes, one stacked on top of another. Each box contains something different, with the most important elements being in the top box and decreasing to the least important element in the bottom box. With cascading style sheets, you can set one attribute or format to override another under the right circumstances.

When you’re using an attribute from a CSS, however, it’s easy enough to incorporate it into your web page. The following is a snippet of HTML that uses a cascading style sheet to define the heading colors for a web page:

Looking at this bit of code more closely, you see:

HTML - (This tag indicates that HTML is the language used to create this web page (were this part
of an entire web page).
TITLE - SEO Blog - Heading TITLE indicates the title of the page.
STYLE - This is the beginning of a CSS indicator for the style of the web page. In this case the style applies only to the headings.
H1, H2 { color: green } is the indicator that heading styles one and two should be colored in purple.
STYLE - is the closing CSS indicator.
BODY - indicates the beginning of the body text.
H1 - First Heading H1 is the first header. In the live view of this page on the web, this heading would be purple
P - Enter any text that you would like to paragraph of text.
UL - is the opening tag for an unordered list.
LI - List item one is the first item in your list.
LI - List item two is the next item in your list.
LI - List item three is the last item in your list.
UL - is the closing tag for the unordered list.
H2 - First subheading H2 This is the first subheading. In the live view of this page on the Web, this heading would be purple.
P - Another paragraph of text can go here. Add whatever you like. Again, another paragraph of text.
BODY - is the closing body tag. This indicates that the body text of the web page is complete.
HTML - is the closing HTML tag, which indicates the end of the web page.

It’s not difficult to use CSS for the stylistic aspects of your web site. It does take a little time to get used to using it, but once you do it’s easy. And, when you’re using CSS to control the style of you site, you don’t need to use HTML tags, which means those tags will be much more efficient.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What’s so important about site tagging?

As I have mentioned in my previous posts about the HTML tags which are most commonly used in SEO. Some HTML tags are title tags, heading tags, body tags, meta tags, and the alt tag. No web site should be without those tags in the HTML that makes up the site.

However, those tags aren’t the only ones that you should know. In addition, there are several others you might find useful. In fact, a basic understanding of HTML is nearly essential for achieving the best SEO possible for your web site. Sure, you can build a web site using some kind of web design software like Microsoft FrontPage or Adobe Dreamweaver. However, those programs won’t necessarily ensure that all the essential HTML tags are included in your site. It’s far better if you know enough HTML to understand where your HTML tags go, and how to put them there without trashing the design of the site.

There’s also another aspect to tagging your web site, and that’s using the right strategies to ensure the tags are as effective as possible. For example, some HTML tags are strictly for formatting (like the bold tag), but formatting a word with bold doesn’t tell the search engine that the word is important.

Using a more appropriate HTML tag (like strong) works much better. These are all elements of site tagging that you should know. And if you haven’t taken steps to ensure that your site is tagged properly, do it now. Search engine crawlers don’t read web sites or web pages. They read the text on those pages, and HTML is a form of text. With the right HTML tags, you can tell a search engine far more about your site than the content alone will tell it.

Even beyond the keywords and the PPC campaigns, site tagging is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your web site shows up on search engine results pages.

The HTML tags that you include on your web site tell search engine crawlers much more about your site than your content alone will tell them. Don’t misunderstand. Content is an essential element for web-site design. But it’s a more customer-facing portion of the design, whereas HTML is a crawler-facing portion. And before customers will see your content, crawlers must see your HTML.

So when you ask the question, “What’s so important about site tagging?” there’s only one possible answer: Everything. Your SEO ranking will depend in large part on the tagging that controls your page behind the scenes. Customers never see it, but without it, they never see you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Get Banned BY Google..!!!

In the last post we talked about avoiding keyword stuffing which can cause your website to be banned by Google.

Similarly some other onpage optimization factors which may get your website punished by search engine, specially Google, are as follows.
  • Hidden Text
  • Alt Image spamming
  • Meta tag stuffing
  • Title tag stuffing
  • Duplicate Content or Websites
  • Doorway Pages
  • Redirect Pages

Now, let’s discuss above listed factors in detail:

Hidden Text

Hidden Text is simply text that users can’t see when they visit your web page. How can text been hidden? Well, there are a variety of ways - some are more sneaky than others. Some webmaster will do this so that they can add keywords throughout their web page without it interfering with what the visitors actually see. But is boils down to this: it is considered hidden if the text or link is invisible to the website visitor but can be seen by search engine spiders. This used to be done quite often, such as making your text white on a white background or using cascading style sheets (CSS) to hide your text, but search engines can easily spot this today so it is best to avoid it altogether.

For example, let’s say you have a white background on your website. If you wanted to hide text, you would simply make the color of your text white (#FFFFFF) and users couldn’t see it.

Webmasters incorrectly or say intentionally use the above method for keywords that they want to rank well for and want the search engines to see when they first visit their website. Yet, they don’t want their visitors to see this text. So, they’ve made the text white, to blend in with the background.

Alt Tag spamming

This is another way that people will try to cram keywords into their website, allowing search engines to see their keywords, but not allowing visitors to notice any difference in their website.

For example a website that wanted to rank well for “civil engineering” has inserted a graphic of a civil engineering product. And now, they’ve then added an alt image tag to the graphic.

When a visitors visits the website, hovers their mouse over the civil engineering product graphic, a little popup will appear repeating the keyphrase “civil engineering products, civil engineering softwares, civil engineering, engineering products, engineering, civil engineering instruments”

Notice how many times they’ve repeated the word “civil engineering” and “engineering”? Way too many! It serves no purpose other than to cram as many keywords as possible into their webpage.

The real purpose of an alt image tag is if a user visits your website and the graphic will not load, or is disabled by their web browser, text will appear instead of the graphic. This is often used for blind people. Alt image spamming is something you want to stay clear of. Using alt image tags is an excellent marketing practice, but you can overdo it as you can clearly see above. A good alt image tag in this case would simply be: "civil engineering products and instruments".

Meta Tag Stuffing

What I’m referring to here is when people throw in thousands of the same exact keyword into their meta tags.

For example, a website is trying to rank well for “insurance” and uses this keyword meta tag: Insurance,health Insurance,Insurance,Insurance India,Insurance Insurance

This is obviously ridiculous. Google does not use Meta Tags when ranking websites - so why waste your time? Google WILL penalize it. Stay away from it!

Title Tag Stuffing

The title is what appears in the top left hand corner of your webpage. Webmasters incorrectly stuff their title tag with different versions of their keyphrase. Don’t do it… You only need to include your keyword(s) one time in your title tag.

Anymore than 1 time will only dilute the effect, and if you overdo it, you may get banned.

Those are just a few of the things that people are continuing to do online. These things will eventually get your website banned and WILL NOT help you rank well.

It’s just a waste of time and effort, plus just plain ignorant to waste your time on something that doesn’t work and will get your website banned from the search engines. Unfortunately, over 50% of the websites online are currently employing these incorrect techniques and are dropping out of Google by the handful.

Duplicate Content

You've probably heard about the duplicate content penalty. What is duplicate content? Well, if Google finds multiple web pages have the same content they may penalize each website for this. The truth is that Google and Yahoo are banning websites from their search results in record numbers. Of course, someone may have copied your content and Google banned you even though it was your original content that was taken. If you are not using unique articles for your website or blog but are instead getting your content from PLR packages and article directories, your sites are at risk of getting banned.

Make sure no other site is using your content. You can do this by performing a Google search using some of your text with quotation marks (") around it. If you do find someone is using your original copy visit here to learn more about copyright infringement.

Doorway Pages

Doorway pages have been developed to position high for a specific keyword or phrase. Don't try to hide these pages on your site so that surfers should not see. Instead think of every page on your site as a Doorway, or Salesman for your website. These pages aren't in the navigation most of the time. If you come across a page where much of the information is duplicated from other pages on the site but it is different in terms of keywords only, this is most likely a doorway page.

If you sell more than one widget & most do, it is impossible for you to optimize one page to cover all 150 widgets. However, by creating doorway pages you can create entry pages to your site which spotlight on keyword & phrases for their specific widget.

Excessively Redirecting Pages

Sneaky redirection pages are set up in groups from 5 to hundreds. They all target similar and related keywords or phrases. Usually, the only links on these pages are links to other pages in the same family creating a false sense of related linking. This is called Cloaking which is an unethical practice of creating different Web pages for search engines and visitors. That is, webmasters create meaningless web pages that are stuffed with highly searched keywords. When the visitors click the link, the site redirects them to a well-written meaningful page but search engine spiders see the meaningless page loaded with keywords and links that has been designed to impress them. These pages don't necessarily contain content that any human would be interested in. These pages may show up high in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS), but when you click on one of these pages from the SERPS, you will be redirected to another page. In other words, the page you click to see is not the page you actually get to read.

Most engines today repeatedly speak out against cloaking. Nevertheless, the practice continues to thrive, because the engines have traditionally done a poor job of finding and penalizing sites employing this technique. Just because search engines are less effective in detecting cloaking, it doesn't mean you will never be detected. Avoid cloaking and redirects to protect your site from a ban by search engines.

The redirect can be automatic, done with a meta refresh command or through other means such as a the mouse moving while on the redirect page.

Which were only a few of the onpage SEO "no-no's" you should stay far away from.