Archive for January, 2011

My Favorite SEO Tools

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Here’s a short, sweet list of some of my favorite SEO tools:

Yahoo Clues Yahoo clues is sort of insights for search’ish and Alexa clicksteam’ish but a bit sexier because of the size of their index and depth of intel offered. Open up the tool, run a search, scroll down. The Money is in the little section waaay down titled as ‘search flow’ This section gives you the most likely, according to yahoo’s internal search data, previous and next search terms.

Why it’s hot:
It is based on yahoo’s index which makes it cooler then Alexa and you can search phrase combination and rerun the thing to give you previous/next data for those phrases.

How I use it:
I’d never recommend using just one tool for anything, so I call Google Insights for Search, Alexa Clickstream, and Yahoo Clues search flow my ‘unholy tripariate of new keyword opportunities. Whenever I’m doing any kind of reporting or just analysis generally, I always look for new words that are gaining speed that the competition hasn’t caught on to yet. This is easy because many sites do real keyword research once and call it a day. I exploit that fact in client competitors and get at all the words they’re missing using these three little tools ::maniacal laugh::

Search Engine Reports Rank Checker this is my ‘sweeter then the rest‘ bulk rank checker

Why it’s hot:
Not only does it give you ranking data for phrases in bulk for Google and Bing but it gives you the title tag meta description, url, and cache data.

How to use it:
Take your keyword research, find a competitor, pop the list in, run it!…now how is your competitor comparing to you for that huge list for phrases??

ez-seo on page tool : Crazy amounts of on page data in one place

Why it’s hot:
This tool really breaks the onpage down. You have no idea how many times I’ve seen people paying all this money to get their pages ranked for this or that phrase and their title tag is aweful. Scan for those kinds of simple issues easily with this tool and give your client lots of nifty number to look at. Just like SEO’s love graphs, managers <3 numbers.

How I use it:
I stick it into reports for the ooohh ahhh effect.

Web Design Tools

instant eyedropper Basically you download this free tool and it will identify and pate into clipboard the html color code of and pixil on the screen with one click.

Why it’s hot:
Awesome when you’re trying to replicate a certain webpage or style this is the super lazy mans way.

How I Use it:
This is really handy when I”m trying to replicate stuff or do design wireframes or any kind of templating really.

Lorem Ipsum is dummy text used by the printing and typesetting industry since about the 1500′s brought to the web age. Basically when you’re designing wireframes or planning a site design, this dummy text ‘fills’ in the layout. (By the way, thank you to colleague who showed me this, it’s awesome!)

Why it’s hot:
This tool is hot because you can choose the amount of words, paragraphs, bytes, or list based on the number you want and Ipsum spits it out exactly as such.

How I use it:
This is handy in several ways. You can use it to fill in layouts like you’re supposed to. You can also use it to plan the ‘look’ of content you want to out source or have your writer look on. After all, when it comes to content writing stuff seeing really puts content needs into context.

Affiliate Tools

With these, I’m not gonna go into why they’re hot or how I use them but they’re definitely neat. If you’re a for real affiliate, once you see them, you’ll know ;)

domain crawler basically replace the numbers in the url with someones adsense publish code and find out what other domain names are associated with that publisher code.

sitonomy run a URL through here and this tool will give you the title tag, meta description, stat tools (google analytics, omniture etc), server software, server IP, and it will give you info on THEIR affiliate tracking code (adsense, commission junction, click bank etc.)

Where you can go with local SEO

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Local search marketing has recently become a part of an overall or complete SEO strategy. It helps ensure that your website dominates the search engines for the particular keywords or keyphrases for your industry in your local market.

Global marketing is also very important to many business, however there are several businesses that offer their services or products on a local level and do not necessarily need as much global exposure. We have created specific local marketing methods that focus on getting top placement for your business and website within local search results.

At SEO Pro Asheville we realized that not every business or situation is the same or requires the same marketing goals. That is why we develop unique marketing plans to help you website show up higher in the search engines and local business listings and for keyword terms specific to your city or metro area. Not all local SEO firms offer this type of service and our expertise in this field can help your business and website excel in these areas.

Currently the good old-fashioned phone book is still the top resource used when people need to find local products, services, or professionals, but local search is close on its tail. Every day more and more people are turning toward search engines to help find these same businesses that they once discovered only in the yellow pages.

We all previously relied on phone books, but with the evolution of local search we feel that phone books will be slowly phased out of existence. While the use of the yellow pages may not completely disappear, within the next 5 to 10 years a higher rate of people will be using search engines to locate local businesses than the phone book.

Getting ahead of your competition in the search engines now is key to dominating your local market. While everyone currently has the same opportunity to create and enhance their local business listings, those who do so sooner will benefit more. Getting high rankings in the search results within your local market will enable you to out-market your competition. Especially when it comes to impulse buying, being listed ahead of competing businesses can make the difference between making a sale or not.

Each particular market and area is different and may require a slightly different strategy or approach. However, even though the markets vary there are certain factors that remain constant in order to reach top search engine placement.

We specialize in SEO and attaining first page results for your business whether your reach is local or global. Contact us and we can tailor a specific SEO marketing action plan for your website inside the state of NC. It’s 2011 and it’s about time your business gained high exposure in the major search engines. SEO Pro Asheville can put you on that path.

SEO and More: the many uses of Google

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Local SEO gurus spend a lot of time on Google, but even we are surprised sometimes by all the different services this seemingly simple search engine provides. Some of these handy uses can help with local search engine optimization and some can’t, but it’s neat to know all of them and convenient to use some of the shortcuts Google provides.

The architects of the most powerful search engine in the world have included some really handy algorithms in their service, which allow searchers to quickly locate particular and specific types of information.

Area Codes

Enter a US telephone area code in the URL box to see a map of the area covered by that telephone area code.

Definitions

In order to quickly find the definition of a word, simply type “define: word” in the search box. Google will then provide the definition of the word.

Calculator

Type a math problem into the Google search box, and Google will calculate the answer. Google acts as a calculator when mathematical calculation is presented. Google recognizes the following mathematical symbols: addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*), division (/), to the power of (^), and square root of a number (sqrt).

Weather

To see the weather for many US and worldwide cities, type “weather” followed by the city and state, US zipcode, or city and country. Google will provide a current weather forecast.

Current Time

To see the current time in any city around the world, type “time” and the name of the city. Google will display the current time for that city.

Patent Search

To search for US patents, enter the word “patent” into the Google search box, followed by the patent number. Google will display the details of that particular patent.

Track Shipments

Shipments can easily be tracked using Google simply by entering the tracking number for your UPS, FedEx, or USPS package directly into the Google search box. Google will return the tracking results and status of the shipment.

Stock Quotes

Google can help investors keep an eye on the changing stock market. To see current market data for a given company or fund, simply type the ticker symbol into the Google search box. The resulting webpage displays financial data from the Google Finance service.

Maps

Looking for a map? Type in the name or US zipcode for a location, along with the word “map” and Google will display a map of that location.

Convert Currency

Google also has a built-in currency converter. Simply enter the conversion you would like to see performed in the Google search box, and Google will provide the currency conversion.

Flight Status

To view the flight status for arriving and departing US airline flights, enter the name of the airline and the flight number into the Google search box. Airport delays and details can be found by typing in the name of the city or three-letter airport code, followed by the word “airport”.

Population

To see trends for population and unemployment rates of US states and counties, type “population” or “unemployment rate” followed by a state or county. You can click through to a page that lets you compare different locations.

Related Websites

Google will display webpages that contain similar content. Include “related:” followed by a website address in the Google search box for a listing of related websites.

Linked Websites

When “link:” is used in the Google search box, and followed by a URL, the search results will include a listing of all webpages indexed by the search engine which contain links to the specified URL (i.e. to see how many websites are linking back to your site, or to a competitor’s site).

20. Indexed Pages

When “site:” is entered in the Google search box, followed by a domain name, the search engine locates all documents within a specific domain, including all of its sub-domains. This is an easy way to get a rough idea of the number of pages indexed for a given domain.

There are plenty of other Google tricks and uses, some of them even I haven’t discovered yet and some I have. Google continues to be more than just a search engine for millions of people.

Local SEO: How many links is too many?

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

There’s a long-standing debate in local SEO about the maximum number of links that you should place on any given page. If you use the SEOmoz PRO Campaign Manager, you may have seen a warning that looks something like this:

Too Many On-page Links Warning

Digging deeper into the “Too Many On-Page Links” warning, you’ll see the message:

You should avoid having too many (roughly defined as more than 100) hyperlinks on any given page.

A number of people have asked where they came up with 100 as the magic number and whether this is a hard limit or just a suggestion. I’m going to talk a bit about the history, whether that history still applies, and what the potential consequences are of breaking the 100-link barrier.

Where Did They Get 100?

The 100-link limit actually came from sources within Google and has been restated for years, as recently as a March 2009 post by Matt Cutts, in which he quotes the Google guidelines as saying:

Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).

The early crawlers capped the amount of data they would process for any given page, due to bandwidth limitations. Ultimately, 100 links was mostly a good rule of thumb for what would fit in a page that met those processing limits.

Could You Be Penalized?

Before we dig in too deep, I want to make it clear that the 100-link limit has never been a penalty situation. In an August 2007 interview, Rand quotes Matt Cutts as saying:

The “keep the number of links to under 100″ is in the technical guideline section, not the quality guidelines section. That means we’re not going to remove a page if you have 101 or 102 links on the page. Think of this more as a rule of thumb.

At the time, it’s likely that Google started ignoring links after a certain point, but at worst this kept those post-100 links from passing PageRank. The page itself wasn’t going to be de-indexed or penalized.

Is 100 Still The Limit?

Since Matt’s 2009 comment, the Google guidelines page he quotes seems to have dropped the phrase “fewer than 100.” Observations from across the SEO community and multiple Google Webmaster Help threads confirm this change. In April 2010, Google engineer John Mu endorsed the following answer:

100 links to a page is a just a suggestion … There are pages out there with more than 100 links, and it isn’t an issue. If your page is sufficiently authoritative, Google is going to be interested in the pages that are being recommended by that page.

Like many Google “limits,” this is probably not a concrete number, and most likely varies with site authority. It’s also likely that the number has increased over time, as Google overcomes processing limitations (especially post-Caffeine).

So, Does It Still Matter?

The short answer is “yes.” There’s an inescapable reality in SEO that the more links a page has, the less internal PageRank each of those links passes. To quote Matt again from his interview with Rand:

At any rate, you’re dividing the PageRank of that page between hundreds of links, so each link is only going to pass along a minuscule amount of PageRank anyway.

To put it simply, more links equals less PR for each link. The actual math of internal PageRank flow gets complicated fast, but let’s look at a couple of very simple examples.

Example 1: 3 Level-2 Pages

Let’s say we have a very basic site with a home-page and three 2nd-tier pages linked from it. I’m going to grossly oversimplify the PR model, but let’s say those 3 pages each inherit 1/3 of the PR of the home-page. Let’s also assume that Google doesn’t allow a page to pass 100% of its own PR – we’ll cap the amount at 85% of the original page’s PR (we’re talking about actual PR in this case, not Toolbar PR). The result would look something like this:

3-page Link Example

Here, each of the pages inherits roughly 28% (0.85/3) of the original PR of the home-page. Again, I’m oversimplifying a much more complex reality to make a point.

Example 2: 150 Level-2 Pages

Now, let’s expand those 2nd-tier pages and say that the home-page links to 150 internal pages. The diagram and PR values would look something like this:

150-page Link Example

Split 150 ways, the original 85% of the PR the home-page can pass ends up being less than 0.6% (0.85/150) per page. My graphic may have gotten a little carried away, but it’s easy to see how quickly internal PR can become diluted in these situations.

What’s The Right Number?

As with so many complex SEO and local SEO issues there’s no one answer. There’s a balance between building a site structure that’s too deep, creating pages that are many links removed from high-authority pages, and one that’s too “flat,” creating a situation like the one above. While many local SEOs argue in favor of flat architecture, the basic problem is that it treats every link as being equal. Do you really have 150 (or more) pages that all deserve equal treatment from the home-page and that should all carry equal PR? Probably not, and so we try to take a balanced, hierarchical approach, focusing internal PR on the most important pages first. Ultimately, while it may be outdated, the 100-link guideline is still probably a decent rule of thumb for most sites.

Goggle Places key to strong local SEO strategies

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

The industry of local SEO changed massively in 2010. We have seen the introduction and growth of Google Places, Google Instant, and Google Preview, etc. Many of these changes have been keeping local SEO orientated webmasters busy updating their websites so they don’t lose customers or business as a result of all these changes.

One thing I wouldn’t like to bet against is Google Places becoming a lot more competitive and dominant. Google seem to have focused on this strongly through the second half of 2010. The SERP has in my opinion become a lot more relevant, it gives you chance to find good information, whether it be a news feed, a blog post, local business listing or a natural organic result.

The last big PageRank update was in April 2010. This is one of the longest periods (as far as I can remember) that it has not been updated in. This gives me the impression that Google could be changing or may have changed its ranking algorithm to place a lower importance on the number of inbound links your site requires for ranking in Google Places.

I would say that your location and content/service you provide are becoming more important than link building. Google has now even introduced reviews for local businesses. Not only does Goggle Places allow you to review businesses using Google, it also picks up reviews from big review websites. Having positive reviews could become as important as having good backlinks.

Whatever the case it is clearly becoming more important that you have a well-designed ranking strategy for Google Places. Businesses wise enough to figure out how to stay ranked on the ever-changing Google landscape will be the ones with the most powerful local SEO.

Local SEO Tactics: Seven Tips for Effective Web Page Design

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Practicing local SEO is not going to be effective if your customers aren’t led to a web site worth reading through or buying from. If you want your local business web site to reach the maximum amount of potential customers then you need strong, effective web design. You must be sure that your business web site is developing successfully. In this article I will give you seven simple tips for effective business web page design.

1.     Don’t use welcome pages

Welcome pages are pages that you sometimes see when you try to view a web site. They are usually bright and have a big picture and an invitation to visit the site such as: “Welcome” or “Enter” on them. Avoid such pages. In reality they often annoy users and so you can loose some potential clients. The users should see the content of your web site from the first sight. Remember, welcome pages are never used in effective web design.

2.     Don’t use annoying ads

Too many glaring ads can clutter up a website and really disrupt your visual appeal. Take a look at this screenshot example:


Most of the users ignore such advertisements on web sites. Try to use quality materials with some advertisement inside instead of annoying banners. As a result users will click on the links more often. Only professionally designed ads don’t annoy and are successful at the same time.

3.     Navigation must be easy and understandable

You must create such navigation that even a child could easily orientate on your web site. Avoid dropdown menus based on scripts or flash. If the users won’t immediately understand, how to orientate on your web site, they would leave. Remember, that an easy and convenient navigation is one of the first signs of good web design.

4.     A user should always understand in what part of your site she is in now.

Firstly, your navigation should be seen from each page of your web site. When the user makes a few clicks on your site, he should still understand in what part of your site he is now and how he can get to any other par he wants. This will make the search of information on your web site easier and a good web design is always convenient for users.

5. Text must be easy to read

Separate your text into small paragraphs. If there is a lot of text on the page, divide it into small blocks. Remember, good web design is always user-friendly.

6. Don’t use sounds on your site

If the user is going to stay on your web site to read some interesting material, don’t use sounds or music because it can annoy some users. If you still want to use sound effects, use them so that the viewers of your site could control the volume or turn them off.

7. Be sure your web site corresponds to modern web standards

While creating your web site you should pay attention that it must correspond to web standards and be correctly displayed in all main browsers. If your site looks great in Internet Explorer, but can’t be viewed or is displayed incorrectly in Firefox or Opera you will loose a lot of clients. Your site should work in all browsers.

It really does pay to have an attractive, quality website first and foremost. When you have a solid and effective website it makes local SEO tactics that much more rewarding and successful.

Internet marketing techniques for small businesses

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Internet marketing marketing small business techniques are about much more than creating a website and taking it online. You cannot just carefully create a website and expect it to be a success overnight. Creating a successful website requires careful planning and strategic decisions. Without this, your website is almost guaranteed to fail. But this doesn’t mean that you have to give up. With the right planning it is possible to create a website that gathers a great deal of web traffic and leads to successful sales of your products.

Before you worry about marketing strategies, you need to strategically create your website. Begin by thinking of the products you are going to sell or offer on your site. Decide what audience is suited to these products and services, and what you can do to attract these potential customers. You also want to target these customers’ needs in the design of your site.

Don’t just build a website that is based on gimmicks and scams. People may visit your site, but they will quickly leave without making a purchase if they do not trust its legitimacy. Creating a legitimate website that potential customers can trust is the only way to make sure your web traffic leads to purchases on your site. Consumers want to feel like they are buying from a well-established company, and not just some random site on the internet. You want to make your online business seem as legitimate as one with an actual store that you can go to visit.

There are many ways to do this. Provide actual contact information so customers have a way to contact you with questions or concerns. Be upfront about all details of the business, including the payment options, return policies, and shipping costs. Make sure to offer payment methods that are well secured and from trusted companies.

Also consider what it is that you are trying to sell or offer. You have to offer a product that is unique and different from the competitors. If the product isn’t something different, then you should make sure that you at least offer a very competitive price. After you are sure that you have a product that is rock solid and a web site that customers will be willing to shop at, you can begin to implement the internet marketing small business strategies that will lead your business to financial success.

One of the internet marketing small business strategies that has been proven to increase web traffic is search engine optimization. Search engine optimization focuses on incorporating commonly used search terms for your business industry and products into your website. This helps draw customers looking for your product to your site by improving your web site’s ranking with various search engines.

Of special importance is the growing field of local search engine optimization. Local SEO gets your business ranked in the places that show up when your local customers use search engines to find their products. Take a look at the following screenshot of a local SEO listing:

Search engines have a vast influence on the way people navigate through the pages of the internet. It is much easier to type a common phrase into a search engine such as Bing or Google than remember an entire website URL. As a business, you want to research the phrases that people would use to get to a product or site like yours. Incorporating those keywords is a sure fire way to make your site appear higher in search engine results, which will help you draw in more web traffic.

Internet marketing small business strategies, such as local SEO optimization, help you to increase the web traffic to your site, but this increased traffic will not lead to sales unless you also have a legitimate website that builds trust with potential customers. Using both of these methods is the best way to guarantee that your site becomes a success.