Archives for October 2007

Google’s new PageRank update – what now?

This week, several popular blogs reported a significant decrease in their PageRank after the recent Google PageRank update.  At first, the entire blogosphere was confused about what caused this drop, until it became apparent that selling paid text links on your website can hurt your PR.  It’s certainly no surprise, since Matt Cutts has been saying since June that Google thinks link buying is outside their guidelines and that “we might take strong actions on that in the future”.

Well now they have.  It took a while, but the confirmation about this update was eventually released.

So what’s been the overall effect on the blogosphere?  The ones directly affected are those who have been making a decent income off of paid text links.  PageRank is one of the more important qualifiers listed by people selling these links.  A link from a site with PR 9 will cost more than a link from a site of PR 7.  If site owners will adjust their prices based on the PR update, well… it’s probably not something they look forward to.

Of course, there are many “innocent bystanders” affected by this as well.  If most of the sites that link to you are penalized with a lower PR, odds are your PR will decrease too.   Not to mention the sites that were wrongfully penalized such as Darren Rowse’s Problogger.  Other bloggers cried foul, and Google responded by restoring their original PR.

There’s even some speculation that it’s a manual update, since PR changes are mostly going on for well-established blogs, websites, linkfarms, and blog networks – rather than a general update going on all over the net.  Right now, most of the big bloggers out there are at the mercy of Google.  Personally, I couldn’t care less.

That’s right.  I don’t really care.

Barry Schwartz actually had an increase in site visitors despite the decreased PR.  If you check out Ryan Caldwell’s post on acquiring longterm leverage for your websites rather than being obsessed with transitory trends and changes in search engine algorithms.  This PR update (or any other update) doesn’t have to affect you if you don’t want it to.

If you’re a blogger selling paid text links, what are you going to do now?  First, if Google PR is important to you, stop selling these links blatantly. Or at all.  If you still want to sell links, instead of using PR as a qualifier for your price, use pageviews instead or case studies from previous links, etc.  That’s what I look for when buying links, not PR per se.  There are other ways to measure popularity out there, especially for social bookmarking sites that depend on readers rather than a big search engine bully.

Or try selling graphic/image links instead.

Being too dependent on Google will cripple you.   Even if they may deliver a huge percentage of your search engine traffic, you need to have a backup plan in place.  By all means, use Google PR to measure some level of success, if you want.  However, don’t hyperventilate with each change they make.  It’s their search engine.  They’ll do whatever they want with it.  John Chow has been Google-slapped several times and I don’t think it’s greatly affected his popularity or income.  I know I’m not John Chow, but using him as an example drives a point home:

Just make a good, regularly updated site that people will read, come back to, and tell their friends about.

What “good” means is up to you and your readers.  Don’t let Google define it.

Filed in: SEO News

by: Celine Roque

13 Comments

SEO certification: good as credentials or as toilet paper?

533025_graduation_diploma.jpgRecently I toyed with the idea of getting SEO certification. After all, getting training for any kind of field and getting a certificate boosts your credibility. Does this apply to a new field of study such as SEO? It might help me when it comes to my SEO career. Or it might be a complete waste of time and money. Should I finally get SEO-certified? I’ve looked at some certification programs for the answer.

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Filed in: SEO lessons, SEO practices, SEO Tips

by: Celine Roque

2 Comments

Bloggers behaving badly

567913_bullfigther_2.jpg In the tradition of sensationalist videos such as Girls Gone Wild and When Animals Attack, I bring you a Smart SEO Blog special: Bloggers Behaving Badly.

You’re just innocently opening your RSS feed reader one day and to your surprise, your favorite blogger is in a heated debate with another blogger.  Or two of your favorite bloggers are at each other’s throats.  It’s like watching a car collision scene before your very eyes!  Gasp! You’re shocked!  Bewildered!  And even if you think these bloggers don’t have shame, you are slightly entertained (whether you admit it or not).

 What exactly happens when bloggers fight?  Apart from the actual – sometimes illogical – debates, the rest of the world chimes in to watch as they tear each other apart.  Not only that, they leave comments.

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Filed in: blogging, The Social Web

by: Celine Roque

3 Comments

Social Media Optimization and the Social Media Press Release

05_smpr.jpgJust last month, Dee Barizo wrote a post here at Smart SEO Blog about the importance of the social web.  As the concept of Web 2.0 grows, so does the marketing approach that goes with it.  Remember a few years ago when SEO was the buzzword all over the net?  It’s still an important factor when it comes to your rankings, but since last year a new type of SEO is emerging and everyone’s blogging about it.  It’s called Social Media Optimization (SMO).

Now, SMO doesn’t intend to replace SEO.  In fact, it’s simply a subset of a bigger SEO universe.  With social media becoming more important each day, SMO is becoming more and more integral to a site’s popularity.

What exactly is Social Media Optimization?

Based on PR expert Rohit Bhargava’s definition, social media optimization is implemented on a site for the following reasons:

  • to make it easier to link to
  • to make it searchable on social media engines (such as Digg, Technorati, and StumbleUpon)
  • to make it included in related blog posts and podcasts

Press Releases vs. Social Media Press Releases

In the old notion of SEO, a press release was simply in the form of a written article which was keyword optimized and distributed to high ranking sites.  Just a few days ago, Shift Communications released a template for a new type of press release that was more attuned to the social-driven web.  Here is a list of what makes it different from the old press release format:

  • It’s a straightforward, no-BS release.  All the fluff is gone while the necessary facts remain.
  • It includes several multimedia elements such as video, audio, photographs, etc.
  • Quotes, contact information, and links to related stories are in sections that are easy to identify and access.
  • An RSS feed subscription button for the company/organization news feed is present.
  • At the bottom of the release, you have the option of adding the story to Technorati, Del.icio.us, Digg, and other social bookmarking sites.

What does this have to do with increasing your site’s rankings?

Clearly, a social media press release will gain more attention than a regular press release, especially since few companies/websites have taken this approach when it comes to their releases.  The point of the social media press release isn’t so much that it can be found via traditional search engines, but that it contains straightforward facts and can easily be linked to and shared.  So the next time you think about issuing a new press release for your website, think again.  A bee produces more buzz than that.  If backlinks are the foundation of your rankings, and social media search engines can get you the readership you need, getting backlinks through a social media press release would be a better choice than attempting to do the same with the old press release format.

Filed in: SEO News, SEO Tips, The Social Web

by: Celine Roque

1 Comment

Nichebot Keyword Research Service

nichebot.gif I’ve been using Nichebot for the past 5 months, and it’s about time that I review it. I recently recommended it to another web site publisher, and he didn’t really like it. He’ll be switching to his previous (but more expensive and limited) keyword research tool. I, on the other hand, will be sticking with Nichebot for a while. Here’s why:

It’s affordable. I live in a third world country, so the price is the first thing I look at. I subscribed to the Lite Researcher package, which costs a little less than $10.00 per month. That’s more than my water bill, and half my electric bill. Now, I’d never sacrifice quality for price, which leads me to my next point.

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Filed in: SEO Tools

by: Celine Roque

4 Comments

Top 5 free link building tools

chains.jpg Link building is the backbone of SEO. Without an efficient link building campaign, you can’t expect much from your efforts. Contrary to popular belief, link building tools need not be expensive. Here are some of the free link building tools that I use to kickstart my campaigns:

SEO-friendly Directories List.  The MS Excel file you can download from this site contains hundreds of general directories and niche-specific directories.  If you’re going to go around submitting your site to directories, this file would be the best place to start.  It indicates the PR of each directory, and the file is usually updated to ensure a high-quality list.

SiteSub.  When submitting your links to directories, you’ll notice that each directory has its own requirements  – number of keywords, description word count, etc.  It can be really tedious to modify your link specs per directory.  SiteSub makes it easier to add your link to a website directory, blog directory, or link list by letting you type, copy & paste, and save your site details per requirement.  So if you have a 250-character site description, you don’t need to edit it every time a directory only requires 100-characters.  The official website has more details on this neat little program’s features.

Backlink PageRank Checker. This tool is native to SmartPageRank and lets you check the PR of all the sites that are linking to you.  By looking at the results of this tool, you can tell which advertisements or links are worth more to you in terms of PR.

Links Assistant.  This assistant won’t take your calls or make your coffee, but it’s a feature-rich link campaign program.  It lets you track information about your link partners, send them e-mails using templates, and update your HTML files with a single click.

SEO Spyglass.  Not all features are available on the free version, but you can find out a wealth of information on your competitors.  You can find a competitor by entering keywords that you want to rank well for, or, if you already know who your arch nemesis is, you can input his/her URL and find out a lot about what link building tricks they’re up to.  Once you figure out your competitor’s link building strategy, you can apply them to your own site and try to beat them at their own game.  Very evil and loads of fun.

Filed in: SEO Tools

by: Celine Roque

5 Comments

The SEO Ladder: 6 Steps to Greatness

001_ladder1.jpgWhat does it take to create a high-ranking site? To some people, it means spending either a lot of time or money. Either you hire an SEO professional, or you do your own SEO. However, unless you’re an SEO professional yourself, it’s unlikely that you’ll know the necessary steps you need to take to get your site to the first page of search results, let alone the first spot. Here is a 7-step guide for those who want to do their own SEO. Unlike most guides, this one’s timeless – it doesn’t rely on specific techniques. Rather, it depends on the mindset you need to take to make each step successful.

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Filed in: SEO Tips

by: Celine Roque

4 Comments