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Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

Beware of Bogus SEO Firms

September 12th, 2007

Have you ever received an unsolicited email like this:

Dear Website Owner,

If I could get you five times the RELEVANT traffic at a substantially reduced cost would you be interested? <company name> can place your website on top of the Natural Listings on Google, Yahoo and MSN. … We do not use “link farms” or “black hat” methods that Google and the other search engines frown upon and can use to de-list or ban your site. The techniques are proprietary, involving some valuable closely held trade secrets. Our prices are less than half of what other companies charge.

If you’re an owner of a business web site, chances are you’ve received quite a few. We get questions from clients about the validity of such companies on a pretty regular basis.

There are a lot of, maybe even most, SEO companies out there that are basically trying to work the system to create online spam. It might benefit you in the short run, but it breaks the whole legitimate ranking system and ultimately it can hurt a site more than it help. Just like how spam email marketing can produce some positive short-term results
but in the end runs the name of the offending individual/business to the ground (or even to criminal court in some cases).

SEO is simply creating value and relevance for your target clients and making it easy for them to find you. This does include some legitimate professional service roles like getting your site listed in as many relevant directories, esp. local

directories, as possible. However, what should make us leery of SEO firms is terminology like “proprietary closely held trade secrets”…big red flag, there is no secret to SEO, it’s actually quite simple as described by Google. ┬áThe real problem, like with so many other things, is that real SEO (aka building value) takes a lot of time and hard work. The temptation is great to want to believe that there is a “get search optimized quick” solution out there thus the proliferation of the SEO scam artists. I’ve blogged on this topic a number of times, the related posts are all on this SEO page.

Outside of the SEO involved in coding and developing a site (which actually is quite involved) we don’t provide ongoing SEO services of the type this company is advertising…we do provide some services to build long term value like blog writing services though. If you need help, we refer out to a few real SEO (value building) and Pay Per Click services companies
on a case-by-case basis…just let me know.

Digg and Del.icio.us

February 23rd, 2007

With the number of questions I’m getting from clients about why we included Digg and Del.icio.us tags on their site, I’m starting to realize that I’m not doing a very good job of explaining why upfront. So, in an attempt to reverse this trend, here’s a bit of an explanation.

Digg and deli.cio.us are two of the most popular services for social networking. As you may be aware, social networking is a huge phenomenon powered by the newest web technologies (aka Web 2.0). For more insight look up “Internet Social Networks” on Wikipedia, but the essence of social networking from a business perspective is that it provides an unique free opportunity for an organization to get their message heard and propagated.

Social networking is relatively new to mainstream but growing fast and many believe that it will play a key role in the future of the Web. In addition to providing a medium for referrals, it also provides a means by which your site can be more visible to the Internet as a whole through indexes and search engines. Sites with quality, well targeted and frequently updated content are good candidates for success using social networking. For example, Idaho Business Review recently deployed a Web 2.0 site on which they utilize social networking links prominently in each of their online articles (see
an example
). There are a lot of dynamics to be in place before a site is going to grow exponentially from its inclusion in social networks, but it comes down to a principle that an old sales veteran once told me, “If it can’t hurt, and might help, why not do it?” And of course, having Digg and Del.icio.us links make you look hip.



Sir Isaac Newton

February 16th, 2007

As a former boss of mine used to say, “Having a great idea and not telling anyone is the same as not having any ideas.” Do you have a great site with a valuable message? That’s a significant achievement but if you’re a relatively new company you need to think back to high school physics and Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” We’ve built the mass into our site to keep it going but the challenge for now is to take it from rest to motion. Our slingshot will be Google et. al. who, if we treat them right, can serve as our matchmaker to unite us with those people out there who need our solutions most.

Will work for backlinks

The good news is that Google and company claim to want the same thing…they want to serve up the most valuable sites to their users for any combination of keywords. The most important means by which Google and the other major search engines claim to decide which sites are truly the most valuable is by taking a vote from the Internet community. The votes they use are link backs from other sites.

So your mission is clear, submit your URL for consideration to as many other sites, indexes, and directories as possible. There are many options for where to submit, but some of the most important ones I’ve listed below. I recommend to our clients that they go through this list methodically to get the best exposure possible for nominal cost. Keep in mind
the process and protocol for getting your URL listed at each one of these sources will vary…some are an automated submission and others will require you calling the organization to make a case for being listed, yet others may require
you make a contribution of value to their community.

  1. All the major search engines of course, you might consider using a service like Traffic Blazer from RisingLineWeb.com
  2. dmoz.com (open directory project)
  3. Superpages.com
  4. Local business directories
  5. Technorati.com
  6. Public Library Sites (you’ll need to make a convincing case as to why they should list your link)
  7. MyPages.com
  8. blogflux.com
  9. blogtopsites.com
  10. blogwise.com
  11. iblogbusiness.com
  12. Blogger.com (your profile)
  13. goarticles.com
  14. syndic8.com
  15. blogdigger.com
  16. weblogs.com
  17. Press Release Sites e.g. prweb.com
  18. Squidoo.com
  19. Craigslist.org
  20. Digg.com
  21. del.icio.us
  22. Furl
  23. Shadows.com
  24. MyWeb
  25. StumbleUpon
  26. blog-directory.org

The process of submitting to these potential partners can be time consuming. To keep from being overwhelmed, consider setting aside 15-30 minutes every week or two for backlink hunting. As always, I would be interested in your feedback or suggestions.

SEO is free | Top 25 backlink sources

August 31st, 2006

Now that we’ve covered essential aspects of developing a web site or blog that will rank well in search engines, it’s time to move on to some specific action items we can take to get us noticed. As a quick review, here’s what we’ve covered in this previous string of posts:

You’ve got a quality site, now deal with Newton

After meeting the quality prerequisite, we need to ethically get the word out to the world that we’ve got a great site. While maintaining a quality site will be the ultimate reason for long term SEO success, we still have to get the whole thing kick started. As a former boss of mine used to say, “Having a great idea and not telling anyone has the same result as having no ideas at all.”

So what we’re dealing with now is Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” We’ve built the mass into our site to keep it going but the challenge for now is to take it from rest to motion. Our slingshot will be Google et. al. who, if we treat them right, can serve as our matchmaker to unite us with those people out there who need our solutions most.

Will work for backlinks

The good news is that Google and company claim to want the same thing…they want to serve up the most valuable sites to their users for any combination of keywords. The most important means by which Google and the other major search engines claim to decide which sites are truly the most valuable is by taking a vote from the Internet community. The votes they use are link backs from other sites.

So your mission is clear, submit your URL for consideration to as many other sites, indexes, and directories as possible. There are many options for where to submit, but some of the most important ones I’ve listed below. I recommend to our clients that they go through this list methodically to get the best exposure possible for nominal cost. Keep in mind the process and protocol for getting your URL listed at each one of these sources will vary…some are an automated submission and others will require you calling the organization to make a case for being listed, yet others may require you make a contribution of value to their community.

  1. All the major search engines of course, you might consider using a service like Traffic Blazer from RisingLineWeb.com
  2. dmoz.com (open directory project)
  3. Superpages.com
  4. Local business directories
  5. Technorati.com
  6. Public Library Sites (you’ll need to make a convincing case as to why they should list your link)
  7. MyPages.com
  8. blogflux.com
  9. blogtopsites.com
  10. blogwise.com
  11. iblogbusiness.com
  12. Blogger.com (your profile)
  13. goarticles.com
  14. syndic8.com
  15. blogdigger.com
  16. weblogs.com
  17. Press Release Sites e.g. prweb.com
  18. Squidoo.com
  19. Craigslist.org
  20. Digg.com
  21. del.icio.us
  22. Furl
  23. Shadows.com
  24. MyWeb
  25. StumbleUpon
  26. blog-directory.org

The process of submitting to these potential partners can be time consuming. To keep from being overwhelmed, consider setting aside 15-30 minutes every week or two for backlink hunting. As always, I would be interested in your feedback or suggestions.

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