The Distinct SEO Web Marketing Blog
Discuss the latest topics on web marketing, SEO, branding, and organizational development.
Well it finally happened. I dunno how it works, where they got my name and number, but I should have known that when I received a call today with ‘unknown’ in the display it was going to be spam. Spam on the phone you say?
Cold Calling for Web Hosting and Web Design is Phone Spam
A+ hosting (I can’t be sure it was them so I won’t list their web site) called me today and inquired whether I had taken care of some ‘recent web hosting woes’. I don’t recall asking anybody for help in my web hosting but hey, maybe that was the one liner.
What really got me was once I said I had no use for web hosting the conversation proceeded to, ‘can we offer you a service to increase your web rankings?’. My response, ‘no, I do web marketing myself.’
BUDDY, A+ Web Hosting, PLEASE! Do your damn homework at least. I should have rambled on and on to waste their time, but seriously, did you check the web site? Does it look like your web hosting/ web design/ web seo/ web marketing company can help me? Ha, uh no. Next time I get a call like this I’m going to set up a pitched squeal device that will render the cold call perpetrator listless and the company bankrupt. I swear it’s in the making….
Wow, today has been the day for new and exciting new from Distinct SEO! I am happy to announce we are launching one of the few ‘SEO services’ offered by our marketing team: SEO web reviews. Typically Distinct SEO does not provide a ‘product’ or a ‘service’ since we’re in the business of marketing (there will be a worthy marketing blog post this week about the distinction.) However, there was enough demand for a web review service we decided to put it in our portfolio of offerings.
Are you a web manager, webmaster, marketer, entrepreneur, or any other smart web owner with a product, service, or content to promote in the search engines? Many people invest their own time to learn and implement search engine optimization techniques on their web site, but they are not sure if they’ve covered everything. Ensure you do negative errors on your web site that may hurt your rankings.
Distinct SEO will provide a full review of your web site with recommendations on necessary action. In a three step process we will offer the following reviews:
- 1. Items Requiring Immediate Attention
- 2. Items We Recommend to Be Changed
- 3. Future On-Page Aspects to Consider but do no Affect Rankings
We will also try to point you in the right direction for targeted web promotional campaigns. For more details visit our SEO web site review section.
Remove and Reinclude Web Pages
Google Webmaster Tool console has been updated (or added to) yet again. This time you can remove content from your page that you don’t want kicking around and have found robots.txt is not successful at eliminating. Conversely, you can also use the new tool in the console to re-include a web page that’s been canned.
For more information on the tool visit the Google Webmasters blog.
It appears that Google, along with the other major online search engines, have combined to change the way they view sitemaps. Before you could submit to each major engine with a location (usually .xml) of your sitemap file and they would crawl it. It appears there is an even better way.
Robots.txt Used to Locate Sitemap
Now you can place a line of text in your robots file so all spiders (who understand what to look for) will be able to locate your sitemap file easily. This is how your new entry in the robots.txt file should look like:
You can still submit to the search engine webmaster consoles directly, however, this is a one stop solution to help the spiders find what they need. Of course, this also implies that you use sitemap.xml files to start with. Many SEOs are now advocating that you bypass the whole ‘add sitemap’ because you loose certain information like where your weaker pages (PR wise) are.
[tags]sitemaps, site map xml, sitemaps robots.txt, sitemap robots, sitemap protocol, google sitemap[/tags]
When Google burps everyone feels it. Last month we reported that Google will never follow or ‘remember’ links with the ‘nofollow’ attribute. I surmise other major search engines will follow suit and adopt a similar policy in an attempt to combat link spam, bad link practices (i.e. .edu sites using their position to link to questionable sites), and link purchases. So what does this mean for future web ranking and SEO practices?
The Death of Linking?
Let’s face it, the majority of web sites out there are not optimized by qualified web marketers. Why does this matter? Webmasters are semi-aware of the SEO world and many do pick up tid bits here and there about how to rank their web sites higher in the search engines. But only certain pieces of info actually make it into the ‘mainstream’ web world and I surmise that one of these ‘leaks’ of disinformation will be the treatment of linking (specifically outgoing links). Here is my reasoning expressed in mathematical equation.
Todd Malicoat invited Calum Coburn (from Negotiations.com) to write a blog article on ways consultants could convert prospects into sales. I particularly enjoyed this article because we don’t often hear about business component of search marketing in blogs. In the article Calum offers some tactics for SEO negotiations. Now, I agree with the premise and many of the assertions in the article, but would like to offer some additional thoughts.
Herein lies the typical process most consultants encounter with searching clients. The phone will ring (usually the phone) and the prospective client is ‘streamed’ through some type of ‘pre-plan’. Generally you’ve been through this process so many times before you know the questions you’ll be asked and what responses you’ll give. Rather than the ‘here’s what I can sell’ Calum suggests the ‘reverse sales’ approach. He even goes on to suggest prepared answers and questions to help steer your conversation in this direction.
I agree with his approach, however, would argue with semantics. ‘Reverse sales’ should be called ‘reverse marketing’. You see, it benefits your business when you move away from sales focused activities to marketing focused activities. What’s the difference? Frankly, one is more concerned about the needs of customers, and the other tries to ‘sell things’. Clients don’t want to be sold to, but rather, they want to be enticed, romanced, and drawn into a process that they can call their own.
Personally, I like to chat with clients until a point where both company and consultant have articulated and identified the correct needs and benefits. From this process an action plan and solutions are created to make their dream reality. This of course takes time that many of us don’t have. Calum Coburn’s article suggests a certain degree of ‘confidence’ right off the bat, to create a first impression that says, ‘I don’t need to sell you anything cause I’m the best at what I do.’
More Ways to Separate Good and Bad SEO Firms
Again, I like the approach. Obviously it’s harder to pull off if you aren’t confident in your services, but it certainly gives the impression you have a solid handle of your business. This gives you a certain level of legitimacy, however, it also brings up some problems.
Firstly, you have to be ready to loose clients. Some prospective clients (although the number is quite a bit smaller nowadays) want to be sold to and don’t want to be asked questions about why they chose you. Approach them the wrong way and your ‘reverse marketing’ may turn into an interogation. Identify who the quality client is early and be ready to loose a few in the proposal. Frankly, there is a market out there for client’s better suited for the low low prices of the ESL SEO.
Secondly, a good SEO firm will ensure client’s feel completely immersed in the planning and analysis process, and they generally complete this process for free of charge. Why free you ask? It serves two functions:
- 1) Helps the client feel a part of the overall solution that makes them more inclined to go ahead with action (since it was ‘their’ solution to begin with :D)
2) It builds trust and ensures the SEO knows what is really needed for the web site in your specific industry.
It is at this point that I would engage Calum and ask him to shed some light regarding ideal timeframe with clients. I got the impression through his article that there is an expectation clients will choose to love or hate you in one phone conversation. I do agree first impression are crucial, but I don’t think it is wise for prospective SEO clients to choose any consultant based on one phone conversation, nor do I think SEOs should judget clients on the first call.
My experience suggests 3-5 conversations is what it takes to move to the action stage (the signed proposal). Investing the time necessary will turn prospective clients into lifelong clients. And I mean this seriously, invest time into the right client, show them genuine concern for their goals, and deliver on those goals, and you’ll create a long term relationship that will put money in your bank.
To sum up: be confident in your approach, try the ‘reverse marketing’ be ready to loose prospective clients, be prepared for 3-5 conversations to close the deal, and use cheat sheets to help lead your phone conversations.
[tags]seo negotiations, negotiating seo, how to negotiate seo sales, marketing negotiations[/tags]
I recently did an interview for a provincial business magazine (more details later if it comes out), and one of the questions highlighted was, “I’m the small business coming into your office that knows nothing about SEO, what are you going to tell me?”
Well the answer is pretty simple, I’m going to walk you through the basic elements of search engine optimization and highlight how it can benefit your bottom line. The process is really the same regardless of web size or who walks in.
However, I also came to the conclusion long ago, and reiterated within the article, that SEO is not for everyone. Actually, let me take a step back, SEO consultation is not for everyone.
Hiring SEO Consultants May Not be the Right Solution
For many larger firms, consultants buy time. The company does not want to invest in the time to learn the new knowledge or stay current so they hire out. The fact is, many small sole-proprietorships may not benefit from a sizable investment into SEO consultation. We have turned away clients simply because it does not make any sense for us to charge thousands of dollars to rank the local vet clinic or drycleaners. (Quite simply, qualified and good SEO consultants are not a dime a dozen.)
For example, if you own a web site with a target market spanning a 10 mile radius then SEO consultation is probably the wrong investment. Don’t get me wrong, if you have any web presence at all, then search engine optimization is a necessary component to your web site, but paying top dollars for a professional may be the wrong route.
SEO Training Solutions
BUT, like I said, there are options out there. You MAY in fact have the time to learn some basic foundational aspects of SEO that will benefit your local community web site. Yes, there are options for you that don’t cost into the thousands. Distinct SEO often turn small clients to our training option. (See: Distinct SEO Training Pages for more details.)
Quite frankly, we do not have an interest in running a client through a process they don’t need. Business owners like to put their investment dollar in the right place, and we do our best to accomplish and facilitate that. Not everybody needs an SEO consultant, most do, but not everyone. But remember, you DO need SEO for your web site, but maybe you save the money and learn yourself–really it’s not that hard (at least the on page optimization stuff :P).
Yahoo Offers Webmasters Another No Directory Meta Tag
Congrats Yahoo, you finally delivered on a promise made six months ago. Yahoo has supported the NOODP tag for a while, but FINALLY they will support a similar tag for their own directory.
To bring you up to speed, NOODP meta tags prevent Google or Yahoo from using their (Dmoz) descriptions in your SERP results. If your search results have the directory description you can tell the search spiders to discard the directory meta in favour of your own on page meta description tag.
Like I said, Yahoo has finally said they will respect a ‘no directory’ tag, however, they did so in a manner that will force all webmasters to add tags to their code. Yahoo have developed their own unique meta tag that permits permits webmasters to discard Yahoo! directory descriptions and/or Open Directory descriptions. You will add the following:
<meta name=”ROBOTS” content=”NOYDIR” />
<meta name=”Slurp” content=”NOYDIR” />
There’s not point of using the first one since no other bots respect NOYDIR so use the second one. Yahoo! already respects the NOODP tag (which prevents the DMOZ description) and have now finally have added the Yahoo! directory support.
[tags]yahoo noydir, yahoo noodp, yahoo no directory, no directory yahoo meta[/tags]
For ages many SEOs have sworn that web content is the key foundation to building successful SEO projects. It is believed that continually updating your web site with relevant, useful, and unique content will give you a head above your competition. Google is firmly behind these content initiatives since, from their standpoint, 1000 unique pages are better than 1000 copied pages.
The problem is, webmasters have tirelessly updated their web site with quality, relevant, and on-topic content without any results. Sure they went up a few spots but their competition rests firmly in place at the top with their ripped off content and rarely updated listings. Why bother with this whole content fiasco if Google continually rewards LINKS and NOT content, as evidenced in their results?
Tips on Maximizing Your Content
The fact is, Google makes a few assumptions when they stand behind the, ‘content is king’ moniker. Firstly, they expect you’ll not only write relevant and unique content, but you’ll also do the correct promotion for the content as well. Google says they love new content, and they aren’t lying, but they don’t explicitly say that great content should gets links. Typically this does not occur without correct promotional activity by the webmaster/marketer. This means your great content will sit unnoticed and without the right people promoting it to its full Google potential.
Google expects great content will yield more links. Great content without quality incoming links in itself WILL NOT trump poor content that has many links (some quality some not). All things being equal, if you have better content but no links, then Google doesn’t care about you. If you have mediocre content but high PR (not necessarily on topic) links, Google will rank the web site higher.
Of course, Google does not want webmasters to follow this ‘crappy content high PR links’ strategy, but the fact of the matters is: within the SERPs, web sites with more links (and higher PR) will rank higher. Furthermore, it appears that in many instances merely getting high PR links without any attention to relevance is A-OK with Google.
Unfortunately for confused webmasters Google keeps pumping the ‘content is king’ show without walking the talk. There clearly exists a bias for high PR links regardless of content (it is as if anything over PR 5 can come from anywhere, not necessarily sites relevant to yours). Google needs to weight content with greater authority in ranking algorithms if they want webmasters to believe their content is really king of the SEO world.
How to Beat Linking Bias
If you can’t beat them, join them, then exceed them. Fact of the matter is, Google has an initiative to reward great content and relevant links. They are behind the eight-ball right now as countless web sites get away with not producing in either category. However, that doesn’t mean come tomorrow they won’t clean up their act (fact is Google improves every day).
If you’re a webmaster struggling against dirty competition then start doing what they’re doing, but in a different way. Google loves links, however, they will reward high PR relevant links over non-relevant links with the same PR weight. If you need to rank higher then get your web links, quality ones, via focused promotion and off-page optimization. This is a simple process, but it is definitley one that will yield better results than your competition that you’ve tried so desperately to beat.
Content on its own will do little to trump the company ahead of you with 1000s of links. Make a point to acquire quality, high PR, relevant incoming links via unique, profitable and relevant content. Easier said than done though :D
[tags]content is king, seo content king, seo content, google content[/tags]
For as long as I’ve been involved in SEO, the major search engines have opted for varying degrees of disclosure when it came to displaying the number of incoming links to a particular domain. By typing in link:yourwebsite.com in the search field you were able to display this value.
The value to an SEO to view accurate reflections of inbound links (IBL) has a few uses. For one, you can tell who links to you and whether or not you need to alter promotion/linking strategies. For the longest time Yahoo typically revealed the most comprehensive list of IBL, whereas Google did not. Google was the most ambiguous when it came to displaying inbound link values, that was until today.
All Google Webmaster Tools holders can now view IBL values, apparently real IBL values, known to Google. Of course, we don’t know for absolute certainty whether or not this is truly the COMPLETE revelation of your IBL number, but it is definitely a step above what was available before. Webmasters have complained long enough and Google delivered, which was nice of them. (Official post here: Google Blogspot)
So what is the verdict thus far? Well looking at the tools it’s either semi-useful, or completely comprehensive. The links feature enables you to know how many links EACH page has pointing to it. Of course, this list of links includes various syndication pages and social bookmarking feeds, but nonetheless, it’s comprehensive in that manner. Of course, the value of these links is not measured or displayed so you can’t tell if it’s doing you any real good.
Of course, one of the reasons link: commands never displayed full results was to protect webmasters from competition. This is still the case since you can only view the results within the Webmasters console. Nonetheless, all in all, this is another solid tool provided by Google. Nobody has offered this type of information in an easy format (namely the number of links to each specific page.) Kudos Google.
Hey Distinct readers. We’ve been away from our blog recently because of some heavy deadlines and moving servers for a couple of web sites. This would explain our absence from regular posting. Fear not, however, new content is coming soon. We’ll be writing a few more articles on link acquisitions and social media tidbits.
Rumor has it Neil will be making his first post soon so stay tuned.
This post will be more of a rant than offering anything of new information. If you haven’t picked up on the language yet, Google routinely performs what are called ‘data-pushes’. This is in essence a refresh of the data within the SERPS. Occasionally (less frequently) they perform algorithm updates.
For a complete idea of language visit Google Engineer Matt Cutt’s Blog
Matt Cutt’s has said the so called ‘data-pushes’ were a bi-monthly affair, today they are more frequent, perhaps every couple of days. My issues is this: something happened mid-December that really shook some web sites. Old data was beginning to show in the SERPs and some prominent web sites fell off the map. Conversely, in some industries better results were starting to show. Perhaps the sign of a new algo test? Well not according to Google.
A couple of web sites Distinct SEO owns experienced the drop. Two weeks later they recovered. However, two weeks yet again, there appears to be a major drop coming again. That is a full month of 3 widely fluctuating results. Certainly, this is NOT normal Google operations. Something is going on, a new test, a new algo, a new something, SOMETHING is not working efficiently over at the ‘Plex.
I am certain Google does not consider HUGE fluctuations in the SERPs as an efficient process of displaying the best results for their users. In light of this, I surmise there’s something else in the works that hasn’t been revealed yet. Quite frankly, I can’t stand massive ups and downs on a bi-monthly basis–the heart just can’t take it :P
[tags]google data push, google -950, google -30, google algo[/tags]
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