Dumb Link Builder Comment

It seems like I have been posting a lot about link building lately. I don’t know why, perhaps it is the constant dumb emails I have been getting for link exchanges but recently I got not just emails for dumb link exchanges, I have even gotten dumb comments. You are probably thinking “Lee you deserve it, you keep telling people that leaving comments is a good way of getting links”. Sure leaving comments is a good way of getting links and building traffic, but remember I also have said that you should leave good comments that help contribute to the conversation so it does not get marked as spam.

Here is the comment I got on my post about using Google Alerts to help build links.

Hello if you would like to exchange links, please go to http://www. somewebsite.com /pages/linkexchange/form.html it is a small form, once you fill it in you will get a new inbound link instantly.

The funny thing is, in the log files it looked like they used Google Alerts to find out about that post and then came and spammed my blog looking for a link exchange. If they had actually read the post and added something decent to the comments they could have earned a link. Instead they spammed my blog, got marked as spam with Akismet and the comment and link were deleted.

I appreciate the comments I get here on the blog. I have learnt new things, found new and interesting websites and have found new blogs that I have subscribed to. If all you are out to do in commenting is to push your own website for a link like that then you will fail. You need to give something first before getting. I appreciate the people who comment regularly and I remove the nofollow for regular commentators as a reward for their time. People just have to learn how to play nice.

I am curious, what is the dumbest comment you have gotten on your blog?

Joe the Plumber and Link Building

I don’t follow a lot of politics. I have enough trouble following the politics in Canada but when an opportunity comes along like the one created by all the talk of Joe the Plumber in the race for the United States Presidency I take notice. Perhaps what made me take notice more is a post by Eric Ward entitled “Joe The Plumber and Link Building Best Practices“. Why did I find Eric’s post interesting? Well I found the post interesting because it is always nice to feel affirmed in the things that I write here. His advice was to use Google Alerts to search for sites that are talking about Joe the Plumber and to look for an opportunity to contribute. That advice from a “link building expert” sounds a lot like the advice I talked about on how you can use Google Alerts to help build links.

The best part for me was this:

Before you jump me about nofollow and linkjuice, I know this type of link is not going to help your rank. I’m not after rank. I’m after the traffic flow. Publicity driven link building.

So what are you waiting for? Do you want to get some publicity out of the Joe the Plumber frenzy that the U.S. campaign has started? Don’t forget to leave good comments so they don’t get marked as spam.

Use Google Alerts to Help Build Links

I talked a little while ago about how link building is dead. The whole point of the post was that the method some people and businesses go about building links is, to be blunt, stupid. Shortly after I created that post there was a great post over at SearchEngineLand entitled “Conversation With An Idiot Link Broker“. In that post Danny Sullivan exposes the way some people go about creating links to their website. That is exactly the kind of stupidity I was talking about.

One of the best ways I have found to create quality links back to a site is to participate in the conversations on people’s blogs the hardest part is finding blogs to take part in. This is where Google Alerts comes in handy. You can create an alert for a topic you are interested in and Google Alerts will send you an email when it discovers a blog that has created a post on that topic. All you need to do then is visit the blog post and leave a comment.

It is important to not leave spammy comments otherwise your comment will probably not be approved and your work will be for not. Take the time to actually read the post, and contribute to the conversation that is taking place on the blog. There have been several blogs that I have found using Google Alerts that I now regularly participate on and I also get regular visitors from as well.

Some of you might be saying to yourself “but Lee most blogs use nofollow on comments so I don’t get any Google juice by doing this.” If your sole purpose on building links to your website is to get some magical Google PageRank juice then don’t even bother. Creating quality links that will bring real people to come and visit your website or blog is of much higher value than some magical Google PageRank juice. Remember you should be building your website or blog for your users not for search engines, so work on getting links and visitors.

This is just one of the tools I use regularly to keep in touch with what others are saying on topics I am interested in on the web. What are some tools you use to help your commenting and building links back to your website or blog?

Link Building is Dead

Let's make a deal photo found at: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1028813In my last post I talked a little about SEO companies in Regina, or the lack thereof, and Marshal Finch left a comment basically saying there are no dedicated SEO companies in Regina. The best part about Marshal leaving that comment was that I went and visited his website and blog and I found this interesting post on how to build backlinks.

Marshal lists some good, basic backlink building strategies. I left a couple of comments with my point being that building backlinks now is no longer just about getting links wherever you can get them, but it is about building relationships with others to help build links. Directory listings are nice to get, especially if you can get into Yahoo, DMOZ or even the Best of the Web directories, but how much traffic will you get from them? Very little. I have some websites that are listed in each of those directories and the amount of traffic I see from any directory is less than ten since January. That is right, less than TEN referrals from any one directory.

Want to know what websites send the best and most traffic? Referrals from blogs and forums. Places that I have taken the time to build some relationships with, leave comments, and take part in the communities of those websites. Places where it was not just about me getting a backlink. I routinely get requests for link exchanges in my inbox, want to know what happens to them? Can you guess? They go straight into the trash.

Interestingly enough a few days after I read Marshal’s post there was a great post on SEOBook about this exact topic. Link Building: The Future Of Relationships. Building links back to your website is not just about getting that link, it is about building a relationship. About giving back. Being a webmaster or blogger is not just about pushing your own website. You need to be social, be an active participant of different social communities to help promote your website or blog.

Want a really good example of how to do that? I already gave you one at the start of this post, did you see it? Here is your chance to put it into practice. Leave a comment, subscribe to my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, build a relationship and backlinks and visitors will follow.

Themes, SEO and Consulting in One Day

I have started several post for the blog here today, but I have not been able to finish a single one. I don’t know what it is about today that seems to be causing me to drift from topic to topic, but that is the kind of day it has been. Since I was not able to finish a complete post today I’ll just give you a run down of some of the post topics I was thinking of writing about today.

WordPress Themes – I have been doing a lot more WordPress development. I currently have five website/blog projects on the go all being done in WordPress. On top of that I have another two quotes out that are also websites/blogs that would use WordPress. I recently came across a post that had a list of five blank WordPress themes to help in development. Now I just need the time to sit and look at them.

Regina SEO – Since moving to Regina I have been wondering what companies down here do SEO so a little Google search and it appears that no one in Regina Saskatchewan does SEO. I did not find one company on the first page of results that was from Regina or even from Saskatchewan for that matter. Do the web companies in Regina not care about SEO? Do they just not do it? Maybe there is just no market in Regina for SEO, not that I want to take the Regina SEO market by storm, but I thought there might be at least one company doing it here.

Blog Consulting – I have been having an interesting email exchange with someone about helping him make some changes to his blog. The whole exchange has gotten me thinking that perhaps I can take my webmaster knowledge and starting doing some blog consulting. In many ways I have already started doing this, but I have never really formally come out and said “heh I do blog consulting”. Can Regina handle having a blog consultant?

Big News – Looks like I will be able to announce my big news on October 1, 2008. Make sure you check back on October 1st to find out what I have been trying to keep under my hat since the move.

That is the kind of day it has been here on the seventieth of September two thousand and eight.

SEO Secrets

I have a friend doing some search engine optimization on a website and we have had several conversations about the job. I have looked at the website and I thought I would share with you the secrets I told him after looking at the website about how to help it rank in the search engines for their keyword phrase.

Here it is, the secret to ranking number one or at least on the first page of Google for your keyword or search phrase? The number one secret to ranking on the first page of the search engine results is to…drum roll please…have your keyword phrase in the content of your website!

That does not seem like much of a secret does it? I’ll be honest there is a lot more to ranking high in the search engines than that, but the truth is if you do not have your keyword or your keyword phrase in the content of your website why would you think the search engines are going to rank you for that keyword or phrase? Search engines are not mind readers, they need to be told what your website is about. Using your keyword in the content of your site will help the search engines know what your site is about and help them rank you for that phrase.

Most SEO’s will tell you that you should aim for a keyword density for your main keyword between 3 to 7%, but don’t over do it. Make sure your website content is readable by a human being and makes sense. Don’t sacrifice readability for keyword density! Remember build your website for human beings first. Also, don’t forget to add your keyword to your page titles, your meta keyword and description tags and use it in headers in your text copy. All these things can have some influence on the search engines ranking you.

Want another secret to ranking high in the search engines that goes hand in hand with using your keyword in your website copy? Simple, use your keyword as link text to your website. For example I would not expect this blog to rank for the keyword phrase “blog consulting” since there are no external or internal links pointing to this blog for that keyword. If I start to link to my blog for that keyword and can create some external links back to this blog for that phrase this blog should start to rank for the term “blog consulting” but it would be easier to start ranking for “Regina blog consulting” instead of blog consulting since there will be less competition. Just remember to start building links back to your website with your keywords.

Since I am giving away SEO secrets today, here is another one for you. Search engines still love fresh content, the best way to add fresh content to your website is to have a blog. By adding a blog to your website you create a venue for people to link to you, comment on your posts, build community and be more than just a static website but rather be an actual person. That way if you have a website that is about real estate in Manzanillo, Mexico you can talk about how great it is to live there on your blog, build links back to your website and eventually rank your website for the keywords Manzanillo real estate. See how easy that was! Simple isn’t it. Watch my little blog will start ranking for Manzanillo real estate just because I talked about it.

Now you know the secrets. What SEO secrets do you use to help improve your websites ranking in the search engines? (Ya I know who is really going to share their SEO secrets but I have to ask just in case you do want to share.)

SEO vs. Social Media vs. Referrals

I was looking through Google Analytics for this blog the other day and I was amazed at the number of visitors I get to this blog from the search engines versus how many visits I get from social media and from referrals from other sites. It might not come as a surprise that the majority of traffic comes to this blog from search engines. Maybe because I don’t spend a great deal of time sitting and writing the kind of posts that would appeal to the Digg or StumbleUpon crowd. Aside from that fact however I think there is something more important to learn from traffic from either the search engines and social media and direct referrals.

This blog has never been on the front page of Digg, and to be honest, I am glad it has never been. I have read several articles on the Digg effect and I am quite convinced that the energy and effort that is required to have it happen and survive the onslaught of Digg users is simply not worth it. Blogs that do get on the front page of Digg have that huge rush of visitors for a day or two and then everything dies down again.

This blog has been Stumbled several times, and I am a big fan of StumbleUpon. It is a great service to discover new sites and find interesting information. The StumbleUpon effect is also not such an onslaught as a Digg. There is a large rush of initial visitors and if the post is thumbed up enough you can get several thousand new visitors. My Video Rambler blog had a great time on StumbleUpon at one time with over 10000 visitors on on popular video over a one month period. I have also seen increases in StumbleUpon traffic months after the initial rush, but it is rare that the second or third wave is as large as the first.

I also get a regular amount of traffic from Facebook, MySpace and the latest is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a new social media site that I have not seen in the referral logs before. What I find most interesting about it, they are going to my post about Register.com. Register.com did you hear that? People are finding out about your overpriced services! But I digress.

Overall the social media sites can create a huge rush of visitors to a site, and you might gain a few new comments and some loyal readers. For the most part these people are not going to stick around. I know I rarely subscribe to a blog I discover through StumbleUpon or Digg. The social networking sites don’t send the same amount of large traffic but they also tend to not stick around. The looking at the number of page views of people from these sites the average is low. Usually around one to one and a half page views per visit. They are coming reading and leaving as fast as they came.

The visitors that come here from the search engines are looking for something very specific. They are looking for a solution to a problem they are trying to solve, or information on a product or service that I have written about. This is no surprise, they typed something into the search engine and my blog was the one of the results that the search engine believes will help that person. I often get a great laugh looking at what the search engines think my blog is about looking at the keywords that some people find it. Some of the interesting ones I noticed lately are regular searches for ubuntuxp with this post about my Virtualbox installation of Windows XP installed on my Ubuntu desktop being on the first page of results. I also routinely get visits for people looking for help with PHP and .htaccess problems. That is great and I hope my posts help them but because search engine readers are looking for a solution to a specific problem they don’t stick around long. They might look around a little more but the page views per visit are usually under three.

Percentage wise the referrals from other blogs and websites are not near as large as people coming from the search engines or social media, but they are more interested in the blog as a whole. The number of average pages views is around seven pages views per visit. They also spend more time on the site and are more likely to come back. They are coming from blogs that I have left comments on, participated in or have linked to other posts. Networking with others is a great way to increase visitors and readers to your blog.

The best part of looking at my traffic statistics was seeing how many people come directly to my site. You must be regulars! Thanks for coming and reading and taking part in the conversations here. It really made my day to know that the second highest number of people coming to my site come directly. That also shows in the visitor loyalty graph in Google Analytics.

Overall traffic from search engines, social media and referrals all play a role in bringing traffic to your website. In the long term it is the search engine traffic and referral traffic that will bring in the largest amount of quality traffic and readers. Social media traffic, while great to see and fun to have that spike on your traffic graphs, does not provide a regular and reliable source of visitors and readers. Don’t get me wrong, I think social media traffic plays a part in helping to create some buzz about a site, but in the long term it will not provide your website with a regular source of new readers.

What are your experiences with social media traffic? What do you prefer search engine traffic, social media or referral traffic?

Joomla Search Friendly URLs

I thought I would continue talking about Joomla since they have now released version 1.5. Joomla is a great system and offers a great framework to build a website on. If you want to create a community based website where people can message each other, Joomla can do that. If you want to create a basic website that you can add the occasional page or poll then Joomla can do that too. If you want to blog then use WordPress, if you want a website with a lot of power use Joomla. Joomla does have one flaw though. It’s urls suck.

I have not had a chance to try out the new version yet. Time just ran out yesterday, but I do know that to help Joomla 1.0.3 urls be a little more user friendly you can add an extension to help solve the problem. The Joomla extensions directory lists several extensions for creating.blank1.gif

My favourite is nuSEF. It used to be called OpenSEF but unfortuneately was dropped by its developers. Thank goodness the project was picked up. Of all the search engine friendly url extensions I have tried for Joomla it is by far the easiest to install and use.

If you use Joomla and want to make your urls more friendly for both search engines and your visitors take a look at adding an extension to Joomla to make them a little more friendly.

SEO Videos

Some days it is just easier to sit and listen to a podcast or watch a video. If you are interested in SEO you have probably heard of Aaron Wall. He is the author of the SEOBook. The only ebook I would actually recommend to read if you are a webmaster and want to improve your websites ranking in the search engines. Aaron has been doing some screen casts for a little while so I thought I would gather some of the together into a playlist. Currently I have the following videos on the playlist:blank1.gif

  • SEO Keyword Research Basics
  • SEO Friendly Internal Link Architecture
  • Google On Page SEO Tips & Strategies
  • Create Google & SEO Friendly Page Titles

When I get a chance I will add a few more that I like and think are useful.

5 WordPress Search Engine Essentials

One of the things we want to do here at Epiblogger is focus on ideas and tips for bloggers to make blogging easier and more fun. I come to blogging from a very different perspective than Rhett. I consider myself a webmaster, not a blogger, I enjoy sitting and coding websites from scratch and there are things about WordPress that frustrate me. Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is a very good platform to create a blog with, but it is far from perfect on first install. There are a number of things that the default WordPress install overlooks that bloggers should pay attention too to help increase their blogs profile in the search engines.

  1. All in One SEO Pack – This plugin should be built into WordPress. WordPress on its own does not create very nice page titles, creates a lot of duplicate content and does not generate keywords and description meta tags for each post. All in One SEO Pack takes some of the hardest work to tweak a WordPress blog and does it for you in seconds.
  2. Robots.txt – Spending a little time looking at your robots.txt file can also improve how your blog does in the search engines. Much like using the All in One SEO Pack you can direct the search engines to now index the duplicate content that exists on one your WordPress blog. At the bare minimum you will probably want to include the following on your robots.txt file.
    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /cgi-bin
    Disallow: /wp-admin
    Disallow: /wp-includes
    Disallow: /wp-content/plugins
    Disallow: /wp-content/cache
    Disallow: /wp-content/themes

    There are more folders you might want to disallow access to and we will look at those more in depth in a future post.
  3. Permalink Structure – The only reason you should use the default WordPress permalink structure (http://www.yourblog.com/?p=123) is if you have no other choice! It is unfriendly to your readers, and while search engines will still index it, you will most likely rank higher in the search results with a nicer permalink structure. While the there is endless debate about what the ultimate permalink structure is here are the three choices I would choose:
    1. Date and Name based: This structure is a familiar one to people that have used Blogger since it uses a similar permalink structure. It looks something like this: http://www.yourblog.com/2008/01/02/sample-post/. Depending how often you plan on posting I would remove the day and leave it to /year/month/
    2. Category based: Many people are using a category based permalink structure. It is more friendly to people and many people think it helps search engines because the url has more keywords in it. It looks something like this: http://www.yourblog.com/category/post-title/.
    3. Postname based: This is the easiest and the one choosen for Epiblogger. It is simply http://www.yourblog.com/post-title/. It gets right to the point and will probably deliver more search engine benefits than the other structures.
  4. URL Canonization – Before WordPress 2.3 WordPress blogs suffered from a problem with URL Canonization. That is whether or not they had the www in the front of the domain name or not. This created duplicate content for the search engines because www.epiblogger.net and epiblogger.net would seen as different websites, even though they had the same content. If you are running WordPress 2.3 or higher you no longer have to worry about this because WordPress will use the url you place in your options. If you are not using WordPress 2.3 or higher you really should upgrade for security reasons.
  5. StatisticsThere are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. (Wikipedia) Statistics might just be a bunch of lies, but there are better lies and worse lies. Install a decent statistics package to help you keep track of what people read, how they find you and to help you improve your blog. Google Analytics is a good package, but there are others. I have used pMetrics Performancing Metrics and it is very good as well.

Next week I will look at 5 WordPress Security Essentials to keep your blog secure.