Top Fundamentals for Google Optimization

Google optimization is about following Google guidelines, Google likes ethical SEO practices, those SEO practices which are to help website owners as well as Google and it has published guidelines for SEOs here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/webmasters/seo.html

  • Fresh and Original Content
  • Clean and Validated Code
  • Easy and Accessible Navigation
  • Good Interlinking of Web pages
  • Healthy and Relevant Incoming Links
  • Domain Age and Registered Period For
  • Same Contacts at Site and Domain Registration

Fresh and Original Content:

Google loves fresh and original content. Make sure the content alsois selectable on the page and isn’t just an image. They can read your images and links via alt and title tags, but it is most important to use header tags such as H1 and H2 tags and include your keywords in them.

Clean and Validated Code:

Clean and validated code helps Google to crawl easily and deeply. Make sure you code to the latest web standards and don’t have too much javascript, inline css, or other messy code. Use external files where you can. Keep your code as clean as possible.

Easy and Accessible Navigation:

Google wants to be able to easily read your navigation bar, so try to keep it text. If you must use images, than make sure to you the alt tag so Google knows what your buttons mean. Also, make sure you have a site map created for your site and submitted to Google Webmaster Tools.

Good Interlinking of Web pages:

Web links are like roads and streets on a website, make sure all website’s internal links are linking correctly and most importantly to pages with relevant and related content.

Healthy and Relevant Incoming Links:

Google likes when websites link to yours, especially if they are high quality authority websites. We call these backlinks and when you get enough high quality, and general backlinks, your website will be viewed as more of an authority website and all your pages will rank higher for their optimized keywords.

Domain Age and Registered Period For:

Google also what you call ‘aged domains’. These are older, pre-registered domain names. You can get these domains when they expire by backordering or bidding on them. If your domain name is already old, that is great because you will get more Google love.

That’s it, stay tuned for more SEO training!

I hope this information helps…

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SEO Tips & Tricks

Here’s a SEO Tips & Tricks guide that will help you dominate your competition! 🙂

1. Don’t Throw Away Your Links

A very common problem for many webmasters is that 70% of their incoming links point to http://www.yourwebsite.com and 30% of their incoming links point to yourwebsite.com, without the ‘www.’ part. Search engines think these are 2 completely different pages of your website, and therefore the content on http://www.yourwebsite.com only gets 70% of the “link juice” it actually deserves. How to fix that? You need to make a 301 Redirect from one page to the other and your problems are gone. Look into the folder with index.htm, index.php or whatever index page your website is using. There should be a .htaccess file – if there isn’t one, simply create it with the text editor of your choice. Once you have the .htaccess file, add these lines to it:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourwebsite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L,R=301]

This will effectively redirect all traffic AND all link juice from yourwebsite.com to http://www.yourwebsite.com.

2. Deep Linking

Don’t spend all your efforts on building links to your homepage (e.g. http://www.yourwebsite.com). Having lots of links pointing to other pages of your website tells search engines that there is good content to be found all over your website. Pointing all your links to your homepage is a sign for search engines that your website is shallow and doesn’t provide as much value to the visitor as it should. It also appears quite unnatural.

3. Secret: A Great Way to Get Free High-PR Links!!!

This is an idea we haven’t shared with anyone so far, but our registered members really deserve to know about it. There is a way for you to obtain highly relevant High-PR links for free! How to do that? Take a look at some quality, trusted directories (such as Yahoo, DMOZ, Business.com, Aviva) and find the category that is closely related to your niche. Click on the websites listed there and you will see that quite many of them are dead!

Now use a query on Google such as “link:www.somedeadwebsite.com” to see who is linking to those websites. Contact the administrators of all these websites that are linking to dead pages and tell them that they have a broken link on their website. In a large majority of cases they will be happy to replace their broken link with a free link to your website. Yes, it’s as easy as that!

4. Use Smart Anchor Text

Linking to your website with the words “Click here!” isn’t nearly as helpful as linking to it with something related to your niche, e.g. “used car parts” if you are in that particular business. However, you should get the correct natural-looking mixture of the anchor text throughout all of your incoming links! Rule of thumb: use various keyword phrases in 70% of your incoming links, your URL in 20% and various “click here” variations in the remaining 10%.

5. It’s Not Just About the Anchor Text

Having said that, it’s not all about the anchor text. You need to make sure the text around the links to your website is highly relevant to your website’s content as well! This is one of the major pluses of our own in-house article distribution service – Spin Distribute – your article is distributed to hundreds of websites and it serves as a highly relevant context to the links pointing to your website, rendering them much more valuable!

6. How About a Blog?

If the content of your website is pretty much static and you don’t really need to update it on a regular basis, then you really should think about adding a blog to your website (e.g. blog.yourwebsite.com). Search engines (yes, especially Google!) love fresh content and blogging is the perfect way of telling Google that something is going on with your website all the time and that it’s far from being dead. You don’t need to work your ass off with writing blog posts however, two posts a week will do just fine. Take an hour of your time, write 30 short posts with strategic links to parts of your website and you can schedule them for months in advance.

7. Use a Decent Server

We have unforunately learned this the hard way with one of our previous projects. We were using a cheap shared server and with some solid SEO we quickly got 8,000 visitors a day to that website. The server couldn’t handle it, so it kept on crashing – and the website was unavailable for 20% of the time. This really annoyed Google and after 5 days it started sending us 300 daily visitors instead of the former 6,000 (we got 2,000 from other sources). So, make sure your servers are easily handling the traffic you’re getting!

8. How About Some Quality Links From .edu Sites?

This is not as important for your website’s position in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) as it used to be a couple of years ago, but it’s still a useful approach that will place you ahead of your competition. So, how do you find related .edu websites? You can use Google again – just type in “inurl:.edu your keywords”, send a nice friendly message to administrators of those pages and more often than you think you’ll get a valuable backlink (disclaimer: you will only get these links if your website is high quality!).

9. Optimize One Keyword Phrase Per Page

It doesn’t make much sense to optimize one page of your website for numerous different keyword phrases. It will definitely make the optimization for each of those keyword phrases less effective AND it’s really easy to simply add another page to your website to cover another keyword phrase. It’s a no-brainer, really. So, instead of one page that shows up on the 3rd page of Google’s search results for keyword phrases »used ford carburetors« and »used ford fuel injectors« you can simply create two optimized pages, one for each keyword phrase. These two optimized new pages will probably show up on the 1st page of search engine results.

10. Secret: Turn Off Google’s Personalized Search

It can be very useful to be able to see how your website ranks in Google’s Result Pages to some random potential visitor who is looking for something related to your niche. To disable Google’s personalized search that keeps on serving you results that are tailored especially for you, append “&pws=0” at the end of the URL in the search bar.

11. Patience is a Virtue

Whatever you do, keep in mind that Search Engine Optimization is a long-term investment and you will almost never see any positive effects right away. But with the correct approach and a consistent plan of action (this means you stick to your plan and execute it!) you should be able to see some great results in a month or so. For example, the majority of Spin Distribute users who distributed 2 articles every week, reported very satisfactory results in 1 to 2 months (first position in Google search results, 1500% traffic growth, 2500% income growth).

12. Turn Your Visitors Into Assets

This might be the most important part of making a living with a website and while it’s not really a part of SEO, we just can’t stress the importance of this part enough. Remember that website we had that went from 8,000 daily visitors to 2,300 in a single day because of our server issues? If we hadn’t done our best to satisfy the needs of those visitors and made sure they trusted us enough to give us their email addresses, we would have lost 75% of that website’s revenue in one day. What if that happened to you and your family depended on it?

Always keep in mind that you need to make the most of every visitor that comes to your website, because you just might stop getting all those visitors one day and you need to be able to provide your products or services to your existing list of potential customers (leads).

Bottom line, just put these tips in action and you’ll see tremendous results in a month or two.

And yes, we will keep on updating this list of SEO tips (and our secrets) in the future. 🙂

Penguin Analysis: SEO Isn’t Dead, But You Need to Act Smarter (And 5 Easy Ways to Do So!)

The new Google Penguin update was a big change that has been very unsettling to SEO’ers, both blackhats and whitehats. It seems that everywhere you go, people who had previously considered themselves to be “professionals”, are now dumbfounded as their stable authority sites have moved from ranking in the top 5 for competitive keywords, to not ranking at all.

There has never been more whispers (both jokingly and not), that SEO is dead. Which leads me to…

The Number One Question People Are Asking:

What Did This Update Do and How Do I Recover? (By Reading This Post. Duh!)

Microsite Masters is in a unique position as we operate as a rank tracker; we have historical ranking data for thousands of websites. We have data on sites that are still doing great, and we have data on sites where rankings have tanked. We’ve decided to mine through all of this data (giving us a nice large sample size), and the results we found, although not unexpected by us, should give you a clear indication as to exactly how you should build and rank sites moving forward.

Ok, Now On To What You Really Care About. What Did We Find Out?

Link over-optimization is one of the most thrown around concepts in the SEO community now, so it was naturally where we decided to look first. We took a look at the sites that tanked and the sites that didn’t, and for both we looked at what their anchor text distribution was.

More specifically, we were interested in seeing what percentage of those links had anchor text for keywords that the site was trying to optimize SERP visibility for (such as “blue widgets”) versus any other type of anchor text (this could be “bluewidgets.com”, “blue widgets | the number one widget site”, “click here”, or anything that wasn’t a keyword containing measurable search volume).

What does this mean? It means that every single site we looked at which got negatively hit by the Penguin Update had a “money keyword” as its anchor text for over 60% of its incoming links. On the other hand, the sites that were not hit by the update had much more random percentages. Having over 60% of your anchor text being a money keyword did not guarantee that your site would be hit by the penalty (many of the sites not affected had numbers just as bad), but if under 50% of your anchor text for incoming links were “money keywords” it’s all but guaranteed you weren’t affected by this update.

Taking a look at the above information we compiled says much of the same. The graph above shows that only 5% of the sites affected by the update had a URL structure (ex: bluewidgets.com) as 2 or more of their 5 most common anchor texts. On the other hand, nearly half of the sites not affected had the same. What does this mean? Most of you will say that this is a clear example that Google has issued a link over-optimization penalty (or at the very least over-optimization link devaluation), and that is absolutely correct.

However, that’s only half of what we uncovered (in fact, it’s the least important half!)

If This Update Isn’t Just About Over-Optimization, What Else Is Factored?

In the recent post made by Matt Cutts, he specifically called out pages that were trying to fake relevancy (or just weren’t relevant at all), and gave an exaggerated example of what to avoid.

Although his example is a little extreme, it gives insight into what Google is going after: links that are not relevant (and therefore not likely to be created naturally). This should come as no surprise to anybody that Google wants to avoid this. After all, how can a “citation” or “recommendation” (which is how the concept of link “valuation” first came to be) be valid if the citation or link has absolutely nothing to do with the page or site that it is on?

We decided to test this by taking a look at the top links for all of the sites contained in our study to see how many of those links came from sites that are in the same, similar, or related niches.

This data shows something very important: penalized sites generally had very little links coming from domains and websites in the same niche. The numbers obviously show that it’s OK, and probably beneficial to have links coming from nonrelevant sites, however it’s important to supplement those links with links coming from sites relevant to the subject matter of your site.

Conclusion: What Is Google Doing?

We just demonstrated the “actions” Google is taking by evaluating one of the best data sets in existence to conduct a case study of this nature, so it should be obvious that Google is trying to prevent over-optimization of links in terms of anchor text use and valuating links from relevant sites higher than links from non-relevant sites in terms of SERP visibility for the promoted site.

If you take a look at those two facts separately, you get two separate things you should be doing.

However, if you take a look at those two results together, a juicier piece of info comes out:

Google is trying to replace or devalue “anchor text” use with “niche/content relevancy of linking sites” as a primary link relevancy, (or “quality”) signal.

Anchor text, has been proven by SEO’ers for the past 10 years as easy to manipulate. However, obtaining links from websites or pages in a similar niches and with relevant content to the keyword you’re trying to rank for is generally much harder to manipulate. This reality and ease of the manipulation obviously prompted Google to create this update.

Furthermore, unlike 2 or 3 years ago, the technology to determine the niche of a domain or webpage is becoming much easier and much cheaper to use (I know this because I’ve internalized and use this technology). That means reliance on anchor text is not nearly as big of a “ranking factor” as it was before when it was much harder to determine content relevancy on a large scale.

That’s Some Great Info! But What Exactly Should I Be Doing?

(I’m Lazy and Don’t Care About Google Updates. I Just Want to Rank!)

Method #1: Create Microsites

What are those? Besides being important enough to SEO that we decided to use that as one of the words in our company name, they have been a great way to rank sites in the past, and continue to be even after this update. Microsites are small(ish) topic-focused sites that provide useful content relative to your niche, and make sure to cite your main site as a primary source. Google wants the Internet to be filled with sites that provides users what they are looking for, and give authority to sites that are relevant to what the user is looking for. By creating smaller sites of “higher quality”, you get to expand your presence in your niche, and use that expanded visibility and send relevant and authoritative positive ranking signals towards your main site.

Method #2: High Quality Blog Networks

This might be the most “black hat” solution, but it’s still affective. Recently ALN and BMR have proven that low quality networks which seemed to good to be true, are too good to be true.

It’s no longer enough to have private networks with small amounts of content, anchor text that is poorly placed within the context of the article, no (or very little) accountability in the area of content quality, and other gaping network-wide footprints and general low quality attributes.

A completely internalized niche blog network (which in reality is really a group of microsites) is as effective as it ever was and generally more selective than large public blog networks to ensure proper quality control and avoid footprints. More on that later!

Method #3: Diversify Anchor Text

If you are building links yourself, you have probably reached a decision where you could spend X (whether in time or dollars) with the anchor text of “a term I want to rank for” or “a term that appears naturally but I’m not trying to rank for”. Although you are consciously aware that you need a natural mix of both, each time an SEO’er is faced with that decision they tend to usually pick the first option because, well… it’s no fun to spend time and money building links that will probably not directly help you rank! Stop doing that and make sure that over 50% of your links contain anchor text that isn’t a keyword you are trying to rank for.

What anchor text should you be using? From the data we’ve evaluated, “MySiteDomain.com”, “MySiteDomain”, “http://mysitedomain.com”, “http://www.mysitedomain.com”, “The Title of My Website”, “here”, and “the title of one of my H1′s (that isn’t a keyword I’m trying to rank for)”, were generally used as anchors on sites that were not affected by the most recent Google update and are probably a good starting point to consider using moving forward.

Method #4: Play Google’s Game

Get completely legitimate whitehat links! All of the previous points are ways to emulate a “natural” backlink profile. Meaning, ways to make your site look like it’s whitehat, despite possibly taking some shortcuts. The other (often forgotten) thing you can do, is actually use whitehat strategies!

Write legitimate guest posts on niche sites, find ways to get media coverage (HARO is probably one of the easiest ways to find news stories related to your niche). Last, as we’ve talked about before, viral marketing not only provides lots of visitors, but a ton of legitimate link power.

Method #5: Run Your SEO Sites Like a Real Business

One of the biggest things I noticed when pouring through our massive amounts of data is that sites that portrayed themselves as a “business” fared a lot better than sites which viewed themselves as a way to obtain and leverage traffic from Google in order to monetize.

What does this mean? A lot of things, but one of them is to look at other traffic sources besides Google. Not only will that make you less reliant on Google, and their seemingly fickle SERP shuffles, but those other traffic sources will almost certainly indirectly help your site rank better on Google.

Bonus Method: Keep Checking This Blog!

Each of the points above are worth an entire post, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll be doing exactly that. So come back often to see each of those 5 points fleshed out as its own full blog post!

I’m Too Lazy To Even Read Bullet Points. Give Me The Cliff Notes!

SEO is getting harder, but it’s still possible (and  still relatively easy) to make money with it. Stop being lazy, and a good way to do that is to not rely on these cliff notes and actually read the article!

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