110 Quick SEO Tips Even Mom Would Love

By Richard V. Burckhardt

SEO so easy even your mom could do

Here are some easy, common sense, non-technical ways to optimize your web site that even mom would love!

UPDATED – Everyone loves a good tip, right?

Here are 110 quick tips for search engine optimization that even your mother could use to get cooking. Well, not my mother, but you get my point. Most novices with some web design and beginner SEO knowledge should be able to take these to the bank without any problem.

(Note: This list of tips is an update to the original post 55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love. I am republishing this expanded version for the attendees of local Palm Springs SEO training classes.)

1. If you absolutely MUST use Java script drop down menus, image maps or image links, be sure to put text links somewhere on the page for the spiders to follow.

2. Content is king, so be sure to have good, well-written and unique content that will focus on your primary keyword or keyword phrase.

3. If content is king, then links are queen. Build a network of quality backlinks using your keyword phrase as the link. Remember, if there is no good, logical reason for that site to link to you, you don’t want the link.

4. Don’t be obsessed with PageRank. It is just one isty bitsy part of the ranking algorithm. A site with lower PR can actually outrank one with a higher PR.

5. Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site. And, if you MUST have the name of your company in it, put it at the end. Unless you are a major brand name that is a household name, your business name will probably get few searches.

6. Fresh content can help improve your rankings. Add new, useful content to your pages on a regular basis. Content freshness adds relevancy to your site in the eyes of the search engines.

7. Be sure links to your site and within your site use your keyword phrase. In other words, if your target is “blue widgets” then link to “blue widgets” instead of a “Click here” link.

8. Focus on search phrases, not single keywords, and put your location in your text (“our Palm Springs store” not “our store”) to help you get found in local searches.

9. Don’t design your web site without considering SEO. Make sure your web designer understands your expectations for organic SEO. Doing a retrofit on your shiny new graphics-based site after it is built won’t cut it.

10. Use keywords and keyword phrases appropriately in text links, image ALT attributes and even your domain name. Continue reading

SEO Tools & Tips

SEO toolboxIn my day to day SEO for my clients and for myself, I’ve come across a number of tools of the trade, some really good, some, well, not so good. Here are a few items in my geek toobox that I use daily and highly recommend.

1. Keyword Tool - I have tried them all and this is the one I always go back to for my keyword research. Not only does it give you variations on the keyword phrase you are searching for, but also provides the WordTracker count and daily estimated searches on Google, Yahoo and MSN along with shortcuts to various tools like Google Trends, Keyword Discovery and several other online tools. And, you can export the thing as a CSV file. Way to go Aaron!

2. Check Server Headers ToolQuick and easy way to check on whether your URL is being seen and followed properly by the spiders. For instance, I recently installed a WordPress plugin which appeared to work fine in a browser, but when I checked the page URLs that it produced here, I found that those pages were producing 404 errors, meaning the web surfer could see the pages, but the spiders couldn’t. Naturally, I ditched the plugin. The site also includes a batch URL processing capability (up to 25 URLs at once).

3. Web Page Analyzer – This online tool checks the speed of your site and lets you know what the download time would be at various connection speeds. Granted, most folks have broadband these days but you still don’t want a page to take several minutes to load on a 56k dial up connection. The test gives you suggestions on ways to speed up your site for visitors and spiders. Both will go away if your site is too slow.

4. Yahoo Site Explorer -Yes, Google gives you some information on sites that link to you, but not like Yahoo’s Site Explorer, which is easy to use and just requires a Yahoo login. You can filter inbound links to see internal or external linking, number of pages Yahoo sees and more.

5. Spider Simulator – Just one of many free online tools offered by this site, I jump here when I need a quick look at what the spiders are seeing. A more comprehensive spider simulator report is available in the iBusinessPromoter client software on my PC, but this online utility serves my purpose most of the time.

6. Tweetscan - These days keeping up with what is said about you and your clients is a must. I use Tweetscan to search for references to me or my clients in Twitter for reputation management, goodwill and networking opportunities.

7. SearchStatus - This is a Firefox plugin that, among other things, allows you to highlight and see nofollow links. This comes in real handy when checking backlinks or sculpting the links on your own site. The plugin includes utilities to check backlinks, Alexa rankings and so forth, but I primarily use the nofollow highlight feature.

8. MyBlogLog - Although the community aspects of the social site are free, I do use one paid service that this Yahoo owned site offers – statistics. For about $25 per year, I can get almost real time traffic stats coming off of web sites. I can see my site traffic nearly as it happens, where surfers are coming from and where they are going. From this, I can see if there is a trend or if something is wrong on a site now, not tomorrow when my Google Analytics stats are refreshed. I mentioned this service in my post on Web Analytics. This is the only non-free tool I mention in this list, but it’s such a bargain, I had to include it.

9. Google Chrome - Though not technically a tool, Google’s first attempt at a web browser has one feature that keeps it open on one of my monitors all day – the ability to log into different Google accounts in different tabs. I keep my domain e-mail, which is hosted through Google Apps, in one tab and Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics for my work accounts in other tabs. Now, if Chrome would just pick up some cool plugins!

10. Google Webmaster Tools - For something that I paid little attention to when first released, Google Webmaster Tools is now also open on one of my monitors all day. It just keeps getting better. From tracking down dead URLs on my sites to testing a robots.txt file, I can locate site issues that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. Though far from perfect, it’s just about the most valuable online tool I use these days.

Importance of Diversity in SEO

Tip - Diversify content for searchI’ve discussed image and video optimization in my various S E O 101 posts and free eBooks, so I thought I’d point out some quick examples of how a variety of content can give you a kick start in search engines in this world of Universal Search.

Many of you know that I do search engine optimization for FramesDirect.com as well as manage and edit their blog, which is high on eyewear fashion, celebrity sunglasses and so forth. Our readers love to get scoops on who’s wearing what on TV and in films, so when the new Iron Man movie came out (great flick, by the way), we started getting questions about what sunglasses Robert Downey Jr. wore in certain scenes. In the opening scenes, Downey is wearing Ray Ban 3320 sun glasses, so I wrote a blog post on it appropriately titled Ray Ban 3320 Sun Glasses in Iron Man.

At the same time, I posted an image of those Ray Ban 3320 sun glasses on Flickr, complete with a title, description, tags and links back to the blog post and product page at FramesDirect.com. When you post an image at Flickr and include a title, tags and description, it’s like posting a web page which is spiderable and can be indexed by the search engines. The links are “nofollow” but the pages can still rank and bring you traffic.

Since Google drives the most search traffic, optimization tends to favor it, but we have all discovered that the different engine rankings can vary wildly. Including images, as well as videos, podcasts, etc., can help you rank across engines.

Below is a screen shot of a Yahoo search for “iron man sunglasses” where you will see the blog post ranking at the top as I write this. Cool!

Yahoo search for Iron Man sunglasses

In Google, the blog post doesn’t rank on the front page at all, but the Flickr image does at #7:

Google search for Iron Man sunglasses

See how important it is to diversify your content across the board? Granted, #7 isn’t as good as #1, but because the different engines have different algorithms, diversifying your content types across different media (text, images, videos, podcasts, etc.) you get ranking opportunities you would not otherwise have.

And, as a bonus (not shown), a Yahoo Answers question that I answered about what shades Downey wore in the movie came in at #8. Again, the links back to you in Yahoo Answers are nofollow, but they can still bring you traffic. More exposure! Even better if your answer is chosen as the best!

If you’re real lucky, you’ll get something like we got recently for a search in Google for one of our top selling products:

Google search for Sable Water Optics Goggles

Results #1 and #2 are pages from the FramesDirect.com web site, #3 is a video posted on YouTube featuring company CEO Dr. Dhavid Cooper, #4 is a New York Times article featuring the goggles and linking to us and #5 is the same video as #3 but posted to Metacafe.com.

So, be sure to cover your bases. My rule of thumb is that whenever I do a blog post, I take all of the elements of it and find search friendly places to do supplemental (but not duplicate) posts that can link back to it. These places include Flickr, Yahoo Answers, YouTube, Twitter and the FramesDirect.com Fan Page over at Facebook. This is by no means an all inclusive list, just a few places to get started.

Diversity is the key!

User Generated Content: What It Is, Why You Want It, How To Get It

User generated content for SEO
Good user generated content can be optimized to boost your search engine rankings.

User generated content is simply the comments, reviews and feedback left by visitors to your site.

So, why is it so important?

First, it’s free content for your site or blog. You didn’t have to write it or take the time to come up with the ideas.

Second, those impassioned contributors are actually free marketers for your site (so you want to nurture them and cultivate them!).

Third, it generates credibility and demonstrates the usefulness for your site. As SEOs tend to preach, content is king and the more good user generated content the search engines find, the better they consider the quality of your site.

Fourth, the search engines love it because it feeds them rather than competes with them. In other words, more content equals more crawling.

Fifth, it provides a longtail solution for keywords. No more keyword stuffing to try to catch the longtail!

Sixth, quality user generated content makes it easier to get link love.

Finally, did I mention it’s FREE?!

So, now that you’ve got an idea as to why you should be adding user generated content to your SEO toolkit (If you haven’t, you’re going to fall behind the pack fast, so get with it!), how do you go about optimizing your site to make the most of it? Continue reading

Online Retail Optimization: Will It Blend?

Getting found in blended search creates new opportunities and challenges for retailers.
Getting found in blended search creates new opportunities and challenges for retailers.

Online retailers face more competition than ever these days and, with the onset of blended or universal search, on-page optimization just won’t cut it anymore to get pages ranking at the top. Although site architecture is still important in your overall SEO strategy, today’s search results are filled with a variety of resources besides web pages.

For instance, take a look at a search for “The Monkees” on Google (hey, I’m a child of the 60s and I dig The Monkees!):

A blended search result for The Monkees

Notice the lack of traditional web pages in the results? You’ve got music results, news results, the ever-present Wikipedia result and a YouTube video with just a single web page above the fold. These are your blended results. News, images, videos, web pages, audio files feeds and blogs can now come up in search results. All of the major search engines are on the blended search bandwagon.

So, what is the first question you need to ask about your online retail site? Easy.

Will it blend?

Blended search is about different ways, actually, opportunities to get traffic to your site, not just about site architecture. As an example, an all Flash site would not be a good idea for a retail site. Spiders still can’t read Flash. However, add a blog and some feeds to that Flash site with images, good textual content, videos and so forth, and you’ll cover a lot of bases that your site would otherwise miss for coming up in blended search results.

Blended search gives you chances to pull traffic in ways other than your product page rankings. Your images, videos, books, news, feeds and audio files can get you traffic and back links from all types of places on the web.

So, where to get started?

1. HTML SEO basics are still important. Create quality content in all forms – textual, graphical and video. See my post S E O 101 for beginning optimization steps.

2. Videos help in search engine results. Multiple videos can actually show up in the top 10 rankings and have a high click rate.

3. Get social. Ratings, reviews and comments from social sites can show up in the top search engine results. Build relationships in sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.

4. Create a MySpace video page. As with #3 above, participate in the social scene.

5. Show them how. “How to…” searches are very popular. Create a video for your specialty or product and put it on your own site as well as on YouTube, Metacafe, Yahoo, etc.

6. Name your images and graphics. Use captions and ALT attributes when possible. Include brand, product, number, etc. See my post S E O 101: Image Optimization for more tips.

7. Always, always, always include a picture with your products. In addition to a higher click rate when an image is present, sometimes products won’t appear in feeds that pop up on various sites if they don’t have an image associated with them. Make your images available for Google Image Search (through Google Webmaster Central).

8. Feed them. Product feeds can be pulled from various sources all over the web. You want your products to be among them. Start out by uploading a feed to Google Base and MSN/Live Product Search. Both are free. Once you’re comfortable with the way product feeds work, try paid feeds like ShopZilla or Yahoo Shopping.

9. Match product titles in feeds with what is being searched for most often. For example, are there more searches for something general like “Ray Ban aviator” or are most queries for something more specific like “Ray Ban 3025″ for your products?

10. Manage your seller ratings. Shopping feed distributors like ShopZilla.com and Dealtime.com include ways for customers to rank their experiences with companies selling through them. You want yours to be as high as possible as these ratings can be a factor in how high your products rank on these sites.

And, probably my top recommendation would be to remember that you are creating all of this for the consumer, not the search engines. Write for the user in an easy to read format that makes sense. Become a reference source for your products so that site visitors will refer to you, link to you and come back to you.

Search results are like a good milkshake. The better the blend, the better the result.

And who doesn’t like a good milkshake?

;-)

SEO 101: Local Search Optimization

Getting found in local search results.
Getting found for local search queries takes more than having a web site with your address on it.

If there is any part of SEO that is currently ripe with opportunity it’s Local Search. A huge portion of search is for information local to the searcher (Palm Springs movies, Houston pizza, etc.), but a ton of local mom & pop businesses simply don’t know that there is such a thing as “local” search. Many folks think that search is, well, search!

So, now is the time to take advantage of this lack of understanding about local search and get your business in there! It takes more than just a web site targeted to a local audience. Rather, you need to know about about how local search works.

For instance, searchers are basically lazy and tend to search for a city name rather than narrowing down to a neighborhood or zip code, so instead of “pizza 92262″ they’ll start their search with the city as in “palm springs pizza” as the query.

Also, take a look at what you get in a local search result:

Google local search example
Notice that Google now provides ten results (with web site URLs and phone numbers) and a map with locations of the listings. You’ll also see the number of reviews that each business has received. Other search engines will give similar results, though, as of this writing, with a varying number of results mapped and listed. Also notice that the organic results show up below the local results – another reason to be in there if you can.

So, let’s jump into some tips to help you with your local search optimization.

1. Include your physical address. Make sure it is on every page on your web site. if you think slapping a postal address into the HTML address meta tag will help you get found in local search, think again.

2. Be central. Unfortunately, the search engines tend to focus on the city center, meaning that the first results that come up for a search like Boston bars will be those in center city. If you’re lucky enough to be centrally located, you’ve got a leg up on the competition. If not, you could try getting a mailing address that is centrally located, but the search engines will definitely frown on that. All it takes is one disgruntled person going to that location and finding a mailbox to report you. And, businesses without street addresses can’t get listed in Google local listings.

3. Optimize your web site. Regular SEO can have an influence. Be sure to use the name of your city in your content (our Palm Springs office, not just our office). Use your city name in your image ALT attributes and anchor text. See my S E O 101 series for general optimization tips. Make sure your classic SEO is location specific.

4. Optimize your local listing. In Google, go to Local Business Center. For Yahoo!, go to Yahoo! Local. For MSN (or Live or whatever they call themselves today), go to Windows Live Local Listing Center. Fill out the forms with all relevant information. Provide links, web pages, photos and coupons if available.

5. Get reviews. Reviews can have an effect on how you rank in the results. Lots of good reviews can only help you. Enlist friends, customers, relatives, business partners or whoever you can to write good reviews to get you started, but don’t spam. You’ll get caught.

6. Get listed in trusted sources. The search engines pull some reviews and listings from what they consider trusted sources like Superpages, Yellow Pages, Info USA, Localeze and Yelp. Some are free, some are for a fee, but listings in these can help. In Yahoo, del.icio.us rankings might also have some influence.

7. Make sure your data and category are accurate in #4 & #6 above.

8. A keyword-rich domain name can’t hurt.

9. Do local videos. These tend to have great click-through rates and can come up in Google blended results.

10. Cross link with maps on a trusted site like Mapquest.

11. Create a local listing for all locations. If you have more than one, don’t just create a local listing for the main one. Get them all in there!

As always, this barely scratches the surface of local SEO and is intended to get you started in the right direction. I go into more detail in my SEO workshop, offered to web site owners and small businesses. Check my blog at http://www.weboptimist.com for more information or contact me to set up a custom workshop for your business group of five or more people in the Palm Springs area of Southern California. Travel is possible for large groups.

This article will be updated periodically.

See my related S E O 101 posts .

SMX West 2008 Wrap in Pictures

Here’s a wrap-up of the day by day and some of the sessions I attended at SMX West 2008 in Santa Clara, CA, February 26-28, 2008.

SMX BASH

SMX Bash with Bruce Clay and Danny SUllivan

Bruce Clay & Danny Sullivan (with attractive young woman – sorry, I didn’t get her name!) at SMX Bash to kick off the conference.

Just a shot of some of the folks enjoying the SMX Bash to kick off SMX West 2008 in Santa Clara

A shot of some of the folks enjoying the SMX Bash to kick off SMX West 2008 in Santa Clara.

Great backpack for SMX West 2008

Danny said that there was a lot of discussion over the bag to offer at SMX West, but they came up with a winner. Unlike the totes I got at every other conference I have been to, this one is a backpack with several compartments, totally cool and something I will use long after I leave Santa Clara. Congrats to the folks at SMX West!

Day 1

Danny Sullivan keynote at SMX West 2008

Danny Sullivan gives his take on Search 3.0, blended search, and 4.0, personalized search, in his keynote. Sorry it’s a bit blurry. Taken in the dark with my iPhone.

A pre-session photo of Search Engine Land's Venessa Fox and Sean Suchter.

A pre-session photo of Search Engine Land’s Venessa Fox and Yahoo!’s Sean Suchter.

SMX West Search Bowl

Danny Sullivan quizzed teams from the big four search engines and a team of search marketing all-stars on search history at SMX West 2008 Search Bowl.

The Google team won SMX West 2008 Search Bowl

The victorious Google team took the SMX West 2008 Search Bowl trophy, defeating teams from Yahoo, Ask, Microsoft and the SEM All-Stars. Continue reading