Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Achieving Organic Search Engine Ranking - Link Building

By now, we all know there’s a lot that goes into achieving high organic search engine rankings. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of “SEO,” it refers to the art of modifying a web site’s properties in order for that site to appear in the top search engine results on Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN, for example.Think of the search engine optimization (SEO) process as a puzzle made up of three distinct types of pieces: code, content, and last but definitely not least, incoming links. You need to put all the pieces together to see results; if you focus too much on one single aspect of SEO, you’ll have a third of the visibility and you’ll still be missing the rest of the pieces.

In this article, I’m going to talk specifically about link building, and how this tactic is a critical component to successful search engine optimization. For those unfamiliar with this tactic, link building is the process by which you get incoming links to a website. Link Building is initiated to get incoming links to a website from other websites. The whole purpose behind link building is to improve the link popularity of a website, or to improve the number of incoming links to a website.

The reason link building is so important to high organic positioning is that all the major search engines use link related variables in their ranking algorithms, the complex equations that evaluate a site on a myriad of factors and then use this data to determine which sites appear where on the results pages.

So what incoming link related variables do the search engine algorithms consider?

- Number of Links- Quality/Origin of Links

- Relevance of Links

- Anchor Text Within Links

- Links Must Present Value to Users

Confused? Let me explain. Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask all consider the number, quality, and relevance of incoming links to your site when determining its rank (Incoming links are those links that point to your web site). Google has a system called PageRank, and the other engines operate within similar frameworks. Google has stated, “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value.” In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important’ weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important.’”

Thus, the sites with the most links, or votes, must naturally be the best pages for the information being searched for. Think of it as a digital form of never-ending natural selection; the sites with the best content are linked to more often, boosting their search engine positioning, which in turn, makes them more visible to searchers who will continue linking to them more often.

So, two sites that are both about web design are differentiated by the number of incoming links they’ve obtained. If site A has 135 incoming links, and site B only has three, site A will dominate site B in the search engine results. Yet not every link helps. Go here to read about link building strategies to avoid.

As you’ve read, links are an important aspect of SEO. But not just any links. In fact, the wrong links can hurt you, badly. At this point, I’ll now turn my attention to the quality and relevance of these links, in the process explaining why not every link is a good one, and how some can do far more harm than good.

As mentioned earlier, your links need to be from quality sites that share some degree of relevancy with yours. The major engines are all conscious of the origin of these links, and lately, they’ve been known to penalize sites that build massive networks of irrelevant links. This penalization stems from something known as link farms, which were created in the late 1990s for SEO purposes. Link farms would sell links to sites, but none of these links presented any real value to users. Now the major engines evaluate a site not only on the number of links, but the quality, relevance and origin of these links. For example, a site supporting content about garages would be a great linking opportuníty for a auto parts site, while a cat food site would most likely incur a penalty.

Lastly, the anchor text of your incoming links needs to be optimized in order for the search engines to know what kind of site this link directs a user to. Anchor text is the colored or underlined text that indicates the existence of a link.

For example, if you own a Japanese sushi restaurant in Denver, you don’t want links that point to your site to say something vague like “Denver restaurant.” While this is true, it won’t help you get ranked for the keyphrase you want to be ranked for.

Instead, have your links’ anchor text say “Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Restaurant in Denver.” Not only is this more specific and better for users, it allows the search engines to better determine the relationship between the content of your site and the links that point to it. After all, the strength of this relationship is surely one of the most important factors in achieving high organic positioning. For a more detailed explanation of link building and anchor text within links, clíck here.

So now that you know what kind of links you need to acquire to achieve high organic search positioning, where do you start? Unfortunately, that’s a topic for another blog, but if you go here you can see how to acquire the links that will make a difference.

On a final note, remember to follow the philosophy of utility when conducting any link building campaign: Present users with links that connect them to useful, relevant information, and the search engines will reward you with high organic rankings.

About The Author
Nick Yorchak is an SEO expert at Fusionbox, a full-service Denver Internet marketing company. He can be reached at 303.952.7490. Click here to visit his expert SEO blog.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Latest Updates from Google AdSense - Mobile AdSense now Available!

If you currently run a website designed for mobile phones, or are planning to set one up, you can now monetize your site with Google AdSense for mobile. Similar to AdSense for content, AdSense for mobile automatically serves targeted ads to your mobile webpages, enabling you to earn money while providing useful information to your users.

If you’d like to learn more about the specifics of the program, check out the policies and requirements. Or to get started right away, simply sign in to your AdSense account, visit the AdSense Setup tab, and select AdSense for mobile as the product.

AdSense: Latest Updates from Google AdSense - Mobile AdSense now Available!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

How Glossaries and FAQs Can Improve Search Engine Rankings

A large part of my time at StepForth as a search engine optimization consultant is spent conducting competitor research on behalf of our clientele. This service is focused on deconstructing the marketing campaigns of each competitor while identifying the tactics that appear to have fundamentally contributed to their search engine success. As you might imagine I come across many intriguing techniques that work and many that don't. In this article I will account for a couple of techniques that appear to be overlooked by many but have proven time and time again to work; the creation of an on-site glossary and
frequently asked questions (FAQ) section.

Create a Glossary

I imagine we have both shared one frustration with the Internet at one time or another and that is jargon... and too much of it. Acronyms, and bafflegab seem to be unintentionally utilized on websites all over the web (I am guilty too, I admit it) and I often wish there was a simple way to find a definition within a website rather than visiting an online dictionary. In some cases
I find a website where the owners have smartly linked a potentially confusing term to an off-site definition which is kind to the user but a waste of a great optimization opportunity. Whenever an occasion arises where a link to a definition would be worthwhile it makes far more sense to link to that content within your own website so that you can gain credibility in the eyes of a major search engine like Google.

You see, Google's algorithm is essentially a credibility calculator; it considers a whole host of elements on your website and pointing to your website to determine where it should be ranked. The algorithm considers countless elements including the uniqueness and relevance of each page's content to the number of links pointing to your site from other credible and relevant websites. In this case, a small boost in credibility can be gained by first having the added relevant content inherent to a glossary and second by linking a word/phrase from a page to its definition within your glossary.

For example, if your website (i.e. sold a wide variety of wood working tools and furniture building plans online it would be to your benefit to provide a fairly comprehensive glossary of woodworking terms on your website. Once the glossary is complete you can then occasionally link to the associated terms from within the written content on your

Okay, I see that the content within a glossary is relevant but I am not clear on why these links help?

A search engine algorithm tries to ascertain credibility in much the same manner humans do; we just take our innate calculations for granted. So consider how you would feel if you were on the woodworking site reading a tutorial on building a rocking chair and whenever a confusing term appeared you were provided with a link to a glossary on the site kindly defining the term. This
small convenience would probably inflate your opinion of the usefulness of the website and in-turn the credibility of the website would be less in doubt. Search engine algorithms assimilate these helpful links in much the same manner so by helping your visitors you are also helping your website.

Wait! There is another bonus to having a glossary:

As an added benefit glossary pages also have a great chance at obtaining rankings for their associated definitions precisely because they have links from relevant text pointing to them. As a result, a woodworking glossary might become an entry page for curious surfers or even a page where other woodworking sites link to for a definition.

In short, glossaries are simply a win-win tactic for nearly any website. In fact, as I write this I can't think of a single website that would not benefit from a glossary.

Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page

Now that you have read why an on-site glossary is important perhaps the concept of adding a Frequently Asked Questions section to your website is a no-brainer or perhaps not. Either way if you don't have a FAQ page then get your hide in gear and create one ASAP.

Like a glossary a Frequently Asked Questions page is a perfect place to build the credibility of your website and put to rest the fearful/concerning questions that often arise in relation to your products/services. If you need some ideas of what questions a prospective customer might ask, try calling a few clients and ask them what they looked for before ultimately choosing your
company. In addition, try placing a submission form on your contact page where prospects can ask you a question directly – just be sure to respond with haste. Then place the question and your response on the appropriate FAQ page.

Yet another bonus from having an FAQ

It is very common for the average surfer to search the web using questions. If your FAQ uses the wording that you think your prospects will use when searching, you will have a good chance at acquiring some extra high quality traffic. Do some research using a keyword analysis tool and try to find the best wording for each FAQ.

Tips for Building an Optimized Glossary or FAQ

Now I imagine that every expert in the SEO field has a different preference for designing the 'ultimate' glossary or FAQ but there are definitely some important tips to keep in mind for both:

1. Keep the pages relatively short. For example, I do not recommend having the entire glossary or FAQ on a single page unless they are relatively small. Ideally I would limit the number of questions or definitions to 10 or 15 on each page.

2. When building a FAQ try to devote each FAQ page to a singular topic. For example, on a woodworking site the FAQ for one page might be on the installation of a wood floor and another page would be devoted to questions on laminate floor installation.

3. When formatting the content for both the glossary and the FAQ try to link to related content within your website. This way if any visitors or search engines enter the site via one of these pages they can find great related reading material in a single click.

4. Make sure that a "back" button or a button that takes the user to the glossary or FAQ main navigation is available after each definition/answer. This will make it easier for visitors to navigate each resource or find their way back to their original reading material.

5. Add content to both resources whenever possible. It is often very simple to add a new definition or question and over time each resource will become more and more valuable to
your users and ultimately contribute more to your website's success.

6. Ensure that the FAQ and Glossary pages are included in your XML sitemap so that search engines can regularly index them for fresh content [see Google XML Sitemaps – The Basics
(]. That said, I advise setting the suggested re-index rate monthly unless the resources will be updated more often than that. After all, these pages are supposed to help but not take away from the core content of your website.

Your Competitors Are Doing It or They Will

If your website lacks a glossary or a FAQ I can only hope that this article convinced you to make it a priority. These tools are noted as contributing factors to the success of competitors throughout many of my analysis contracts and simply put they are too simple to add for anyone to be without them. Even if you have to hire your search engine friendly ( web designer to add these resources the ends will justify the means.

About the Author
Ross Dunn is the founder and CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc. ( Based in Victoria, BC, Canada, StepForth has provided professional search engine placement and management services since 1997. Ross is a search engine optimization and placement expert with over 9 years of marketing experience and is a Certified Internet Marketing and Business Strategist (CIMBS). Blending his experience in the art of web design and search engine optimization, Ross offers a unique and informed perspective on obtaining top search engine placements. Ross can be reached at

Monday, December 03, 2007

2 Vital Factors of e-Commerce Design

OK, so the title isn’t strictly true there is one important factor in ecommerce design and two things you have to do achieve it. The goal is to make people purchase your product.

The two things you have to do to make them buy is to help and persuade. When you design a site you need to pay serious attention to it’s usability and it’s persuasive abilities. The aim of a good e-Commerce solutions is to gently (or not so gently) persuade the sites user to purchase the product they want.

In order to make sure they find this as easy as possible, you need to make sure your website is as usable as possible. There are thousands of usability and persuasive design methodologies and we don’t intend to cover them all in this article. We have identified a couple of the most important factors in both areas and provide some tips and guidance to help you tailor your site to increase sales.

Continue to read more..SEO: The Two Most Important Factors In e-Commerce Design

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