Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)


Following up on my last post, there were just too many excellent newsletter articles and blog posts on SEO last year to fit them all into one post, so here are more of the best bits of SEO guidance from 2007.

5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO) by Buzz Marketing for Technology

Über-blogger and podcaster Paul Dunay provides five unconventional tactics for improving search engine rank, such as adding social bookmark site buttons to web pages, making content portable (e.g. video, audio files and PDFs) and encouraging mashups.


Traits of a Great SEO Client: Commitment by Small Business SEM

Marchex SEO pro Scott McGee writes about the client side of the SEO relationship, list the traits that help a client work successfully with an outside SEO firm, starting with commitment—the willingness to be fully involved in the entire process.


The Alternative Search Engine of the Year, 2007!
by Alt Search Engines

Blogger Charles Knight rates the top 10 alternatives to G-Y-M on several factors including popularity, innovation, leadership and attitude, before finally revealing that the number one alternative search engine for 2007 is...read his post!


10 questions you should ask before doing SEO in house (from an ex-in house SEO) by Seer Interactive SEO Blog

Wil Reynolds (whose name is harder to find on this blog than it should be) offers a detailed essay on 10 questions a company should ask when considering in-house SEO, including consideration of availability of talent, the need for maintenance, and costs. This is an excellent summary, though Wil's advice is clearly targeted at larger companies—a $5K-$15K SEO project is pretty sizable in my world.


Reviews Can Improve Your Local Search Rankings - SEO Tip Week 34 by Big Oak SEO Blog

Search pro Shell Harris details how online reviews can help small businesses improve their organic position in local search results.


Don’t Forget… Business Reviews Are Searchable by Convert Offline / Local Search Hound

This post expands on the ideas presented in the post above by detailing a strategy to obtain customer reviews that can improve a small business's rank in local search results.


SEO Styles make the Fight - 10 Deadly SEO Techniques to Avoid by SEO Design Solutions Blog

Jeffrey Smith writes an excellent post warning against over-doing SEO efforts and risking search engine obscurity through the excessive use of 10 popular SEO techniques. My favorite is #7: "The Keyword Stuffing Pipes in the Title SEO technique - Keyword Stuffing | Even more Keywords | Even more Ridiculous Stuffing | Company | Services | City | State | Birth Date | SSN | Address | Location of First Kiss with Girlfriend|, etc. you get the point so stop it already."


12 Basic On-Site SEO Tactics for Optimized Results by Search Engine Journal

Author Miles Price details 12 essential on-page SEO techniques to optimize search rankings. It's all fundamentals, but that's often what SEO comes down to.


17 Search Engine Reputation Management Optimization Tips by MediaPost Search Insider

Rob Garner provides 17 tips ranging from using social networking sites and writing thought-leadership content to strategic linking and interviews to optimize your personal "brand name."


Search Engine Optimization Basics by TopRank SEO Blog

Search expert Lee Odden provides an excellent SEO primer on on-site techniques, link-building, and tactics to avoid.


Get To The First Page Of Google: The 4 Essentials Of Ranking A LinkLess Small Business Website by Convert Offline / Local Search Hound

A post detailing four tips that will help any website rank better, including optimizing for unique (but likely to be searched) keywords and phrases with the proper density and proximity.


The Dark Art Of Search Engine Optimization by Internet Search Engine Database

In this article, Dave Davies writes not about "black-hat search engine optimization tactics" (which should be avoided), but rather about "the hidden aspects of SEO that are often overlooked." He details techniques for creating a "sticky" site, attracting site visitors with short, well-crafted page title and descriptions, and generating external links.


A Search Column About Search Columns by MediaPost Search Insider

Must-see SEO—Rob Garner supplies an excellent list of the most helpful search engine blogs, from Matt Cutts and Search Engine Land to Bill Slawski's SEO By The Sea and Lee Odden's Online Marketing Blog.


Extreme makeover: Five tips for organic search rankings after a site redesign by DMNews

Critical information for any new website launch or makeover, this article explains five common SEO-related mistakes organizations make when working on new sites, including lost optimization work (such as title, meta tags and headlines), lost content, and orphaned pages resulting in 404 errors.


Brand New Websites: A Search Engine Optimization Company Perspective by Search Engine Guide

Writer Scott Buresh begins by noting that "brand new websites have a more difficult time achieving search engine success for competitive phrases than their older counterparts, particularly on Google. However...a good search engine optimization company should be able to effectively work with a new website; setting the foundation for a remarkable success story while still achieving steadily increasing short-term benefit," then proceeds to detail several strategies for gradually improving the search position of new sites, including offering informational content, building links, and carefully choosing high-potential search phrases.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)


SEO is dead? Balderdash! Judging by the number of high-quality articles and blog posts still devoted to the topic (so many I had to split this category into two posts), SEO remains a critical component of online marketing success. It has certainly evolved; SEO is no longer about using clever "tricks" to manipulate search engine results, but rather about crafting relevant and compelling content, writing for searchers, and using best-practice techniques in content emphasis and meta tagging to help search engines find your content.

Here are (part one of) some of the best posts and stories devoted to SEO in 2007:

20 Hard Core SEO Tips by SEO Theory and Analysis Blog

A compelling mix of indispensable (Learn how to write Who, What, Where, When, and Why in 4 paragraphs or less. Why? Because you should never write a press release that starts out with, “John Shlock Smith the Shmuck proudly announces….”) and questionable (Stop using keywords in your URLs. Why? Because if you don’t know how to optimize a page without slamming keywords into the URLs, you don’t know how to optimize a Web page.) advice. You may not want to follow all of the advice here, but this post certainly provides some interesting ideas.


The Art of SEO by Internet Search Engine Database

Writer Jill Whalen makes an excellent case for not over-SEOing a page, which can actually cause the effort to backfire. She emphasizes using SEO techniques sparingly, with a focus on proper copy writing: "If your copy reads poorly to a human, and does not come across as natural professional copywriting, the search engines won't like it either...If you've done it right, an everyday user should not have any idea that a page has been SEO'd. A trained SEO should be able to spot what your keyword phrases are, but it shouldn't be glaringly obvious."


Top mistakes newbie SEOs make by Jennifer Slegg - Search Engine Marketing Consultant

Solid advice for newbies or SEO pros who need a reminder of mistakes to avoid, though one must be a bit careful with the first item, "My site ranks for `some really obscure multi-keyword phrase`". Specific, obscure keyword phrases can be very valuable IF they lead prospects directly to your product or service. For example, if what you sell is "data privacy encryption software for Oracle HRMS," then it arguably more valuable for site to show up well for that term than simply for a search on "Oracle software." The specific term will have far lower search volume, to be sure, but someone using is far more likely to looking for exactly what you sell than a seacher using a shorter, more generic phrase.


How to Improve Keyword Density on Your Site by SEO Space

Blogger Jody Nimetz advises targeting a keyword density of 6-12%, provides seven techniques to achieve that goal without harming readability (and contradicting some of the advice in "20 Hard Core SEO Tips" above), and explains how keyword density supports SEO as well as how to easily check keyword density on any page.


Back-to-school SEO by CNet News Blog

Stephan Spencer, who also writes the Scatterings blog, provides a helpful reference list of "10 important elements that should always remain top-of-mind with every SEO."


Raising Your Profile: Beyond the Basics by The Wall Street Journal

Journal writer Laura Broder details five basic steps that can improve organic search position for a website. The article is targeted at small businesses, but the suggestions are essential elements for anyone to keep in mind for SEO efforts.


How To Optimize My Site - 10 Best On-Page Search Engine Optimization Tricks by Strategic Site Marketing

Jason Koeppe details the top 10 on-page SEO techniques to improve site ranking, in order of importance., with title tags, headlines, content optimization and meta tags at the top of the list.


Marketing Lens: Today's Top Blog Posts on Internet Marketing by Marketing Lens

If you just can't enough of "best of" type articles, Marketing Lens "identifies the top 15 online marketing stories and blogs of the day," on a daily basis, as measured by SocialRank.


Effective Keyword SEO Research, Part 2 by ClickZ

Writer Julie Batten provides a step-by-step guide to creating a productive keyword list by considering the entire buying cycle, covering keyword research tools, list scrubbing and allocation.


Search Engine College launches Search Engine Wiki by Pandia Search Engine News

This article reports on the creation of the search engine wiki, which "began life as a massive collection of bookmarks, tools and site links...gathered over the past 10 years (by) search engine optimization consultants." The wiki is now open for anyone to create pages, add content, or use as an SEO research tool.


Linking Strategies: The Top 10 Link Love Directories by SEO World

Blogger Jon Rognerud explains how external links impact SEO results, then lists the top 10 generic directories for link-building (though it is curious that Business.com was mentioned as an afterthought rather than one of the top 10, while the once-powerful-but-now-pathetic dmoz.org still makes his "top" list).


Answers to Ten SEO Questions & Some New Questions from Danny Sullivan by SEOmoz

In this outstanding post, SEO rock star Danny Sullivan answers 10 key search optimization questions such as why flat website architectures are better than deep ones, what the "long tail of search" is, and what the three most important elements in the head of an HTML page are.


Interview: Mike Grehan, World Traveler & Global SEO by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Skipping the standard "How did you get started in this business?" type of questions, this interview on Lee Odden's blog instead gets right to the interesting stuff like "Why do you think so many SEOs get their shorts in a bundle whenever anyone, including yourself, publishes 'SEO as we know it is dead' opinions?" Most entertaining of all is Grehan's view of social networks: "I HATE Facebook! Please God, take it away and let me get some work done. If one more twat invites me to Facebook I’m going round their place with an axe!...Go away and leave me alone. All of you. I have a job to do for crying out loud!...Wal-Mart has a Facebook profile. What a great place to get pilloried by your audience."

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords


The last post here presented some of the best articles and blog posts on general search engine marketing practices. This post focuses on interesting observations and helpful advice pertaining specifically to Google AdWords, the largest SEM platform.

In Google AdWords, Bidding Wars Are a Thing of the Past: Beat Your Competition with These 4 Tactics by PPC Hero

Post demonstrating how tactics such as keyword group optimization, writing relevant ad text, and designing relevant landing pages can save you from over-bidding on keywords.

Techniques that Always Work?: Who Uses Dynamic Keyword Insertion? by Traffick

Blogger Andrew Goodman provides the how and why of dynamic keyword insertion in AdWords, and why, though it's a powerful technique, it doesn't "always" work.

Just a Bit Off Target With Pay-Per-Click by Future Now

Even sophisticated, major retailers can make SEM mistakes. This post shows how Target screwed up a PPC campaign, and how it could have been fixed.

AdWords Optimization Tips: More on Ad Text by the Inside AdWords Blog

The Inside AdWords Crew offers advice on mentioning prices or discounts in ads, what elements to test, and how to most effectively track the performance of different text ads.

Google Campaign Optimizer No Substitute for Experience by StraightUpSearch

A prescient blog post on the importance of trusting experience and established best practices in SEM over Google's optimization tool. As this post notes, "Research and testing...(has) revealed that this tool does everything but 'fine-tune' an AdWords campaign. Test cases yielded scores of woefully irrelevant, broad match keyword suggestions as well as sky-high max CPC recommendations. All of which would have sent a perfectly profitable campaign into a tailspin."

Split-Test Your Adwords Ads In 2 Minutes Or Less by NetBusinessBlog

Blogger Dee Barizo provides step-by-step instructions on testing Google AdWords text ad performance to optimize campaign results.

Give the Google Content Network another try by John W. Ellis Search Engine Marketing

It's a very rare occurrence when a blog post causes me to completely change my mind about a firm conviction, but that's what John Ellis accomplished with this post. Like John, "I have avoided advertising on Google’s content network. I had seen the numbers on content ads and the return on ad spend was terrible." But he demonstrates how, in four easy steps, to make Google content network ad campaigns produce worthwhile results.

Chinese Food and Chocolate Pudding: SEO And Paid Search Go Together by MediaPost Search Insider

Writer Tony Orelli shows how organic SEO and paid search work together to maximize website traffic, concluding "we can no longer view SEO and paid search as separate efforts, but two complementary disciplines within your overall marketing mix."

Quick Fixes to Some of PPC’s Most Common Problems: Part One by PPC Hero

A detailed how-to post with specific recommendations for dealing with low conversion rates, poor quality score and low-quality traffic.

More Quick Fixes for Your PPC Account: Get More Clicks by PPC Hero

A nice follow-up to the previous post, this one with concrete suggestions for addressing low click-through rate (CTR), low ad position and disappointing traffic levels.

9 Common Mistakes in Landing Page and PPC Campaign Design by Performancing

Blogger Rich McIver provides helpful guidance on how to avoid nine common mistakes that can negatively impact SEM results, including placing the call to action below the fold, asking too many questions, requiring visitors to download plug-ins before viewing content, and focusing bids on unproductive keywords.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM


Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the fastest-growing categories in all of advertising, because it is both measurable and logical: present your ads when people are searching for what you're selling. A well-crafted search marketing program can provide not only broad brand exposure at a very reasonable cost (with CPMs of $10 or less), but also high-ROI lead generation. As with any other type of advertising, however, a poorly-designed campaign will be a disappointing waste of money.

In addition to best practices in search engine marketing, the following articles and blog posts were among the best of 2007 at providing helpful guidance for creating and managing effective search marketing programs.

Five Common Paid Search Mistakes That Can Sink Your Campaign by Search Engine Guide

Blogger Jennifer Laycock explains how common mistakes such as "ego bidding," writing a single ad for all keywords, and directing all of your traffic to a single landing page can limit the results of a search marketing program—and how to fix these and other problems.

Top 10 Reasons to Double Your Search Budget for '08 by ClickZ

Writer Kevin Lee gives ten reasons to dramatically increase search spending, including the growth in search volume, recognition that online campaigns drive both direct and offline behavior, and keyword price escalation (due the increasing popularity of this medium).

What do you mean I have a budget? by DMNews

Following on the theme of the previous article, this piece emphasizes consideration of revenue generation when establishing—or increasing—a search marketing budget. In the words of the author, "You need to set three key metrics on the way to managing by revenue: required margin per sale; close and conversion rates; and affordable CPC. These numbers can change dramatically from day to day, so manage and adjust them."

Ten Tips for Lead Generation Landing Pages by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Guest blogger Jon Miller of Marketo points out that "improving your landing pages can increase your conversions by 40% or more...(and) optimized landing pages work even better—as high as 200% improvements in conversion rates" and then offers ten tips for designing more effective landing pages.

Use These 5 Steps to Triple Your Conversion Rate by Tropical SEO

Applicable to both SEO and SEM, this post provides five (well, four really) tips to significantly improve the conversion of site visitors to buyers or leads including conducting a site audit, rewriting selected content, and of course testing everything.

AdReady, Another Low-Cost Display Ad Shop, Opens by Online Media Daily

AdReady is a new service that aims to "democratize" search marketing by making it more accessible and affordable for smaller businesses. Per the article, "AdReady allows advertisers to pick and customize remarkably professional-looking ads for free. The AdReady application...then allows marketers to manage and track the progress of their ads across Google's AdSense ad network, Yahoo's RightMedia exchange, and AOL's Advertising.com network."

Evaluating Client Search Marketing Readiness by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Master blogger Lee Odden supplies a list of questions to ask and factors to consider before embarking on a search marketing program. Though aimed at corporate marketing types looking to engage an agency, the criteria here apply just as well to search experts who are evaluating potential clients as well as corporate marketing managers evaluating their own internal programs and talent.

PPC Outsource or In-House? Rules of Thumb by The Rimm-Kaufman Group

In this post, blogger George Michie lays out a complex process for determining whether your company is best served by keeping search marketing in-house or outsourcing to an SEM agency. A useful guide, though the statement that "Outsourcing without any oversight is dangerous. Too many agencies will do nothing without oversight to drive them." seems somewhat odd; you should NEVER outsource SEM without ongoing reporting and analysis as part of the service offering. And that reporting can help make the key decision question much simpler: does the agency produce better results than you can achieve internally?

RIP, PPC by ClickZ

Author Gary Stein argues that click fraud, the rise of alternative online media, and CPA models will cause pay-per-click (PPC) advertising models, "the bright star of the online advertising universe...to fade a bit." Interesting theory, but overstated; the next few years are likely to see increasing investment across multiple forms of online promotion at the expense of difficult-to-measure and increasingly fragmented media like TV and print.

Pay Per Click: Boom or Bust? by Buzz Marketing for Technology

Podcaster Paul Dunay hosts an interesting debate between Steve Rubel—who claims that a PPC recession is looming—and Alan Rimm-Kaufman, who takes a more bullish view.

Evaluating Existing PPC Accounts by the Commerce360 Blog

Blogger Craig Danuloff offers helpful advice for evaluating the quality of existing PPC campaigns.

Dave to ad agencies: Do your homework or get out of my office by DMNews

After detailing the results of a recent study showing that "One hundred percent of the survey respondents stated that the most important factor governing their selection of a marketing services agency was its ability to provide insights into their customers...But here's the scandalous part: Eighty-five percent of the survey respondents believe that the agencies pitching them do a lousy job of researching their basic business issues before making their pitch. Astonishingly, 61 percent believe that the agency did no research at all," author Dave Pasternack produces a devastating but eye-opening critique of (many) marketing agencies. Then he offers advice on how SEM clients and agencies can work most productively together.

Landing Page Optimization by MarketingExperiments

An excellent post presenting two detailed case studies on how landing page optimization increased conversion rates by 50-60%.

Everything We Know About Search Is Wrong by MediaPost Search Insider

Writer Bob Heyman makes a compelling argument that search marketing gets too much credit for the "last click," which likely resulted not from search alone but rather from repeated brand exposure through PR, banners and other media first. "As an example, if a customer sees a banner promoting a product on Microsoft’s MSN and watches a related video on Time Warner Inc.’s AOL and then searches for the brand on Google before making a purchase, only Google gets paid for the sale."

Keyword Research for PPC by Internet Search Engine Database

In this article, Scott Van Achte lays out a process and toolset for crafting and fine-tuning a keyword list for SEM.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing

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