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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Answer of Questions for SEO, Sitemaps, B&P....

Rather than keep answering one at a time, I'm going to try to expand on the whole process a bit here. (Again, this is what I generally do. I'm not saying it is the best or the worst but it is a method that works well for me.)

Lets start with some definitions. Some relate to the steps below the definitions. Some are just part of what I practice:

spider - a too the search engines use to visit your website to analyze your pages and store in a local archive for future use by the search engine.

index - the technique whereby the search engine moves pages from the local spider archive to the publicy available search engine results.

sitemap - an index of all or a portion of your site that basically has links to pages in your site. A 1 page sitemap that "maps" your entire site provides 1 click access to all your pages for that site.

site - one complete collection of pages - generally starting with an index.html (or php, asp, htm, etc.) and linking to all the pages in the site in some form or fashion. A site can be a complete domain, a complete subdomain or a subdirectory within a domain. A site may or may not be linked to other sites.

domain - a place to build 1 or more sites.

B&P - blog and ping - a combination of a site operated by blog software and a technique to notify the world of a new addition of content to that site.

Site builder - a tool or series of tools to build sites. This can be things like directory generator, traffic turbocharger, niche protal builder, traffic equalizer, etc.

Template(s) - These are "fill in the blank" web pages that are used by the site builder to form your site. If you buy a commercial site building package, it comes with default templates. If you are new, build a small site with the default templates (maybe 10 pages or so) and then do it again and again and again making small changes to the templates and trying different substituion variables the program offers so you get a good understanding of what the program is all about an can do. Once you understand what all the little pieces and substitution variables do, build your own templates from scratch or buy a template set from eBay and edit one that you like. NEVER USE THE DEFAULT TEMPLATES THAT COME WITH THE SOFTWARE FOR YOUR LIVE SITES. ALWAYS BUILD YOUR OWN FROM SCRATCH OR FROM A COMMERCIAL TEMPLATE.

Fingerprint - a fingerprint is something that identifies your website. It could be a copyright notice. It could be a fairly unique phrase you use over and over, etc. You do not want finderprints following you on the web for two reasons. The first is that you want to keep what you are doing reasonably private and if you do something like put copyright xyz corp in all the sites you build, someone who finds just one of your sites will be able to find all your sites. The second reason is to not give the search engine software tools an easy way to find all your sites in a way that they feel is identified as a spam site. You can use a single template with tweaks for a long time as long as you change things like default wordings a bit on the sites, etc. But never use a template that comes with a software package as it has fingerprints that identify it to the search engines as machine generated.

banning - I operate under the premise that every site I make in this way will eventaully get banned by yahoo. In fact I give each site 30 days from the time it gets indexed to the time it gets banned. Many do not get banned so quickly or at all but this is a basic premise to my site building model.

Tracking - I do track results to some extent. Mostly I let things happen how they happen but I want to know my top money keyword sets as these are sites I will regenerate fairly frequently. The other sites I don't care about so much. Let them earn till they stop earning. There are always more keyword lists.


In all the below, the only search engine I target is yahoo. So the entire discussion is how I work related to making money from yahoo. (How you choose to make money from the traffic generated is up to you - adsense, affiliate programs, etc.) Just remember, the whole purpose of what we all do is to generate traffic targeted towards certain niches that we can in some form or fashion monetize. I state that because many think the whole purpose of this is to make adsense money - and there is nothing wrong with that but what we are really doing it generating a specific type of traffic and putting in place ways to monetize that traffic.

The process (assumes you already have adequate hosting somewhere):

Step 1: Make a decision about your domain name and plans for that domain name. For instance, you could build a single site on a domain name and want the domain name to in some way relate the topic or it could be a domain name for a series of related topics or totally unrelated topics.

Does the domain name matter if it relates to the content of your site or not? I have tried a variety of experiments but have not had any conclusice evidence that it matters. Some of my best performing sites have nonsense domain names. But if it fits what you are doing, it does not seem to hurt having a related domain name.

Step 2: Do keyword research for that domain. Depending on what I am doing, I will build anywhere from 1 to 200-300 keyword lists for a single domain. Each keyword list will be 1 site on this domain. If I were doing a niche domain (say insurance), I might choose a domain in the above step something like this to make it related. And I might do subdomains like this or

If I choose a nonsense domain name, say as I often do for random collections of keywords, I would do,, etc. (i.e. I make the subdomain name relate to the topic of that site.) If it was subdirectories, it would look something like this,

In other words, I always try to make the domain path in some way relevant to the topic of the keyword list.

Does it make a difference? I don't know. Testing has been inconclusive.

Step 3: Design your template set for your site builder tool and build your domain. I use a custom tool that I wrote my self but prior to that I used directory generator. The thing I did not like about directory generator was that it did not make a site that was easy for a search engine spider to follow to get all my pages. I made lots of money with directory generator but wasn't getting very robust spidering/indexing of the sites. Directory generator does not make a site map so the spider had to follow the links that were available and I would typically end up with about 20% of my pages indexed. When I started working with sitemaps, the percentage of pages spidered and indexed increased dramatically - up to 60-80%. (This was prior to whatever yahoo was doing last week were it was just sucking in pages like mad. Yahoo still seems to be sucking in pages into its index pretty good but seems to be doing so at a much slower rate than last week. I'm guessing they just wanted a huge database to test their latest tweaks on and now it is back to a slower, more predictible amount of page grabbing again as they stabilize their algorithm changes.)

Also as an added note before you build your site. Verify that your html is correct. Too many mistakes in your html can hurt your ability to get indexed. If you do not know if your html is good, just do a search for an html validator. There are tons of free ones on the web. (You may have to load a sample page to the web for it to be checked but a few seconds up front can save you lots of time.) As an example, I had a friend build a site - about 20K pages - and the html was all messed up. It didn't display good AND the html had loads of errors. It got spidered a lot but never indexed so by rushing through this part, he wasted lots of time and potential income.

Step 4: Upload your site to your server and check it out. Be sure it displays nice and like you expect and that all the little additions you may have added (like affiliate banners, rss feeds, etc.) are all showing up. Click on some of the links and be sure they bring you were you expect them to, etc. Just make sure you have what you expected to have before you start telling the world about the site.

If your site links to other sites that you own/create, make sure you have all your sites up and that the links to the other sites work before you tell the world about your site.

Step 5: Tell the world about your site. This is where the blog and ping stuff comes in.

Step 5a: Set up a blog account. This could be a account, a wordpress account on your own server or... There are lots of blog software and account options out there that you can use. Take a few minutes to make sure your settings are good and that you strip out all the default crap that is in the initial blog setup. In other words, just as you took the time to make a template for your site(s), make a template for your blogs. The default templates are very obciously default templates and if you use them the search engines have one more way to tell it is not a valuable blog for its community.

Step 5b: Make posts to your blog and ping the world to let them know there is a new post. There are lots of ways this can be done. It can be done by hand but that is tedious. It can be done by tools which is the best.

There are lots of posts about B&P so I will not go into detail of the process - except to say that I typically post anywhere from once every 30 minutes to about once per hour.

That is the entire process.

Now that the process is explained, let me tell you what I use for my blog content.

As I said, I am a big believer of sitemaps. Sometimes I create a single sitemap for an entire site and sometimes I create several sitemaps for an entire site to make each one smaller. An example of several sitemaps could be one for each letter of the alphabet - sitemapa.html, sitemapb.html, etc...

Every site I create has at least one sitemap, and many times multiple sitemaps.

I post the link to multiple sitemaps (on a single domain) to a single blog account -broken out into multiple blog postings (and of course multiple pings...)

Let me give an example. Lets suppose I have a domain with 40 sites on it and each site has 26 sitemaps (one for each letter of the alphabet.) 40 x 26 = 1040 sitemap pages.

Each of the posts I make to my blog account will have some number of the links to those pages posted as a single post.

For instance, this could be a post (ignore the odd spacing in the html - just don't want the board software to tweak it):

Best < a href = > abc < /a > Resources

Best < a href = > def < /a > Resources

Best < a href = > ghi < /a > Resources


Then the next post could be:

Best < a href = > abc < /a > Resources

Best < a href = > def < /a > Resources

Best < a href = > ghi < /a > Resources


etc... until a link to each sitemap page has been included in my blog. In this case 1040/3 = 347 separate posts would be made to blog and ping each sitemap page in the entire set of sites for this domain.

Hopefully this better answers some of the questions I have gotten by PM and hopefully offers some value over and above that.

Gotta rest my fingers now...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nofollow Tags - New Nofollow Link Tag Explained

NoFollow Link Tag Overview

The new nofollow link tag provides webmasters with the chance to add a link to their website without leaking PageRank to the page they are linking to. Using the nofollow tag in an outgoing link also means that anyone who runs a blog or a forum on their site does not have to worry about culling links so regularly.

The webmasters can leave all of the posted links on their blog or forum, as they will not leak any PageRank because of the nofollow tags. If they make it clear that they are using automatic nofollow tags on their links, it also means that they reduce the number of pointless posts that appear purely to try and affect the page rank of the linking site.

Why do People post links on Blogs?

One major factor in how your site is ranked by Google is the number of links you have pointing to your site. Many webmasters are now using unethical linking techniques to secure as many inbound links as possible because of this. The most common technique used by these webmasters is to post a comment in an online blog or forum. When this link appears, it not only allows people who are reading the blog to visit the linked site, it also drains PageRank from the website which contains the blog or forum. Hopefully the use of nofollow tags will dramatically decrease the amount of webmasters who try this.

Using Nofollow Link Tags

Anyone who can write a hyperlink in HTML should be able to add nofollow tags to their links. It only takes two or three seconds and could give your site a huge boost in PageRank by not sharing it with sites that are not willing to share theirs with you.

Adding nofollow tags is as easy as typing rel="nofollow" when you are coding the link.

A hyperlink without the new nofollow tag would normally look something like this :

href="">Link Anchor Text

A hyperlink with the nofollow tag is not much different, it would look something like:

href="" rel="nofollow"> Link Anchor Text

New Nofollow Tags - Good Thing or Bad Thing?

The nofollow link tag can be seen as good or bad, depending on how you look at it. From a blog owner's point of view, the nofollow link tag could be seen as an important tool in the fight against spam links. If they are willing to spend a small amount of time each day simply adding rel="nofollow" into any spam links added to their site they will be able to save their site from leaking its valuable PageRank to any unethical webmasters. In fact, many blog companies are already adding the nofollow tags automatically to the code, when someone enters a new link, in an attempt to discourage spammers.

One problem which the new nofollow link tag brings into light is the fact that unethical SEO companies will offer link exchanges to unsuspecting or amateur webmasters who do not realise the nofollow tag even exists. This could cause problems to anyone trying to gather links to their website to earn themselves some vital PageRank.

Nofollow Link Tag - Opinion

We have not formed a full opinion on the nofollow tags as yet. Like everything else, the nofollow link tag has its good points and its bad points. The only way to see how good or bad this new link tag will be is to wait and see how many webmasters use it and how they use it.

We cannot advise you whether or not to use this nofollow link tag but we do strongly advise you to be aware of it.

Anyone who values their sites PageRank should regularly check the link code used by all of their link partners. If you find one of your link partners using the nofollow link tag on one of your links, you may want to contact the webmaster and ask them to remove it. If not, you will be sharing your PageRank with their site and getting nothing back in return! At least, with the nofollow tag explained, you will now be aware of how it can benefit, or harm your site.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Organic SEO or Pay-Per-Click Advertising Which Should You Choose?

When people hear about online marketing, they often think of two of the more popular methods that a company can use to enhance its visibility on the Web: organic search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising. In an ideal world, you would use both strategically to maximize your site's profile. However, budgetary constraints often make this impossible, and trying to do both on a limited budget or with minimal resources can result in neither campaign producing ideal results. In this case, it'susually better to focus on one or the other. But which is best for you?

Organic Search Engine Optimization

Organic search engine optimization campaigns offer several distinct advantages over pay-per-click advertising campaigns, as many recent studies have shown. What follows is a brief listing of some of the findings.

Propensity to Clíck
Study after study indicates people are less likely to clíck on paid search ads rather than on results from organic search engine optimization. For example, one study found that search users are up tö six times more likely to clíck on the first few organic results than they are to choose any of the paid results [1], while an eye tracking study [2] showed that 50 percent of users begin their search by scanning the top organic results. Other studies have shown that only 30 percent of search engine users clíck on paid listings, leaving an overwhelming 70 percent who are clicking the organic listings. [3] And a 2003 study found that 85 percent of searchers report clicking on paid links in less than 40 percent of all of their searches, and 78 percent of all respondents claim that they found the information they were searching for through sponsored links just 40 percent of the time.[4]

Studies are beginning to indicate that the trust level for organic results is much higher than that of paid results, and that paid results are looked upon as a nuisance by some searchers. One study found that only 14 percent of searchers trust paid listings, and 29 percent report being "annoyed" by them. [5] Another study found that 66 percent of customers distrust paid ads. [6] Clearly, it's not generally a good idea to upset potential customers before they even clíck on your link.

Value of Visitors

Organic search engine results tend to be seen as non-biased, and they therefore are able to provide visitors that are more valuable. The overall conversion rate, or the rate at which searchers take a desired action on a site, is 17 percent higher for unpaid search results than the rate for paid (4.2% vs. 3.6%). [7] Trends also have shown that more of the salës that result from search engines originated in organic search listings. [8]

Visitors Becoming More Aware of Pay-Per-Click as Advertising
As more and more people turn to the Internet for research and information, more searchers are becoming aware of paid results as a marketing tool. One study showed that not only are 38 percent of searchers aware of the distinction between paid and unpaid results, 54 percent are aware of the distinction on Google, which is widely recognized as the most popular search engine. [9]

Pay-Per-Click Costs Rising

Meanwhile, pay-per-click costs are rising steadily. Between October 2004 and December 2005, average keyword prices rose from around $25 to just under $55.10 And the cost of keywords can increase by as much as 100 percent during the holiday season. [11] These costs aren't going unnoticed either; one study of problems experienced by U.S. companies found that 57 percent of respondents felt that their desired keywords were "too expensive," while 51 percent expressed concern that they are overpaying for certain keywords. [12] On the other hand, when you outsource to an organic search engine optimization firm, your costs will likely remain more stable than the prices for pay-per-click advertising.

Long Term Results
While a pay-per-click campaign may produce results more quickly than an organic search engine optimization campaign, organic search engine optimization campaigns can give you results that last. When the budget runs out for a pay-per-click campaign, or when your company decides that the pay-per-click campaign should be terminated, the results end as well. With organic search engine optimization, the optimized site content and other changes made to your site can have an impact on your search results until the next change in a search engine's algorithm, or possibly even beyond.

Users also have rated organic search engine results as more relevant than paid results. On Google, 72.3 percent felt that organic results were more relevant, while only 27.7 percent rated paid results as more relevant. Yahoo offered similar results, with 60.8 calling organic results relevant compared to only 39.2 percent for paid. [13]

While the above statistics may make organic search engine optimization seem the clear choice in all cases, in certain situations it actually can make more sense to do pay-per-click advertising. For those looking for fast results on a small budget, a pay-per-click campaign may be the answer.


As previously stated, the results from pay-per-click advertising are immediate. On the other hand, an organic search engine optimization campaign may take up tö three months or more for results to be apparent. In this case, pay-per-click is advantageous for those who are looking to promote an initiative that will go live in a short amount of time, or whose business is seasonal in nature and who only do promotion during certain months of the year.

Small businesses with extremely tíght budgets may find that pay-per-click is a better ínvestment than organic search engine optimization because a pay-per-click campaign will almost always cost less - good search engine optimization companies simply do not work for $100 per month. By limiting a campaign's keyphrases to highly specific terms relevant to a company's business, there will not be a large amount of traffíc generated, but the traffíc that is generated will be specific to the desired result. Plus, choosing such specific phrases can make them less expensive on a per clíck basis. Moreover, in niche markets with a high average dollar sale, where there's not a great amount of search activity because the prospect pool is limited, it may not make sense to engage a quality organic search engine optimization firm at several thousand dollars per month when you can instead buy varying niche-specific keyphrases and generate traffíc in that way.

Easier to Handle In-House

Non-complicated pay-per-click campaigns can be handled much more easily in-house than an organic search engine optimization campaign. Such campaigns generally involve business to business and high-end, service oriented companies, not those geared toward a large consumer base. Since organic search engine optimization requires a steep learning curve and since there are so many questionable tactics that can put a site at risk of penalization (the tactics that neophytes to search engine optimization are likely to use), it may make more sense to run a pay-per-click campaign. Since you are dealing directly with the engine, i.e., Yahoo Search Marketing and Google AdWords, you don't need to pay a middleman, and these sites offer helpful tutorials on how to use pay-per-click marketing. Perhaps most importantly, the concept of pay-per-click is much easier to grasp and understand at the outset.

No Contracts
Most organic search engine optimization campaigns require a contract of a certain length because SEO companies know that meaningful results will rarely happen overnight. When dealing with an in-house pay-per-click campaign, obviously a contract is not an issue. But in general, even when you are dealing with an agency, you will not tend to need to sign a contract because the agency instead makes monëy on a percentage of the spend, although there may be a setup fee. Without a contract, you are free to reallocate marketing dollars elsewhere if you discover that the pay-per-click campaign is not providing the desired results.

Clearly, organic search engine optimization has some distinct advantages over pay-per-click advertising. However, there are undoubtedly certain situations and scenarios where pay-per-click advertising makes more sense fiscally and strategically. With a high enough budget, you would be able to have an effective organic search engine optimization campaign running in tandem with an effective pay-per-click campaign. But if you have to choose one, look into your unique situation before you decide.

[1] Oneupweb study
[2] Enquiro, July 2005
[3] Are Corporate Web Sites Optimized for SEO? by Paul Bruemmer, August 2005
[4] 2003 Survey
[5] eMarketer, April 2003
[6] eMarketer 2003
[7] Marketing Sherpa, August 2005
[8] Are Corporate Web Sites Optimized for SEO? by Paul Bruemmer, August 2005
[9] Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2005
[10] Performics, 2005
[11] Ibid
[12] Jupiter Media, June 2003
[13] iProspect, Survey Sampling International, WebSurveyor, and Stratagem Research, April 2004