SEO Tips For Beginners

1 04 2009

Here’s a list of some techniques that every webmaster can use to boost that page ranking and become an SEO Jedi:

  • Link building
    • Simply put, link building refers to anything done to create more links to a website. There are two main purposes of link building: increase traffic and improve search engine ranking, or SEO.
    • Link building works in both directions. Link can be built from the anchor text, where the link is placed, to navigate away from the users site to landing page, the destination of the link. Or in-bound links, which refer back to your site
    • The amount of links a web site has will determine its Google PageRank, their proprietary algorithm for assessing a value to each web site within its index.
  • On page optimization
    • Not only will improve a site’s search ranking, but will also improve overall readability of the site.
    • Important techniques:
      • Title Optimization: the first thing that is indexed by search engines, should include the business name, important keywords (e.g. Business Social Networking & Professional Online Profile Management by Social Harbor). This is the first thing a user looks at following a relevant search so it should be clear and concise.
      • Meta Tag Optimization: a brief description of the web site that should focus on the products and services that the company specializes. This is your 15-second elevator pitch, if well written a good Meta Tag can draw impressions.
      • Image Optimization: tagging and linking images makes them readable to the search engine, they can only interpret text information.
  • Duplicate content
    • Substantial amount of content that completely match each other or are vast in similarities. More often, duplicate content occurs unintentionally rather than malicously to garner higher rankings, regardless, search engines penalize duplicate content. Content written in mulitple languges will not be flagged as duplicate content.
    • Tips to avoiding getting penalized for duplicate content: check your links, put a warning on the page that you check for duplicate content to deter copycats.
  • Google SEO Guidelines
    • Following the guidelines set by Google is important to optimizing a website. Doing it correctly can be a great advantage. Inversely, breaking the guidelines can hurt a website’s reputation.

  • How to raise page rank
    • PageRank is a democratic system that analyzes the links, or essentially, the reputation of a site. Google also analyzes the quantity and quality of the incoming links a website is associated with. Because of the complexity of the algorithm Google uses, there is no way to guarantee a #1 page rank. However, there are some basic techniques that will optimize a website for better rank:
      • Write desciptive Titles tags that are unique and brief
      • Make use of the Meta Tags, the <head> tag of your HTML doc, this short snippet is useful to the search and is displayed with the relevant search terms in bold to guide the users. Meta tags should also be unique and accurate to the content on the site
      • Keep the files and documents for the site organized to make it “more friendly”
      • Good site navigation, no one likes to visit a site that looks like the webmaster was a 2nd grader who just discovered Dreamweaver.
      • Have a useful 404 page to guide users back from a broken link or URL
  • Blogs and links from blogs – do they help or hurt?
    • Help what? You’re page rank? If a website is linked to a less than reutable link, yes. The problem is the amount of blogs that are still in the Sandbox. On the other hand, look at the alternative benefits that blogs do provide:
      • Completely inverting the sender/receiver relationship to create communities of brand advocates and change the way brands think about their conversations with the consumer
      • Supplement the User-Generated Revolution with the likes of YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr, etc.
      • Giving a group of college students the chance to voice their opinions about digital marketing

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Update on Facebook Abstinence

19 03 2009

30 days since I made my last Wall Post and hit logout on Facebook, I have held strong. I haven’t really been that tempted. Prior to Fat Tuesday, Facebook consumed on average 34 minutes and 48 seconds of my day. By my estimations, that’s not that much time. But what have I been missing out on? Who’s written on my wall? What party invitations will go unchecked? And what about the pokes, oh the pokes. So much mystery. Honestly, that time lost has been compensated on other other social media sites, primarily Twitter. I’m about 80% full-Twitterfied, last week I added 12seconds.tv to my Twitter, this week I downloaded TweetDeck, and tomorrow I will attend my first Tweetup.

So it’s like I gave up Twinkies and started eating Ho-Ho’s.





Google Adwords Comes Full Circle: Starts in a Dorm Room, Now In the Classroom

19 03 2009

A little history: Starting officially in 1994 on Hotwired.com, online advertising has taken various shapes and avenues to capture potential customer, many of these went bust after the 2001 dot-com bubble burst. In 2000, Google unveiled their advertising platform, Google Adwords, coining the phrase search engine marketing(SEM) and changing the landscape of online advertising forever, or at least until something better comes along. However, the success of Adwords is dependant on the success of the search engine that supports it. Lucky for Adwords, Google keeps their famed search algorithms close to their chest that has afforded them 63.1% of search engine market share.

In 2007, when TIME shifted 20% of their advertising budget to digital, it was clear Web 2.0 had arrived. Enter Adwords into the Media Mix. SEM’s induction into the mix had a trickle-down effect in the industry: SEO, SEM, organic search, CPC, page rank all become buzzwords that were e-mailed, blogged and oh yes, searched for. Eventually SEM reached higher learning, and now students like myself are studying for their Interactive Advertising Management exams.

Another example of Adwords’ notability, Google hosts an international Online Marketing Challenge, in which students compete to create an effective digital campaign for a local business with a budget of US$200. Last year had over 1600 student teams and a team from the University of Western Australia won. Until now, Adwords had just been one of those buzzwords I only had a Cliffs Notes understanding of, now I’ll be able to sink my teeth into it and try to boost ING Magazine’s traffic, our chosen local business, a student-run monthly magazine at Michigan State University.

Here are some predictions:

-Typical group dynamic frustrations

-The Publisher of the magazine, Adam Grant, vicariously becomes our 5th group member

-A combined 8 pots of coffee are drank whilst working on the campaign

-Our campaign finishes in the Top-1o0, a lofty goal indeed, but that’s why they’re goals

-Our group enters the campaign SEM noobs and walks away SEM rock stars.

After the campaign gets rolling, more updates will follow. Wish us luck!





40 Days and 40 Nights Without Facebook-I’ve Gotta Find Some Good Books To Read

27 02 2009

Although I consider myself in the Christmas and Easter only kind of church goer, I still give something up last year for Lent. Last year I gave up being awesome, it didn’t last long(totally kidding). This year I narrowed it down between shots at the bar or Facebook. Deciding that my social life has taken a dive because of my crazy workload has kept me away from East Lansing watering holes, I went with Facebook. Two days after Fat Tuesday, I caved…BUT it was for a good cause, I had to reply to a message from someone who worked at a company I am interviewing with. Age-old traditions shouldn’t stand in the way of my career, right? A slippery slope indeed.

I am determined to stick with my commitment. If the J Man could last 40 days and 40 nights without food in the desert, this couldn’t be that tough, could it? Besides, I still have my buddies LinkedIn, Twitter, this blog, not to mention e-mail and I just registered for 12seconds, a micro-vlog, to get me through. After accounting for as much time as I spend on Facebook, abstaining will give me anywhere from an extra 30 minutes to 2 hours, imagine the things I can do with that time!

So, I’ll be sure to post an update in the next month or so and tell about the temptations, relapses and disconnects as a result of being apart from my interactive social network. Even the fact that I considered giving up Facebook speaks volumes about our digital world. It makes me wonder if parents are grounding their children from sites like Facebook and MySpace as a punishment. So as I embark on this journey into the desert of Disconnectia, wish me luck. I plan on returning with fresh insight and a deeper appreciation for the digital sphere we live in.





Micro-Vlogging Site ’12seconds’ Piggy-backs on Twitter

27 02 2009

There’s nothing worse than watching vlogs(video blogs) of people who a) are uninteresting b) creepy c) are not making a fool of themselves d) especially d)talk too long. The whole time you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “why am I watching this?” Or, “watching this could make me sterile”. So what does that mean? We need a new social networking website, as if we didn’t have enough. 12seconds is a micro-blogging site that takes a crack at making vlogging short and sweet, 12 seconds sweet. Currently in alpha testing, it remains to be seen whether 12seconds will pry lonely teenagers across the globe from YouTube, it adds a video dimension to the micro-blogosphere(that’s the first time I ever say blogosphere, and hopefully the last). Users can post from either a webcam or their mobile phone and integrate their videos into a blog, website, Twitter feed, amongst others.

My first post was a video from a concert I went to last summer(Brendan from Umphrey’s McGee and Al from .moe if you’re interested) and took about 5 minutes to upload from the time I hit ‘send’. Potential 12second users could be rudimentally grouped into two categories: those who use it to share with friends, family and colleagues and those who use the site as their soap box because their therapist told them to get out and express themselves. Let’s hope the latter just sticks to YouTube.

Multimedia message on 12seconds.tv

Multimedia message on 12seconds.tv

12seconds can be fully integrated into a TweetDeck and the layout of the site is modeled after Twitter. In a blog post from the creators, they seemed like very big Twitter advocates and explained how they were not attempting to compete with them, but more so piggy-back off them. I also doubt that 12seconds could sway a substantial audience away from YouTube, because its applications are so narrow.

Because the site is currently in alpha testing, round one of two in quality assurance, the developers have set up a voting page for upcoming applications, settings, etc. One of the topics being voted on was privacy settings and whether videos would be featured on the homepage without notifying the user. I think keeping this trust is crucial to the viability of 12seconds, nobody wants to be the next Star Wars kid. I was disappointed when I was able to sign out and search for my username, mine came up, making me think how by some chance my post could wind up on their homepage. My next thought was to check out some of the posts on the homepage, just to see who was embarrassing themselves and unfortunately didn’t come up with anything great. My next thought was a Scrubs-ish daydream of a bunch of derelicts crowded around a laptop busting chops from seeing me ball my eyes out.

The big question is whether 12seconds will make some traction and become a social media powerhouse. I think it will have a hard time stepping out from Twitter’s shadow, everyone seems to be all over it at the moment. Is 12seconds a really cool addition to the mess we call social networking? Yes. Do I think I’ll be posting vlogs as much as check my Facebook? No. Will we be talking about 12seconds 5 years from now? Maybe.





I Stumbled a Stumble about Stumbling!

23 02 2009

So after a couple of weeks of digging into the delicous world of social bookmarking, StumbleUpon is still my favorite.

Check this post I found from an eMarketing blog about Social Bookmarking demographics.

Social Boomarking demos





Social Bookmarking: A Quick Glimpse

12 02 2009

I remember coming home for Thanksgiving my freshman year of college and checking my e-mail on my parent’s computer. I was a little confused why the monitor had a yellow ring of post-it notes around it that made it look as though the monitor was a source of heat. I came to find that the fresh bouquet of yellow post-it notes were websites that my Mom had written down to visit later. Parents do the darndest things with computers. Eventually, I was able to explain how to bookmark favorites to my Mom, it took a while, but I think she got it.

But what do you do when you have over five or so pages bookmarked, even after making folders, the sites can get misplaced and simply forgotten. Social bookmarking is an online solution to saving, organizing and managing your bookmarks that reduces clutter and is easy to use. Sites like Digg, Delicous and StumbleUpon are among the top social bookmarking sites that offer different utilities to organize your most-visited sites.

My bookmarking site of choice is StumbleUpon. Never again will wasting time on the Internet be the same. The neat thing about StumbleUpon is it gathers bookmarked sites from other users that pertain to tags in your pre-determined interest field. You can also browse bookmarks within different types of media: pictures, video, etc. and certain sites: YouTube, CNN, The Onion, The New York Times, US Government sites, etc. StumbleUpon  also offers a social networking utility as well but personally seems like a me-too app and offers no functionality that I don’t already have. I could care less about connecting with some random guy that is interested in snowboarding, that’s what friends are for.

Social bookmarking is also a great way to promote your website. By tagging your site with any social bookmarking program, you create backlinks to your site which in turn will increase traffic and get you indexed with Google more efficiently. In a world where everyone on the web is competing for traffic and websites can easily get lost in the shuffle, social bookmarking offers a supplementary solution to getting your website noticed.