Category Archives: SEO

SEO Is A “Practice” Like Medicine, Not A Science

Every Wednesday on Twitter there’s something that goes on that originated here in the Syracuse area. It’s called Community Manager Chat, and it’s actually geared towards people who handle the social media processes at their particular companies, or for someone else. I get to be a part of it because social media is my thing, or at least a big part of my thing. If you ever decide to participate it’s at 2PM Eastern time, and you use the hashtag #cmgrchat to follow along.


Searching by Josh Heilaman

Last Wednesday the topic of discussion was blogging, which y’all know I thrive on. It was actually the second week on the topic because it seemed like it was very popular and there were so many questions being asked. I answered a bunch of questions, and on that day and the day after I got a bunch of new followers; I could see that a lot of people were interested in what I had to share.

Anyway, what happens is that one of the moderators throws out a question every 15 minutes or so, then the responses fly out. One of the questions asked what people did for SEO on their blogs. I stated that my SEO strategies are to write as much content as I can and to, for the most part, write about certain types of topics more often than going off the grid. I actually do that if you check my centennial stat posts from time to time.

As normal, there were a few people who went into the direction of having to not only write niche blogs, but to make sure to stuff your posts with keywords and keyword phrases so they could be found easier on the search engines. I read that stuff all the time and for the most part I think it’s garbage. After all, if I write 100 posts on roses and suddenly decide to stuff a post with the phrase “brown picture frames”, it’s not really going to mean anything to anyone, including the search engines. Those 100 posts on roses are going to fare way better.

After seeing some of those posts, I wrote the line that this post is based on: SEO is a “practice” like medicine, not a science. It got retweeted a bunch of times; I think people liked that phrase a lot.

And of course I believe it’s true. There are a lot of great SEO practices, which I’ve even talked about on this blog, but the truth is that not every website is going to end up on the first page of Google or any other search engine just because one’s site is optimized well. If you decided today that your goal was to be in the top 10 for the term “shoes” you probably won’t have a chance unless you can produce close to 900 pages of blog posts in a year or so. That’s because there are so many people already writing on that same topic that have beaten you to the punch. You can get creative to find your little niche in that group and that might put you on the first page; otherwise, you just need to be the best you can be and hope to compete in another way.

SEO is like medicine because it’s really a guessing game after a certain point. Doctors guess all the time as to what’s wrong with us. I bet every person who reads this post knows someone who had a doctor tell them “I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” or something to that effect. I’ve heard it myself. And these people go to school for 8 years, then do 2 or 4 years of clinical before they’re allowed to be out on their own; I don’t know anyone who’s truly been doing SEO for more than 7 years or so.

Does this mean one shouldn’t try to be as effective as possible in trying to get their blogs to perform well on the search engines? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that one shouldn’t kill themselves trying to write the perfectly optimized post every time out. To me, based on history, one gets way more juice by trying to put out as much good content as they can. That’s always my goal when I decide to write a post, no matter what the topic is on.

Trust me, there’s really nothing wrong with practicing; you might not end up being a concert pianist like Andre Watts, but you could be Liberace, and he made a lot of money in his lifetime.

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The Debates About SEO

Search engine optimization is an interesting concept, one that I’ve been dealing with for almost 4 years now. It’s interesting because you never really know where discussions on the topic are going to take you, and often people love to disagree on things concerning different aspects of it.


Debating Creationists
by the mad LOLscientist

I recently wrote a guest post about this subject on another blog. My general premise is that people shouldn’t be stressing themselves out about using all sorts of SEO tactics when it comes to blogging because it’s better to make your content look smooth and sound seamless than it is to worry about too much of the SEO involved in trying to get people to your blog. In my view, you don’t totally throw out SEO, but don’t overly worry about it because, for blogs, it’s not as important as the breadth of your content if you’re a niche blogger.

Of course I encountered disagreements on the post, which I kind of expected, because there are many others who would say I was stark raving mad for saying that. However, I stood my ground. Based on research and real evidence, if you have at least 100 blog posts on a subject all the SEO sculpting in the world isn’t going to make a blog post stand out from any other in the search engines. Having a consistently good pattern of writing on your niche will work wonders, though.

An interesting way to show this is to look at this blog’s top 10 keywords from January of this year through August 31st for how people found this blog on search engines and see if the posts they might match up to were all that optimized. Here we go:

1. Cleavage – well, that’s still my most popular post for some reason, but in a post that was almost 1,350 words I used that one word less than .7%, even if it’s in the title.

2. Ultra Diamonds complaints – I wrote one post about this back in 2008 and I mentioned it twice, and not even in a row.

3. sensors quality management scam – I’ve never written a single post on this topic, and I have no idea what it even means. I wrote a post on secret shopper scams, and someone wrote that line in a comment.

4. forcefield.exe – mentioned once in a post I wrote about Zone Alarm.

5. do they still make zima – I wrote that comment once in a post on, well, Zima.

6. pdf my url – I wrote a post on this software, but I used the term “pdf” twice and “url” three times.

7. favorite classical pieces – I wrote a post on my favorite classical pieces, but I only used the phrase once, not including the title.

8. obsession with numbers – This is the first post where, as I look at it now, one could say I optimized it, although it certainly wasn’t intentional.

9. google desktop thunderbird – This one is also inadvertently optimized, and when I look at it, probably very well indeed.

10. mystery shoppers corp scam – once again this phrase doesn’t show up anywhere in the post I wrote on secret shoppers, and I have no idea where the word ‘corp’ comes from.

What’s my point? Out of my top 10 keywords, only two posts are actually optimized, and that occurred because of natural writing rather than any attempt to provide proper SEO to the posts. And the two posts that are optimized are #8 and #9 on my list; how do we explain the top 7?

As I said and will reiterate, I’m not saying that if you wish to take the time to do it that going through the process of optimizing your content might not be a worthy goal? What I’m saying is that, at least in my opinion, writing your content so that it makes sense to your readers, and eventually search engines, seems to work just as effectively if your topic in some way matches up to what people are looking for. At least for blogs; we can talk about websites another time, unless you read the article I just linked to. lol

Or I could be wrong… nah! 🙂

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First Page SEO Basics

Two weeks ago I was having an interesting debate with a guy on LinkedIn. It was supposed to be on the subject of social media and SEO, and instead it turned into a debate on SEO and what’s important.

He was saying in this group that it wasn’t important to optimize one’s home page anymore because we were all under an illusion if we thought that most of our visitors came in through the home page. In his opinion, optimizing all the other pages were more important to attracting visitors than anything you might think of doing on your home page.

I of course countered, saying that without optimizing and working on your home page that your other pages don’t really have all that much of a chance to get you anywhere. The bots sent out by search engines start off with your main page, “index” if you will, and if you haven’t taken care of that then the bots get confused as to what your site is all about and almost nothing else you do will overcome that lapse.

Strangely enough, I was talking to my wife about it, someone who knows nothing about computers or coding or SEO or anything related to technology, and she said “Don’t you need a foundation before you do anything else?”

Exactly! It’s like what many people write about when they’re talking to brand new bloggers who are getting into the game to make money. The recommendations are always the same, and they’re true; think about content and building up a community more than the money part initially. If the day you start your first blog post your site is already loaded with all sorts of banner and affiliate ads all over the place and your articles are geared towards the “make money” market, you’re going to look at little bit goofy. This isn’t saying you can’t have anything, but unless you’re someone like John Chow, who was already rich before he started blogging, you’re not going to come across as well.

Anyway, back to SEO and foundation. If you’re putting together a site, it works best if you decide what your site is going to be about and then try to figure out what you want to be found for before you even begin constructing your site. Doing that research helps you write your copy, and make it as natural as possible so the search engines have no problems reading your site and determining what it is you do. Sure, you could try to go the backdoor route, and you might possibly succeed in some fashion, but it’s not the best way to do it.

Optimize every page on your site as much as possible. But always start with your main page.

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Social Media And SEO

At the workshop I put on last week with my friend Renée, one of the interesting questions that came up was how social media marketing impacted a business website’s search engine optimization. I thought I’d answer that here as I did last week because if I was asked there, then someone else might want to know that answer as well.

One of the things you often hear about what helps you rank higher on Google, and I’m not talking page rank here, is getting one directional (I’m debating as to whether it’s “directional” or “direction”; have to think about that more) inbound links. By that, it means you’re getting a free link from someone without necessarily giving one back. Supposedly, search engines love that, because it shows that outside people are giving you love without your asking for it. By the way, that’s also why they hate paid links, even if you use the “rel=nofollow” attribute, because they think those advertisers are trying to game the system, if you will.

So, let’s look at a few of the social media sites where you might do some marketing to see how it all works. If you use Twitter, you have to create a profile, and if you’re smart you’ll put your business link in there. Mine has my business link instead of the link to this blog. Now, the only link I have back to Twitter is to my name on Twitter so people can follow me. I have nothing on my business site that goes to Twitter except for the same thing. Now, every blog post I make pops up on Twitter, which means all of my blogs get immediate link love. If someone clicks on the links, they’ll go to my sites. Even if they don’t, I still get link love, and I get more if someone decides to retweet it. Not a bad deal for a quick post.

LinkedIn and Facebook work in a similar way. When you create your profile, if you pop in a link to your business website, you’ll get the benefit of an inbound link. Both of those websites are pretty prominent, so that benefits your site. But then you go further. On both sites, posts from my business blog show up like they do on Twitter. This means I’m generating one directional links to my blog, which is attached to my website, and thus I’m helping to increase my SEO. Even with my creating a business page on Twitter and linking it to my blogs, like you see there to the right, my SEO is intact because every time I write something on that page, or anyone else does, it gets shared with everyone who’s decided they “like” my page, and if they’re commenting on a link I left, that gets spread around as well. By the way, on Facebook I’ve included links to all of my sites, whereas on LinkedIn I’ve only added links to my two main business sites and my blog.

The concept pretty much works with all the social media marketing areas you might try. If you create a YouTube account and set it up properly, you’ll get an inbound link. Every email you send where you have a link in your profile you get a little bit of that, but you get more if it goes to a place where someone has to log in online to see their email. If you participate in forums, you should make sure you have a signature file with your link in it.

Now, I have to say this one thing, and it’s important. Just getting links means nothing. If your website isn’t optimized correctly, those links aren’t going to help you one bit. If you don’t have any real content, the search engines still won’t know what you do, and neither will people who eventually might come to your site. So, you have to have a well rounded SEO program going for any of this to help your site and your business.

KODAK Zi8 Pocket Video Camera / Aqua

KODAK Zi8 Pocket Video Camera






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The Myth Of Link Building

Almost every SEO article you read talks about the importance of link building. They say that you have to create organic ways of getting people to link to you to build your prominence.


Chain Link

They say if you can get one way links that you’ll be in a much better position than trading links. Even Google said that they base their rankings, invalid as they are, on the number of people who link to you without your linking back to them.

What’s happened because of all this talk? I keep getting people writing me and wanting to link to many of my websites, including my business websites. They look at the PR (page rank) on those sites, which is pretty good, and think that by offering me the “opportunity” to trade links with them that it will work out great for me. They may even look at the Alexa rank, which is almost always better than theirs, even if they have high PR (that’s one reason why I question PR) and think they can snow me.

There are many myths that are related to link building. Many of the ideas people come up with don’t work. Some things people believe about link building aren’t true either. Let’s look at some of these things.

1. Link building will automatically boost your site’s prominence. That’s not quite true, although it is partially true. There’s this thing called relationship link building. That means if you link to a page on pink elephants and your blog or website is about quantum physics, you’re not going to get much bounce from that. Whereas if you link to a page that’s related to yours, you’ll get some benefit out of it.

Actually, sometimes linking to a site that doesn’t have much to do with your topic, but helps highlight something you want to be known for, is beneficial to you. For instance, on my business site, I tell people what I do, which works pretty well. However, I also wanted people to know I was based in Syracuse. So I linked to Syracuse and highlighted it, and if one looks me up and adds Syracuse I come up pretty high on the list as well.

2. All related links to your page are going to boost your site’s prominence. You’d think this would be true, but in actuality it’s not always true. I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten one of these requests from someone. Every once in awhile the subject on another site or blog seems like it might be a good fit. That is, until you take a good look at that site. Try to see if you can find the page they’re telling you they’re going to put you on from the main page. Most of the time you can’t because what they’ve done is thrown in a page that doesn’t link to any of their other pages, but is on their site. You don’t get any benefit from that at all; that’s one of those one-way link tricks that benefits them, and it’s sneaky.

3. If I don’t get enough external links, I’m not going to have any good rankings at all. That’s not true, and I’ll give you the perfect example. I’ve mentioned it before, but who’s checked out W3C? That stands for the World Wide Web Consortium, and they’re the folks who pretty much create and monitor the standards for how the web is supposed to work, including coding. They have almost no external links at all; pretty much everything they do is internal.

They’re the masters at internal linking, and the best example for the rest of us. When it comes to page rank, their main page is 10/10. Their Alexa rank, as of when I wrote this, is 479. It’s in looking at that page that I knew that internal linking was the way to go, which is why I often link to my own content on this blog. A few people use a WordPress plugin to do it, but I’d rather do it myself. This way I can bring up some very old posts or newer posts, and hopefully it’ll be more relevant if I do it myself than if software does it. Maybe not, though; sometimes you just have to get a little silly.

Link building is a big deal, but not in the way you might think it is. I’d start off working through your internal linking first, because it’s the main thing you can control. If you still feel the need to do backlink building, at least do it intelligently and ethically.

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