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10 things which any SEO must know March 1, 2010

Posted by simarprit in : Uncategorized , add a comment

This is a list straight from my top of the mind recall, no specific order

  1. Google still makes or breaks SEO
  2. http://twitter.com/mattcutts helps you understand Google’s point of view better
  3. Spending time on http://Quantcast.com can keep you going and in business
  4. http://Alexa.com still matters
  5. Using “Google Insights” helps
  6. All Meta tags are important
  7. You can never fool search-engines over a stretch of time
  8. Your competitors are not fools. They are either Clever or Smart
  9. Single word SEO positioning has no substitute
  10. Clever keyword stuffing helps. For definition of clever refer to Google Webmaster Tools

And the other 1.

  1. Know your bests at all times. Best hour of the day, best day of the week, best week of the month and best month of the year. The endeavor should be to work on verticals and geographies which can make the best hour of the day become an average performance figure for the day.

More to come…

SEO Basics and Understanding February 10, 2010

Posted by simarprit in : Search Engines, SEO, Uncategorized , 2comments

I am a part of training session, this is series of thoughts which are passing through my mind as the trainer is going through his slides.

  1. Understanding  definition of search engine is essential
  2. Search engines are nothing without the BOTS which do the job of crawling around from them and populating them
  3. Query mapping has a role to play, query mapping works on the basis of Search Engines algorithm applicable at that time.
  4. Cache of websites play a role but with social media penetration that role is changing quickly. Now you can get many results without the search engine cache being updated
  5. Algorithms work on essential parameters – 1. Tags (Title, Description, Keywords) and H1 tags are essential parts of it
  6. Giving a correct result is priority and purpose of a search engine
  7. For a search engine it is important to focus on freshness of the content.  A usefulness of a search engine depends on its ability to aggregate User Generated Content from numerous sources and process them on the basis of merit
  8. Assigning of weights is becoming a bigger challenge for search engines
  9. More unique the content, more need by search engines to have you there. It is also important to keep in mind the users of these unique content and their needs to be mapped against current availability
  10. Size of page matters to the BOT and to the surfer
  11. Images right sized and properly tagged are a permanent asset to SEO
  12. Relevancy Matrix remains a yardstick for search engines to capture a holistic view of the website
  13. Domain Age helps to a certain degree only. At one point of time it was very important. Domain name generic attributes remain important.
  14. Links from and to your site make the neighborhood you belong too. And neighborhood matters. Good neighborhood matters to a good extent.
  15. What do you want the user to do on your site, it is important to know and plan on how much time you want your user to spend on the site.
  16. Hidden text can hurt big time, you can’t have a strategy of cheating a search engine while defining your SEO plan.
  17. No of links on a page have two parts to play, allow BOTS to create map for crawling and allow users to navigate
  18. Your understanding of your domain name makes a difference to your SEO strategy. Try to read your domain in staggered words not initially intended. If your domain name is IndianaProfile. It would read also as IndianAProfile
  19. Search Engines can read dynamic codes now and they do. It is not a question of reading dynamic code, it is a question of reading data held in tables and deriving it the same way a surfer would do while doing natural navigation
  20. If you map your structure with Yahoo/ Google or DMOZ directory structure the site would have a tested and proven navigational approach
  21. Is your layout talking in the same language as a bot would like to hear
  22. Navigational steps should be well documented and should carry the objective through and through
  23. I am sure Google does consider everything good about your site including Meta Description and Meta Keywords
  24. Multiple usage of  a word in a long URL may not hurt you with search engines. Adjacency matrix of a search engine usually works on content but he same matrix may have a use in mapping out URL stuffing.
  25. Search Engines are based on fundamentals, it doesn’t matter if the site is on WordPress or on Drupal or on Joomla it treats all of them as a “Content Management System” and works it s way around the, A searchengine needs content in a structured manner and any CMS does that. So fundamentally any bot or serachengine would move the world to talk to any popular CMS and reach to all its inside folds.
  26. Junk on your site is your junk and search engines are bound to hate it. Keep the trash out and keep your site clean.
  27. Site-maps help and having them updated would help you big time at every stage
  28. Broken link audit of your site should be part of the job. If you are the owner and there is a team which works on the site, make sure you check manually the homepage for important links

Thank you Manish

Twitter and Brand Building January 15, 2009

Posted by simarprit in : Microblogging, SEO, Twitter , add a comment

Just attended a session on Twitter and Brand Building. Some quick takeaways:

  1. Define and document who do you want to be seen as
  2. Define and document “who all” (you desire) see you around
  3. Be simple and upfront
  4. Let your tweets add value
  5. Never Spam
  6. Never pile on
  7. Remember you are in a cloud – be proactive, but don’t be pushy
  8. No bursts of tweets –  regular, routine, habit forming approach is better. You’ve belong to the community and not be a guest.
  9. Communication is important. If you are communicating, you are listening and talking, you are reacting and agreeing, reacting and disagreeing. In short participation is important
  10. Have a precise profile

More to come…

What is SEO? September 28, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Internet, Search Engines, SEO, websites , 3comments

SEO – Search Engine Optimization Basics

  1. What is SEO? – To make your website cut through the clutter and deliver business is SEO.
  2. What is this clutter all about? - Everyday hundreds of thousands of web-pages are born, each with an expectation to deliver results and be on the top. This is the clutter. Fifty five million pages on Google respond to the words  – What is SEO and over 136,000 pages are working precisely to be on the phrase “What is SEO?”. This page, once posted would add yet one more page to this clutter.
  3. How does a website deliver business? - If you know your business, half the job is done. Congratulations! Now for the other half, you need to cut through some jargon’s and face several challenges. SEO is one of the many challenges and definitely not the only challenge. SEO only helps you to get the eyeballs to move to your website, for your website to deliver business, you would have to attend to those eyeballs to convince the rest of the body to do business at your website. You would also need to get the RIGHT EYEBALLS and not yet any eyeballs. Landing Page is the page where your SEOed eyeballs land. SEO job ends and the landing page’s job begins. Many SEOs (the individuals who do the SEO) consider Landing Page as a different subject, however, no SEO strategy can succeed without a functional landing page. Landing Page is a marriage between the two half’s of online business – your business knowledge and your website’s effectiveness, it is the place where the SEO meets business and each order is an offspring of this marriage.
  4. So who should do the landing page? - The landing page should always be done by the business, it should have inputs from sales, marketing, production, dispatch, finance and every-other department which keeps your business running. The business should ask the SEO company or the inhouse SEO professionals - zillions of questions and incorporate SEO essentials to the landing page. An SEO firm doesn’t know your business, so take their inputs, look at the landing pages of your competitors and write down your essentials for the landing page. You may also study specific challenges on Landing Page Optimization.
  5. What do we mean when we say Organic Search Results? - Let us step back and understand the origin of this phrase. As per Wikipedia – “Organic farmingis a form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests, excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms”. Now let us check what Wikipedia has to say about Organic Search – “Organic search results refers to those listings in search engine results pages that appear by dint of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being adverts”. I would phrase it very differently: Organic Search Resultsare the snippet listings from those webpages which are most likely to focus on the searched term, the order of organic search results is reflected by the user friendly projection of the relevance of the webpage to the various automated programs (robots/spiders etc) which visit the page periodically, organic search results explicitly exclude cloaking (projecting what you are not to the robots/ spiders), paid link building and Black Hat (Illegitimate means of projecting your page) SEO techniques. So what do we call those results which show up in Organic Search results using Cloaking, Black Hat and Paid Linking – They are fakes.
  6. How important are Keywords to SEO? – To understand SEO Basics well, it is important to understand and underline the difference between Keywords and Key-phrases. Keywords are essentially the words on which you would like your site to come-up on SERPs (Search engine Result Pages), for instance if your business is all about selling birthday favors, your keywords would be, amongst others, birthday and favors. However your key-phrase would be “birthday favors.” Coming on Birthday favors as a phrase should be everything to you, as it is 100% business relevance. All the leads which this key-phrase would get you would be a potential sale.  So Keywords are important but in many cases the key rests with the key-phrases.  Literally.
  7. What is Keyword Stuffing, and does it hurt? -The act of populating disproportionately your content or meta tags with one particular or few keywords or key-phrases is referred to as Keyword Stuffing. Keyword stuffing is gross, it is bad for your site, bad for your business, bad for your client/ surfer, bad for the search engines and bad for the internet on the whole. It is a malpractice. As it hurts all concerned, it hurts you too, directly and indirectly. Directly it hurts as search engines are becoming smarter to identify keyword spammers, surfers report keyword stuffing more often, Indirectly as the surfer who lands on your website, discovers that you indulge in malpractices may decide not to do business on your website.
  8. Do you SEO a site, or you SEO individual pages? – You SEO individual pages, and if you SEO all pages on your website, your whole site is done. Having said that, you do SEO your website. You define the focus of your website and ensure that every page contributes and reflects that focus. Let us say, you have a hotel website which covers all the 50 states of the United States of America and over 600 cities, it would help you to use your anchor words and phrases on every page when you are optimizing them. If you come on say “Hotels in San Jose”, “Hotels in San Francisco”, “Hotels in Sacramento”, “Hotels in Los Angeles” there is a good opportunity to come on “Hotels in California”. Similarly if your site comes on “Hotels in Texas”, “Hotels in California”, “Hotels in New York”, “Hotels in Washington” and “Hotels in Florida”, it would be easier to make it perform on “Hotels in the US”, “Hotels in the USA”, “Hotels in the United States of America”, and on “Hotels” itself. So, work multi-stage – Stage I: Focus “Hotels in San Jose”- Stage II “Hotels in California” – Stage III “Hotels in the US” – Stage IV “Hotels” – Where Stage I is your web page focus and stage IV is your website focus.
  9. Is SEO genetically modular, or is SEO genetically absolute? – SEO is anything but an absolute exercise, it is totally modular in nature. You can work on Optimizing your site part by part.

Much More coming…

Search Engine Optimization Success Secrets September 19, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Advertising, SEO, Web 2.0, Web 2.0 Expo , 1 comment so far

Best-kept Secrets to Search Engine Optimization Success: the Art and the Science Web 2.0 Expo Conference Session.

Stephan Spencer had his job cut – “I know my job, this is what I can give free comeback to me for business”. Which is fine.

  1. What’s your competition and why do they come on top, and why do they have a second link, and what can you do to bring there second link out and get your another link in or anyone’s another link in for that matter. He suggested title tweaking and cross link building to reduce competitors link value and get the sub-link out. Both are fine, but we must understand that “ït is a red hat approach with white hat techniques” nothing wrong about it though.
  2. rel=nofollow needs to be used very effectively to avoid your pagerank dilution, especially on your homepage, preserve it by avoiding it to be distributed towards disclaimers, privacy policy and other such stuff. Wherever you feel the page can do without just use rel=nofollow and make your PR go that extra mile. Smart usage of a tag which is live since 2005.
  3. Be wise in re-direction, be careful to use 301 and 302 properly, 301 would always pass the page rank and 302 won’t. Know what you are doing and just don’t let it be an accident.
  4. Google’s Directory allows your robots to visit and crawl it. Develop your spider to go to Google Directory crawl it and measure the page ranks of various sites, make a dump of high pagerank sites and work to get links from them. There are some merit based link selling sites which are not run of the mill, look at buying links from PR 8 sites. Also it is important to remember .edu, .gov and .org links always come on high pecking order.
  5. Sitewide links from left panel and bottom may not help. One good link from the homepge may be the only thing you may require.
  6. Do you have a matrix of your competitors links, you need it and you need it now. Chase and be there in that neighbourhood. Good neighbourhood matters and ensure that your links are in good neighbourhood.
  7. There are lot of absolutely free SEO tools available from Google/ Yahoo/ Microsoft and host of other players, choose your tools and integrate them with your daily tasks.  Google Website Analyzer, Google Insights, Wordtracker, Server header checker, css zen garden, SEO title tag plug-in, keyword discovery etc…
  8. You must use these tools twice once to grow your sites and second time to reverse engineer your competitors.

Stephan knows his job, but for me there was not much new, still revising what you know and hearing what you believe is a good feeling.

White Hat Vs Black Hat SEO August 24, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites , 9comments

Which hat do you wear, Black, White, Grey, Red or None?

The question should rather be:

Which kind of head do you carry over your shoulder – Black, White, Grey or Red?

It looks like everyone has been changing/ exchanging hats. If it is the color of head we talk about, it would be more exciting and entertaining :)

Continuing with my series on SES 2008, San Jose, this post incorporates the Gyan acquired during the session – Black Hat, White Hat: Playing Dirty with SEO

Let us define:

Black Hat: You do whatever it takes to be on top of SERPs. Good. Bad. Ugly. Whatever. Period.

White Hat: You do whatever search engine (read Google) guidelines for webmasters tell you to, you don’t try to outsmart search engines.

Grey Hat: You are the border guy, you know the stretch, and you think you know what you would getaway with, you live white, but you know black and you use it on the side.

Red Hat: You know what it takes to hurt your competitor and you know how to getaway with it.

No Hat: If you don’t wear any and you are still an SEO, maybe you an incompetent SEO. Don’t worry, you are not alone 95% of the SEOs within the industry are plain incompetent.

The session was to debate Black Hat vs. White Hat, but the debate didn’t happen. it looked like the whole panel was wearing Grey Hat and tended to remain on the border and just didn’t want to be drawn to the controversy. Important observation were made:

  1. Established sites have much more restrictions, they can’t risk exclusion from SERPs.
  2. Just made for adsense is crap. Content needs to be good. Nobody wants trash, and for sure not the search engines.
  3. Searcher needs good results and most of the top results very close to each other, if Search Engines intermix the top 5 results, it wouldn’t;t matter to the surfer.
  4. Buying excessive links can hurt, it is Red Hat.
  5. Good SEO to me is Knowledge about Search engines and the subject.
  6. Meta Keyword stuffing hurts.
  7. Everything in the title hurts too.
  8. Hidden content is black.
  9. Short and focused titles are good.
  10. Paid unrealted blogging can hurts.
  11. Vague and self promoting descriptions with repeat words hurts
  12. Paid link buying from link farms hurts badly.
  13. Search engines hate doorway or gatway pages, they hate being misled
  14. Serach engines hate carse optimization: They are bound to hate something like this – www.example.com/HOTEL/hotel/googleCityNameHotel.html - Which may go with the title <title>CityName Hotels | Hotels in CityName |Budget CityName Hotels| Luxury CityName Hotel| Cheap CityName Hotel| Discount CityName Hotels</title> This is a live example of carse black hat, “We will do anything even put Google’s name in our URLs, hundreds of them but we need to get on the top, we don’t care what happens to our site if Google doesn’t like it.” I picked up this example as it was succeeding in ranking high up. I have kept the URL intact except removing the site name and substituting it with example.com and substituting the actual city name with CityName.
  15. Great generic domain name helps

More to come…

SEO Best Practices – Content Issues August 24, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Content, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, Spamming, Uncategorized, websites , add a comment

Content Duplication Issues and SEO Best Practices

Continuing on my series on SES 2008 San Jose, this White paper is again a hybrid of what was shared and what I have learnt over a decade on search engines.

If I give you 10 pages to read, you would scan through, start reading and if what you are reading is “new to you”  may be you would read all ten of them at one go.

Bingo.

Now, if I give you 10 pages to read and when you scan through you find that “you’ve read it before” or “only one page is unique”, you may not even read my one unique page and trash all, worse, you would remember me as guy who tricked you by giving 10 pages to read when he had just information for one page. You would make a note  “not so nice man to know.”

To me this is content duplication and so it is to search engines, so here we go.

  1. Search engines job is to satisfy the searcher, they want to grow and be seen as credible.
  2. Search engines have no favorites.
  3. They trust you unless you betray them, they work with a basic premise that what you are feeding them is your own and unique.
  4. So when you feed search engines anything they “Scan”, if you are “New”  they may read whole of it.
  5. If you are not “New” they’ll trash you and “remember” you as “not a good site to know”.

So what are your choices, simple choice is to always provide “New content”, but this choice is expensive and restrictive to many, so what do these many do:

  1. Put same content on many pages on the same site as it is.
  2. Put same content on many pages of the same site with minor modifications, disguising it as new content.
  3. Put same content on many different sites under the same ownership.
  4. Put same content on many different sites with minor modifications but the sites are under the same ownership.
  5. Put same content on many different sites under many different ownerships, in many different servers, in many different data centers with or without minor modifications.

They all presume that they would be able to manipulate their way around, some do succeed, but issue is how hard are you working to do something which is wrong anyway. Search engines are becoming smarter by every passing day, they are scanning better, they are storing better and they are recalling better. The best case scenario is don’t duplicate your content and don’t manipulate content of others and put the same on your site, remember sooner or later you would be caught and become “Not a Good Site to Know”, and search engines would drop you out, as we all do.

This leaves us with the issue of what if someone does this to me. Yes, this is the issue!

So if you are original source of the content, your worry is – How does search engine know that I am the original? Search engines are working very hard to reach the original, in case they don;t make them aware.

Do what you will do with your assets: Protect them, be vigilant and act if someone breaches your copyrights. A related issue is when you syndicate your original content, I will cover this subsequently.

Some common inadvertent content duplication mistakes and issues:

  1. When spiders read your content four times:  http://example.com,  http://www.example.com, http://www.example.com/index.html or http://example.com/index.html. Most of the spiders know how to circumvent it, but it will help to put 301 re-directions in place and route everything to www.example.com
  2. When you change platform
  3. When you change URL structures, remove the old one and  deploy 301 redirects
  4. When you create test folders, remove your test folders
  5. When you shift to a sub domain, clear the content permanently from your servers
  6. Disclaimers and privacy policies running across sites and copyright statements running across site. put non-crawlable JS functions or connect them centrally.
  7. Check your landing pages, if you have multiple landing pages make them unique
  8. Check your meta titles, and meta descriptions, they need to be unique
  9. Be careful on mirrored sites
  10. Content in multiple languages with common attributes or language strings is a no no
  11. Use exclude protocol in robots.txt where-ever you need to share the same content, within the same site or at different domains
  12. Check out and remove any hidden link.
  13. Use password protection where you need to carry duplicate content
  14. Permanent deletion of duplicate content is better than redirection

The above can form some of the best practices SEO’s can follow.

more to come…