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Optimize Your Social Media Presence in 5 Easy Steps

If you are an ecommerce entrepreneur with an online dropship website or other internet business, you might be interested in optimizing your social media presence in just 5 easy steps!

While there is no doubt whatsoever that you should be leveraging the awesome power of social media, you probably are challenged about finding the time to fit your marketing efforts into a busy day crammed with numerous other things that need to be done.

Here are 5 steps that will help you streamline your social media marketing efforts:

1. Make the most of your multimedia: If you have images and videos for your online business, which hopefully you do, don’t overlook any opportunity to incorporate these things into your social media presence. For example, imbed your videos into your blog and on Facebook using the YouTube Box. You can also feed images from Flickr into your Facebook using the My Flickr app.

2. Save time by feeding a post into multiple social channels by using Ping.fm. It’s free and it is a huge timesaver for you!

3. Get your blog posts out there to reach more people by using a feed burner such as Feedburner.com. This is a 100% free service and will work wonders to maximize your blog! Feed your blog to your Facebook page and other social sites when possible. Twitter, with its 140 character limit, is not an ideal platform for your average blog posts, but you can practice some micro-blogging.

4. Maximize your social web presence by integrating your social media tools. For instance, if you plan on hosting a free webinar, use Facebook’s application that will allow you to post your social event calendar. How you integrate and which tools and apps you will use depends on your niche to some extent, but if you look around through the existing apps on your social sites, you will find some that are useful for your business.

5. Use one of the free services available online to help get the stats on your social media marketing ROI, or Return on Investment. There are a slew of these services to be had, and Google Analytics is one of the best!

These 5 simple steps will enable you to streamline your social media marketing efforts!

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Free Tools to Help Monitor Your eCommerce Online Reputation

If you have a home dropshipping business or other ecommerce enterprise, you should think about using one or more of the free tools available online to monitor your internet reputation.

As the old saying goes: Bad news travels like wildfire, good news travels slow.

Rest assured that at some point, people will be talking about your business and/or products online. It is vital that you keep an ear to the ground to hear what is being said—the good, the bad and the ugly.

By staying abreast of the current buzz about your business, you can practice a lot of damage control if necessary, as well as get in some great public relations by demonstrating that you do listen to what your customers are saying about you and that you are responsive to whatever is being said.

Even if there is a complaint about your business or product, by addressing the matter promptly and taking the necessary steps to solve the problem for a customer, others will see that you are trustworthy.

Being trustworthy is a big part of the battle in internet transactions!

Here are two FREE tools that will help you to monitor your online reputation:

  • Social Mention: From the website: “Social Mention is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.”
  • Addict-o-matic: This handy tool allows you to keep up with what is being said about you, plus gives you the buzz on everybody else! It’s a great way to monitor your own online reputation as well as see what is being said about the competition, and also keep up with the hottest topics online.

These free tools will be invaluable to you when it comes to keeping a close eye on your online reputation!

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Want to Increase Traffic to Your eCommerce Dropship Business Blog?

A business blog can do wonders for building your brand and promoting your ecommerce dropship business, but many entrepreneurs are stymied for ideas to help drive traffic to their blog.

The fact is that the more traffic you can drum up to your blog, the better off you are!

After all, the whole idea is to use blogging as part of your social media marketing efforts, and you need people in order to be successful at this.

So, here are some tips for boosting traffic flow to your blog:

  • This tip is simple, but effective: If you want to get traffic to your own blog, then make it a habit to post comments on other people’s blogs. Don’t choose just any old blogs to read and comment on, of course. You should comment on blogs that correlate in some way with your own ecommerce product or business.
  • Use social bookmarking tools such as Digg or StumbleUpon to get a good stream of visitors to your blog. Being designed to help internet users share their favorite sites, if you get a lot of votes on Digg you might be promoted to the front page, which will reap you a lot of traffic!
  • Don’t forget SEO for your blog. This is vitally important! The search engines regularly crawl blogs, so besides providing plenty of fresh content for Google and the other major search engines, make sure that your blog is using best SEO practices.
  • Start a continuing series of interesting blog articles, something that will be of value to your targeted audience. By arranging these articles in a series, you can hopefully keep visitors coming back for more.
  • Article marketing is yet another way to boost traffic to your blog. You can try submitting articles relevant to your industry on eZineArticles or Helium, and place a link to your blog either within each article or on your “About Me” page. If you use Helium for article marketing, you get the added bonus of making a bit of money, too!

Keeping a steady flow of traffic to your blog is a giant step toward building a thriving, profitable home dropshipping business or other ecommerce enterprise.

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Use Wibiya for Your eCommerce Blog

If you are like most ecommerce business people, you are always receptive to new services, tools and ideas that will help you streamline the running of your home business and accomplish more in less time, which is what Wibiya might do for you.

What is Wibiya?

Wibiya is a FREE web toolbar that has a lot of great functions!

For example, you can use Wibiya to integrate your Twitter and Facebook presence.

Or, you might use it to increase page views:

  • Engage readers and raise page views with apps such as Latest Posts, Real Time Users, and More…
  • Gain traffic from the social web
  • Track your traffic growth through simple analytics tools

Wibiya may also be used to communicate with your readers.

  • Broadcast messages, alerts and more to all your visitors in real time
  • Share your latest tweets with your readers in real time
  • Participate in live chat rooms with your audience

There are a lot of different Power Tools that you may use, too!

  • Discover a growing range of applications to enrich your readers experience
  • Full tracking and management system for each application and effectiveness to your website
  • Add and remove applications in just one click

Wibiya has tons of apps that do all sorts of handy things:

  • Live Notifications
  • Photo Gallery
  • Twitter Dashboard
  • Facebook Fan Page
  • Random Post
  • Real Time Users
  • Navigation Links
  • iTranslation
  • Smart Share
  • Content Timeline
  • YouTube Video Gallery
  • Facebook Recommendations
  • Facebook Activity Feed
  • Facebook Like Button
  • Twitter Anywhere
  • Google Buzz

Adding Wibiya will let you choose from a wide variety of tools and features, and it’s absolutely FREE.

Wibiya was started in 2008 in Israel, and is growing fast.

They welcome web developers and new apps!

In this hectic age, we all seem to have more to do every day than we have time to get done. So, having a free service such as Wibiya to help as a time saver makes running a home dropship business a little bit easier.

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Social Media Marketing: Google Moderator Adds a New Twist to YouTube

If you are like most ecommerce entrepreneurs, you are constantly seeking ways to improve your social media marketing efforts, and the new Google Moderator might just be an innovation you will want to get in on!

What is Google Moderator?

Here it is, straight from the Google website:

  • Let your audience decide. Get to know your audience by letting them decide which questions, suggestions or ideas interest them most.
  • Everyone’s voice is heard. The voting box at the top of page focuses attention on submissions recently added and on the rise, making it simple and easy to participate.
  • Be creative. Include people in your preparation for lectures, interviews and hard decisions or work together to organize feature requests and brainstorm new ideas.

So, what does this mean for you and any future YouTube videos you make?

Basically, it gives you something that is golden right now in the virtual world of the internet: the ability to allow users to interact! Internet research has shown that online users have a strong desire to interact.

The Google Moderator gives them this option of interactivity. From the YouTube blog:

“YouTube is about starting a conversation. Every day, hundreds of millions of videos spark dialogues on everything from the future of the African continent, to what should be done about the oil spill to the best slam dunk of all time. But until now, it’s been difficult to harness those free-flowing discussions.

That’s why, starting today, we’ve integrated the ability to use Google Moderator into every single YouTube channel. Moderator is a versatile, social platform that allows you to solicit ideas or questions on any topic, and have the community vote the best ones up to the top in real-time. We previously used Google Moderator as part of our interviews with President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”

This YouTube video will give you a great understanding of what the Google Moderator does and how to use it:

One of the prime rules for success is to always give the people what they want. Internet users want to interact, so use Google Moderator with your next YouTube video for your online dropship website or other internet business and you’ll be giving your potential customers what they want!

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Strategies to Spend Money & Earn ROI from Link Campaigns (without buying links)

Posted by randfish

Last week at Pubcon Las Vegas, I presented on How to Buy Links with Maximum Juice and Minimum Effort with fellow panelists Roger Montti (Martinibuster), Aaron Wall (SEOBook) and Todd Malicoat (Stuntdubl). I was a bit of an odd choice for this discussion, as I’d only recently announced SEOmoz’s Stance on Paid Links & Link Ads, but Pubcon’s organizers decided it would be interesting to have a divergent point-of-view.

Below is my presentation, which covers the perspective I come from and why I’m so risk-averse as well as strategies I recommend to capture value from investing in link acquisition campaigns:

Pubcon 2009 Paid Links

Not surprisingly I had a lot of people talk to me (and email me) after the presentation and express some really valuable opinions and questions. The presentations started late due to a misfunctioning projector, meaning there was no time for formal Q+A. I thought I’d take the opportunity in this post to address some of those missed questions.

Do you ever recommend link buying for any site? What about hyper-competitive industries?

Because of my distaste for risk of any kind when it comes to Google’s webspam team, my answer is consistent – no. I don’t ever suggest that businesses buy links from brokers or in the form of link ads that carry the primary intent of boosting a site’s ranking. To be fair, many of my colleagues who practice SEO in competitive industries (dating, gaming, pharmaceutical, real estate, e-commerce, etc.) don’t agree and do engage in buying links to boost their rank. I even know folks at Fortune 500s who use link brokers successfully for specific pages and targeted keywords (this group is probably in the lowest risk category).

Despite these examples and my respect for my colleagues, whenever I’m asked, I’m going to give the same reply – it’s my belief that in the long run, your money will be better spent on link acquisition that runs no risk of being flagged as manipulative by Google. The penalties and problems of link buying simply outweigh the benefits in my mind, so while I have no problem with paid links from a moral, ethical or legal standpoint (nofollow is most definitely not a way to disclose advertising to consumers as per the FTC’s guidelines), the pragmatist in me says link buying isn’t the way to success at Google.

What about directories that require a payment?

The short answer is – it depends. I’d wager a lot of money that some directories which do require payments pass great link equity. These include sites like:

Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum of directories that exist primarily for the purpose of selling PageRank. Google took action against many of these a couple years back and I suspect they continue to identify and discount their links as new ones crop up. In 2007, I wrote a lengthy post on What Makes a Good Directory and I’d still stand by nearly all of that today.

The message here is that just because a site requires payment to get a link doesn’t make it a “paid link” that Google will penalize or discount. As with many things in life, SEO and the web, there are shades of gray and nuances that require paying attention. If stuff like this were simple, SEO would be, too, and we know that’s not the case.

If I see my competitors engaging in link buying, how can I compete if I don’t do it, too?

I think a big misnomer with link analysis comes up when people scroll through a list of their competition’s links via something like Yahoo! Site Explorer. There’s no metrics indicating whether the link is passing juice, no metric for trustworthiness or quality, just a notation that a link exists on the page. Even if you’re using something more advanced like Linkscape, there’s nothing to say which links Google counts and which they don’t. You can easily get pulled into the idea that paid links are what’s propping up the competition’s rankings, when in fact, it’s a few great natural links that are doing all the heavy lifting.

I remember a site clinic several years back featuring a Google’s webspam chief, Matt Cutts. He was reviewing a site’s link profile on stage using an internal tool and commented that while Google saw several hundred links to the site, only three (yes 3 out of hundreds!) were passing link equity. Cearly, the search giant does a tremendous amount of filtering on the web’s link graph, so don’t presume to be sure which links are passing value.

Even if you feel very confident that paid links are winning the battle for your archnemesis, I recommend taking the low-risk road. In the long run, they’re likely to get penalized/devalued and you’re likely to overtake them with a link profile that’s clean and continually increasing in value.

Where do you draw the line between money that’s spent to acquire a link indirectly (as with event sponsorship, ads that turn into links, etc.)

This gets at the crux of the issue, but I think I’ve got a reasonably good methodology for determining which links requiring funds fit with Google’s guidelines and which violate them. I like these three questions:

  1. Does the organization offering the link tout SEO, PageRank, customizable anchor text or Google rankings as either a portion or the whole of the benefit you’ll receive by paying this money?
  2. Does the money go towards little else besides the link itself?
  3. Does the organization/website provide links via this acquisition methodology (whether that’s an event sponsorship, a charitable donation, an advertising relationship, etc.) to the more aggressive side of the SEO/web marketing field (niches like porn, pills, casino, legal, real estate, etc.) often with anchor text heavy links?

If the answer to any of these is a definite “yes,” the source is likely to fit into Google’s “suspicious” pile and possibly will lose the ability to pass link equity in the future (or already has).

How can you be sure that linkbait and viral content won’t be treated the same as paid links by Google in the future?

Just a couple months back, I wrote about Why Linkbait is a Tactic the Search Engines Will Always Value, so it’s probably not worth re-hashing here. Certainly, there are ways to be manipulative about virtually anything in the link acquisition world, and Google may well take action against some forms of these, but I believe natural links acquired through great content are going to stand the test of time (and are likely to benefit from future ranking signals, whatever they may be).

This is just Google FUD – we shouldn’t let them dictate how to do our jobs!

But we already do! The only reason we try to build these links, research the right keywords, create and submit XML sitemaps, etc. is because Google is dictating the way their crawling, processing and ranking systems work. In their ecosystem – the one that drives 85%+ of all search traffic on the web – there are guidelines, best practices, rules and regulations. If you want to play on their court, you’ve got to abide by those rules or be ready to face the consequences. I’m not ready for those consequences and thus, have low risk tolerance and the attitude you’re reading about.

None of this is to say that a more risk-heavy appetite and more gray-black hat methodologies for link acquisition aren’t worth trying; just make sure you do it on sites you’re willing to get tossed out of the playground.

As always, I’m looking forward to the conversation in the comments.

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Google Link: Command – Busting the Myths

Posted by randfish

I’m a big Google fan – my wife often sleeps in their t-shirts, I speak on panels with Googlers all the time and I’ve even got a Google water bottle for working out (which happens all of once a month these days). However, I am NOT a fan of the Google link command, and I’m shocked by the number of folks who operate in and around the SEO, webdev and technology industries who haven’t realized this.

Here’s what Google themselves have to say on the matter:

You can perform a Google search using the link: operator to find a sampling of links to any site. For instance, [link:www.google.com] will list web pages that have links pointing to the Google home page. Note there can be no space between the “link:” and the web page URL.

To see a much larger sampling of links to any verified site in Webmaster Tools:

  1. On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
  2. Under Your site on the web, click Links to your site.

Note: Not all links to your site may be listed. This is normal.

Here’s what Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) had to say in a video on the subject:

The short answer is that historically, we only had room for a very small percentage of backlinks because web search was the main part and we didn’t have a ton of servers for link colon queries and so, we have doubled or increased the amount of backlinks that we show over time for link colon, but it is still a sub-sample. It’s a relatively small percentage. And I think that that’s a pretty good balance, because if you just automatically show a ton of backlinks for any website then spammers or competitors can use that to try to reverse engineer someone’s rankings.

Google themselves is telling us not to pay too much attention to the link command, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping folks. Let the myth busting commence.

Myth #1 – The Google Link Command Returns Accurate Numbers

Nope. Not even close. Google themselves say the numbers aren’t accurate and that they’re showing a small sub-sample. The numbers show this as well. Check your link counts with the Google link command vs. the number inside Google’s Webmaster Tools (when you verify your account, you’ll see them shown). Here’s the stats for SEOmoz, for example:

Google's link command for SEOmoz

Google’s link command claims 1,590 links. Let’s see what Webmaster Tools says:

Google's Webmaster Tools Link Count for SEOmoz

Hmm… 381,403 seems slightly larger than 1,590. In fact, the link command is showing me 0.4% of what Webmaster Tools says exists. Running this analysis on another few domains that we have access to in Webmaster Tools, I saw numbers ranging from 0.1% to 4.4% (meaning there’s not even any consistency between in the percentage of links from the two counts). 

Myth #2 – The Google Link Command Returns Important Links

Tragically, a long time ago (pre-2004), Google did show only important links via the link: command, which created the myth that exists to this day. In fact, the links shown in the link: command have no particular importance or relevance. They are truly a random sample, including links that are nofollowed, links from pages that have had PageRank penalties applied to them as well as links that do pass link juice and value.

Myth #3 – The Google Link Command Returns Links in Some Kind of Order

No one in SEO has been able to show any ordering of any kind in the Google link: command’s results. Important, well-known websites may be listed on page 2 or page 20 of the results, and it is likewise with spam, scrapers and low quality sites that Google’s likely not counting. In Site Explorer and the web results, Yahoo! appears to do some type of ordering, tending to show more important links, pages and sites before less important ones (though not with great consistency). Unfortunately, many SEOs suspect that, should Microsoft’s deal to power Yahoo! with Bing results go through, Yahoo! is unlikely to maintain their own web index (and thus, link, linkdomain and site explorer will be gone).

Google's Link Command Results for Yahoo.com

As exemplified above, Google appears to be very random indeed when showing link: results.

Myth #4 – The Google Link Command Returns a Numerically Representative Count of Links

This is possibly the myth that’s most disturbing of all, primarily because so many operators in the SEO field belive it and track the link: command count as a reliable, useful metric. Nothing could be further from the truth – and here’s some data to help back it up:

Root Domain

Google Link: #
(external + internal?)

Yahoo! Linkdomain #
(external only)

Linkscape Count
(external only)

Yahoo.com 3,650 331,000,000 201,681,667
Recovery.gov 7,550 328,000 155,780
Facebook.com 165,000 567,000,000 116,748,934
Real.com 11,400 4,600,000 5,596,165
Adobe.com 51,200 124,000,000 78,550,468
Reddit.com 18,300 128,000,000 29,071,291
Twitter.com 224,000 515,000,000 132,528,763
Salon.com 12,300 3,420,000 1,535,342
SEOmoz.org 1,590 957,000 486,405
NYTimes.com 7,990 21,200,000 12,884,758
TurkeyDayRun.com 3 68 22
Ninme.com 539  42,000 3,149
Burgerking.com 942  106,000 23,761
Alaskaair.com 1,010 44,000 38,358
Smashingmagazine.com 8,730 1,130,000 592,054
Smithsonian.org 4,860 25,700 14,545

I collected the data above spur of the moment, so I won’t try to claim great statistical integrity. However, looking at Google’s link: command results, the best I can say is that Google has some relationship to the others within 1-2 orders of magnitude, though they may be directionally inaccurate much of the time as well. Just look at the NYTimes.com for example – Google claims they have 2/3rds the links that Salon.com has, yet Yahoo! and Linkscape agree that, in fact, NYTimes.com has 6X+ Salon.com’s link total.

These are not numbers you want to hang your hat (or any crucial business decisions) on.

Myth #5 – The Google Link Command Tracks Accurately Over Time

Unfortunately, I don’t have data points I can show, but our observations over time indicate that Google’s link count in Webmaster Tools might rise, along with the Yahoo! and Linkscape link counts, yet the Google link: command will show lower numbers. The reverse is sometimes also the case. Without directional consistency, even when compared against their own counts, it’s very hard to take the Google link: count seriously.

Myth #6 – The Google Link Command is Up to Date

Most SEOs & webmasters have noticed that the Google link: counts update infrequently, inconsistently and most often in correlation with toolbar PageRank updates (another data point I’ll need to takcle in a future post). These updates from Google occur every 2-10 months with little warning about when they’re coming or have happened. If you watch sites like closely, they’ll report many of these as they occur.

The next time someone tells you their Google link: command numbers as a metric for SEO, competitive analysis or anything else, make sure they read this post. Google’s not nearly as up-front with the information as they should be (honestly, removing the link command would save so much time and effort for poor site owners who get needlessly confused), but hopefully as a community, we can help build more awareness around this issue.

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Charting ‘Unique Keyphrases’ Using Advanced Segments

Posted by RobOusbey

A useful indicator of SEO success is the number of unique keyphrases that send traffic to a website. An increase in this number is a reflection of increased trust in the site by search-engines.

Google Analytics can show you the total number of unique organic keyphrases at a glance, on the Traffic Sources ⇒ Keywords page. (Make sure you select ‘non-paid’ to exclude any CPC campaigns.)

This post will show you how to break that down to a more useful level of granularity and help you to create a table such as the following:

We’ll aim to categorise traffic into three buckets: ‘branded’, ‘head terms’ and ‘mid-long tail terms’. (In reality, we’ll actually calculate the first two, and the third one will be ‘everything that is left’.)

As we often can’t export enough keywords from Google Analytics to do the analysis offline, we will have to use ‘Advanced Segments’ to do this. This means that we can only group together ‘branded terms’ and ‘head terms’ in ways that we can explain through AND and OR statements.

The process for doing this goes like this:

  1. Plan to create advanced segments that define each group of keywords you want to track
  2. Define rules using ‘AND’ & ‘OR’ statements that describe which keywords should be in each group
  3. Apply these groups each month, one at a time, to the previous month’s data, in order to reveal the number of unique keywords.

Since this ‘rule defining’ will take place in Google Analytics’ Advanced Segments feature, we’ll be using ‘regular expressions’ – a clever but pretty technical method of defining which items in a set should be included in a particular subset. (More details about them at this site.)

The next sections may have particular appeal to the more ‘techie’ readers (or just those people feeling brave) – so do feel free to just skip down to the end to see screen-shots of these segments applied to the keywords report, if the nitty-gritty isn’t your cup of tea.

Creating the ‘Branded Terms’ Segment

If you’ve not really implemented Advanced Segments before, I suggest starting with Google Analytics’ help pages on the topic, but also having a play with the feature, to see how it works. (Really, do have a play. I’m going to assume you at least have understood what most of the main buttons do, and that’s a great way to find out.)

Planning the Segment

Let’s use a fictional company, TechNet, who make a product called the Vox9000. Their segment for ‘branded terms’ will include anything that mentions these terms.

Define the Rules, Create the Segment

To create the segment for branded terms, begin by clicking ‘Advanced Segments’ ⇒ ‘Create new custom segment’.

In the first ‘dimension or metric’ space, add a ‘Medium’ block (found under ‘Dimensions’) and set Condition to ‘Matches exactly’ and Value to ‘organic’. Then hit ‘and‘ to add another section. Place a ‘Keywords’ block here, with Condition as ‘Matches regular expression’ and a value that is all your branded terms, separated by the pipe character: |

(NB: the pipe acts as an ‘OR’ in these regular expressions.)

As an example, for TechNet (which people often search for it with a spaces, as ‘Tech Net’) that makes a product called ‘Vox9000′ (sometimes searched for as ‘Vox 9000′) would use the following string here: technet|tech net|vox9000|vox 9000

Give the segment a name, and save it.

Creating the ‘Head Terms’ Segment

Planning the Segment

The next segment – the head terms – is a bit more complicated, and you’ll see why it’s important for us to to specify rules that will define the head keyphrases.

Let’s imagine that TechNet sells laptops and notebooks in Philadelphia and Baltimore. (Therefore head terms will be those such as ‘notebooks’ or ‘laptops in philadelphia’)

In this example, the rules to define head terms might be:

  • the phrase can’t mention any branded terms
  • it must mention one of their product groups (laptop, notebook)
  • it can only have two words of 3+ characters (this allows for some short linking words, such as a, in, at, etcetera)
  • it can only have a maximum of four words in total.

Define the Rules, Create the Segment

The last two rules can be the trickiest to implement, so we’ll look at these first. Two insights help us solve these requirements:

Insight 1: Combining the two rules, and using S and L to indicate short words (1 or 2 characters) and long words (3+ characters) we see that the only twenty possible structures for keyphrases are: L, LS, SL, LL, LSS, SLS, SSL, LLS, LSL, SLL, LSSS, SLSS, SSLS, SSSL, LLSS, LSLS, LSSL, SLLS, SLSL, SSLL

Insight 2: The regular expression: \b[^ ]{3,50}\b matches a word of between 3 & 50 characters. It’s also necessary to know that ^ matches something at the beginning of an expression, and $ matches at the end. (Seriously, they do. Start by going through the examples at this site if you want to know why that’s the case.)

We’re now in a position to take the list of combinations from ‘Insight 1′ and replace ‘S’ with \b[^ ]{1,2}\b (matching words with 1/2 characters) and ‘L’ with \b[^ ]{3,50}\b, putting spaces in-between, wrapping in parentheses, and matching at beginning and end. Missed that? OK, here are examples of some of the resulting statements:

L becomes ^(\b[^ ]{3,50}\b)$
SL becomes ^(\b[^ ]{1,2}\b \b[^ ]{3,50}\b)$
LSL becomes ^(\b[^ ]{3,50}\b \b[^ ]{3,50}\b \b[^ ]{1,2}\b)$

You should join the twenty created expressions together using a pipe character, to create the resulting, massive, expression. To save space, I won’t post the whole expression in, but you can see what it looks like if you hover your mouse over this text.

NB: There seems to be a limit to the number of parts to an expression that you can put into Google Analytics, so I tend to break this up into two parts – say, those matching on three or less words, and those matching four – and put them as ‘OR’ alternatives in one section. I’ve done that below to demonstrate.

The resultant segment rules for ‘Branded Keyphrases’ look like this:

The image shown above reads:

    • Dimension: Medium, Condition: Matches exactly, Value: organic
  • AND
    • Dimension: Keyword, Condition: Does not match regular expression, Value: technet|tech net|vox9000|vox 9000
  • AND
  • AND
    • Dimension: Keyword, Condition: Matches regular expression, Value: laptop|notebook

Collecting the numbers

With our two Advanced Segments defined, we can head back to the ‘keywords’ page and set the date range to the last month. Click each image to see it full size.

We can apply each custom segment in turn, in order to collect the following numbers for September:

  • Total keyphrases: 64,278
  • Branded keyphrases: 393
  • Head keyphrases: 2,835
  • Other keyphrases: 61,050 (calculated from the previous three numbers)

You can now put these numbers in a spreadsheet in order to chart the change in number of unique keyphrases as months go by.

You can use these basic techniques to create and report on even more well defined segments of keyphrases (for example: you could group keyphrases by competitiveness, department, intent, etc.) If there are particular steps here that require more explanation, or you’re looking for more ideas about how to apply this to your SEO reporting structure, drop a comment below.

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Link Building Has Changed

Posted by randfish

When I first started in SEO, link acquisition was almost always a manual process. I’d search the engines for links that pointed to the competition, find relevant directories and link lists, email relevant sites and beg, borrow or bribe (aka buy advertising) to get a link. I tried reciprocal link building (and did some pretty dumb stuff). Then, as I got more intertwined in the SEO community, I found vendors who built large networks of sites, spammed blogs/forums/guestbooks and ran text link sales operations. I leveraged these services to help clients rank better, almost always with great success. Then I met Matt Cutts, found out more about Google’s webspam team, saw penalties and their impact (remember Florida?) and even found some sites we worked on in the Sandbox.

Over time, I got smarter. I read papers about HilltopTrustrank, Anti-Trustrank and many more. I saw sites escaping the sandbox once they’d earned greater quantities of trusted links. I started understanding that Google’s search quality team was only going to get better at recognizing and counting legitimate links (and tossing out the junk), so I focused exclusively on more “white hat” kinds of links. That’s when I discovered linkbaiting and the power of Digg, Reddit & StumbleUpon to drive traffic that would naturally link. We had success with quizzes (and after Matt left SEOmoz, he had a little too much success) and viral content that earned thousands of links overnight and started offering it as a service.

As our clientele and foci changed, we changed again. Linkbait gave way to broader viral marketing efforts. Social media marketing arose as a practical and high quality way to earn links. Our clients became larger brands and organizations and one-off link projects weren’t scalable, so we consulted on tactics like content and technology licensing, training editorial staff to earn links & participate in the social media world themselves, and incentivizing user-generated content, which in turn brought links from those users. We found ways to drive natural links to deep pages on huge sites targeting the long tail, how to combine embeddable content and user-adopted brand affinity to drive link growth. And we stopped buying links entirely.

I figured a visual history might make for a compelling view:

A History of Link Building Tactics

Now, link building is changing again. I’m of the distinct impression that the engines (nowadays referring to Bing & Google, since the others are all but out of the picture) are evolving to keep up with the web’s breakneck speed and new forms of data, along with new ways of analyzing links, are making themselves felt in the SERPs. My guesses/observations would include:

  • Twitter really is cannibalizing the web’s link graph, or at least, the blogosphere’s and Google seems to be using Tweet counts in some way (though possibly only in the QDF algo).
  • The acceleration rate of link acquisition and the freshness of new links is having a more dramatic impact than before, and the “old crusty links” paradigm may be fading a bit.
  • Brand mentions and keyword associations with brand names are influencing the rankings more and more.
  • Un-trustworhty link patterns are conferring more filters and penalties than ever before.
  • QDD is as strong as ever, and vertical results are more prominent than at any time in the engines’ histories.
  • Google and Microsoft both know more about traffic and surfing habits than ever before, and this data is likely being used to, at the least, quality control for potential algorithmic misses.
  • Ad blindness is worse than ever (16% of Internet users are responsible for 85% of all ad clicks on the web), forcing the engines to make ads more relevant and more obvious to continue earning revenue.
  • Paid inclusion is going away, and talk of potentially paying sites to be in the indices (the reverse model) is in the air (or maybe not).
  • Billions of non-linked “references” flow out across the web through social media messages, emails, tweets and IMs. Someone, at some search engine, is undoubetdly mining this data to see how they can derive value and relevancy from it.

As marketers, we have to evolve or be left behind by those who can better adapt. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees right now, but I think we’re closing in on a time when real-time, social and traditional web references are all a part of the rankings equation. The future may be less about links and more about brand building and brand participation. I don’t want to be the most-linked-to site in my niche; I want to be the site that’s synonymous with my niche.

Now we just have to figure out the tactics…

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New & Interesting Insights Into Google Rankings & Spam from Pubcon

Posted by randfish

Tonight’s post comes via the Pubcon conference in Las Vegas and is likely of interest to many in the webmaster and search communities. Today, during the Interactive Site Review Session, Google’s head of Web Spam, Matt Cutts, along with Vanessa Fox of NinebyBlue and Derrick Wheeler of Microsoft took thorough dives into a number of sites. The session was well coverd on Twitter, and in live form by Barry Schwartz at SERoundtable.

Google's Matt Cutts and Vanessa Fox of NinebyBlue on the Site Review Panel
Matt Cutts and Vanessa Fox on the Site Review Panel (photo credit: davecolorado.com)

A few points in particular stood out and are worthy of coverage:

  • Blocking Internet Archive may be a Negative Signal
    Matt Cutts noted that spammers very frequently block archive.org from crawling/storing their pages and few reputable sites engage in this. Thus, it’s a potential spam signal to search engines. SEO Theory has a good writeup on when and why there may be legitimate reasons to do this, but webmasters seeking to avoid scrutiny may want to take heed.
  • Web Page Load Time can Positively Influence Rankings
    Maile Ohye actually mentioned this at SMX East in New York, but Matt Cutts repeated it again today. In a nutshell – while slow page load times won’t negatively impact your rankings, fast load times may have a positive effect. This comes on a day when the Google Chrome blog introduced their new SPDY research project. I’m particularly happy about this news, because it’s also true that load times have a positive second-order effect on SEO. Pingomatic recently published some excellent research on load times from Akamai noting the expectations of users for faster web browsing have doubled in the past 2 years. In addition, fast loading pages are, in my opinion, considerably more likely to earn links, retweets and other forms of sharing than their slow-loading peers. This tool from Pingdom is a great place to start testing your own site.
  • It May be Easier to Walk Away from Banned Domains
    Sites that Google’s webspam team has severely penalized or banned entirely from the index can be very difficult to re-include, and thus, Matt suggested that “walking away” and “starting over” may be a more prudent strategy. In my opinion, this is largely due to link profile issues – if your site has a “spammy” link profile, it’s tough to ask an engineer to sort out the wheat from the chaffe manually (or algorithmically) and stop counting only the bad links. Thus, re-consideration requests may not be as effective a use of time as registering a new site and trying to re-build a more trusted presence.
  • Repetition of Keywords in Internal Anchor Text (particularly in footers) is Troubling
    During a specific site’s review, Matt noted that keyword usage in the anchor text of many internal links, particularly in the footer of a website, is seen as potentially manipulative. Yahoo!’s search engineers have noted this in the past and we at SEOmoz have seen specific cases where removal of keyword-stuffed internal links from a footer had immediate impacts on Google rankings (removing what appeared to be large negative ranking penalties sitewide).
  • Having Multiple Sites Targeting Subsections of the Same Niche can be Indicative of Spam
    Matt Cutts today mentioned that “having multiple sites for different areas of the same industry can be a red flag to Google.” Though Googlers have mentioned this before, today’s site review panel brought renewed attention to both Google’s ability and proclivity for carefully considering not only an individual site, but all the other sites owned by that registrant/entity/person. Given Google’s tremendous amount of data on web usage behavior, many SEOs suspect that they track beyond simply domain registration records.

I also presented at Pubcon today – on a panel called Linkfluence: How to Buy Links with Maximum Juice and Minimum Risk (live SERoundtable coverage here) – as the counterpoint speaker (on why not to buy links). I’ll try to have that presentation in written format early next week on the blog.

p.s. I was asked by a large number of attendees at the conference about our venture capital fundraising experience. I expect to be able to write about that very soon and certainly appreciate all the support. :-)

p.p.s. For those who are interested, my brother, Evan Fishkin (who works at Portent Interactive) had his head shaved by Google’s webspam chief. On a personal note, I must say I was particularly impressed with Matt’s ability to shave a head without nicks or cuts, and his foresight in bringing proper equipment. Unfortunately, I’m not fully briefed on why this occurred, but I do know that my little brother was in terrible need of a trim (photo of my shocked observance of the event here & more photos/video here).

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