Optimize Linking for SEO: 10 Useful Tips for New Sites

SEOThe way you link, both internally and externally from your site, is crucial for achieving results in today’s competitive market. Proper linking can give you the advantage you need when it comes to search engine ranking and those all-important hits on your site.

As SEO experts are bound to point out, it’s a process that needs to be carried on over time and considered whenever you make any changes to your site. As a new site you’ll need strategies to assist you in climbing the ladder to good Internet ranking placement as quickly as possible.

Here are 10 very useful tips on links and linking architecture for anyone with an interest in SEO, and if you’re involved in marketing of any kind over the Internet, then that’s you.

1. Think About Who Links to You

You’ll already know the value of reputation when it comes to marketing your product or service. If sites that are associated with good quality products are clearly seen by users and search engines to link to your own then this will reflect well on you.

Pay close attention to the number of .com and .co.uk sites that link to you, for example, and think carefully about ways in which you can encourage others to do likewise.

2. Think About Who You Link to

The same rules as before. Linking to good quality sites reflects well on your own. Keep up to date with innovations and developments and stay relevant with fresh links on your pages. Try to develop a balanced portfolio of links on your site.

3. Avoid Broken Links

As part of ongoing site maintenance for SEO you should be aware of any links that are no longer in use and remove them from your site.

4. Think About Relevance

This is very important. Link to sites with a clear relevance to your own only. Search engines pay special attention to this, as do users, and every irrelevant link on your page is detrimental.

5. Internal Links

Think about internal links and whether your site is user friendly. Make the most of internal links and get some advice from SEO experts about ways to link internally that will benefit your site’s ranking.

6. Maps

Think about linking back to homepage and site maps. Make your site as easily navigable as possible. This will encourage users and benefit your site as search engines see these links when they probe it. A map is a useful way to introduce internal links and make the site easier to get around.

7. Link Building

Think about the use of exact match terms for link building. Build links using exactly matching anchor text. Remember though, don’t get carried away – an excess use of keywords can be as bad as a lack. Using terms you want to rank for and that summarize the topic referred to, in moderation, can strengthen the ratings of your site by search engines.

Find a balance and use your senses. If you feel that you’ve gone overboard with repeated words or phrases in your internal links then you probably have.

8. Avoid Cloaking

Search engines are increasingly sophisticated at detecting ‘black hat’ or unscrupulous SEO techniques. While it may be tempting to improve your popularity on the net by attracting unwitting visitors to your site, be aware that techniques that accomplish this can get you into trouble.

Users and search engines are alike in their approach to cloaking – they don’t accept or tolerate it. Stay within the boundaries to avoid problems.

9. Look at Where Your Competitors Link

This is legal and it can give you an advantage or at least level the playing field somewhat when it comes to links.

10. Strategize

Have a solid strategy for linking to, from and within your site. Think before you link and use every intelligent strategy at your disposal. Getting advice from website optimization specialists can really help.

5 Tips for Dealing with Complaints on Twitter

 

We hope that you and your business will never need this information, but “just in case”, it’s good to be prepared.Twitter Complaint Every business, blogger, and the rest of us on social media have experienced it: someone just called you out on Twitter or in a blog. It’s all too easy to get frustrated and respond with something that will just make the situation worse (“I’ll give you a refund right away… oh wait, you didn’t actually pay for this!”) or to take it personally and get upset.

While there is no magic formula for dealing with complaints in social media, I do have a few tips that have helped me.


1. A Quick Response Goes a Long Way


Twitter ComplaintsI can’t tell you how many complaints I’ve seen turned around with a quick reply. If someone has an issue with your product or misunderstood your point of view, reach out and explain it to them. Most of the time when they realize that you’re actually paying attention and care, that makes all the difference (for the rest of the time, see number five).

Of course, this assumes you are actually paying attention. So if you’re not, you might want to look into ways to monitor your brand on social media.


2. You May Have To Respond As You, Not Your Company


When someone has a legitimate complaint, I’ve found one of the most effective things to do is reach out from your personal account. In my experience, when they realize they’re dealing with a real person who’s trying to help, people are more open and willing to listen. This shouldn’t be done for every complaint, as some people will never be turned around, but I’ve found when there’s a real, resolvable issue this method often works much better.


3. Give Yourself More Than 140 Characters To Respond


At times, it’s just impossible to help someone in 140 characters. Or it’s possible, but you would have to be really terse — which is definitely not going to make you seem understanding. Instead, ask them how to connect off Twitter (shocking, I know). Shoot the complainant an e-mail or even give them a call and you’ll be surprised how far a little outreach goes.


4. Let Someone Else Respond For You


If there’s no way you can respond in a helpful way — e.g., if it would make you seem self-serving or maybe you’ve already tried and failed — it can be helpful to have someone else speak up for you.

If you have haters, you probably also have fans, and they’re probably very willing to spring to your defense. Maybe they’ve even already done, in which case, their response might be much more effective than yours and you can just leave well enough along.

If they haven’t already responded, consider bringing the issue to the attention of a few of your fans. Do so carefully and cautiously. Only do it with people you have actual relationships with and only in a lightweight, non-pushy way. I find the best way is actually just to privately ask for feedback on a complaint — maybe it has merit and you don’t realize it or maybe they can help you understand what’s going on.


5. Know When To Let It Go


The truth is, you simply won’t be able to turn everyone around. The trick (I’m still working on it) is to not let it get to you. No business or person is going to make it without having a few haters — so if you have some, you might just be doing something right. Just don’t take that line of thinking too far!

Bottom line, the complainers won’t go away, but you can choose how you deal with them. Some of them will be legitimate complaints from reasonable people that will be touched when you reach out quickly and earnestly to help them. Others… well you know what they say: “Haters gonna hate.”

———————
Originally posted on Mashable.com Megan Berry is Marketing Manager for Klout, the standard for online influence. She also blogs at The Huffington Post and Brazen Careerist. You can follow her on Twitter at @meganberry.

4 Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business. This post also appeared on Mashable’s website, where we found it and wanted to share the information.

In addition to writing for their human readers, web writers and bloggers have to consider the digital web crawlers employed by search engines like Google (Google). Your business can’t skip the task.

Since most would-be readers use search engines to find blog posts, you need to make sure that Google ranks your site highly when those readers search for terms related to your business and the content you’re writing.

You could spend thousands of dollars to have a search marketing firm optimize your business’s blog for search engines, but chances are that you can learn a lot of the fundamentals yourself, saving yourself a lot of money as long as you have the interest and the time. Here’s a basic primer on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your company’s blog.

1. Always Include Search Terms in Your Post’s Title

When Google reads a website to index it, it reads the code directly, not the snazzy presentation that humans see. The way most blogging platforms are built, the headline or title of your blog post is among the first things Google sees, and Google generally assumes the words that appear earliest are the most important. That’s why the title is the most important part of your blog post when it comes to SEO.

Think about who you want to reach with this blog post, and what that person might be searching for when looking for your business’s goods or services, then include critical words from that hypothetical search in the title. The most important terms should appear as quickly as you can reasonably fit them in. Just be careful not to make the title unreadable or awkward to human readers — that SEO effort will have been for naught if the reader is immediately turned off by the content once he or she finds it.

Here’s a pro tip: You’re not likely to win strong ranking for more than one or two search terms at once, so minimalism is a virtue here. Don’t get over-ambitious. Focus on one potential search term, then if you want to rank for a second term, write a separate and unique post specifically with it in mind.

2. Link Important Words to Earlier Blog Posts

Search engines generally assume that a blog post that has been linked to has more authority than one that has not. They also consider exactly what word or phrase linked to the post; a blog post about the iPhone (iPhone) is going to be more likely to show up in Google searches on the subject if another page links the word “iPhone” to the post.

You’ll get the most value from external links from sites that Google or other search engines already consider to be an authority of the subject (if the top blog about iPhones links the word to your post, you’ll get a huge boost), but all incoming links will still pass rank to your page, even those from elsewhere on your site.

So be sure and link important keywords to other pages or previous posts on your blog to gain some credibility and search rank. It will make a big difference. Just don’t overdo it; not only do human readers hate reading blogs so filled with links that they might accidentally click on something, Google may penalize you if you go overboard, too.

3. Hit the Tagging Sweet Spot

Most blogging platforms let you apply tags to your posts. Tags help organize your blog so both humans and search engines can find what they’re looking for. They’re terms like “consulting,” “local” or “technology” that reflect the topics and content of the post.

Google tries to recognize tags and use them to prioritize your site in its search ranking for those terms. The tags are usually links to other pages on your blog (usually a backlog of other posts with the same tag), and like we said earlier, linking search terms to other pages on your site helps too.

So by all means, add pertinent tags to your blog post, but be warned that Google and other search engines are wary of sites that try to game this system. They will penalize you in the search rankings if you use so many tags that the web indexing bots suspect you might be attempting to associate your content with unrelated topics just to score extra traffic.

The method for determining this is arcane, but a good rule of thumb from a pro blogger is that five to 10 appropriate tags are usually right in the sweet spot.

4. Use Google Insights to Find the Best Search Terms

You don’t have to play a guessing game about the best tags or search terms to link or put in your post’s title. Since Google is the most popular search engine, it makes sense to focus your efforts there. Whenever you’re not sure which terms to go with, hit up Google Insights, a web-based tool that compares the popularity of any search terms you want to know about.

For example, if your business is a coffee shop but you’re not sure whether would-be customers are more likely to search for “café” or “coffee shop,” Insights can tell you which one is more popular.

These four tips should get you on your way to having a more SEO-friendly corporate blog. Add your tips for search engine optimization in the comments below.

Use e-mail blasts to help drive traffic to your website

This is in part of a series: Drive Traffic to Your Website

E-mail blasts and/or newsletters

e-mail blastKeep clients/customer up to date with all your company information, sales, press releases, news, special offers, events, etc … by using an e-mail blast or an e-mail newsletter. You have to be careful here though, not to cross the line and turn it into spam.  You should send 2 e-mail blasts or newsletters a month at a maximum and you should never send e-mails unsolicited.

You can start by having somewhere on your website for visitors to sign-up for an e-mail subscription or you may purchase lists from companies that will sell you “targeted lists” which means, people who have recently expressed interest in the product or service that you sell.

Once you have gathered the list of subscribers through your website or a purchased list, you will want to compose your e-mail. The e-mail needs to be kept short, sweet and “to-the-point”.  Especially If you have purchased a list. You want to grab their attention quickly before they delete it with the other “junk mail”.

Include relevant information in the e-mail and have links to “read more” or “special offers”  that will link to your website.  It is often helpful to publish the same e-mail html to your website so that you may have a place to re-direct people that do not or can not receive HTML formatted messages to view the e-mail in full.

There are many services out there such as Constant Contact that will handle all the “leg-work” for you regarding e-mail blasts/newsletters for a fee. I personally have never used such services, but it may be something you might be interested in.

Reciprocating Links Help Drive Website Traffic

This is in part of a series: Drive Traffic to Your Website

Exchange links with quality businesses and websites

Google PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual Googlepage’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for Page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves important weigh more heavily and help to make other pages important.” – From Google

Link ExchangeRead the above statement from Google carefully. Read it again if you have to. While reciprocating links can be useful and helpful to you and your website’s traffic, it can be detrimental if used the wrong way. Please make sure that links you exchange are with reputable businesses and quality websites. You will want to keep the links that you exchange professional and reputable. You can switch with vendors, clients, customers, etc … You don’t want to exchange links with say, your brother’s controversial “conspiracy theory” website or your friend’s porn website.  The last two examples were hopefully obvious, but just an example to set you on the right path. The better quality the links, the better chance at SEO enhancement you will find.

Put Your Website Link On All Printed Media & Advertising

This is in part of a series: Drive Traffic to Your Website

Use your website link on ALL printed media and advertising:

  • Business Cards
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Billboards
  • Signs
  • Vehicle Graphics

Man with Business CardWhen you place your website link on your printed advertising, it will be a great way to “get out the word”. For instance, your business card will show the name of your business, your name, contact information and your website. Obviously you can’t put all your company’s  information on to a 3.5″ x 2″ card, so people will go to your website to find out more information about your website.

Billboards, Vehicle Graphics, Signs and other similar advertising are seen only briefly by potential customers or clients and giving them a way to contact you that they can quickly commit to memory is ideal in getting them to visit your website. Website URLs are much more easier to remember than phone numbers or e-mail addresses. On advertising like this (where viewers generally only have a few a seconds to read, process and remember) your website will not only help drive traffic to your website, but it will also increase your chances of connecting with potential customers or clients.

Flyers and Brochures will have more content about your business, services and products than the aforementioned advertising. You will want to keep the content brief, so that potential customer or clients get their interest peaked, but will still have to follow through to your website for more information.

As you now see, your printed materials and advertising is a great way to send traffic to your website! Use it wisely!

E-mail Signatures help Drive Website Traffic

This is in part of a series: Drive Traffic to Your Website

Place your link in your e-mail signature

email-signatureBy placing your link in your e-mail signature, you will be reaching new people and audiences. Any e-mail you send will have the possibility of sending traffic to your website. E-mails sent to clients, friends, family and anyone else you may send e-mails to professionally or personally should have your website link it. Optionally you can link your social media and/or blog in your e-mail signature as well. Even FWDs: and jokes that get sent out can be forwarded on to new possible contacts and potential traffic. Any exposure is good exposure, especially when it’s FREE and simple!

For example this is my signature that goes out with EVERY e-mail I send:

Thank you,
Jason Schroeck
Jaros Designs
“Quality Web & Graphic Design”
(908) 644-6801
www.jarosdesigns.com
Jaros Designs on Facebook | @Jaros_Designs on Twitter

Drive Traffic to your Website

Website TrafficAs a web designer I frequently get asked: “How do I get traffic to my website?” and “How can I get my website to come up on page 1 of Google, Yahoo or other major search engines?” Well, there are many methods of driving traffic to your website. When these methods are combined and implemented successfully, you will reap the benefits of search engines and traffic. Most people do not understand this process. It is a hard and time-consuming process, it will not happen overnight. The following methods will be suggestions to help you in your quest for website traffic.

First and foremost, you need to have your title, keywords and meta tags in your website correctly done. Each page of your website contains different content so they should be labeled as such in the title, keywords and meta tags.  Website pages should contain between 10-14 keywords at the most. Please refrain from repeating keywords or trying to “trick” the search engines. The major search engines and their “spiders” have become extremely smart and too many keywords or tricks will actually work against you rather than in your favor.

I am going to pretty much list the methods here and in future posts, I will go into much more detail for each in future posts.

Social Media and Bookmarking:

  • Blog(s)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • YouTube
  • Stumble Upon
  • Foursquare
  • LinkedIn

Place your link in your e-mail signature

Every e-mail you send out (or is forwarded on) will have the potential of someone visiting your website.

Use your link on all printed media and advertising:

  • Business Cards
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Billboards
  • Signs
  • Vehicle Graphics

Reciprocating Links (Affiliates)

Exchange links with quality businesses and websites.

Business Directories

  • Google Maps / Google Local
  • Yellow Pages
  • Super Pages
  • Yellow Book

E-mail blasts and/or newsletters

Send e-mail blasts to clients/customers and opt-in subscribers with relevant information. (Company News, Sales, etc .. )

My website: Should I do it myself or hire a professional?

lady with laptop

In today’s world, with advanced technology and affordable software it is extremely tempting to make your own website. Just because you can, does it mean you should? Well that’s what I will be discussing here.

Creating your own website has it’s benefits. You will keep your costs down. You will feel a sense of pride, because you were able to do it yourself. You will be familiar with the content and be able to make updates and changes as you wish. Now does that mean that you should? That’s a loaded question and the answer will vary from person to person. There are also some drawbacks to creating your own website. Creating and maintaining a website takes dedication, motivation and time. If you are a sole proprietor or a small business with only a few employees, chances are your time is valuable.  You may not have time to run the daily operations, handle customers and clients, take care of bookkeeping and add your website into the mix. In today’s world of instant delivery and information, you will want your website current at all times. Knowledge of website designing elements is also a necessity, and you would need the proper training. Using WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) software may give you the look you want, but that’s only a part of the web building process. There are many other parts of the process and those are things that a professional would know.

Hiring a professional to do your website would give you the solution to the drawbacks of creating your own website.  You will get the web designprofessional look and feel that you desire for your website. Your website will become the online “face” of your business. You want people to be attracted to your company and have their interest peaked within the initial 3 seconds of contact with your website. The general population’s attention span grows less and less the more technology advances. You only have 3 seconds to “grab” their attention. A professional designer will help make that happen for you. Professional designers have the knowledge of increasing your load time, through many outlets. They will also help in getting your website discovered through the ability of having proper meta tags, keywords, alt tags on images and proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization). These things will help increase your rankings with search engines.  A professional designer will also know how to make your website compatible with all browsers including, but not limited to: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome  and Opera.

Now, as you see, there are benefits to both sides of the question here.  I think that it would be in most people’s best interest to hire a professional web designer. The best possible comparison I can think of is the following. If you own a car and are mechanically inclined, you may be able to change your own oil or replace your brake pads. But if your transmission needs to be replaced, you will be bringing your car to your local mechanic or dealership because they are the professionals that have the right equipment, tools and knowledge to get it done.

Basic Guidelines and Tips for Hiring a Web Designer

Web DesignThis is just a basic guideline and some tips for those persons or businesses looking for a website. I hope that you will find it helpful in your quest for finding a web designer and make the process of your website design smoother and easier. I have dealt with many clients over the past 6 years of doing web design and this is speaking from experience and my personal thoughts in making the process simpler. Most people do not understand the process of getting a website, as they are not in the field of web design. That is why, as a person in the field and with experience, I have written this article.

Outline

First, you should have a basic idea of what you will want and need on your website. Make an outline or a guideline of things to include on your new website. (ie: home page, contact page, contact form,  picture gallery, blog, products and/or services page, customer or client testimonials page, etc …)  This will be a big help to you when contacting a potential designer for a price quote. Some designers will charge by the page or might have a basic package price for a certain amount of pages and then a per page price for every page after. Try and make it as much of a final copy as best as you can, as making additional changes or additions down the road can or may incur more charges.

Having an outline or guideline will also help you in regards to getting your content together to send or give your designer during the building process.

Research

When you are you looking to hire a web designer (whether it be a freelance artist or a company) you should make sure you research your potential hire thoroughly. Web design is not a cheap investment, but will give you a nice return if done correctly. Reputable designers will have portfolio samples available to you and most will have testimonials from their past and current clients. You should browse their portfolio and see their websites in action. Feel free to read testimonials written by clients, but keep in mind, you will only be seeing the positive feedback from this freelance designer or business. When browsing through their portfolio you should make a note of clients and contact them directly regarding their experience with the designer or business. The research end of the process is critical as you will see what the designer has done previously, their style of work and their customer satisfaction rate.

Contact

OK, now that you have chosen your freelance designer or company, you should contact them and get a price quote. You may wantWeb Designto choose a few to contact so that you can compare prices. Have your budget in mind when you call or e-mail them and be sure to have your outline or guideline readily available so that you may give them an accurate description of what you need. The more prepared you are, the easier things will go and the designer will see you as serious and be more willing to work with you then somebody that is unprepared. In the initial contact you may also want to question the timeline it would take to get your website done. This will depend on you AND the designer working together. You will have to be efficient in getting the designer your desired content and the designer should give a reasonable timeframe in order to get it done. Please be reasonable in your expectations and deadlines as web design is not something that should be done overnight and like anything else, will take time if you want it done right.

Meeting

So now you have chosen and contacted a web designer and are ready to begin the process with your choice. Next step is a meeting with the designer. You should bring with you to the meeting, your guideline or outline, your checkbook (as most designers will require some sort of deposit to start work) and as much content as possible. A CD or DVD with your final copy of pictures and text would be preferred. (leave a copy of this disc for yourself at home or at your business as the designer may want to keep this disc for their files).  Be as thorough and precise as to what you want so that there are no communication errors. If you would like specific colors, a certain look, etc … Explain that now so that the designer is fully aware of what you are looking for. In most cases, you will be signing a contract at this meeting as well, should you choose to proceed.

Contract

A contract is very important. It will protect you in the event of the designer straying from any agreed terms and will provide a guideline to what you may need to know and what you are responsible for. Most designers won’t operate without a contract, as it protects them too.  You may take a copy of the contract with you to review it before signing it and you can even have your lawyer look it over.

Hosting

You will have your choice as to what hosting company you will want to use. Some designers may provide hosting as part of their web design package, some may provide it at an additional cost. Other designers may suggest a hosting provider to you or you may choose your own. Examples of hosting companies are www.godaddy.com www.netfirms.com & www.bluehost.com There are many hosting companies out there, you will have to find one that suits your needs and is within your budget. There are some that you may pay monthly, some that you will pay yearly. The choice is yours. If you are specific in explaining to the designer what it is you are looking for in your website, your designer can help you make the choice.

Content

Web DesignYou are responsible for the content to give to your web designer. (unless you are paying the designer extra to come up with the content) You know your business better than anyone. Content such as write-up (About Us, Products and/or Services and their explanations, etc … ) You will also be responsible to provide any pictures necessary to your business. If you would like to have a gallery (for example, a construction company might want to show before and after pictures) you should provide them in an orderly fashion to your designer and have them properly labeled. When providing written content, it is essential that you send over final copy text. Use spell-check and make sure grammar is correct.  It will make the process, so much easier.

Maintenance

Once your website is completed, you will probably need some kind of changes done down the road. Updated content, additional products and/or services, additional pictures, etc …  Discuss with your designer what the maintenance procedure is that they use so that you understand the process.