Category Archives: ethical search engine optimization tips and techniques
Guide to Hiring an SEO/SEM Consulting Firm
I don’t recommend DIY search engine optimization for most small businesses. Initially, it requires you to learn and track your seo efforts on an ongoing basis, which can be massively time consuming (and distracting). A lot of search engine optimization (SEO) is hard work (about 50% if fun, but 50% or greater is legitimately HARD and LABORIUS).
The changing world of the web means you constantly have to stay on top of the latest changers in the search algorithm. Second, online there are differentials of trust–you can find a TON of information, but the trust value is hard to assess. A responsible seo can help you see through the clutter and help you make the right decisions in your internet marketing efforts. The third issue you want to consider when you decide to hire an SEO or go the DIY route is the issue of time wasted. Initially, going the more independent DIY route means time wasted moving in the wrong direction and far worse a TON of time reading the echo chamber of posts (aka BAZILLION POSTS!?!??!) about “blogging about blogging” and “internet marketing” and “seo tips.” You could read for 30 straight days and not be any smarter in terms of search engine optimization. And what do you do if the so called “experts” disagree? As a newbie its hard to do that without the expertise provided by an SEO/SEM consultant. You simply don’t have time to navigate ALL the web advice on the world wide web–instead you should focus on what you do best: your business. For instance:
Which of the 100+ tools do you use?
What blog platform should you use?
Are metatags important?
Is Google stressing brands right now?
What does do-follow and no-follow mean to me?
What will get you banned from Google?
What is black and gray hat SEO?
What tactics should you avoid?
Whats the deal with Google and paid links?
Should I submit to paid directories?
Should I outsource?
What should I outsource?
Can I hire a freelancer to help me out?
Who is the best freelancer SEO or content creator?
How should I go about hiring a designer?
How do I know if the designer is ripping me off?
This is the tip of the iceberg. Its important to have someone you can trust to help you navigate the landmines of dealing with Google, content creation, and link building. A responsible search engine optimization consultant can help you and put your mind at ease so you can focus on your business’ success.
A trusted guide or consultant can help open up the black box that is the Google search algorithm in way that make sense for your life, your industry, and your target audience.
To be continued….
Quick SEO Evaluation Tools
Website Grader-pretty quick way to find out about your site
SEO Automatic Tool-tells you about on page search engine optimization factors
SEO Backlink Checker Tools
Google Backlink Checker
MSN Backlink Checker
Technorati for blog specific backlinks
Competitive Analysis Tools
Other Helpful Search Engine Optimization Tools
Yahoo Webmaster Tools (same link as Yahoo backcheck links above)
SEO Book Link Suggester (based on similar keyword or website topic)
Free SEO Keyword Tools
Google Keyword Tool
(related keyterms & web user data)
SEO Book Keyword Tool (web stats on your key terms)
Wordtracker Question Tool (web stats on questions around your keyterms)
Google Sets (semantically related terms to your keyterms)
Quinturra (semantically related terms)
SEO Tracking Analysis
Graph of Backlinks Over Time for search engine marketing purposes.
Compete-unique user statistics over the year
Go Rank-key word number & density
Please remember to bookmark this SEO Resource. Thanks!
The SEO Process: A Step by Step Guide
There are three keys to your search engine optimization strategy:
• Design and Framing
• Content Development
• Promotion, Relationship Building and Link building
Its that simple.
Of course there are ways to add complexity to your SEO plan. The next level of SEO strategy optimization is a step by step development of the tactics that form the fundamentals of the SEO process. Starting with overall business objectives makes sense:
• What are the business objectives?
• What marketing strategies do you currently have in place?
2.1 How does the online aspect of it fit into your current marketing strategy?
• What are your core products or services?
• Who are the different audiences that the site can appeal to, and provide goods or services or information for?
• What are your primary & secondary key phrases?
• How do you currently measure performance?
• How might conversions be defined for the site? Purchases? Leads generated? Newsletter or service subscriptions? Downloading of specific whitepapers or pages or software?
Online Marketing Objectives and Considerations:
• General, Short term and Long term goals for SEO.
• Who do you consider to be your competitors?
• Do you already have an “image” or “brand” in place that can be pushed.
• Any specific ideas about the type of marking you want to do? (viral, advertising etc.)
• What skills do you currently already have available in terms of web development?
5.1 If yes; What is the development or change process like, when you want to make changes, including the time that it typically takes to make changes?
• Have there been any SEO efforts recently or in the past?
• How are you driving traffic to your site now?
• Are you willing to change varies elements on your website? (Content, Structure, technologies, etc…)
• Are there any design, infrastructure or development considerations?
• Are you equipped to handle an increase in business?
• What’s the budget either monthly or total?
As you go along the SEO process, you will likely appreciate this SEO flow chart from Aaron Wall.
SEO for Non-Profits and Faith Based Organizations
Whether you’re a web developer for a non-profit, a communications guru for a faith-based organization, or an online pr and marketer for a foundation you probably already know that search engine ranking is critical to the success of your online marketing efforts. Why is search engine optimization so important? Well most users, or about 75 to 80% stop on the first page, so if you aren’t there you’re competition is flat-out husking your gourd.
Non-profit Marketing: We’re All on the Same Team
In the non-profit space there is one very important caveat: we’re all on the same team. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. Being human and community oriented is your goal, not winning some pointless race. Win/win strategies of collaboration are critical to non-profit success and non-profit seo campaign success.
Your Goal: Search Engine Relevance and User Centric Design
The ultimate goal of search engines is to deliver useful, accurate, and relevant content to the search queries of their customers–the end user. If you can help them in that goal by providing relevant info–you’re one step in the right direction. The focus on relevance is critical–as with the pre-Thanksgiving launch of the Google search wiki has customized and personalized search. And in the future, the personalization, localization, and customization of search will increase in order to better serve the needs and wants of individual users. For Google, a tailored user experience is a better user experience.
Organizational Guide to Implementing Search Engine Optimization In Your Organization for Your Nonprofit Website:
When you start out you its important to recognize the search engine ranking factors and Googles algorithm. After familiarizing yourself with the Google algo, this SEM for Nonprofits Guide from Aaron Wall is a fantastic for nonprofit SEO.
• Its important to recognize that strategic community building with social media and blogs is a fantastic first step in your overall seo strategy.
• The second step is creating a learning organization around your online communication and marketing strategy by investing in affordable training.
• The third step is setting up metrics on Google analytics to track your campaign success.
• The fourth step is creating a keyword and content strategy for your organization
• The fifth step is going through your website and deciding which pages are most important and focusing your links on them, so Google knows they are most important.
• The sixth step is outreach via blogger relations, online pr, and your email list to drive links.
• Remember to always practice ethical seo strategies and techniques
Questions You May Want to Ask If you Hire an SEO/SEM Company for Your Nonprofit Marketing:
There are seven areas of questions you will want to ask your prospective SEO firm in order to get a better idea if they are the right fit for your organization.
• Can you provide SEO training for a reasonable fee?
• What is your experience? What is your SEO skillset? What results can you deliver?
• What services do you provide beyond SEO?
• What type of budgets do you work with?
• What type of strategies are you going to use?
• Are you going to use paid links? Are you going to outsource any of the labor?
• What kinds of results can we expect?
Link Farms – Search engine results are influenced the number of inbound links. The assumption here is that users have placed such a high value on the relevance and quality of a website, they they create a link to it on their own website. Daisy-chaining websites together to artificially inflate search engine rankings is a short-term strategy doomed to fail.
Keyword Stuffing -Overpopulating certain portions of a Web page with particular keywords in the hopes of influencing search engine results will also fail. Google is very good at parsing out ”natural” content from computer-generated gibberish.
Cloaking – This practice involves delivering different (high-ranking) website content to the search engine spiders than is delivered to human users.
Not only do these tactics do a disservice to your customers, but they also risk harming your brand if you are outed and Google is getting better and better at penalizing or otherwise demonizing websites that practice black hat tactics.
These are not reasons to avoid SEO altogether, which would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Are you not going to bank or invest due to the recent issues in the financial sector? Is the corrupt government official going to keep you from participating in the democratic process? There are small segments of each industry that are unethical–thats why the phrase buyer beware was invented in the first place. Dave Chakrabarti points out the unique advantages SEO offers non-profits:
Nonprofits typically have advantages in several areas crucial to search engine optimization work, including value of content, value of inbound linking and references to their sites, and the ability to promote their online presence on a variety of high-value website partners, including fellow nonprofits, newspapers and other online publications, and university / college websites.
Colleges, university, print publications, and advocacy organizations all have unique advantages in terms of scope and expertise of content. Now is a unique time to seize this opportunity to connect with donors for fundraising, passionistas for advocacy, as well as related nonprofit organizations in your philanthropic niche. So if you’re re-vising your online strategy or ramping up with a new social media time, now is a fantastic time to integrate the principles of search engine optimization. Because if you don’t speak the language of the search engine, all your online work may be relegated to the silence of the third page of Google along with millions of other lonely web pages.
Search Engine Optimization Tools for Nonprofit Fundraisers and Communicators
There are tons of search engine tools, but most aren’t useful for the non-profit organization and may skew your perception of your online efforts.
• Website Grader- the Website grader tool can give you a report card of your SEO efforts. While its not perfect, its one of the quickest ways to get an overview analysis of your website’s SEO
• Google Keyword Tool- Great because most SEO campaigns are focused on Google
• SEO Book Keyword Tool- Great because it shows results in spreadsheets. It also aggregates basic search data from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search, Wordtracker, and Keyword Discovery. However, the likely focus of your campaign will likely be Google, so the big bonus is the spreadsheet function. Downside: this tool doesn’t reflect the full diversity of keywords that only the Google keyword tool can provide. It does help provide some long tail keywords.
• Spy Fu- Great because you can see your competitions keywords.
• SEO Quake- Great way to check your competition in the search engine results
• Google Grants for In-kind Donation for Advertising and Marketing
• You can use iStockphotos, Dreamstime, or Stockxchange for photos. Alternativelye, you may want to find free photos for your nonprofit seo and social media. You will probably want to supplement these with photos you take of your clients (depending on privacy issues), donors, speakers, events, and collaborators. You can post these photos on flickr and make a slideshow with Rock You.
• You creating great content, you building and facilitating a community, and organizing your content so Google’s search engine robots can easily read it.
Discover Search Engine Optimization Secrets and DIY Tips for WordPress for Free
Everyone knows content is king. And most everyone knows relationships and relationship building are critical to successful SEO and social media optimization.
Some of my best search engine optimization tips, including how to deal with keyword research, on-page search engine optimization, and how to climb the ranks for better ethical seo. Basically everything the WordPress blogger needs to know for seo purposes. So check out 55 expert SEO tips for WordPress.
Feel free to link and share freely. I embrace the ethos of the Creative Commons. If you would like to add your own SEO for WordPress tip, technique, or resource to the list: feel free!
Unethical SEO Tactics: Why Grey Hat SEO is a Bad Idea for Your Brand
There are a plethora of reasons why gray hat SEO is not a good idea. I will give you four simple reasons why gray hat seo should be left for gambling and credit card sites:
• Initially, it involves tricking Google and making Google look bad. Even the infamous Shoemoney has come out against making Google look bad.
• It can often destroys relevance.
• Spammy techniques hurt usability.
• If you have to resort to gray hat techniques: why not use pay per click or social media or any number of marketing channels.
• The risk of being outed by your competitors or an SEO company.
So avoid grey hat seo about as much as you would avoid the plague. While Google shouldn’t have the exclusive right to establish the rules of ethics and ethical seo on the web, it often does and you have to adjust your search engine marketing strategy to that fundamental reality.
Whether you are looking to create a local seo marketing plan or one for a large company, you should begin with some fundamental questions about the marketplace and your marketing strategies.
Marketing Plan Phase 1: Begin with your purpose in mind. What does a conversion look like?
Marketing Plan Phase 2: What does success look like?
Marketing Plan Phase 3: What longtail keywords can you target for SEO? What are your low hanging fruit?
Marketing Plan Phase 4: How are you going to create content?
Marketing Plan Phase 5: What is your monthly budget? How much time and how many resources are you going to devote to this project?
Marketing Plan Phase 6: How are you going to track your campaign?
Marketing Plan Phase 7: Who is your competition? What are they ranking for? What are they doing? In other words, how fast are they progressing each month and how many links are they gaining.
Marketing Plan Phase 8: What are your other marketing strategies?
Marketing Plan Phase 9: Do you have alternative revenue stream?
What other questions would you consider in your seo marketing plan?
Got Killer Keywords for Marketing?
Aaron Wall’s recent keyword book is quite insightful. I borrowed 7 of these ethical keyword tips from Aaron Wall’s Killer Keyword E-book which contains 50 Tips and Techniques. This post serves as a positive a review of that resource. Enjoy!
1) You can do most all your keyword research with the Google keyword tool. I supplement mine with the SEO Book keyword tool, which also provides some limited data from Word tracker and Keyword Discovery. The main advantage of the SEO book tool is that it prints out a handy spreadsheet for your SEO campaign. Quintura is great for semantically related keywords. And Microsoft has a free tool for “determining” which keywords have a commercial intent.
2) Create keyword based content silos. Your content silos should mirror an outline or a directory structure. If you want to get sophisticated about it, you can use Write Maps to structure your silo.
3) Focus on one to three phrases. Most anything else and you’ll drive yourself crazy.
4) Be smart and use keyword splicing. You can target “social media marketing” and “search engine marketing” in the same sentence. Or you can target “brentwood real estate” and “brentwood houses” in the same sentence.
5) Aim toward plurals, so you can rank for two keywords instead of just one.
6) Use Google to double up for content that ranks on first page:
• If you internally link from one page to another—you can get dual listings.
7) For competitive research check out competitive date on Spy Fu (both organic and paid search)
8} Target multiple stages of the buying process and online buying funnel (FAQ, Buying guide, Product Comparison)
9} Leverage questions in forums (from customers or by you asking for feedback)
10) Sew your seeds early for seasonal rankings (ie my post “Social media trends for 2009″ or my prediction that “Jon Edwards would pick Obama”) [I stole this one from Aaron Wall]
11) Repetition, repetition, repetition (don’t overdo it) One way to add to this strategy is to use semantically related keywords. You can check Dave Naylor’s keyword density tool to help.
12) Use bold and italics to emphasize key concepts to the Google spiders.
13) Create a targeted call to action that leverages all your keyword work. Pick one or more of the follow actions for your user to take: subscribe, related posts, and/or see products/services
14) Leverage geotargeted keywords. Hyperlocal blogger Matt McGee has some great recommendations on this issue in the post Planning a Hyperlocal Blog Strategy.
15) Add multimedia content which targets your keywords (videos, podcasts, pictures, photographs, and graphs with valuable statistics)
16) You can use Title, H1, H2, H3 strategy to hierachicalize your keywords for better search rankings (less important keywords go lower on the hierarchy)
17) Remember to use bold and other emphasis like H1 or italics to target keywords you can’t target in your title tag
18) Remember you can use | and : to separate concepts and enable you to target more keywords
19) Remember your best keyword modifiers: resources, guide, checklist, etc.. (Aaron Wall recommends: price, cheap, discount, affordable, expensive, info, tips, learn, ideas)
20) Make sure you’ve read Googles guide to SEO and understand Google’s algorithm for search rankings.
21) Avoid keyword arbitrage. If your website pages convert better than your blog pages, you want to avoid outranking your website with your blog. In a worst case scenario you can hide the offending blog post from the search engine. Less drastic methods include adjusting the keyword placement in the article or removing a link or two you have on the site which emphasizes it.
22) Consider using paid search marketing to determine which keywords convert the best.
23) Pay some attention to proximity and order, because Google does in its search engine algorithm.
24) Add meta descriptions as necessary for Google search ranking. I think meta-descriptions are actually more useful for click overs than they are for SEO and search rankings. However, in the case of alternative media like video, you will definitely want to add a meta description.
25) Anchor text, anchor text, anchor text. (Don’t just use “click here” for creating a hyperlink, especially if its to content on your own website or blog)
26) Don’t be afraid to experiment
What is your favorite keyword strategy for ethical seo?
SEO Keyword Research Video from Aaron Wall
Creative Fusion Media provides social media consulting services and ethical and affordable search engine optimization solutions to innovative companies and forward thinking non-profits.
How to Leverage Video for SEO and Link Building
Initially, there are two key ways to use videos to increase your search engine optimization. The first, and preferable method to use how-to videos to increase SEO is to make low-fi, but useful and short videos yourself which explain a process in an easy to understand format. The best way to create these videos is to make them a demonstration. One great example of this is the SEO Book videos, the SEO Moz Whiteboard Friday videos, and the innovative Common Craft videos. Realize, they don’t all have to be serious videos, in fact your users are more likely to spread them if they are a little funny. One example is the “Will it Blend” video series.
The Value of Videos for SEO and Thought Leadership Marketing
This can help build trust with users and establish you as an industry thought leader. To give your videos even more legs for SEO linkbuilding, consider e-mailing bloggers who could use the video on their website. This is particularly helpful if you have a series of videos, so the bloggers can pick and choose which videos are most appropriate to their audience. Additionally, there are tons of how to video community sites that will allow you to post how to videos on their website. This gets into a bit of a duplicate content issue, however I fully believe Google understands the value of 95% of these videos. (videos that get 1000’s a views a year vs. videos that only get 20 or 30 views a year can obviously be adjusted in the Google algorithm)
The second way, and less preferable way is to use existing how-to videos to help explain key concepts on your blog. Usually you will want to wrap your own content around the videos to provide more value and in-depth coverage. For instance, 10 Places to Find How to Videos.
Here is the next step of the How-To Video Process:
• how to create a video
• how to make video clips
• how to video stream
• how to convert video
• how to upload video
• how to sell video