When you start blogging its a good idea to put the word out and let people know your new blog exists, one way to do this is get listed in online blog directories.
Some directories charge a fee to review your blog, which help pay for the upkeep of the directory and also helps to ensure quality listings.
Expect the Unexpected
The EatonWeb directory charges a review fee, but blogger BEWARE!
The other day I had an email out-of-the-blue from PayPal saying I’d made an automatic payment for a subscription I’d set-up. First I thought it was just SPAM.
I didn’t recall ever setting up a subscription using PayPal, but reading the invoice from PayPal, it turns out that I had been duped into signing up to a recurring annual subscription fee to EatonWeb blog directory, when at the time I assumed it was a one-off fee to list my blog!
What’s even worse is the fact I never got my blog listed!
Looking at the EatonWeb submission page (below), it’s not very clear that you are signing up to a recurring annual subscription either, or whether you pay the annual subscription whether they list you or not.
There are no website terms and conditions and after emailing EatonWeb about this issue I’ve had no reply whatsoever, so I thought I write this post to alert other bloggers to this dodgy practice.
My advice is to avoid The EatonWeb blog directory!
A major and time-consuming part of search engine optimisation (SEO) is link building. If you own a website of any sort, you’ve undoubtedly received SPAM emails from dubious companies offering to provide you with SEO services.
Assuming you decide to outsource your SEO activities and you’ve chosen a reputable company to provide this service (preferably one that hasn’t spammed you), how do you ensure the link building effort will pay off and give you greater prominence in the top search engines?
Here’s a list of ten link building recommendations.
- Only get links from similar themed organisations and websites
- Make the anchor text of the link relevant to the landing page and different on each link obtained. E.g. don’t use your website name as the link text all the time
- Try to get deep links into your website, not just to your homepage
- Favour text links over image links
- Avoid getting links on purpose built 'link' pages
- Avoid reciprocal link schemes
- Avoid black hat techniques such as obtaining hidden links, links from sites built specifically for gaining PageRank
- Favour links with decent PageRank
- Links having rel="nofollow" do not count towards inbound links
- Make sure pages that contain your link aren’t excluded via robots.txt or robots meta tags
- Avoid links which look like they have been bought, as Google can penalise these
Thanks to Adam for his helping putting this list together. Image used under Creative Commons by saintbob.
UK Reg, a domain registrar in the United Kingdom is using text written in one of Google's patent applications to help sell 10 year domain name registrations!
I was quite surprised to see a marketing technique used to sell a search engine marketing benefit.
Here's a screenshot from the site below:
Clicking on the "Google patent application" link produces a pop-up which quotes the following sentence from the patent application Google made, with a link to the application in full:
"Certain signals may be used to distinguish between illegitimate and legitimate domains. For example, domains can be renewed up to a period of 10 years. Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain and, thus, the documents associated therewith."
Google's Webmaster Help Center explains Google's policy on paid links and encourages people to report them to Google. Here's a snippet from Google's statement:
"Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.
Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such."
Google essentially want websites to designate paid links with rel="nofollow" anchor tags, so link juice or PageRank is not passed on to the website who bought the link. The use of rel="nofollow" anchor tag was originally conceived to stop comment SPAM on blogs and discussion boards, but its use has now spread to the policing of paid links.
I understand the difficulties Google and the other search engines must have in determining when to pass link juice between websites, but leaving the webmaster in control of this is like asking Google to start ranking sites by meta keywords again.
I'm beginning to believe the future of web search lies in the democratic nature of the StumbleUpon, Digg and other social bookmarking methods like (del.icio.us and my favourite ma.gnolia), whereby users vote, tag and bookmark sites. Surely a combination of popularity and search algorithm is the way forward?
Updated: Shortly after I posted this blog entry, Google has been spotted testing Digg-style voting buttons on their results pages!
Updated: Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye posted on The Official Google Webmaster Central blog on 1 Dec 2007 a post that intends to clarify Google's stance on paid links.
When people use a search engine to try and solve a problem they will most probably enter words that describe the symptoms of the problem they are looking to solve. They may even enter a question into the query box. Most of the time, unless the user knows of a particular product which will do the job, they won't search for an xyz machine from Acme Inc.
Traditional Marketing Versus Online Marketing
This poses a problem for manufacturers who describe their product with sexy slogans and marketing speak. Search engines index the textual content on your web pages. If there is not much plain English which describes what the product will do, what problems it will solve, you are potentially not doing your product website justice.
Keyword Research - Speak Your Customer's Language
This is where you need to do a little homework and research into what words users are likely to use in order to find your product and your competitors product. There are many ways you can do this. Google Adwords has a tool to do this, so does WordTracker.
You can use the results of this research to careful write your product text to tailor and optimise it for your audience. This is know as linguistic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).