Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Site Relevance

Relevancy - Everyone says that relevent links matter more. I've also heard that google likes clusters of pages that are "relevant".

How does google figure relevancy? For instance, I run an education site focused on Prek-8th grade. What does google consider relevant?

- Other education sites - do they distinguish between grade levels or elementary, middle, high, post secondary, graduate, or professional training?

- Are children a sector? Will chidlren's shopping sites be considered relevent?- Software. Is educational software relevent to games? Is web technology and marketing issues relevent to educational software? Would this link - - count less because its in a technology / software / marketing paragraph than the link in the paragraph below?

- Subject matter - Time4Learning focuses on teaching kids language arts and math with social studies and science thrown in. We are a modern version of Hooked On Phonics minus the bogus claims and high price. We compete in terms of functionality with Kumon, Sylvan, Huntington, and the other educational systems but Time4Learning has the convenience of being home-based and is very low cost. remains a great deal but unfortunately, a best-kept secret. Other quality online learning programs such as SuccessMaker, Headsprout, CleverIsland, and (tbc?) cost alot more.

Todays lunch - More content, more genuine links, no more gimmicks

I spent an hour today with a sharp local SEO guy who preached staying on the straight and narrow. His belief is that google et al are getting real sharp, starting with jagger, in finding sites whose link count comes from related sites. He also believes that these inter-related links will not just be not counted, but will hurt the site. Google will find "spoke & wheel sites" both by architecture and common ownership and will drop their sites. Very interesting. I had thought that you could not hurt your main site if you pointed to it alot since otherwise we could all nuke our competition. He pointed out that google probably has priviledged access to the whois database. My structure with being primarily focused on ecommerce and supporting Time4Learning, he thought was probably safe but not necessarily. My take-away....
Search engines fight for legitimate content and dismissal of tricks is about to accelerate. Watch out anyone near the line.
More good content without repetition or stuffing and reasonably focused on keywords, is a great investment.
Within a period indeterminate (1 year?), google will start using stickiness to prioritize sites.
Becoming an "authority" site is great and comes thru links and content.
There are no real insights into how google tracks relevance

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cyber Monday - An index to gauge success

Time4Learning had its best day in history on cyber monday (monday after thanksgiving when the media reports that online shopping was HIGH). Is there anyplace out there that I could use a index to see if proportionately, I had a better day than anybody else? It would be great if they had an index by sector, say online elementary education or educational game sites? But still, any index which will tell me how I did proportionately to others would be useful. I did about 4x my usual business. Was that good?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What links matter?

How can you tell the weight of pages or of links that help you? Other than trying to figure out all the variables (importance of page, relevance of page, number of links on that page, body text vs advertisement, reciprocal links etc etc), is there a short-cut to finding out which links the search engines treat as the most important? Here is an analysis of the first dozen links reported in the search engine. Link count: google 70, Yahoo 651. MSN 6489.

BTW - I use as a metaway to count links to my site. I did just run across the most amazing set of tools at:

Google - There is the page rank system. Does the order in which sites come up when you google the sitename suggest which links are weighing most heavily? What if I use the mysterious google search on: link:, do the results of that search indicate which links are helping me the most? By the way, google list me as having a 6 page rank on my home page, 5 or 4 on most other pages. They report 70 links to my site and while their list of 70 has changed a few times in the past six months, the 70 number has not. Go figure.

MSN - Reports that I have 6,489 links. It seems to report some of the newest ones first but then, also some of the ones that correspond to google's PR system rank high.

Yahoo - 651 links is what they report for

Lets compare the first dozen links reported in each search engine's report on links to see what we can find.....

reporting engine results for G M Y - Looking at order.... 1stY 4thMSN - a new single link on a 6PR site... 1st-3rdG 16th-17thG 2ndY 2ndMSN 11thMSN - these are internal links
KlamathDesign 3rdY 5thMSN 13thMSN - multiple links, a weblog on a .com domain, some PR ~3 ? 4thY 8thY 6-7thMSN - multiple links, PR of 6 7thG 5thY 3rdMSN - multiple links, PR5 6thY 9thMSN 17thMSN 7thY 8th-9thG 9thY - many many links 10thY 4thG 5thG , 12-13thG 12thMSN - many many links 6thG 10thG 11thG 14thG 15thG 1stMSN 8thMSN 10thMSN 14thMSN 15thMSN 16thMSN (andrea hermitt) 17thMSN

Does the order of these list signify anything?
Does the fact that the Press releases don't show up signify anything?
Does the fact that some newer links show up early signify anything?
Does the fact that the blogs are listed up high signify anything?

Google links
Yahoo Search Results - 11/20/2005
MSN links - 11/20/2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Link Tracking Tools, SEO page analysis tools - free

link counters: - cool original analysis - based on what? - counts links from major search engines. maintains a history so you can track trends.

SEO / rank counter... - interesting tool for finding rank. - keyword density tool

Other ideas?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Help Wanted

Its time to admit it, I need help. Anybody out there want to be an ongoing contractor / consultant to ? Problem is that I can't pay the high rates ($50-$100) an hour, I need some people to work to help with: blogs, forums, graphics, writing on education, etc etc. Below is one write-up of projects. Respond to recruiting at

I'm looking at putting together some combination of blogs, discussion groups, or forums. They would have two goals. One would be for Time4Learning parents to discuss the system amongst themselves according to their interests (special needs, Preschool-1st, middleschool etc).

The other goal would be to create discussion groups that I could sponsor that would create visibility and links for time4learning. My current idea is one called: "Special needs learning and computers" Discussion GroupsI would like the discussion groups to be accessible from the member login page. Maybe have the most recent topics portrayed there thru some sort of RSS. Other than that, I would like it to be moderated.

Should I initially start with no topics or subforums and see what discussions develop?

Or should I start with a few separate forums:- Special Needs Learning- PreK-1st- 2-3rd- 4-5th- Middle School- Homeschool IssuesWhat technology to use? Yahoo discussion groups seems like the simplest dumbest solution.

Blog for marketing1. Idea A - Set up a blog properly designed to send links and traffic to Time4Learning. I've actually already set a few of these up but I tend to dump materials there (from submitted articles, my newsletters, and website) without much method and I build links to it haphazardly. Theres no plan to build traffic, no upgrading of the base graphics, no adwords, and no way of measuring how its doing other than page rank. Right now, it is a 3 which i guess is OK.its

2. Idea B - set up a blogger site (or set of them) and invite people to come blog there. I have 700 parents who can be "given" a free blog as part of their Time4Learning membership. I also have a mailing list of 10K plus. One general topic for blogs that I would like to see get explored is Special needs learning and computers"

There is a third and fourth, perhaps related idea, that I would like to implement.A list (blog perhaps) of recently asked questions or comments by parents. Also on the Members Login page.A weekly word puzzle that we post to Time4Learning and perhaps let others put on their site as a game and a way of building page rank. Questions- What experience do you have on these projects?- How feasable / expensive would they be?- At the end, I need something thats easy to manage and which can evolve. I'd like to have one of my mom's become the forum leader.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

reading, writing, math, spelling & SEO

I have about 30 pages on my site created entirely for SEO purposes.

Fifteen of them are built around the math curriculum. They start with Preschool math and are crammed with words like preschool math lesson plans, printable worksheets, and curriculum. They continue up to eighth grade math which is full of ....yes....eighth grade math lesson plans, printable worksheets, and curriculum. While these do not read or flow as well as I would like, they have been effective at drawing traffic.

Fifteen more of them are built around a carefully constructed set of keyphrases chosen thru a tight methodology which picked the best keyphrases balancing where my site is competitive enough to get on the first page and the volum is high enough to merit the effort. These have been so far a bust (although other parts of the methodology such as building the page template have contributed to the math pages success).

Next in line, a chunk of pages by grade on spelling and reading.

I keep track of it all on my reading, writing, math, spelling page

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Blog promotion & using Blogs to promote

I've questions about how to do blog promotion. As far as I can tell, nobody reads this blog but me. I've never gotten a comment (other than spam) or an email. How does one promote a blog?

Heres what I've done...
I've created a few links to this blog from other blogs. Just to try kickstarting it and to get some sophisticated input (or sales calls), I've posted by heart out to the SEO Guy's Forum... I even told them all my secrets like this blog and which types of pages are working (Elementary Math Curriculum ) and which ones are not: Online Lesson Time .
I've created a few links to this blog from other sites.
I do the ping the weblog-search engines link which says it sends out lots of news.
I update it regularly with my invaluable insights and queries.

Current status:
- Google ranks the blog as a 2
- Google lists two links in, Yahoo (who is the most generous with links) only gives it 12.

The other half of the question is whether this blog has any possibility of helping promote my site. or even a lesser site like: ? (google ranks of 6 & 3 respectively).

I register my sites at which seems to have started offering some limited hosting with a clumbsy web-builder tool. I just used it and created - could a new site make any difference at all? Probably, it has the weight of a feather. I have a few dozen clever names of domains that I pay for and don't do much with. So I've started using the free web creator and putting up little domains with keywords and links. I imagine this is of marginal value (as in virtually none). Take a look at TimeFourLearning - designated by Reading Math Writing Skills Site.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

personal seo course - gather a dozen to work with...

- On page elements - H1, keyphrase density
- Keyphrases - order, engines, minor, major
- on page other issues - size, links that count (content) vs outside - how to tell
- things that hurt
- blogs
- yahoo speciality

tb continued

web site architecture, size - folders - other factors that matter?

What architecture is best for SEO purposes?
- Star - every page points to sitemap which points back to each page?
- Organizational chart - home page points to 5 other pages which are each chapter headings which point to 5 closely related pages. These pages point to the others in their cluster. Should they also point to the other chapter heads?
- Sequential - Page A points to B points to C etc
- Combination of start & chart? Start & sequential?

Linking architecture
If I have a 100 links into my site, is it better to have them all pointed to one page or to spread them across all the pages?

If I have three websites and only one is the one (say A) that matters to me, what the best way to organize them?
- Should be B & C both point to A? Presumably yes. By the way, my A site (a learning site) has Educational Teaching Games and my B site (also used to learn about affiliate programs and how to learn to do websites myself) has first grade learning games. ( and respectively)
- Would it be better for outside links to point to B & C or directly to A?
- Would it best for advertising (for people) links to go to A but for spider-oritented links to be aiming at B or C?
- I gather that the "bad" or "black" seo types do all their black stuff with sites that only point to their main site, this keeps their main site intact. Also, they don't have a fixed "main" site, they just move it around.

Folders - Is it better to have sections? Do folders for the pages help the search engines find the sections or clusters? In the case of , would a folder called 2nd grade help if I put all the pages related to 2nd grade (2nd grade math, 2nd grade learning games, 2nd grade software, 2nd grade reading, 2nd grade curriculum) in it?

Are the search engines able to keep track of clusters that overlap? Using the example above, I have clusters that organize by grade level and also by subject area (learning games, math, learning software, curriculum, reading etc).

BTW - my assumption is basically while its good to gather info and follow the trends, to accept that the real algorithms will evolve quickly and that I should assume that google's ability to implement which more or less match my ability to dream up what they should do so I build a little bit independently of what I learn. Of course, if I was willing to read more and immerse myself in the evolving details of whats hots, I might do better. Maybe I will......

Search Engines Concept still feels primitive

The search engines still seem primitive. While each balances:
- on page factors
- links

They don't integrate any of the more important information such as:
- what text appears in the search engine results (so you know what you're getting)
- what the intent of the searcher was - research? shopping? new sites? old sites? news sites? reference?
- how satisfied previous searchers were with that result for that search - measured by some sort of feedback like how long they spent on the site, whether they backed up immediately, or even what they said...(ie integrated feedback with search)
- site popularity in terms of number of visitors or better yet, repeat visitors

Is this in works?
Are some search engines doing it already?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Link Building Strategy

I just read the article or newsletter..Are Reciprocal Links Dead?
It was interesting in that they hypothesized, tested, and then concluded that google's latest release, jagger, discounts links that are reciprocal.

Here are my unanswered questions:

- Relevancy - What does google consider relevant?

- Weight - Does a PR 2 count 2x as much as 1. 5x as much? 10x as much? If you already have 10 1s, is there any marginal benefit from the next 1? Any articles on this?

- Do reciprocal links nuke you?

- Are sites with alot of links to you counted alot?

To be continued... kids are calling....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Google - Oct 05 shifting - Jagger?

I put this up on Matt Cutts Blog with the Jagger Update info...

Time4Learning Said,
November 1, 2005 @ 6:49 am

In the last half of October, a number of my pages that had never done well in the searches started pulling enormous traffic. The pattern seems to be that my longer pages which are very dense on keywords did well.
Pages that previously did well including some that had no true SEO structure, low keyword density, and were somewhat short, seem to be doing slightly worse.
Any thoughts?

Another possible explanation has to do with some "deep links" that I've put out there, like on this blog.....

Specific winners:
Second Grade Math Curriculum
Phonics Curriculum

Really Useful Sites to learn from

Having read oodles of junk & fluff, I'm determined to keep track of sites that seem knowledgeable and substantative and well...useful. Useful to me (whos not a beginner but certainly not a veteran or guru).

Best site i've found yet- right from the source - Matt Cutts - google SEO insites

Debbie Weil - Her blog is good but a bit overwhelming for me to learn from. Her site also has a useful-looking book. But, she has a weekly newsletter which, from the archives that I've looked at, are really great. I just posted to her site to see if she'll answer my anchor text questions. - I posted to the SEO-Guy's site to see if I could get any useful advice. So far, nothing much.....

Negative Keywords for Natural search

I put this on I just read the comment about letting websites put in "negative keywords" for natural search.

I use negative keywords on PPC and would be willing to use the same for natural search if only google would ask.

I'm an education site and the word "reading" is a striking example. Reading has three contexts: astrology, literacy, and a city of Pennsylvania (and maybe another in the UK). Basically, about 60% of the searches with reading are for astrology, about 25% relate to literacy, and the rest to geography. There are a few for others like poetry reading or health readings.

Since we don't really want each others traffic, someone should create a negative meta.

I optimize for learning to read or reading for literacy purposes.