Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Link Importance Taxonomy

I just met the very impressive Joe Laratro who we will probably hire for some inhouse SEO classes or PPC

We had an interesting discussion about what links count more than and he pointed me towards a presentation by Todd Malicoat . I thought it was great but pointed out that it wasn't complete or at least, it didn't address the type of questions that I had. I remember worrying alot about how to best harvest google juice and writing on link importance back in Jan 06 (and other times I'm sure)

I'll update my thoughts on link importance and I'd be honored if Joe uses this to refine his teaching in this area:

Image links vs text links. Text links are better although image links with alt text are better than just a banner. For the unitiated, many image links on sites are run thru a javascript adserver engine meaning that there is no followable link.

Single links on a page versus multiple. Each additional link divides the link power on the page accordingly. I'm still unclear on whether if Site A & B start with the same google power, which site's links are more powerful:
- Site A - has 5 outgoing links on one page, 4 pages with no links
- Site B - have 5 pages, each with one outgoing link

Relevancy: relevant is more important than irrelevant by a big ratio... Arguably, this is the most important.

Multiple links on a site - The 2nd link on a site is less valuable than the first. The second link to you on a page is less valuable than the first. The 3rd in both cases is even less important and so on. So, don't think a link on each of 20 pages is 20x better than a link from the site.

The Value of Links from Different sites - More important to Less Important (my list)

Best - Authority sites (including .edu, .gov, or any site that is at the top of the search engine for significant terms).

Original Unaffiliated Articles on blogs, websites, or forums that quote and link to your site (they probably count the same if they are set up right meaning that url, page name, keywords, and content are relevant and original. And that the content is substantative)

Original Unaffiliated Articles on blogs, websites, or forums that link to your site


Affiliated sites (either co-owned, co-hosted) - I'm not sure if google is yet looking to see if there are shared adsense, adwords, or webmaster management tools to determine affiliation and I'm surprised that more people don't ask this question.

Duplicate content - An article with links that shows up on two sites is of less value on the second site. And on the 3rd etc.

Worst - Reciprocal links - While some of this is OK, google will notice alot of it and will particulary dislike irrelevant links or links to spammy places.

PS - I think a fun project would be to quantify some of this...How heavy is the depreciation of the 2nd link to your site from the same page versus the 2nd link from the same site, different page...

BBB Online

I joined the BBB local business so that I could then join the BBB Online which is a national council. I've been amazed at how 19th century the better business bureau is with endless fiefdoms and initatives and no ability to really show leadership on a host of issues that need leadership.

I did find that when I put the BBB online logo on my payment page, my shopping cart abandon rate dropped significantly. In plain English, more people signed up since they had more confidence due to the logo. I've thought of offering myself to the BBB as a case study since my stats are interesting and there are few companies willing to share their stats.

I've spoken to the BBB on a number of occassion for several reasons:

- offer my case of the bbb logo reducing my abandons for them to use as marketing fodder. I find that it's not something that they jump upon

- try to sign up for the kidsafe BBB logo which I've seen on a few sites but which I cannot find the source of. Is it an abandoned program?

- I've googled bbb kidsafe and lots of variations of it but can't find it.

- there is one page on the national council of better business bureaus which lists, for kids, a caru (children's advertising review unit) which signifies compliance with coppa and Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. I had never seen or heard of either so I doubt that joe public knows or cares about them. The CARU logo does not even mention BBB so it's just another unknown credibility logo.

Note, there is also a bbb privacy seal of some sort...The BBBOnLine Privacy seal, awarded to 675 web sites, indicates adherence to the privacy principle outlined in the new BBB Code and other privacy protection standards, and already transcends national borders, with applications pending from businesses in 20 countries. This is from a 2000 local BBB press release.

Btw - I wrote on bbb online awhile ago..

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Managing & Parking Unused Domains

Here's how I try to use my domains to help build traffic for SEO purposes. Examples (from my netfirms accounts):

Books Count - A url intended for our future reading program. Initially used as a parking place for the spellingcity software development effort. It's been one of my domains for over a year and about 11 months ago was populated. Since we wanted to be under the radar, it has no links. This posting is the first link to the site! Bookscount.com

Family Homeschool - This little 5 page website is put up with a site builder. It's unfinished. Nevertheless, the site has a google pr of 3! go figure. Familyhomeschool.org

Homeschool curriculum review - Another quickie website with a few pages of html that seems like I created it in word. It has good content and the right links and a google pr of 3. Why? Homeschool-curriculum-review.com. With it's strong url, I could alot with this one.

Homeschool Curriculum - This domain has no page rank, it is forwarded to homeschoolonline.org. homeschool-curriculum.biz

This approach of treating them one-by-one is kind-of fun and it is not the type of seo-work that the algorithm gurus at google are likely to care about. But, it's time-consuming and perhaps not very effective. Since I have a total of 150+ domains, is there a better way?

Previous Posts related to domain optimization (interesting to note how little progress I've made in this area despite having grown my number of domains to 150):
Parking domains for profit, is there a free lunch with domains?
Parked domains, how best to use them?
Useful Parking of Domains

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blog Marketing

I've made progress in the marketing of the blogs. A few areas:

- I use google adsense on all my sites, blogs, and forums as a simple way to glimpse traffic on them
- I use feedburner for the stats on blogs which tells me about users & sources

- I have a bunch of mods for WordPress which makes the URL & title SEO-friendly (words not codes)
- I've started using some social bookmarking, specifically Technorati, Digg, & Delicious
- I'm still trying to figure out authority sites.
- Pinging. I think I have automatic pinging on plus I manually will do pingomatic sometimes to be sure.

I just read a good article on blog marketing by Dave Parrack.
And, just for giggles, I think I'll try the wholinkstome script:

But, before you click on the link, look at your google toolbar (if you have it installed) and you'll see that google gives this blog a PR of 4. you'll noticed that wholinkstome script gets that wrong. In fact, they get most of it wrong.
Who links to me?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Adsense for tracking

I have about a dozen sites hosted in half a dozen different places. I've found that by putting a few discrete adsense ads on each site, I can get a very rough sense of the comparative traffic of the sites from a single tracking system. A few of the sites:
Learning Faster
Ed Mouse - The Story of Creation from Character Sketch to an Animated Character
Todays Learners
Parenting in a Digital Age
Homeschooling Online Blog
Homeschool Forum
Plus Time4Learning.com, SpellingCity.com, and Fun Vocabulary Learning.
to name a few

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

405 Errors -Technical Problems our Members Face

Time4Learning was told my a member last week: "Wow, I pay you $20/month and you spend hours fixing my computer for me, this is the best deal I've ever had."

This both pleases and pains me. Since we might have spent $200 of time helping that one user, it's likely that we've got a really big negative margin on him even if he remains a customer for years. We try to only help our members with problems that are easily fixed and problems that have specifically to do with using our website but it's never clear where/how to draw the line.

We try to avoid entering into discussion as to why they can't get on the web, what sort of security software they have etc etc but we frequently find that we are spending time on problems that really are none of our business. We try to only go deep into technical help if we are trying to learn about a recurring problem but the problem of the staff gets carried away and, given the type of people that we have and the way that I manage them, will never go away.

In any case, a new repeating problem is the 405 error when they try to login.

Background - Members login to Time4Learning where we verify their account and pass their credentials to our educational materials provider, CompassLearning. CompassLearning checks that the session started at Time4Learning.com and then, if the other credentials are correct, allows them to login and start their session.

If Compass can't verify where the session started (because session cookies are turned off on the user's computer), they put up an error message: "You are trying to login from an unknown source, please contact Compass".

Since this message is cryptic and the calls to Compass were often not crisply handled, we created a work-around so that our members avoided this error. As a step in the login process, we have the process check with another site (www.time4learning.org) to see if a third party site can determine the referring site.

In most cases, this works. If we can determine the referring site, we continue to login. If we cannot determine the referring site, we give them an error message which explains the problem and the fix.

A third case has emerged which is when the user get a "405 error message"

405 Error Message

We are working on figuring this out. So far, we have them call their ISP but I'm not sure we give them enough data to make the call worthwhile. The best info on this that I've found so far is:
- http://www.smartcomputing.com/techsupport/detail.aspx?guid=&ErrorID=22098

And I quote:

Error Message:405 – Method Not Allowed

Translation:For each particular resource type, HTTP allows for a variety of actions (or “methods”) between a Web server and a browser. These methods include Options, Get, Head, URL, Post, Put, Delete, Trace, Connect, and more (depending on the HTTP version in use). Web servers can be configured to allow or reject any method. For example, your ‘read-only’ Web server may disallow PUT and DELETE methods. When your Web browser tries to use a method for obtaining a Web resource that the server prohibits, an error occurs. Bottom line—you cannot exchange desired data with the Web server.

Solution: You normally don’t see this error unless you’re creating Web pages. In most cases, 405 errors arise when using POST (power on self test) methods—you may be trying to provide input on your Web site (such as a form), but not all ISPs allow POST methods needed to process that form. You can try GET commands in place of POST commands. In short, most 405 errors can be corrected by adjusting the configuration of your Web server (to allow POST methods, for example) ...