Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The directories are a waste of time and other insights

I just read a great pair of articles, by Jill Whalen Is Most Of SEO Just A Boondoggle? and then a commentary on it by Eric Ward: Betting On The Link Building Boondoggle Bonanza.

They seem to be focusing on the enormous amount of nonsense and expense that SEO firms spout and cost when they drag their clients through all sorts of ineffective exercises.

I agree with a lot of the article, particularly that people are spending endless time and money on techniques that are old fashioned and mostly ineffective: listing in directories and posting press releases. These are tired old techniques that google knows for what they are. Thin attempts to get links rather than natural attempts.

I disagree where they start listing techniques that have no value when in fact, the jury is still out on them. How much can link sculpting let you concentrate juice in some place? Can switching to user-friendly URLs make a big difference (I'm betting it can)?

What I like best is that he encourages the use of common sense and testing. And admits how much BS there is in the SEO industry. I've heard way too many of the people in the industry defend their approach as "Industry-standard best practices" which is a clever way of saying, everyone else does it, so it must be right.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Duplicate Content

Most people usually think of duplicate content as either articles that are republished or pages that appear with only the slightest variation on a website.

I'm sure Google discounts or ignores these pages. If content is widely copied throughout the web, I would suspect that Google awards the original source with some special points since everyone appears to be copying and citing the original source.

To illustrate what I believe, assume:
- an article first appears on site A
- the article then appears all over with the web with same outgoing links in it to site B, but also with links back to the original site A
Then, Google will:
- highly count all the links back to site A since it appears to be content that is widely cited evidenced both by the links back and the copying of content
- will not heavily count the links to site B since it's basically the same link all over the place
- will neither reward or punish all the copycat sites

I started thinking about duplicate content since there is a major article on sphinn which deals with detecting duplicate content within a website. And it mostly seems concerned with duplicated page titles and meta descriptions. This is a sloppy error that I'm sure my sites have a lot of. sigh sigh sigh. The article is by Shimon Sandler: Finding Duplicate Content with Free Tools


Top Five SEO Mistakes

What are the top five mistakes that I see? Here's what my education online has taught me.

1. Trying to optimize a site that doesn't stand a chance since it's got the wrong name, wrong structure, wrong content. If it's not going to do well in the search engines, don't bother playing with links. Start again. Maybe keep the old AND start with a fresh domain that feeds traffic to the old one.

2. Paying attention to what matters. The domain name matters A LOT. Learn this. Don't jsut be catchy, pick a name with the keywords that matter. You'll learn that your url gets mentioned a lot, including on your pages and incoming link anchor text.

3. Paying attention to what matters. The page title matters a lot. The other meta data, the content, the H tags, title tags, and alt tags also matter but don't screw them up weird just to impress the search engines. Present them as they are.

4. Content should be findable. Simple text. Not buried deep in code. Build with CSS. The content on each page should focus on a few concepts which relate to a few related keywords. The search engines understand and reward focus on a page.

5. Site structure. Build sections that relate to each other. Interlink among those sections. Put them in a common folder. The search engines like tidy and organized.

PS - did you notice that I know the difference know between A LOT (Correct) and alot (incorrect)? Thanks to the vocabulary lessons online.