I've bought SEO Canada.org and Canadian SEO.ca, which ought to nicely complement my existing collection of SEO related domains.
Previously, I had bought Montreal SEO.ca in an effort to rank for Montreal SEO. All told, it seems to be working, as I was briefly #2 on Google for Montreal SEO earlier this week with the Montreal SEO.ca domain. I've also improved on the #13 ranking at MSN for Montreal SEO to a #1 ranking, and to a #3 ranking for SEO Montreal.
The reason the Google ranking came and went is some on-site tweaks. I'm playing with my content to re-optimize for other keywords, such as SEO Canada.
In a short period of time (two months), I've earned over a dozen subscribers to my SEO Montreal and Site Flip email newsletters. They go out twice a month (though I may soon switch to feedblitz' daily subs for convenience).
I've found that giving out good, in-depth advice in forums, then politely ending with a suggestion to check your blog/newsletter for more tips gets people joining. It's a lot of work though, because I make an effort to really help. I don't say "Try working on your keyword density. Also, consider subscribing to my blog/newsletter for more advice." (And if I have, it hasn't produced results.)
In particular, I know people are paying attention because they reply to these posts by naming me and thanking me for the help.
Naturally, building a subscriber list is important for marketing. It helps build trust with readers. It allows content to be passed on and republished, meaning you can get links from newsletter content that gets republished, and then of course there are referrals. Important SEO tactic, huh?
Yulbiz is a monthly meeting of Montreal business bloggers and people whose jobs are intimately related to the internet. Yulbiz, or Youlbiz as it is pronounced, takes place the last Tuesday of every month at Cafe Melies on St-Laurent. I attended the August Yulbiz meeting and learnt some great lessons, besides having a good time.
One of the most interesting people I met was Guillaume Brunet, of TD Meloche Monnex. Guillaume is a "Project Leader" in TD's "Interactive Marketing" division. That's corporatese for PPC campaign manager. Guillaume handles 2.5 million dollars of AdWords, Yahoo! and other PPC advertising a year. I remember two lessons in particular from Guillaume, who is a keyword research specialist, of necessity.
First, target the long tail. I asked Guillaume if he was using 4+ word keywords in his ad targeting. "I'm up to 6 words," Guillaume told me! Second, look up and down the buying chain. Let me explain by using the examply Gui gave me. His goal is to get as many insurance leads for TD MM as his budget possibly can. So instead of just targeting "auto insurance," for example, Guillaume also targets keywords like "Mazda RX-8," in order to offer people interested in Mazdas an idea what insurance would cost, before they buy.
I also had the good fortune to meet Jonathan Villiard, who runs Blogues-Quebec.com, a new Quebec blog directory The more I read on business, and on doing business online, the more I find that sticking with something over the long run is key to making money. Jon's blog has been up since 1999, and he's now making $25 a day from Adsense (clicked on a few of your interesting ads, by the way)! It's also a very entertaining blog I recommend you all check out. Another thing I learnt is the power of regular content and promotion through friends and family. That's essentially all Jon's done, and he's up to 1000 uniques a day, which is certainly some nice traffic.
From Philippe Martin, I was introduced to the term "social media optimization." The long and short of it amounts to making a website networking and web 2.0 friendly, which in turn helps links and such (which is why it sounds like search engine optimization). Also, I learnt that schools are joining the blogosphere, which makes sense given that they're effectively small communities and that blogging is a very community-oriented technology.
Some other interesting people I met included Pierre Bellerose of Tourism Montreal, who analyzes Montreal's branding and reputation online; Simon Law, who is a good photographer and linux programmer recently back from Germany; and Francois Aubin, of Cognitive, who's a kickass usability expert with experience working for Hydro-Quebec and Amazon.ca! Note to marketers: Francois says focus groups suck because they tell you what they think, not what they do. I also met a lady named Muriel who is starting a new webmaster-type job at HEC Montreal, the University of Montreal's business school. She's excited to be doing a "refonte" of their site, which translates roughly as a redesign. Muriel is also highly interested in "interactive marketing," though I didn't really understand what she meant by it.
Are domain redirects being counted as links by Google? I'm new to domaining and domain redirects, so when this is what my analytics program told me about this blog, I was more than a little surprised.
I was looking through my analytics software and saw that MontrealSEO.ca is a major "referrer" to this blog, which is actually hosted at cityseo.blogspot.com. Now, does this actually mean MontrealSEO.ca is being counted as a link by Google? What about the other engines?
I personally can't imagine that being the case, since then people would be just buying hundreds of domains and doing plenty of redirects... Furthermore, Google's opposition to buying links reinforces this impression. If you want content to rank rather than money, then you can't allow domain redirects to count as links, since whoever could buy the most domains would then dominate the rankings.
Incidentally, is there a way to have Google's analytics program "get" that it's not a referral, just someone typing in another address for the same site?
Content is essential to having search engines spider a site regularly. Blogs, as regular content solutions, go a long way towards having spiders return on a regular basis. Now, two blogger markets have opened up in the past week or two making access to content creators very easy.
The first market to open was Performancing's Blogger Exchange. There, people can buy, sell, trade or just plain advertise blogging services, blogs, and other blog-related items, such as post swaps, blog tech services etc. The market currently seems to be offering some interesting, quality jobs. Best of all, registering and joining the market/exchange is free! The layout is clean and simple too (more on this below).
The second market is popular ProBlogger Darren Rowse's exchange. Many of the jobs are for Darren's succesful b5media blog network, which of course many bloggers will be snapping at. On the flip side of things, advertising here costs $50. Darren's getting people to pay that, but it might discourage people with good ideas who are short on funds. If I'm using blogspot hosting and only coughing up for domains (which are, after all, assets that can be resold), I'm not putting out $50 to find another blogger.
Some other notes:
I like Problogger's clean individual pages. They need to take care of integrating foreign characters though, as this quotation shows: "Notas de fÃƒÂºtbol follows Spanish soccer and, with a bit less intensity, international soccer."
Performancing allows you to directly message other exchange users, a feature the ProBlogger exchange lacks. I imagine this will be quickly added, as Darren (or Yaro? I can't remember where I read the tip...) is an advocate of making things easy.
I notice that the layout is a little different, with job titles leading to individual pages with more information. I like both formats, though I think each content exchange might be better off using excerpts.
With regards to price, I suppose it's perhaps a matter of direction; Performancing keeping things more indie, with Darren aiming for the corporate market. It might backfire though, with more bloggers populating the Performancing exchange.
Of course, things like this have existed in the past. Internet classifieds have been around since at least Craigslist, and possibly earlier. The difference here is that the target market is more focused, and it's obvious from Performancing's comments that there is interest and a good response to adverts. Having attempted (unsuccesfully) to recruit via Craigslist, I must say this exchange is a welcome addition to the blog universe.
Having said all that, this is going to make SEOs' lives a lot easier. If a customer wants a content solution, you know you can have this outsourced easily. Furthermore, I can easily see SEOs crowding these exchanges and driving up wages for bloggers as they compete to hire the best and brightest content creators out there (and probably some of the mediocre ones too). This is definitely an appendix to my top 10 SEO tools list.
I wonder when the search engines will offer their own blogger classifieds? Given their expansion into blogging (Google owns blogger.com and does search for MySpace; Yahoo owns blo.gs), I say this is an inevitable development. The question is: will they create their own, or just buy out Performancing and Problogger's exchanges?
Update: I just bought some good domains for this emerging opportunity. If anyone is interested in buying, let me know. I've also just remembered an article I wrote at Site Flip entitled content appraisals, which will likely be interesting for this new market. You can check out the content appraisal tool that this websites for sale site, Website Auction Hub did with my article (the owner purchased the rights from me to do that ).
"The relevancy of the results is determined by metrics such as click rates, time spent on pages, number of pages viewed and repeat visits by millions of search users."
Generally speaking, this is a great idea. I have a few reservations though, as I wrote to them on their blog contact form:
I've understood that your RelevancyRank creation ranks sites based in part on how long someone spends there, and on their number of page views. The assumption is that, if I understand you correctly, longer (i.e. more time spent) is better. Most of the time, that makes sense. But what about sites that serve customers faster? Suddenly, having an easy 1-step checkout means you aren't as relevant. Why use faster servers when it means your Relevancy is less? In short, the assumption of time spent isn't appropriate across all the various markets and niches on the Web.
On the flip side, I once suggested to Google to use click behaviour the way you do, for their algorithms. They never got back to me, but I'm happy to see someone's picked up the ball and is running with it! Good luck!
Best, Bookworm SEO
Another thing that I forgot to mention is that click fraud is obviousy going to be a major concern if RelevancyRank gains any traction. For example, a bot could be designed that clicked around the owner's website massively and stayed around for hours. This would unfairly increase the site's RelevancyRank.
Of course, humans might easily do this too, and it's quite conceivable that companies in difficult niches could hire minimum-wage "clickers" (the search engine industry of casino shills) across the country to increase their RelevancyRank. So Claria is going to have to work hard to fight click fraud, which, as Google and Yahoo can testify, is no small task.
Spiders and Indexation: Insights on How Spiders Index and TrustRank
I've been reading and researching on search engine spiders and the indexes lately, which has led me to some insights on spidering/indexing, that I'd like to share.
First, many people only consider being indexed in terms of quantity: that is, how many of their pages are currently accounted for in the search engines. There's another very important point to know about indexation, and that is the frequency with which your website is crawled.
I ran an SEO experiment once to try and optimize for the toughest words on the Internet: home, about, and click here. They're the toughest because almost every website around competes for them, since most people use those words on their websites. The reason I bring this up is to highlight what I noticed in the search results. Those sites with constantly fresh content (i.e. those getting spidered something like every hour) were ranking highest, and the ranks often changed according to who had updated most recently/been crawled most recently. It should come as no surprise that news giants such as the New York Times ranked for these words.
Second, over at the Link Building blog, there's an interesting insight into Google's TrustRank. TrustRank, for those who don't know, is a parallel factor in Google's algorithms to PageRank. You can't achieve any success at SEO if your TrustRank factor is in the basement.
At any rate, what came out of the LB blog's analysis was that a thorough indexation was a sign of being trusted. Furthermore, the speed with which Google's spiders (Googlebot et al.) index your site is also an indicator of TrustRank. This is important knowledge, because Google doesn't publicly disclose what a site's TrustRank is, as it does with PageRank. In short, it allows you to monitor the results of your SEO efforts.
There are a few conclusion to be drawn here. Monitoring the depth of indexation isn't sufficient, especially in competitive keyword markets. The frequency of spidering is as important as the depth. That's the main lesson. The second lesson is that depth of indexation is important beyond simply counting how many searches you might rank for. Having 100 pages that could rank for 100 various searches is nice (assuming you only have 100 pages on your site). But if all your pages are indexed, it also shows your website is trusted.
I first "met" Barry by browsing around the net, and coming across his blog, comments on other blogs, and forum participation. The more I read on marketing, the more I came across Barry. So I finally realized that I needed to actually speak to the man of the hour, and see if he and I could talk shop. Incidentally, his wide internet presence is a good example to follow for anyone looking to generate brand awareness.
Barry is an authority on marketing (and on SEO in particular; he moderates Cre8asite's online marketing forum), and his generosity in sharing the following insights shows why. We discussed a wide range of marketing and Montreal related topics, and the interview is really a great source of information.
Bookworm-SEO: How did you enter the world of marketing?
Barry Welford: I started in Marketing Research way before there was any Internet, since by background I was trained as a statistician. However I then spent many years in Marketing and Selling with major corporations both sides of the Atlantic.
Bk: What do you see as some of the most exciting emerging technologies in marketing?
BW: I see much growth in Internet Marketing and I believe that companies are somewhat slow in using the power of blogging to complement what they're displaying on their websites. It's all about customer dialogue in this Permission Marketing world and blogging is ideal for that. The technology that is expanding explosively at the moment is the Mobile Web and all that will develop from that.
Bk: Have you ever optimized a site for local search? If so, can you describe the process?
BW: That's a tough one, since I don't think the search engines do a very good job yet and it may always be a tough challenge for them. I always encourage my clients to have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that will make them visible for that in any search including Local.
However,in very competitive markets that's tough. When it's not possible, then clients may want to consider PPC targeted ads. Adword ads for example can be shown only within driving distance of the client's Post Code, which is about 100 miles radius or so. As a minimum, there's nothing to lose and you may well gain by making sure your business entry is correct in the Google Maps database.
Bk: Are there any leaders you're seeing in local search? What do you make of the new AdWords option to advertise on Google Maps?
BW: I'm not sure how many prospective clients are using Google Maps to find suppliers so it may be better to just use the 'within driving distance' option in the regular Adwords.
Bk: You're known as an authority on internet marketing in Montreal. What unique challenges does our bilingual environment present to marketers? Do you have any interesting stories you might share, working in our particular context?
BW: It is crucial that your customers, whether they're English-speaking or French-speaking are greeted correctly and feel in no way second-class. That means good quality language in both so that give a strong impression of credibility.
The SEO aspects of dealing in both languages are too large a topic to handle here. However one aspect that intrigues me are the number of companies who have accented letters in their company name. They are bound to be losing a certain slice of their traffic because of that and it's an easy topic to try to improve on.
Bk: You explicitly mention your presence in forums on your blog, and I see your email signature mentions that you moderate some SEO forums. What SEO forum community has the most savvy webmasters? Where are the members most helpful?
BW: There are several good forums and some of the more savvy webmasters are to be found from time to time in several of them. I believe it's important to look at the total Internet Marketing picture and not deal only with the minutiae of web design or SEO. It also depends on the type of community you want to interact with. Cre8asite Forums, where I moderate, is excellent on all counts with a great community. It's tagline, "Building Better Websites Together", really does capture what it's all about.
Bk: How has the web helped you network? Can you share some useful resources and/or stories?
BW: I think that networking is one of the most important things to do, either physically or on-line. The Internet is incredible for networking since it's so easy to find kindred spirits. It's important to dialogue, either by commenting on blogs or being active in forums or having your own blog(s). The key is to know what is going on. Here RSS newsfeeds are really important. My efficiency in keeping aware of happenings by using a newsfeed aggregator such as Bloglines, which is my favourite, has improved ten-fold at least. If folk are not aware of newsfeeds I would suggest that as the #1 priority above all else.
Bk: What tools do you use in your day-to-day SEO work? Any suggestions for things you'd like developed in the future?
BW: I use a whole variety of tools depending on the needs of the situation. I don't feel any particular lack that would suggest some new tool, but I do stay aware as new tools are put out. One thing I would recommend is using what used to be called the Google Sitemaps website and which has recently become the Google Webmaster Central. That's really good value.
Bk: You own your own business, Strategic Marketing Montreal. Can you describe the transition (if any) from being in someone else's marketing department, to striking out on your own, to finally establishing your own company?
BW: You have to have a very positive and resiliant personality to be able to stand the greater risk in being entirely responsible for your livelihood. Nevertheless the key pressures are less different than might appear. Dealing with clients, whether they be internal clients or external clients, is equally demanding if you want to succeed. Of course the major upsides are that you have more flexibility in how and when you work and you can choose your clients so that you only work with those where you and they will enjoy the experience.
Bk: Can you discuss (without giving away sensitive info) some of the steps that helped you establish your business? Some advice for marketers looking to follow along a similar path?
BW: I don't think anyone should under-estimate the difficulty in starting your own business, particularly if there's a lot of competition. The Internet makes it all very much easier and that's where you should put your priority. Try to establish a unique offering so that you stand out from the crowd. Then market and network as hard as you can. There's no magic bullet. Just work hard and focus, focus, focus.
Bonus question - Bk: It's an oppressive day in the Montreal sun: Bilboquet or Roberto's?
BW: I didn't know either of them without a little Google search but ice-cream is one of my pleasures so I'm sure I would have a great time in either. ~ Take 30 seconds to subscribe to my free newsletter.
Buying a "montreal SEO" domain is something I've been meaning to do for a while now, and it has good justifications for my SEO.
First, owning montrealseo.ca gives me more legitimacy as far as being an SEO consultant goes. Second, it's good for my own SEO. Obviously, I'm targeting "Montreal SEO," and I intend to be number one for that term soon enough (2-3 months). When people link just using my URL, I'll have the keywords in the link text. Also, though this is controversial, some SEOs consider that having keywords in your domain helps. Can't hurt at any rate. Third, it's good for branding. The words are real dictionary words, and the address is easy to remember. The domain market uses these points as standard criteria for judging the quality of a domain.
Who I am: Bookworm SEO, a Montreal SEO specialist. I started out posting with this pseudonym for reasons of privacy and security, but I now feel it is safe to let you know that my name is Gabriel Goldenberg. Montreal is a beautiful city in the province of Quebec, Canada.
Why I'm different: Three things separate me from the crowd of SEO consultants.
If it's about SEO, I've read it. That means that your web site will be optimized with up-to-the-minute services.
I'm one of the foremost experts on local SEO. Google "Google Maps Rankings," (with or without quotes) as one recent visitor did, or "SEO Montreal" (again, the quotes don't matter) for proof.
Answers to email inquiries are guaranteed within one business day, so that we can get started ranking your web site as soon as possible.
Here are some of the things and people whose books, articles, blogs, and other publication I read or have read:
SEO Forums at Search Engine Watch, SitePoint, WebmasterWorld, SEOChat
Search Engine Roundtable
Search Engine Land
Palmer Web Marketing
besides other sources, including the Google Librarian Center, a variety of blogs, newsletters and information sources. I'm passionate about SEO and that passion often keeps me up into the early hours of the morning reading up on new techniques, case studies, events, experiments and so on. The services I render are current with best practices in SEO.
(I also read about domaining, affiliate marketing, email marketing and analytics, and dabble in each of these. However, my greatest strength is in search marketing.)
I also guarantee same-day responses when you contact me by email. That means that if you contact me before 7 pm, Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5), you can expect an answer in your inbox before midnight.
My SEO Experience: Let me tell you a story. My first SEO project achieved a PageRank 5, #1 rankings on Google, and full indexation... within 3 and a half months of starting out. The rankings were for keywords with lots of competitors, albeit keywords that not many people were searching for.
The site has since been re-optimized for higher traffic words and is currently ranking on Yahoo and MSN's second pages, and is in Google's top 20 (with Google's mood-swings, it goes to the 70s and 80s now and then, however). All the while, the previously attained rankings have been maintained.
This page was written a while ago. Since then, I've had job offers in the search marketing business from the likes of Microsoft, Ice.com, B5Media Blog Network and others. Instead of going in-house, however, I've started my own SEO servicesfirm.
SEO Rates: I offer hourly rates and project pricing. In both cases, the rates I charge are in the range of medium sized businesses - competitive, but certainly upmarket. Premium work has a price, and I stand by the quality of my SEO consulting services. Hourly: My rate for hourly consultations is $97 an hour. You can buy an hour of my time by clicking the button below, following which you'll get a confirmation of your purchase email from Paypal and another email from me within 24 hours asking when you'd like to schedule your consultation.
The bill will be from SEO ROI (link opens in a new window), which is my main SEO company.
Factors I take into account in pricing are:
the competition for and difficulty of the keywords targeted,
what services are being requested or are assessed as necessary,
how interested I am in working with the company in question,
time I'll need to invest in the project,
secondary benefits such as publicity, referrals, networking and other intangibles.
With respect to project pricing, the same factors apply, though here the price can include performance bonuses. For example, a current contract stipulates that I only earn the bonuses if a site ranks for its given terms. Payment Schedule: My preference is to structure payments as follows: a 50% downpayment before any work is done, 25% halfway through, and the final 25% upon completion of the project. Custom payment schedules are available.
SEOMoz discusses a local search tool called the Geolocator. By assessing various factors, the Geolocator helps give an understanding of a website's local rankings. Definitely adding this to my toolkit.
Here's a list of some of my favourite SEO tools. If you have some you'd like to share, leave a comment below. Also, take 30 seconds to subscribe to my free newsletter for updates to this and for reviews of new SEO tools.
I'm going to present these SEO tools chronologically according to the steps involved in the SEO process, namely keyword research, competitive analysis, and finally site analysis and progress.
First of all, I want to cover my most-used keyword research tools.
1) Google's Adwords research tool. This is a particularly helpful one because it integrates SEO interest with PPC issues, such as cost and position estimates. My personal preference is to start by looking at what words are getting traffic.
2) Overture's keyword inventory tool. It's got a clean layout, is easy to use, and the results are simple and meaningful. Yahoo has bought out Overture, though I understand results are not from Yahoo's own engine.
3) Hit Tail is a brilliant new product that helps SEOs gain traffic from long-tail searches. Most SEOs, myself included, commit the mistake of only looking at short (one to 3 words) keyphrases. Hit Tail helps suggest longer terms to target. I expect this will make the SEO industry even more competitive.
4) SEOChat's keyword difficulty tool. It provides, at a glance, a rough estimate of how tough a possible keyword selection might be to optimize for. The lower the percentage difficulty returned, the better. Take this with a grain of salt, though, as it isn't some comprehensive algorithm that returns a %100 accurate result.
Second, I want to mention two great tools that modify/adapt the appearance of search results. I use them to research the competition on keywords, which helps determine how much SEO I need to do, and what I should charge.
5) Aaron Wall's SEO extension for Firefox. Displays PageRank, age of site, quantity of links, edu and gov links, del.icio.us and DMOZ links, and more. I appreciate the format and display of the SEO information, in particular, and that it directly links to the source of the info (e.g. Yahoo link: query). It's a free download at Aaron's SEO tools page.
6) Golexa. Similar in nature to Aaron's firefox extension, Golexa displays more information than the SEO extension does. The downside of this is that it's not an extension for Firefox, but is a Google-based engine. This means that you can't use it to find how tough the competition on Yahoo or MSN is. Also, it means a detour to the website, which is an inconvenience. Another issue is that it doesn't display information directly, but requires further clicks. Nevertheless, when I want to get in-depth info, Golexa is handy.
Third, here are a few SEO tools I use to analyze a website and establish its progress.
7) SEOChat's keyword density tool. Again, SEOChat has created a basic, but very useful tool. It returns, with or without meta, alt tags and title tags, the most common words on your website as crawled by a spider. A good indicator your site could use improvement in its keyword density is if, in the first 10 results, there is more than one word of code (such as px, the code abbreviation for pixel).
8) SEOMoz' PageStrength SEO and marketing tool. The beauty of this tool is its holistic approach to marketing that assesses your full marketing efforts. Type in your URL and SEOMoz will let you know how you're doing on Wikipedia, Del.icio.us, Alexa and more than a dozen other factors. It's similar to the extensions mentioned above, but also examines things such as branding, based on how often your site's name is mentioned around the Web.
9) Keyword Position Check tools at Page Rank List and at SEOChat. The first tool isn't as accurate as the second (I think it uses archived results, which means outdated position info on frequently changing keywords), though it provides the benefit of also checking Altavista. SEOChat is more accurate, but only returns results from Google, Yahoo and MSN.
To conclude, a good SEO specialist will include all of these tools in his toolbox, and more. I personally rely heavily on the SEO extension, Google's adwords tool, and SEOChat's tools. Nonetheless, each tool here has a place in the SEO process. Oh, and number 10 ? Try Announce's site submission SEO tool/service, which will suggest you to 30 major engines. Consider also finding out if you've been copied. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...