Will starting an affiliate program help SEO as dozens, if not hundreds of affiliates around the web start linking to your site? Or will Google and the other engines treat this as paid-links that are unworthy of trust?
The idea for the experiment: make a page, set up an affiliate program, get other SEOs who want results of the experiment to link back.
Hypothesis: If no SEO improvement is noticed, it is reasonable to assume the search engines treated links as paid links. If SEO shows, it suggests Google considers links as vouchers, and trust.
The Heart of the Problem: Does Google trust people's referrals when they have an indirect commercial interest in providing the link? How does Google treat that conflict of interests? Also, does it matter what affiliates are paid for? Is it for sales? For unique clicks? CPM?
Obviously, individual links aren't bought directly from affiliates, so they can't be treated in the same manner.
Keyword density is a key issue in SEO. A website needs to show that it is tightly focused around a particular keyword. Category archives for blogs are an easy way to increase keyword density, and I've found an easy way to have categorical archives with Blogger.
What you'll need: -) Some time to pick your keywords, perform some searches on your blog, and edit your Blogger template -) Aaron Wall's SEO extension for Firefox (optional). It's a free download and easy install, though, and I highly recommend it. -) Firefox, obviously, if you're going to do the best research you can, which means using the Firefox extension mentioned above. This is also a free download, and anyways, Firefox is a better browser than Internet Explorer, so you'll be doing yourself a service getting it. -- Take 30 seconds to subscribe to my free newsletter. --
(Incidentally, the Google tool offers free spreadsheet downloads of your keywords, which is an easy way to save your research.)
2) Search your Blogger blog for each keyword.
For example, search for "Google", and then save the search URL. Do this for each keyword, saving the URLs every time (the excel spreadsheet would be useful again, here).
3) Link to each keyword search on your Blogger subdomain.
First, post the links to your sidebar for easy access to anyone browsing your blog. They'll look something like this:
a href="searchcityseo.blogspot.com for Google" Google /a a href="searchcityseo.blogspot.com for Yahoo" Yahoo /a a href="searchcityseo.blogspot.com for local search" local search /a a href="searchcityseo.blogspot.com for Montreal" Montreal /a a href="searchcityseo.blogspot.com for SEO specialist" SEO specialist /a
and so on. Obviously, the URLs look different and you need to use proper < > brackets for the html coding. Nonetheless, that's the first part of your category archives done.
Second, copy all the links you just coded into your sidebar and place them in your post template (under Blogger's Settings tab, click formatting). Now, when you post, you just have to choose what keywords the post is about, and delete the rest. An added bonus is that this category hack makes you focus on writing about your keywords, thus increasing the focus of your blog.
Ambatchdotcom SEO Contest Lessons: Blackhat Techniques Dominate Google
The ambatchdotcom world SEO contest is being dominated by keyword stuffing content scrapers. The #2 person is running a Google Blogger blog, ironically. All his post titles include the words "ambatchdotcom seocontest". The posts themselves are mostly thin material covering new participants in the contest.
Other participants aren't any better of course. I've seen people writing outright gibberish such as:
"From my point of view a new ambachdotcom seocontest is almost always uncommon further more I have written before the ambachdotcom seocontest is always blatantly valued."
A previous entry by the same clown stated,
"Function 1: adjective
1 causing wonder or astonishment ambatchdotcom seocontest to behold>"
Now, this is mostly harmless stuff, because ambatchdotcom is obviously a gibberish word itself. These blackhat SEOs with their keyword stuffing are simply competing with each other, not pushing down real companies' websites about 'ambatchdotcom's SEOcontest'. However, there's a negative influence that comes out of the contest that is a real problem.
Namely, the ambatchdotcom SEO contest is encouraging people to use negative SEO techniques. People are competing in the contest by means such as keyword stuffing, writing for the Googlebot (i.e. the randomly bolded and italicized words above) and so on. The problem is with the superficiality encouraged by such a contest. Prizes are awarded based on SERP results, rather than a more holistic, integrated approach. Consider what would happen if non-SEOs searched for "ambatchdotcom seocontest" on Google and came to any of the top sites. The result would be dissatisfied customers leaving in a heartbeat when they found some nonsense website designed to be read only by search engine robots.
On a related note, I'd like to take the opportunity to point out just how important on-site optimization can actually be. The top-ranking site as of this writing has less than a hundred backlinks going to it, yet it ranks above a site with close to 400 links, as per Yahoo's count. The second place blogspot blog mentioned above has less than 50 links. James Martin of Work Boxers has a great little analysis he put together of the top ranking sites and what they're doing to dominate Google for "ambatchdotcom SEO contest."
You'll have hopefully realized by now that this post is optimized for "ambatchdotcom seocontest." In all honesty, I'm doing it partly for the money - first place nets 4 thou. But I'm also doing it because as a marketer who likes to take an integrated/holistic approach to things (go read Marketing Sherpa now!) I'm opposed to sketchy blackhat SEO practices. (Which is why I'm providing a search engine legible 'follow' link to James' post, even if it means it'll help him to my detriment. He's provided some useful content that deserves promotion.) If you'd like to help promote proper SEO practice, link to this post using the words "ambatchdotcom seocontest" as the link text. You can also help by bookmarking this in del.icio.us, Digg, or other social bookmarking tools.
Here's a little tip for Blogspot bloggers to use to improve their SEO.
< $BlogPageTitle$ >, used within the head of an html document, specifically in the < title > tags, will generate smart titles for a Blogspot/Blogger blog. The homepage/index will be titled with the blog's name, while post pages will be titled according to the post's title. In fact, this tag is used right here, on City SEO, and you can how to implement it by clicking view - page source.
Any SEO can and should be held to a code of conduct, an ethical code if you will. I adhere to the SEO code of conduct written by Jennifer Sullivan Cassidy.
Here's an excerpt: "In the area of General Ethics, the SEO shall not:
* Engage in any behaviors that will intentionally harm a client or a competitor. This includes performing black-hat techniques that may get that client's site banned from the search engines, or purposefully interfering with a competitor's site as to try and get their site dropped from the search engine in order to get their client's website into a better position.
* Intentionally engage in activities in direct violation of a search engine's guidelines. Again, these types of behaviors can impose penalties by search engines, or banning from the search engine indexes altogether.
* Purposefully engage in behavior that breaches a client's confidentiality or privacy. An SEO many times has access to your sensitive materials on your website, including documents, logins, passwords, product information and other items. It is not acceptable for an SEO to make this information public, nor is it acceptable for the SEO to discuss your account with other SEOs that are not particularly working on your account. It is in your best interest to include a clause in your contract with the SEO that specifically protects your confidentiality and privacy.
* Deliberately violate any laws, including but not limited to trademark or copyright laws. SEOs that use copyrighted names, like Google or PayPal or Sony or even misspellings of trademarked names, in order to inflate a site's ranking is considered illegal, and punishable by law. It won't be the SEO in trouble, but rather you and your site will take the fall. Make sure there is a clause in your contract that addresses this issue.
* Falsely claim another's work to be their own. SEOs sometimes do this in order to make their portfolio look impressive, especially when they know a client probably can't or won't follow up on their portfolio examples. It is a good idea to ask the SEO for specific references, and outline the exact work that was done for the client, and ask for permission to contact that client to corroborate the SEO's claims.
* Intentionally mislead, harm, or offend a consumer. This includes bait and switch tactics intent on bringing traffic to the site, or making a visitor believe the site is something it is not. An example of this is to use terms like "Disney" or "Teddy Bear" in order to get a visitor to come to their website, when in actuality it is an illegal warez site or a porn site.
* Disparage other SEO consultants, SEO companies, or former and current clients in public, even if you know they have engaged in unethical techniques, or treated the SEO badly. It is never professional for an SEO to bad-mouth another SEO or SEO company to you or anyone else. It's just bad business practices, and should make you wonder if the SEO will talk about you in the same way.
* Fail to stay current on search engine updates, changes, news, training or education. It is in your best interest that your SEO know what's going on today in the search engine world, due to the fluid nature of search engine changes which occur very frequently."
Head over to SEOChat for the rest of the SEO code of conduct written by Cassidy. Note: I also adhere to the remainder of the code of conduct. The reason I haven't copy-pasted the rest of it here is that I feel the quality of the writing/code deserves for traffic to be sent to read it in its original location.
I'd like to add to that and point out the importance of an SEO strategy to local businesses.
First, the importance of Search Engine Optimization to local business is the same as it is to other business. SEO enables potential customers to find your local business through search engines.
It's the online equivalent of a brand-awareness campaign. There's no point for a store to exist if customers don't know about it. In the same way as being part of a shopping center helps people "know" about a store, having an SEO strategy increases your visibility and quantity of sales.
Second, the importance of SEO to a local business is similar to putting a road-map on flyers. The backlinks gained via SEO direct traffic to the website.