Category Archives: SEM/SEO

Tips from the June DC SEO – Social Media Meetup

DC SEO MeetupHere are the tips that the SEOs shared when we went around the room for introductions at the June 2009 DC SEO / Social Media Meetup. I’ve grouped them by category for your convenience…ooh, another tip—subheadings are a great place for keywords.

Tips for Getting Links and Ranking Better

  • You don’t want to be #1 in the SERPs (search engine results pages), you want to be the page. (Dominate the listings with your site, your blog, your LinkedIn profile (mine) and SEOmoz profile (mine), etc.)
  • Bloggers don’t want to pimp your press release, but they will feel like they’re doing a community service to write about your upcoming events. (This came from a diamond seller.) Reach out to them about events you sponsor and make sure the main URL includes your RSVP information.
  • Chat me up at an SEO Meetup and I’ll throw you some link love. That’s what Chris (@trentiles on Twitter) did. So, let me just say, are you looking for healthy recipes? Check out www.keepitsimplefoods.com.  Chris highly recommends it. While you’re at it, if you’re looking for VW, Audi, BMW forums—especially in Buffalo—check out http://www.dubsinthebuff.com. And if you like to grocery shop for healthy food in a fancy schmancy car, check out both sites.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled post.

Google SEO Tips

  • Create a Google profile (mine) as another way to get your name higher in the SERPs. www.google.com/profiles
  • When adding new clients or sites, link to them from your highest public Page Rank page, such as shown in Google Webmaster Tools. (I’d add do it from your home page as well.)
  • Add Google Analytics to your site so Google will visit you regularly — even if you use another analytics package.
  • Similarly, run Google AdSense links on at least some pages so Google visits your site regularly. (Along the same lines, upload an XML sitemap regularly.)
  • The updated AdSense policy might require a change to your privacy policy.  Generate a new one using (kudos to our host @1p for finding that link during the event).
  • Google Search Appliance Version 6 is out.

Blogging SEO Tips

  • Guest post on a blog for traffic and a link to your site. Make sure you have some good posts lined up for newcomers who check you out as a result – this might be your only chance to wow them. On your own blog, expand on your guest post or cover another aspect of the topic.
  • If you’re going to use Blogspot, make sure you register your dotcom name and use it on the site. A few attendees who started with Blogger later switched to WordPress with some difficulty. But if they had used the Blogspot address instead of their own domain name, they wouldn’t have been able to redirect traffic to their new host. (Hmm, maybe the lesson is really to start with WordPress in the first place.)

Site Tips

  • Get Internet liability insurance for your startup. Bonding yourself might not provide enough coverage. (Can I say “bonding yourself” on a site visited by church web teams?)
  • Use a flat site architecture with good, descriptive bread crumbs to help with spidering.
  • Try the Thirty Day Challenge to see how you can make money online [I’ve removed the direct link at the insistence of WordPress.com, which tell you what WordPress thinks about the site]. My natural reaction is to be suspicious, but the tip was greeted with some affirmative head-nods by other attendees. Your call. Let me know how it goes if you try it. (But not if that’s asking for some sort of Amway-type invitation.)

Social Media Tips for Twitter

  • Register all of your brand and product names on Twitter (defensively). Try to make as many active as you can.
  • Register “yournamesucks” as a defensive move on Twitter. (I’d treat this one carefully or with humor since you risk the page ranking for your name.)

DC Job Outlook for SEO

  • A corporate recruiter in attendance said that the DC area job market is picking up. 80% of the openings she sees are Web-related in some way, such as programming, SEO, copywriting, etc. (Secondary tip, if you’re looking for a job then show up prepared at a Meetup; sometimes recruiters and hiring managers are here.)

There you go. It’s almost like you were there, at least for the introductions.

Last time, my write-up of the SEO Meetup was primarily tips I had shared with others. This time the round of introductions helped all of the attendees participate in the information sharing. So what do you think of these tips–are you going to try some? Any that you think you should skip?

DC SEO Meetup – May Event Highlights

SEO Answers From the May 6, 2009 SEO Meetup

DC SEO MeetupThe conversations at the May 2009 DC SEO / Social Media / Affiliate Marketing Meetup (whew, that’s a mouthful) covered a range of topics. Here are the questions I heard along with recommended answers.

How can my law firm’s events show up better in the search engines?
Submit to eventful, upcoming.org, zvents, craigslist and Google Base.

What’s that URL you just shouted across the table – is it plural or singular?
Someone asked our host, Miles, whether his security alarm systems in Washington, DC domain was singular or plural. UrbanAlarm.com is singular, but after taking a look at the handy dandy mobile version of AjaxWhois.com, we saw the plural was available and Miles snatched it up.
Tip: If a plural of your domain name is how someone might hear it, grab it.

How can I get links to my blog?
Come to the next Meetup and chat me up! I’m always happy to share some link love and drop some sweet anchor text.

Why is your hand resting on my thigh?
This one wasn’t directed at me, but I think it’s best if we move on to another question.

How can I tell if I have duplicate content penalties? I have an old site I copied from one platform to another. Both sites are still out there, but I change the headlines and added pictures to the newer one.
It’ll probably take more than that to look different in the eyes of the search engines. One way to tell is to conduct some searches on unique phrases from an article that appears on both sites. Do both show up in the results? If so, you may be okay for now. If you see the following, you may have problems:

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the x already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

It’s always good to 301 redirect, but that’s not always an option if you’re using a free blogging service rather than your own hosted site.

How can I get in touch with the social media scene in DC?
Follow @1p on Twitter. Paul hosts a bunch of social media events and is usually at these SEO Meetups.

How can I tell how well the search engines are picking up my Flash pages?
Search for site:yourdomain.com to pull up all of the indexed pages on your site.
Do you see all your pages listed? Are there descriptive headlines and blurbs that would make a newcomer want to click? If so, that’s good.

Or, are you seeing

[FLASH] Loading:
File Format: Shockwave Flash
Loading:

If it’s the latter, go fix it.

How do I handle SEO for Flash?
How can I make Flash show up better in searches?

How can I leverage my photos better for SEO?
Label them well in Flickr, geo tag them, include links back to your post, pick appropriate rights for sharing (Skelliewag has a handy overview).

I’m trying to get more leads from PPC. Any other ways to track these?
Try displaying a unique phone number or extension used exclusively in your PPC ads. Or a coupon code.

What’s the conversion rate for real estate agents using social media to generate leads?
One attendee reported about 5 percent of contacts become actual clients.

What’s the best way to learn HTML?
I recommend http://w3schools.com/html/ because you learn by coding HTML on screen and immediately see the results.
(I’ve heard good things about http://htmldog.com/guides/htmlbeginner/gettingstarted/ , too.)

Is there a course or program I should enroll in to learn SEO?

There you go — you get all that for the cost of a Cosi sandwich along with a dollar donation to the Meetup facilitator.

Anything you want to add? And are you gettng questions ready for the next SEO Meetup?

12 Lessons from the DC SEO – Social Media Meetup

The most recent Washington DC SEO Meetup was a joint session with the DC Social Media Meetup. Here are 12 lessons I learned from the people I met and the sites discussed.

  1. When evaluating the suitability of a domain name, make sure it can be heard in a loud bar. I heard a lot of “What was that?” “Is that plural?”
  2. You can collect participants’ contact info using co-host Paul Graham’s method of passing around a laptop with an Outlook email already open for attendees to type in their name, email address and site(s). I would’ve been inclined to use a text file for easier backing up along the way, but with the Outlook approach the URLs are automatically hyperlinked and the message is ready to go to the group. And since Paul knows his way around demos from LaunchBoxDigital, I’ll defer to him. (The Washington Post covered LaunchBox a week after the Meetup so coming to the Meetup keeps you ahead of the mainstream media.) Paul also has a great Twitter ID, @1p, which is almost as good as Rex Hammock’s @r who you should follow, by the way.
  3. Wherever you are in your career, you’ll fit in at these Meetups. Attendees included a mix of noobs, professionals, job seekers and those hiring (including HyperOffice.com, which I learned is Sharepoint plus Microsoft Exchange ).
  4. It’s possible to get separate checks in DC. The Meetup’s venue, James Hoban’s, seated us in an airy, separate section downstairs. The staff graciously handled individual separate checks for everyone – a rare sight that’s so appreciated at these types of events. A few orders were missed in the confusion, but the staff worked it out.
  5. It’s easier to score an alpha invite face to face. Saw a demo of Diditz.com, as mentioned previously, a social networking around events without the hassle of having to join a group or pre-agree on tags. It’s definitely worth checking out.
  6. Meet people from cool companies, such as navteq.com, supplier of data for Google Maps and others. Hmm…maybe I can get my church’s location corrected. (Yes, I’ve used the hand editing option–which someone else made a further adjustment to–but I’d like to get to the source.)
  7. Gotta throw out a link for our co-host Miles from UrbanAlarm.com…even if he’s not totally convinced by my suggestion to use leading caps to avoid an UrbAnalArm.com misinterpretation. (Do’s and don’ts of URL names.)
  8. Don’t chicken out about leaving contact info. Someone noted “for email, see Meetup” when the sign-up list went around, which goes against the “optimization” and “social” themes of the night.
  9. Blog with passion and enthusiasm. Who do you want to write about “the Northern Virginia Real Estate market focusing on the Dulles areas of Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William Counties”? How about Dean Megginson, who blogs at novahomeguy.com backed by his years of experience as an appraiser, real estate consultant, land-use expert and Fairfax government worker. His enthusiasm for real estate shines through in person and in his writing.
  10. Learn an interesting way to solicit Diggs for your best content. Check out Phil Weslow’s FeedbackSecrets.com for online business strategies for eBay and beyond.
  11. It’s a small world. The week before I took out some advertising on EdWeek.org at work. Who do I run into at the Meetup? Paul Hyland, the executive producer of the educators news site who also blogs at Paul’s Web Space 2.1.
  12. Some people are happy when gas jumps over four bucks. Well, at least one person was. That would be Steve, who owns hypermiling.com, the site dedicated to extending your gas mileage that just happens to have some very relevant ads running on it.

Bonus tip: Read DCist. On the way home, I walked by the scene of a recent DCist Photo of the Day, and was able to provide details about the street musicians at Dupont Circle as a group of us headed back to Metro.

The evening worked so well that we’re going to do another combined session in September. Hope you can join us.

P.S. Just across the river is the Virginia SEO Meetup. The August meeting was cancelled, but you can read Debra Mastaler’s summary of a recent session.

6 Lessons for In-House SEO that the IT Dept. Learned the Hard Way

In-house SEOs can learn from The Wall St. Journal’s advice for IT by Amit Basu and Chip Jarnagin.

“Too often, there’s a wall between a company’s information-technology department and everything else. That wall has to go.”

Replace “IT” with “SEO” and you’ll find valuable lessons for in-house SEO. Here are the blueprints from that article adapted for SEO.

  1. Begin with SEO literacy — and commitment — at the top
    In-house SEOs need to make the case and tie SEO directly to performance metrics, particularly in dashboards and management reports. If you don’t, no one else will make the connections.
  2. Hire an SEO leader who sees the big picture
    Sure, it’s important to know what’s hot on Sphinn, but you also need to understand marketing and technology-and to have strong relationships with the staff in those areas. And if aspects of SEO are outsourced, it’s important for you to closely manage those vendor relationships. As the article says, “Outsourcing simply shifts the emphasis of [SEO] management away from everyday operations and toward broader business considerations such as contract, relationship and performance management.”
  3. Create demand for SEO solutions
    Help business areas understand that SEO improvements make their units perform better. Use workshops, brown bag sessions or team meetings to get your SEO points across.
  4. Make sure nothing gets lost in translation
    “A company must have people at all levels who can translate [SEO] for those outside that department and translate the language of management for those in [SEO].” All parties should understand the inevitable trade-offs involved with SEO. Sometimes the brand needs to come first, sometimes Legal wins and sometimes the money isn’t there for the technology, but everyone needs to recognize what is and isn’t at stake.
  5. Rationalize SEO spending
    Review and justify SEO spending as carefully as you do other technology investments and have an SEO disaster recovery plan.
  6. Create a portfolio by evaluating risks and returns
    “There is a myth that IT investments can’t be evaluated because many of the advantages are intangible or can’t be monetized.” Sound familiar? Ensure your results are measurable.

Those are just some of the ways in-house SEOs can take heart in and learn from the challenges their IT colleagues face. What will you add to the list?

Mark Alves, SEO Expert

Mark Alves, SEO ExpertHaving just completed the SEOmoz SEO quiz, should I be flattered by the title or disturbed by the implications? Really, I’m on the creative white hat side of the spectrum.

Are you an SEO Expert? Take the SEOmoz quiz and find out.

Get Your Photos Labeled By Google

My post on SEO for photos included a tip on adding your photos to Google’s image labeler. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Log into your Google Webmaster Tools, the free application that gives you a glimpse into how Google sees your site.
  2. Select “Tools” from the left navigation.
  3. Mark the checkbox next to “Enable enhanced image search” and hit OK

Your pictures are now available for tagging through the Google Image Labeler, which gives you a better chance for them to show up in search results.
Google Webmaster Tools Menu
Google Webmaster Tools includes an image option under “tools”

Google Webmaster Tools menu for images.jpg
Select the “Enable enhanced image search” checkbox.

More SEO Tips for Images

Happy Web Diva offers three SEO tips for images based on a PodCamp presentation by John Ellis in response to Google’s universal search. Here are her takeaways along with a few I’d add to the list.

1. Use keyword-rich file names separated by hyphens.

2. Use the alt attribute with keywords.

3. Add an image caption.

To that great list, you can add:

4. Set the title attribute in addition to the alt attribute using the same text. Some browsers require such an attribute to get the tool tip to pop up. Do not use “Photo of Danny Sullivan” or “Picture of Danny Sullivan.” The search engines already know it’s a photo, they just don’t know who/what’s in the photo. Instead, use:

<img src=”/directory/something/danny-sullivan.jpg ” width=”200″ height=”250″ alt=”Danny Sullivan in full rant mode” title=” Danny Sullivan in full rant mode”>

5. Turn on “Enable advanced image search” in Google Webmaster Tools. (Here’s how.) Doing so makes your images available for tagging through the Google Image Labeler which in turn helps with SEO.

6. Link your thumbnail to a larger, higher resolution version. Put it on a separate, optimized page–so you can track your traffic–rather than linking directly to a JPG. You might also use Flickr, although as Natural Search Blog and SEOROI have pointed out, the site has started no-following most of their links. Nevertheless, it’s still an opportunity to drive traffic.

So, what photo optimization tip are you going to add to the list?

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