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August 23, 2006

How To Retain Traffic After a Site Redesign

By SearchRank

Your site is currently enjoying great search engine visibility, good traffic flow and is converting well. However it is in desperate need of a redesign but you hate to touch it for fear that you might lose your current positioning in the search engines. What to do? Can a site be redesigned and still retain prime search engine visibility? The answer is yes! With proper planning and a little common sense, you can not only retain traffic and visibility but see both increase as well.

In a new article entitled "Ten Ways To Retain Traffic During a Site Redesign", I'll take you through ten common things to consider during a site redesign. It looks at some of the common things people miss such as redirecting old pages to new ones, making sure any prior optimization strategy is incorporated into the new design, how to chose a content management system that is search engine friendly, how to use Flash without letting it spoil optimization efforts and most importantly, how to work together as a team.

August 22, 2006

A Collection of Free SEO Tools

By Li Evans

I was going to title this post “10 Great, Free SEO Tools”. However, in light of the recent overload of “top ten” or “top 100” lists out over the past week and a half I decided to just not go down that route. It was also pretty difficult to narrow it down to just 10, because there are actually a pretty decent amount of Free Search Engine Optimization Tools out there. 

These are in no particular order, other than the order that came out of my brain when I started writing down all the tools I knew of, that I felt the need to share. Feel free to add on to the list, if you’ve discovered a great free SEO tool I left off the list 

SEO Book
Aaron Wall has created a nice set of tools that are great resources for SEO. Focusing mostly on keywords, these tools are a great for a quick run a researching specific keywords.

· Keyword Suggestion Tool – Based off of the Yahoo Overture Inventory tool, Aaron created this tool that will give the user approximate estimates of searches on keywords for Google and MSN as well. The tool also gives links to Google Trends, Nichebot, Wordtracker and more.

· Typo Generator List – If you are in the need for a quick list of misspelled keywords, this tool is the answer. It can save you a ton of time in generating the list on your own, just pop in a keyword or keyword phrase, check the type of misspellings you want, press the button and “presto!” you have a list that you can just copy and paste into your document.

· Competition Finder – Wondering how many websites are using the keywords you are looking to capitalize on in the page titles and anchor text? This tool can help you figure out at how many competing pages there are in the Google index that are utilizing the keywords you are targeting.

Overture Inventory Tool
Probably the best known tool, Yahoo’s Overture Inventory tool gives the user a listing of keyword suggestions around the keyword entered. The list is arranged in descending order of the count of the prior month’s searches round those keywords listed.

Rand and the crew over at SEOMoz.org have been putting out some nice tools lately. Back in July I did a review on their latest SEO Tool. But they do have other SEO Tools for Free on their site.

· Page Strength – This is a good tool to help you gauge just where the website you are working on stands within the mix of things. Although not a complete picture, this tool can help you attain a pretty big chunk of that total picture.

· Keyword Difficulty - If you are wondering just how tough it will be to rank for certain keywords, this tool is a good place to start. Once you set up your account on SEOMoz.org with the required API’s, this tool can help you to determine the difficulty you’ll be encountering for the specified keywords.

Yes, Google’s actually got some tools out there that are free to help users in their SEO endeavors. While out at SES, they even announced some new enhancement to products and looked for feedback on improving all their existing tools. I’m just going to touch on two here.

· Google Trends – Looking to see how a particular market, word or entity is fairing in Google over a block of time? Google Trends is an SEO tool that will help you get a handle of the trend around the entity you are seeking information on. The other nice thing about this tool is that if there’s significant points in the entity’s search window, they are marked and labeled in the chart – no more guessing why there was a spike or valley.

· Google Webmaster Tools (AKA Sitemaps) – If there’s any free tool a webmaster needs to be using, it’s the Webmaster Tools from Google. Google is giving webmasters a direct way to speak with them and actually tell them where to crawl and what to crawl. Google will even give you reports on any problems they encounter with your site with this tool, making this a must have in any SEO professionals toolbox.

Blog Pulse – Trend Search
Want to track the current trend of keywords, names, phrases or even links within the blogosphere? Blog Pulse’s Trend Seach is just the tool to assist you in that effort.  Trend search allows you to take three separate terms and track the “buzz” around those terms within the blogosphere.

A must have for any blogger, but it can also help you SEO wise too. Feedburner not only assists bloggers by syndicating their feeds, but it tracks the activity on that syndicated feed, letting you know which of your entries are bringing in the most traffic as well as why type of feed readers are drawing the most readership. If running a blog is part of your SEO strategy, then this free tool is a must.

Want to track who’s linking to your blog? How about tracking the buzz around keywords, phrases, urls, and company employees on a more granular level? Technorati is a great tool that allows you to set up watchlists on not just your own blog but on phrases, links, words, names and more. This can really help SEO professionals to help manage the buzz around keywords related to their client’s businesses.

Are you a little leery on giving your data to Google and their site analytics? Not enough room in a clients budget for a huge web analytics package? Sitemeter could be just the solution for small websites with limited options both budget wise. This tool can help you track hits coming into your website and just where they are coming from. If you aren’t in need of tracking a lot of conversion, Sitemeter is a great free tool for SEO professionals for small and scalable projects.

Jim Boykin at WeBuildPages.com has a slew of nice tools that are great for use in optimization efforts. I’m just going to touch on a few, but there’s a lot of resources on the tools page of WeBuildPages.com that can assist an SEO professional in analyzing their sites.

· Cool SEO Tool – This tool allows the user to check the top 10 sites in Google. Along with that it also shows domain age, keyword phrase count, pages indexed (google/yahoo), backlinks, link domain, and allinanchor rank.

· Spider Viewer – Nifty tool that lets you see a page how our Search Engine’s “Spider” or “Crawler” will view your site.

· Forward Link Title Tag Tool – Wondering about the outbound links of a site? This tool lets the user enter in a URL and it then checks which sites it links to, and the title tag of the pages that site links to.

Bruce Clay
Last on the list, but by no means least is the Search Engine Relationship Chart put out by Bruce Clay. This is another great free SEO Tool that every search marketing professional should have printed out and posted somewhere. It’s the most up to date version of how the Search Engines are all relating to one another and who supplies what kind of results to the smaller search engines. Not only is this a must for PPC agencies, but NSO professionals should be utilizing the latest versions too!

That’s a wrap for this article. If you have any further additions that you’d like to see added in an additional article, feel free to comment here!

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August 18, 2006

Monitoring Your Business Buzz

By Li Evans

At SES this year there were two great sessions that had to do with monitoring and/or creating buzz to your business an/or your business websites.  Both of these sessions stressed that what you don't know can actually be detrimental to your business' reputation and livelihood.

One of the speakers, who I didn't know until SES but whom I was most impressed with, was Cameron Olthuis who is Director of Marketing & Design at ACS based out of Cerritos, CA. What I didn't know until recently was that Cameron is a contributing blogger to Neil Patel's Pronet Advertising blog, and he recently just posted a great article on what to monitor buzz wise for your company.

Cameron's article - 10 things you should be monitoring is a great summation of monitoring everything that has to do with your business from news alerts on your company name to even monitoring buzz about key employees.  Keeping up with the buzz through industry trade blogs or industry news websites helps too.  Check out his article, you're sure to take away a few ideas to implement!

New Authors to Search Marketing Gurus

By Li Evans

If you haven't taken a look lately, the "About" has recently expanded, as I've finally gotten the information I've needed from most of my crew of writers for SMG.  We've got a great mix here that will actually give some great working ideas "from the front lines".  Along with me (Li), we have Chris Hooley from Next Student, Greg Meyers from Commerce360 and Dan Kavanaugh who owns his own affiliate marketing firm and runs a tech blog called The Danimal Report, all as contributing authors to this blog.  We also have David Wallace from Search Rank and Shari Thurow, author of Search Engine Visibilty contributing as guest bloggers from time to time.

There might be 1 or two more names you'll be seeing coming on as guest bloggers - which I really hope will help make things interesting!

August 16, 2006

Top Ways to Build Links

By Li Evans

Andy Haggins & Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com put togther a great article on how to build link to your website.  It's a list of about 70 good ways and 30 bad ways (some of those are hilarious but sadly how some people go about getting links).

A lot of it is common sense, but he goes on to give some great ideas and tips on how to acquire links in a natural way that shouldn't be considered "spammy".

Check out: 101 Ways to Build Links & Popularity

August 15, 2006

Best of the Best SEO Blogs

By Li Evans

Rand Fishkin over at SEOMoz.org has put together a well rounded list of blogs in the SEO Industry.  Top 50 to be exact.  There is definitely a lot of great information in all of these blogs, and he also goes on to list some other influential bloggers that sit right outside of the realm of the Search Industry.

Following Rand's lead is Barry Schwartz, compiling a list of blogs he reads.  This list is actually over at his CartoonBarry.com  (which I just learned about at SES and is now one of my favorites!).

A lot of these blogs are on my RSS feed, but there are even some that I don't get too - due to lack of time and having to do client work (that pays the bills!). :)

Thanks guys for putting that together!

Search Marketing Gurus isn't on there yet, but maybe by next time they compile the list we'll be ranking somewhere on one of their lists!

August 14, 2006

The Men of SEO

By Li Evans

On the lighter side of our industry, SEO FanGirl has created a new site, dedicated to idolizing the "Men of SEO".  Featured so far has been Matt Cutts of Google, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch & SES, and last but by certainly no means least Rand Fishkin.

In fact Rand's been chosen as the SEO Man of the Month for August!  I think it's because of those famous Yellow Pumas he wears around.

So who will be next?  Bruce ClayJake Baillie of True Local, or Mikkel deMib Svendson?  Maybe we'll go to the "darker side" and see Greg Boser, or even Todd Friesen.  This is definitely a site to keep your eyes on for the humorous side of the Search Marketing industry. 

BTW ... she's taking nominations for September's SEO Man of the Month email her -  seofangirl [at] yahoo.com

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August 12, 2006

How Valuable is the Leaked AOL Data to SEO?

By Li Evans

When AOL Data Leak story hit the press, I was out in San Jose at the Search Engine Strategies Conference. Although I was reading about it, and there was a ton of buzz around this topic, I really didn’t get down into the nitty gritty of the story while I was out there. Since I’ve been back I’ve been researching and reading. Everything I’m reading leads me to some questions that haven’t been address by any of the articles I’ve come across (a few below).

I am in total agreement with all of the articles, and with AOL, that they “screwed up”. The attempt to reach out to the research community totally backfired, and this is something that AOL is going to have to deal with for years to come. As a major brand that built its name on “trust us, we’ll protect you”, AOL has some major PR work ahead of itself. There are over 600,000 AOL users out there, who are going to be giving them a “Word of Mouth” nightmare in the very near future. 

With all of that stated, I’m left with wondering, truly, can the SEO world truly capitalize on this data? Joseph Lazlo in the Jupiter article say “It's also incredibly valuable and AOL's just given it away for free”, however he doesn’t qualify how it’s valuable and to whom. The ZD.net article states “Some researchers, however, contend the information serves a valuable purpose in helping to develop better information retrieval technology.” Perhaps in a sense this is true, but I question basing the technology on just one source like this. 

The rush to capitalize on this data, by being the first to create tools that utilize it, thereby creating link bait seems to be taking hold of all sorts of programmers and marketers alike. Of course that’s the goal of almost every search marketer – totally qualified, un-spammy links driving quality traffic to your website. However, I am left to pause and ponder the immediate SEO value of the AOL data, and thereby the true value of the tools created using it. 

The data released was from a sampling of over 600,000 users. If that sampling was coming from Google, Yahoo, or MSN, I think the SEO value would be far greater, but this sampling is coming from AOL. Yes, AOL uses Google to provide its search results, but, this is AOL user data that was released. 

Something that hasn’t been qualified by Hitwise in its Market Share reports of the search engines, is just where AOL falls into the mix. The most recent release by Hitwise CEO Bill Tancer, (Hitwise July Search Engine Market Share press release) shows that Google broke 60% of the market share, but doesn’t state if that includes AOL searches.  From that, someone can infer that it’s a portion of that 60% or someone can infer that it’s part of that “Other” at 5%. In the press release Bill Tancer specifically mentions the domains of Google, Yahoo, and MSN, which leads me to believe that AOL is falling into that “Other” category.

So if AOL is only a small portion of the "other" market space, and then you take a look at AOL’s customer base, which information/studies over the years have shown tends to lean a bit “older” age wise, and a bit more “novice” internet user wise, the possibility of clicks to results on #1 and #2 in search results can end up being highly skewed. Therefore, these two factors leave me wondering how valuable are these tools if they are basing their data results on the AOL data? How much can you REALLY infer to the TOTAL search engine marketing space with the data that AOL leaked?

In the weeks to come, I suppose the question will be answered by the Search Engines' "search engineers". Until then, I’m going to hold back my use of the new tools coming out utilizing the data from AOL. I’ll review the tools I come across for ease of use and how they are incorporating the data, with the disclosure it’s the AOL Data.

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Tool: How Many Clicks You Can Expect Ranking Anywhere in Any Search Engine

By Li Evans

By combining the AOL User Search Data, Hitwise Search Engine Market Share, and Overture Search Tool, you can now estimate with some certainty how many clicks to expect for ranking anywhere in any search engine for any term with this free Tool.

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Of course this is the 2nd tool I've come across in as many days and I don't think this will be the last tool that's cropping up based on the AOL data leak.

As I stated in my last post, I really question how reliable this AOL data is taken as a whole to drive some of these tools that will be appearing, seeing how AOL's audience is highly scewed towards the more "novice" searcher who's generally older and usually female.

This tool does take in hitwise readily available data and also oveture, so there is some offset to that AOL piece, but I still have that big ????? looming, and it still is nagging at me.  Does anyone take into account AOL's percentage use of the market itself - yes they should be falling into that "other" category defined by Hitwise, but how much is it specifically.  Sure saying the segment of data released is large enough and broad enough to "infer" but, again - is it really?  Especially knowing AOL has declining member numbers?

I'm not trying to be a downer on this tool - the tool is great with the data and the limited information given that helps to drive it, it's actually very quick too since it's just doing calculations and not pulling from a database.  I just sit here thinking "hmmmmmmm" ....  trying to really figure out if these AOL numbers are truly as important as this "chatter" around them is claiming.

Fascinating yes.... but important? I'm still trying to figure that one out.

August 11, 2006

SES San Jose 2006 Pictures

By Li Evans

Just got done uploading and putting captions to my pictures from SES San Jose 2006.  There's a few where I didn't get the person's name - so if you see your picture in there, comment here and I'll make sure I credit you properly! :)

All in all, it was a great time, from the sessions to the parties, there's no better conference on the planet (In My Own Honest Opinion).

The only bummer was that we didn't get to see Matt Cutts & Jeremy Zawodny suit up in those Sumo suits and wrestle at WebmasterRadio.fm's Search Bash!

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