Q and A: Can a List of Client Sites Be Seen as Link Spamming?

QuestionHi Kalena

I recently finished up helping my dad remake and SEO his site. His company has been around for a long time, and his site hadn’t been updated in a very long time, so it was time for a total remake. The URL stayed the same, but we updated the content/graphics/general design of the site.

So my first question is about a page on the site for “Who Uses Our Service”. On the page there is at least 200 companies listed, and most had links to their sites included. Would Google consider this some type of link spamming to have that many links on a page? Or do they really only care about links pointing TO your site, rather than FROM it? For now we have added a nofollow thing to the robots.txt so Google won’t index that page, but if it wouldn’t impact us negatively, then it would be nice to have it indexed.

My final question is regarding SEO in general. Pretty much I’m wondering how long it takes for SEO to start taking affect, and any reasons why an updated/new site (but with a link that has been around for a long time), that is keyworded on every page for our target keywords, and has some backlinks (not sure of the quantity or quality because this was done a long time ago, not by me), would still not show up within the first 5-10 pages of Google?

We submitted the sitemap to google about 10 days ago, how long would it take for the SEO to really start affecting it’s place in results? The weird thing is it is still top 3 or so in Bing and Yahoo, but had pretty much entirely dropped off the search results in Google, which is part of the reason we remade it. But it still isn’t showing up anywhere, so maybe it just hasn’t been long enough for things to start kicking in?

Sorry for the very long post, but needed to give the details. Thanks for any help!

Chris

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Hi Chris

A double whammy! Ok, let’s see if I can answer both questions in one post:

1) Google recommends a max of 100 outgoing links on any page. Any more links than that and Googlebot may not follow them or index remaining page code. To combat this, I would recommend that you break up that page listing all client sites into several smaller pages, perhaps by category? So law firms on one page, govt agencies on another etc.

In addition, if you are concerned about the page being mistaken for a link farm or directory, I would advise you to use the rel=nofollow tag on all those outgoing links. Unless you specifically want to pass PageRank to those sites, that is the best option for you. It instructs Google that you are not passing on any link juice and so Google is more likely to treat those page/s as genuine content, which is what they are.

2) New sites can take anywhere from 3 to 30 days to show up in Google. To determine if the site has been indexed, you need to do a search for your domain e.g. site:http://[yourdomain].com. If it is showing pages for your domain, then Google has indexed it. If it is showing some pages but not others, you need to investigate any indexing issues using Google Webmaster Tools and compare your site map with the pages indexed to see what could be going on. Webmaster Tools will tell you exactly how often Googlebot is indexing the site and which pages it is indexing.

Also make sure you check your robots.txt file against your XML sitemap to ensure you aren’t giving Google conflicting indexing permissions. I’ve seen many a client blame Google for a baffling indexing issue that was caused by their own instructions to Googlebot in their robots.txt file.

If there are still pages from the old site listed in Google, you need to make sure you use 301 redirects on those old URLs to point them to the new pages. This will signal to Google to update any old content listings. If you spot any dodgy backlinks pointing to the site from previous link partners, you should request they be removed, and/or you can also use the disavow backlinks tool in Webmaster Tools to make sure Google no longer takes those links into account.

If the new pages are listed, but just aren’t ranking as well as you like, it may be that they are under-optimized or over-optimized for your target keywords, OR, the keywords you are trying to rank for are simply too competitive. Keep tweaking the page and testing until you hit the sweet spot that sees the page ranking in the first page or two of search results for logical, realistic keyword phrases.

I would also recommend doing some more in-depth keyword research using some of the tools and methods I’ve previously recommended to make sure you find every possible keyword combination that your potential audience is using when conducting searches. You’ll find that targeting long-tail keywords (search terms with more words and/or that are more specific) will give you the edge over competitors when it comes to ranking. You may not draw as much traffic from them, but the traffic you do attract will be more qualified to purchase/sign up.

It may also be that competing sites have a much stronger backlink profile and so Google is naturally positioning them ahead of you in the search results. If this is the case, conduct a link audit and kick off a consistent link building campaign. In particular, you’ll need to determine how your competitor’s backlink profile compares to yours so you know how much work you need to do in order to out-rank them. My recent post about link audits should help you through this process.

Best of luck!

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5 Must-Have Spreadsheets For Online Marketing Professionals

I_love_spreadsheets_hatAs an online marketing consultant and trainer for the past 15 years, I have used a LOT of online tools to help me do my job.

I’ve seen time-saving tools come and go in crazy peaks and troughs. I’ve also seen a few that have ridden the waves of consumer fascination to become permanent fixtures in the online marketer’s toolbox.

Below are 5 spreadsheet-based tools that I use myself or recommend on a regular basis:

1) Distilled’s MS Excel for SEOs – This Excel-based workbook is like a detailed instruction manual for SEOs on how to manipulate bulky data into logical form using Microsoft Excel. If you are an Excel wizard, you’ll love this tool. If not, you’ll probably need a week to wrap your head around the analysis, but it will be worth it – I promise.

2) HubSpot’s Blog Editorial Calendar Template – If you are a content curator or social media marketer, this template will save your life. It simplifies calendar-based content allocation and helps you prioritize content deadlines and build an annual strategy to meet multiple marketing campaign objectives.

3) Shimon Sandler’s PPC Campaign Kick-Off Template – this Excel template is quite a few years old now, but I still use it as a starting point when kicking off a new AdWords or Bing Ads campaign for a client. It helps you and your client to focus on the big picture objectives and build a unique campaign to suit specific requirements rather than implementing a cookie-cutter PPC campaign that needs tweaking to fit.

4) Google SEO Rank Checker Spreadsheet – a recent discovery, this customizable Google Docs template is all kinds of awesome. It includes a clever integration of ImportXML that allows you to collect at-a-glance keyword rankings on Google in real time.

5) Outspoken Media’s Link Building Spreadsheet – another Google Drive shared doc, this is a customizable template consisting of a gigantic list of link building strategies collated by Rhea Drysdale and her team at Outspoken Media.
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Keyword Theme Visualization Tool: Bubble My Page

A student sent me this link today: Bubble My Page and I thought it was a fantastic little tool to share with everyone.

Bubble My PageBubble My Page is basically an interactive keyword density / tag visualisation tool. Enter your choice of URL and you’ll see a set of tag bubbles come back. The larger the bubble, the more frequently the keyword / tag is found on the page. Hover over a bubble and see the number of repetitions found on the page.

It’s also a snapshot of how search engines would view the page in terms of keyword density / search query relevance. I can already see some fantastic uses for this tool:

  • Enter new blog post pages into the tool before publishing as a quick check you have the target keyword density right for SEO purposes.
  • Enter the home pages of new SEO prospect sites for a quick on-page SEO analysis to show potential clients.
  • Run every page through the tool during the SEO requirements gathering phase to get an idea of how large a potential SEO project is going to end up.
  • Enter the URLs of potential employers to get a feel for their main products / services.
  • Run product pages through the tool to check how evenly various products are represented on the pages.

There are probably a lot more uses for the tool, but those are just what I came up with in 10 minutes. If you’ve got any more suggestions, please share them in the comments.

Hat tip to Terry for the link :-)

 

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A 3 Step Guide to Attracting Qualified Leads to Your Web Site

I was contacted recently by one of our graduates from Search Engine College. He wants to remain anonymous, so let’s call him Steve.

Since taking our course, Steve had managed to land a job as Director of Online Advertising for a famous plastic surgeon in Los Angeles. He had already used what he learned about SEO and PPC to increase traffic to the surgeon’s site by more than 40 percent. But he had run into a bit of a roadblock, which is why he contacted me.

Here’s part of Steve’s email:

“Although my client’s Internet inquiries have increased dramatically since last May when I started, we have apparently reached the wrong audience. Every inquiring patient bellyaches over the prices and tries to talk him down. Yet my client is a master surgeon with over 30 years experience, an instructor of cosmetic plastic surgery at two universities and has penned three books. I know how to find a more well-heeled audience in the world of print but how is it done on the Internet? What can I do differently with SEO, blogging and social media to find a more qualified group of patients for my client?”

In answering Steve’s email, I realized that there are probably many webmasters and online marketers in a similar situation : just how DO you attract the most appropriate target audience to your web site? Maybe you’ve got traffic generation covered, but how do you make sure the traffic you are receiving has the best potential to convert into sales/sign-ups?

Here’s the advice I gave Steve:

Step 1

Record how customers found your client’s site. Was it word of mouth or via the web site? Did they come from a search engine? What keywords did they type in? Make sure there is a *how did you find us?* option for every email, phone or walk-in inquiry. Closely track your client’s site analytics to see where the bulk of the traffic is coming from. Once you have a more solid understanding of your current customers, you are ready for the next step.

Step 2

Perform detailed keyword research so you know what keywords and phrases your particular target market is searching for in search engines. Start by looking at the keywords providing the most traffic to the site. It’s easy to assume that because your client offers “plastic surgery”, your customers type “plastic surgery” into Google to find your products, right? But the truth is, you don’t actually know what your client’s customers are searching for unless you research it. They might be typing in “facelifts” or “nose jobs” or “rhinoplasty”. One of the biggest mistakes online businesses make with search engine marketing is targeting the wrong keywords.

Next up, create a seed list of keywords. Basically, this is a brain dump of all the keywords and phrases you think your client’s preferred potential customers might type into a search engine to find the products and services he offers. You need to get inside the heads of your potential visitors/customers. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute and think what would YOU type in to a search engine if you wanted to find a site like yours? Start with the keywords you know existing customers and site visitors have used. Then pass that list around the office, to your client, to your friends and get everyone to add the keywords *they* would use to find those same products and services. Keep going until you’ve got at least 50 keywords/phrases. That’s your search term seed list.

Now take that list and enter it into an online keyword research tool such as Keyword Discovery, Raven Tools or even the Google Keyword Tool. These tools show you how many searches each keyword/phrase attracts each day. Use this information to narrow down your choices. Don’t bother with keywords that generate less than 20 searches per day. Look at the most popular keywords in your list and choose the ones that relate specifically to your client’s service. Revise, streamline and revise some more to come up with your final list of the most relevant target search terms.

If you want to avoid the tire kickers, you’ll probably want to remove search terms such as *cheap plastic surgery*, *inexpensive facelifts* and similar themes from your list. If you are running AdWords campaigns, this is a lot easier because you just add keywords like -cheap and -free etc. to your negative keyword list.

When you have your final target list, get to work integrating those keywords into your web pages, blog posts and AdWords campaigns using your SEO knowledge. This will ensure that you receive more traffic from persons entering your target keywords and less traffic from tire kickers. Your site visitors should also be more qualified leads and further along in the research / buying process so it should result in more surgical bookings.

Step 3

Set up social media monitoring to track mentions of your target keywords on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networking sites. There are several tools to do this, but here are a couple of the best:

Raven Tools Social Monitor
Google Alerts
TweetBeep

When you see mentions of those target keywords, you or your client can contact the persons who made the post / tweet / status update to let them know of your client’s services. For example, say you are tracking the keyword phrase *rhinoplasty surgeon* and someone uses Twitter to tweet something like:

“@paminbeverlyhills: Can anyone recommend an excellent rhinoplasty surgeon in Beverly Hills? #lazyweb”

You will receive an alert and you can then approach that person on Twitter. Obviously this has to be done in a subtle, helpful way rather than coming across as pushy or spam-like. So your response might be something like:

“@beverlyhillssurgeon: Hey @paminbeverlyhills I saw your tweet earlier about seeking a rhinoplasty surgeon, just wanted to let you know we have over 30 years experience in rhinoplasty surgery. Let me know if we can help :-)*

This can be time-consuming, but well worth the effort because the leads are highly qualified and much more likely to convert.

Don’t forget, you can also use Facebook demographic targeting to promote your client’s business page or web site via Facebook advertising. For example, if you know that your client’s patients are mostly aged 40+ with tertiary education, you can choose to have the ads show only to Facebook users who meet that demographic. You can do the same thing using demographic targeting in Google AdWords.

Follow these 3 steps and start attracting more qualified leads to your web site. When you are tracking just the keywords and search phrases that you know are highly relevant to your business and/or using demographic targeting, you are able to more accurately pinpoint your market and pick and choose your customers.

Tire kickers begone!

 

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SMX Sydney 2012 – Christine Churchill – Advanced Keyword Modeling

This is a summary of Christine Churchill’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012. Christine Churchill SMX Sydney

Christine Churchill is the President and CEO of KeyRelevance.com, a full service online marketing company that specializes in helping businesses succeed on the web.

Christine starts by saying we need to understand the user intent with searches and where they are in the buying cycle.

Too many webmasters get the on-page SEO keywords right, but they don’t match content with searcher intent.

Keywords can indicate *exactly* where the consumer is in the buying cycle.

Christine recommends reading A Taxonomy of Web Search – a paper by Andrei Broder.

A lot of people still type in navigational queries into Google – using it as a browser e.g. CNN, Disney. Also typing informational searches eg, “How do I…”

Google rewards content that delivers the intent of original search. Searcher intent is key. Therefore, you should design your page to support the query type. Ideally, there should be no ads on an informational page.

Transactional searches should lead to a ecommerce or transactional page e.g. download, sign up, purchase etc.

 

Recommended Tools for Keyword Research

Google Keyword Toolbox is an obvious place to start. Another rarely used option is to put a URL into the Google Keywords Tool (as opposed to a keyword), to see related keywords for a particular site. Great source of potentially overlooked keywords.

Yahoo Clues offers a great source for keyword research and searcher demographic by region.

Google Contextual Targeting Tool (accessible via adwords) is like a digital version of the now defunct Wonder Wheel. It’s a free tool and builds a themed keyword list.

Google Trends shows US search trends in real time and related content themes growing in popularity.

DoubleClick Ad Planner is a great for competitive research.

Google Insights for Search is excellent for search term trends – future or past.

Google Instant makes a great keyword research tool as well. Don’t overlook Google’s predictive search for research purposes. It gives you great content ideas based on popular topics. But remember that Google Instant shows different results if used in Google Shopping Search.

Ubersuggest will give you alphabetical keyword suggestions.

Twitter Search is ideal for real time keyword trends.

YouTube Keyword Tool can give you additional ideas, particularly for promoting multimedia content.

YouTube Suggest is basically the same as Google Instant, but for YouTube searches. Search on YouTube for an initial keyword and notice the drop down auto-complete search suggestions to get keywords and ideas for popular video content.

 

Recommended Tools for Competitive Intelligence

Searchmetrics provides detailed competitor keyword information for paid, organic and universal search.

SEMRush provides competitor intelligence data for PPC bids, search rankings and more.

Spyfu enables you to see current and previous bids for PPC keywords, even ad content and historic performance.

SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool allows you to compare two keyword phrases to decide best one. Also shows you the link competition you might face to target particular keywords.

When trying to cope with the loss of referrer data in your analytics (the dreaded *not provided* stats) – look at Google Keywords tool for missing queries to see those from persons not logged in to a Google account when searching. Look at Bing and other engines as well to fill in the blanks. Use PPC tests to get a guide from impressions and infer that missing data from your analytics by looking at referrer keywords and phrases.

When you’ve found your sweet spot keyword list, use those keywords in ALL your digital data, not just web pages. That should include podcasts, videos, tweets, infographics and so on.

 

Geographical Keyword Research

Use region-specific keyword research tools where available. Use Excel to power your keyword research strategy, it’s a much overlooked tool. Watch that the Google keyword tool is accurate for your region. Perhaps subsidise this data with local research and impression data from your locally targeted Google AdWords campaign.

 

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