Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the keywords Category

A Few Google Notes From Matt Cutts

Matt CuttsMatt Cutts (“The Google Guy”) spoke at an industry meeting a few months ago, and as reported by Search Engine Land, there was news in what he had to say. Here are the most important points to note, in our opinion:

  • Spam reports now get 4 times as much priority as before in the spam queue at Google. If your competitors are using spammy SEO techniques, it can’t hurt to report them. (Your competitors can report you, too, of course, so remember to avoid black hat SEO tactics yourself.) And if you find really spammy web sites like link farms and MFA sites showing up for your keywords, by all means report them to Google.
  • Users are more likely to click on the first link in an article as opposed to a link at the bottom of the article. He suggested you put your most important links at the top of the page. They may not count more for SEO purposes, but will help in driving visitors to click on the links, especially call-to-action links that encourage visitors to buy.
  • Google will be looking at why exact domain matches rank so well. For example, if you have a site at it may rank too well for the keyword phrase blue widgets. Expect the importance of keywords in your domain name to be reduced. We’ve always encouraged different criteria for choosing your domain name.
  • When doing Keyword research, start with keywords your customer base is likely to use, and avoid industry jargon. The rule of thumb is called Ask 10 Taxi Drivers (meaning people NOT in the same business as yours).


We’re Interviewed on a Podcast

Podcast about SEO for home based businesses and virtual assistants.Darlene Victoria Gonzales runs A Virtual Perception, a podcast targeted at virtual assistants and home-based business owners. She recently interviewed Bill Treloar, owner and principal SEO consultant of Rank Magic for an overview and introduction to Search Engine Optimization.

Episode 78 of her podcast is entitled SEO Challenged? Start Here. In it, Darlene questions Bill about many aspects of search engine optimization for small business web sites:

  • What is SEO?
  • What about meta tags?
  • Why is the difference between text content and graphical text important?
  • Why can’t someone be good at both web design and SEO?
  • What’s the most powerful place to put your keywords?
  • What main two factors control where you rank in search engine results?
  • What are some link building best practices?
  • What’s the Duplicate Content Penalty?
  • What constitutes a good ranking?
  • What are some of your favorite SEO tools?
  • What’s Google PageRank?

Have a listen!

New Approach to Jump Start Your Inbound Links

We’ve written a lot in the past about the importance of link popularity for good search engine rankings. Link popularity counts even more heavily in Google than in the other search engines and it’s not something you can ignore. Links from a web site’s Helpful Resources page are good, but the best links are those that are embedded within a content rich paragraph related to your business. Couple that with the recent increased emphasis by Google on timely information from social networking sources like Twitter and blogs, and you have the basis for a new business model.

Net-Writers creates multiple=There’s a savvy little company called Net-Writers that’s been getting some impressive results with a niche service to help clients gain SEO traction by leveraging the power of this kind of relevant content. They build numerous inbound content-relevant, keyword-rich links by creating and publishing multiple blog posts for a client.  They start with 50 blog posts, each one with three keyword-rich links pointing to the page on their client’s site that’s optimized for them. This can be a powerful technique to supplement the on-page SEO and traditional link building we do at Rank Magic.

The copy they create won’t win prizes for style but it is professionally written and won’t embarrass their clients. This content is also totally controlled, which means it can be edited or taken down if the client has any accuracy or style issues with it.

Net Writers guarantees positive results, too, which they define as an improvement in your ranking position for your keywords. I haven’t seen the wording of that guarantee so I don’t know if it’s specific to Google or Yahoo or Bing, how much of a ranking improvement they promise, or whether they promise improvement on all of your targeted keywords. What I can say, though, is that I’m satisfied their approach works.

Net-Writers’ approach to link building isn’t Black Hat SEO, but it’s not totally White Hat SEO either; I think we need a new category of Gray Hat SEO. That’s because these blog posts are designed to feed keyword-rich links to the search engines, and aren’t really designed to drive traffic to your site in and of themselves. Will search engines eventually learn to detect this technique and lower the value of the links it generates? I doubt it. These are real blog posts, not fakes, and distinguishing them from totally innocent blog posts that just happen to link to a web site would be difficult or impossible. Only time will tell about that, but for now, and for many  businesses, this approach should realize measurable benefits.

Searchers Used Longer Queries in 2009

“The long tail is getting longer; 1- and 2-word queries are on the decline, while 4- and 5-word queries are rising. Even 3-word queries are down slightly, but not enough (in my opinion) to call it part of the trend just yet. […] Four-word queries are up 12% since 2007, and five-word queries are up 16%.”

So reported Small Business Search Marketing recently. More about how this might affect your keyword selections here.

Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords versus the headLong tail keywords don’t refer to monkeys, but to the typically longer keyword phrases that are very specific to what your website is selling and what people are looking for. They’re called “long tail” because on the bell curve of keyword search frequencies, these keywords are out at the edge. These are different from the shorter and more heavily-searched keywords referred to as “the head”.

For example:

The Head The Long Tail
mountain climbing California mountain climbing tours
laundry detergent environmentally safe laundry detergent
hardwood floors recycled pine flooring
cribs convertible wood baby cribs
car repair fix Service Engine Soon light

You need an appropriate mix of head keywords and long tail keywords. Long tail keywords have less competition from competing web sites, so it’s easier and quicker to get great rankings. But they have much less search volume than head keywords. People who find you with a long tail search are much more likely to convert into a paying customer, client, or patient, but there are fewer of those visitors  to begin with. The trick is to select the long tail keywords that are most likely to convert for you.

Long tail keywords are most effectively used in PPC marketing, because you can make up for the low volume of searchers on any particular term with a large number of different keywords. It’s less effective in organic SEO, where you need to optimize for specific keywords. For organic SEO, we recommend a middle ground. Find a mix of keywords that are specific enough to convert well, but which are searched for often enough to make it worth your while.