Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the links Category

Press Release Links Don’t Help Your Rankings

One of the old standby methods of improving link popularity has been press releases. Maybe not so much anymore. Recently, Google’s Matt Cutts wrote this:

I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.

The Open PressDoes this mean that press releases are a waste of time? Certainly not. The links from your press release itself no longer seem to confer any link popularity benefit. However, a well crafted press release might catch the eye of a reporter, a blogger, or another interested person who may write about you and the material in your press release. Any link to your website from those secondary sources will almost certainly contribute to your link popularity and, in turn, to your rankings in the search engines.

We’ve been de-emphasizing press releases as a link building tool for some time, and this clarification from Matt Cutts just clarifies what we’ve believed for some time. If you have something compelling to say in a press release, by all means submit it to online press release websites. Just don’t expect an immediate benefit from them until others pick up your story and run with it.

What Makes a Quality Site? Answers from Google.

Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting recently had a conversation with Google’s Matt Cutts about what makes a quality website. One of the essential points they drive home is that having a page that’s simply non-duplicative of other pages isn’t enough to gain good rankings.

Google's Matt Cutts speaks at a web convention.Inadvertent non-duplicate content

Many car repair websites, for example, have a page about brake jobs for people looking for brake service and/or information about brake maintenance.  Typically they all say pretty much the same thing. In fact, sometimes when creating their web page they look at other car repair websites to get ideas about what to talk about. Usually they put everything in their own words and feel good that they don’t have duplicate content.

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t still have duplicate information.

And quite frankly, search engines don’t do consumers of information any service if they display lots of web pages for a query that all just say basically the same thing.

The trick is to make sure your web pages provide an additional value not found on other similar pages. You have to figure out what makes you special, and then create pages that highlight that.

Mat Cutts also talks about a number of other things that reflect on a website’s quality, including their inbound link structure. It’s a thoughtful conversation and I recommend it to you.


A Penguin Recovery Odyssey

Google's Penguin updateVery few of our clients have been smacked with a loss of rankings from the recent Google Penguin algorithm update, but across the web many web sites have suffered. If you’ve been penalized under Penguin, it can be a frustrating job uncovering the reason for your loss of rankings and fixing it.

You may be able to benefit from the experience of Nick LeRoy, an SEO in Minneapolis who has recovered one website from a 75% loss of visitors and revenue. He writes about it in an article he entitled How I Smacked Google Penguin In Its Ugly Little Beak.


If you think you’ve suffered as a result of Penguin, Rank Magic can help.

5 Ways to Get Traffic Without Paying

Traffic is the goal.Traffic is the goal.

Traffic is how your website pays its way. High traffic results in more paying customers for you. Recognition of the need to improve traffic on your website is probably why you’re here, reading this blog right now. And there’s no shortage of people eager to take your money in exchange for promises of more traffic. Sadly, not all of them are worth the cost.

The good news

According to Longhorn Leads,

many methods of attracting viewers cost little or no money. Small business owners can spend a little time on promotion and get the same results as the big companies who outsource their internet marketing without spending fortunes on advertising.

Hannah Howard explains five ways to increase your traffic at little or no cost:

  1. Join the blogosphere. Posting comments on blogs related to your business. They usually allow a link back to your site connected with your comment.
  2. Exploit social media and guest posting. You can request links to your blog from other, related blogs. See our list of suggested blogs on the right as an example. Writing guest posts on others’ blogs gains additional exposure and links.
  3. Take advantage of free postings on classified websites. The best known of these is, but Hannah lists others you should also consider.
  4. Participate in article marketing. This isn’t as strong since the Panda and Penguin Google updates, but if you write articles other webmasters use on their websites, the “about the author” blurb can provide a highly relevant link back to your website.
  5. Don’t ignore the classic press release. If you have something newsworthy to say, by all means get the word out with press releases. There are several free online press release services that can give your story legs.

Check our Hannah’s full article for more ideas on how to leverage these traffic sources.

What are Reasonable Goals for SEO?

What can you expect from SEO?

Clients (and prospective clients) often ask us what they can expect from an SEO campaign. That’s an excellent question, because you need to set some sort of expectations so you can evaluate the success or failure of the process.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to set forth precise numeric goals in terms of the number of visitors, the precise rankings of given keyword phrases, the return on investment, or the dollar impact on your bottom line. But that doesn’t mean you can’t set reasonable and measurable expectations for a search engine optimization project. Here are some you might consider:

  • Traffic improvement  — your daily/weekly/monthly visitor counts should be noticeably higher after optimization than before. Set up traffic analysis (we like Google Analytics) ahead of time so you have a reasonable “before” level to compare your SEO results against.
  • Increasing number of your keywords in the top three pages of Google, Yahoo and Bing. Those three search engines get more than 95% of all searches in the US, so you needn’t worry about any others. By the time SEO has been going on for a year, your goal should be to have most of your keyword phrases showing up in the top three pages of these search engines.
  • Most of your ranking keywords on the first page in Google. This is a challenging goal, and it may take awhile before you achieve it.
  • Some keywords at the #1 position. This, too, is challenging unless you have some relatively less-competitive keywords. Clearly this is the ultimate goal for top visibility.
  • Link Popularity measures about average among your main competitors. These measures might include your inbound link count, Google PageRank, mozRank and Domain Authority. Those, in fact, are the very ones we report to our clients as part of our normal SEO Monitoring.