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Blog Business World

Blogs in business, marketing, public relations, and SEO search engine optimization for successful entrepreneurs

Saturday, April 30, 2005

 

Keyword Density: SEO considerations

Most website owners talk about their most important keywords, but very few really do anything about them.

Those often overlooked search terms, that are so important to a website’s placement in the search rankings, are a vital component of any search engine optimization (SEO) effort.

Without keywords for the search engines to index, there is literally nothing to find in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Keywords are the function of the search engines. As a result of those searches, the your most important keywords are what lead potential customers to your web pages Take care of your keywords, and they will take care of you.

The importance of keywords to a website is felt in two ways. The first area of consideration, when writing the on page and off page content, is keyword placement on the page. Where the keywords are located is important, to varying degrees, with the major search engines.

The second area of importance for keywords is their density on the page. How many keywords appear on the page, makes a difference to all of the search engine algorithms. The choice of which keywords to target on a page is often of vital importance, especially for highly competitive keywords.

Keyword factors for consideration

Each search engine, from industry dominant Google, to Yahoo, to MSN Search, to the various other search engines, has a different keyword calculation. Some search engines permit heavier keyword numbers and density on the page, while some like Google, have much stricter allowable density levels. The placement of keywords, in any number of locations on the page, has different results in the various search engines as well.

Consideration must also be given to such additional on page keyword modifications as bolding, italic, and actual keyword type size used. Other factors include the use of page titles, and their relative importance to the various search engines, as keyword delivery vehicles.

Consideration has to be given to the incoming link anchor text to a web page. Any linked off page content is, in fact, part of the receiving page’s total content.

Taking into consideration, both the placement and density of a web page’s keywords, will pay dividends for any website owner. Fortunately, keywords can be used in such a way as to propel a site higher in the search engine rankings.

While there are certainly no magic formulas, a few common sense ideas will pay off for most web pages.

Laser targeting the keywords

When planning which keywords to target on a page, a plan of action should be the first step. Be sure to choose only one, or two at most two keyword, for the focus of your efforts. In highly competitive keyword situations, no more than one keyword should be the topic on any page.

Keep the long term goal in mind, of ranking high for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. To score highly for that selected search term, a concentrated effort is essential. Think one keyword, with accompanying phrase, maximum for each page. In a competitive search field, the single keyword approach is the only one worth employing, if you want to rank well at all.

The site’s home page and internal pages should have slightly different focus, but should be created with the overall goal in mind. This is especially important for highly competitive keyword situations. Often a series of pages, each one supporting the others in an overall theme, is necessary to provide added keyword power. Since low, medium, and highly competitive keyword conditions require differing strategies, they need individual consideration.

For lower competitive search terms, there is no real need to concentrate a page’s entire effort on a single keyword. In fact, it might not be the best practice in that case at all. A website owner can target two or even three low competition keywords on a page.

With few webmasters targeting those search terms, the page can be focussed on all of them, ensuring the page be found by many different searches. Of course, not all keywords are that easily optimized.

Moderately competitive keywords comprise perhaps the largest category of search terms. A helpful practice, in the case of medium level difficulty keywords is to use them all on the home page. By placing the keywords front and center on the website’s home page, they become the focus of several themes on the site.

Each targeted keyword should then be provided with individually linked, and theme clustered internal supporting pages. By providing additional theme and topic related pages, the keywords are given extra support, and overall on and off page density.

For highly competitive keywords, much more concentrated effort must be applied, to the highly sought after search term. In heavy competition, only one keyword per page may be targeted. Any more than that, and the page’s keyword focus is lost. The entire effort of that page must be on that one all important search term.

Many additional focussed pages, perhaps even starting on the path to an authority site, must also be created to support that highly competitive keyword as well. The object is to create a powerful website theme, built around that single keyword. Anything less, and the site will not be able to compete for that term at all.

Regardless of the level of competition, it’s a good idea to become dominant in as many search terms within the site’s topic as possible. Once top search rankings are achieved with an important keyword, move to the next one. The more keywords are controlled, the more paths are available to enter the website, resulting in huge increases in visitor traffic.

Applying the tools to the job

There is no magic keyword density formula. There are only some guidelines to consider, when deciding how heavily to place keywords on a web page. Google has the strictest requirements, regarding keyword density. No more than 2% of a web page’s words should be the targeted keywords. Any more will be considered spamming.

On the other hand, Yahoo and MSN Search have much higher keyword density tolerances, perhaps as high as 5% of total words. That difference leaves quite a distance between the optimum limits for Google and the levels permissible in Yahoo and MSN. A prudent webmaster will recognize that a tradeoff will be necessary, while ensuring that the copy reads well for potential customers and clients.

The ideal compromise is to maximize the keyword levels for Google, without writing copy that doesn’t read well. Use the keywords only where they make sense when reading the copy. Poorly written copy might draw some extra visitor traffic, but is unlikely to convert that traffic into sales.

A website owner should be certain that the page’s most important keyword is included in the page title. Each web page should have a unique title, providing an extra keyword boost to that page. Titles are a very crucial part of the various search engine algorithms, and are an important way to prominently display the most sought after keyword on the page.

A good plan is to have a well linked site map, connecting the various supporting page, to the main targeted page. The links to the targeted page should contain appropriate anchor text, emphasising the main keyword. Each supporting page should be part of the overall theme, and provide additional keywords, for the focus page. It is especially important, to have as many theme related pages as possible, in highly competitive situations.

Try to get your linking partners to use link anchor text that contains your targeted keywords. For highly competitive keywords, strong anchor text from as many incoming links as possible, is vital for your pages to appear in the search rankings at all. While it’s highly unlikely that all inbound links will contain the same link text, be sure it’s not all identical in wording to avoid triggering any link text filters.

While it is debatable whether placing keywords early in the on page copy is helpful in Google, higher placement does appear to have some benefit in Yahoo and MSN Search. Those search engines give some additional weight to bolded keywords as well.

With keyword placement, early positioning is probably a good idea, provided the text flows well to the reader. Keywords sprinkled appropriately throughout the copy provides the best of both worlds.

Bolding keywords appears to help rankings in Yahoo and possibly MSN Search as well. The practice seems to have less influence in the Google search placements, however. Larger size fonts provide similar results. Enclosing the most important keywords in h1 and h2 tags to add extra keyword density, works with all search engines, provided the tags are used sparingly. Overuse could result in a loss of search rankings.

Adding a blog or forum component to a website significantly increases the overall site total of keywords. The additional keywords help to enhance the overall themes of the site.

With its regular, almost daily postings, a blog will add huge numbers of well themed keyword rich pages to the site. The frequency and freshness of the postings gives the site very favorable treatment in the search engines. The naturally attracted incoming links, a hallmark of blogs, are often accompanied by keyword anchor text and theme related sending pages.

Adding a forum to the site lets the forum’s own visitor traffic add unlimited keyword laden pages to the website. The additional pages move a site further along the road to authority site status, with the many keyword rich incoming links provided by referring forum members.

Conclusion

Keywords are the reasons that people discover a website. Through searches for information, visitors are led to a website. It’s important that a site provide as many opportunities to be included in those search results as possible.

By using the many tools at a webmaster’s disposal, a site can rank well for its most important keywords. By watching the density of the keywords on the page, and maximizing their effectiveness, a site can take full advantage of the various search engine algorithms.

Proper keyword placement, both on and off the page, will provide an additional keyword boost as well.

Take care of your most important keywords, and they will take care of you.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

 

Conversations With Experts recordings online







The first three Conversations With Experts recordings are available online for your listening enjoyment.

This highlyinformative business blogging series is hosted by Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff of the Build a Better Blog System.

The first of the three chats was with Paul Chaney of Radiant Marketing Group on The Evolution of Blogs as Business and Marketing Tools

The second in the discussion series was T.L. Pakii Pierce of How To Blog For Fun and Profit on Blogs As Social Marketing Tools.

The third in the blogging series was Yours Truly of Blog Business World talking about How to Use Blogs to Help Your Search Engine Rankings.

The rest of the powerful lineup of special guests can be found at the Conversations With Experts site. All are recognized leaders in the business blogging community.

The next expert in the series is Priya Shah of Blog Brandz on Using Blogs to Market Your Products & Services.

The teleseminar with Priya Shah takes place on Wednesday, May 4, at 8:30 pm EDT, 7:30 CDT, or 5:30 PDT.

You can register for this upcoming highly informative discussion at the Conversations With Experts registration page.

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Business blogs: Business growth made fun and easy

Business blogs are catching on with more and more businesses.

Traditional websites are beginning to add a blog component to their content.

The reason for the boom in business blogging is simple.

There are so many benefits to be gained from a business blog, that having one as part of a website, will soon be standard operating procedure.

The search engines like fresh content.

Blogs provide SEO power with every new post added to the blog. For example, if a new post is added daily, the search engine spiders from Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search, will be along to reindex a site just as often.

By being constantly updated and reindexed, a site will usually score higher rankings in the search engines for your most important keywords. As a result, when people search for information on the net, whether for knowledge or for online shopping, the blog will have contributed well to the bottom line.

Score one for a business blog.

Bloggers are free and generous linkers. Blog owners constantly link to posts on other blogs that interest them. Bloggers also link to blog posts that might interest their readers. Bloggers cross link with one another.

The search engines, and in particular the link obsessed Google, credit linked sites very highly. They view many incoming links as a sign of a site's importance and popularity. The added incoming links, resulting from the business blog, will do their job in getting higher search engine rankings for the site.

Score another one for the business blog.

Because relevance is the new buzzword around search engine circles, a business blog will really be of major assistance in that regard. Since most bloggers write their posts about similar and related topics, and link to bloggers who discuss the same general themes, blogs do very well in the relevance department.

Having relevant and on topic content is part of what the search engines expect from a top ranking website. The business blog provides even more themed content, with very little effort on the part of the blogger.

Looks like another score for the business blog.

Business blogs personalize a website.

Instead of simply offering company information, an online brochure, and shopping cart to check out the purchases, a business blog builds a relationship with current and potential customers and clients.

By activating the blog comments, and openly displaying e-mail and other contact information on the blog, the writer invites feedback. That openly sought response develops a conversation between the business blogger and the reader.

Conversation builds trust and mutual respect. Since people prefer to do business with other people whom they know and trust, the business blog has unlimited long term business development power. Lifetime customers, who also serve as customer evangelists recommending your business to others, are like gold.

They were helped to achieve that status as a direct result of your business blogging efforts.

Score yet another point for business blogs.

These concepts of business blog value are not lost on progressive thinking website owners.

These webmasters see blogs as adding tremendous value to the bottom lines of their online businesses.

Through a combination of high search engine rankings, and returning website visitors to read the latest blog postings, more lifelong customers and brand evangelists are created for the business.

That means way more dollars into the old bank account.

What is really great, is the fact that I only gave you the search engine value and lifetime customer building aspects of the business blog.

I have only given you part of the story.

There are many more reasons for launching a business blog.

The high search engine rankings are only the beginning of the fun resulting from adding a blog component. The lifelong customers are only the end result of the business blog contribution to the company.

Business blogs = dollars for an online business.

That is simply stating a fact!

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

 

Visitor traffic: Ideas for gaining more blog readers

There are few things that create more initial excitement, than the launch of your brand new blog.

You have built the best blog you possibly can, and you’re waiting for the visitor traffic to start pouring right in.

You wait.

And you wait some more.

Something needs to be done to make those visitor counters start clicking; and soon.

Here are some ideas to get some visitors to your blog.

While each one, in and of itself, may not bring the thousands of unique visitors you would like, taken together they can add up to some fairly nice totals.

Every visitor helps.

Some online traffic building ideas

Place a link to your website on all of your outgoing e-mails. It sounds simple enough, yet very few people do it.

In fact, your website URL should be featured prominently on every piece of paper, including letters, faxes and business cards, that leave your office. Many people will click on your website link, giving you some instant traffic.

One of my favorite promotional ideas, is participation at various message boards and forums, relating to your area of interest. Be sure to be helpful and not blatantly pushing your product. Answer questions fully and politely, and freely provide solid information.

Develop a reputation for being knowledgeable and helpful, and you will be regarded as an expert in your field. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to start discussions either. There are many other people who will be wanting that same question asked, but are often too shy to do so.

Don't forget to place a link back to your site, in your signature line, sometimes referred to as a sig line. Most forums encourage the use of signature lines. They often provide space, for some additional information on your site, as well. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many people will click on your sig line link.

Add some reciprocal links. Many people are concerned about theming (the practice of search engines downgrading links that are not part of your blog’s overall topic area) but if done correctly, there should only be benefits for you. One technique for link gathering is to find out who is linking to other similar blogs.

More advanced online visitor finders

Offer a free download. Items that can be offered for free to visitors include e-books on your website’s area of expertise, or some helpful hints for using your products, or on selecting suitable vendors. Free reports on any topic, related to your website are very good at attracting visitors.

If you don’t have your own download available, or the time to write one yourself, there are many free ones on the internet that you can add to your blog. In the long run, however, it’s better to offer your own exclusive pdf or downloadable files, as they won’t be available anywhere else. If you use affiliate sites, for your downloads, they can be linked to your blog as well.

Write internet articles. Take every opportunity to write guest articles for other websites, newsletters, and blogs. Many bloggers, newsletter editors, and webmasters will happily offer the chance for you to be a guest columnist on their blogs, newsletters, or sites.

Simply offer to write a guest column, or an article for a few bloggers and webmasters. Start with a few people who you know. They are the most likely to agree to your offer. They will appreciate the added content, which will help them to gain more keyword strength, in the search engine rankings.

Everyone benefits

Be sure to include a short biography of yourself, and your blog URL. Include a live clickable link back to your blog. You will receive a lot of visitors, as people will already be familiar with your advice and expertise, based on the article itself.

Get your blog included in as many free or low cost directories as possible.

An exhaustive list of blog only directories, including various RSS directories, can be found at Robin Good's great blog.

Along with the standard internet blog directories, be sure to include the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) and Yahoo Directory, in your submission plans. Note that DMOZ has become very blog friendly, and has even added a weblog category.

Don’t overlook the very small and specialized directories, related specifically to your field of business. There are also many free blog directories that are a must for all bloggers.

All of these directories are free. They may not provide a lot of traffic each, but collectively can create some welcome added visitors to your blog.

Don’t neglect finding visitors from offline sources

Write a press release for distribution to the news media. If your business is doing anything that could be considered newsworthy, be sure to send a press release, to the appropriate media outlets. News releases could point out new executive additions or substantial increases in staffing, expansion plans, new products, or a business anniversary.

Be sure to write the press release as a news item, and not as an advertisement, if you want it published. Think like a news editor and offer stories that the publication would want to print.

When you send the release, be certain to include all of your business details, about how you can be reached for an interview. Include your blog URL on all of your press releases. As an added bonus, all of your news releases can be archived on your site, as added keyword rich content, for being found by the search engines.

Do some old fashioned face to face networking.

Visit with as many groups in your community as you possibly can, prior to joining. Some groups are more educationally oriented, some are mainly in search of volunteers, and others are interested in facilitating business contacts. Learn as much as you can about the group, its support for business networking, the quality of its leadership, and its general tone.

Once you choose the groups you wish to join, become involved in their activities. Sign up as a volunteer on a few of their committees. If at all possible, select one that has some relation to your field of business.

Be seen as a helpful person and a strong business resource. If people view you as an expert, willing to share advice freely in your area of business, they will gravitate towards you for ideas and assistance. It also serves to keep your name and business visible to them.

Be certain that your blog URL is included on all of your business cards, brochures, and other promotional materials. Visitors to your site will follow.

Use a little word of mouth advertising. Simply tell everyone you know about your website. Give them incentive to tell others by doing a little viral marketing. Have something humorous or interesting, to send around the internet, via e-mail or instant messenger.

People love to spread the word, often to their entire mailing list. Make certain a link to your blog is included as part of the marketing message. Use word of mouth marketing to your advantage.

Watch your blog visitor counter explode with new visitors.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 

Carnival of the Vanities at The Ravings of John C.A. Bambendek

The 136th edition of the longest running internet blog carnival, the well known Carnival of the Vanities, is up at John Bambendek's political blog which he calls The Ravings of John C.A. Bambendek

Carnival of the Vanities is the original collection of blog postings, assembling some of the best and wide ranging bloggers on the internet.

This week's Carnival of the Vanities entries include politics, literature, science, medicine, technology, business, culture, and sports.

I have an entry in this week's Carnival of the Vanities as well.

My entry post is entitled "Non-profits can profit from blogs" where I discuss how not for profit organizations can benefit from adding a blog component to their marketing, promotional and communications efforts.

To participate in the Carnival of the Vanities, or any of the other blog carnivals, one of the easiest techniques is to use the all inclusive carnival entry form at The Conservative Cat.

Another participation option is to simply e-mail your entry to the host of the week.

That's what I do.

I have the honour of hosting Carnival of the Vanities right here at Blog Business World on Wednesday, June 1, 2005.

As I suggest elsewhere, hosting and contributing to the various internet blog carnivals is a great promotional idea for your blog.

Next week's edition of Carnival of the Vanities will be at Taylor W. Buley's political blog called Fresh Politics - Politics From The Student Perspective.

In the meantime, head on over to The Ravings of John Bambendek hosting of Carnival of the Vanities and enjoy the posts on offer.

You will almost certainly be introduced to some great new blogs.

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Conversations With Experts: Blogs and SEO - Wayne Hurlbert







Wednesday, April 27, 2005, 8:30 p.m. ET - FREE

Our next conversation is this Wednesday, April 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET, featuring Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World.

Yes, that's me!

Conversations with Experts: How to Build Your Business On and Off-line

Hosted by Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff, Build a Better Blog System.

Using Blogs to Help Your Search Engine Rankings

Wednesday, April 27, 2005, 8:30 p.m. ET - FREE

Guest Expert: Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World, featured in the Build a Better Blog System.

Achieving high search engine rankings in Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search is a goal of almost every online business. Getting to the top of the search rankings is often a difficult and seemingly impossible task for many people.

Adding a business blog component to your search engine marketing efforts can provide a fast track to the head of the search engine rankings class, without the endless hours of stress filled work.

Because of the nature of blogs, and their emphasis on content, linking, and theme relevance, blogs are almost designed with the search engines in mind. Instead of long days spent searching for incoming links, and finding sites that provide useful information for your visitors, writing regular blog posts will help reach your site's link goals, in a much shorter time.

With all of the changes in the way search engines rank websites it's of vital importance that you understand the methods used by the search engines. It's even more important to know how a blog fits very well with how the search engines develop those search rankings.

Wayne Hurlbert is a search engine optimization and internet marketing professional. He provides daily SEO, marketing, and public relations information on business blogging and online business at Blog Business World.

Wayne's articles on SEO and internet marketing appear regularly at SEO Chat and at WebProNews as well as many other blogs and websites all over the internet.

He has been interviewed by Blogosphere Radio and by Search Engine Radio and is in demand as a speaker and for interviews on blogging, marketing, and SEO topics.

Registration: http://www.ConversationsWithExperts.com

Conversations with Experts is sponsored by Build a Better Blog System.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

Press releases: Getting media coverage

Press releases are a powerful tool for any online or offline business.

Your blog, website, or any online business promotional efforts, can be multiplied many times over by being the topic of a news story.

A mention of you and your online business, in any of the online or offline media, will get your business story out to a wider audience than almost any other method.

By being the subject of a news story, your site and business receive an implicit endorsement, that no amount of money spent on advertising can match.

People tend to put more confidence in a business that is covered in a news article than they do in any paid advertisement. It should be part of your business promotional strategy to get your message into the various news media.

The established road into the news media is by way of a press release.

Your first step is to find a newsworthy story. In the news business, that is referred to as the “angle”. To find a news angle, many people suggest thinking like a journalist.

An even better idea is to think like an editor. The publication editor will always want to know the news value of the story and its angle. It’s up to you to provide it for them. Send them a press release.

There are many story ideas lurking in your business right now. You may have a new product that serves a specific need. Your website may have been redesigned in a new and unique way. Your staff may have had additions. Your site may have some special holiday or seasonal value. You may be involved in some unusual promotional or charitable events. There is also the good old human interest story.

A press release is like a cover letter and resume for your news story. It is written like a news story. In fact, some publications will print your press release without alteration, but don’t count on it. The best idea is to write it like a journalist would and review it through the eyes of the editor.

To start writing your press release, you must include some basic and necessary components.

Start with a headline. The headline is probably the single most important part of the release. It is the grabber. It makes or loses the sale. A busy editor, inundated with hundreds of press releases may not read beyond the headline.

Make it count. Words like You, New, How, Now, are especially important and will help grab the editor’s attention.

Like the headline in a good sales letter, newsletter, or your website, spend the majority of your time on the headline. It can make or break whether your story gets included or not. A headline should convey the idea of the article and compel the editor to read on to the lead paragraph.

The lead paragraph will answer the classic five who, what, where, when, and why questions. It should flow smoothly from the idea conveyed in the headline.

The lead, as it’s called, should answer directly to the headline. If it doesn’t either the lead, the headline, or both should be rewritten to send the same message.

The main body of your press release appears in the middle, following the lead paragraph. Here is where you provide the supporting news story for your lead and headline. Be sure to include some quotes from the key people involved in the story.

Write the press release in the inverted pyramid style. By that, I mean place the most important information first, and the less important supporting information second. Use short sentences with action verbs.

Be sure your press release reads as a news story and not as a sales letter. If it sounds like sales literature, it will likely end up in the trash or delete file.

At the end of the release, be certain to have your name, phone number where you are available, and a link to your blog or website.

Your contact information should also appear at the top of the release, below the headline. There you would include your company name, your contact name, address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail address, and your website URL.

Make yourself readily available and easily reached at all times to the media. If your release is not used, but you are easily contacted, you may still find yourself asked about other news stories in your industry.

If at all possible, get to know as many editors and journalists, who cover your industry and business in general. That familiarity, can get your press release noticed, and your name remembered, for other industry news stories.

Send your press release to the online and traditional offline media who cover news stories in your industry. If the news angle you have chosen has wider appeal, feel free to send it to other media who cover that news area.

Avoid sending your release to media who would have no interest in your story. Don’t ever be seen as a spammer. Your future releases will invariably wind up deleted if you are regarded that way.

While everyone imagines their story in the big city daily newspapers, they are only the tip of the iceberg. For them, your best bet is the business or technology section.

Don’t overlook small weekly newspapers. Their distribution is local and their readers are your potential customers. Often pressed for time and staff resources, they may publish your release as is.

Many trade and industry publications, both online and offline, publish news stories in your industry. These highly specialized and targeted publications are read by those people in your business area.

These magazines are very interested in receiving interesting and informative stories about your business, personnel, and products. They usually have special sections pertaining to those matters, and need stories to fill them.

Don’t forget to send your release to the many internet press release distribution sites like PRWEb.

Your blog and online business promotional efforts, can be multiplied many times over, by being the topic of a news story.

Your blog or website will receive valuable incoming links from all online media, and from many online versions of offline media as well. Links from media sites, who are often authority sites themselves, are strongly themed to your site.

Media site links will enhance your blog or website's search engine rankings and incoming link totals. They will also go far towards establishing your own website, as an authority site, for your most important keywords.

Make your releases available along with an entire press kit. That kit should include company information, biographies of key personnel, and all previous releases relating to your business. You will need them for journalists when you are contacted about an article.

Along with a maintaining hard copy version, the online press kit will provide benefits too. The press kit’s keyword rich content will add more value to the search engines.

By sending out targeted press releases, to online and offline media outlets who cover your industry, you can receive valuable free publicity. That media exposure is better than any amount of paid online or offline advertising. By being the topic of a news story, your business gains almost immediate stature as an expert in the field.

By forming and maintaining available, reliable, and honest media contacts, you can also be quoted as an industry expert in other news stories. Keeping the channels open with the media will help you.

Talk to the various journalists and editors in your business area. Send them informal story ideas, even if they are not about your own company. You may still be quoted in the resulting article. Your own press releases will receive a warmer reception when you send them too.

Press releases can help your business reach new customers and clients with free publicity that money simply can’t buy.

Find a news angle in your business.

Send out your press releases today.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

 

Blog promotion and marketing: Message boards and forums

Almost everyone is searching for ways to promote and market their blogs. I’m sure you are no exception.

Simply building a blog, and placing out there on the internet, doesn’t guarantee success in internet marketing. In fact, by failing to publicize and market your blog or any other website, it is almost certainly doomed to failure.

The old idea of “if you build it, they will come” might work for a movie script writer. It won’t likely work in the real world. You need to find simple, low cost ways to promote your blog to potential readers. For a business blog writer, those readers are also potential customers and clients.

One proven technique, that is well known and practiced by the internet marketing pros, is posting on internet message boards and forums. By posting on the message forums, savvy marketing people gain visitors, establish themselves as experts in their field, and multiply their success many times over. You can too.

All you have to do, is start to think like a marketing professional. The internet discussion boards, and even some of their other members, will do much of the marketing on your behalf.

Internet message and discussion forums are everywhere. Their many members discuss topics ranging from baseball to photography to crafts to search engine optimization. Whatever your business or hobby, there are numerous internet message forums awaiting your membership.

There are also some very good and active blog specific message boards. You will want to make a point of joining and participating on them.

Blogger Talk

Blogger Forum

Forum4Bloggers

Yahoo Blogging Community

About.com Weblog Forum

To join most message boards, you will have to register as a member. The membership process usually requires you to provide a user name.

You may use your real name, or if you prefer, you can create a fictional pen name, called a “handle”. You will be required to provide a valid e-mail address for communications.

Some forums require some additional personal information, to protect the message board, from those who might wish to destroy their online community. Your information is almost universally protected by a password.

Once you have that information in place, and had your membership approved and confirmed, you are almost ready to post.

You are not quite ready yet, however. You still have a few things to do, in order to have your message board postings help market and promote your business and your blog.

In order to gain new visitor traffic, develop a solid reputation, and gain search engine optimization benefits, you must create what is known as a signature file, or “sig line”.

What a signature file does, is create a live link back to your website, from the message forum itself. That link into your website is very important.

The signature file for your link should not simply be your website’s URL. If at all possible, avoid that type of signature, as it doesn’t describe your business. It also provides less than the desired level of search engine optimization. Using your blog title is better, but still is not what you want to use.

Use a your targeted keyword phrase as your signature. If you can use the keywords, right in the live link, that is the best possible signature. It provides a keyword inbound link to your website.

Many message forums permit the use of additional descriptions, brief offers to visitors, phone numbers, and even physical and e-mail addresses. Take advantage of these free promotional vehicles.

By targeting your most important keyword phrases, you accomplish several important goals at one time. You successfully describe your blog or business, and possibly what your blog offers for anyone clicking on the link.

You also gain powerful keyword rich backlinks to your blog, enhancing your incoming link totals. Incoming links help raise your blog in the various search engines for your keywords.

Armed with a message board membership and a signature file, you are now ready to begin posting on the forum.

When you post, you want to be polite. Ask good questions seeking any information that you require. There are no foolish questions. Everyone was a first time poster at some point, so don’t be shy.

If you are able to answer other members’ questions, feel free to do so. By providing good informative answers that seek to help others, you will develop a reputation as being an expert in your field. That will go far in enhancing your business reputation as well.

As you develop a reputation for providing informative and helpful postings, your opinions and posts will almost always be read by other members.

Since the members of the message board are also interested in the same subjects as you, they are all potential readers for your blog. Their families, friends, and business associates are, by extension, also your potential blog readers.

By becoming well known to the board membership, your reputation and that of your business will grow. People usually prefer to do business with people whom they know. That would be you, if you have been writing good thoughtful and informative posts.

They will click on your signature line and check out your blog, your business, your products, and your services. Many will become customers and some will even recommend you to others as well.

Most blog message forums are search engine spider friendly. It is important to note, however, that not all message boards are crawled regularly by search engine robots; but most are. Make certain that you check the search engine friendliness of the board prior to joining.

The backlinks created by your signature file will be crawled by the spiders. Google often includes forum posts in your backlink count. Since Google only displays incoming links, with a PageRank 4 or higher, those are very good incoming links indeed. Posting on forums simply increases your number of incoming links.

By placing your blog’s most important keyword phrase in your signature file, your keyword power in the search engine results pages (SERPs) is enhanced. The more keyword rich links you can create, that are pointing toward your site, the better.

As you post on a regular basis, and establish yourself as an expert in your industry, you will find a number of other members linking their site to yours.

These natural links are a tremendous boost to both your site’s Google PageRank and to your search engine placements for your keywords.

The potential for additional natural incoming links, makes posting on a message boards a powerful technique, for increasing your backlink total.

You will also find theme related blog owners who will want to engage in traditional link swaps as well. These exchanged links are still helpful to your blog. They are especially beneficial if they are from sites that are related to your own.

Seeking out a number of message boards, related to your area of interest, is a powerful way to market your blog.

Your marketing efforts will be greatly enhanced through your participation, as an active contributor, to your various discussion boards. Members of those forums will see you as an expert in your field, making it much more likely that they will become your customers and clients in the future.

Your search engine marketing will improve as well. The additional incoming links, resulting from your post signature line, will enhance your Google PageRank and your search engine results.

Keyword rich incoming links will raise your blog higher in the search placements. You also have the potential to receive many natural incoming links, along with a number of themed link exchanges.

Join the many great internet message boards today, and start posting your way to success.

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Peakalk hosts Carnival of the Capitalists

This week sees a market approach for the travelling business show, recognized by one and all as Carnival of the Capitalists makes a stop at Pieter Dorsman's politics and markets blog called Peaktalk.

Instructions are provided for making your formatting selection.

Talk about responsive to the individual likes and requirements of the readers!

This week's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists highlights some of the best bloggers writing on the internet today.

Blogging topics presented include entrepreneurship, management, market trading, internet commerce, marketing, the national and global economies, and technology.

As you would expect from Peaktalk there are many discussions of business, markets, and economics.

It's always great to read and discover the many high quality blogs out there in the blogosphere.

We don't always get to them all, and this edition of Carnival of the Capitalists has introduced many of us to some brand new ones.

As I am always privileged to do, I have an entry in this week's Carnival of the Capitalists as well.

My entry post this week is entitled "Google penalties: Getting them removed" where I discuss how a site can avoid the various filters and penalties imposed by the Google search engine.

If you wish to submit an entry to next week's, or any Carnival of the Capitalists edition, e-mail your entries to the new address:

cotcmail -at- gmail -dot- com

You can always use the handy entry form at Gongol.com where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Talk about making it easy to be included!

Another brand new form for sending entries to all of the internet carnvivals is provided by The Conservative Cat. This is a great one stop entry drop, for all your blog post entries, for every blog carnival.

If you are searching for new and exciting ways to expand your blog's readership, you should seriously consider sending an entry to Carnival of the Capitalists.

Merely being included in the company, of the first rate regular Carnival of the Capitalists contributors, will enhance the reputation of your blog.

The extra visitors can't sent to your blog won't hurt either!

The growth and staying power, of Carnival of the Capitalists, is beginning to catch the attention of people outside the blogging community. Each hosting, brings a fresh assortment of new readers, to the various blogs involved.

The visitors aren't only bloggers anymore.

Readership is expanding to include the mainstream media, various government and private organizations, many businesses, and other interested people from beyond the blogging community.

Many people are introduced to some tremendous blogs that they might otherwise have missed.

Next week's Carnival of the Capitalists will make a visit to the group blog INCITE.

In the meantime, click that mouse over to the Peaktalk hosting of Carnival of the Capitalists.

If the great posted entries don't convince you to click, or the possibility of finding some brand new blogs to read doesn't do it, then Carnival of the Capitalists certainly will offer you a chance to get to the peak of the market. (groan)

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

 

I guest on Conversations With Experts this week







Wednesday, April 27, 2005, 8:30 p.m. ET - FREE

Our next conversation is this Wednesday, April 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET, featuring Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World.

Yes, that's me!

Conversations with Experts: How to Build Your Business On and Off-line

Hosted by Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff, Build a Better Blog System.

Using Blogs to Help Your Search Engine Rankings

Wednesday, April 27, 2005, 8:30 p.m. ET - FREE

Guest Expert: Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World, featured in the Build a Better Blog System.

Achieving high search engine rankings in Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search is a goal of almost every online business. Getting to the top of the search rankings is often a difficult and seemingly impossible task for many people.

Adding a business blog component to your search engine marketing efforts can provide a fast track to the head of the search engine rankings class, without the endless hours of stress filled work.

Because of the nature of blogs, and their emphasis on content, linking, and theme relevance, blogs are almost designed with the search engines in mind. Instead of long days spent searching for incoming links, and finding sites that provide useful information for your visitors, writing regular blog posts will help reach your site's link goals, in a much shorter time.

With all of the changes in the way search engines rank websites it's of vital importance that you understand the methods used by the search engines. It's even more important to know how a blog fits very well with how the search engines develop those search rankings.

Wayne Hurlbert is a search engine optimization and internet marketing professional. He provides daily SEO, marketing, and public relations information on business blogging and online business at Blog Business World.

Wayne's articles on SEO and internet marketing appear regularly at SEO Chat and at WebProNews as well as many other blogs and websites all over the internet.

He has been interviewed by Blogosphere Radio and by Search Engine Radio and is in demand as a speaker and for interviews on blogging, marketing, and SEO topics.

Registration: http://www.ConversationsWithExperts.com

Conversations with Experts is sponsored by Build a Better Blog System.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

 

Relationship marketing: Business blogs are the key

Relationship marketing.

You've often heard the term used, but were never really certain what it meant.

It does sound kind of touchy feely, doesn't it?

Really all it means, however, is building good long term customer relations through interpersonal communication.

To turn your present marketing system into relationship marketing, you have to change your outlook somewhat. Traditionally, marketers have located their target market segments, presented their offer, and made the sales. It's always been a single step process.

Relationship marketing looks at customers and clients over a longer term. It takes into account the lifetime value of a customer.

Many experts think it costs anywhere from six to ten times as much, to find a new customer, than to sell to an existing one. With those financial realities in mind, the approach makes some sense, and some real dollars.

Relationship marketing is based on the idea that people prefer to do business with people who they know and like. After all, it's easier to buy from a friend, than from someone you've never heard of before. It's a matter of building trust.

The focus is on a multi-step marketing system, built on conversation between the blogger and reader, that works for the lifetime of the customer.

It's said that people need to hear an offer at least seven times before they buy. That concept certainly works against the single step marketing method.

That is where a business blog can be really helpful. A reader can be reached seven times with ease, and many more times besides, through the blogging interaction.

As you write your daily blog entries, your readers get to know you and your business on a more personal level. Your blog begins that all important relationship with your prospects and current customers. You have started a blogging conversation.

As they read about your daily business activities, your problem solving ideas, your business advice, and your various products, they begin to think of themselves as a part of the company.

In fact, they are!

The prospective buyers for your products and services begin to turn into long term customers over time. Since they already know about you and your organization, it naturally follows that they will buy from you.

Your existing customers will remain loyal to your business, through the regular personal contact of your blog. Your customers will not only stay loyal, but they will often bring tons of valuable referral business to your company. Happy customers are your best marketing friends.

They will become customer brand evangelists for your business and its products and services.

By creating a business blog, you can develop strong bonds with your existing and future customers. Instead of treating them as numbers, you have formed a long term relationship with them.

By means of the interaction created by the blog, you have helped them become part of the business process. They are not simply customers or consumers, but an integral part of the company. Their purchases, of your products and services, are a natural response to your blog entries.

It is certainly not a one step sales system!

Creating a relationship with your customers and clients doesn't just pay off financially for your company. It is also rewarding personally for you; and for them.

Start your blog and build those long term relationships.

You'll be glad you decided to utilize a business blog for your relationship marketing.

The results will last a lifetime.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

 

Non-profits can profit from blogs

Blogs are a powerful addition to any non-profit organization's marketing and public relations effort.

Blogs work well, either as a blog section within the site, or as a free standing blog linked to the organizational website.

Non-profit organizations include charities, industry organizations, special community events, trade unions, and Chambers of Commerce.

The goal of any non-profit is not to turn a financial profit in the generally accepted sense. Their goal is to put forward the causes and interests of the organization's membership.

The value of blogs to any non-profit is almost unlimited.

First of all, a blog provides a powerful informational vehicle for the association. The Board of Directors and association staff can keep the membership up to date with the latest initiatives and activities of the organization.

Because a blog is constantly updated, with fresh content, the organizational leaders can maintain up to the minute contact with the members.

Since one of the major difficulties faced by many non-profit organization is membership recruitment and retention, a blog can display the benefits of membership, in real time. Regular postings of how members benefited tangibly from joining the non-profit, can be a useful and interesting series on the blog.

Blogs help the organization in recruiting volunteers for its many activities, from policy committees to fund raising to membership recruitment drives. Openly posting notices of upcoming association events will attract volunteers from the readership.

A blog serves avaluable public relations function for both local and regional news media. Even the national media may pick up stories from a non-profit organization's blog.

Journalists are known to read many blogs on a daily basis, searching for newsworthy article ideas. By posting the policy positions on the blog, as well as distributing them by way of traditional press releases, the story has a greater chance of coverage in the media.

Constant updates about activities and initiatives, on the blog, can go far to helping journalists write about your organization.

Often, non-profit organizations fall victim to some bad press coverage. A blog can get the organization's message out to the media in a hurry. A rapid response, to real or perceived problems, will go far in enhancing the association's image and reputation in the community.

Fund raising can gain a boost from the blog as well.

By regularly highlighting how the money raised by the organization, has helped real people overcome their challenges, the blog will make raising donation levels much easier. Fund raising volunteers will be another result of the charity's success stories.

Charities are a natural home for blogs. By discussing the worthwhile cause, and utilizing the personalization power of blogging, charitable organizations can benefit greatly by blogging. Information about the charity and the people it serves, combined with success stories, form a ready source of posting ideas.

As worthwhile causes, links to the charity's blog will be frequent and powerful, propelling the organization to the top of the search engine rankings. As a high ranking site, the organization's blog adds credibility. Along with that credibility would arrive an increase in volunteers and in donation revenue.

Chambers of Commerce, attempting to gain public support for business, will do very well with blogs. By showing the general public and their elected representatives, how a strong vibrant business community benefits everyone with more jobs and a stronger local tax base, support for business will grow.

Many businesses already maintain blogs, and will happily link to the Chamber's blog.

Small businesses, in particular, will benefit from being part of the Chamber of Commerce reciprocal links from its blog. Association with other businesses, and the networking opportunities afforded through working together, can form another frequent posting idea for the organization.

As you can see, blogs have much to offer to non-profit organizations.

The benefits of a blog to association leaders and managers are endless.

It's time your non-profit organization added a blog to its communications program.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Google PageRank FAQs

What is Google PageRank?

Google PageRank (one word) is Google’s measure of the relative importance of a web page on the internet. The numbers rank from 0 to 10. The higher the number, the stronger the PageRank.

Is the PageRank (PR) number for the entire site?

PageRank is determined for each individual web page, as every page on your website has a different PR. The site home page is likely to have the highest PR as it will have the most sites linking to it. Each internal page will have a different Google PageRank In many cases, the PageRank for a very informative and heavily linked article on an internal page, will be higher than that of the site’s home page.

How is PageRank determined?

PageRank is calculated based on both the quantity and PageRank quality of your incoming links. The higher the PR of your incoming links, and the fewer outbound links there are on a page, the more PR is passed to your web page. For example, a web page with a fairly high Google PageRank of 6, but divided among many outbound links, might pass along much less PageRank than a PR4 page with only one or two outgoing links. It’s best to consider PageRank transfer on a case by case basis, than as an overall blanket assessment. The number of variables is simply to high for easy calculations.

Is each inbound link important to the overall total?

PageRank is a form of a voting system. A link to a page is a vote for that page. Higher PageRank pages are viewed by Google as more important. Their votes are given more value by Google. In some cases, much more value. In general, the more voting links, the stronger the PageRank.

Does the number of links from a page make a difference?

The total number of outbound links from a page makes a huge difference in the amount of PageRank transferred to each receiving page. A web page with ten outbound links sends one tenth of the total available flow to the receiving page. A page linking to only one page sends all of the available PageRank transfer to the next web page.

How does a page move higher from one PageRank level to the next?

PageRank is represented numerically from a low of PR0 to a rarely achieved high of PR10. PageRank is not a series of equal steps. It is logarithmic in its calculation. In the same way that the earthquake Richter scale is exponential in calculation, so too is the mathematics behind Google PageRank. It takes one step to from a PR0 to a PR1, it takes a few more steps to PR3, it takes even more steps to PR4, and many more steps again to PR5, and so one. Each level is progressively harder to reach.

Does increasing the content change the Google PageRank?

Adding fresh content doesn’t provide a direct impact on Google PageRank. The transfer is entirely dependent upon inbound links to the page. On the other hand, providing interesting, informative and theme relevant content will attract many natural one way links to that page. Along with each inbound link, arrives a fresh infusion of PageRank.

How does theme relevance affect Google PageRank?

Theme relevance refers to how related to one another is the subject matter of two interlinked web pages. If both pages discuss tigers, then they are highly theme relevant. It’s thought that Google may be implementing a system of Topic Sensitive PageRank, designed to pass along varying percentages of available PageRank, based on theme relevance. The more closely related the pages, the higher the PageRank amount transferred.

How does my PageRank increase?

A. PageRank increases in a geometric manner similar to the earthquake Richter Scale. For example, it is harder to go from a PR4 to a PR5, than it was to reach the PR4 from a PR3. In a similar fashion, it's even harder to get to a PR 6, than it was to get to PR5 from PR4, and so on up. Each level requires increasingly more high value incoming links than did the previous level.

How can I find out my Google PageRank?

PageRank is displayed in increasing amounts of green on a gauge on the Google Toolbar. The Google toolbar can be downloaded for a PC at http://toolbar.google.com. The toolbar also displays a sampling of the page’s inbound links, but is not considered a reliable indicator of current PageRank. There is no Google Toolbar currently available for a Mac. Google maintains the true PageRank internally, and the toolbar display is generally agreed to be very inaccurate.

How soon do the backlinks and PageRank show up on my Google Toolbar?

It often takes two full monthly updates for all of your incoming links to be discovered, counted, calculated and displayed as backlinks. Even then the PageRank displayed on the Google toolbar is outdated. Google maintains the correct PageRank internally at their own computers. The green line shown on the toolbar is often very outdated, and very possibly entirely incorrect.

Do all of my backlinks get displayed along with the PageRank?

Google only shows the backlinks it has found and calculated for your pages that have a PR4 or higher. All links are included in the tabulation, however. Like the PageRank display, the backlink display on the toolbar is very misleading, and under represents the total numbers of inbound links, making do it yourself PageRank calculations more difficult.

Do low level PageRanks help my website's PR?

All incoming links count towards your total, but lower level PRs (0-3) don't count for a much of that total immediately. They will probably add more PR later, however, as their own PR's increase, making all inbound links valuable. Keep in mind that theme relevant links from theme related pages provide more power in Google and the other search engines than unrelated higher PageRank links. Always remember that PageRank is only one factor in the search algorithm.

Should I exchange links with low value PageRank pages?

PageRank should not be your primary concern for link exchanges. Benefits to your readers, of discovering new and interesting blogs and websites should be your first concern. The PR is simply an added bonus, and the PR may rise over time. A PR2 could soon be a PR7.

Can a lower PageRank page drain and reduce my PageRank?

Lower PageRank pages don’t reverse drain PageRank. The flow is always one way, from the sending to the receiving page. Linking to a lower PR page won’t lower your own PageRank. An exchange between two theme relevant pages might even raise each other’s PageRank. Google’s linking system, in it’s most basic form, is designed to reward linking to other sites, but not for establishing artificial linking schemes to trick the searc algorithm.

Are 60 outgoing links to other web page too many?

No, as Google is only concerned with pages of over 100 outgoing links. Google considers overly linked pages to be link farms, and they are penalized as such. Your site will not a experience a problem, although each page linked to your page will receive only very small amounts of PR flow.

Can my PageRank go down?

PageRank can decrease, if you lose some important links, that are no longer linking to your site. PR loss can also occur if some of your linking partners also experience a drop in their own PR, possibly setting off a chain reaction of lower PageRank all through the immediate linking network.

Does PageRank leak away from a page through outgoing links?

PageRank leak is a controversial topic, that has both supporters and detractors. Supporters of the PageRank leak theory point to the fact that PageRank is transferred from page to page, resulting in a slight loss to the sending page. As a result, a constant need to keep adding new links is required to maintain the existing PR level. The opponents of the leak theory believe that failing to send out links will harm the page, as some SEO experts believes Google downgrades pages that fail to transfer PageRank. They also believe tha outgoing PageRank will return in larger amounts to the generous linker, than ever flowed to outside web pages.

Is it important to have good PageRank?

Yes, as PageRank is part of the Google algorithm that determines where your blog or website will appear in the search engine results. Higher PR pages, especially for competitive keywords, will often be listed higher, but high PageRank is only one of only one hundred determining factors in the Google algorithm. It is not by any means the most important factor in search engine rankings.

Has the value of PageRank to the Google algorithm remained constant over time?

The PageRank importance has declined over time as well, so chasing PageRank is less important than adding theme relevant inbound links. Keep in mind that relevant on page content of your blog or website is even more important than PageRank. If adding more PageRank remains a priority, strong content will attract high PageRank theme relvant links in its own right.

Has the possible new link dampening filter affected PageRank transfer?

It’s thought that newly acquired inbound links are dampened by a Google filter that lowers their link popularity and Google PageRank flow, despite their theme relevance. New links are only able to pass along a percentage of their available linking power, with that percentage increasing gradually over time, as the link ages. Eventually, the entire potential PageRank and link popularity value becomes awarded to the receiving page. The purpose of the new link filter is apparently to lower the benefit of freshly purchased links to their buyers.

Should I make PageRank values an important factor in my linking program?

PageRank concerns should be very low on the list of linking priorities for any website owner. Far more important is linking to pages that offer quality and useful content for your site visitors. Taking care of their needs should have a much higher priority. Also to be given more consideration is providing interesting and informative content on your own site. High quality content will attract inbound links in a natural manner. Those theme relevant links will bring along link popularity value, and of course an additional boost of Google PageRank. Even the lower PR value transfers add up over time, as PageRank is cumulative. The more incoming links, the better, and content is key to attracting them to your web pages. The Google PageRank will arrive as part of the overall package.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

Free teleseminar tonight: Conversations With Experts - Thomas Pierce

Hosted by Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff, Build a Better Blog System.






Wednesday, April 20, 2005, 8:30 p.m. ET - FREE

Guest Expert: T.L. Pakii-Pierce of Blog for Fun and Profit, featured in the Build a Better Blog System.

Blogs as Social Marketing Tools

Blogs as publishing tools are a powerful branding and reputation strategy for small businesses, consultants and solo entrepreneurs. You can rapidly drive the value of your expertise into your market space, reach new prospects and establish trust.

Blogs are powerful social marketing tools that can be used to effectively drive more traffic and establish important search engine ranking positions. blogs offer an advantage for market penetration through search engines, establishing brand reputation and compelling marketing conversations.

T. L. Pakii Pierce is a Senior Information Technology Engineer for a major IT corporation located in Northern Va. T. L. is a speaker, motivator, coach, author and technophile who publishes two blogs.

T. L. publishes Blog For Fun and Profit where he offers tips, tools and news about how to blogs and RSS for blogging success. T. L. also publishes the Upgrade Your Mind blog where he publishing powerful daily success motivation articles for powerful life change.

T. L. is also a founding member of the Professional Bloggers Association

T. L. has been involved with the Internet since 1995 and has been in the technology profession for more than a decade and has implemented everything from a simple computer for his family to million dollar technology services for major government defense agencies.

T. L. spends a lot of his time thinking, writing, tinkering, driving, trying to use every tech gadget he can get his hands on, blasting away at the bad guys in video games and building his e-learning company and coaching practice.

T. L. lives in Accokeek, Maryland with his love of 11 years and his two children. You can reach him at pakii.pierce@gmail.com or you can Skype him at username: tlpakiipierce.

Registration: http://www.ConversationsWithExperts.com

Conversations with Experts is sponsored by Build a Better Blog System.

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Carnival of the Vanities at Conservative Dialysis

The 135th edition of the longest running internet blog carnival, the well known Carnival of the Vanities, is up at Nick's political blog called Conservative Dialysis.

Carnival of the Vanities is the original collection of blog postings, assembling some of the best and wide ranging bloggers on the internet.

This week's Carnival of the Vanities entries include politics, literature, science, medicine, technology, business, culture, and sports.

I have an entry in this week's Carnival of the Vanities as well.

My entry post is entitled "Multi-person group blog: Start one", where I discuss how a number of bloggers can combine forces and write a multi-contributor blog. I provide some suggestions on making it work for everyone involved as well.

To participate in the Carnival of the Vanities, or any of the other blog carnivals, one of the easiest techniques is to use the all inclusive carnival entry form at The Conservative Cat.

Another participation option is to simply e-mail your entry to the host of the week.

That's what I do.

I have the honour of hosting Carnival of the Vanities right here at Blog Business World on Wednesday, June 1, 2005.

As I suggest elsewhere, hosting and contributing to the various internet blog carnivals is a great promotional idea for your blog.

Next week's edition of Carnival of the Vanities will be at John Bambendek's political blog which he calls The Ravings of John Bambendek.

In the meantime, head on over the Conservative Dialysis hosting of Carnival of the Vanities and enjoy the posts on offer.

You will almost certainly be introduced to some great new blogs.

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Cavalcade of Canucks at My Blahg

The showcase of Canadian blogs known as the Cavalcade of Canucks is up and ready for reading.

The 20th edition of Cavalcade of Canucks is live at Robert McClelland's political and social commentary blog called My Blahg.

If you haven't read the writings of many Canadian bloggers, and their thoughts on issues ranging from Canadian and American politics to science, with a little humour tossed into the mix, here is your chance.

I have a post included in this week's edition as well.

My post is titled "Google patent application on search algorithms", which despite the title, is a discussion of how Google's patent information is really good news for bloggers and their search engine rankings. Blogs prove, once again, their SEO power.

Canadian bloggers wishing to participate in the next Cavalcade of Canucks can enter their posts by sending them to:

robert.mcclelland - at - sympatico.ca

More information on the Cavalcade of Canucks can be found in this brief summary.

In the meantime, slide on over to the 20th Edition of Cavalcade of Canucks and enjoy some Canadian blogging treats.

Bring your own curling broom, eh?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 

Google penalties: Getting them removed

Jane stared at the computer screen with a mixture of disbelief and horror.

Her website had disappeared from the Google listings, and her Google toolbar showed a grey line.

Her site had been banned from Google, and she wasn’t entirely sure why it happened.

After thinking back for a moment, Jane remembered what might have incurred Google’s wrath. Her fly by night alleged search engine optimization (SEO) expert had added violated Google’s webmaster guidelines, and used her site to do it.

The doorway pages, cloaked sections, and hidden text, he had assured her, would give her site much higher search rankings than ever before.

The unscrupulous SEO was partly right, as Jane’s site did rise in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The problem was that the results were short lived, and had got her site banned from the Google index.

Her site was nowhere to be found.

She didn’t know what to do. She had no idea as to how to get her site reinstated and get herself back into Google’s good graces.

This nightmare scene has been played over and over by many unsuspecting website owners. Their sites have been blocked from the Google listings, and the owners have no idea about how to get their site reindexed. Whether the owner was aware of the breaches of Google’s webmaster guidelines or not, the results were the same.

The site got banned.

Something every website owner should know is how to get a site unblocked from a Google ban. It’s also information that every webmaster hopes will never be needed for their websites.

Finding the problem

When a site appears to have been banned from the Google listings, the first step is to make absolutely certain that is the case. Often, webmasters will believe their sites have been blocked, when in fact, they were not.

Before reaching the conclusion, that a site has been banned, it’s absolutely vital that all other possibilities have been completely ruled out. A mistake is simply too costly in this case, as it might involve the loss of a website and domain name entirely. Dur diligence is essential.

One case where a site is often mistakenly thought banned is from being placed in the well known Google “sandbox”. The so-called sandbox is thought to be a dampener, placed on new sites, in the first month of their going live.

A website captured by the algorithm dampener will seen to disappear entirely from the Google SERPs. In fact, the site was placed in something like suspended animation. The site has not been banned.

Occasionally, the Google search listings will simply lose a site. The search engines are computer programs. They are not infallible and perfect. Sometimes a website will merely fall through the virtual cracks. After a couple of weeks to a month, the spiders will have crawled the site a few more times. Following a reindexing, the site will once again be included in the Google search results.

Few things will cause a website owner to see red more, than a greyed out PageRank meter, on the Google toolbar. If the bar is showing grey, the best course of action is to not panic. The bar may just be not operational at that particular moment. Such glitches in the toolbar readout are not uncommon.

There is no need to jump to any sort of worst case possibility. Give the toolbar reading a couple of days to right itself.

The same panic situation occurs with the apparent loss of PageRank. Many times, the toolbar will show only white space, instead of the usual green indicator level. It’s not a sign of being banned, but more likely a minor toolbar problem. Regardless of the reason, f a toolbar shows white, the site is definitely included in the Google rankings.

Assessing the damage

If following an honest check of all possibilities, and all other causes have been ruled out, perhaps the site has been banned from Google. Should that be the case, the only thing to do is to weigh the options, and look for solutions to the problem.

A webmaster has three choices in total.

The first is to clean up the site to conform with the search engine’s published guidelines and try for reinstatement. The second option is simply abandoning the entire site and the domain name, and making a fresh start. The third possibility is some variation or combination of the first two choices.

The first choice is to clean up the banned website, removing every single one of the potentially offending items. That operation should take place regardless of what is chosen to do with the site. Showing Google serious effort, about following the published webmaster guidelines to the letter or better, will at least get Google to take a second look at the site.

This is no time for vague promises about maybe making some changes. They simply must take place. Politely writing to Google, and requesting reinstatement might also help the cause. Google’s response letter will be vague on their part.

They will not commit themselves, to returning a site to their listings, until they are absolutely certain the offending activities are discontinued permanently.

The bottom line, if the cleanup and salvage option is chosen, is to wait and see how Google responds. There are no guarantees.

The second choice is to abandon the website and domain name entirely. Creating a brand new site, and registering a different domain name might be a good solution in some cases. Starting a new site involves registering a different domain, adding fresh incoming links, and writing entirely new website content.

When developing a replacement site, there should be no duplication of the previous banned site’s content. Everything has to be entirely different. Google will be watching the new site very closely so anything appearing on or relating to the site must be completely in compliance with the search engine webmaster guidelines.

A third option, involving a combination of the old and new site, might be the only choice for some website owners. In many cases, there are strong reasons for maintaining the site and the domain. That is especially true if the site domain is also the company name. Extra care must be taken if a previously banned site is to be continued, however.

An entirely new site should be started immediately, with absolutely no shared or duplicate content from the blocked site. No cross linking between the two sites should ever be considered, as the new site could face a penalty, for linking to a bad neighborhood. Place as much distance between the sites as possible.

To retain existing customers, let them click into the old site, but advertise a relaunch of the new site as a positive event. The visitor traffic will move to the new site if it’s worthwhile for them to do so.

If the replacement site is larger and better designed, than its banned predecessor, migrating the customers and link partners shouldn’t pose too much difficulty. It will take time, however, to get everyone switched over to the new site.

A risky possibility, for retaining visitor traffic, is using a 301 redirect from the banned site to the replacement site. The danger of that idea is possibility that Google might penalize the site receiving the redirection.

Linking to a banned site is always frowned upon, and usually penalized in some way by Google. It is not a recommended idea. The site traffic will simply have to be rebuilt.

Removing the blocks

When a site is banned from Google, for violation of the search engine’s published webmaster guidelines, the onus is on the website owner to prove why the site should be reinstated. The search engine is not required to list any site in the search results.

The full responsibility is on the webmaster to be in compliance with Google’s principles. That is a fact that is important for every site owner to know and understand.

The first step toward a reconciliation with Google is to remove every element that is in violation of Google’s guidelines. There is simply no other alternative to gain reindexing into the listings.

The next step is to write a letter to Google, fully explaining what was done to the site, outlining the removal of the offending elements. The letter should request a complete examination of the site, as well as reinstatement into the search listings.

No website owner should ever think that any search engine optimization company might have some sort of special influence with Google. During a banning, many unscrupulous SEOs will attempt to gain a quick buck by claiming they can get a site unblocked.

No search engine optimization firm works with Google.

That is a myth, perpetuated by dishonest people, who have no business claiming to be part of the SEO community. They simply can’t deliver, on any of their promises, regarding getting a site reinstated.

The best method to getting a site back in Google’s good graces is to adhere completely to Google’s guidelines, and then wait. The process will be a slow and frustrating one, so patience is strongly recommended.

In the meantime, creating an alternative site as a backup plan, is a sound policy. Should Google elect to maintain the site block, a brand new site featuring brand new content and links, might be the only hope.

Conclusion

Being banned by Google is never a pleasant prospect for any website owner.

Any site suspected of being banned by the search engine, should be carefully checked, to make absolutely certain that is the case. Often, a site thought to be blocked is merely a glitch in Google’s indexing system or one of their many data centers.

Should the site prove to be banned, remove all offending materials at once. Make sure the site conforms completely to Google’s webmaster guidelines. Request reinstatement and invite a thorough examination of the site to prove there is nothing to hide.

Should the process prove too slow or costly, the best alternative might be to create an entirely new website for the online business. The time spent setting up a site might be less costly than waiting out the reinstatement process.

Under no circumstances should a website owner fall for the offer of unscrupulous SEO firms claiming any sort of special relationship with Google. No such relationships exist between any firms and Google.

Should a site become blocked from Google, it is not the end of the world.

Maintaining a cool head, correcting any website transgressions, and being patient is the best policy to take for any webmaster.

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Blog SEO power continues to grow

Business world.

That two word phrase, when entered into the Google search interface box, gives back 461 million returns.

That incredible number is double the amount of pages returned, when I wrote about how Blog Business World ranked Number 8 out of 158 million returns last month (March 17 2005).

That previous result for "business world" without quotes, as in... business world ...has since changed.

For the better.

Blog Business World has now moved up the rankings to Number 5 in Google for a search for business world.

When I first wrote about the high ranking in Google, despite the incredibly huge page return (now 461,000,000), the blog SEO power posting was met with some skepticism.

The readers of the popular WebProNews column, where my blog post was republished, were divided on the validity of the results.

Some readers, writing in the WebProNews Forums, agreed that blogs do indeed possess unlimited search engine power. Other commenters were not as convinced about blogs and SEO strength.

The discrediting of the high search engine rankings was based largely on business world not being a very important search.

While that assessment may or may not be true, no one was able to adequately explain why a small business blog was able to rank so highly, in a search the yielded such a vast number of returns. The sheer number of ranked pages alone should have buried my blog deeply in the Google search results.

Note as well that the number of returned documents has more than doubled in the past month, making a strong ranking even more difficult to achieve.

Since that time, my blog has passed the powerful World Bank website, and moved up from #8 to the #5 spot, in the Google search for business world.

Along with the strong Google returns, a search for business world on Yahoo places Blog Business World at #5 as well, up from #19 in March. Note that Yahoo sends back a whopping 333 million pages in its search results.

A commenter on my March 17 post has pointed out that on April 12, 2005, my blog was as high as #3 in a Google search for business world.

That is still a very good result for a little old business blog, whether the search term business world has validity or not.

I believe it's a testament to the SEO power of blogs.

What do you think?

Related blog SEO power posts for reference:

Blogs equal SEO power in searches March 17, 2005

SEO blog power revisited March 20, 2005

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