Survival of the fittest website

If you had to take a look at the top website listings in Google, Yahoo and MSN, on average its the ‘fittest’ that appear at the top. When someone refers to fitness you normally think of gym, regular exercise, health food, well toned bodies, etc. Having a well toned body and being fit normally involves time, energy and a lot of hard work, and the same is with a good ranking website. The problem with a large percentage of people who want a better body, as well as with website owners, is that everyone wants a quick fix. Everyone wants the end result yesterday already, with the least amount of work, at little or no expense, and they want it to last forever! Well thats not likely to happen anytime soon! [Read more…]

Commenting on blogs to get traffic to your website

Getting traffic from other blogs is a great way to get targetted traffic to your site. By visiting blogs that are directly related to your website, your products, or a community of people who would be interested in what you have to say, you can get the right type of visitors to your website. I would suggest joining a blogging community website like MyBlogLog, I wrote an article about it called using mybloglog to get traffic, ‘MyBlogLog for networking and blog traffic‘ which will explain more on that.

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MyBlogLog for networking and blog traffic

MyBlogLog is a really nice site, and pretty useful when you have a blog. On your profile page you can list the addresses of your profile pages on other social networking websites such as twitter.com and flikr.com, as well as some personal information, birth date, location in the world, etc. Your profile page will also display the avatars of recent viewers of your profile on MyBlogLog , any messages they have sent you, and also list members who are fans of your blog/s. If you have correctly installed your widget to your blog, your profile will also display recent MyBlogLog members who visited your website. By selling yourself effectively in your profile, members may be inspired to visit your blog, become a fan, leave a message, add you as a contact, or join your community, depending of course on what they read about you in your profile. [Read more…]

Harness the power of Google Alerts for web marketing

Google alerts is a great service from Google that can be used in a variety of ways to promote your own website.

What actually happens with google alerts, is that you input a key phrase that you are interested in, every time google finds new web pages relating to that phrase, you get an email, with the address of the websites. Simply put, Its an email alert that google has found another page related to your key phrase that you chose in the google alerts control panel. [Read more…]

What the hell is twitter all about?

The twitter.com micro-blogging website has taken off in a big way over the last year. At first glance the potential and sheer power of this gem of a website website is deceptively well hidden in its simplistic interface. The twitter website asks the following question to the visitor “what are you doing”, and allows for you to type a response into a 140 character limited text field. [Read more…]

Dont submit your site to thousands of search engines

Most of our clients are SMME, we deal directly with the owners of the company, and get to know them on a personal level. Unfortunately, every time I talk to clients about website maketing, they all ask about getting listed on so called ‘thousands’ of search engines. It seems that almost all of them have at some point in time received some spam email promising their site on thousands of search engines within 24 hours or a similar type offer. Worse still are the ones who have been ‘educated’ by friends and / or family, who think they know what they are talking about. Most of these guys have all been brainwashed by people and companies wanting to make a quick buck. [Read more…]

My Social footprint on the web

I have used and am still using various different social networking type websites. Its difficult to keep track of all of them, especially as I get bored quite easily. Below I have compiled a list of all my profile pages on the different websites I am a member of. The scary thing is how long the list has become, while I know I have forgotten some links. I keep finding myself editing this posting and adding another link or two that I have suddenly remembered.

Check out the list, and if you feel like it, add me as a contact.

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Ultimate do-follow social bookmarking website list

Social bookmarking is a great way to get backlinks to your website, and to share it with the world. Here is a list of great websites that I use regularly to bookmark websites. This list is from a secret group on Facebook called Social Ninja, where the aim is for everyone in the group to bookmark each others websites, every time a member has a new link. Let me know if you would like to be invited to participate in the group. [Read more…]

Using competive websites to get a better search engine ranking

Lets face it, sometimes as much as you do to promote and market your website online, there are STILL websites ranking better than yours! You might ask yourself how could this be, after all the time and energy you have put into website promotion? Well the chances are that as much as what you do online to promote your website, so your competitors are doing the same, if not more than you, especially if they have bigger budgets, more manpower or if they are just plain smarter than you.

Why not then stop looking so hard at your own website, and look harder at your competitors. I will assume that you have similar information, services or products on your sites, and that everyones sites are properly ‘optimized’.

Step 1 – Check the code

What I like to do first of all, is look at the source of my main competitors website, so that I can get an idea of how their site works. To view the source of the web page, right click and choose ‘view source’ from the popup menu. Take a look at the Meta tags in the website, particularly the title, keywords and description tags. This should give you an idea of the keywords and phrases they are targeting in the search engines, check that its the same as you thought, ie, the same that you are targeting. Normally its the first words in each of those tags.

Bear in mind that if they are doing things well, each page in the site will have different meta tags, so as to target a different keyphrase. Ideally you should be doing this, targeting a different phrase with every page.

For now, stick to the home page of the website. You might be able to also see information such as who designed or is marketing their site, sometimes designers and marketers like to leave a signature with a url to their own website. Assuming you are able to guess what their primary key phrase is that they are targeting, go through the rest of the code on the page, keeping a lookout for everywhere that text appears. Everytime you see a new place with the key phrase, think if you could or should do that on your site too.

Step 2 Check how much google likes the competition

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what the competitors site looks like naked, its time to check why they rank better than you for your keyphrase. Firstly check their google page rank as opposed to yours. This could be a major factor as to why they rank better, obviously if the competitors PR is 5 and yours is 1, then you have a problem! If you have the google toolbar installed, you should be able to see the pagerank instantly, alternatively, you could use a website like www.pagerank.com or similar. If both your sites have the same PR, then its going to be a whole lot easier to nudge past them in search results. If they DO have a much better PR, then you need to take steps to improve yours, you can begin by following the other steps in this guide.

Step 3 – Check who links to your competitors

I like to use a website called www.widexl.com to check who is linking to a competitor website, or basically, link popularity. Widexl allows you to enter 3 different urls to check at the same time. The link popularity script can be found here http://www.widexl.com/remote/link-popularity/index.html. Put your own url, and two of your top competitor websites into the search. You will get shown a table displaying how many links are on record to all the websites, from each of the major search engines. Are your competitors way ahead of you? Are you about even? What you do now, is click on the actual figure of sites that Yahoo or Google etc have for one of your competitors. This will bring up a search window from that engine, with all the urls that link to your competition. You could do this manually by searching for link:www.domain.com in a search engine.

Take a look at the list, open each page up, one by one, and see if its not possible for you to also list your website on that page. Having more links to your website DOES have an affect on your website’s PR. Many of the pages that list your competitors url will be directories, search engines, links pages, forums, blogs etc. Try to join or participate in as many of these same places as possible, and add your url too. While you are at it, it might give you ideas of similar websites where you can add your link, or become a member. The chances are that this step will help you to add a load of new links pointing to your website.

Step 4 – Leveling the playing field

OK, so you know the competition has lots of links pointing to them, but now so do you, because you have just raided their link list, and added your own site to as many of those same places as possible. These new places, along with the links you already had pointing to your website, should help with your attack on their website positioning.
Now to try a little of what I call ‘reverse search engine optimization’. I am not sure what the ‘real’ name for it would be.

You dont know what exactly google and other engines want, all you do know, is that they like the competition website more than yours. So by that idea, its possible to think that they are more correct in offering what the search engines like for that keyphrase, than what your website is. So if you bring your website into alignment with what they have in terms of content and relevancy to the keyphrase you are both targeting, then you should be able to make the jump past their website in the rankings.

What you are going to do, is measure your own website against your competitors. Forget links and pagerank, we are only thinking content for this one. Using Widexl again, this time use the meta tag analyzer script (http://www.widexl.com/remote/search-engines/metatag-analyzer.html)

Check your own site’s keyword information, then check your competitors. Try and get your own website closer to what your competitors percentage is, by bringing it into alignment for relevancy to page content for the Title, Description and Keywords.

The theory is that if your site is equal or very close to your competitors, then you should rank equal or close to their website. So now, your page that you are editing should be very close to your competitors, not in necessarily in word for word content, but in terms of what google is ranking that page for, percentage wise.

I know this is a roundabout way of doing things, and I have had success with this method. I am not sure if it is the absolute correct way of doing things, but hell, the only way to know that would be to know the search engine formulas. Its just one of many different ways of getting a result.

Google, more than just search

By now you should have a google account, if you dont, for pete’s sake, GET ONE NOW! Google is so much more than a search engine, and you can use many of the different facets of Google to make your site better. Instead of just using google to get traffic, why not participate in the Google phenomenon at the same time, take advantage of all the tools Google offers. Once you have a google account, you can access many of their other programs using your same user name and password quickly and easily. Here is a brief overview of some of the google technologies you can take advantage of when you have a google account. For most people, their introduction to getting a google account comes when they sign up for Gmail.

Gmail email accounts

Get yourself a gmail email account, I would rate it as the best web based email service I have ever used bar none! Its extremely fast to setup, and has great features that other web based email companies make you pay for. I get all the email that comes through my website, to get copied to my gmail account. This allows me to access my email from any internet connection. Gmail is fast, and NEVER has any problems, so its got two of the most sought after features people want with email. What I really like about gmail, is that I can pop my account from my pc, allowing my email to be downloaded to my outlook. I have enabled the option to leave a copy on the server, so I can access my email from my work pc through outlook, and also from any internet connection through the web. You are also able to set autoresponders for your account. Being in contact all the time is a big thing when you have a particularly busy website. Google Chat is also available from within your gmail account. All your gmail contacts are listed on the left for easy access, and you can use the google chat facility to chat in real time to other gmail members.

Google Webmaster Tools

This stuff is so cool, it almost needs its own posting. An awesome set of tools for webmasters, use these tools to:

Check if your site is indexed in goolge, and also the last time that the googlebot accessed your website. Easy to use links for each site that you have added allow you to check google for: Indexed pages in your site, Pages that link to your site’s front page, The current cache of your site in google, Information we have about your site, and Pages that are similar to your site.
Check your Top Search Queries, use this tool to see what search queries displayed your site in the results over the last 7 days. The cool part is that you can show all queries, or queries specific to a region. You are also able to go back months to see what search strings your site was being displayed for.
You can check what googlebot sees when it looks at your website, valuable information when you are marketing your site online, and trying to optimize your content.
You can check which page on your site has the highest google ranking for each month.
Index stats for your website, that display awesome things like diagnostics, – This page lists URLs from your site that Googlebot had trouble crawling. Googlebot found these pages either in your Sitemap or by following links from other pages during a discovery crawl. Choose a category of errors to view, such as HTTP errors, Not found, URLs not followed, URLs restricted by robots.txt, URLs timed out, and Unreachable URLs in your website.
Pages with external links – See which pages on your site have links pointing to them from other sites, this is good to see which other pages are pointing to you, AND are indexed by google.
Sitelinks – See which links on your site have been identified as candidates for appearing directly in Google search results.
Pages with internal links – See which pages on your site have links pointing to them internally from elsewhere on your site. If every page on your site has a link to your home page, they will all be listed here.
See the number of people who have subscribed to your rss feeds, nice fuzzy feeling to see so many fans!
You can analyze your robots.txt file – See whether your robots.txt file blocks specific URLs as is, or with modifications you make. Test against various Google user-agents, too. Dont under-estimate the importance of the robots.txt file!!!
Set geographic target – Associate a particular geographic location with the site if you are targeting users within that area.
Enable enhanced image search – Enable Google’s enhanced search for images on your site, including advanced labeling techniques for images hosted by Google. This is excellent if you are wanting to generate traffic from google images. Make sure you have your url watermarked on the images too, to get a better result, and more importantly, use keywords and phrases to name your images, this will help to display your images in searches.
Manage site verification – See all verified owners of this site, and optionally reverify them.
Set crawl rate – See statistics about how often Google crawls your site, and optionally adjust that speed if desired. The higher your page rank, the more frequentlyl google seems to crawl your site, so dont be upset if its not too often in the beginning.
Set preferred domain – Associate a preferred domain with this site, to always or never show the leading “www.” in Google’s search results. This is extremely useful if your site has more than one domain, and you are marketing the site on a specific one above the others.
Remove URLs – Remove content from the Google index, including expediting that removal. Sometimes you have pages that you dont want to be found in google search queries. This is where you can fix that problem.

Google webmaster tools is a must for all you website owners out there. This application allows you to get all sorts of information about your websites. All you need to do is input the name of the website you would like to monitor. You can also upload your xml sitemap, which will let google know what pages there are in your website. I think this is a great way to get your site indexed quickly, without trying to actually submit it to google through the submit url form.

Google News

Yes, thats right, google news. I find this particularly useful to get information about the market I am trying to tap into, and also, to get information on my competitors in the same market. What I normally do, is do a search on google news for a product, or broad search term that my website falls into. I then am able to see all the latest news articles from around the world that apply to that search term. Now, the sneaky part, in all the results for google news searches, there is an RSS feed link on the right hand side. Subscribe to that feed, and you will be constantly updated on all the breaking news for that search. This can be used to track your own company, your products, and also your direct competition, to see where they are making headlines. Its also usefull to stay ahead of the competition, wher you are able to see all the latest information and news about a specific product or technology at any time. I personally use Bloglines.com to keep track of all my RSS feeds. If you havent tried it yet, do yourself a favour and get with the program!!

Google Earth

Not only is this an extremely cool tool, but it is able to be used to bring your site traffic! I have used this pretty extensively to promote my own and clients websites. I simply find locations that apply to their business or products that they supply, and then make a marker for that. I give a description and also a link to their website, in the marker information. Now, I post the marker information to Google, using the right click menu on the marker itself. The marker gets posted to google keyhole bbs, if you dont have an account, you can make one quickly and easily. From now on, all your markers will be availbable to everyone who uses google earth! An awesome way to generate traffic.

Picassa

Picassa images are able to be searched by everyone who is a member. What I like to do, is to tag my images, and make them available for public viewing. People are then able to see my images in their search results, which is great to generate traffic to a site, especially if you have excellent strong images. You might even go one further, and put your url as a watermark on all of your images, which could potentially bring you in more traffic. Just make sure to make the appropriate galleries public, for all users to view and share.

Google analytics

This is an extremely useful set of tools to monitor and track your website traffic, think of it as a hit counter on steroids! You are able to view how many visitors have come to your website over specific periods of time. You can see how many of them were from search engine results, and how many were direct links or even if the domain was just typed in the address bar. With google analytics you can also monitor your traffic from adsense campaigns, as well as regular google searches. You get great pie charts and graphs to display all your visitor infomation in an easy to read and understand way. You are able to see the geographical locations of your visitors from around the world, what keywords they used to find your site, which page they entered and left on, how long they stayed on your site, and how many pages they browsed. The detail that you can go into with google analytics is unbelievable, you have to see it to believe it. This is a MUST for webmasters, and is completely free of charge, so there is no excuse. If you have your own website, get analytics NOW!!

You Tube

Yep, google owns You tube. This is an excellent place to put videos of your products and services you are trying to promote. Use You tube to send visitors to your website for your proucts and services. Use the video to make your own advertisement, and really sell yourself or your services to the public. Visitors to You Tube are able to monitor your video posts and get updates every time you make a new video. Visitors are also able to comment on and rate your video content.

Google Pages

Google pages is great to make a simple website quickly and easily without any extensive knowledge on web design. You can choose from a variety of templates to make your pages for your ‘googlepages’ website, similar to the blogspot scenario. I use google pages to make quick pages to help promote my existing websites or clients websites. Incredibly easy to use and not bad to look at, its excellent for a newbie to setup a website quickly and for free.

Google Docs

Why even have spreadsheet and document editing software on your computer when google docs is around? This amazing application allows you create and store your documents online securely. This means that you can access them from anywhere you are able to access the net. Even better is the fact that you can give specific people access to specific documents. No more emailing documents, simply post a url, and also, no more wasting space on your hard drive!

Google Notebook

This is a great application for keeping notes. I personally have a great little firefox app installed that allows me to post a note to google notebook from any other page. Its great when you are researching information. I have made google notebook pages dedicated to information about the sites I am promoting, and have linked to those sites. I have then made my notebook pages public, so that others can find them, and google can index the pages, which it has done.

Google Alerts

Get emails sent to your mailbox from google, when google finds a phrase that you are monitoring on other websites, blogs or in the news. This is excellent for monitoring a specific search term, niche markets, companies, and your competitor websites. Once again, its free.

Ok, there is much more than I thought when I started typing this post, and I am getting tired, I will add to it at a future date and time.
Cheers for now,

Francois