Dusting off old domains

Hording is something I’m pretty good at and if you saw my domain collection you’d definitely agree! I’m taking some time out over the next couple of weeks to go back through my domains and see if there is anything worth salvaging.

I find that one of the most frustrating things about being in online marketing is that there are so many potential opportunities out there . . . But so little time to get stuck into them. I’ve lost track of the number of mini business plans I’ve jotted down over the last few years (although I still have them all filed away safe and sound ;)).

So here’s what I’ve found so far, and here’s what I’m gonna do with them:

Shopping domain:
Finally going to get this shopping service off the ground. Spent about 3 months on it back end of 2007, did a fair bit of traffic and cash but then I got sucked into a new full time role. Domain is nicely aged with some good back-links. Reckon I’ll be ranking on ‘shopping’ within 12 months – I’ll keep you posted 😉

Property domain:
OK, so the bottom has well and truly dropped out of the property market, but I reckon it’s the perfect time to get my luxury property site up and running. New builds only I think!

Social Network:
I had this rediculous idea about a new social networking site. I went right through the business plan and almost started looking for finance. I still think it’s a goer for a specific niche. I think I’ll start small with this one and see how it goes. I love the domain on this one.

Pretty good for a quick dusting. I’ve already got a new design on the shopping site and got someone lined up for content on the property domain. Let’s see if I’m re-dusting this time next year.

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Base links – what are they?

Base links – what are they?

We build base links into all our link building campaigns as a matter of course – you probably do it too. I just wanted to take five mins to jot down some thoughts on base links and try and get some discussion flowing on their overall value.

So what do we mean by ‘base links’, well quite simply we’re talking about those easy to get, relatively low benefit back links from:

Web directories
Article directories
Press release directories
Discussion forums
Social bookmarking

It’s a relatively safe bet that Google et al place a limited amount of authority on these type of links, however, that’s not to say that they are worthless.

Your base links can help you to sculpt your back-link profile in terms of anchor text and URL balance and help the engines to theme your site – you’ll soon start to see the success of this in your Google Webmaster Control Panel.

As ever, I’m not talking about spamming these sources for back-links, I’m talking about a steady, systematic approach to working these types of links into your link building excercises.

So what’s your approach to base links? Do you believe that they offer any SEO value, either direct or indirect?

Tony Hart

Just saw some sad news that Tony Hart, the TV artist famous for kids programme HartBeat (and a lot more I should imagine) has died aged 83.

Brought back few memories. Morph and co. I’m still also a little bit bitter that my painting of a Pharoah’s mask never made it onto the gallery. . . I’ll let you off though Tony.

Thanks for inspiring me when I was a kid. All the best to your family – I’m sure you’ll be missed.

Link building – what are your competitors doing?

If you’re like us, one of the most interesting things in SEO is when you unearth your competitors’ link building strategy.

Now I’m not talking about the general back link research and analysis you’d do here. I’m talking about seeing exactly how your competitors are managing to bag their big . . . Fat . . . Links!

I’m talking about two things particular really; how they actually approach potential link partners and how they distribute/syndicate their external content.

Finding out how they contact link partners can give you valuable insight into their overall strategy and if you play it cool you might be able to find out their exact hook for closing the link deal. You can use this information to help improve your own link approaches.

One of the easiest way to get this information is set up a few dummy blogs and domains and pop a bit of related content on every now an again. You’d be surprised how frequent the requests will be and you’ll soon find out whether your competitors are on an editorial or paid link approach. You’ll also bag a couple of relevant links from your honey pot network . . . so get to it!

A bit of further digging will also reveal the extent of your competitors’ content syndication strategies. Get hooked up with their press department, set your Google Alerts and have a dig around the article sites to try and find their ‘authors’.

From this you’ll be able to start tracking their content footprint and decide whether you’re missing anything or not. This exact approach revealed that one of our client’s competitors’ upped their content game and started to release three times more external and onsite content each week!

The thing about this is that by getting really stuck in to your competitors’ link building strategies, you can start to see what you need to improve in your own.

Building an un-traceable network

Building an un-traceable network

There are loads of reasons why you’d want to build a network of websites and not have them connected to each-other. I’m not just thinking for SEO reasons . . . Although the benefit of building a network to game the algorithms would be far outweighed by the work involved so you may as well concentrate on a nice and clean editorial/content based link-building campaign!

Here are our top tips for building an un-traceable network:

1 – Register each domain with different registrant details

2 – Register each domain with a different domain company

3 – Host each website with a different host, on its own private IP

4 – Set contact details to different virtual offices

5 – Don’t slap Adsense or similar from the same account across your network

6 – Don’t duplicate the content across your sites

7 – Don’t build links from the same sources

8 – Don’t link out to the same sites

Keep those things in mind and your network of websites should stay reasonably healthy and un-detectable to prying eyes!

ANNOUNCEMENT: SearchData launch dedicated link-building service

Dedicated link-building service saves SEO legwork.

UK SEO consultancy, SearchData (http://www.searchdata.co.uk) have launched dedicated link-building service LinkBuildingSupport (http://www.linkbuildingsupport.com). The service offers link-building support services to SEO agencies, in-house SEOs and marketing departments providing a range of ethically sourced back-links to compliment the overall organic campaign.

The new link-building service has been developed with the help of a panel of experienced agency and in-house search technicians to provide a range of safe, clean and cost effective link-building services that can be used to supplement, or even replace, existing link-building activities.

A spokesperson for SearchData made the following comments about the service:

“As experienced SEO’s in our own right we’ve had real trouble finding a reputable link-building contractor to outsource some of the legwork to. Until now, it’s been really difficult to find a reliable source of back-links that are ethically sourced and built to professional standards.”

The spokesperson went on to comment:

“LinkBuildingSupport is designed to handle the generation of ‘everyday’ back-links. The type of links that come from content syndication, online PR & social bookmarking. All our work is performed to exacting standards and kept in-line with the client’s brief.”

The launch of LinkBuildingSupport coincides with a general upsurge in SEO activity as cash strapped businesses turn to organic search for increased ROI.

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Drop me a line if you want more information. Any comments on the site/service/proposition graciously recieved.

Discounts/trials available for readers 😉

Si

Matt Cutts wants your webspam feedback

Monsieur Cutts over at the Googleplex posted one that’s bound to get the search tongues wagging yesterday ‘Webspam in 2009?’ . . . And very kind it was too of him to throw open the doors to an industry of incessant whiners 😉

Some good points raised though. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of mention to paid linking.

It seems that people are really starting to get hacked off with people nicking their content to feed spammy scraper and MFA sites (me included), especially when their links are getting ripped out.

Also some mention of review sites showing up far too often. I kind of agree, some (not all) are nothing but glorified scrapers profiting from people Trade Mark long tail.

A few of us were also getting rather miffed at the amount of spam that comes via Adwords and Adsense sites . . . I guess people are referring to the MFA arbitrage sites here.

Interesting to see Andrew Girdwood at BigMouthMedia‘s prediction (I think Matt made a similar one last year) that we’ll see more site’s getting hacked just for links . . . It’s sad but we’re already seeing it . . . And I can’t see it stopping!

Ciao for now

A starting point for web analytics

A starting point for web analytics

Every time Google Reader pings me with Avinash Kaushik’s RSS feed I feel a sense of extreme excitement and severe self loathing . . . Why is this you ask? Well, because it reminds me how much more I need to learn about web analytics, and how I really must spend more time with Google Analytics!

Anyway, I just got pinged with this web analytics post and just had to share it with you guys. Avinash has very kindly put a 9 step web analytics starting post together for those of us who needed a kick up the bum.

It’s not often I’ll tell you to leave one of my own pages, but in this instance you really should go check out this Web Analytics post for info on:

  • Benchmarking
  • Internal site search
  • Organic traffic
  • Landing page optimisation
  • Goals
  • Ecommerce web analytics
  • Bounce rates
  • Custom reports
  • Segmentation

Avinash . . . Take it from me . . .I’ll be doing all this in 2009!

Ethical link-building

Ethical link-building

(I just posted a similar article to eZine Articles on white hat link-building . . . but I thought you guys would appreciate it here too)

I think that most who read this blog will agree that unless you’re one of the long-standing, legacy type sites that link-building will be one of your main objectives in your overall SEO campaign (alongside site architecture, on-page optimisation and internal content strategy).

It follows as such then that one of the most common enquiries we get at SearchData is how we can help people with their link-building campaigns, particularly of the ‘ethical’ kind.

Before I go on . . . Let me just say that the subject of ‘ethical link-building’ is a tricky one. What’s deemed as ethical to some people may not be to others. Especially when profit, commercial interests and risk/reward comes into it. . . The best we can do as SEOs is use our experience and judgement to help our clients make the right decision about which way to go in a particular circumstance. There are times when a variety of link-building strategies will be more suitable than others depending on various factors.

I wanted to post this article to give a quick heads up on a few techniques that really are as ethical as you can get and a new service that we’ll be launching very soon to help you make the most of these ethical links.

We use these techniques heavily to help sculpt the back-link profiles of our clients and ensure there’s a healthy ratio of URL, Trade Name and keyword anchor text links.

1 – Article writing & syndication
Write some excellent articles and get them on eZinearticles etc. Also may be worth using some automated software to syndicate the articles a little further. Also try contacting some websites and asking them if you can write some bespoke content for them.

2 – Link-baiting
Spend some time getting a good content idea together and then set it loose on Stumbleupon and Digg et al. It might take a few attempts to see what works but stick with it, a good one could drive significant traffic & links.

3 – Social bookmarking
Get your team actively involved in social bookmarking. Let it become a habit . . . Not a hassle. Bookmark everything, even other people’s content.

4 – Press release writing and syndication
Got some news? Of course you have! You can make news out of anything, even if it’s commenting on someone else’s news. Just get a good Press Release written and get it submitted to a few press release distribution sites (leave a comment and I’ll email you a list).

5 – Directory submission
An oldie but still a goodie? It’s debatable, but with so little effort required you’ll probably want to spend a bit of time on this. Just make sure you rotate your anchor text and descriptions.

OK, so there are lots of other ways (including direct link requests) of building ethical links, but you probably know the ones that work best for you anyway.

The point I really wanted to make about this type of link-building is that we view it as a kind of support service to some more advanced (yet still ethical) link-building tactics. These links are never going to make or break your SEO strategy; they’re not the links that are going to deliver the No.1 positions in competitive markets. . .

They do, however provide a variety of links and a certain amount of buzz for the search engines to start finding out about your website.

Keep posted for details of a new link-building support service coming soon: Just drop a comment below and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

SEO – looking forward to 2009

SEO > looking forward to 2009

I always have mixed feelings at the end of the year. On one hand I’m excited in anticipation of a fresh start and new beginnings, while on the other I feel slightly melancholy as I review the passing year and it’s opportunities that we’re (or were not as the case may be) capitalized on.

From an SEO point of view I’m excited . . . Excited because I think we’re going to have to adapt to a more intelligent suite of search engines than we have been used to in the past.

I’m really starting to think that there are some fundamental changes starting to take shape in Google’s organic search results. We’ve monitored some really interesting trends over the past few months and started to get a real mixed bag of results with various SEO techniques.

With all the scmuzz floating around about personal search, I can’t help but think the organic SERPs are going to be harder to control/manipulate (apologies Matt – I use that word VERY carefully) from the SEOs perspective meaning that we have to pull wider online marketing skills into our repertoire.

I can imagine more SEOs, both agencies, affiliates & in-house getting deeper in to paid search & sponsorship to leverage other sites’ audiences whilst developing optimisation techniques for the wider universal search – images, local, product, news & video.

Those that are able to master Universal search to deliver traffic that converts will find themselves in demand very quickly indeed (drop me a line about Universal Search – we can help you).

I’m also really excited about mobile search. Although I have no experience in it whatsoever I’m keen to learn so drop me a line if you’ve got a site that we could experiment with . . . We’ll work something out.

Local search too . . . Working on that as we speak.

Take care and all the very best for the New Year.