Be Skeptical, Be Confident

You know nothing about me. There is no guarantee that anything I say will be able to help you. But that’s okay, because the point of this whole blog post is to encourage you to challenge everything that people tell you about SEO.

Don’t blindly follow

Wherever SEO is discussed, such as forums, blogs, and seminars, I’ve observed that people tend to jump on bandwagons based on whatever the popular experts are saying. Newcomers are especially susceptible to believing whatever the industry leaders tell them without testing out the claims for their own. For example, a leader will assert, “Article directories are bad!”. Often, newcomers will immediately believe this without question and start parroting this to others in order to gain the acceptance and approval from industry leaders. Thus, one opinion spreads and becomes accepted as gospel truth without people actually testing out the hypothesis for themselves. If you’re in the SEO industry, ask yourself this question: How much of the knowledge you base your strategies on is actually from your own experience, and how much is simply copied from SEO hotshots?

Don’t overestimate the value of someone else’s data

Be careful not to make assumptions about the integrity of someone else when they’re conducting an experiment. How do you know that the data hasn’t been tweaked to get the results that they want? Also, there is no guarantee about how well the variables have been controlled. The only way to be sure is to consider every opinion as a hypothesis that you must test by conducting your own experiments. This way you can prove or disprove each assertion and choose which ones you’ll apply in your own work. This will also help weed out false claims from the truly beneficial information.

Don’t underestimate the value of your own data

You may not be a hotshot in the industry whose name every one knows, but your own experiments, if done accurately, are just as valid as anyone’s. No matter how small your website is, you can still use this to collect SEO data. Keep track of every change that you make and its effects by keeping a journal. I cannot overemphasize how helpful this can be.  Proper documentation will keep you from working on a hit-or-miss basis, and make your SEO efforts more efficient.

There you have it. I’ve given you some SEO tips, it’s up to you to take my opinion and test it out for yourself. You’ll never know until you try it.

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Imitation is Better than Innovation: How to Imitate in SEO

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery, but did you know that it can be a savvy business strategy as well? Business history is filled with stories of companies who imitated others and became more successful than the original innovator. Coca Cola, for example, took the diet soda idea from RC Cola, while MacDonald’s copied the fast food concept from White Castle.

In SEO, imitation is also a valuable marketing trick. With this article, I hope to show you how to harness imitation to help you get the best results.

Keyword Research – Use The Wisdom of EzineArticles Crowds

Ezine writers are usually aiming for long tail keywords, which can often be found in the titles. By reading through Ezine article titles, you can find great keyword ideas. Just type “keyword site:ezinearticles.com” without the quotation marks and take note of the results. For example, here’s what comes up when I search for the keyword “learn seo”. (For more results, I selected the “results in the past week or month” option in Google’s “more search tools” menu)
See? You now have several ideas for excellent keywords.

Competitor’s Links – If they’re Commenting on a High-Profile Blog, They Must be Doing the Same for Other High-Profile Blogs

According to my experience, if people are commenting on one do-follow PR7+ blog (as an example), they are also commenting on other do-follow PR7+ blogs. This also applies to other kinds of platforms.

So how can you use this knowledge? Go to Open Site Explorer url, enter the root domain into the field, and select “links from external pages only” and “to all pages of the root domain”, and also “Followed+301” if you prefer, then sort the results by domain authority. You will find that the resulting url format is www.opensiteexplorer.org/www.domain.com/a!links!!filter!all!!source!external!!target!domain.

A bit complicated isn’t it? There’s an easier way to do it. Instead of going through the whole process, you can simply take the url and add a!links!!filter!all!!source!external!!target!domain at the end. You can now find some easy-to-get links from authority domains.

Discover Similar Keywords Where Your Competitors Rank For

Use SEMRush to find other keywords that your competitors are ranking highly for. With the free version of SEMRush, you can see up to ten of these keywords that a domain is ranking for. Using these highly searched keywords for your own site will help you compete with high ranking pages with the same topic.

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Using Q & A Sites to Build Your Business & Reputation

One of the ways to establish a recognizable presence on the web and promote your brand and site is to answer questions in Q and A sites. In marketing, you’re trying to get people interested in your product or service. It only makes sense that you should take advantage of the fact that people posting relevant questions on those sites are already interested, you just have to subtly lead them in your direction.

What’s in it for you?

Answering questions can have the following benefits:

  • People receive relevant, accurate and positive information about your product or service.
  • You get noticed by your market, and they learn to perceive you as a trustworthy source.
  • You get link backs to your site.

How should I do it?

Posting on these sites only helps you if the readers see you as a good source of the answers that they need, not just as a marketer. Here’s how to be effective.

  • Be helpful.
  • Establish rapport.
  • Promote your product only when it is relevant to the question or answers a need.

Some other tips:

  • Enter your keywords into the site’s search to find questions that you can answer.
  • Make sure that your answer is of good quality and gives the asker the information she is seeking. Place your links and brand names appropriately.
  • Interact with the readers. They may have follow up questions that you can answer.
  • Make your User Profile a showcase of why people should trust you. Include your title, credentials, and a link to your site.
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6 Big Benefits of Partnering SEO and PR

PR and SEO are traditionally seen separately, but the time may have come for them to build a partnership. Press releases are good, high rankings in search results are good, but together they can take marketing to a whole new level. There are several benefits in a PR-SEO joint effort.

1. Your message goes viral.

SEO helps make your press release easier to find and spread in cyberspace. By harnessing the right keywords and giving quality content, you’ll win over journalists, bloggers, and consumers.

2. Journalists and bloggers create buzz.

Journalists and bloggers are always on the alert for information that their readers might appreciate. By filling in this need, you take advantage of the buzz that they are able to generate for your site or product. You can do this by having SEO and PR work together to make your brand more attractive and visible.

3. The set-up

This partnership may not guarantee amazing results on the first try, but once you get the formula right, you can use it again and again and enjoy the better results.

4. Build rankings

If your content is both of good quality and easy to find, it will be picked up by reputable and popular blogs and sites. Links from them will help you rank high on search results.

5. Increase interest.

If you generate enough interest, a journalist or blogger might approach you about writing an article about your product. This obviously benefits you by leading their audience to you and creating a good reputation for your brand.

6. Protect your brand.

Most people easily believe what they read. By letting them learn about you with optimized press releases, you build a positive, relevant public perception of your brand.

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The SEO side of design

The recent launching of Google’s “Instant Preview” feature, which gives searchers a glimpse at the web page in the search results even before they click on the link, means that the SEO industry needs to make some changes to be able to keep up. The image below is a screenshot of what this feature does.

This means that it’s not enough for a website to just rank high on the search results, it now has to also look attractive enough to get the user to click on the link. SEO experts now have to work closely with design experts to find the perfect combination that will draw people into a site and get them to stay.

First Impression

New factors would have to be considered: the site’s appearance in a thumbnail view, the colors that users would find attractive, and fonts and sizes that could be readable in the preview, as well as the position of key words and phrases in the content that Google will highlight.

The end of trick or treat?

SEO strategies like spam sites and empty content sites that are meant only to link to other sites will not be as effective. Even if these sites appear in search results, people will immediately be able to see that it isn’t what they are looking for and won’t be enticed to click.

What should we focus on?

Designers need SEO expertise to help them design the page layout with keywords prioritization and content appearance hierarchy in mind. Meanwhile, SEO experts need designers to help them identify which content should be at particular areas of the page.

This teamwork between SEO and design has never been this necessary before, but this new Google feature means that things are definitely changing. There has to be a mutually helpful relationship between these different teams for a company to keep up with the changes.

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Time-Sensitive Keywords: Mobi, Jargon and Buzzwords

One of the primary characteristics of language is that it is constantly evolving along with the evolution of society. In the past, that evolution was slower and more gradual, but in this digitalized era, culture is rapidly changing, and so is language. As an SEO professional, you need to be aware of how this affects the keywords that you use.


In the past, anyone who wanted to access the Internet had to do so with desktop computers like PCs and Macs. Today, people can go online while on-the-go, via hand-held devices like Androids, iPhones, and Blackberry PDAs. This recent increase in the tech-savvy population has created a portal for new words to enter the lexicon one after another at hyper speed. Words like bandwidth and hotspot that didn’t mean anything in the last century are now widely in use.

As am SEO professional, you must stay on top of this revolution. Keep in touch with the latest news in applications, and their utilities, functionality, and interface.


Jargon is a set of context-specific words that only insiders in a particular industry use and understand. In SEO, for example, we have terms like doorway page, site audit, CSS, non-reciprocal inbound link, and OSS — words that would elicit a blank-look response from outsiders. If your site is targeted towards an insider market, then by all means use jargon as your keywords because that’s what your prospects will enter into the search field. But if your site is directed towards the layperson consumer, then you should use the terms that they are likely to know about.  The keyword “epistaxis”, for example, will lead medical professionals to your site, but the average person searching for the term “nosebleed” may not be able to find you.

Buzz Words

Buzz words are terms and phrases that become wildly popular due to cultural events, but fade away from common usage as soon as the immediacy of the event that inspire it declines. The term “Y2K-ready” is an example. At the very end of the 1990’s, it was repeated in television, literature, and conversations ad nauseum. Everyone was using the term. But just ten or so years later, it is already outmoded and obsolete. Keep this in mind when using buzz words as your keywords: they are excellent and effective, but only as long as they are relevant.

Language is changing rapidly. If you want to stay on top of the SEO world, you need to be able to keep up. Choose keywords that will stay fresh, relevant and have a long “life span”.

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Personalization of Google Results Creates a Huge Advertising Opportunity

In 2007, a Pontiac advertisement during the Superbowl ended with an invitation to do a Google search on the brand. With the personalization of Google searches, this would be one of the most brilliant marketing moves of today.

Google searches are now personalized by default. It means Google will take note of how many times you type a certain brand name into the text field, and interpret it as your brand affinity or brand preference. This will affect your future searches by making the results biased in favor of that domain. So if you accept that invitation to Google Pontiac, your future results in related searches will be preferential towards that brand and would probably lead you to their website, which is what advertisers want.

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Dispelling a Persistent Rel Canonical Myth

There are some people who have expressed concern about the problems that using the canonical URL tag on the canonical version of the page may cause. The popular belief is that only duplicates can be allowed to use the rel=”canonical” specification, and that it’s a strict “don’t” for the original. This is actually a misconception. Let me help you understand it with some diagrams.

This is the standard way of using rel=canonical. When your content appears in different places, rel=canonical tells the search engine where the original version of a post is. But you can also do this:

It won’t harm the system. Googler Maile Ohye answers the question this way:

@Wade: Yes, it’s absolutely okay to have a self-referential rel=”canonical”. It won’t harm the system and additionally, by including a self-reference you better ensure that your mirrors have a rel=”canonical” to you.

So there you have it — there’s no reason for concern. In fact, using rel=canonical on the original page has another advantage: it makes sure Google indexes your page’s http rather than https version and attributes links  to the proper one.

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ISAPI Rewrite: How to tackle canonical issues and redirects on Windows servers

It is not a particularly well known concept amongst certain webmasters, but it is essential to have a clean and crawlable website structure. Without this in place, from an SEO point of view, you are heading for dangerous territory. The reason is simple. If your site cannot crawled and indexed, then you won’t be able to consider other aspects of SEO, such as content optimization and link building techniques.

During the course of most SEO initial audits, it often becomes clear that canonicalisation becomes a hot topic of discussion. Canonicalisation is the process that prevents the site from displaying the same information at more than one URL. Basically it is in your interest to minimise, or preferably eliminate, the number of URLs that have the same content – or face the consequences of duplicate content issues.

There are a number of different ways that a site can present canonical issues, and as an SEO practitioner, you will need a plan to tackle these. For example, do you see your site resolving with both the non-www and the www, or perhaps with the http and https headings? Maybe some folders are resolving with or without the trailing slashes? The solution for handling these types of canonical issues generally includes 301 permanent redirecting requests, which redirect potential duplicate content to the ‘canonical’ URL. As mentioned above, the non-www version of the page would then be redirected to the www version.

RewriteCond Host: ^yourdomain\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http\://www\.yourdomain\.com$1 [I,RP]

Redirect importance
A decent redirect system is important to have in place for aspects other than just canonical issues. Recently I was involved in the redesign of site for a client, which involved moving core pieces of content including product landing pages, which resulted in new URLs. It was vital that each page was mapped, so that a permanent 301 redirect was put into place to transfer visitors via the old URL to the new one.

RewriteRule /oldpage.htm http://www.mysite.com/newpage.htm [I,O,RP,L]

When I say visitors, I am not only referring to the human kind. Search spiders will also follow these header requests, and if incorrectly written (or not written at all) will deliver an error message – a poor user experience, and one that can be costly in Organic search.

ISAPI Rewrite: .htaccess for the Windows environment
How do you address the canonical issues that have been mentioned? Checking Google for these problems overwhelmingly returns references to .htaccess and mod_rewrite. These are great solutions, but rely on the site being hosted on an Apache server. What if you are using a Windows environment to host the site? There is now a solution available, which is relatively easy to install and implement – it is called ISAPI Rewrite. Version 2 uses an httpd.ini file, and allows you to add your rewriting rules, it much the same way that you would if using an .htaccess file. Version 3 has been produced to mimic .htaccess for Apache. The developers realized how popular .htaccess for Apache had become and developed a solution that allows you to write exactly the same code for both platforms. This was a smart move, on their part, as it enabled developer s to port the same code from one platform to another with minimum fuss.

ISAPI Rewrite is available at a reasonable cost – a single user license can be purchased for $99, with a better cost available on a shared hosting plan.


Peter is a SEO consultant and works with a van leasing company in the UK

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Impact of Time on Link Building

If you are familiar with agency SEO or work in an agency yourself then you will know that time is a pretty big deal. This is because you often have a set time allocation to work on each client. This means you have a limited amount of time to get some of those kick ass links. In most cases you will find you are restricted in the link building methods you can use. In this post I wanted to show some of the best techniques you could use based on your available time.

Before embarking on a link building campaign it’s a good idea to get a thorough understanding of your client. This understanding will help you identify the type of links you need for your client. For example do they need links for brand building or more keyword driven links? It all depends on the competition. Some campaigns will rely more on one more than the other. It is also worth being well organised. Having a list of all the possible sources of links can be invaluable.

Link building is about getting the links that matter and provide value for your client. So you need to look at the various link sources and decide which ones will deliver the most value given your time. I have mocked up the following table based on a Patrick Moogan presentation.


With smaller agencies you will find many of their clients are at the smaller end of the scale and have limited budgets. This means they usually spend around one to two days on SEO. When time is limited article submissions and directories will give you quick opportunities to get those keyword driven links. Always important however they are usually low value. To ensure that the site also has some good quality links paid links is a good option. If you are going to do this you should do it quietly.

If you have a bit more time then supplier management and guest blogging are good opportunities. I personally love the guest blogging approach. This is because the parties gain a benefit in some form and helps build up your network. You will often find that blog that accepted a previous guest post might be suitable for one of your other clients. A great way to build relationships. The supplier option is relatively straight forward.

If you have a lot of time then you have a lot more freedom. Widgets, competitions and themes can all be very effective link building strategies. There is some caution required with some of them however the benefits can be significant. It’s important to be creative when you have a large quantity of time. There are some great blogs out there on link bait ideas.

This should give you some ideas for going forward. Remember not to get all those links at once. Have a strategy for getting links gradually and build quality rather than quantity.

Author: Mark Mayne works for PushON, a Manchester based SEO company and owner of Maynem.

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