Archive for July, 2008

Title: 5 Free Must Have SEO Tools

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Let’s face it, we all want higher rankings for our targeted keywords. So here are 5 Free SEO Tools you can use to help you achieve those rankings…

5 Free Must Have SEO Tools

Unless you go the PPC route and pay for your traffic, SEO or Search Engine Optimization will play a major role in the success or failure of your website. Therefore, it’s in your best interest as a webmaster to learn everything you can about SEO and use the right SEO tools to achieve an advantage over your competition.

Needless to say, SEO or getting high rankings for your keywords is extremely competitive, especially for popular lucrative keyword phrases which bring in the big bucks. You must be at the top of your game if you want to compete.

One important factor in winning the SEO battle is using the right SEO software or tools. Major online companies use expensive software, hire SEO firms and have whole departments devoted entirely to search engine marketing – so you know your work is cut out for you.

You’re probably asking yourself how can the little guy compete against such stiff competition? Well, it is not as difficult as you might think or believe. For starters, you can use some simple SEO tools which will help give you a slight advantage if you use them properly.

Surprisingly, all of these SEO tools are free and any webmaster can take advantage of them in their ongoing SEO endeavors. I believe all webmasters must learn and master SEO in order to succeed online or get someone else to do it for them.

Over the years I have built up a passable knowledge of SEO due mainly from running 9 or 10 sites and working as a full-time online affiliate marketer. My livelihood depends on me achieving high rankings for my lucrative keywords in the search engines, mainly in Google. Also the daily running of two websites on Internet Marketing Tools has played a small part as well!

Along the way I have used countless SEO tactics and tools to try to increase my keyword rankings. Here’s a short list of my most helpful Free SEO tools that I use on a daily basis in the running of my websites:

1. SEO Book Keyword Research Tool

http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/

This tells how many searches are made each day for my targeted keywords. Invaluable information to have for Search Engine Marketing and for choosing your keywords. Most experts suggest you go for the mid to low range keywords if you’re just starting out and targeting long tail keywords (three or four words) yields the best returns.

2. Detecting Online Commercial Intention

http://adlab.msn.com/Online-Commercial-Intention/Default.aspx

This MSN tool tells me the probability (percentage) someone clicking my chosen keywords is likely to buy. Another great tool for picking keywords if you’re trying to earn revenue from your sites. Higher the percentage, the more likely you will make a sale or earn revenue.

3. SeoQuake for Mozilla Firefox

http://www.seoquake.com

This is an addon for Firefox and gives you invaluable SEO information on any site you’re viewing. All the important info is here: Google PageRank, Number of Links, Traffic Rank, Whois, Keyword Density, NoFollow links… used in conjunction with Firefox this tool will prove invaluable.

4. Google Alerts

http://www.google.com/alerts

This is a great SEO tool if you use it to track and build your links. Just create Google Alerts for all your major keyword phrases and Google will keep you updated on current links being formed/indexed on your keywords. Also great for tracking articles, urls, competitors… and staying up-to-date in your niche.

5. WordPress

http://www.wordpress.com

This free blogging software lets you place very SEO friendly blogs on your sites. Social media, blogging, tags, RSS feeds… are becoming increasingly important for online success so you must get your sites into this whole mix in order to compete. WordPress is a valuable SEO tool for improving your keyword rankings. Blogger and Bloglines are other blogging alternatives you can use.

I use many more SEO tools but these are the top five. Try some of these handy tools and see if they can improve your own keyword rankings like they did mine. No harm in trying and you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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Title: Social Networking and Employees: Where Do You Draw the Line?

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With the rise of social networking, employers are left wondering if or how the trend affects their bottom line. Many have decided that Facebook and MySpace in the workplace are not appropriate (for content or productivity reasons) and have banned the sites from being accessed at their offices.

To which I say: Good luck with that!

With the onslaught of iPhones, resisting social media (and I don’t mean for marketing purposes) will prove to be futile anyway. Go ahead. Fire someone for accessing their Facebook iPhone app. But don’t be looking for any “Best Places to Work” awards anytime soon.

And when morale is down, productivity goes down. Call it anecdotal, but the places I’ve worked at with low morale lose productivity to gossip and office politics. What they’re really looking for is support in a difficult workplace. So ban social media all you want, your employees will still find ways to “waste time.” Or as I like to call it, not go completely mental.

On the flip side, social networking more often than not helps your business. Think of all the contacts that your employees have. All those college and high school pals now have careers in a variety of industries. Perhaps there are great partnerships to be had in these vast social networks.

Or when its time to hire a new employee, these networks are a great place to start.

Social media is also a great way to stay on top of your industry – to learn about things that are happening, what’s new. You can’t do it all yourself – or even with just your marketing team. What if a guy/gal in IT catches wind of a new program being implemented at a competitor? Chances are, they’ll find it out via a social network, blog, Twitter, etc.

I say kill those largely unfounded fears and allow social networking in the workplace. Like the rest of business and life, it won’t be perfect. But it can be reasonable.

By the way, one of the new hot things in social media is internal social networking, sometimes referred to as enterprise social media. This can foster genuine channels of good communication among departments across your company.

What’s your opinion? Yay or nay to social media for employees? Leave a comment and tell us how it is!

Related Reading:
Do Social Networks Bring Out the Animal in Us?
Small Business Owners Need Twitter and LinkedIn

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Title: The Dreaded Google Penalty

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adsenseThere is always a lot of talk on SEO Forums about penalties. Recently there was some discussion about 3 specific Google penalties:

  • The “-30 penalty”
  • The “-950 penalty”
  • Index Exclusion

There has been a lot of debate about whether the drop of a website’s rank by 30 or 950 spots in Google is really a penalty for unethical SEO tactics, or is it simply a result of an agorithm shift (and the particular site just didn’t measure up against the new algorithm so it dropped).

Many people insist there is no penalty (except Exclusion for really blatant “Black Hat” techniques), and rather it is all about Filters. If you do something that triggers a filter your site won’t rank as highly. Whether you call it a filter or a penalty, the results are the same. If you don’t follow best practices, sooner or later your site will be penalized or filtered out of the top rankings.

It is widely accepted that the -30 penalty affects the whole domain, however the -950 penalty only affects specific URLs for specific keywords.

Rather than actually moving your site back by precisely 950 spots, I think it is more likely that you are just going to be banished to the end of the results. It also appears to be specific to certain search queries. A site may go from first page to last page in the SERPs (search engine results page) on one keyword, and still hold a top ranking on another keyword.

Both of these penalties are associated with shady optimization practices. Some say these penalties happen when there is keyword stuffing, while some others say that these penalties are because of shady link building practices.

It is widely believed that getting too many links within a short time span and with similar anchors can raise red flags with Google. I personally believe this to be true and always tell people to be careful with their link acquisitions. Acquire links at a consistent, natural pace.

Google doesn’t believe that sites will naturally gain large numbers of links quickly, unless a software is being used and the system is being gamed. Google looks for what would naturally occur. Most people gain links over time as content spreads and it is rare to gain large numbers of links naturally in a short time period.

Another penalty is the Index Exclusion penalty or a complete ban. When a site gets hit with this Google throws the entire site and all their pages out of the Index.

This is reserved for sites that severely violate the quality guidelines and adopt black hat methods such as cloaking and doorway pages.

How Do You Avoid These Penalties?

  • Build your website keeping the users in mind instead of the search engines.
  • Do not stuff keywords in the page title, description, alt tags and in the content.
  • Do not link out to link farms and sites engaged in link manipulation practices.
  • Be consistent in building links and vary your link anchors as much as possible.
  • Avoid cloaking & doorway pages

With proper on-page optimization and by following the tips above, your site should fare well in the engines and you should have nothing to worry about.


Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for EcomBuffet.com. Since 1998 Jennifer’s expertise in marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on SEO and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer is the editor of the popular Spotlight on Success: SEO and Marketing newsletter. Follow Jennifer and stay current on SEO, marketing, social media and more. http://twitter.com/EcomBuffet

The In-Content Ad Leader Buy and Sell text links Health and Beauty Store

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