Category Archives: SEO

JWP SEO Expert Panel and other adventures

Yesterday was the 1st day of 2009, and I decided that one of my new year resolutions would be to get back to blogging. So, expect a few posts from events in 2008 that I didn’t manage to get to in time.

I wrote that exactly 2 weeks ago, and here I am now, without even have finished writing up that post!!

You might be interested to hear what I’ve been doing in the last couple of months, since I got back from Thailand.

Getting back to real life …

Firstly, I had to catch up on work! There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and every holiday must be paid for in the end, so within a couple of days, I almost forgot that I had been away. 

Then, so as not to really forget a fantastic holiday, I actually downloaded my Thailand pictures – all 5 Giga of them – and organized them into folders. All that’s left is to upload a few of the best to somewhere on the web, and then at least one of my friends will be happy (the one who’s stopped complaining about my not having uploaded the previous year’s Marrakech pictures!).

JWP SEO Expert Panel

In the beginning of December, I was one of the panelists on the Jerusalem Web Professionals (JWP)  Expert SEO Panel (warning – facebook links!).

The JWP was set up about a year and a half ago by Kim Mayrose, who has recently decided that she is ready to step down from organizing the monthly meetings – great work, Kim, and good luck Charlie, on taking it over.

Anyway, back to the panel. It was held at the offices of PresenTense, and was packed to the gills. We had about 65 attendees, and 3 panelists: Charlie Kalech, Shimshon Young, and yours truly).

Each of the panelists had 2 parts to their talk: the first being an in-depth look about a particular approach to SEO, and the second being a set of 5 practical tips and tricks. 

Shimshon started with a talk about “What is SEO”, and his tips and tricks were:

  • Create a favicon.ico
  • Buy domain names for more than 1 year
  • Add lots of pages to your site
  • Create awsome content!
  • The fastest way to #1? Buy the site that is at #1

Charlied spoke about “Optimization for Broad or Narrow Search?”, and his tips and tricks were:

  • SEF URLs
  • Title, Description & Keyword Tags
  • “Word Spamming,” “Keyword Stuffing,” “Keyword Density”
  • SEF Navigation
  • Sitemaps

My talk was about “Page_rank_and_site_link_structure“, and my tips_and_tricks were:

  • Off-site SEO (Link Building)
  • PPC as part of keyword research
  • Firefox add-ons
  • Focus site on customers
  • Google Trends

The presentations can be found on the J-town presentations page.

Other Adventures …

Channuka was an excuse for another short break, this time with the kids and all of my in-laws, who got together for 3 days to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. Apart from the rain, a great time was had by all.

At long last, I’ve been spending time on my website, Debi-Z dot com, which will hopefully go live within a few days (stay tuned for an update on that), and I’ve been teaching a course in Software Testing at the College of Engineering in Jerusalem.

Last but by no means least, I’ve been taking an amazing “Founding and Managing a Start Up” course at ISEMI. The course has been a stepping stone to my seriously analyzing one of the ideas I had about 1.5 years ago for a new business. What is really cool is that with some inputs from the course tutors and other serial entrepreneurs who we have met, I have “passed GO“, although I haven’t yet reached  “collect $200” (anyone out there dying to invest in a really cool start-up?!).

So, that’s it for now, and I REALLY will  try to keep to that resolution, now that I’m back here.

Have a great 2009, everyone.

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Google de-myths SEO

When I write up an SEO analysis of a website for a new client, I include about 20 topics that over time have been proven to help improve the rankings of a website in the search results.

These topics are what I call the science of SEO.

There are a lot of other topics that I included that are related to the business goals of the client, how they envisage their website, and the part it plays in their overall business plan. I include recommendations for organic, paid and social web promotion, design, look and feel, and more, depending on the business, and on what they’ve told me.

These topics are what I call the art of SEO.

A few days ago, Google came out with a really excellent Primer, “Google’s SEO Starter Guide“, which includes a great explanation of the best practices that make up the science of SEO.

They touch on things like: Titles, Description tags, URL structure, navigation, content, anchor texts, images and “no-follow” tags. Pretty much the same types of things I talked about in my “No-No’s of Website Promotion” presentation to Marcshoret last week.

Someone asked me at the presentation why I “reveal” my SEO “secrets”, and people are asking the same thing about Google’s Starter Guide.

The answer is really simple.

  • I want to have SEO-savvy customers
  • I want them to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing to promote their site
  • I want them to be a partner in the ongoing process of SEO
  • I want them to understand that it’s a lot of work
  • And lastly, I want them to understand that the same way I’m promoting their site, hundreds or thousands of their competitors are having their sites promoted – all of which affects my customer’s site too.

With Google it’s pretty similar – it’s all about helping you and I find relevant content on the internet. The more sites that are designed and put together with the Google best practices in mind, the more chance we all have (according to Google) of finding the most suitable content for our needs.

With Google, the idea is that if you have the best content, organized in the most user-friendly manner, and lots of other websites also think you have a great site (i.e. they link to you), then you will rank high up in the search results.

Which is why, at long last, Google have put to together this booklet on the science of SEO.

Note, however, that they haven’t put together anything (yet?) on the art of SEO. That’s because each SEO professional has developed his or her methods, and honed them to a fine art, and no two SEO professionals “do it” the exact same way.

And last but not least.

If you have the understanding, inclination, competitive advantage, and time to SEO your own site, that’s really great – go for it. 

If you are missing any of those, then you know who to come to, and you know that a real SEO professional doesn’t want to “hide” ALL his or her “secrets” (of course, we will keep some things to ourselves 🙂  ).

So, pleasant reading!

What do you think about Google having written this guide book? Good idea or not? Will those of you using an SEO company continue using them? And if so, why? If not, will you try it on your own?

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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The No-No’s of Website Promotion @ the Marcshoret Conference

Today was a pretty busy day for me. In fact, the last few days have been rather mad …

It all started on Wednesday evening, when I received an urgent call, asking me to speak at the Marcshoret conference on Sunday, since one of the overseas speakers had pulled out at the last minute.

With just Thursday and Friday to think of something to talk about, and to prepare a professional 1-hour talk, I wasn’t sure. There was this small thing called “client work“, together with preparing for Shabbat (and guests!) that also had to be done in the same timeframe.

In the end I said to myself “what the heck, you’ll be sorry if you don’t”, so I did 🙂

The conference took place in Binyanei Hauma, and was attended by more than 100 Marketing professionals of all types, from freelancers all the way to Marcom managers of large hi-tech companies.

5 vendors of marketing-related services were also on-site, and were in fact given a short slot at the opening session to talk about their wares. I thought that was a pretty good idea, since one thing I absolutely can’t stand is when Vendors (even if they are sponsors) are given the slot for keynote speeches.

I had the choice of 1st session or the one after lunch. Which do you think I chose?

The cool thing about being first (apart from the fact that you can then relax and enjoy the rest of the conference) is that if you’re interesting, you find that later speakers quote you! It’s never happened to me before, but I rather liked the feeling 🙂

My talk was on “The No-No’s of Web Promotion(DZ – this is a pdf of the presentation which will automatically open in a new window), and was greatly helped by Vincent Flander’s reviews of really badly designed websites, www.webpagesthatsuck.com.

I enjoyed preparing the talk, and I even enjoyed giving it! From the feedbacks, I think that the audience enjoyed it too, and even some of the more seasoned marketers learnt something new.

Apart from my presentation, I also went to listen to Irit Avidor, talking about “Strategies, Tips and Examples for Finding Business Information on the Internet”, and Joan Weinberg, whose talk was entitled “Public Relations 101: What it Takes to Succeed”, but was actually more of a discussion touching on all sort of topics about PR, like “DIY PR” (for the small business), Changing your PR company (for larger businesses who already have a PR company they work with), what should be in a Press Release, and lots more.

Joan was a lot of fun (and she was great PR for me too – recounting the story I told her about how I started thinking of my Brand, and showing my business card to the audience and the camera !!), but she really had so much to say, and didn’t manage to get through most of it, which was a shame.

There was ample time for networking, more than enough (good) food, and the WritePoint team who organized the whole thing get a big hand-clap – well done. They get a special kuddos for arranging to have all the presentations videotaped, and for getting all the videos synchronized with the presentations, and put up on the internet (hopefully soon) – I’ll let you know when they’re up.

I’d really like to get feedback on my presentation, in the comments, if you can work it out without the video part – let me just give you a hint that it includes lots of screenshots of REALLY BAD websites …. !!

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Because my SEO site is still in the works …

Lots of people have been asking me what this SEO stuff is all about, and I’ve been too busy to finish my website (I know – excuses, excuses …), so I decided to add a post on “SEO in a nutshell” in the meantime.

SEO is an acronymn for “Search Engine Optimization“, which in laymans terms means: “Getting so internet users will find my website“.

Or in slightly more technical terms, SEO means promoting websites in Google, Yahoo etc. so that they are at the top of the “natural” or organic search results for some chosen keywords or expressions. It entails making changes in and around a website, so that when people search for the main topic(s) that the website is about, that website will be displayed at or near the top of the search engine results.

Google’s search algorithm includes more than 200 elements that affect the position of your website in the search engine results, and of course they don’t actually tell anyone what all of these elements are (although they have been opening up a bit more, recently) …

However, some of the most commonly agreed techniques are:

On-site Optimization:

  • Optimization of your site structure, so that the search engines “understand” more about what the site is about.
  • Keyword research, in order to decide with keyword(s) are going to best drive focused traffic (internet users) to your site. This basically means working out “what expressions do I think users will type into Google to find my site?”. Sounds easy, but this is actually the most difficult part, since you can spend ages optimizing your site for the wrong keywords, after which changing direction is a huge pain …
  • Optimizing your site content, to incorporate the keyword(s) into your pages. This includes:
    • Title and Meta tags (elements used to provide structured metadata about a web page), in particular the “Description” tag.
    • Keyword-optimized content
  • Continually adding high quality content that people will be interested to read, even if they never use your services. Your content has to be first and foremost human-user-friendly, and only after that search-engine friendly. It is more likely that other sites will link to you if you have high quality, relevant content

Off-site Optimization:

  • Add high quality links from other sites in your niche/topic to your site. The more quality links the better. This is also very much intertwined with adding high quality content, since quality sites will generally only link to you if you have interesting information for their visitors.

The “Social Web”:

  • SMO (Social Media Optimization) and SMM (Social Media Marketing). This involves techniques like blogging (which is REALLY good for both adding content and getting more links), joining social media networks, writing and commenting on forums, and generally building your sphere of influence.

Advertising: Google Adwords and other similar SEM (search engine marketing) systems

  • PPC is an acronym for “Pay Per Click” which is a model of advertising on the internet, where advertisers only pay when a user actually clicks on an advertisement to visit the advertisers’ website. Such advertisements are called sponsored links or sponsored ads, and appear adjacent to or above the organic results on search engine results pages.
  • This is basically taking the tools of direct marketing and bringing them to an online audience, but unlike the traditional print audience, you’ll see results of your ads within days and in some cases, a few hours. SEM involves developing marketing campaigns for relevant keywords, developing “landing pages” for each Adwords campaign, and writing relevant ads.
  • It’s important to note that using Google Adwords does NOT affect the position of your site in the organic search results

That’s it for “SEO in a nutshell“, but do check out this nice video from Matt Cutts ( head of Google’s Webspam team) with his few simple tips on promoting your website, targetted at beginner SEO and small business SEO.

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