Natural Search Blog


PR for your PR: Publicity for Improved PageRank

After a company has engineered their website to enable search engine spidering, they may then graduate on to understand the importance of link-building. But, businesses often look for quick technical tricks to achieve those vital inbound links without looking towards classic offline business strategies. Press releases and similar types of  publicity can significantly help with linkbuilding, and should be a major component of a business’s search marketing arsenal.

Press Releases for PageRank

One question that frequently comes up in search engine optimization is “How can we get a new domain name to rank well and rapidly?” You may have heard of “The Sandbox” in relation to SEO — this is the concept that newer domain names will not be trusted by search engines, and so pages hosted on those domains may not rank as well as would be expected for unique keyword combinations. Getting good numbers of inbound links can break a domain out of the sandbox effect, but linkbuilding takes time. Most shortcuts won’t work in this area, and you should run screaming the other direction if someone promises otherwise, since participation in link networks can get you penalized with major engines.

But, there is one shortcut that not only can work, but is allowed by the search engines: publicity. While the sudden appearance of hundreds and thousands of inbound links to a new domain name could raise redflags with search engines, the exception is if those inbound links are coming from recognized news sites and blogs. The search engines recognize “burstiness” — the sudden influx of links — in cases where a site has attracted popular attention, and lots of articles and blog postings have come out on a particular subject.

Whether you’re trying to found a new domain name, or increase your site’s overall ranking in the search engines, publicity is one of the most effective methods around. Read on and I’ll outline some tips for getting good PR — both kinds!

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Leveraging Wikipedia for SEO: it’s no longer about the link juice

Recently when I blogged about the SEO benefits of contributing to Wikipedia, I alluded to some of the complex strategies and tactics around creating entries, keeping your edits from getting reverted, etc.

One of the benefits that can no longer be gained is link juice. That’s because rel=nofollow has just been instituted across all of Wikipedia and its sister sites (such as Wikinews).

Does that mean you no longer need to concern yourself with Wikipedia? Heck no! It is still a valuable source of traffic and, just as importantly, credibility. To have a Wikipedia entry for your company show up in the top 10 in Google for your company name gives a nice credibility boost. Even better if the coverage on your entry is favorable!

Wikipedia is still key to the discipline of “reputation management.” By understanding the ins and outs of Wikipedia — navigating the landmines of notability criteria, not contributing your company’s entry yourself, disambiguation pages, redirects, User pages, Talk pages, etc. — you can potentially influence what is said about you on Wikipedia. Furthermore, if web pages that are critical of your company occupy spots in the first page of the SERPs, you can push them out and replace them with your Wikipedia entries. Because Wikipedia holds so much authority and TrustRank, it’s easy to get an entry into the top 10 for any keyword.

Back to the nofollowing of external links… I don’t think SEOs will leave Wikipedia any time soon due to this new development. Even though that was Jimbo Wales’ hope.

There is still significant incentive for SEOs to edit (and manipulate) Wikipedia so long as Wikipedia holds the top spot for important keywords such as “marketing” in Google.

Getting 404 errors with Ultimate Tag Warrior?

If you’re running WordPress and you care about SEO, then you’re probably running the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin too. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then read my blog SEO tip on tagging.

There’s been a long-standing bug in WordPress 2.X, ever since WordPress switched to internal rewrites instead of external ones within .htaccess. The bug is that UltimateTagWarrior displays 404 errors (File Not Found) on tag pages when you have rewriting of local tag URLs turned on (in Options > Tags in the WordPress admin). The bug usually only manifests itself when you are using custom permalinks (i.e. if you’ve selected “Custom” from the Permalink Options in the WordPress admin).

Well I’ve got good news! I’ve figured out the problem!
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Could Newspapers Own Local Search Through Better SEO?

Don Dodge, Director of BizDev for Microsoft’s Emerging Business Team, just wrote an article on how “Newspapers should own local search results“.  I wasn’t entirely sure from his column if he meant they “should” own local as in “they are traditional experts at local info, and therefore should own local search due so it’s surprising they don’t”, or if he meant that “they should own local because I think they’re the ideal owners of it.”  I think he meant that it’s just surprising they aren’t bigger contenders in local search, and if that’s what he was driving at — I tend to agree.

Online Newspapers

I also think he’s right — they don’t own local search in great part because they don’t think globally and they are crappy at the SEO side of the game. But, I’d go so far as to say that they should NOT think they can own local anymore — that kind of mindset is just what’s hampering them now. Yeah, they’d be better off if they improved their SEO, but that’s just going to be a bandaid for them at this point.

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Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics

I make it a point to follow blogs and conference sessions to see what everyone recommends for “Local Search Optimization”, and I have to say that most of it’s repetitive and too limited.  Most folx who write about this subject have said little more than “put a business’s address and phone number on all their site’s pages”, and “update/enhance the business’s information in all the major directory sites”.  A lot of the focus is on search marketing, and very little has been outlined for optimizing for local search beyond all the aspects of traditional natural search optimization.

Local Search at Superpages.com

Similarly, I previously wrote on the subject and just added a marginally unique spin by suggesting that local biz sites should follow the hCard Microformat when adding the address and contact info to their site’s pages. Yet, I think all of us who work in local SEO have not really pushed the envelope much with these limited suggestions, and we haven’t really outlined a lot of the other areas where savvy webmasters and businesses could make themselves even more optimal for the local search paradigm.  Local Search is a unique beast, and in many ways is more complex than pure keyword search, so why hasn’t anyone addressed some of the unique aspects that could really drive a local business’s online referrals higher via optimizations?

So, I’m pulling out the stops and posting some strategies here that could inch a local business past its competition.  Some of these tips are not for the faint-of-heart, and may assume that you might change some things about your business that are traditionally things that people don’t consider changing just to improve referrals from online search. Read on and I’ll give you an insider’s tips for some extreme local optimizations!

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New WordPress Plugin for tracking offline impact of SEO

We just released a new WordPress plugin, Replace by Referrer, which allows you to track the effectiveness of SEO and other online marketing activities by replacing text on your landing page based on the referrer (i.e. which search engine or site referred the visitor). So, for example, you might want to offer a different toll-free phone number depending on the search engine used by the visitor. That would give you the ability to track the number of phone inquiries delivered by each search engine. Pretty cool, eh!

It’s free and open source. Download it now for your WordPress blog or site. Enjoy!

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