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!


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.

SEO May Be Eclipsed by User-Centered Design

I’ve been seeing indications that Google has shifted their weighting of the ~200 various signals they use in their ranking soup over the past couple of years. It used to be that PageRank along with the number of keyword references on a page were some of the strongest signals used for what page comes up highest in the search results, but I’ve seen more and more cases where PageRank and keyword density seem relatively weaker than they once were. I see a lot of reasons to believe that quality ratings have become weighted more heavily for rankings, particularly among more popular search keywords. Google continues to lead the pack in the search marketplace, so their evolution will likely influence their competitors in similar directions, too.

So, what is my evidence that Google’s development of Quality criteria is becoming more influential in their rankings than PageRank and other classic optimization elements? Read on and I’ll explain. (more…)

A window into Google through error messages: PageRank vectors and IndyRank

There’s been plenty of speculation posted to the blogosphere on the recently discovered cryptic Google error message; my favorites being from Wesley Tanaka and from Teh Xiggeh.

What intrigues me most in the Google error message is the references to IndyRank and to PageRank possibly being a vector. In regards to IndyRank, Stuart Brown suspects it means an ‘independent ranking’ — a “human-derived page ranking scoring, independent of the concrete world of linking and keywords”.

In regards to a PageRank vector, Wesley hypothesizes:

“If page rank is actually a vector (multiple numbers) as opposed to a scalar (single number) like everyone assumes (and like is displayed by the toolbar). It would make sense — the page rank for a page could store other aspects of the page, like how likely it is to be spam, in addition to an idea of how linked-to the page is. The page rank you see in the google toolbar would be some scalar function of the page rank vector.”

Of course the Google engineers are probably laughing at all this.

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Toolbar PageRank Update

Yep, it’s that time again.

I don’t usually care that much, but we had a little snafu with our PageRank readout on the toolbar for our site due to a misconfiguration on our end (detailed on my post “Toolbar PageRank Update Is Currently Underway)”, and happily that’s now corrected.

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RSS and SEO: Implications for Search Marketers

Hello from Search Engine Strategies in NYC. Yesterday I spoke at the Webfeeds, Blogs, and Search session. My talk was focused on on implementing RSS feeds as part of your search engine marketing strategy. I’ve made my Powerpoint deck available online at

A lot of people mistakenly lump blogs and RSS together, but RSS has infinitely more applications beyond just blogs! For example: news alerts, latest specials, clearance items, upcoming events, new stock arrivals, new articles, new tools & resources, search results, a book’s revision history, top 10 best sellers (like does in many of its product categories), project management activities, forum/listserve posts, recently added downloads, etc.

There are some important tracking and measurement issues to consider when implementing RSS:

I consider personalized RSS feeds to be “best practice.” As of yet I’m not seeing much yet in the way of personalization within RSS feeds, but that will come I’m sure. It has to. Having only one generic RSS feed per site is a one-size-fits-all approach that can’t scale. On the other hand, having too many feeds to choose from on a site can overwhelm the user. So how about instead you offer a single RSS feed, but it’s one where the content is personalized to the interests of the individual subscriber. Yet if the feed is being syndicated onto public websites, you’ll want to discover that (by checking the referrers in your server logs) and then make sure the RSS feed content is quite consistent from syndicated site to syndicated site so that these sites all reinforce the search engine juice of the same pages with similar link text. Or simply ask the subscriber his/her intentions (personal reading or syndication on a public website) as part of the personalization/subscription signup process.

IMPORTANT: An oft overlooked area of RSS click tracking is how to pass on the search engine juice from the syndicating sites to your destination site. Use clicktracked URLs with query string parameters kept to a minimum, then 301 redirect not 302. This is important! 302 redirects, also known as temporary redirects, can hang up the search engine juice. Search engines recommend you use 301 redirects, also known as permanent redirects. Surprisingly, Feedburner and Simplefeed both use 302 redirects. Tsk tsk!

Sites using your feeds for themed content to add to their site for SEO purposes could strip out your links or cut off the flow of the search engine juice using the nofollow rel attribute or by removing the hrefs altogether. Scan for that and then cut off any offenders’ feed access.

Some more “gotchas” if you don’t set things up right:

RSS is great for link building. Any SEO worth his/her salt should be making use of RSS as part of a link building strategy, or at least making plans to use it soon. In addition to RSS, there are some other effective blog-related link building strategies, like:

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Top sites by PageRank score

For a very long time I was one of the elite few who knew how to get a list of the top 1000 web pages on the Internet sorted in order of Google’s PageRank importance score. Since this top secret little trick no longer works, I feel I can share it with you all now. 😉

The trick is this: doing a search for http in Google with your Google Preferences set to return 100 results per page used to supply you with the top 1000, at a 100 at a time. Boy that was handy!
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