Monday, October 5, 2009

SEOTip 7 How to create link-worthy content

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Here are some tips on creating webpages that other website will want to link to—to save you from having to do loads of legwork requesting links.

Google AdSense and automated spammy "can I buy a link on your site" emails have made virtually every important online publisher aware of the value of links.

In mid 2007 Google began editing toolbar PageRank scores and rankings for many sites that were selling links. It is getting harder and more expensive to buy your way to the top through link rentals.

At the same time, more and more people are writing online. Setting up a blog only takes a few minutes. There are hundreds or thousands of people talking about every topic imaginable, so if you create something remarkable and capture the attention of a few thought leaders who like it, you are going to get links. But how do you create content that people will like?

One of the easiest ways to predict a future and to predict what people like is to immerse yourself in your topic. If you are passionate about a topic, know more about it than anyone else, and openly share information, then eventually people will notice and link to you. If you know what people are interested in, rather than asking them to link to what you have, create something that they would be interested in linking at. Express your worldview and your bias in a way that matches their worldview.

Each of us is the most relevant thing in our own lives. It sounds selfish but it is true. If you promote other people they will be more likely to promote you. Popular bloggers search to see what people are saying about them. If you want someone's attention linking at them from a blog post on your site is an easy way to get them to notice you. This article about Paris Hilton explains how the concept works in the real world.

Social interaction of any type leads to links. Speak at a conference? Someone will likely blog about it. Want to get thought leaders to promote your site? Create a community project or contest and ask them to participate. Or give out awards. Lack the budget needed to go to conferences? Moderate forums, comment on related blogs, and build social relationships.

But for people to take you credibly you need to make sure your website adheres to good web credibility standards. Is your domain name memorable? Does your design complement your copy? Is your content interesting and conceptually unique? Does your site have an editorial component and voice, or is it a boring low-value thin product database? Is your about page memorable? Is your site easy to use and understand? Do you have a brand people care about? You do not need to "have it all" to get started, but the more credible you look the faster you will gain momentum.

The Cluetrain Manifesto stated that markets are conversations.
Blogs are the leading medium upon which those conversations happen. If you are a blogger, read the Blogger's Guide to SEO to get the most out of your blog.
Even if you are not a blogger, the Blogger's Guide to SEO can help you understand the mindset of bloggers and why blogs quickly became a foundational part of the web.

Work to improve your site every day. Over the course of the year fixing or creating one thing a day will lead to a large advantage. Building up a leading market position can take years, but once you get at the top those years are the barrier to entry which prevent others from being able to replicate what you built up.

SEO Tip 5 A link is worth 1,000 words

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Yesterday we covered on page optimization, and mentioned how some people are too aggressive with keyword density. Of course copy that is dense with keywords likely sounds dense, and will not convert site visitors into buyers. But some automated content generation programs create content that is better than some page copy that people write.

Some major corporations, like Thomson Financial, publicly admit that they generate news reports using robots to write the content.

The cost of creating content for the sake of it has dropped to ~ $0. In a market dominated by outsourcing and automated content generation, a search engine has to look beyond what we say about ourselves if they want to stay relevant.

Part of what allowed Google to grow so influential so fast is that they use elegant link analysis in their relevancy algorithms. If another site links to you saying that your site is about "Chicago dentists" then that link is interpreted as a vote of trust for your site for "Chicago dentists" and closely related topics.

Not all votes are counted equally. The more quality websites that link at a given website, the more that website is trusted when it links out to other websites. PageRank is designed such that links from the homepage of a leading university is trusted more than a link from a low quality website that links to other low quality websites.

Search engines only trust us if others trust us too. Search engines follow people.

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