Google WebSpam Team

What is the Google WebSpam Team you might ask? To be quite honest, they are like a secret group of Google Ninjas. They love to tease us and drop hints of sugary SEO goodness, but they always emphasize the importance of writing high quality content. The WebSpam team ultimately detects web spamming techniques, which isn’t all the sneaky. However, they apparently have access to the infamous Google algorithm. Therefore, it is a great idea not to make them angry by employing spamming techniques to attempt to gain a higher rank. You would probably guess that there are so many websites that Google just has to rely on algorithms, but you would be wrong. The Google Army even has WebSpam infantry that will manually hunt down spammers.

Ok, enough with the scare tactics. They are a really good resource if you are one of the good websites. You can use them like a good best friend with solid advice. Reading their blogs and watching their videos can provide additional insights on positive practices when trying to rank higher. Yes, they know all about SEO and trying to rank higher, which brings me to the lead Google WebSpam Ninja, Matt Cutts.

First off, let me explain that Matt is simply a genius. I don’t care how frustrated you might be with Google and how they rank websites, Matt is wickedly smart. Watch some of his videos and you can see his “academic” side, which is very similar to the attitudes and mannerisms of people in graduate school. He answers a ton of random questions from webmasters about SEO. If you use YouTube, try watching a few of his YouTube videos. Some of them are rather irrelevant to SEO or search engines in general. In fact, a recent one is him acting like a dinosaur, which is hilarious, but not exactly what I was looking for.

After watching a fair amount of his videos and reading some of the WebSpam Team’s blogs, you can get a good sense that they are not exactly out to ban your website. They are simply out there to promote the web. So, if you are looking for quick ways to boost your results in search engines and your website doesn’t add much content, you are fighting a losing battle. Personally, if that is the case, I don’t want you to win. The internet is the ultimate education and information resource that is something to be cherished not spammed. However, if you are instinctively looking to tell the world about your great new content, then by all means, harness the excellent resources from the Google WebSpam Ninjas. Matt Cutts is very interesting, and listening to him will be worth your time. If you don’t learn anything new, he has a sense of humor that will make you laugh anyway.

Building Backlinks

Let’s face it, building backlinks is the most important marketing aspect of any website. Backlinks are like a popularity contest, and the site with the most votes gets showed the most often. I’m going to tell you now that building backlinks is also the hardest job of marketing a website. I have compiled a small list of useful ways to build backlinks that are still permitted by Google’s new algorithm update (Panda). Let’s get started.

Easy Ways to Build Backlinks

Comment Posting

This is also perhaps the most frustrating topic of all link building techniques. Why is it so frustrating? People have been ingrained with this idea that outbound links hurt there page rank, even though it isn’t exactly true. So, these blogs or whatever you are about to comment on usually implement a nofollow attribute on the links. So, how can you know what links are using nofollow without looking at the source code every time? Use this chrome extension.

Despite my tangent about hateful bloggers, there is still a lot of potential with comment posting. Typically, websites will allow you to post your website in a textbox above the comment you are about to write. All you need to do is put in your website and write a useful comment about the content that was in the blog article. That’s one free backlink

Forum Posting

Forums provide an even simpler way to link back to your own site. In a standard forum, you can create a profile. In that profile, you generally have the option of creating a signature that uses BBCode like [url=www.afterhoursprogramming.com] Some descriptive title about your website [/url]. After creating your signature, become active in the forum and craft useful posts about the various forum topics. Each time you post = 1 new free backlink.

More Difficult Ways to Build Backlinks

While the techniques below are more difficult, they are also more beneficial as they usually result in better links. You have the ability to control the content around your backlink.

Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging is a rather annoying new trend in building backlinks. However, it provides a useful weapon in your backlink building arsenal. Essentially, you just need to Google for “guest blogs” or “submit guest blog” to find various sites that allow you to submit articles that are related to your website (You can do that for us using the contact link at the bottom). The only big caution here is that you need to be sure the website’s are not gaming you for your content and not providing a backlink. So, be sure to include a real HTML link in your article.

Contact Websites

Another way to gain backlinks is to get involved with the community. Assuming your website provides similar content to another website, email the owner and ask them to give you a backlink. Of course, complimenting them on their website and offering to return the favor never hurts. However, I will say that it is rather annoying to receive these emails if the person requesting a backlink doesn’t already link to me!

Create Images/Videos

Sometimes, this isn’t really an option. Your content just might not be able to fit into videos, but at least try to be creative. If you can make a video, try hosting it on youtube and promoting your website. If not, you probably have images on your website. Try submitting those images to various websites in order to get more links to your website. Always try to find new ways to display your content and then see if you can build backlinks with them.

This is just a quick list of a few of the options you can use to build backlinks to your website. I cannot emphasis enough how important backlinks are if you want your website to be successful. However, you should always revisit your link building strategies to see which methods are working best for you.

References

HTML Tags

Structuring your HTML to reflect your page content is another important part of improving your website’s SEO. The title, meta description, and all of the heading tags provide the most important power for SEO. Think from a search engine standpoint really quick. Obviously, the page title is pretty important, as it will be showing up in the search results. The meta description is the same story, as it will also appear in the search results. Heading are extremely crucial to search engines because they structure your page content. Let’s break them down.

HTML Title Optimization

The page title is important for search engine optimization in a number of ways. Like I said above, generally, the page title is displayed in the search results. Since search engines want relevant results, they will probably want your page title to contain or be related to the user’s search term(s). Another reason why a relevant page title is a good idea is because non-search engines also use them. So, if you are trying to incorporate social media like Facebook, they also might use the page title. Finally, some users still bookmark pages. Bookmarks typically use the page titles. So, the user will be able to easily find that favorite article on your website much easier the second time.

Meta Description

The meta description is important for SEO in many of the same reasons that the page title is. It shows up in the search results and other websites might use that text when linking to you. If you have ever heard of an elevator speech for a business, your meta description is pretty much just that. It’s an abstract of your content and your chance to entice visitors into viewing your awesome content. Meta descriptions are longer, which makes them more specific. However, it also means you might run into more trouble. If search engines can’t match your meta descriptions terms with the terms inside you main content, they might not display your website in the search results. They do this because it looks like you are stuffing content in the meta description that the page isn’t really about.

HTML Headings

Headers are the best place to broaden your specific keywords and to restate them. So, if you had a term like tutorials, you could restate how important that word is by placing it in a heading. Now we both know HTML has up to 6 different headings, but what you might not know is that search engines treat them differently. It seems natural that an h1 tag should carry more weight than an h6 tag. So, be sure to put your most important terms in the more important tags.

Always remember that when you are crafting your title, description, or headers to use content that is going to be in your main content. Using these tags on a term that isn’t inside the main content is essentially wasting a term, which we certainly do not want to happen.

Architecture

The architecture of a website can have a significant impact on your website’s SEO. Quite often, the architecture of a website is the most overlooked fault of a poorly optimized website. It should go without saying that if you want your website to be listed in search engines, they must be able to find your content. No, I am not talking about simply submitting sitemaps, which is a good idea, but does not eliminate the problem of poor architecture. Another thing to consider is how fast your website is. Did you know that search engines care about their users? They want lightning fast results for their users, including how long it takes for your page to load.

Crawlable Architecture

You might have already created a sitemap for your website a few days, months, or…. years back. Hopefully, you used a good sitemap generator to map out your website for the search engines. If not, why not create a sitemap at this very second? Did it find all of your pages? If it didn’t, you need to fix that asap because what good is a web page if no one can find it? Sure, maybe some sites link to that page, but think of all of that search traffic you are missing. Search engines love crawling, but make sure all of your pages are accessible through an HTML link. Note: don’t make stupid JavaScript onclick actions for navigation. They are ugly and depressing because they are not useful for people without JavaScript, which includes some search engines.

Faster Page Load Time = Better SEO

The equation is truly that simple. The faster your page loads, the better your SEO will be (up to a certain point, of course). Try using the Firefox extension ySlow and Chrome’s PageSpeed extension to test the speed of your page. Think about it from a user standpoint. Obviously, you would prefer those pages that are lightning fast where you can navigate from page to page taking in the content at a blazing fast rate. You might wonder what a good page speed is. Well, that depends on what content your page is providing. You should worry more about the optimizations recommended by those extensions.

Clean URLs

The new buzz of the web is all over clean urls. They simply just make sense from a search engine viewpoint and a user viewpoint. They are easier to read and easier to crawl. How ugly is a page that has something like www.example.com/index.php?category=SEO&tutorial=Architecture compared to something like I have now? It is much better than putting parameters like odd turtles at the end of the page name (I am going to fix mine in the near future, but I am too lazy at the moment). I just recently changed my urls to be clean urls, and I can tell you it is a great feeling. Clean urls also serve the benefit of being displayed neatly in the search results. Believe it or not, a user’s eyes scan across the url in the search results. It is just another chance for you to confirm what your website is about. Finally, those other websites that link to you are sometimes lazy and only post the actual url to your website. So, your clean url is your new advertisement to visit your page!

Links

Getting backlinks to your website generally helps your website’s SEO. However, there is a massive difference between a link that says “Click Here” and “SEO Tutorials”. Another important difference of websites linking into yours is the quality of those websites. If you have a website with a PageRank of 8 linking to you, it is typically better than a website with a PageRank of 2 linking to you. Nevertheless, having a bunch of backlinks is usually an excellent benefit for your website’s SEO.

SEO Link Quality

SEO Link QualityThe most important metric of all links is arguably the quality of the website that is linking to your website. If a page that has a PageRank of 8 links to you, it is somewhat like all of those sites that link to that site are also partially linking to you. Remember links are the popularity contest of the web. Popularity is one way to improve your authority to search engines, which will make you rank higher in the search results. I am not saying that those little PageRank 1 websites aren’t useful because they certainly are important. However, the PageRank 8 link is much more beneficial to your website’s SEO. Now, you might be thinking that 8 PageRank 1 websites would equal a PageRank 8 link, but it doesn’t really work that way. It is more exponential than multiplication, but of course, that is all speculation.

Link Text

Another very important part of a link into your website is that text of that link. If that link has the text “Click Here”, that probably isn’t a keyword that you want to rank highly for in the search results (In fact, it is quite competitive because of non-descriptive links). Granted, it might be out of your power what the other websites decide to put in their links that link to your website. But, if you do have the power to change the link text, make the text contain useful keywords that are relevant to your website. It is also worth mentioning that the anchor tag can have the “title” attribute. You are probably familiar with this attribute. Whenever you hover over an HTML element and some new text shows up providing some sort of explanation, that is the title attribute. Search engines also care about the text inside this attribute, but you shouldn’t use the same text that is contained in the anchor tag.

Number of Links

While I have showed you that a page with a higher PageRank is worth much more than many with a lower PageRank, having a variety of different domains linking to you is very important. Search engines like it when many pages vote for you by linking to you. So, just having a big PageRank website linking to you isn’t going to be worth a whole lot if no one else is linking to you. Variety is the best method for your linking strategy. You need a decent amount of links and a few reputable links to help your website’s SEO. It is important to restate that I am just a web developer and I don’t work for the search engines so I am just presenting my best ideas for building powerful links. However, there are only so many variables in the deductive equation of links, so try experimenting with them and see what works out best for you.

Internal Links

Now that I have told you the three major components of a strong link, let’s think about how to use internal links to do the same thing. Reputation does differ between different pages on your website, which means you can leverage the strong pages to help support the weak pages. But, that might also ruin your stronger pages and get them kicked down in the search results. Whatever you decide to do with controlling the PageRank through your pages, make sure you use descriptive and relevant text when you link to your internal pages. This includes the title tag and the anchor content. Internal links don’t get enough credit anymore, but I am positive their importance is well worth your time. Certainly, external links to your website are worth your time. Go forth and build strong links.

References