Drupal SEO

7 Crucial Google Analytics Stats You Can't Afford to Ignore

Google Analytics is a powerhouse when it comes to web analytics platforms. With it, we can report on just about any variable that our clients are interested in, and best of all, it's completely free. Of course, there's a lot to Google Analytics that, if you're a first time user, can seem a bit intimidating. So while it's possible to measure a wide range of variables, there are really only seven that could be considered crucial. These are the seven Google Analytics stats we always look at, and you should too.

1. Conversions

Conversions, otherwise known as "goals" in Google Analytics (GA) speak, are the (hopefully) money making events that happen on your website. This could be anything from a contact form submission, to a phone call or someone visiting a high value page. Goals are simple to configure, and it's important to see how they change over time.

2. Total traffic

Your site's traffic report is one of the first stats that your greeted with upon log-in. This report shows how your site's traffic has fluctuated over a 30 day time period. While it's nice to see your traffic increasing month over month, it's not always the best way to approach the information. Your overall traffic is comprised of three primary components - referrals (traffic coming from other websites), search engines (organic and paid search), and direct traffic (those users who navigate directly to your website). So, for example, a decline in traffic one month could be due to an ending offline marketing push, resulting in less direct traffic. Or, if your search engine traffic has decreased, it could be symptomatic of SEO or PPC issues. Digging a little deeper into your total traffic report can help you get a better understanding about your site's traffic.

3. Referrals

Referrals track the volume of traffic coming from third party websites, as well as which websites are sending you that traffic. If you're conducting a link building or a blogger outreach, this can be a good statistic to track. Tracking third party traffic referrals can also give you a good indication as to who's naturally linking to your content.

4. Branded & Non-branded Keyword Referrals

When we work on SEO campaigns with our clients, one of our primary goals is to increase the volume of non-branded organic keyword referrals. Non-branded keyword referrals involve keywords that are not related to the clients brand name or product names. For example, instead of driving traffic for the branded keyword term LevelTen Interactive, we would focus on the non-branded term, website design company. Non-branded keyword terms are often harder to obtain then their branded counterparts.

5. Time on site

Are people engaging with your content? While not a perfect metric, (if your site specializes in the speedy acquisition of information, a lower time on site might be good) in general it's good to see the time spent on site metric increase over time. When assessing a client's time on site statistic, depending on the type of site I generally like to see anything over a minute or two. Less, and I assume the site's content either isn't engaging enough, or we're not targeting the right set of users.

6. Pageviews

Much like the time on site metric, it's good to see your users visiting a lot of different pages on your site. If users are spending time on your site and viewing multiple pages per visit, it probably means you've got engaging and relevant content. Hopefully this is also leading to more conversions, too. That said, like time on site, it's not a perfect statistic. Your site could be a single page scroller, or a series of single page landing pages for a PPC campaign. Point is - take this statistic (and others) with a grain of salt depending on the site.

7. Hostnames

The Hostnames metric is an essential stat early on in your SEO campaign, and at periodic points throughout. The Hostnames stat will tell you the domain people used to access your website. This can be useful when trying to correct canonical issues (such as using the www vs. non-www versions of your domain) or, if you use multiple URLs with (or without) proper redirects. Photo Credit

10 Ways to Drive More Traffic while Delighting Visitors

Search engines have a single goal, to get users to content that will delight them. Oddly enough, users have a single goal, to get to content that will delight them. Sounds like, with a little luck, we can kill two birds with one stone. Lets do some bird killing (metaphorically that is).

The Dark Ages of the Web

Many years ago, the search engines were naive. It was easy to fool them with volumes of low value content. Often when you searched for something many of the results linked to pages with bad or broken English that said nothing and were filled with ads. But search engines have gotten significantly smarter over the last several years. If you don't create content that delights, you won't get the traffic. At least not for long. Many years ago websites were just advertising. Pages drooled out superlatives about their products and services. We didn't trust the hype, but hype was often all there was. Then one day the good people over at O'Reilly Media invented Web 2.0. Suddenly people could talk to each other. They could not only talk, they could rate, tag, comment, bookmark, ping, tweet, update their statuses and so much more. OK, we could do much of the social thing before the term Web 2.0 was coined. But there has been a monumental explosion in the social side of the web in the last few years. Now seemingly the entire world is interconnected in billions of online conversations and interactions. Astute traditional websites have now enabled Web 2.0 features on their site. The people now own your brand, and if you don't engage them, they will talk behind your back - and if neglected they may not have nice things to say.

You lucky Drupal user you

Going to DrupalCon Chicago? Want to learn even more about delighting masses of visitors, vote for the DrupalCon session: Secret Weapons for Driving More Traffic and Visitor Engagement
Luckily, Drupal is the ultimate secret two bird killing weapon. The standard tools allow you to publish content that ranks well in the search engines. That's great if you like being #843 out of 1,547,983 sites. But we are Drupaler's, we want to be at the top. The key is to combine Drupal's advanced engagement features in a search optimized way. This creates a perfect Drupal SEO storm. As you climb to the top of the search engines, you drive exponentially higher amounts of traffic. Then delight those visitors and watch the wonders of social behavior as they champion your brand. Each dynamic reinforces each other.

The list

I have broken this list into three posts. Here are the first three strategies.

10. Commenting

At its core Web 2.0 is about a two way conversation. Commenting is the purest way to create that conversation and provides extra content for search engines to read. Commenting is of course built into Drupal core. Advanced tip: Balancing spam and ease of commenting is always a challenge. Complement commenting with social logins like Facebook Connect, OpenAuth, OpenID or even Gigya if you want an easy way to authenticate commenters on all major social sites.

9. Tagging

Once you have content, the next thing you need to do is classify it. Freetagging gives users an open way of classifying posts the way they see best. Free tagging helps users find content and quickly know what it is about. Drupal core's taxonomy system provides free tagging functionality. It also creates pages that list all nodes of a specified tag. It helps people find similarly tagged content and significantly helps the search engines spider your site. Some of those tag listings may also drive extra taffic. Advanced tip 1: Auto Tagging: To assure you tag pages well and to make it easy you can use the Auto Tagging module. You can connect it in with the Alchemy module that will extract keywords from your content and automatically add them to the node on sumbit. Advanced tip 2: Folksonomy: Drupal core's taxonomy system is for node authors to tag content. The Community tags module enables site visitors to tag in a similar fashion to commenting. This creates what is called a Folksonomy, where typical readers classify content based on their words. Can you say free crowdsourced keywords? Awesome.

8. Trackbacks and Pingbacks

This is something that WordPress got very right. Blogs are designed to be a network of interrelated conversation across multiple sites. Trackbacks and Pingbacks are two different ways for blogs to communicate with each other when a post is continuing the conversation of another post. When people read about a subject, they often want to examine it from multiple points of views. Reading posts by multiple authors is a great way to do that. Posts that support Trackbacks and Pingbacks, (both are available as contributed modules in Drupal), will link to each other giving readers the opportunity easily find those alternative points of view. The search engines also love those links. Search engines rank pages based on the number of inbound links from an outside site. It's called PageRank. It's how they tell which sites and webpages are the most important. Trackbacks and Pingbacks are a great way to encourage other blogs to link to you bringing you traffic and elevating your PageRank. Advanced tip: Pingbacks & Trackbacks are a two way street. Don't just install the modules and wait for people to link to you. Especially don't link spam other people's blogs with Trackbacks. Link to other bloggers first. Then the link love will come back to you. Advanced tip 2: Automated linking isn't just for blogs anymore: Both of these features were made popular by WordPress so they are often thought of as something only a blog uses. In Drupal you can add this functionality to all pages and content types on your site. Why limit such a good thing to just your blog? Next time, strategies 4 - 7. Got any strategies you like? Let me know. Maybe you can bump one of the rest of the list. Photo Credit

Is Your Website Smarter than a 12-year Old?

How important is it to consider the reading level of your content when blogging or editing your website? Well, if you want to gain loyal readers, it could be one of the most important things about your blog. Great content and relative brevity are major factors for a reader-friendly blog. Readability, or reading difficulty level, plays into both of these aspects.

The average reading level of most publications and websites is less than you might think. The prestigious Wall Street Journal is written at a high school junior reading level. Presidential speeches are written at an 8th grade level. Nearly all of today’s top novels are written at just a 7th grade level. Keeping that in mind, understanding your audience and tailoring your content to that audience (whether it be above or below the average level) could make a huge difference in readers choosing to read your content or scoping out the photos and moving on.

Just for fun, here's a small chart of some popular reading material and their relative reading levels:

readability chart

No reader left behind?

Does this mean that the general population is less literate that our years of education would indicate? Not necessarily. In general, articles are dumbed down below the mean readability level of their audience for two reasons; accessibility and usability.

Website accessibility typically pertains to coding content so that it is accurately portrayed to people who are differently abled; typically visual impairments. The typical examples are adding alt tags to describe images or avoiding color combinations that are difficult to differentiate by those who are color blind. Making content more readable is another form of making your site accessible while attracting a wider audience.

The goal of usability is to make a site as simple as possible while fulfilling its function. From the user perspective, “don’t make me think." Typically, we think of usability regarding navigation, functional features, and helpers. Yet, copy also is a part of the usability equation. Most websites do make people think. They just should not have to think about syntax and semantics instead using their brain muscle to focus on concepts.

So how do you measure the readability of your blog?

There are roughly five readability tests you can use; the most well-known of these being the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. Each uses an algorithm for calculating a level of difficulty by counting words and syllables. These difficulty levels have been normalized to translate into grade levels.

Lucky for you, LevelTen's own Tom McCracken has created a Drupal module including all of these readability tests. In the demo below, Tom shows you how easy it is to utilize this module and begin targeting your readers by adjusting your content.

Stay tuned to the LevelTen Drupal Labs YouTube Channel for more demos and tutorials. In the mean time, help us help you by leaving your feedback and suggestions to improve this module. We'd love to hear how it's worked (or not) for you.

Image Credit

The Ultimate Drupal SEO Module Directory

Back in 2008, when LevelTen made the official switch to only supporting the Drupal CMS, one of the primary factors in our decision making was the marketing capabilities that Drupal provided. From a purely search engine optimization standpoint, Drupal was (and still is) heads and shoulders above other open source content mangement systems. Why is Drupal so much better?
  1. Great coding.
  2. Ease of content creation.
  3. Modular functionality.
Great Coding The core Drupal framework is notorious in its reputation for having a clean and well-coded backend. When we perform SEO audits for our clients, this is generally one of the first things we look at. A poorly coded (and performing) website can have major implications for your organic search performance, as well as your user experience. By using the Drupal framework, and by selecting and configuring the right modules, you can better capitalize on the extra business good organic SEO can bring. Ease of Content Creation As any good Internet marketer knows, the key to good SEO is the ability to create great content. High quality content will attract natural inbound links, traffic, and activity on social media sites. With a proper and professional Drupal installation, it becomes much easier to create high quality content, complete with images, video, and more. In many ways, this can be your secret weapon in your quest for organic domination. Modular Functionality Did you know that the Drupal community boasts almost 5,000 contributed modules? With contributed modules, you can add functionality from 3rd party websites like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and more. Drupal's contributed modules help extend the functionality of Drupal's core installation. The Drupal community has created many modules to help make your Drupal SEO work a bit easier. Taking it a step further. We've scanned the Drupal community for as many Drupal 6 SEO modules as we could find and assembled them in this guide. You'll find many different types of SEO modules, from those that help with your content (on-page) optimization, to analytics and some of the more technical aspects of SEO. If you have any Drupal SEO modules that you'd like to see added to this directory, please let us know in the comments!

Drupal Content Optimization Modules

  • Content Analysis Suite*
  • The Content Analysis module is an API designed to help modules that need to analyze content. The module enables a suite of content analyzers to provide multiple views into the content on your Drupal site or on any website. The suite is currently built with Quick SEO, Scribe SEO, Readability and W3C Analyzer components.
  • Content Optimizer*
  • The Content Optimizer module helps increase your Drupal site’s search engine (e.g. Google) rankings by improving on-page optimization factors. It provides an instant analysis of any site content as a quick and easy guide to assure optimization best practices are consistently followed. The analysis displays vital content statistics and recommendations for improving search engine rankings.
  • Automatic Node Titles
  • Automatic Node Title is a small and efficient module that allows hiding of the content title field in the form. To prevent empty content title fields one can configure it to generate the title by a given pattern. Advanced users can also provide some PHP code, that is used for automatically generating an appropriate title.
  • Taxonomy Manager
  • This module provides an powerful interface for managing a taxonomy vocabulary. A vocabulary gets displayed in a dynamic tree view, where parent terms can be expanded to list their nested child terms or can be collapsed. Taxonomy Manager has many functions and key features including: mass deleting, mass adding new terms, moving of terms in hierarchies, merging of terms, simple search interface, CSV export of terms and many more.
  • Page Title
  • This module gives you granular control over the page title. You can specify patterns for how the title should be structured and, on content creation pages, specify the page title separately to the content's title. Every piece of content in Drupal has a title, and so does every page. The page title is the one found in the HTML head inside the title tag. It is also used on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and can greatly enhance your websites SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Node Words
  • Nodewords is the name of both the project and the main module (nodewords.module), which implements a public API used by the other modules of the project. This project allows you to set some meta tags for each Drupal page. Giving more attention to the important metadata such as keywords and description on some of your nodes allows you to get better search engine positioning.
  • Keywords
  • The features of the Keywords module are widespread. It allows you to: Display lists of the node's keywords and their densities at tab "Keywords", display lists of keywords and their densities for all site's nodes at page "All keywords", Links to nodes where keyword was found also displayed, add a node's body text title and teaser to find more keywords, and count real density and save node's keywords as taxonomy terms to selected vocabulary, among others.
  • Topic Hubs
  • Harnessing the power of Calais tagging, administrators can create Topic Hubs based on site’s most popular tags. Topic hubs are highly configurable and contain a series of pluggable content modules, like “Most Read” content for this topic, “Most Commented” stories, most active contributors, and links to other related topics. To top it off, integration with Calais Geo allows for plotting all of your content for a Topic Hub content on a map.
  • Related Content
  • Related Content enables site maintainers to easily select on a per-node basis what nodes should be displayed along with it. Nodes that are available for selection are provided by one or more views, provided by the views module. How the nodes are displayed is configurable, as well as themeable. The module also provide a small but powerful API for advanced users.
  • More Like This
  • More Like This provides a pluggable framework for providing related content. This data is provided as blocks to be manipulated during theming. It works by first specifying your "Thumbprint" for a particular node on the node edit form. By "thumbprint" we mean you can specify the terms/words that you, as an editor, feel uniquely identifies this content item. You can either select existing taxonomy terms associated with this specific node, enter free hand terms, or have them prefilled for you with suggestions returned by the Calais Web Service.
  • Meta Tags Node Type
  • This module extends the functionality of Nodewords so that certain meta tags can be specified on a per node type basis. It supports the "robots" meta tag, "keywords" meta tag, "description" meta tag and uses the Token module to allow token replacements. This node is best used to edit any content type and look for the Meta tags node type field set and configure any default keywords, description and robots for that content type.
  • SEO Friend
  • The Drupal SEO Friend module is meant to be used along side existing Drupal SEO modules to make them more effective. This module does not replace functionality available in the SEO Checklist and SEO Compliance Checker modules. It shows a series summary reports and a list of Drupal SEO-related modules and if they have been installed and enabled.
  • SEO Checker
  • The SEO Compliance Checker checks node content on search engine optimization upon its creation or modification. Whenever a publisher creates or modifies a node, the module performs a set of checks and gives the user a feedback on the compliance of the rules. This module is supported by the UFirst Group. It introduces a hook to gather information about existing SEO checks in other modules. Upon content creation, the core module applies the found checks and collects the results in order to display them as a table to the user.
  • Open Calais
  • The Calais Collection is an integration of the Thomson Reuters' Calais web service into the Drupal platform. The Calais Web Service automatically creates rich semantic metadata for the content you submit – in well under a second. Using natural language processing, machine learning and other methods, Calais analyzes your document and finds the entities within it. But, Calais goes well beyond classic entity identification and returns the facts and events hidden within your text as well. The web service is free for commercial and non-commercial use. It requires registration to obtain an API Key.
  • Nodewords by Path
  • The Nodewords by Path module complements the Nodewords module, and allows for some advanced settings for - you guess it - paths!
  • Link Checker
  • The Link checker module extracts links from your content when saved and periodically tries to detect broken hypertext links by checking the remote sites and evaluating the HTTP response codes. It shows all broken links in the reports/logs section and on the content edit page if a link check has been failed.
  • No-Follow List
  • Allows a blacklist of sites that will have a rel="nofollow" attribute added to their link tags whenever used on your site. Originally the only page in the blacklist was Wikipedia, though it now allows an admin controlled blacklist and whitelist. Since this is a filter module, it only works on text that is passed through Drupal's filter system. The biggest example of content passed through the filters are the body of content, blocks, and cck text fields where the user specifies an input format. It will not work on several areas including menus, site footers, mission statements, and profile fields.
  • Alinks
  • Alinks is the Drupal port of the Wordpress module by the same name. The Alinks module is incredibly useful for Drupal SEO, as it allows you to easily create deep links on the fly. Alinks allows you to specify a word or phrase you want linked in your website, and Alinks will comb your database for that term. Alinks then links the term within the content body on display, which does not alter your node content. These anchor text optimized deep links will make your site more visible to the search engines, and slightly influence the terms your site can rank for.
  • Glossify Internal Links Auto SEO
  • Glossifly Internal LInks acts much like Alinks in that it allows you to easily create anchor text optimized internal links for your website. Glossify Internal Links looks for text matches between node titles and node body content, and then turns those text matches into internal links. In the future, they plan to offer taxonomy based functionality as well.
  • Search 404
  • The Search 404 module is one of our favorite Drupal modules for SEO. Search 404 is particularly useful for capturing visitors that would have hit a 404 page on your site, and left. Instead of displaying a 404 page, Search 404 takes runs a site query based on the users' search terms, and returns the most relevant page. We've used this module at LevelTen several times during complex site migration strategies, and Search 404 has performed well.
*Developed by LevelTen Interactive

Drupal Technical SEO Modules

  • Path Redirect
  • This module allows you to specify a redirect from one path to another path or an external URL, using any HTTP redirect status. To help and boost effectiveness, Global Redirect ensures that your content is only visible at the one, best URL possible.
  • Site Map
  • This module provides a site map that gives visitors an overview of your site. It can also display the RSS feeds for all blogs and categories. Drupal generates the RSS feeds automatically but few seems to be aware that they exist. The site map can display the following items: a message to be displayed above the site map, latest blogs, any books, any menus that will be displayed fully expanded, and any categories with node counts and RSS feeds.
  • XML Sitemap
  • The XML sitemap module creates a sitemap that conforms to the sitemaps.org specification. This helps search engines to more intelligently crawl a website and keep their results up to date. The sitemap created by the module can be automatically submitted to Ask, Google, Bing (formerly Windows Live Search), and Yahoo! search engines. The module also comes with several submodules that can add sitemap links for content, menu items, taxonomy terms, and user profiles.
  • W3C Validator
  • Checks to see if your site meets the standards set forth by the W3C.
  • Google News
  • The Google News module helps you create a Google News compliant sitemap for your sites content. Creating a Google News compliant sitemap is the best way to get your site's content included in Google News searches.
  • Path Auto
  • The Pathauto module automatically generates path aliases for various kinds of content (nodes, categories, users) without requiring the user to manually specify the path alias. This allows you to get aliases like /category/my-node-title.html instead of /node/123. The aliases are based upon a "pattern" system which the administrator can control.
  • HTML Purifier
  • The HTML Purifier module is great for those of us who aren't HTML coding experts! HTML Purifier for Drupal not only protects your website from malicious code (XSS), but checks to make sure the code you do write is standards compliant.
  • RobotsTxt
  • This Robots.txt module for Drupal is useful when you're running a multi-site install and want to have a different robots.txt file for each site.
  • Site Verify
  • The Site Verify module for Drupal helps you verify ownership of your website with popular websites like Google Webmaster Tools, Google Apps, Bing Webmaster Central, Yahoo! Site Explorer, Yandex.ru and other sites that use a meta tag system for verification.
  • Google Website Optimizer
  • The Google Website Optimizer module helps you to integrate the Google Website Optimizer service into your Drupal website. Google's Website Optimizer is a service that helps you run a/b and multi-variate tests with your web page layouts. This is extremely useful when trying to optimize your conversion rates.
  • Link to Us
  • The Link to Us module helps you create a page full of cool banner graphics that your websites users can use to link back to you. This can be great for community websites where people want to show off their affiliation. This is also useful as a means for gathering backlinks for your website.
  • SEO Checklist
  • This module provides a checklist of good Drupal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices. Maximize the presence of your Drupal website in the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. It provides a checklist that helps you keep track of what needs to be done. First, it will look to see what modules you already have installed. Then, all you have to do is go down the list of unchecked items and do them.

Analytics Modules

  • Google Analytics
  • The module allows you to selectively track certain users, roles and pages, monitor what type of links are tracked (downloads, outgoing and mailto), monitor what files are downloaded from your pages, cache the Google Analytics code on your local server for improved page loading times, and track user segmentation from Drupal profile data. It also provides Site Search support and AdSense support.
  • Click Heatmap
  • The Click Heatmap module provides integration between Drupal and the ClickHeat library. The module itself does not record any data or generate click heatmaps. Instead the module provides a limited Drupal related scope and injects the the Javascript necessary to record the click data.
  • Woopra
  • This module adds support for the Woopra web statistics and real-time tracking system. This modules includes support for: selective tracking of users based on their role, local caching of the tracking code, explicit tracking on their username, and display users' avatars and email addresses (optional) in Woopra.
  • Search Engine Referrers
  • Search Engine Referers is a simple module to view the search engine queries used by your visitors. It parses the referer URLs of popular search engines in you access log and extracts the search queries. Currently supported: Google, Yahoo!, Live.com, Yandex.ru, Rambler.ru.
  • Quantcast
  • Quantcast engages 220 million U.S. Internet users, providing detailed audience profiles for the advertising marketplace to learn more about what consumers are doing online. They also provide advertisers with a new way to evaluate their individual customer profiles against the entire U.S. Internet population, so they can identify prospective customers.
  • Omniture
  • This module integrates the Omniture Site Catalyst statistics monitoring software into a Drupal site. This module is still growing and gaining a final form. Currently the 6.x 1.0 release can be extended using an "inc" file; however, the development version is much more flexible and can be extended using a hook_omniture_variables. Be sure to check the readme.txt file for specific implementation instructions.
  • Google Analytics API
  • This module takes advantage of data available from the Google Analytics Data Export API. A basic API level exists in the module for programmatically fetching data. With this one could build anything that uses analytics data -- for logic or to display graphically.On top of this, analytics data can be accessed via an administration interface, including a block that shows statistics about the current path, and a more detailed page for paths and nodes.
  • Get Clicky
  • Get Clicky is a real time web analytics tool. It allows you see your website analytics in realtime and react to each of your users' actions immediately - not after 24 hours. You can embed your analytics stats on a site and use a free and open Developer API.

Pricey Brands Now Targeting Discount Keywords

In the past few months, everyone has taken a hit in the wallet. It seems that all my friends are trimming their budgets, skipping a night out, and looking for deals and discounts. Even a friend of mine has started collecting coupons for groceries (which I gave him grief about, until he told me how much he has saved). Well, the internet is not any different and is in fact enabling searchers to find the discounts they so need. However, more to point, it has perked the search marketing departments of major brands such as Kraft to bid on budget-related keywords to reach this market. In a USA Today article by Theresa Howard yesterday entitled "Coupon search clicks: Sweet sound for Web marketers," she pointed out the growing trend of not only people searching for coupon and budget related terms, but also the brand names advancing their search efforts towards those terms. She writes of the increasing searches, As consumers troll online to save money, searches that include value words such as "coupons" rose 161% in December vs. 2007 to 19.9 million and "discount" rose 26% to 7.9 million, reports tracker ComScore. The internet has allowed for the savvy to stop sitting on carpet cutting coupons out of the Sunday paper, sorry Mom, to printing them out. Soccer moms have set up sites such as CouponMom.com to aggregate the new and best coupon deals...the term "grocery coupons" alone is a 9 million competing site term, with the term currently reaching a new search height according to the data at Google Insights. grocery.jpg As for brands currently taking advantage of the growing "coupon" keyword market for sponsored link bidding and searches, there are: Kraft added "cooking on a budget" and "value" to its search and is actively promoting $1 coupons for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. budgetblogkraft.jpgProcter & Gamble is promoting a Crest Whitening Strips $7 coupon. budgetblogcrest.jpgUnilever's search campaign for Bertolli's Oven Bake Meals yields a $2 coupon. budgetblog.jpg These efforts are resulting in 25 - 30% CTR for some ads and are generating the purchasing that seems to be sorely needed.

Top Ten Best Website Directory Buys Every SEO Should Know

Below is a short list of paid directories, although there are 1000s of paid directories online, these fall under the category of "good buys." This list includes those directories with one time fees (not reoccurring annually), one way linkback (not reciprocal), with a high Google PageRank. Directories typically charge more the higher their PageRank. Each are human edited (meaning a better quality directory). Although free is great, sometimes you get what you pay for. This list also coincides with my anecdotal experience in checking backlinks and how the SEs rank their value from years of SEO.

Top Ten Best Website Directory Buys

Joe Ant $39.99 http://www.joeant.com Seven Seek $40 http://www.sevenseek.com V7N Web Directory $49.95 http://directory.v7n.com Wow Directory $43 http://www.wowdirectory.com Family Friendly Sites $19.95 http://www.familyfriendlysites.com Gimpsy $49 http://www.gimpsy.com Skaffe $49.99 http://www.skaffe.com L10s $39 http://www.l10s.com Romow $45 http://www.romow.com Googee $19.99 http://www.goongee.com

Free High Powered Directories

Open Directory Project http://www.dmoz.org Google Directory http://directory.google.com

High Quality Premium Directories (Annual Fee)

Yahoo! Directory $299 http://dir.yahoo.com Business.com $299 http://www.business.com Best of The Web $99.95 http://www.botw.org This is my own list, but it was broken down based more on value and the fact they are only one time charges. Here is the basis for the analysis of the original list by the owner of the Aviva Directory. "There really is a lack of objective evidence as to which directories are truly good. This list attempts to address this and provide objective directory rankings. The good folks over at Seomoz have developed a page strength tool. It takes a holistic view of websites, and is fairly representative of how Google views websites (and directories). According to Seomoz, the page strength tool is 'a better metric to quickly assess a site / page’s relative importance and visibility.'" See his full list of Strongest Website Directories here Related Articles Ten 100% Free Human Edited Website Directories

Semantic Markup is search engine optimization

Whether you realize it or not, semantic markup and search engine optimization (SEO) go hand in hand. The purpose of clean, meaningful markup is organize you data so that it is identified more clearly to humans and software alike. The purpose of SEO is to increase the readability of your markup to search engines. Those two aren't far removed from each other because search engine optimization is simply correcting for non-semantic markup after the fact. Consider that when trying to pitch it to a client.

I have summarized a few simple markup practices that will dramatically 'optimize' your information for search engine consumption, and guess what-- More people will actually understand and receive it too! Before you peruse the items and decide it will impede your design options or flexibility, allow me to correct your misconception.

Use lists - group things meaningfully, not just visually

Using the unordered list (<ul>) is a perfect way of grouping related items, be they navigation links or gallery thumbnails. If the numbering is important use the ordered list (<ol>). There are other lists available in XHTML 2, such as the super-cool and rather anticipated navigation list (<nl>), which is for, you guessed it, navigation! Even though the <ul> was not designed specifically for it, the W3C currently recommends the practice of using it to group menu items. If you think it can't look slick or some common menu style isn't possible with the <ul>, try browsing these CSS <ul> menu examples

Use those header tags properly!

This is a simple yet ridiculously misused method of organizing your content. The header tags should be used to guide and label the flow of content on your site. Don't take my word for it; the W3 clears this up quite nicely, explaining the fundamental use for header tags in the validator results when 'Show Outline' is selected:

Below is an outline for this document, automatically generated from the heading tags (<h1> through <h6>).
. . .
If this does not look like a real outline, it is likely that the heading tags are not being used properly. (Headings should reflect the logical structure of the document; they should not be used simply to add emphasis, or to change the font size.)
The outline option is a very useful tool that I recommend to everyone.

Use <abbr> and <acronymn> tags

As outlined in a previous article, these two tags semantically associate abbreviations and acronyms with their full descriptions or terms. Not only do visual users have a reminder if they are uncertain of a term, but screen readers can skip situations where acronyms like NATO might be spoken to the user as a string of letters.

Use metadata tags for links, images etc

Using title and alt attributes is considered by many to be staple optimization. However, when using proper semantic markup, it should happen regardless of your efforts to optimize as it is the last resort for many situations including elements improperly loading, plug-ins not available, styling or client-side scripting disabled, or text and non-visual browsing.

Semantic Markup: Optimizing for Now and the Future

While the additions of hidden links or keywords may be a cute trick today, search engines are becoming smarter all the time, and hacks that worked yesterday may not work today. In fact, it may hurt your standing if it is widely considered an underhanded practice! Google puts it best when they recommend that you ask yourself Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist? Sticking to semantic markup means your sites will be optimized for now and in 5 years with no further effort on your part. It may just be me, but that seems like the only way to go.

Local Search Reviews

Well, this is the first post to the LevelTen Local Search blog. The topics addressed here are really a subset of the ideas and topics discussed on the LevelTen Search Happens blog. Here it will all be Local, Local, Local. As exciting as it is to watch the world of search evolve, it is even more exciting to watch how the powers that be in search scramble to become the powers that be in Local search. The reason for all this scramble is obvious. One of the core functionalities of the Internet is to help you find relevant information. And if you are looking for something local...you should be able to find local relevant information. And when you find relevant information that is local...you will generally use that information to find or purchase...this is why the Web is the greatest direct response tool we have ever seen. So, we're going to talk Local...and here's something posted today on Clickz...talking about user generated reviews. Web marketers just love user generated content and this model is creating some incredible Internet communities, MySpace, Facebook...etc. The one interesting thing not mentioned in this article is how easy it is to subvert this model. Those with a vested interest in the success of a company or product or service can easily post glowing reviews. This has been done many times in Amazon's book review sections. You could also provide a bad review of your competitor...just thought the dark side should be mentioned. Stay tuned.

Natural Link Building and Viral Sites

I found a great article on methods for link building. It is a great overview of all the mainstream ways of building links used today. http://www.socengine.com/seo/guide/advanced-link-building.html Method 15 Natural Link Building is the most interesting. By offering the web community the best possible site, you can gain natural links through the power of having others on the web link to you. As a strategic web development and marketing agency, we should strive to build superior copy, creative and tools into each site to drive viral marketing. The key is to build what the visitor wants (e.g. being customer centric) in a unique way that maximizes the WOW factor. Our goal with every website is to build a viral driven site. When a viral driven site is achieved the other 14 methods of link building can be used to seed Natural Link Building. By exciting visitors to carry the website's message to the rest of the web for us, we create a PR engine that accelerates online word of mouth/link building. PR, that is, with the synergetic double meaning of public relations and page rank.

Google Sandbox, Are we out yet?

A significant Google algo change and update happened over super bowl weekend. As with any update, many optimized sites dropped. However, this time it was a lot of sites, including many who have had top rankings for years. At the same time, many sites came out of the sandbox for the first time to rank well for competitive terms. This update, for the most part, did not affect our SEO clients. Two of our clients came out of the sandbox to get fantastic rankings; both are now in second position for their main keyword. What I find interesting, and has a lot of other SEO experts talking, is that this is the first mass exodus out of the sandbox. Many sites that came out have been waiting since March 2004. What happened to only having to wait six months? Do we really have to wait 11 months to get out? Is there a shortcut to get out sooner? A very interesting article www.socengine.com explores that very topic. The article concludes with six popular theories about how to shortcut the sandbox. Several SEO's claim to have escaped the sandbox quickly. IMO, none have provided adequate proof of a new website ranking well for truly competitive terms. I have seen no evidence of a shortcut out of the sandbox from our client’s sites and other sites we are involved, which represent a wide range of link building and on page optimization levels. To review the dozens of sites we have been involved with since March 2004:
  • Virtually all are registered with 5 to 25 directories when launched.
  • Most have some level of on page optimization that has them ranking well in Yahoo and MSN.
  • All sites launched after July 2004 were W3C HTML compliant, although some clients have made non-W3C compliant changes. Those that aren't 100% compliant still have relatively clean code (compared to a WYSIWYG site builders).
  • None have black hat techniques (unless the someone else has done it to the site) such as stealthing, keyword stuffing, etc.
  • Most sites are fairly static, yet some continuously have content being added or changed.
  • Some are brand new domains; some have been around for many years.
  • Some we host between four different IP blocks, some are hosted elsewere with completely independent IP blocks.
  • A few have steady, continuous link building both from manual link finding and some from natural linking (e.g. people like the site so much they link to it. Note: nFluentMusic.com is a SEO dream, it has people constantly linking to it because they are promoting themselves or just like the tools).
Out of these the only sites that have ranked well in Google in 2004 are those that had long standing domain names with significant link popularity. Our sites cover a broad range of business sites and none experienced a shortcut out. Every time someone claims they have quickly escaped the sandbox, it has turned out to be an urban legend. For now it looks like the new sites and existing sites with low link popularity may have to wait up to a year or longer before ranking well in Google. We should continue to recommend that clients who can benefit from search marketing do AdWords and Overture sponsored PPP ads, moderate link building and on-page optimization with an eye for Yahoo and MSN in the near term.