Google, PageRank and links to Software

I just woke up and suddenly realised why this site has ZREO PageRank since about 2 weeks ago (it dropped from PR3).

Oh yes, I couldn't just lie in bed - I just felt compelled to remove the offending item, and now that I'm wide awake, I might as well let you all know about this.

Well, when I first got this blog, I changed the template amongst other things. I also added a little panel with an ad. The ad was for a 'SEO Program' that would work with your keywords (generate lists, analyze competitors AdWords, etc) - it was an affiliate link. This was all about a year ago.

Anyway, a while back, about 6 months ago, I noticed that this software's own website had stopped showing Google AdSense. 'Strange...' I thought, '...must have upset Google'. I guess if you looked at the program, then you could find things it did that Google wouldn't have liked. Seeing as the commissions on this product was high, I didn't really worry about it and left the link in.

Then suddenly, about 2 weeks ago BHAM! PageRank ZERO! What on earth? I of course didn't have a clue why that might have happened, and therefore didn't change a thing.

Today I woke up and immediately thought: it is by pointing to a product that upsets Google (remember I said that their AdSense stopped working), that I have put my blog in the Google firing line. Of course you won't get any warnings - you'd better be able to think for yourself about 'things good' and more importantly 'things bad'.

In conclusion, if Google traffic and Google PageRank are important to your website, then you really ought to keep your nose (read 'website') clean - as Google would see 'clean' that is.

Now that I've removed the (what I believe) offending article, I'll hope to get the PageRank back. In a couple of months? Hope so - though sooner would be good.

Click Quality & Click Fraud

So you spend a lot of money on CPC (cost per click using AdWords, Miva, Yahoo Search Marketing, Bidvertiser, etc) and wondered - or perhaps need to understand - 'Am I getting the best out of CPC adevertising?' or 'Am I losing money on fraudulent clicks?'

Check out some of these articles:

  • Clicking Content Ads in Exchange for A Quality Post: Here is an ethical dilemma in the click fraud arena, please leave your point of view in the comment field below. Joe Bloggs is a tech savvy individual who reads many online blogs. Whilst searching for a technical answer, he is directed to a particular site via ...
  • Click Fraud and The Presedential Race: I am seeing a lot of chatter on the net about how click fraud may be used as a tool in the upcoming presedential campaign. Internet marketing techniques will play a big part in the upcoming campaign, and the ability to deplete a candidate’s ad budget ...
  • Survey Results In: I recently ran a survey on this site to see what type of articles you would like me to write. The overwhelming result was that you would like to read how-to articles. With this in mind I have decided to create a lot more detailed ...
  • Entrecard Bans ClickBots/DropBots: A number of months ago, I wrote an article about gaming Entrecard and asked if it was a type of click fraud.
    The crux of this post was that people were creating click bots or drop bots to drop a virtual business card on other ...


Best Back Links

You may have already discovered that the more your back link is in context, the better it is for getting visitors and search engine optimization/results. Also, we're talking about Google and Google PageRank right?

So, generally, the following links strategies might be considered as 'beneficial', and listed in the order below:

  • Best Back Link?: A link from another website's home page
  • Better Back Link: Content Linking - a page on another site dedicated to your product or service with link(s) pointing back to your site
  • Medium Back Link: Link on a ‘non-links’ page (i.e. a link at the bottom of a page NOT dedicated to links)
  • Medium Back Link: Links Pages - your link amongst others on a page of RELEVANT links
  • Worst Back Link?: Automated Linking Strategies - sometimes you don't have control over how/where your link is displayed.

You may adopt the following attitude and spend effort accordingly: The more difficult a back link is to obtain, the more it is likely to be worth.

What ever you decide, good luck with your back linking, because I'll tell you for nothing: it's not easy to get good back links! I'm not telling you anything new right? You should also keep in mind that Google PageRank does not directly relate to where you appear in the organic results.

Just carry out good back linking for real visitors and the search engines will fall into line!


Rebranding - if its good enough for Google...

You may have noticed recently that Google has done some rebranding.

Google Favicon

However, not fully as you can see.

The website's favicon.ico (a small icon that shows up next to the URL in a browser's address bar) shows that Google have opted for a lower case 'g' without an enclosing box. But their toolbar still shows the old logo.

On its own, its not a big deal. But when was the last time that you reviewed and/or revised any of your branding? I'm talking about logos, colours or fonts? As a matter of fact, anything that you use consistently for marketing - does it need an update? Is it more than a few years old? Does your printed material branding match your online branding?

If you have not done so, then take a bit of time out to at least review your branding. Depending on the results, make the appropriate chnages - I mean, you don't wear the same outfits for years on end do you?

Google PageRank Update April/May 2008

Google has just danced its dance!

Yep, in the last week, I have noticed that some sites have a revised PageRank. I'm not sure what it is called though - most of these have names, like 'Big Daddy'.

How do I know about the PageRank update? Well, we keep a weekly record of our PageRank, so we were please to see some of our efforts show through a better PageRank.

But while we are reasonably happy, I see others are wondering what hit them (or rather what didn't)! See: Mostly, I suspect that webmasters will make positive noises.

But what's the big deal anyway? What difference does it make to you? If PageRank was all that mattered, then every result of a search would result in a page 1 full 'PR 10's.

So, what good is Google's PageRank then?

  1. It gives you an indication of how well your backlinking is
  2. The biggest difference it can make to you is to give you bargainning power
But before you set off, you might want to wait a tiny bit longer as some thing that the update is still in progress. You wouldn't want to undersell (or oversell your pages) is their PageRank suddenly changes.

What ever your PageRank, remember to try to get good links - for 'good links ' read 'the more relevant links the better'.

Roll on another quarter. And another Google PageRank Update.


Dedicated Servers. Ultimate Website Optimization?

"What has dedicated servers to do with website optimization?" I hear you ask.

Before you read our reasons for using a dedicated server from Lunar Pages , quickly consider the following positives:

  • you have total control over everything related to hosting
  • your website performance won't be affected by others
  • you won't be penalized by what others do
  • you can pay a bit extra to have your server 'managed'
  • you can manage your server yourself using Plesk (Plesk 8.x for Windows / Plesk 8.x for Linux / PLESK Demonstration / Download FREE Copy of Plesk)
  • you have more options & flexibility for each site
  • you can have a dedicated server from around $100 per month.

    On the negative side though:

    • it's expensive if your total hosting charges aren't approaching $100
    • you have to log on to the server and feel comfortable with this
    • you have manage & setup your website(s), mailbox(es), etc
    • you have to understand a bit more about domains and DNS
    • You can choose between Linux & Windows operating system

    Our dedicated server case study:

    We are outside the USA. We use ASP scripting on our websites, but only because we found it easier to start with as we didn't need to install PHP on our PCs all those years ago.

    Anyway about 6 years ago, we found .......

    Read the full article: Dedicated Servers - Our Story


    Effective Websites & Website Effectiveness

    A website’s effectiveness is the efficiency with which a visitor to a web site can achieve the goals of both, their own as well as that of the website.
    Before you can measure a web site’s performance you need to know the objective of the website. A website’s objective might be to provide information, sell items, educate, supplement/compliment existing off-line services, serve a community, etc. Of course it might be to provide a combination of these - for example a website might provide information about a product, sell that product and provide support for that product.

    Once you know the objective of your website, you need consider:
    • Is the buyer likely to buy from a website in the first place?
    • Do you need to educate the buyer about the product?
    • Do you expect the buyer to contact you offline before purchasing? If yes, then does your website clearly show your contact details?
    • Does the website provide enough information to proceed to the next step?
    • ‘A picture says a thousand words’ the popular saying says – does your website provide appropriate pictures?
    • Is it clear to the buyer where all the relevant information is as each step?
    • Is the buyer comfortable buying from your website? (trust & confidence in your company, SSL, etc)
    • Is the sales cycle years, months, weeks or days long?
    • Does you website support the length of cycle? (eg does you site need to provide a way to save a basket for use upon the visitor’s return?
    • Is the buyer told what he/she can expect after a purchase has been made?• Does the website provide a payment type that the buyer is likely to use?

    These are only some of the issues to consider. Think from the buyer’s point of view to realize other issues that will be important to your customer.

    You now need to consider if the website’s contents match the sales process and the buyer’s needs:

    • Ensure that the content proportionally matches the buyer’s needs. Don’t provide too little (nor a flood of) information. If you need to, separate information in a logical manner using more than one web page (or a PDF) if necessary
    • Ensure the website navigation is laid out in a way that suits the buyer’s needs
    • At the same time the website needs to be follow industry formats (don’t be too radical or you’ll alienate your buyers)
    • Where the buyer is likely to have a reason for not buying, provide information to: a) Let the buyer know that these issues have been taken into your consideration b) Let the buyer know that you have answers to his/her issues

    If possible, get feedback buy asking customers about their experience. Get people to evaluate your site – formally will be best though you might have to pay. If you have to pay, then consider professionals in this area.

    Making your website effective in this way will help to convert more of your visitors into buyers.


    Analyzing Website Traffic

    How can you check and refine your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts? The quickest and probably the cheapest way is by analyzing your web traffic statistics. You have a couple of ways to do this:

    • your hosting company may provide you with website statistics that you can simply view. This - when free (or part of your hosting package) - tends to be basic information and is probably enough in most cases.
    • you can download your log files and use your own web log analyzer tool. This way, as long as your log files contain all the necessary data**, you can pick and choose the website statistics you are interested in. **Log files are normally generated by excluding extended information which only advanced users and webmasters find useful.

    What statistics can your website logs provide you with? And how can you use the information?

    At the simplest level, you will be interested in:

    • the number of website visitors: what kind of visitors were they? Real people or bots?
    • the number of page views / the number of hits: elements like pages, images, etc that were served - *note that some people will state the number of hits on their website. But mostly what really matters is the number of page views. As an example, assume that on a particular site, an average page has 20 images on it. Then a 1000 hits may equate to 1000/20 (equalling just 50) page views!
    • search phrases & keywords: using which phrases & keywords is your websitebeing found? You may need to focus on some while lose focus on others.
    • where, geographically, your visitors are from: where are your visitors came from? Are they from a geographic location from which you will get purchases? If not, then perhaps instead of dropping/losing those visitors, it might be worth serving adverts where you will earn money.
    • who the referrers are: which websites/search engines are referring traffic to your website. Are Google, Live Search, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc among the referrers you are seeing?
    • popular pages: a simple overview will be sufficient to indicate you are on track. However, lookout for new entries indicating a potential trend (in which case be prepared!)

    At an intermediate level, you will be interested in:

    • comparisons (daily, weekly, monthly, annual) of various statistics: do these comparisons so that you can confirm or react to differences that are a result of trends, your advertising, your SEO efforts
    • errors your website might be experiencing: your goal should be to reduce errors under your control to ZERO
    • exact paths your visitors are taking: look out for trends and understand how your visitors think – find out what they are interested in and serve them appropriately
    • popular entry and exit pages: do these entry and exit statistics confirm your expectation? If not, then you need to work on these pages
    • what browsers your visitors are using: it may be important for you to know what browsers are being used and to ensure your website is seen by the target audience exactly as intended. Sometimes pages that work on one browser (say the popular Internet Explorer at approx. 60%) may not work exactly on another (say the less popular Mozilla Firefox at approx. 15%)
    • visiting bots: you should generally be aware of which bots, how often, how many pages view during each visit. Using robots.txt, you may want to control which pages/directories bots can visit.

    At an advanced level, you will be interested in:

    • server attacks: if these are regular, you might have to consider why, and take appropriate step to reduce them or cope with them
    • tracked pages: regarding the pages you are particularly interested in, you may want to find out the referrers and parameters used and subsequent pages visited
    • exact IP addresses of visitors: sometimes IP addresses or blocks of IP addresses may be used to control content served
    • visitor cities
    • visitor ‘stay length’: the site ‘stickyness’ is an indicator of your visitors’ interest in the content of your website
    • bandwidth used up: quantity of data server - perhaps bandwidth costs are important to you as your web host charges you according to bandwidth use – perhaps your pages are slow and optimising some images will speed up your site and save on band width

    You will have realized that simply having more traffic does not mean that you are doing well. You need to spot behaviour of your visitors. Are they following the path you want them to follow? Leading to the outcome that you need?

    Having said that, the more visitors you have, the more accurate your interpretation will be. The more precise your behaviour analysis will be. Otherwise there is a danger of taking the wrong action on the interpretation of only a few visitors.

    As a general guideline, the more ‘sticky’ your site is (i.e. the longer your visitors stay on your site), the more likely it is that they are interested in what the site has to offer. If they aren’t staying, it could be that they got there with a false promise. Perhaps your site isn’t optimized for the keywords and phrases that you need to be optimized for. Perhaps your site isn’t visitor friendly – there are too many images, images in wrong places, inconsistent menus, difficult to read combinations of text (font/colours) and background, unclear menus, no contact details, etc

    Web traffic statistics can help you work out the ineffective - and effective - areas of your website. Examples:

    • If you have an important page, but visitors are exiting it rapidly, then that page needs attention.
    • If you have a page that isn’t being visited much, then you could, for example, consider improving the link(s) to this page by making the link more noticeable/attractive.
    • if you notice that visitors are spending more time on pages that aren’t important, then you might modify that page or ‘move it out of the way’.

    You expect certain ‘exit pages’, like pages with forms for contacting you. So a particularly high rate of exits on other pages allows you to evaluate and adjust those pages. As an example, on a product page there may be no description. Would you be happy to buy a product without a clear description? No, of course you wouldn't - and nor would the website visitor.

    Examine your keywords and phrases to see if these are visitors that you want. Perhaps trends have changed and people are using slightly different keywords and phrases to those they were using only a few months ago. Perhaps your page needs to be re-optimized to reflect the content it represents.

    Finally, check if people are looking for your company to find the products or services you are offering. Because when they do, then your company is becoming associated with those products and services. Brand recognition is something sought by nearly all companies and achieving brand recognition is most satisfying.


    Optimizse your pages for speed.

    Ok, so you've spent all this time optimizing your pages and you're not sure exactly how good your optimization is. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has many facets: keywords, images, scripts, onsite/off site, links, etc. Page speed is an important factor, more for human visitors than our eight-legged friends ('spiders' to you and I).

    Wouldn't it be great if you could get someone else's opinion on your page speed? For free?

    On the resulting page, you will get quite a lot of web page speed diagnosis statistics: Global Stats, Object Size Totals, External Objects, Download Times and Page Objects.

    But the best part is at the end of the page - Page Speed Analysis and Recommendations. Currently, this section is broken down into 11 areas covering page objects, images, CSS & HTML. Helpfully, colors are used for each area to focus your attention to those areas judged to be the weakest.

    On a sample page I checked, I was surprised by the number of images I had on the page. I was pleased however, that my scripts we 'tidy' as confirmed by the analysis breakdown.

    Learn more about Search Engine Optimization and increase the number of visitors you get to your website.