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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Getting Traffic with SEO: Content or Links?

An article by one of our favorite authors, Joel Walsh. It is a simple concept but one that need to be brought up from time to time. Search engines love content. It is their sole purpose to find as much of it as they can and then decide its relevancy based on search terms we enter. Should SEO companies focus on Content or Links?

Simply having keyword-optimized pages of content on your site won't rank you high for competitive search engine keywords–that's a fact of life. But keyword-optimized content can really bring in the traffic for low-competition and unique keywords. The low-competition and unique keywords are typically longer multi-word variants of the keyword. For instance, instead of “search engine ranking,” “ranking for search engine traffic niche keywords.”

If you have lots of pages of optimized content–and you optimize well–all the search engine traffic from these low-competition keywords will really add up. Plus, you'll usually get more repeat visitors and type-in traffic, too.

Just picture this realistic example of traffic-building with content vs. ranking-building with links. Company A invests $5,000 for link-building in order to rank for a competitive keyword. Company B invests the same amount, only in content. Company A and Company B: each start out on equal SEO footing: equally old websites with the same amount and quality of content, same content management systems, the same PageRank and quantity, quality, and relevance of inbound links.

Company A's research reveals that $5000 is just the amount needed to get on the first page of Google for a target keyword that should deliver 100 unique visitors per day if the site ends up in the first position. They dutifully get inbound links optimized for that keyword, following all SEO best practices. Three months and $5,000 later, the site is stuck somewhere toward the bottom of the second page of Google search results for the target keyword. Six months later, they've actually sunk a bit lower in the SERPs. The good news is that the site is getting some traffic from the links built and from the lowly search engine position, but nowhere near the 100 visitors/day they were hoping for from search results.

Company B, meanwhile, had content written around a long list of keywords with little or no competition in the search engines, using up-to-date search engine copywriting techniques. They've been enjoying a growing stream of visitors to their site almost since the first page of content was added. Three months later, the site's search engine traffic has grown by a hundred unique visitors per day, or 3,000 per month. Moreover, Company B's repeat visitor traffic has also jumped. Type-in traffic has increased, presumably as visitors forward the URLs of useful pages to their friends. Page views are up, too, not only from more repeat visitors and type-in visitors, but also from first-time search visitors staying longer and browsing more pages. Six months later, the website's content has built a loyal following on the net, generating even more repeat visitors. The search engine traffic is as good as it ever was.

What happened?

Big Oak Can help you avoid these pitfalls and write your entire website using SEO techniques that don't overpower your site's message.

Pitfalls of Link-Building for Search Engine Ranking

Company A thought it had a fairly sure thing: build enough optimized links for the keyword, taking care not to trigger search engine penalties. Yet as they've discovered, there is no sure thing when it comes to search engine rankings:

· Over-optimization penalty minefield. The search engines, particularly Google and Yahoo!, are very risk-averse when it comes to ranking sites well for competitive keywords. On the whole, they are perfectly willing to risk dropping several good sites from top rankings in order to try to keep one bad site out. They are constantly tweaking their algorithms to identify sites whose link structures are not indicative of a quality site. In the process, plenty of good sites with good SEO also get swept up. This risk of failure is the inherent risk of SEO. True, most of the time, a good site with good SEO does move to the top. But in a large minority of cases, quality goes unrewarded.

· Competition and the moving target. As Site A was moving up the search engine results for its competitive target keyword, so were the other sites. There is no rest for the victorious when it comes for SEO. The top sites for highly competitive keywords are constantly building new optimized links. That's why any SEO effort has to aim to do at least ten percent better than the site currently in the position it's targeting.

· Lack of keyword diversity. Too often, websites with modest SEO budgets (and $5,000 is modest when it comes to a competitive keyword) aim for just a few keywords. Given all the potential pitfalls of an SEO campaign, you need to be going after ten or more target competitive keywords, and at least another ten related but less competitive keywords. That way, failure for a few keywords won't scuttle the whole project. Meanwhile, search engines look for diversity in targeted keywords, so you get much more out of targeting a larger group of keywords. If you can't afford to do this, you're really better off not going after competitive keywords. Sure, you might get those rankings. But what happens if you've spent your budget and still have little to show for it?

Meanwhile, the fundamental advantage of pursuing low-competition keywords is that, by definition, it's much closer to being a sure thing.

Advantages of Web Content SEO

· Greater certainty. Not only is a page of content extremely likely to bring in search engine traffic—unlike the similar investment in links—it won't suddenly disappear. The sites linking to you might stop anytime, or do something to stop links' passing search engine value (such as adding the “nofollow” tag or switching to a search-engine-unfriendly content management system).

· Cost. Traditionally, copywriting has been more expensive than link-building. But that's changed. As “nofollow” link-Scrooge-ry becomes more and more common, and as paid and reciprocal links get downgraded, the real cost of obtaining quality links increases. Meanwhile, the copywriting market has increasingly adapted to the needs of search engine marketing. To get a search engine visitor, you don't need a Pulitzer-prize winning essay or a killer sales letter. You simply need highly focused, readable, keyword-optimized, information-packed pages of around 250 words each—and more and more copywriting and SEO firms are delivering this service cost-effectively. Blogs, meanwhile, let you and your employees add content easily. Bulletin boards (modified to be search-engine-friendly) let site visitors add content, too. In fact, “natural content” from blogs and bulletin boards is now much more viable than natural link building.

In conclusion, when you look at SEO, don't forget that your number-one goal is not to rank high for a certain keyword, but to get more search engine traffic. In some less-competitive sectors, high rankings may still be a realistic and effective proposition. But increasingly, ranking high for competitive keywords is no longer the best way to get traffic.

About the author: Joel Walsh is a professional in the fields of copywriting and SEO who has recently launched, an SEO company

Need help with your SEO Copywriting, call Big Oak today.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Adding Credibility to Your Website

How to add credibility to your web site
The Stanford University compiled a list of 10 guidelines for building the credibility of a web site. These guidelines are based on three years of research and on several studies about that topic.

The Stanford list confirms the recommendations we gave in previous issues of this newsletter and the tips that are available in the marketing tips section in IBP. Although the information in the Stanford list is not new, it is still very important if you want to be successful with your web site.

Why is credibility important?
Credibility is crucial if you want to make money with your web site. Your web site visitors must have trust in your company. It's pointless to spend a lot of work on getting visitors from search engines if these visitors don't convert to sales.
The Stanford guidelines for web credibility:

Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.
Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.

• Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
• Make it easy to contact you.
• Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
• Make your site easy to use -- and useful.
• Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).
• Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
• Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.

What does this mean to your web site?
Make sure that your web pages are optimized for human web surfers before you start with your search engine optimization activities. Your web pages must be appealing, credible and convincing.

If done right, getting more visitors means getting more sales

When you're sure that your web pages generate sales, optimize them for high search engine rankings. Focus on people first, then on search engines.

If you have convincing web pages, getting more web site visitors means getting more sales. These web site promotion tools help you to get as many visitors as possible.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Make Sure Your Articles are Being Published

There are a few software directory software programs in the marketplace. Some are great, some are good, and some stink to high heaven, for the writer and for the website owners.

In an ideal world, all article management software would be easy-to-use for the webmaster. Also in an ideal world, the submission process would be fast and easy for the writer. But, this is not an ideal world.

In today\'s article hungry marketplace, there are literally hundreds of websites where you can submit your articles.

[b]Three Types of Article Directories[/b]

There are three kinds of article directories:
[b]*[/b] Stand-Alone Directories of Articles Available for Reprint
[b]*[/b] Stand-Alone Directories of Articles Available for Reading
[b]*[/b] Article Directories Inside of a Website, with Articles Available for Reading

With these different kinds of directories, you will find different categories of webmasters. This distinction is more important than you think.

[b]*[/b] Corporate Owners
[b]*[/b] Independent Online Business Webmasters
[b]*[/b] Hobbyist Webmasters

Personally, I own two article directories. One has nearly 2500 articles in it, and the other has nearly 5000 articles in it.

Both of mine are of the first type, Stand-Alone Directories of Articles Available for Reprint. But, I am not a corporate owner. I am an independent online business webmaster.

The reason why the type of owner is important is that the type of owner will determine where your articles will be published today AND tomorrow.

Corporate owners have a bottomless supply of web server space available to them. In the corporate category, these directories are the most important:


[b]Directory Owner Budgets[/b]

Most new article directory owners have a small budget for web hosting, and therefore, they have a limited amount of web server hard drive space.

Most of these new directory owners have jumped into their website with both feet hoping to cash in on their Google Adsense revenue.

After a few months, the truth will crash them into the wall.

On, I have more than 4500 articles live. I have another 1000 articles pending my approval. Generally, it takes 30 seconds to approve one article. So, the articles currently pending on this site will require an investment of another 8.5 hours to bring up-to-date. One day a couple of weeks back, I spent 19 straight hours approving articles on this site. I am not going to stop taking submissions to this article directory site, but it does require a lot of my time to maintain.

Perhaps I am exceptional. I will spend the hours required to approve articles, but will the next person?

I started this site with a basic account. I have had to upgrade my web hosting package three times to be able to continue accepting articles to the site. Will the next person make this kind of commitment?

The payoff for operating a website like this one is the Adsense revenue developed from hosting such a wide range of content on the website. In the case of the website, I am currently generating only $40 per month on my Adsense account. Will the next person consider this a fair trade of time for money? Likely not.

[b]I Know This Is My Business, But Don\'t Take My Word For It[/b]

At various times, I submit articles to various directories. The distinction of \"at various times\" is actually important. Websites that were accepting direct submissions from me six months ago are no longer accepting submissions from anyone.

Writers want to believe that they can just crank out hundreds of articles, generating hundreds of links back to their websites. Sometimes they can, and at other times, they cannot.


Big Oak SEO can help with your article writing and writing your press releases. It is part of our SEO strategy for each and every customer.


It comes down to this. Every website where I submit articles has a human moderator at the other end of the transaction, and they have the right to choose what materials they will use and what materials they will not use. Each webmaster can also consider whether the time required for the approval process will help their bottom line.

These big article directories no longer accept articles from anyone. Also shown is the last date an article was added to the site.

[b]*[/b] - December 2005
[b]*[/b] - December 2005
[b]*[/b] - August 2005
[b]*[/b] - May 2005
[b]*[/b] - April 2003

Many smaller directories have also stopped taking articles. In most cases, the websites show that they accept articles, but you never realize that they are not printing your articles until you look or until you hit the Submit button on the Submission Form. Or, you can continue submitting to them, never realizing that you are wasting your time, until you go to search the website for your articles. says that they have a monster backlog and they are not taking new articles until they get caught up. seems to indicate that they are still accepting articles, but they have not published a new article since May of 2005.

Folks, I could go on forever. I could literally show your hundreds of directories that seem to be accepting articles, but they have not published any new articles in months or years.

Generally, Mailing Lists on the Major List Servers Deliver Better Results

Article distribution email groups on Yahoo and Google generally provide good results, but they fall into disuse almost as frequently as web article directories.

Here, I will show the subscriber count of the Article Distribution Group, the last time an article was published through the list, and the URL for the list.

[b]*[/b] 1003 – September 2003 -
[b]*[/b] 560 – September 2001 -
[b]*[/b] 2002 – December 2000 -
[b]*[/b] 752 – June 2005 -
[b]*[/b] 474 – December 2000 -
[b]*[/b] 465 – August 2003 -

The following article distribution group is active, but there is no moderator to review your posts:

[b]*[/b] 1390 – June 2005 - (the only people who can submit to this list are those who were not moderated at the time the list owner disappeared.)

[b]In Conclusion[/b]

If you are distributing your own articles to a house list, check back from time to time to make sure that they are actually using your articles. Always verify your results. Don\'t waste your time submitting articles to people who will not even look at your articles.
This article was found at Site Reference.