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Google's SEO Advice For Your Website: Content

The web pages actually at the top of Google have only one thing clearly in common: good writing. Don't get so caught up in the usual SEO sacred cows and bugbears, such as PageRank, frames, and JavaScript, that you forget your site's content.

I was recently struck by the fact that the top-ranking web pages on Google are consistently much better written than the vast majority of what one reads on the web.

Of course, that shouldn't be a surprise, considering how often officials at Google proclaim the importance of good content. Yet traditional SEO wisdom has little to say about good writing.

Does Google, the world's wealthiest media company, really ignore traditional standards of quality in the publishing world? Does Google, like so many web site owners, really get so caught up in the process of the algorithm that it misses the whole point?

Apparently not.

Most Common On-the-Page Website Content Success Features

Whatever the technical mechanism, Google is doing a pretty good job of identifying web sites with good content and rewarding them with high rankings.

I looked at Google's top five pages for the five most searched-on keywords, as identified by WordTracker on June 27, 2005. Typically, the top five pages receive an overwhelming majority of the traffic delivered by Google.

The web pages that contained written content (a small but significant portion were image galleries) all shared the following features:

* Updating: frequent updating of content, at least once every few weeks, and more often, once a week or more.

* Spelling and grammar: few or no errors. No page had more than three misspelled words or four grammatical errors. Note: spelling and grammar errors were identified by using Microsoft Word's check feature, and then ruling out words marked as misspellings that are either proper names or new words that are simply not in the dictionary. Does Google use SpellCheck? I can already hear the scoffing on the other side of this computer screen. Before you dismiss the idea completely, keep in mind that no one really does know what the 100 factors in Google's algorithm are. But whether the mechanism is SpellCheck or a better shot at link popularity thanks to great credibility, or something else entirely, the results remain the same.

* Paragraphs: primarily brief (1-4 sentences). Few or no long blocks of text.

* Lists: both bulleted and numbered, form a large part of the text.

* Sentence length: mostly brief (10 words or fewer). Medium-length and long sentences are sprinkled throughout the text rather than clumped together.

* Contextual relevance: text contains numerous terms related to the keyword, as well as stem variations of the keyword.

SEO Bugbears and Sacred Cows

A hard look at the results shows that, practically speaking, a number of SEO bugbears and sacred cows may matter less to ranking than good content.

* PageRank. The median PageRank was 4. One page had a PageRank of 0. Of course, this might simply be yet another demonstration that the little PageRank number you get in your browser window is not what Google's algo is using. But if you're one of those people who attaches an overriding value to that little number, this is food for thought.

* Frames. The top two web pages listed for the most searched-on keyword employ frames. Frames may still be a bad web design idea from a usability standpoint, and they may ruin your search engine rankings if your site's linking system depends on them. But there are worse ways you could shoot yourself in the foot.

* JavaScript-formatted internal links. Most of the web sites use JavaScript for their internal page links. Again, that's not the best web design practice, but there are worse things you could do.

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* Links: Most of the web pages contained ten or more links; many contain over 30, in defiance of the SEO bugbears about "link popularity bleeding." Moreover, nearly all the pages contained a significant number of non-relevant links. On many pages, non-relevant links outnumbered relevant ones. Of course, it's not clear what benefit the web site owners hope to get from placing irrelevant links on pages. It has been a proven way of lowering conversion rates and losing visitors. But Google doesn't seem to care if your web site makes money.

* Originality: a significant number of pages contained content copied from other web sites. In all cases, the content was professionally written content apparently distributed on a free-reprint basis. Note: the reprint content did not consist of content feeds. However, no web site consisted solely of free-reprint content. There was always at least a significant portion of original content, usually the majority of the page.

Recommendations

* Make sure a professional writer, or at least someone who can tell good writing from bad, is creating your site's content, particularly in the case of a search-engine optimization campaign. If you are an SEO, make sure you get a pro to do the content. A shocking number of SEOs write incredibly badly. I've even had clients whose web sites got fewer conversions or page views after their SEOs got through with them, even when they got a sharp uptick in unique visitors. Most visitors simply hit the "back" button when confronted with the unpalatable text, so the increased traffic is just wasted bandwidth.

* If you write your own content, make sure that it passes through the hands of a skilled copyeditor or writer before going online.

* Update your content often. It's important both to add new pages and update existing pages. If you can't afford original content, use free-reprint content.

* Distribute your content to other web sites on a free-reprint basis. This will help your web site get links in exchange for the right to publish the content. It will also help spread your message and enhance your visibility. Fears of a "duplicate content penalty" for free-reprint content (as opposed to duplication of content within a single web site) are unjustified.

In short, if you have a mature web site that is already indexed and getting traffic, you should consider making sure the bulk of your investment in your web site is devoted to its content, rather than graphic design, old-school search-engine optimization, or linking campaigns.

About the Writer of this Article

[Formatting: for web, please use "web site content provider" as the link's anchor text (visible link text)] Joel Walsh's archive of web business articles is at the web site of his business, UpMarket Content, a web site content provider: http://UpMarketContent.com

SEO Content Distribution Linking For Newbies

The new buzz on the internet is all about getting one-way links by distributing content to other sites in exchange for backlinks. As with every other SEO or web site promotion technique ever devised, there are plenty of newbie myths about it that can ruin your chance for success before you even start.

Newbie Myth 1: The "Duplicate content penalty."

Some webmasters worry that if the content on their sites is suddenly on hundreds of other sites, search engines will inflict a "duplicate content penalty." Why is this concern unjustified?

* If this were true, every major newspaper and news portal web site would now be de-indexed from the search engines, since they all carry "duplicate content" from the news wires such as

Reuters and the Associated Press.

* Thousands of self-promoting internet gurus have proven that distributing content is an effective method of improving search engine rank.

* Even more thousands of content web sites have proven that republishing this content does not carry any search engine penalty.

True, the first web site to publish an article often seems to be favored by search engines, ranking higher for the same content in searches than higher-PageRank pages with the same content. But the "duplicate" pages do show up in the search engine results, even if lower than the original site. Meanwhile, the reprint content has no effect on the ranking of a site's other pages.

The only duplicate content penalty is for duplication of content across pages of a single web site. Meanwhile, there is a sort of "copyright theft" penalty, whereby someone who copies content without permission can be manually removed from search engine indexes out of respect for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But that penalty is only for flagrant theft, not minor mistakes in attributing reprint content.

Newbie Myth 2: The goal is to get in article clearinghouse web sites.

There are over 100 popular, high-traffic web sites that act as clearinghouses for content made available for redistribution. These web sites include isnare.com, amazines.com, and goarticles.com.

Many novice content-distributors are upset when the article clearinghouse web sites, with tens of thousands of articles each with a backlink, pass negligible PageRank. But the point of distributing content to those web sites is for other web site owners to find your content and put it on their web sites--not to get a backlink directly from the clearinghouse web site (though this is sometimes an unexpected bonus).

Plus, to maximize PageRank-passing links, you also have to submit articles to web site owners individually. It's not a small amount of work. But there's no substitute for a polite, individually crafted email recommending a web site owner complement his or her existing articles with one you've written.

Myth 3: Any content will do.

Reality: It should be obvious that many web site owners, jealous of their link popularity, will only republish exceptionally high - quality content. For articles, this means a unique point of view and solid information that cannot be found just anywhere, ideally presented in compelling language in a web-optimized format by a professional published writer. You can conduct a content distribution campaign with bad content, but you'll be handicapping yourself from the start.

Myth 4: Distributing content is easy. Just hit "send."

Reality: Content distribution campaign requires skillful planning to target publisher web sites effectively.

This is essentially a four-step process.

1. You must identify the categories of web sites most likely to republish your articles. These categories range from the very broad, such as internet, business, and family, and can go as narrow as family-friendly internet businesses.

It's a careful balance: you need to make your target category narrowly relevant to maximize the value of the link and your chances of getting your article accepted for publication. But if you target too narrow a category, you'll lower the maximum number of links you can hope to get.

For instance, a web site on web content writing has to target its content distribution to more than just sites focusing on web content. There are only so many web sites devoted to web content as a topic of interest, and besides, many such web sites would be competitors. Distribution should target broadly relevant categories, such as web design, webmaster issues, writing, marketing, business, web site promotion, and SEO. Yet some broadly related categories, such as internet or publishing, are not relevant enough to yield good results.

2. To maximize success, you must have articles custom-created for each major category you want to submit to. "Incorporating Content in Web Design" and "Marketing with Content" would be possible titles for a web content-writing web site owner targeting web design and marketing web sites, respectively. An article about web design won't appeal as strongly to marketers, or vice versa, so simply submitting to web sites having to do with "the web" would not be as effective.

3. For maximum success, articles custom-written for a category then often have to be refined for sub-categories. For instance, "Incorporating Content in Web Design" becomes "Incorporating Content into Flash Web Design," or "Incorporating Content into Accessible Web Design." Sometimes the refinement is just a "find and replace" of one keyword for another, sometimes just in the title. Sometimes, entire paragraphs have to reworded or removed.

4. Once you've identified sub-categories of web sites, you still have to be able to meet the requirements of individual web sites. Some sites only publish articles up to 500 words, some only do how-to articles. Owners of high-ranking web sites can afford to be choosey. To really maximize results within a sub-category, you need at least three different articles of varying lengths and focus specifically geared toward that sub-category.

In the end, distributing content for web site promotion and inbound links is a marvelously effective way of promoting a web site. But it's not magic beans. Like anything else having to do with achieving success on the web, it takes hard work and knowledge to be successful.

Joel Walsh is the owner of UpMarket Content, offering a fully managed content distribution campaign guaranteed to get you at least one hundred one-way inbound links for every three pages of content: http://upmarketcontent.com/web site-promotion-package.htm [requested HTML anchor/link text: web site promotion content distribution]

How to Boost Your Traffic and Profits with Content!

Are you aware of how vitally important and valuable CONTENT is to your online business? In fact, content can do more to build your business and profits than just about any other resource or service available.

Following is a list of 5 key ways that content can help build your traffic, subscribers, and customers starting today!...

1. Boost your search engine ranking and daily visitor count by posting keyword rich articles and content on your web-site. For example, if your business involves offering products and services related to fitness, posting fitness related articles and content will attract unlimited prospective customers on a regular basis!

2. Generate double or even triple the number of newsletter subscribers you do currently, simply by offering content in the form of "special reports" or manuals as bonuses for subscribing to your publication. People love freebies, so give them what they want and watch as your results increase!

3. Create an automated cashflow by using content to formulate multi-part email training courses with related web-site or affiliate links "sprinkled" throughout each course. Use an autoresponder service to automate the delivery of your training course (such as a 5 part training course delivered over a 5 day period).

Training courses can also serve as excellent bonus offers for your prospective newsletter subscribers.

4. One of the most important keys to a successful online business is not JUST having a list of mailing list or newsletter subscribers... It's about building a trusting relationship with your subscribers (ie, "cultivating" your list)...

By sending informative articles (content) to your list on a regular basis you will establish yourself as an expert on your topic of business, as well as gain the trust of your subscribers over time. As a result, your subscribers will be EAGER to take advantage of your "paid" product and service offers. (Just make sure that you NEVER take advantage of the relationship you develop with your list by offering products or services of poor quality just to make a quick buck!)

If there is one "constant" in Internet marketing, it's this: A cultivated list of subscribers is as good as money in the bank. Write that down and never forget it!

5. Another excellent way to generate no cost traffic is by submitting ready-made articles to "content hungry" web-site and newsletter publishers with your "resource box" attached. A resource box is nothing more than a little 3-6 line "bio" about you and/or your web-site - including a link to your site (or even instructions on how to subscribe to your newsletter)...

When submitting or offering your article(s) for reprint purposes, just make sure to specify that each article is to be reprinted "as is" with your resource box attached.

...Even one article can go a LONG way towards generating no cost traffic and visitors for you. Just imagine your article being sent out to a newsletter subscriber base of 100,000 individuals - many of whom will be reading YOUR included resource box and clicking on your URL to learn more about what you have to offer!

Well there you have it, 5 sure ways to build your online business exponentially with the help of articles and content...

With the declining effectiveness of many of the online advertising methods that we've relied on in past years, content is only strengthening its position as the ultimate KEY to generating unlimited traffic, subscribers, and customers!

* You have permission to reprint what you just read. Use it in your ezine, at your web site or in your newsletter. The only requirement is including the following footer with it...

Article by Roger Fong, visit www.1stopaffiliatebiz.com for more original content like this. Reprinting this article is permitted with this footer included.

p.s. Ordinary people are making EXTRAORDINARY money WORKING FROM HOME on the Internet! Get FREE info by email. Send your request to: mailto:1stopaffiliatebiz@A1eBiz.com

Roger Fong is an affiliate marketer who runs the newsletter, 1StopAffiliateBiz. It shows you the many ways that you can cash in on being an affiliate of affiliate programs. To sign up: mailto:1stopaffiliatebiz@A1eBiz.com

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