Saturday, July 4, 2009

Semantics for SEO

Semantics is the study of meaning and relationships and plays a role in SEO. Google makes its money from being successful at crawling, indexing, and ranking data. One important aspect of this procedure is being able to understand content in a manner that is more complex than keyword density. One way of doing this is Latent Semantics Analysis or LSA. Google may not use this exact approach, but Google is sure to use some similar system of semantic analysis to look at textual content.

Intro to SEO Semantics

By using semantics, search engines can have a basic understanding of the English language. There is an understanding of synonyms, antonyms, and polysemes. In addition, Google can relate niches and keywords. They’re able to develop complex relationships with keywords through their huge database of information and linking relationships.

For example, Google can understand the following relationships for a Make Money Online site.

Make Money Online

  • Make Money
  • Make Money Online
  • Make Money Blogging
  • Make Money on eBay

Internet Marketing

  • Internet Marketing Services
  • Online Marketing

Social Media Marketing

  • Social Media
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Web 2.0
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon


  • Blogger
  • Wordpress
  • Plugins
  • RSS Feed


  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Link Building
  • Article Marketing
  • Directory Submissions
  • Dofollow
  • Nofollow

Google knows that the usage of any of the above keywords is related to the primary keyword of make money online. It can relate long tail keywords as well as related keywords and the long tails of those related keywords.

Role of Semantics when Writing for Search Engines

Knowing that Google uses semantics is important when writing your site’s content and building links. You should use this knowledge to solidify your page’s focus on a keyword.

Quick Note on Keyword Density

Google content analysis is more advanced than keyword density. Do not stress keyword density. Keyword density will not help you rank higher. Anyone still teaching you to achieve a certain density is wrong. Keyword usage is important, but there is no set density that you should target. Simply use it naturally, but ideas like LSA move Google away from basic keyword density analysis. Keyword density is not a direct measure of relevancy. The usage of a keyword 10 times does not make it more relevant than a page that uses its keyword 3 times. If anything, the over usage of a keyword can hurt your rankings. The usage of semantics can be used to determine if a site is using natural language. An over optimized keyword stuffed page does not use natural language and may hurt your rankings.

Use Long Tails

Instead of trying to use your primary keyword over and over, use long tails. Research your keyword before you write your article to determine long tail keywords. Select two or three long tails that have your main keyword as their parent keyword. Use them in your content to support your main keyword and do it without keyword spamming. Not only does this create natural content, but this increases the number of terms you can rank for. You can now work your primary keyword as well as the long tails.

Related Terms

In addition to long tails, use related keywords. If you’re writing about SEO, talk about internet marketing. If you talk about McDonalds, talk about hamburgers. If you talk about hamburgers, discuss hot dogs. If Apple, discuss Mac and Ipod. These related terms will support your main keyword because Google understands the relationship. In addition, it will increase the number of keywords you can rank for.

Role of Semantics when Link Building

The classic advice of varying your anchor text. If you get too many links with the same anchor text, Google will consider it a Google bomb. Varying anchor text is important for two reasons. First, it looks natural. Having the same anchor text is a sign of self generated links. Second, semantics comes into play. You can use related anchor text to support your primary target keyword.

A post about BANS (Build a Niche Store) could use any of the follow keyword(s) as anchor text and still support the primary keyword.

  • BANS
  • BANS site
  • BANS ebay
  • Build A Niche Store
  • Make Money on eBay
  • Make Money Online
  • eBay Niche Store
  • Build an Online Store
  • eBay Affiliate

Google understands that all of these keywords are related.

Dominating Multiple Long Tails Keywords

By using this approach instead of keyword stuffing one keyword phrase, you’re able to dominate multiple keyword listings for long tails. You can rank for many long tails by simply mentioning the keyword. Instead of repeating one keyword phase over and over, use semantically related keywords. This will reinforce your main keyword while also increasing the number of long tails you can rank for. As your page gains authority for the main keyword, your authority for the semantically related keywords will also increase. And the opposite is also true, as you gain authority for the semantically related keywords, your authority for the main keyword increases.


Understanding that Google uses semantics to evaluate content can help you improve your on site SEO. Simple measures like keyword density are out dated and should not be used to determine how targeted a page is. So when developing content, consider developing a list of long tails and related keywords that you can sprinkle through your content to help support your targeted keyword.

Friday, July 3, 2009

How can use good robots.txt for Search engines

Using robots.txt, you can ban specific robots, ban all robots, or block robot access to specific pages or areas of your site. If you are not sure what to type, look at the bottom of this page for examples.

An example of SEO optimized robots.txt file (should work on most blogs… just edit the sitemap URL):

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
Disallow: /wp-content/

User-Agent: Mediapartners-Google
Allow: /

User-Agent: Adsbot-Google
Allow: /

User-Agent: Googlebot-Image
Allow: /

User-Agent: Googlebot-Mobile
Allow: /

When robots (like the Googlebot) crawl your site, they begin by requesting

Robots.txt Samples

Following are a few simple examples of what you might type in your robots.txt file. For more examples, read the robots.txt specification. (In the specification, look for the “What to put into the robots.txt file” heading.) Please note the following points:

Important: Search engines look only in top-level domains for robots.txt files. So this plugin will only help you if typing in or brings up Wordpress. If you have to type to bring up Wordpress (i.e. it is in a subdirectory, not in a subdomain or at the domain root), this plugin will not do you any good. Search engines look do not look for robots.txt files in subdirectories, only in root domains and subdomains.

Following are a few examples of what you can type in a robots.txt file.

Ban all robots

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

Allow all robots

To allow any robot to access your entire site, you can simply leave the robots.txt file blank, or you could use this:

User-agent: *

Ban specific robots

To ban specific robots, use the robot’s name. Look at the list of robot names to find the correct name. For example, Google is Googlebot and Microsoft search is MSNBot. To ban only Google:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /

Allow specific robots

As in the previous example, use the robot’s correct name. To allow only Google, use all four lines:

User-agent: Googlebot

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

Ban robots from part of your site

To ban all robots from the page “Archives” and its subpages, located at,

User-agent: *
Disallow: /archives/

robots, robots.txt

Web Optimization – Four Common Problems That Stop Your Success

Anyone interested in online marketing knows that web optimization is critical to a successful business. Web optimization comprises a number of different ideas, including search engine optimization, website analytics, and design factors, among many others.

However, optimization is more than just a standard set of practices. As every good interactive marketing agency knows, it is different for each business, and within each industry.

Those differences are one of the primary aspects that make ‘do-it-yourself’ optimization without an interactive marketing agency such a risky prospect. An interactive marketing agency keeps abreast of the ever-changing landscape in order to implement best practices to achieve good positioning and visibility for a website — they are also able to conduct in-depth research to understand what your competition is doing as well.

If you are learning from scratch and implementing as you go, you can be put at a disadvantage compared to competitors who hire professionals.

In this article, we’ll walk through some of the most common misconceptions about optimization. We’ll also look at what your company can do to see real optimization success.

Problem 1: Seeing Optimization as a Project With An “End Date”

Optimization, and online marketing in general, isn’t a destination. Rather, it’s a road, one that must be constantly traveled for optimal levels of success. There is no time when your optimization is “complete”, in fact, even once your initial online marketing plan sees success, there will be other ways that you can improve your online presence. The process can always be improved.

Problem 2: Not Planning For Optimization In The Long Run

Because online marketing is a process, wise companies will plan for optimization in the long run. Don’t think of it as a short-term investment, and don’t divert resources you are only comfortable diverting for a few weeks. Think about it more broadly, and give your optimization plan the time and support it needs to be successful. Like any company initiative, if the program is understaffed or underfunded, it won’t be able to thrive as it ought to.

Problem 3: Not Monitoring Progress

In the old days, it was next to impossible to know if your agency’s plan was doing the job. But now, tracking online marketing results are easy. Think of it like cooking: you have to test the food every so often to see how it’s going. If you need to make a change, you learn about it early on, and if the food is great, you know more about how to make it the next time around.

Web optimization is exactly the same way. Keeping track of what policies bring success and which don’t will help you in the short term and in the long term. You will have more to work with when you start additional campaigns, and you’ll have real results that you can point to. So much depends on customer preference, and only when you start to get a feel for that preference will you see the best outcomes.

Problem 4: Working Alone

It is the rare person who can successfully design and implement an online marketing optimization strategy without the help of an interactive marketing agency. Optimization is a very particular process, with a number of techniques and strategies to learn. Articles like this one can help, but it takes years of experience to become a real optimization expert.

Does it really make sense for you to spend your time learning, rather than hiring the expertise of an interactive marketing agency? In almost every case, focusing on what you do best – running your business – is the best idea.

Putting it All Together

Now you know some of the most common pitfalls that make optimization programs fail. Do any of them sound familiar? If so, then you’re now equipped with the knowledge to change the problem. You can start fresh, and get the optimization results you’re looking for. You might not see them overnight, but with time the effect will be noticeable.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How to get your lens into the top 100 & other great tips

Here are some tips on what I did:

* Be sure to have at least four modules (so your lens gets featured on Squidoo)

* Add as many tags as you can (you can use 40) about your topic so it is indexed higher when searched--Try to use phrases that people will actually enter when searching

* Post comments to other lenses so they will hopefully return the favor & visit your lens to comment, rank, and favorite. I also post messages in groups & forums online. I use the forums; Yahoogroups & Cafemom regularly.

* Search other lenses about tips to making a good lens.

* Add Widgets to get more traffic. Lensmaster, thefluffanutta, has created a number of widgets you can easily add to your lenses. Check out his Love this lens? lens to get them. Love ya create awesome stuff!!!

* Search for lenses to make money with Squidoo.

* Search other lenses on your topic to see how they did theirs. You don't want to make one that is already covering your topic...or you will want to make it differently...

* Join Squidoo groups for even more exposure for your lenses.

* Create back links to your lens by posting messages with your full lens address to blogs, social networking sites, forums & groups. Be sure to have your lens URL in email, blog & forum signatures lines too.

* Spread the word about any new content to your lens. Use a Squidcast, Twitter & Facebook first. The lens I was promoting is for Baby & Kids Freebies so it was easy to send out messages (posts) to my groups & blogs about any new freebie finds. I really concentrate on making sure the freebies are legitimate and I think that helps get return visitors to my lens & website because the freebies are real not a bunch of surveys & trial offers you have to fill out to get the freebie.

* Social bookmark your lens on sites like tagfoot, digg, StumbleUpon,, Facebook & Twitter. Make sure your Squidoo bio has set up the Twitter setting so you can send updates to Twitter with a single click!

* Be sure to "Ping" your lens. Do this every time you have a significant update to your site. Pinging your lens sends out a notice to search engines that your site has been updated. This helps your lens, blog, or site so it may be noticed sooner by google, yahoo, msn and the other search sites when they crawl the web. You can Ping your lens easily at after logging in and going to the "advanced dashboard".

* When creating a lens address use something that is a short phrase or words that would be searched on your topic and use an underscore or dash between the words. Ex: Use special_education_tips or special-education-tips not specialeducationtips.

* Let all of your friends know you have published a lens and ask them to visit, rate, comment, join and favorite. Friends will help you like that. :-)

* Lensroll lenses to yours that are appropriate and send a note or comment to that lens owner and ask them to do the same with yours.

* Add the google blog or news search to your lens (usually at the bottom). A lot of lensmasters use this module. I like it too. I usually mention how often it is updated too. This is a easy quick way to keep your lens updated without doing a thing. When search engines crawl for updating sites yours will be one of those. I usually set mine to update 1 x per day.

* Include a comment module on your lens. People like to comment. And, people like to read what others have to say. It is a useful module. It really bugs me when I have something on my mind to say and there is NO comment area. Plus again this keeps your lens updated (in the eyes of search engines).

* Include a links plexo for visitors to add their lens, blog or website. Great way to give others a way to get "Back Links".

* Look through the module selection list and play around with what is available. There is lots of great modules and more being created.

* Search Squidoo for "How to Monetize your website or Blog" & "How to get more traffic". Great tips can be found.

* Search Squidoo for lens that give tips to improve your lens--there are a lot of helpful lenses already made. (I am going to make a lens that highlights the lenses that I have found most beneficial to me--I just do not have it done yet) Here some places I found helpful ~ The Squidoo Answer Deck and for sure the best resource....

* Be sure to go to "my dashboard" and find near your picture "edit bio" and be sure Allow Contact is set to yes so others can contact you through Squidoo. This has been a great help to me. It is very frustrating to want to contact a lensmaster and this feature is turned off.

* Save all of your hard work! Back-up your lens. To do this you must be in the "edit" feature of your lens. Look along the right column of tasks under tags & lens settings you will see "Export". Click that to save (back-up) your lens. I recommend saving it to a specific folder in your hard drive in html format.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Site Architecture and SEO – file/page issues

Source: Search engine optimization (SEO) has three fundamental pillars upon which successful optimization campaigns are run. Like a three-legged stool, take one away, and the whole thing fails to work. The SEO pillars include: content (which we initially discussed in Are you content with your content?), links (which we covered in Links: the good, the bad, and the ugly, Part 1 and Part 2), and last but not least, site architecture. You can have great content and a plethora of high quality inbound links from authority sites, but if your site’s structure is flawed or broken, then it will still not achieve the optimal page rank you desire from search engines.

The search engine web crawler (also known as a robot or, more simply, a bot) is the key to website architecture issues (Bing uses MSNBot). Think of the bot as a headless web browser, one that does not display what it sees, but instead interprets the HTML code it finds on a webpage and sends the content it discovers back to the search engine database so that it can be analyzed and indexed. You can even equate the bot to a very simple user. If you target your site’s content to be readable by that simple user (serving as a lowest common denominator), then more sophisticated users (running browsers like Internet Explorer 8 or Firefox 3) will most certainly keep up. Using that analogy, doing SEO for the bot is very much a usability effort.

If you care about your website being found in search (and I presume you do if you’re reading this column!), you’ll want to help the crawler do its job. Or at the very minimum, you should remove any obstacles under your control that can get in its way. The more efficiently the search engine bot crawls your site, the higher the likelihood that more of its content that will end up in the index. And that, my friend, is how you show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

With site architecture issues for SEO, there’s a ton of material to cover. So much so, in fact, that I need to break up this subject into a multi-part series of blog posts. I’ve broken them down into subsets of issues that pertain to: HTML files (pages), URLs and links, and on-page content. I even plan a special post devoted solely to tag optimizations for SEO.

So let’s kick off this multi-part series of posts with a look at SEO site architecture issues and solutions related to files and pages.

Use descriptive file and directory names

Every time you can use descriptive text to help represent your content, the better off your site will be. This even goes for file and directory names. Besides being far more user friendly for end users to remember, the strategic use of keywords in file and directory names will further reinforce their relevance to those pages.

And while you’re examining the names of files and directories, avoid using underscores as word separators. Use hyphens instead. This syntax will help the bot to properly parse the long name you use into individual words instead of having it treated as the equivalent of a meaningless superlongkeyword.

Limit directory depth

Bots don’t crawl endlessly, searching every possible nook and cranny of every website (unless you are an important authority site, where it may probe deeper than usual). For the rest of us, though, creating a deep directory structure will likely mean the bot never gets to your deepest content. To alleviate this possibility, make your site’s directory structure shallow, no deeper than four child directories from the root.

Limit physical page file size

Keep your individual webpage files down under 150 KB each. Anything bigger than that and the bot may abandon the page after a partial crawl or skip crawling the page entirely.

Externalize on-page JavaScript and CSS code

If your pages use JavaScript and or Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), make sure that content is not inline within the HTML page. Search bots want to see the tag content as quickly as possible. If your pages are filled with script and CSS code, you run the risk of making the pages too long to be effectively crawled. In fact, ensure that the tag starts within the first 100 KB of the page’s source code; otherwise, the bot may not crawl the page at all.

Removing JavaScript and CSS code from your pages into external files offers additional advantages beyond just shortening your webpage files. By being external to the content they modify, they can be used by multiple pages simultaneously. Externalizing this content also simplifies code maintenance issues.

Follow these examples on how to reference external JavaScript and CSS code in your HTML pages.

A few notes to consider. External file references are not supported in really old browser versions, such as Netscape Navigator 2.x and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.x. But if the users of such old browsers are not your target audience, the benefits of externalizing this code will far outweigh that potential audience loss. I also recommend storing your external code files separately from your HTML code, such as in /Scripts and /CSS directories. This helps keep website elements organized, and you can then easily use your robots.txt file to block bot access to all of your code files (after all, sometimes scripts handle business confidential data, so preventing the indexing of those files might be a wise idea!).

Use 301 redirects for moved pages

When you move your site to a new domain or change folder and/or file names within your site, don’t lose all of your previously earned site ranking “link juice.” Search engines are quite literal in that the same pages on different domains or the same content using different file names are regarded as duplicates. Search engines also attribute rank to pages. Search engines have no way of knowing when you intend new page URLs to be considered updates of your old page URLs. So what do you do? Use an automatic redirect to manage this for you.

Automatic redirects are set up on your web server. If you don’t have direct access to your web server, ask your administrators to set this up for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to do a bit of research. First you need to know which type of HTML redirect code you need. Unless your move is very temporary (in which case you’ll want to use a 302 redirect), use a 301 redirect for permanently moved pages. A 301 tells the search engine that the page has moved to a new location and that the new page is not a duplicate of the old page, but instead IS the old page at a new location. Thus when the bot attempts to crawl your old page location, it’ll be redirected to the new location, gather the new page’s content , and apply any and all changes made to the existing page rank standing.

To learn how to set this up, you’ll first need to know which web server software is running your site. Once you know that, click either Windows Server Internet Information Server (IIS) or Apache HTTP Server to learn how you can set up 301 redirects on your website.

Avoid JavaScript or meta refresh redirects

Technically you can also do page redirects with JavaScript or “refresh” tags. However, these are not recommended methods of accomplishing this task and still achieving optimal SEO results. These methods were highly abused in the past for hijacking users away from content that they wanted to web spam that they didn’t want. As a result, search engines take a dim view of these techniques for redirect. To do the job right, to preserve your link juice, and to continue your good standing with search engines, use 301 redirects instead.

Implement custom 404 pages

When a user makes a mistake then typing your URL into the address bar of their browser or an inbound link contains a typo, the typical website pops up a generic HTML 404 File Not Found error page. The most common end user response to that error message is to abandon that webpage. If that user had gone to your website and despite the error, you actually had the information they were seeking, that’s a lost business opportunity.

Instead of letting users go away thinking your site is broken, make an attempt to help them find what they want by showing a custom 404 page. Your page should look like the other page designs on your site, include an acknowledgment that the page the user was looking for doesn’t exist, and offer a link to your site’s home page and more importantly, access to either a site-wide search or an HTML-based sitemap page. At a minimum, make sure your site’s navigation tools are present, enabling the user to search for their content of interest before they leave.

Implementing a custom 404 page is dependent upon which web server you are using: For users of Windows Server IIS, check out the new Bing Web Page Error Toolkit. Otherwise, browse the 404 information for Apache HTTP Server.
Other crawler traps

The search engine bot doesn’t see the Web as do you and I. As such, there are several other page-related issues that can “trap” the bot, preventing it from seeing all of the content you intend to have indexed. For example, there are many page types that the bot doesn’t handle very well. If you use frames on your website (does anyone still use frames?), the bot will only see the frame page elements as individual pages. Thus, when it want to see how each page interrelates to other pages on your site, frame element pages are usually poor performers. This is because frame pages usually separate content from navigation. Thus content pages often become islands of isolated text that are not linked to directly by anything. And with no links to them, they might never get found. But even if the bot finds the frame’s navigation pane page, there’s no context to the links. This is pretty bad in terms of ranking in search engine relevance.

Other types of pages that can trip up search engine bots include forms (there’s typically no useful content on a form page) and authentication pages (bots can’t execute authentication schemes, so they are blocked from seeing all of the pages behind the authentication gateway). Pages that require either session IDs or cookies to be accessed are similar to authentication pages in that the bot’s inability to generate session IDs or accept cookies block them from accessing content requiring such tracking measures.

To keep the search engine bot from going places that might trip it up, see the following information about the “noindex” attribute to prevent indexing of whole pages.

We’re only getting started here on site architecture issues. There’s plenty more to come. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post them in our SEM forum. See you soon…

– Rick DeJarnette, Bing Webmaster Center