Archive for the 'SEO' Category

The Bikini Effect

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

I discovered an interesting post on SEO Blog spidersecret.com the other day, although it dates back to July 24.

Headed “So what if you give most of it away?: The Bikini Concept“, it discusses the thorny question of free content in an original way.

Put simply, a bikini displays almost all the vital assets of a beautiful girl (or an even an ugly one) yet despite this giveaway concept, it remains more exciting than a less revealing one-piece exactly because of what it doesn’t show.

Lure on a G-String

It’s easy to apply this to content. Give almost nothing away and your reader is likely to become frustrated and drift off. But the more you give the deeper he or she is likely to go. Draw them in far enough and they are more likely to buy the bits they cannot see because they can see the quality that’s on offer.

However, there are differences too. Unlike the bikini, there is scope to hide more content than you reveal and still achieve the same results, as long as what is on show is of the highest standard. The issue is having enough quality content to show to all comers.

The Bikini in Action

Once again the message is to create as much quality content as possible: write often and write soon.

I’m often asked why I produce this site when all I’m doing is giving away content trade secrets for nothing! The reality is that all this site will practically achieve is to whet the appetite of people needing content answers. When they appreciate just how much I know about the subject, they are more likely to ask for a private opinion on how their website could be made better. The bikini effect in action.

And that’s just as well, because it’s probably the only time I’ll experience the bikini effect myself!

News from The Front

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

I’m still amazed at the number of people who ask for a “splash page” on their site: preferably something with lots of animated gifs “because they look nice”.

It’s become almost a mantra with me that home pages must provide a reason for the visitor to come back. (Actually, all pages should give the visitor a reason to come back because it’s just as likely that they’ll parachute in as a result of a link from StumbleUpon or Facebook or some search engine.) So your homepage should feature fresh content, perhaps even some random call to action, to keep it interesting.

This was all confirmed by a reread of Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think. And then it dawned on me as I looked over the homepage of this very site, it too was a splash page. One visit was enough to know everything it said and there was precious little novelty: no reason to come back.

Needless to say, I’ve begun a rewrite of the JWC home page. There’s still some way to go — I will be adding some live updated content in the form of RSS too — but there’s certainly lessons to be learned.

They include:

  • Never be afraid to re-examine your content
  • Never be complacent about your site, and
  • Take your own good advice

Good Lessons

Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, but almost all of it is still relevant. I’ll be regurgitating much of it in the coming weeks, with some more up to date insights of my own.

But usability is a vital part of good SEO and you neglect it at your peril. It’s not just a question of hard-to-use web sites not being “sticky” (actually, studies show that people will persevere with an inaccessible website because they fear the alternative won’t be much better), a usable site makes for better SEO because it is attractive to humans and robots.

Five ways to damage your SEO with content

Monday, August 27th, 2007

1. Write Rubbish

If your content makes no sense, if it’s dull and irrelevant, if not even your mother would make it all the way through, then you can be sure it will be bad for SEO. Make content interesting, make content readable, make content fun!

2. Duplicate It

There’s nothing quite so annoying as content repeated again and again. I mean, there is NOTHING so annoying as content which is repeated time after time. Really, repeating content again and again and again is really, REALLY, really annoying. The search engines don’t like it either, you might even describe it as SEO’s worst nightmare. Don’t use content which is duplicated (or even just summarized) elsewhere on the internet — even if it’s your own copyright, especially if it’s duplicated on the same site. Check for originality on copyscape.com if you’re not certain, and even if you are. Even if the content is your copyright and has been copied by someone else, it can hit your SEO if the copying site has a higher Page Rank than yours.

3. Make It Invisible

For search engines, invisible text equals SEO scam. Technically, making content invisible to the naked eye — for example, making it the same colour as the background or making it transparent or putting it in comment tags — comes under the heading of “Black Hat SEO”, or cheating. It’s a way of artificially loading content with keywords [SEO, content, search engine, timeshare, cialys, pre5cription5] to bump up the density, and the search engines got wise to it years ago. It will hurt your SEO.

4. Use JavaScript To Present It

Search engines just won’t index content which is provided by JavaScript. There have been too many SEO scams using scripts in the past and Google and the rest aren’t taking chances any more. If all you can see in the content source code is a ton of JavaScript, then you can be sure that the search engines won’t be seeing it either.

5. Make It Chaotic

Content should make sense. Part of that is how it is organised. One of the best ways to ruin your SEO is to order content in an illogical, inconsistent fashion so that the reader doesn’t know whether they are at the beginning, middle or end. This extends to your <h> tags: use them in the order <h1>, <h2>, <h3> … <h6>. Keeping content organised means the search engine spiders can crawl it, index it and rank it to the best effect.