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MSN Search Updating

I’m noticing significant shifts in MSN search results today on most of my blogs. They must have just done some sort of update. I can’t see any discussion of this in forums however so it could be just on my domains.

Since its inception the results were artificially high (for example I ranked number 1 for some very popular search terms on some brand new blogs) – so I was expecting an adjustment – today it came.

Whilst its sad to lose a little traffic (it never sent a huge amount) because of it I’m also happy because it shows MSN are becoming more accurate with their rankings – my blogs didn’t deserve the position that they had this early in their life.

Where to Put Keywords on your Blog

Getting your blog ranked highly in Search Engines can be a complicated task – so can sifting through all the theories being espoused by SEO ‘experts’. Everyone has their theory. As a result I like it when people put together simple well thought out lists that even a non technical person like myself can get his head around at the end of a hard week’s blogging.

SEO and Online marketing have put together a helpful list of 8 places to put your keywords in your blog if you want the Search Engines to look favorably upon you. Being smart about using keywords (the words you want people to find your blog with in Search Engines) – is generally accepted as important factor in SEO.

Here’s the list (each point is expanded upon in their post):

1. Use Your Keywords in Text Links for ALL Links – Inbound and Outbound.
2. Use Your Keywords in the Page’s Title Tag.
3. Put Your Keyword in Your Description Tag.
4. Place Your Keywords in a Keywords Tag.
5. Make Sure You Use Your Keyword in Your Heading Tags.
6. Put Your Keywords in Bold Text in Several Places on the Page.
7. Use Your Keyword in Text Early – and Often.
8. Use Your Keywords in Alt Tags.

The Power of the Passive Link

Eric Ward at Search Engine Guide writes about the power of the passive inbound link. In short – a passive link is a link you don’t buy, ask for or trade links for. His premise is that passive links are a more powerful type of link than others – especially reciprocal ones. Search Engines treat such links as a vote for the authority of your site.

This is one of the strengths of blogging – write something original, clever, witty, powerful, touching, insightful, controversial (linkable) and the links tend to come in. Whilst you can spend all your time emailing people and asking for links with the offer of linking to others, the best strategy for getting passive links is simply to run a quality blog.

If you want an example of this principle currently in progress check out what happens when you land a big story – like the Engadget interview with Bill Gates today. I must have seen at least 15 links to it in the past hour and technorati reveals more.

Creating A Search Engine Copywriting Plan

Karon Thackston wrote a good piece recently over at WebProNews that I’ve been meaning to link to. She breaks down the posting process into 9 elements for writing posts and articles that will rank well in Search Engines. They are good, basic, non technical tips for bloggers wanting a simple starting point for thinking about SEO. It is easy to get caught up in the technicalities of SEO – but if you at least start with these tips you’ll be on the right track.

1) Use Three Keyphrases Per Page
2) Have 250 or More Words of Copy
3) Write In Natural Language
4) Use Keyword Phrases In Headlines and Sub-headlines
5) Use Keyword Phrases Once or Twice Per Paragraph
6) Use Keyword Phrases In Bold, Italic or Bulleted Lists
7) Do NOT Use Keyword Phrases As Substitutes For Generic Terms
8) Use Keyword Phrases As Anchor Text In Links
9) Test and Track

Found via Learning SEO

Reasons for being banned or penalized by Google

Search Engine Journal has a good post on reasons that your blog might be banned (or penalized) by Google. So if your blog has disappeared from their index you might want to consider one of these seven issues:

1) Duplicate Content – where multiple pages have the same content.
2) Cloaking – where pages are created purely for Search Engines – ie where readers get one version and SEs another
3) Hidden text or hidden links – links that are not seen by actual readers that are there purely for SE spiders
4) Keyword stuffing – putting too many of your keywords in your page (either in meta tags, invisible text, in image tags etc).
5) Linking to bad neighborhoods – linking to pages that use Spam techniques – or link exchange programs.
6) Buying links for Search engine ranking – hard for Google to detect but if they catch it penalties occur.
7) Machine Generated Web sites – spamy type sites created by automated systems – hundreds and thousands of pages at a time (usually only slightly different from one another).

Read more at Banned from Google and Wondering Why?

Tracking your Blog’s Performance in Search Engines

If you’re interested in tracking the performance of your blog you might like to start using UrlTrends – a tool that checks page rank in Google and Alexa as well as tracking the incoming links to your site.

It looks like a useful tool – although when you first use it the information might not be that dynamic as its not likely to have been tracking your performance previously. Your first checking of your blog will simply add you to their database and show you graphs with just your current performance. However if you come back over time you should see it tracking your performance.

I also use a free keyword tracker over at Digital Point which also tracks a number of key performance indicators for your site or blog. It Not only tracks your page rank and incoming links, but also checks how you rank on keywords in Google, Yahoo and MSN as well as telling you how many of your pages have been indexed in the search engines.

The only down side of this tracker is that you really need to use it regularly in order to get the best out of it as it only checks the above features for you when you manually stop by and ask it to. I do this as a part of my daily blogging rhythm.

Google is Updating Page Rank – Future Page Rank Tool

The word on the street from those who watch such things is that Google are currently doing a Page Rank update. These things tend to take a day or two to sort themselves out but there are a few tools that can help you work out what your page rank might end up at. Here is one such tool from SEO Chat. [Read more...]

Why Google is a Tactic not a Strategy

There is an interesting article over at SEO Chat titled – Why Google is a Tactic not a Strategy – which has some worthwhile advice in it.

‘The long and short of it, folks, is to plan your online marketing strategy so that no one tactic is responsible for supporting your business. The irony of the Web is that a lot of the tactics that don’t revolve around SEO actually help you with search engine positioning. Link placement, press release writing, content syndication and even offline marketing can all contribute to better placement in search engines.’

Wise words – don’t put all your eggs in the one basket – if if that basket has the potential to bring you a lot of goodness.

What To Do When Your Blog Drops in Google’s Rankings

Search Engine Journal has a good post on What To Do When Your Established Site Drops in Rankings and gives this advice:

‘All I can say is that many have suggested the same advice in the WebmasterWorld thread. Brett Tabke, the founder of WebmasterWorld, suggested to do “NOTHING”. He said, “The worst thing you could do, would be to go make a bunch of changes. Just let the algo work itself out.” A senior member said that he “made the mistake of making many changes after taking the hit, many months later no where to be found.” ‘

I totally agree with this advice out of my own experience of disappearing from Google late last year. The temptation was to make some major changes at that time but I decided to stick it out and just keep working on some of the basics including writing good content, making the coding of my site validate, building relationships with other sites in the hope that I’d get a few extra incoming links.

[Read more...]