22 February 2010

Who's Linking to your Website?

Linking is the mechanism that connects all the pages on the Internet. You've got links throughout your web site to let people navigate their way around. You may have links going out to other web sites that you think will be useful for your visitors. And hopefully you have links coming into your web site from independent sources.

All types of links can impact your search engine optimization results, helping determine where your web site shows up online. Though the hardest to control, inbound links pointing to your site can make the biggest impact.

At its most basic, the concept is that if several high-quality sites are linking to your web site, then Google and other search engines figure your site must be a popular, valuable resource - and they will be more likely to show it higher in their search results. In effect, your site receives "link juice" from other web pages that link to it.

However, it's not enough to secure a couple links and then sit still. The Google PageRank (Scream Media has a home page rank of 4/10) algorithm looks at the pattern of links to your site as they build over time.

Building the right kind of links can bring a major payoff, while a wrong turn could get you penalized - and the Google Sandbox is not easy to dig out of.

Armed with a bit of knowledge and some creativity, you can build up valuable incoming links naturally and powerfully, avoiding the traps that plague amateurs.

Spice Up Your Links With Some Variety

There are all kinds of link farming schemes to grow links, and you need to run the other way from these. This is also called reciprocal linking, where you exchange links with other web sites that will then link to you on a mass scale. Warning: Google is onto this.

While it's perfectly advantageous to link to high-quality sites that also link to you, the key here is to cultivate a natural mix of links over time.

Is it natural to suddenly have 100 links pointing to your site, all with the same text? Of course not. When people link to you naturally, they might use your business name (SEO Advantage) or some variation on a descriptive phrase (search optimization company). If too many similar links exist, it can signal that those links were generated artificially and potentially result in penalties.

Also consider which pages on your site inbound links point to. Your home page is probably going to get the most, but it's natural to have links pointing to specific pages inside your web site, too. Cultivate links to your services, your blog, your news pages, your articles, etc., to help those pages get indexed and build their own PageRank. Called deep links, these can help bolster your site's overall performance. 

Some links also carry a title tag, which is indicated in the source code. This is a little too technical to go into detail here, but if you can influence this you'll want both the link text and title to vary a bit among the links pointing to your site. Once again, the key is to grow your links in a natural pattern.

Not Every Link Carries The Same Value

Links from popular, established web sites usually carry the greatest value. That's because they have high PageRank from plenty of other people already linking to them. A link from CNN.com, for example, will carry much more weight than a link from a free press release distribution site that few people know of. No-follow tags are the bane of naive link builders. It's tempting to think you can just link to pages on your site from your Twitter tweets, Facebook and other social media applications. However, many of these sites as well as online ads and also some directories employ "no follow" tags that prevent the search engines from following a link to your site. In this case, it's as if the link doesn't exist in the eyes of the search engines. (That doesn't mean the links aren't valuable to people who find you and follow the link, it's just not helping your web site show up in Google.) 
So, How Can A Business Build Incoming Links Naturally?

The mix of links created out on the web pointing back at your web site should avoid skewing toward any particular type. A good mix that you can influence may include:

Directories - Professional organizations, online communities and forums, business directories, etc. can all potentially provide good links to your site. There are several premium directories that are staples in an SEO firm's link building toolkit, like DMOZ.org. Keep in mind that your listing itself should be optimized in order to reap the full link juice benefits.

Press Releases - Writing and submitting press releases online can help you get your news in front of more people and build links to your site. (Be sure to use best practices for writing and evaluate carefully your outlets for good links).

Blogs - Link to relevant pages on your site from your blog. Build relationships online with other bloggers, too, and they may want to link back to you! Active blogs with high visibility and large followings are going to be your best bet, but you can mix it up over time targeting lesser known bloggers, too. Keep in mind that as other sites grow in PageRank, the value passed to your site will also grow.

• Create Some Link Bait - Make sure your content is so fascinating or funny that people will want to tell others about it. This is the ultimate for building naturally growing incoming links but of course hard to do.

A sample schedule could mean every month you líst your site in two good dírectories, link to interior site pages from a couple relevant posts in your blog, distribute one press release to news sites, and write one great article that other people may want to link to and then let them know about it.

A word about selecting outlets is in order, too. You'll need to carefully assess each place you target in order to determine the link value they can pass onto you. For example, different press release submission sites and directories can give you a wide variety in link value. This can be time-consuming to determine but worth it when your site's PageRank starts to climb.Want to know more about how Scream Media can build links for you? Contact us today on 021 5590800.

18 February 2010

Marketing your Website on Facebook

Here’s 11 things about Facebook that you need to know:

1. 350 Million Global Users, and Counting
Facebook announced recently that they had passed 350 million members, making Facebook the third-largest country in the world, if it was a country. (perhaps that’s their end-game, joining the UN and raising an army?)

2. 100 Million U.S. Users
Sure, Facebook is strong around-the-world (Canada has the highest penetration rate), but nearly 1/3 of all Facebookers are here in the U.S. You may have heard of a TV show called American Idol. On a good night, it averages 20 million viewers. Facebook has 100 million American members. Hmmm.
3. Average Facebook User Spends 55 Minutes Per Day
Nearly one hour per day, per user. That’s a lot of Facebook time. How can your company grab a bit of consumer attention? This data is based on Facebook’s own published stats, covered by Inside Facebook.
4. Nearly 80,000 sites using Facebook Connect
Connect is the Facebook initiative that has the greatest long-range impact. By integrating Facebook closely, sites are making our personal social graphs truly portable. Instead of having to go to Facebook and other sites to visit our friends, they travel with us online (and in our pockets via mobile devices), always there to provide advice or commentary. Even Yahoo! and MySpace are rolling out deep Facebook integrations.
This of course makes Facebook the central hub of not just social media, but the Web (which is why Google is scrambling to catch up after their competing Google Connect fell flat).
5. Facebook Fan Box Becoming Pervasive
Perhaps the least powerful, but most prevalent flavor of Facebook Connect is Facebook Fan Box, a simple tool for enabling your Web site visitors, YouTube video watchers, or email newsletter recipients to become a fan of your brand – without even having to go to Facebook.
6. Average Facebook User Has 130 Friends
Will Facebook users continue to add more friends at a rapid pace? It depends upon how they view their Facebook connections. 130 friends almost bumps up against Dunbar’s Number of 150 – the theoretical maximum number of actual friend relationships you can sustain, according to British scientist Robin Dunbar.
If Facebook continues to revolve around relationships that you actually possess in three-dimensions – people you “actually” know, then the addition of bunches of new friends may slow considerably. But, if Facebook makes the leap to tie people together more casually (like Twitter), average friend counts could rise dramatically.
7. Average Facebook User Fans 2 Pages per Month
If you think tons of your customers should become fans of your company’s Facebook page, you might want to recalibrate your expectations. The average Facebook user “fans” only 2 new pages per month. That’s not a lot , considering how many brands, causes, and organizations we come into contact with on a regular basis.
If you’re going to make growth of your Facebook fan base a key part of your social media strategy, you must create a clear rationale for why consumers should participate with you.
You also might consider a robust, organized approach for promoting your Facebook fan page.
8. Only 4% of Pages Have 10,000 or More Fans

If your Facebook fan page is a bit of a ghost town, you’re not alone. A fantastic study by Sysomos of 600,000 Facebook fan pages shows that only 4% of pages have 10,000 or more fans – and only .76% have 100,000 or more.
That’s why it is so critical to focus your Facebook strategy on activating the fans you have, not just collecting fans like baseball cards.
9. Wall Posts Don’t Impact Popularity
The Sysomos study also found very little correlation between how frequently the Facebook page admin posted to the wall, and total number of fans. However – and this is important – there is a strong correlation between amount of other content (notes, links, photos, videos) and number of fans.
Thus, if you want to grow your Facebook fan base, it is imperative that you move beyond simple Wall posts and add photos, videos, links and other content.
10. Customized News Feed
Facebook’s recent move to an algorithm-driven news feed means that just because someone is your fan, does not mean they will see your wall posts or status updates (true for both individuals, and brands). Instead, the default news feed is now comprised of content that Facebook thinks you’ll like, based on your interactions with content from that author in the past, and interactions by your friends with that content.
This puts a tremendous premium on posting engaging content that will get comments and likes and shares. If you’re not paying attention to your content engagement scores within your Facebook analytics, start doing so now, and testing content types to see what works best for your brand.
11. Real-time Search Changes the Game
Facebook is now making most content available publicly, unless you tell them not to via your privacy settings. Twitter opened their data stream to anyone (not just big developers). Google and Bing are incorporating this data into search results, in real-time.
This has tremendous implications for search engine optimization and reputation management, since a negative status update about your brand might now show up on the first page of Google search results for your company name (at least temporarily). The shakeout is still happening, but someone in your company needs to be on top of real-time search. Today.
Facebook may not be the ideal environment for every social media initiative, but its huge size forces you to at least consider participating – regardless of what type of business you run. Conversely, some brands are putting an awful lot of eggs in the Facebook basket, which is perhaps justifiable based on the facts above.

17 February 2010

Whats in a Name?

Using Keywords in your Domain

Is Men.com a good domain name? How about Furniture.com? Or what about Cars.com? The internet market place certainly thinks they are valuable. Men.com sold for 1.3 million. But is it? Are any of these really brands?

How in the world would you market these names and how would you distinguish yourself from the thousands of variants, copycats and hucksters that will inevitably pop up. You can’t trademark a generic word, so forget about taking your competitors to court.
Multi-Word Generic Domains

A good example of this is if you are looking for a website design company. Do you know the difference between websitedesign.com, websitesdesign.org, website4design.com, website-design.com, websitedesign-ingo.net, websites.co.za, Do you care? Probably not. And you’re definitely not interested in spending the next fours hours trying to find out. However you do know that H2L and Scream Media build websites. Sounds like a safer bet.

So what is best a generic domain or a brand name URL?

To give you a comparison lets looks at an example. The king of search Google. Google is a unique and proper name. It stands for something and there is only one Google. They basically own the public mind space for the word “search” just as surely Kleenex own “tissues” and Xerox owns “copies”. So much so that all three of these companies names have also become a common shorthand for anything in their category. So for Google, any derivative reference used by competitors, critics and jokesters just reinforces the Google brand.

This is not the same for Furniture.com. Variants of the word furniture just dilute the Furniture.com brand, not enhance it. That’s because furniture is a generic word. It doesn’t reference anything but the literal meaning of the word. And a boring word at that. Say it ten times and you’ll probably start to doze off.

No matter how many times someone uses the word furniture it will do nothing to enhance Furniture.com. It is not a brand and never will be.
Highest priced domain names

Here’s a list of the highest priced domains of all time. But you need to ask yourself, how many of these own their category or are even a market leader? Almost none. When’s the last time someone sent you a link to one of these sites telling you gotta check it out? You probably can’t remember. Read each name and tell me the first thing that pops in your head.

Insure.com – Sold for $16,000,000 (16 million dollars) in October 2009 to QuinStreet

Sex.com – Sold for: $14 million on January 19th, 2006

Fund.com – $9,999,950 – Sold in 2008

Porn.com – Sold for $9,000,000 sometime in 2007

Business.com – Sold for $7,500,000 in 1999 (This was pretty much a “business” sale with a developed name)

Diamonds.com – Sold for $7,500,000

Beer.com – Sold for $7,000,000

Casino.com – $5,500,000 – Sold to a private company in 2003

Toys.com $5.1M sold to Toys R Us

AsSeenOnTV.com – Sold for $5,100,000 in January of 2000

Korea.com – $5,000,000 – Sold in January of 2000

SEO.com – $5,000,000 – Sold in 2007

FreePorn.com – $4,000,000 – Sold in February 2008

YP.com – $3,850,000 – Sold to YellowPages.com

Shop.com – Sold for $3,500,000 in 2001

WorldWideWeb.com – $3,500,000 in 1996

AltaVista.com – $3,250,000

Software.com – $3,200,000

Candy.com – $3,000,000 Sold in March 2009 by Rich Schwartz. Deal was $3M + % sales.

CreditCheck.com – $3,000,000 -Sold in June 2007

Loans.com – $3,000,000

eShow.com – $3,000,000

Vodka.com – $3,000,000 Sold December 2006

HolidayInn.com – $3,000,000 Sold in 1995

Wine.com – Sold for $2,900,000 in September of 1999

Wines.com – $2,900,000

CreditCards.com – Sold for $2,750,000 in July 2004

Pizza.com – $2,605,000 April 3, 2008

Tom.com – $2,500,000

Dotnology.com – $2.5 million (2000)

Autos.com – $2,200,000

Computer.com – $2,200,000

Coupons.com – $2,200,000

England.com – $2,000,000

Celebrities.com – $2.0 million (1999)

Telephone.com – $2,000,000

Express.com – $2,000,000

Savings.com – $1,900,000

Mortgage.com – $1,800,000

Seniors.com – $1.8 million (2007)

DataRecovery.com – $1,659,000  Sold in 2008

Branson.com – $1,600,000

SolarEnergy.com – $1,600,000

Cameras.com – $1,500,000

TandBerg.com – $1,500,000

MarketingToday.com – $1,500,000

Deposit.com – $1,500,000

Russia.com – $1,500,000 November 26, 2009

Fly.com – $1,500,000 – RESOLD FOR $1,800,000 (January 2009)

VIP.com – Sold for $1,400,000 in September of 2005

Ad.com – Sold for $1,400,000 April 29, 2009 in TRAFFIC auction

Men.com – $1,320,000

Vista.com – $1,250,000

Ticket.com – Sold for $1,525,000 on Afternic

Feedback.com – $1,230,000

Phone.com – $1,200,000

Find.com – $1,200,000

Scores.com – $1.2 million (2007)

Kredit.de – $1,169,175

Call.com – $1,100,000 – Sold on August 31, 2009

Bingo.com – $1,100,000

Mercury.com – $1,100,000

Cruises.co.uk – $1,099,798 Sold in 2008

Chinese.com – $1,090,504 – Sold July 2007

WallStreet.com – $1,030,000

Rock.com – $1.03 million

Invest.com – $1,015,000  Sold in 2008

WebCam.com – $1,020,000 Sold April 2009 in Rick Latona auction

Vibrators.com – $1,000,000 Sold in 2008

Britain.com – $1,000,000

Fish.com – $1,000,000

Topix.com – $1,000,000

Sky.com – $1,000,000

If.com – $1,000,000

iPhone.com – $1.0 million (2007)

CyberWorks.com – $1.0 million

WhiteHouseCrisis.com – $1.0 million

eFlowers.com – $1.0 million

Beauty.cc – $1.0 million

Most of these names are so dull, so forgettable, so uninspired, that it’s hard to believe they fetch the money they do. So WHY do they sell for these prices? It all has to do with SEO, SEO and how Google ranks sites. There generic nature of the domain name ensures that Google will serve them up for generic searches, try it yourself, search for BINGO on an all web search... Surprise ! Ah no not really. Am I saying go out and buy a generic boring domain name for your site? That depends on what you want, dont forget as much as Google will love the name, but bear in mind it can be very difficult to build a generic name into a brand.
Making a Unique Name by Combining Two Generics

This can be highly effective and some of the best named and well branded web companies have used this naming device. And that is to combine two generic words in a way that is startling, evocative and original. Photobucket.com is a good example. By themselves the word photo and the word bucket are about as dull and generic as can be. Ah, but put them together and we not only have an original name now, but one that creates a deeper meaning. It immediately engages the mind as you envision first a literal bucket filled with photos and secondly the abstraction of a bucket of photos. On a symbolic level Photobucket is an easy way to gather all your photos. YouTube is a classic example. By themselves the words you and tube are nearly meaningless. Put them together and it not only has a great rhyming quality but it creates an instantly understandable, relatable word pairing loaded with meaning. It’s you (as in the everyday person, joe average) on the tube (television). Television that is about you. Brilliant. Other good examples are LinkedIn, StubHub, FeedBurner and FaceBook. All pairings of generic words that take on a new meaning when combined.

Is your product the first in the market? Or Niche?

If you invented something that didn’t exist before, something that people would probably like but don’t know it’s available, a generic may be a good strategy. For example we own a brand which is new to South Africa, it is an online financial comparison site. We named it www.comparethemarket.co.za We combined the two generic keywords compare and market, and are ranking very well under all our chosen keywords, even though the site is still in its “static” stage and the live feeds from the providers have not yet been added.

So at the end of the day, the choice is yours. If in doubt call in the experts. Contact Scream Media to day for a no obligation quote on building your brand successfully online.

04 February 2010

Link Building - Why you need it

You probably don't need to read the latest advice from the marketing online consultants to figure out the basic idea behind link building. Without links, your site won't develop authority. Without authority, it won't move up on the search engines. But even the most savvy online consultant would have to admit that doing that is just not as easy as it sounds.

More Is Not Better In Link Building

Just going out and getting a bunch of links won't necessarily help your site. You need quality links to get higher search rankings. But sometimes figuring out what makes one link better than another is tough. This is where you do need to keep up with what the marketing consultants are recommending or you may just be wasting your time. 

Targeted Anchor Text Is A Must

When you start pursuing links on sites, you need targeted anchor text. However, you don't want to use the same text everywhere. Google will notice that in a bad way. You want to use two or three different phrases and the proper name of your website. If you can't get anything but an image link, make sure the site owner puts your anchor text or the name of your site in the ALT tag of the image.

Pay Attention To Links In And Out

Google looks at the site where your link appears and decides how much benefit your site gets back. A site with a lot of inbound links passes more authority to your site. At the same time, being linked on a site full of low-quality, outbound links probably won't help you much.

PageRank Isn't Everything

Don't be one of those site owners who sees nothing but PageRank. A site with high PageRank can still have low link value. This is especially true of sites that sell links. Steer clear of sites that use phrases like "sponsored by" or "paid for by." Google may not let that site pass PageRank at all. Move on. They're not worth your time.

Concentrate On Site Relevance

Let's say your site is about red widgets. You get a link on a site about purple doohickeys. That link isn't worth as much as one on a site about red widget management. Make sure you're pursuing links in relevant places and look at how those places are optimized. If a site owner gives you a choice of having a link on a page titled "About Us" or one with the title "About Red Widgets," which one do you choose? The link on the optimized page, "About Red Widgets," has more value.

A Marketing Consultant Checks What's Not Obvious

Take your cue from the pros and check sites in ways that aren't obvious. For instance, in any search engine, you can type in "cache:" followed by a site url and find out if the site has been indexed and when it was last crawled. But what do those dates mean? 
Chances are good that if the site hasn't been crawled in 30-45 days, it's not a good place for a link. But some domains have more value than others. For example, links from .edu domaíns are better than from a .com, but .ínfo is worth less. All these factors should be weighed in judging a site's worth in your link building efforts.

Does Social Networking Matter?

We've all seen the little link bars under blog posts and in forums asking people to Digg or Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or StumbleUpon. Do you need to try to get links in places where social networking can happen? Yes. Alone those links may not have a lot of value, but Google is increasingly looking at the "active Web" in determining site authority. 
Need help with your link backs contact H2L today