Archives for November 2005

SEO Mistakes: software mistakes

When you’re starting out at SEO, think carefully when you’re deciding whether to buy a software package (or service) that promises SEO results. Why? First, when you’re making pages yourself, there’s a limited amount of pages that you can make a mistake on; when you’re using software, any damage can be amplified a thousand-fold. Second, you should really know what exactly the software is doing. If you buy a piece of software that makes many doorway pages that do sneaky JavaScript redirects, that can raise a red flag to search engines. “I bought this thing and didn’t know what it would do” is not a great explanation for a reinclusion request, because you’re ultimately responsible for the pages that you make on your domain. A third reason is that if you decide to buy a particular piece of SEO software, other people might be trying it too, and lots of people all using the same software package can lead to your site attracting more scrutiny.

A final reason is that many SEO software packages are not very (at all?) effective. I recently saw software for sale to generate blog links. Personally, I get a little suspicious when you also get an offer to sell the software yourself. Before you know it, everyone’s trying to sell the same piece of software–even producing templates where you only have to change your name or a few other pieces of info. Check out this screenshot of an auction I saw:

Template that hasn't been modified

Notice the pink text? That’s where someone was supposed to fill in their own name or other details. For the auction that I checked on, the seller didn’t even bother to personalize the stock template! Instead, they’re taking something that they bought and trying to sell it to you without customizing it with even their name. Now at the point where people are buying SEO software and turning right around and trying to sell it again without modifying even a template HTML page, what’s your opinion of that software? Also, did you notice the misspelling in the template about “quite that day job”? I usually get skeptical about typos when I’m about to buy something.

Maybe this is a useful piece of software. I could buy the software for $4.89 and check it out, but instead I’ll just stick to some high-level advice: for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, carefully consider any piece of SEO software before buying it.

SEO Mistakes: believing all emails

My all-time favorite spam email about SEO came back in 2001:

Drive Your Web Counter Ballistic!! “New” Information… Discovered By A Computer Illiterate Man in Massachusetts Can Practically Hand You the Top Search Engine Positions…And Add 2,350 Hits a Day to Your Web Site Overnight!”

I just imagine some savant syndrome man pecking away, then clicking a big red “Submit” button, and suddenly a number at the bottom of his screen just starts counting up faster and faster until it’s spinning so fast that it melts. Gradually the screen pulls back to reveal a cube that represents a keyphrase. With a “cha-ching” like a pinball game, the cube turns green and a “#1” appears above the block. As you pull back further, you see a grid of hundreds of keyword phrases. Another cube turns green with a #1 as you top the search engines for that phrase too. The green starts spreading like a virus outward and now it almost sounds like pachinko as more and more keyphrases appear at the top of search engines. With a final “ching” the last cube turns green and a #1 rolls into view like a slot machine. Trumpets play. The screen splits down the middle and opens, revealing a bright white light. The SEO stares as the screen turns brighter and brighter. The camera pulls back, and just before the screen goes entirely white, the SEO exclaims “It’s so beautiful!”

It’s a wonderful mental picture, isn’t it? But if you’re looking to do well on search engines, I wouldn’t trust your SEO strategy to a computer illiterate man in Massachusetts. Maybe he’s selling you his SEO secrets because he’s made too much money from them, and now he just wants to share out of the kindness of his heart?

SEO Mistakes: spam email guarantees

Does anyone believe an email like this? Someone I know got this email recently:

From: Google Info [mailto:google@yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 6:19 PM
To: xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.com
Subject: News – You’ve just been Googled

All search engines cracked.

We can send your web site to the top of Google legitimately before Christmas and keep it there.

Yes I mean the top.

Give me up to 20 keywords and the URL of your site and we will switch Google on and another 40 top engines to deliver immeasurable keyword targeted surfers to your web site to join and buy from you.

This works for replica sites, affid, php and asp and also joining and opt>in pages belonging to programs.

For each of your 20 keywords your site is guaranteed to appear at the top of Google.

Oh, okay. Let’s see. I’ll take the top keywords in porn, pills, and casinos (also known as the other acronym for “P.P.C.”). Also, how about Google, viagra, krankenversicherung, britney spears, matt cutts (no wait, I’m doing okay for that one), search engine optimization, and maybe just for fun, how about making me #1 for the phrase: “you would have to be on crack to believe all guarantees in spam emails about SEO.”

SEO Mistakes: Nearly hidden text

If you’re going to hide text, doing “#EEEEEE” instead of solid white isn’t really an improvement. In fact, it can look worse, as if you’re trying to choose a text color that won’t be exactly the same as the background color, but still won’t be noticed. Check out this entertaining hidden text spam from a gift frame site. The interesting thing is that the phrases aren’t sorted alphabetically, but by keyphrase length. If you view-source, the net effect is some very artistic looking spam. I’ll abridge the number of phrases and just pull out a representative set:

home furnishing and decorating
wedding reception centerpieces
homemade christmas gift ideas
personalized christmas gifts
promotional business product
wedding reception decoration
personalized gifts for girls
custom promotional products
personalized picture frames
personalized picture frame
personalized wedding gifts
home made christmas gifts
personalized wedding gift
bridal shower gift ideas
discount picture frames
gifts for teenage girls
unique valentine gifts
unique gifts for women
valentines gift ideas
wedding picture frame
wholesale gift boxes
valentines gift idea
valentines day gifts
wedding centerpieces
unique wedding gifts
wedding centerpiece
cheap wedding gifts
wedding decorations
bridal shower ideas
unique wedding gift
bedroom decoration
dog picture frames
bridal shower idea
acrylic aquariums
wedding gift idea
small fish tanks
wedding pictures
engagement gifts
wedding presents
homemade crafts
gifts for women
gifts for girls
aquarium tanks
picture frames
gift for woman
simple crafts
gifts for her
western craft
angel crafts
cheap gifts
texas gifts
irish gifts
betta fish
fish tank
petlovers
shadowbox
petlover

Kinda pretty, huh?

When do I post?

Okay, I’ve done 100+ posts. Time to look at when I usually post.

mysql user/passwd -s -e "select DATE_FORMAT(post_date, '%a') from wp_posts" | sort | uniq -c

gives a count for days of posting. In WordPress, the post_date field is a datetime value, and %a converts a datetime value to a day of the week.

Mon 16
Tue 7
Wed 17
Thu 22
Fri 20
Sat 6
Sun 14

Looks like I’m mid- to late-week kinda guy.

How about time o’ day? A little

mysql -s -e "select DATE_FORMAT(post_date, '%k') from wp_posts" | sort | uniq -c | tr -s " " " " | sed -e's/^ //' | sort -g -k2

gets the raw data. Then I make a little file like this:

set terminal png
set output “postinghours.png”
set nokey
set title “Posting hours”
set xlabel “Hour of the day”
set ylabel “Number of posts”
set nogrid
plot [-0.5:23.5] ‘postinghours’ using 2:1 with boxes

(yah, all this could be cleaner. It gets the job done, okay?) Then pipe that into gnuplot and you find out that I mostly post at night:

My posting hours

That sounds about right, since I normally prowl ‘n’ blog after work.

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