Monday, November 24, 2008

Hidden Text, Its Still Out There

I started work on a potential client this morning and looking over the vast number of pages I discovered that their previous so-called SEO outfit (who had promised to get them listed on Google) had used the mystical art of hiding text on the page.... I have to admit I was highly surprised, I really cannot believe people were still using this technique to place keyword phrases.

Heres a screenshot (client details removed to avoid embarrassment):

I'm astonished that some people still think that adjusting text to a similar shade (so its not obvious) on a web page is good SEO. I thought this type of SEO Spamming went out of fashion in 2001!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Improving Acceptance Rates on Emailed Link Requests

Everyone's at it and so am I.

Link building, for themselves or for clients.

But how many emails do you receive that you ignore because its an automated email link request or the request for a link is far more in their favour than it is in yours?

If thats the case then ask yourself how many of your email link requests are ignored because of the following:

  • Your Link request email is not personalised... you've emailed "to who it concerns", "webmaster" or worse not bothered at all
  • You did not even spend 60 seconds perusing the website you wish to have a link from so you have no clue to its quality
  • Your email did not provide your full contact address details
  • You did not specify the page you wish to have a link from (i.e. they have a links page then ask for it there, if not then why not suggest somewhere they can place your link for their website visitors benefit)
I have, over the years, figured out how to write an email requesting a link that right now is generating a 50% acceptance. It is written to demonstrate to the person I am contacting that I have viewed their website in detail, I honestly believe they offer an online resource that will be of use as a link on my (client's) website and that if they would like to link back to my site then for them to feel free to do so.

I do not assume they will link back because I "subtly threaten" to remove their link if they do not respond to my request. I detest this reciprocal link blackmail.

I am polite, courteous and respectful, I totally believe there is a person (aka the business owner) with emotions and feelings at the end of that website. Treat them in a decent, HUMANE way and they will respond and engage in a more positive manner.

Not all website owners will respond to my email, let alone link but this is just one example of an email I received this morning which shows that my request for a link via email can work:

Dear Darren,
This email makes a change from simply ditching link requests into my spam file! Thank you for the link which is appropriate and interesting. I will add your clients website to my links page.
Thank you for your courteous and practical approach.
If you are an SEO carrying out linkbuilding then remember the person you contact may well be impressed enough to actually ask you to work on their behalf for their SEO.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

20 Most Hated Cliches

Here's a link to a list of the 20 most hated and reviled cliches.

Hated Cliches

I must hear these cliches EVERY week in business and network meetings. Honestly you'd think that the fact of the matter (to be fair), we'd all be going forward with something else in the pipeline...

Its just so easy to fall into the trap of using cliches... we all need to try to be a little more original with our verbal language.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

This Recession WILL hurt SEO Companies

I've avoided using the R word these past few weeks as everyone I seem to talk to is extremely busy - could be the tidal surge before the financial storm, hard for me to answer right now on a personal level as I'm no money expert to be honest. But it is still slightly concerning.

I think, though, that we small SEO's with good and long enough experience, are in demand right now because company owners have to do something. This will continue for at least up till Xmas to help maintain business levels for clients who now realise that they HAVE to do something to keep their companies cashflow flowing.

For this reason I am being extremely careful with who I choose to work with and ensuring all deposits are paid BEFORE I start any SEO project. It's not an easy decision to come to and some business people have got a little frustrated that I am not budging (much) when in negotiation. As a businessman myself I have to ensure my time is covered and that I am not left out of pocket by some other business that is willing to take one last gamble before they go broke.

I have recently had one project go on hold due to the client having to chase a bad debt. Until that debt is paid the client is not able to invest in their SEO. I think this is going to b a recurring event in the next few months and one which is going to be a frustrating experience that's going to be a test of patience (for both mine and clients).

Redundancies are now showing in the web industry too, Yahoo, Yell and Ebay are all reporting that staff will be cut.

Yahoo Staff Cuts

Ebay to cut jobs

Yell cutting jobs

As well as those companies listed above I also fully expect to see some of the larger SEO companies letting staff go in the next few months. This will probably cause an influx of small SEO businesses to be set up, creating more competition for the likes of one man SEO bands like myself. Bummer? Maybe.

But on the upside I think that some people on being made redundant will utilise their redundancy payouts and invest in setting up their own alternative businesses. This could result in the need for more experienced SEO people to get involved at an affordable rate.

Which is where the likes of small SEO's can thrive as we can charge out at a lot less than the SEO giants, yet still achieve site rankings for businesses who want to take on the big guys in their own fields.

Hard one to call and we will have to see how it plays out. Hopefully working in this industry will still remain fun AND a challenge, rather than just a frustrating scary challenge (a place I was in when I started out all those years ago).

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Guiding the Blind to a Good Landing

This is just such an amazing piece of news:

Blinded Pilot Guided to Land by the Royal Air Force

Some of you may know I do go soaring in gliders so to read about this event is just amazing and shows the skills of the RAF team involved in bringing down the pilot who had gone blind WHILST FLYING HIS CESSNA AT 15 THOUSAND FEET.

I'm just sat here thinking I'd have been so terrified and then so mightily relieved to have had the RAF help me down to a safe landing. Good one guys.

Still its sad to see the old fella had a stroke and is seriously unwell, lets just hope he makes a significant recovery soon.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

If You Can't Be Transparent, Get Out of Town

I had need to have a repairman come to my home recently and fix an item that had stopped working. I met someone whilst business networking who said he could help and he would come round and take a look to see if it needed fixing or replacing.

It dawned on me today that he had not confirmed if there was a call out fee to come and take a look and I felt he had not mentioned it when in fact he really should have.

So I called him and asked if he was still coming this week which he said yes. I then mentioned he had not talked about a callout fee so I was under the impression he would come out, take a look and then give me a price without an initial charge for his time.

I got the opposite. I was told that indeed there was a callout fee of x amount. I asked him when did he propose to tell me that, when he was on my doorstep with me in a difficult position to say no not happy about paying a fee he had not mentioned?

He replied he had forgotten to tell me. Now how can you forget to tell a prospective client that you charge for initial assessments?

Can you imagine me saying to a prospective client I'll come round to your office and conduct a web marketing consultancy with no mention of my fee schedule until I turn up because "I forgot"?.... to me that's tantamount to blackmail.... you are at least cornering someone or ambushing them into paying for something you "forgot to mention".

If that's how this chap behaves before he gets to work what's he going to do when he's on the job?

Transparency and integrity are key in any business transaction. Forgetting about important parts of your business like charges and fees certainly shows a poor understanding of customer perception.

Thing is if he had made it clear he would charge a call out fee from the start I probably wouldn't have had a problem. Once he admitted he had forgotten about how he charges I smelt a potential rat and told him not to do anything till I got back to him. When that will be I don't yet know...

You can take this situation and easily apply it into the SEO world. If you are hiding charges and then springing them on clients then I feel thats a pretty poor way to generate business income. Might it be time you reconsidered the way you behave if you do operate in this manner?

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Monday, November 03, 2008

I don't get Twitter... should I?

I've avoided Twitter like the plague since its start, maybe I just don't get it and to be honest why should I?

Anyway curiosity finally got the better of me so I went off to have a look. I still don't get it. Why do I need to share with the world that I am cooking dinner. How mundane is that? And do others need to know what I am doing in my personal life? My work life is to me varied but to anyone else... will they be that interested?

It doesn't help that watching the video on Twitter just infuriated me even more. It didn't download quickly and the narrators fake interest and annoying voice got right on my ***s.

So its gonna be a game of patience. I really don't want to look like a twatter for not using twitter but I don't want to be a twitter who looks like a twatter (still with me?)

Monday updates you won't want to miss!

To those who want to increase the links to their website I will reiterate the important of link building on a regular basis. A couple of websites I recommend getting listed on right now is
you'll need a link back from your home page to their site but as its not costing anything to get listed I suggest you go and do this now. Once set up you can add testimonials and reviews on others services that you've used which will allow you to rank higher on their web pages. Any questions let me know.

This site just got useful as its now running applications - I've added it to my profile so for those of you on go take a look I know you'll find something useful. For those of you not yet on where have you been? Go register today!