SEO Experts Leslie Rohde and Glen Woodfin
SEO has been around for more than a decade and as of this post, not one SEO Expert in the world encourages you to build back links to your sitemap. Let me be the first.
Sitemaps were developed to aid in the navigation of sites and to assure that Google and other search engines would index your whole site and even though sitemaps are widespread, SEO consultants overlook them for link building. Brad Fallon gave me my original foundation in SEO and there were a couple of things he said in his “Stomping the Search Engines” 8 hour audio course that I never forgot:
1. “Most SEO is snake oil”.
2. My SEO course gives you my latest knowledge of current best practices, but the Google algorithm changes constantly so I wish to equip listeners with the knowledge on how they can test and stay current with the changes to the algorithm.
I still remember Brad’s word in my head because I listened to his 8 hour course at least 60 times. I will read any SEO consultant’s latest blog post on SEO trends to stretch myself with new ideas, but I test all their so-called secrets in the trenches. I don’t get paid for a black box, I get paid for results.
Even though I’ve never read any advice to build backwards links to your sitemap, I do it all the time. I even build back links to my rss and atom feeds for my posts and comments. Why? Because Google indexes them.
I did a search before I pubished this post and SEOs say you’re an idiot to think building backlinks to your sitemap makes any sense other than to get your pages indexed. I’m proud to go against every SEO expert in the world, because I’ve tested this exotic link building practice and it works.
I also build links to pages which SEOs say not to, like your contact page and your disclosure pages and privacy policies. I find that deep links from any page if it has a link back to your home page is a good idea. If you are worried about losing page rank on your money pages, then use a technique that Leslie Rohde coined called Page Rank Sculpting, Page Rank Shaping or Link Sculpting where you add the no follow tag to links going to pages where you don’t want Page Rank leak.
By using Leslie Rohde’s dynamic linking of internal pages, you can get a big boost in ranking because Google counts on site links as well as off site links.
Link building to your site map or rss feeds does not give you dramatic page rank boosts, but all things being equal, it can give you an edge against a competitor’s site. One of the primary services I offer is Online Reputation Management where I push the negative links in a Google search off of the first several pages and replace it with content you or your company is comfortable with, and in doing so, I often need an edge over other sites, so little things like building links to sitemaps and rss feeds can make a critical difference.
There is a small percentage of SEO consultants that will recommend you list your feeds with anchor text in RSS directories, but you never hear them encouraging you to create regular anchor text links to your feed urls. Even if you don’t get a direct boost in the rankings by building direct links to your RSS feeds, you will get targeted traffic which indirectly gives you more incoming traffic and it builds page reputation. The Google algorithm now counts page traffic and bounce rate in their ranking. At the time of this post, I have no indication that it is a major factor, but I have evidence that it is at least a minor factor.
As a guy that builds thousands of links before I have had my first cup of morning coffee, exotic link building to these taboo pages is a standard practice for me. If you only have limited resources, then I’d stick to traditional SEO because you’ll get more bang for your buck. However, when you’re going head to head with the best of the best, then I’d do it for the edge it gives you. If you are worried about leaking Page Rank from your primary pages, then make sure you link to the forbidden pages with the no follow attribute. Then, when you link out from the dead zone pages to your money pages, do it with a do follow tag.
Today, I did a Google search for my name on page 2 of the SERP in position 7, my sitemap for GlenWoodfin.com is right there staring me in the face: http://www.glenwoodfin.com/sitemap.xml. If Google indexes the link, do you really think it doesn’t count for ranking? Quit following the so-called SEO experts…think for yourself (see photo below).
Sitemap SEO: Link Building to Your Sitemap
A couple of years ago, I was in the dark about RSS feeds, they were a bit of a mystery, so I read everything I could get my hands on about xml feeds. Many attribute magical qualities to RSS feeds. They talk about them like they are similar to Super Balls that ricochet all over the Internet like a virus, but what is the truth? Their primary function is twofold:
1. To notify the search engines that new content has been published and is ready for indexing
2. Those with RSS readers will receive the content automatically through a push system so they don’t have to return to your site to see if you’ve updated it with fresh content. If you have subscribed to a site’s feed, the content will automatically appear in your RSS aggregator. With spam filters on overdrive using email, this has been proven to be a more reliable methods of delivering content. Once you’ve subscribed to a feed, the content will be delivered with 100% success.
Where do feeds get their reputation to hold magical qualities? Their 3rd power is in syndication. I speculate that after feeds began to proliferate, creative webmasters and marketers saw that they could amplify their content distribution with RSS. Many auto bloggers and scrapers search for feeds 24/7 using keywords to grab content from feeds and publish your content on their sites on autopilot. Therefore, if you have back links in your content, one hopes to gain back links on autopilot and also get traffic from the funnel created. Does this technique work for an SEO boost? Yes, to an extent. There is no Google algorithm penalty for duplicate content on other people’s sites regardless of what all the phony SEO experts clam, but their value is diminished by Google detecting it and moving many of those links into the supplemental index. Those links absolutely will not hurt your site’s ranking but their link juice is mitigated. Up to the Panda Update in February of 2011, it was a proven method to get a boost in rankings. It still works to some extent, but it’s not nearly as powerful of a technique as it was pre-Panda. In fact, the creation of Google’s supplemental indexing of duplicate content much earlier clipped the wings of using feeds for link building a long time before Panda came along.
You will get more traffic through content syndication, which will give you a small boost in rankings. I’ve published press releases and have had literally thousands of other sites publish my content on their sites either word for word or as a truncated summary on their sites. Some of the web sites will carry your active hypertext links on their sites while many others will post your content because many strip out your links, leaving the only benefit of a boost in traffic if people see the content on someone else’s site then come over to your site if they find the content attractive. There is also the hope that others will come to your site and find other things to crow about and give you the credit through new back links. In order for this phenomenon to kick in, your content will need to be good, the syndication alone won’t assure that.
How do I know for a fact that the other SEO experts are wrong about this aspect of duplicate content? A local Volkswagen Audi dealership brought me in for a marketing consultation and they gave me some powerful ammunition to reel in new clients from beyond their local market by guaranteeing the lowest price in 3 states: South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. I put up identical blog content on about 50 sites while changing only a few small items: the keywords in the domain names, the title, description and keyword meta tags and the H1 tags. Everything else was cookie cutter exact duplicate content. Each of the sites soared to the top of the search engines in their respective locations as I created sites for every major city in all 3 states. The campaign worked well until the dealerships in those cities whined to the regional franchise managers. In fact, many of them were downright outraged that we were able to go head to head with them without having to have a brick and mortar facility in those remote cities. We offered the guaranteed lowest price plus free delivery to their door, or if they were willing to pick up the vehicle in person, we’d put them up in our city’s finest hotel and take them out to dinner for a romantic get-a-way. How could they lose? I am taking down all of those sites as I write this, but the campaign worked for the whole of 2011.
If you appreciate me revealing SEO secrets like these, please encourage me to continue by sharing this on your Facebook, Re-Tweeting or clicking the Google+ button below.
Want to maximize the promotion of your feeds, check out my post on: Twitter feeds. Also, I did a post on how to ping a page to get it indexed faster at: Auto Pinger.
I dedicate this post to the pioneering SEO genius of those that have gone before me: Brad Fallon, Leslie Rohde and Dan Thies of SEO Braintrust.
While living in Rio de Janeiro in 2006, I was frustrated that I couldn’t work as a foreigner in Brazil. I reasoned that if I could learn how to promote things on the Internet, then I could work from anywhere in the world in the American market as long as I could get an Internet connection. Imagining that even if I was old with one tooth and unable to walk, I could still make a living if I could simply lay in bed as an invalid with a laptop. I decided then and there that I would learn how to make a living online.
For the next couple of years, I burned through over $40,000 investing in online courses and live seminars struggling to crack the code on how to make a living on the net. Gurus lurked everywhere in wait for me to see their ads and lure me in to buy their over priced courses. Everything looked so shiny and I confess, I often took the bait. Over time I realized that most gurus where only good at selling their courses, Internet marketers were simply marketing to other Internet marketers. I gained a few general tips along the way, but most of the courses lacked real “how to” content or they made me feel I was jumping on a horse and riding in 50 directions at the same time.
Fresh air arrived when I came across some reviews about Brad Fallon, Stomping the Search Engines and SEO. Online marketers were raving about Brad and mentioned how much a course called “Stomping the Search Engines” about search engine optimization had made a difference for them. I finally found a place to order a copy of it for $300. Everyone’s review sounded like it was really old and out of print so I felt lucky I was able to still buy it.
When Brad Fallon’s course arrived, I found it to be an 8 hour audio interview with him going from the basics to more advanced methods on how to get your website to the top of the search engines for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. Brad even covered black hat techniques that some marketers tried in violation of the search engines terms of service. I found the course astounding. Brad Fallon spoke with such authority.
Since the Bose iPod Docking station came out years ago, I put one in my bathroom and listened to podcasts and educational courses every time I took a shower. When I purchased Brad’s course, it immediately became the only thing I listened to for a year and a half. I must have listened to that 8 hour audio course over 60 times. I listened to it in my car; I listened to it while jogging. To me, it opened a door that was worthy of my commitment.
I started experimenting with Brad Fallon’s techniques on some small time sites, sheepishly. I was so afraid that I’d make a mistake, so I’d build some links then sit back and wait hoping I wouldn’t be banned by the search engines. It was a slow agonizing process until I started to realize that the techniques were working. In fact, I found that by dedicating myself to the execution of his theories, I was getting websites to the top of the search engines at will. For the next few years, I dedicated myself more and more, going from local sites to helping multinational corporations and international broadcasting media companies get to the top of the search engines. I started devouring everything I could get my hands on in organic search until I lost all fear of SEO. I practiced my craft for a couple of years and during that time, I got everything to the top of Google that I desired. I always succeeded. It became child’s play. The Google algorithm was a joke to me, even though they claimed there were over 200 factors in their rankings. Whoop-tee-doo…I found that, like politicians, Google’s declarations about SEO were duplicitous.
Invitation to Speak at Brad Fallon’s SEO PRO at $20,000 a Seat
I rarely go to live events because most of them are just sell-a-thons to create even more revenue while fleecing attendees when they are on an emotional high. However, Brad Fallon’s Stompernet events had a reputation of attracting serious Internet marketers while keeping the upsells to a minimum, so after Brad’s $300 Stomping the Search Engines course gave me such a solid foundation with zero hype, I decided to go to a Stompernet Live event at the W in downtown Atlanta.
One should know that I’ve been self-employed for over 20 years so I rarely show up for a seminar on time, I come and go as I please. True to tradition, I came into the event in the middle of a session while the speaker was talking. I tried to let the door close behind me quietly and the first thing I saw was Brad Fallon sitting in the back row taking it all in. I could have been a good little attendee and find a seat, instead, I beelined right over to Brad to introduce myself. I was a bit shocked that he was open to a quick quiet chat and asked if I had a card. I didn’t, so I told him I’d talk to him later.
After the speaker finished his seminar, people remained in the room to share ideas one on one and in smaller groups. After saying hello to the people around me, I zipped up to Brad Fallon and I talked about what a difference he’d made in my life and how I took his solid SEO principles and evolved them into strategies for defending someone’s reputation online. I called it online reputation management (ORM) and Brad called it SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management). I did ORM for a living and I’d never heard of SERM. My ideas intrigued him and he invited me to speak to a select group of committed marketers who had not only attended his SEO Pro events, but they had opted for his intensive high level training at $20,000 a person. This elite team featured guests from all over the world. Brad wanted a strong connection with this select group of marketers, so he invited them to come to his house for many of the sessions.
I came in the night before the event and I brought an old salt friend named John, who’d built a business for 30 years and had the scars and stories to show for it. Brad met us outside and we talked a few minutes before going into his Buckhead home.
Within minutes Brad sat down at his dining room table in front of his laptop and John and I sat in the living room about 20 feet away. The living room, dining room and kitchen were really all one big room visually divided in sections. The living room was separated from the kitchen with an island bar and the dining area was off to one side creating a large L shaped room with a high ceiling.
As John and I had light conversation, Brad became entranced on his Mac. Brad asked me a few minutes later if I’d seen his new uQast project that he was about to launch. I didn’t know much about it so he scooped up his laptop and brought it over and set it on the coffee table in front of me. Brad started clicking around the admin area talking about everything the site could do. His hair was on fire as he talked. Before long I realized he’d created a propriety platform for content providers to brand their own space on the site and share any type of content imaginable from written word to high def video. He said people could share their content or create a membership section for a fee. The owner would have complete control over their own space including whether links were follow or no follow.
Brad enthusiastically went on and on about it. He talked about how long he’d worked on the project and mentioned a little about each of the coders that he’d attracted to the site’s structure. I remember that they were from various countries, but in the end I think I remember him saying one of the lead programmers lived in Costa Rica. I think he’d dropped a few coders along the way as Brad was clearly a perfectionist. He even mentioned the price tag to date which I seem to remember was over 2 million at that time. Whew! When Brad jumps into something he jumps in with both feet. I could tell from his intensity that Brad spent a lot of all-nighters testing and retesting the site and making design changes until his vision was a reality. I completely respected his commitment level. Few are able to be that focused on anything, for Brad, he didn’t know any other way.
He mentioned a tip jar and asked me if I thought it was a good idea. He said people could see your content and then give you a tip if they found value. It could be a tip as small as 10 cents. Brad asked, “Glen, have you heard of micro payments”? I said no. He explained a viewer might want to leave a small tip for good content all over the web, but the problem would be that the merchant account would actually cost more for the transaction than the tip itself. I knew that was correct, because usually banks charge 25 cents per transaction, then an additional 1 to 3% of the total. He said to solve that problem, he’d set up a way one could create an account for say $50 with a one time traditional merchant fee, then once funded, they could tip people without any further charges regardless of the amount. Sounded smart.
He and his team had worked hard on creating a proprietary search engine with ranking determined through social feedback; so, the better the content, the higher in the search engine it would rank. Very cool.
We all started talking about going out for dinner and since Brad lived there, we let him decide. We went out to his garage and got into his late-model Mercedes that had that airplane wing arch from front to back. At first I thought it was a Maybach. It wouldn’t have surprised me as I knew he’d had businesses that had grossed 20 and 30 million a year. That was common knowledge.
The first restaurant he took us to was packed, so we all agreed that it was too much of a zoo. He asked if we had any preferences for the next choice. I said that I’d always wanted to go to a Brazilian restaurant that was closing their doors on a Sunday night right as we entered. I said I think it’s in Buckhead. Brad said, he liked it and it was just down the street. Yippie! I was excited because if you’re not familiar with Brazilian steakhouses, you’re in for a treat. They typically have multiple people waiting on you and you’ll never leave hungry with their rodizio style dining.
The Wikipedia defines it like this: “Rodízio (pronounced [ʁoˈdʒiziu] in Brazil, is a style of restaurant service in Brazilian restaurants. One pays a fixed price (prix fixe) and the waiters bring an offering of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signify that they have had enough. In churrascarias, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, or chicken. There are other rodízio style restaurants, for example serving pasta or pizza rodizio (where various pizzas are brought on trays). Its common, also, rodízio style sushi restaurants in Brazil.”
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
The one thing the Wikipedia didn’t mention is that it’s customary for the waiters to place a coaster in front of you as you sit down. They put it green side up which tells the servers to keep bringing you unlimited food. When you’re about to pop, you flip it over to the red side which let’s them know you’re finished. They’ll never create an atmosphere of guilt if you leave it green, they have the attitude of your grandmother where they get great joy watching you eat and are always happy to give you one more serving. That’s one thing I really miss from living in Brazil. There restaurants are world-class. I consider them better than American restaurants. Their eagerness to serve you is much better than the typical wait staff of even expensive restaurants in the states.
We had a great conversation and Brad Fallon insisted on picking up the check. I’m sure the wine cost as much as the food. Oo la la…thanks Brad! It was a treat I’ll never forget.
When we arrived back at his home, we went into the living room and as we were sitting down he asked us if we wanted a drink. I gladly accepted as I really wanted to let my hair down and get into a juicy conversation about life and business. Brad opted for an American light beer. I think he grabbed something like a Coors Light or a Bud Light. All I remember is that it was American and light. As I reflect, I think Brad was health conscious and I was flavor conscious. I had zero interest in a light beer, so I boldly asked if he had any Whiskey. He pointed towards the cabinet and said to help myself. I did. It was free pour for the rest of the evening for me. There wasn’t a shy bone in my body.
To my delight, Brad and John hit it off. When I could see that Brad liked John’s entrepreneurial stories, I remember, I kept telling John, oh oh, tell him about the time…John can tell a story like it’s an adventure and he shared gripping tales of how he saved his business from a sure demise over and over. They were accounts filled with humor and sheer guts. They were his solutions to ‘no way out’ situations. I must confess, his true stories keep you on the edge of your seat. John is the master of recreating an event as if you were there. He knows exactly how to pull you in and make you feel like you’re watching a good movie.
Brad asked me questions about my business and it was obvious he was disappointed that I did so much of the work myself. I could tell he thought I could delegate or automate a lot more of the work.
After hammering Brad with a bunch of personal questions, I could tell he was getting restless with my line of questioning. In fact, I’m sure I was irritating. I tend to push things until people open up, but that wasn’t Brad’s style. I like to force things until I can see where a person’s boundaries are, you know, where someone begins and ends. I became the odd man out at times.
We stayed up till 4 a.m. then realized we had a seminar to do in the morning which was fast approaching, so John and I headed back to our hotel.
We rolled in late the next morning and people from around the world had gathered in the same rooms we had spent time in a Brad’s house the night before. He had catered the event so everyone had food and drinks in front of them. Brad had food delivered all day.
Brad gave me a great introduction, then I went wild in front of a white board for an hour or more. The Internet marketers had great questions and to my delight Brad had scooted up close and sat on the edge of his seat. He was very interested in my SEO techniques. It felt great to see he was so into it.
Then, he invited my friend John to tell his story as an example of how to overcome the odds in business and got a hearty round of applause at the end. I was proud of him. He was inspiring and he had an audience that really appreciated his risk taking style.
That’s it, we hung out at the end of the day as we had dinner with the savvy attendee, then we headed back to South Carolina to our respective homes.
One thing I hope you get out of my post is that you can start in obscurity struggling online to crack the code on how to become an expert in online marketing and one day for all the dedication you’ve done in private, it can one day be rewarded in public. It’s like you have to go through a dark tunnel, but take heart, there is light at the end of it when you emerge. Try not to be like me when you surf the net and every guru has a course that sells for a boatload of money and they all look shiny. Have discretion and be skeptical. I dropped $40,000 one year on Internet marketing courses, but the only one that changed my life was a $300 course from Brad called Stomping the Search Engines.
As I finish this post, I’m looking across the room at that stack of products just sitting there and I shake my head.
What are the best domain name extensions?
Is .com the best domain name extension for the highest Google ranking? The answer is yes from my experience.
Here’s how I did an my casual empirical study mixed with a little of my own anecdotal evidence. Every time I publish a blog with a .com extension, it shows up on page one within a month or two if there are only 100,000 or less competing broad match sites in the search results. Often, a new .com site works its way to the first position on page one of a Google search if the exact keywords are in the domain name. I’m amazed that since the beginning of 2008, I’ve been enjoying this phenomenon. It sure does make optimizing my sites a lot easier. Usually, I don’t have to build more than about 5 appropriate back links to get in the top position on a Google for local businesses in a city of 500,000 or less.
What about the other domain name extensions like: .net, .org, .info, .biz, .me, .mobi, .tv, .us and .ws? To test it, I published multiple blogs at the same time with all of the same domain name, meta tags, h1 titles and descriptions and the only two that were hot in the summer of 2009 were .com and .org. The others showed up on page 50 or deeper. I know that this isn’t a scientific test, but I have been witnessing this trend for at least 2 years. So, my preference would be .com, .org and then .net. The others, well good luck, you’ll need to get familiar with additional search engine optimization strategies if you use .info, .biz, .me, .mobi, .tv, .us or .ws. I do buy and use them, but I try to avoid them if possible because they are more of a challenge to rank well.
To galvanize my point, I have several blank websites at the number one spot on Google with nothing but an h1 tag and the meta tags. So, content isn’t as important as some preach even though SEO gurus often say, “Content is king”. I believe with the current Google algorithm, content is not king. Links absolutely beat content with Google. Great content does not get you to the top of the search engines, SEO does.
Brad Fallon of SEO Research, one of my most admired SEO experts, said on his famous “Stomping the Search Engines” SEO course, that it didn’t make any difference to Google which domain extension you used. “Stomping the Search Engines” is over 5 years old and I believe that it does make a difference today what your domain name extension you secure. I’ll bet Brad has seen a shift as well. I’d love to hear his latest thoughts on this as I respect his opinion on search.
On a similar issue, as I mentioned above, it is prudent to secure a domain name with your primary keyword phrase. That will give it a boost as well. So many go for branding, but I go with keywords in domain name whenever possible. If I have to go with branding on the main site domain name, then I’ll simultaneously promote a blog or another site with the primary keywords in the domain name, then point the traffic to the main branded website.
Most know that getting some age on your domain name and website helps in your rankings as well. If you purchased a domain name and you’re leaving it as a generic parked page at GoDaddy, then publish it with meta tags and at least an h1 title tag to start getting some age on the site. When you are ready to create the rest of your site, you’ll climb to the top even faster. I used to leave everything on Cash Parking at GoDaddy, but those sites have become a mere fraction of what they used to bring in revenue, so now I say, publish early and publish often, forget Cash Parked pages unless you are making a bundle.
Ranking of Domain Name Extensions:
The .co domain name extension came on in the last year and was marketed as the new .com. I tested it and it’s a dog. They were trying to sell it for a $30 premium, but don’t fall for the hype.
2011 is coming to an end, I’ve been finding the top 3 domain name extensions remain to only ones with an SEO boost. A domain name reseller tried to tell me that the new .co is the new .com, but after testing, it’s just a sales ploy because it kind of sounds like .com; it did not fare any better than .biz. The price was a whopping $28 with no added benefits. If you are grabbing all your domain name extensions to protect and control your name online, then I recommend buying it. I own all mine for that purpose.
What have your experiences been with domain name extensions and Google ranking? Please share them with us.
As of July of 2011. The .com, .org and the .net varieties remain the best top level domain name extensions for seo. I have seen no notable boost for all the others. GoDaddy.com sales people were pushing the .co extension as the new .com; however, after testing, it became clear it was a dog and simply a sales ploy to take advantage of the naivety of the public. Unfortunately, they were selling it off at a premium price (around $20 or $30 a year as I recall); sad, indeed.
For an authoritative discussion of top level domain name, one can go to the Wikipedia’s discussion of it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_top-level_domains.
To rank in a foreign country, you should consider this discussion of International domain name extensions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationalized_domain_name.
This post is still accurate as of December of 2011.
The .xxx domain name extensions are now on sale for about $99 a year at: http://bit.ly/xxx-domain-name-sale.
Off the wall: Who is the Coolest Guy on the Planet in the SEO landscape?