Can “Start page directories” be valuable?

startpagina

startpagina logoIn The Netherlands, there is an extremely famous website calledstartpagina.nl. It’s a website that does very little other than listing a bunch of links on very specific topics, managed by editors for each category. Yes, we know directories in the rest of the web too; but in The Netherlands these are actually quite unique. A large portion of the backlinks for most domains are comprised of links from “start page directories” like startpagina.nl, and they have a great deal of impact on the Dutch (and Belgian!) SERPS.

There are literally thousands of other directories very much like this. Some are general like Superstart.be; some are very specific to a micro-niche.

Now, can this work in the American SERPS? Is this an outdated method, or can it still work? We think the relatively weak link profiles in the Netherlands and Belgium allow these kind of websites to still have an impact; but honestly, we don’t think this is still viable in the US or the UK. Some high-level directories might still be effective; but it should always be a very small part of your linking profile if you ask me!

What do you think? Do you use these type of directories?

Is SEO the most cost-effective way to market online?

When it comes to anything involving business, long term profits are the overall goal. Making some fast cash is always a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but to have a constant flow of funds allows for peace of mind. When taking the plunge into online marketing, it is a good idea to take the same approach. Fast cash can be made with pay per click, but it is also a very risky process. Each visit is costing you money, and even though the return pays for it, you will be wasting money in the long run. This is where search engine optimization comes into play. SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank well for a particular term. One of the main reasons to get into SEO is it’s long term potential.

statisticsSEO can, without too much fuss, be crowned the most cost effective way to market online. Search engines take counts of how many searches each term receives in a given month. The accuracy of these finding are what drives the SEO community. Thinking long term, it is always a better plan to target search terms that have regular traffic, while also being a viable marketing term. Phrases such as “make money online” have a large amount of searches every day, and have the ability to pull in long term profits if you were able to capture a large percentage of it.

Through the process of optimizing your page, you enable your website to gain a new client base that you currently might not target. Every time you take over a new spot in the search engines, you solidify a certain amount of traffic. Every visitor is a potential sale, whether your purpose is to sell or to earn through adsense. Thinking long term, if you are capable of holding a spot that receives 1,000 visitors a day, imagine the amount of possible customers that could be. Now multiply that by weeks, months, years. Other forms of advertisements are short term, and can be good to make money, but SEO is great money for a long time.

The longevity of SEO allows for costs to be extended over a long period of time. It might take time to reach the top of the search engines, but staying there will bring in extended flows of traffic. Buying ad’s can bring in people, but have to be repaid for often. Pay per click can quickly bring in traffic and sales, but forces you to pay for all your traffic. This makes it a dangerous game, at least until you tweak it down to perfection. All other free methods including article marketing assume a quick rush of traffic that will soon die off. The only way to make long term, cost effective, energy efficient income is through the process of search engine optimization. All other forms of online marketing fall short of the long term potential of SEO.

How does my Web Hosting affect my Search Engine Rankings?

Often, webmasters do not understand or do not realize the connection between web hosting and search engine rankings. And it may seem normal or widespread to discount the correlation but in reality, it is also disastrous. If you want to make the most out of your online endeavor, you need to understand that the actions of external companies directly affect your search engine rankings. And although you may say that you have no control over other people’s behavior, you have more control than you think, and must react accordingly in order to assure your earnings and prevent your income from slipping through the cracks.

statisticsUnquestionably, there are many excellent hosts around the world. But for every honest one, there are infinitely more dishonest companies just trying to make a buck. Their intention is not one of support to its clients but rather, how many clients they can get on the same server. Quantity means money to them. But as they make their monthly fees from you and hundreds others like you, your sales commissions are flying out the window like the heat in your house through a drafty door.

Specifically, you are losing traffic and sales because your positions in the search engines are not where they are supposed to be. And this is a difficult concept to grapple because you cannot quantify what you have lost or how you lost it. You just intuitively know that your web hosting has affected your search engine rankings.

One of the ways in which your web hosting affects search engine rankings is the downtime. Have you ever checked your websites during the night? Are they live or are they so slow, they may as well be down? This is common. If you cannot access your websites, then neither can the search engines. And if the search engines cannot crawl through your site, they have no idea what you are offering. So when it comes time to return results for a particular phrase, you will not be listed in those results.

Read moreHow does my Web Hosting affect my Search Engine Rankings?

The Importance of the “alt” image attribute for SEO

Indeed, both the content your users see, and the coding behind the page that search engine spiders read, are important for search engine optimization. Pretty well anything you do with your website will affect how the search engines view your website. And images are a source of search engine optimization, as well.

Before we continue, let’s show you in xhtml (html does not need the closing / at the end) code what an image “alt” looks like.

<img src=”products/redrubycollar.gif” alt=”Red Ruby Collar for Kittens” /> OR

<img src=”http://www.mykittywebsite.com/products/redrubycollar.gif” alt=”Red Ruby Collar for Kittens” />

Now looking at this piece of code, you will notice that it tells the server to find the photo in the “products” folder. But let’s say that photo is missing or the file path is incorrect or the user turns her images feature off on the browser. The user will just get a “broken icon” on the screen. And if the graphics are part of the navigational or menu bar, the user cannot browse the site. But equally disastrous is the search engines have no clue what that spot means. They can only read the text and the content on the page but will not be to list the photo in the “images” database so those photos, if important, are not provided in the search results for images.

But if the “alt” text is present, the search engines know what the photo is. In this example, it tells them to look for a picture of a “red ruby collar for kittens”. And for the person using the site with graphics turned off, she will see the text and know what is meant to be there. Specifically, the “alt=” is a way to speak to the search engine spiders, and should be descriptive about the photo that the code is referencing. It is also compulsory if you want to write correct code and have your code validated.

Keep in mind that the name of the GIF or JPG does not have to be the same as the ALT. Your ALT should be descriptive and can even be a sentence. Going one step further, although the “alt” is not a license for “keyword stuffing”, if used properly, it is a way to get better rankings for a keyword. Take a look at this example we found on an auto insurance information site:

<img src=”insurancepolicy.gif” alt=”Take a moment of your time and find out how cheap your car insurance could be!” />

You notice that we have asked the user to take action while at the same time we told the search engines that our keyword is car insurance. In addition to the actual content, the descriptive alt sentence will help us do better in the search results than if we left the ALT empty. (alt=” “).
And remembering the importance of using small file sizes, here is what your image code should look like when complete. You might ask why you need the width and height in the code thinking it is redundant because your picture is that size. The reason you need it? If the browser knows the size of the photo, it will load the text above, below and around. Your users can start reading without waiting for the whole page to load. Without this “placeholder”, browsers must wait for the photo and continue.

<img src=”products/redrubycollar.gif” alt=”Wouldn’t your kitty look sweet in this size two, red ruby collar for kittens?” width=”190″ height=”153″ />

Lastly, the more photos on a page, the longer it will take to load.

The Importance of Domain Age for SEO

When it comes to search engine optimization, or SEO, there are many different factors that contribute to a website’s rankings for a specific keyword. On page optimization, key word density, and backlinks are the most common, and important, factors in SEO. However, there is one other factor that may play a small role in a website’s rankings that is often over looked by webmasters, and that is domain age.

clock domain ageThe importance of domain age for SEO has been debated for several years now. Supporters of the theory that the longer your domain has been around the better it will perform in the search engines have two theories why this is the case. The first idea is that well established sites have old domain names and therefore old domains should have a well established website with quality content. The other idea is that spammers tend to register and drop domain names quickly, so therefore newly registered websites have a greater chance of being used for spam. While you may in fact be hosting a legitimate website on a newly purchased domain, in the eyes of the search engines you could potentially be a spammer and someone they want to keep their users away from. Obviously, spammers are now looking for domains with age to put their spam on, so when check the age of a domain, you should really also check its history.

There are several theories out there as to how Google uses domain age to influence a website’s rankings in their algorithm. One speculation is that Google will look at the date when the domain was registered and associate all of the documents on that website with the original registration date of the domain. This would give more legitimacy to the website’s content in the eyes of the Google search engine, allowing a website to rank higher for certain keywords.

Read moreThe Importance of Domain Age for SEO

A detailed guide on how to use Ahrefs

We use Ahrefs for most of our link profile analysis and domain buying needs – but we’ve noticed that a lot of our readers have a hard time using it to the fullest. We get that, since it’s not at all a simple tool if you start actually digging deeper than just clicking the domain overview button. It also has some cool keyword research tools if you use the Ahrefs platform correctly.

The main thing Ahrefs is huge for is competitor research. Chase really walks you down the process of doing competitor research in Ahrefs, and I honestly think he does a great job talking about the details and the strengths of the software. If you want to download the tools Chase talks about you can find these here.

We were sent this video by Bart from Antwerpen SEO; and he added the following message to pass along:

If you’re still on the fence about spending $180 a month for an SEO tool, this video really helps you pull the trigger. It’s by far the best marketing tool Ahrefs can imagine.

We agree. We use the “Broken Links” feature a lot to spot issues with people linking to both our site and our competitor’s sites. Another great feature on Ahrefs.

The Biggest Link Building Mistakes

link buildingIf you are searching for effective website marketing strategies, you must be aware of the importance of link building by now. What exactly is link building? It is the art of placing your website’s link on another high traffic website. A portion of the latter’s web-traffic might flow into your website – thus increasing the search engine relevance and popularity of your website among the cyber citizens.

Yes, the administrators operating either websites will concur to display inbound / outbound links. The simplified nature of the ordeal paves the way for some of the biggest blunders. The errors that creep into the scenario will nullify the very grandness of link building paradigm.

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The Importance of a Sitemap

Web marketing professionals always look out for additional strategies to optimize the page rankings of their websites. These days, they spend considerable time trying to find out tips to tweak the website’s sitemap. The grandness of a portal’s sitemap along with fresh advice on how to optimize a website to make it search engine friendly will be discussed in the following sections. SEO or search engine optimization of a website is all about experimentation. Experts spend hours trying out various newer strategies because of the volatility of the market. Hence, it is mandatory that you must have a good understanding about the sitemap of a website.

SitemapWebmasters place the sitemap on the homepage of the website. There is a specific reason for doing so. A search engine gives priority to rate the homepage instead of the auxiliary pages. By placing the sitemap on the homepage, you are literally inviting the search engine bots to look into the other sub-sections of the website. In order to display your website in the search results, the web search engines will analyze your web page using specialized bots. In the absence of sitemap, the search engine bots will index the homepage only.

A sitemap can be beneficial to the website’s visitors also. By accessing this section, they will get a preview of the links present in the website. Instead of spending extra time and bandwidth seeking for specific information, they just need to access the sitemap and click on the right links. The search engine companies are working on newer algorithms that simplify the entire website indexing process. They are incorporating supplementary features, which helps in rating a website according to its “human friendly” nature. SEO professionals are already aware of these changes. They are including suitable modifications to the sitemap of the website to make it friendly to search engines and cyber citizens.

Various search engines reckon the sitemap of a website in diverse manners. For instance, when Yahoo still follows the conventional HTML formats, Google employs a modified sitemap structure (which is in XML format). I could go on and on depicting the importance of sitemaps. The bottom line remains the same, though. If you wish to increase the page rankings of a website while embracing an organized outlook then you must begin to consider sitemaps with reverence. When the famous Las Vegas SEO Experts give on-site SEO tips, a sitemap is often their first pointer!

Creating sitemap for a website is easy thanks to the presence of automated software solutions. One can easily create a Google sitemap online within minutes. HTML and XML sitemap generators are also available for the respective search engines. Cyber citizens are becoming tech savvy – they wish to learn in depth about your website swiftly. In other terms, by optimizing the sitemap, you are merely augmenting the ability to communicate easily with the visitors. They need to know the theme or motif of the website. Only a sitemap can help in conveying the same to them. An organized sitemap will find favor in the eyes of search engines too. Please keep us posted with your findings!

How to Choose a Link Building Company

If you are going to get visitors to your website you are going to have to optimize for the search engines. In order to do that you will need to get links to your site, lots of them. This is an incredibly boring and tedious job so a lot of people choose to outsource it. The problem is that if you outsource it to the wrong person you will end up with a bunch of worthless links. You need to know how to choose a link building company if you are going to outsource the job.

link buildingThe main thing that you are going to want to look at when you are choosing a link building company is how they are going to build the links. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it and if they do it the wrong way the links will not only be useless but they may actually hurt your site. Unfortunately the easy way to build links is also the wrong way which is what a lot of link building companies do. The main thing that you need to avoid is reciprocal links. It is very easy to go out and trade links with hundreds of other sites, these links are basically worthless.

You are going to need know what constitutes a good link before you start looking for a link building company. This will allow you to assess the kind of job that they have done. Also, make sure to look for the company on Facebook and Linkedin, and see if their employees have the right background. Degrees like Online Marketing Degrees or SEO backgrounds are very valuable!

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Ranking In Country Specific Search Engines

Have you ever considered how search engines are able to display the most relevant results? An Indian searching for personal injury lawyers is interested in learning about prominent attorneys in India. Imagine the scenario when Google displays the contact details of an American lawyer to an Indian user! In simple terms, search engines incorporate advanced algorithms that display results that are highly relevant to a country or a particular region. In the subsequent sections, we will consider the same comprehensively.

flagsIn order to obtain a good ranking in the country specific search engines, you will have to consider certain strategies. You must always consider the country where you are planning to host the website. For example, if you wish to promote a service in America, please ensure that an American company that has servers in USA does the web hosting. If you tweak the website in an optimum manner, then the search engine rankings will increase within no time. Many webmasters fail to grasp this concept and wonder what went wrong! Because we’re active in Belgium, we are experts on the subject. Many of our sites, like our wine site, rank in both Belgium and The Netherlands with different pages.

How does a search engine determine the country of an internet user? Every cyber citizen will have a unique IP address. This IP address is relevant to an ISP (internet service provider). Search engines will determine the ISP and will subsequently display country specific search results. The same company will employ another strategy too to determine the precise location of a user. The domain name plays a significant role in deciding the appropriate location. For instance, the websites hosted in the United Kingdom will have a co.uk domain name. Similarly, those websites hosted in China will have co.cn domain attributes. If you wish to entertain the interests of the Chinese, please opt for a co.cn domain and a web hosting company that has servers in China.

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