Seasonal Changes

I have been checking my Singapore business directory’s statistics and I realized one thing, it’s getting more hits than before. My business directory has many categories like food catering, restaurants, travel, education, beauty, health and so...

I have been checking my Singapore business directory’s statistics and I realized one thing, it’s getting more hits than before. My business directory has many categories like food catering, restaurants, travel, education, beauty, health and so on. However, the increase in the number of hits come only from a few categories, namely travel and catering. The rest like restaurants, education and so on are not getting more hits. They remain stagnant more or less. Thus I think, one of the most important things in the web business directory is to cater for seasonal changes.

Since, the holidays are coming (in Singapore, it’s the school holidays where parents would bring their children for trips overseas), the interest in tours and travelling increased. Thus, more people are searching for tour and travel agencies. And so, the number of hits to these pages increase. We can use this seasonal “change” to do our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well. So now, I am increasing my efforts on the terms “travel agencies”, “tour agencies”, “food catering” and “christmas parties”. In the past, I don’t really bother about seasonal changes, but now, I realize that it is a very important part of SEO which a lot of people overlook. Knowing what terms to optimize and when to “jump in” are both equally important. Don’t expect a lot of people to search for holiday related terms when it’s the wrong time of the year for it. I mean, you will definitely get less hits unless you are optimizing for terms which a lot of people are searching for.

So my advice to you guys is to know the current market and situation. For example, if there is a important soccer match coming, it will generate interest in soccer. So optimize for it. Of course, you need to give it some time for your SEO to work, so plan ahead. Usually, it takes about 1 month or so. I mean, we all know when the holidays are coming right, so start optimizing beforehand.

Ways To Get Your Website Crawled More Often

Have you ever wondered how some sites get crawled so often? I mean, they updated it and in no time, it gets indexed by Google and you can see them on...

Have you ever wondered how some sites get crawled so often? I mean, they updated it and in no time, it gets indexed by Google and you can see them on the index already. Usually you can see those like news or media sites which get the most love from Google. How do you get Googlebot to crawl your site more often? It’s actually very simple really. I will provide you with some tips to get your site indexed faster and more often.

1. Push Googlebot to updated pages. Use robots.txt wisely to get them spiders to those new pages which you would like to get indexed. Disallow spiders from entering those pages which are of no use to your site like those contact pages and so on. And make use of Sitemaps to tell Googlebot where to crawl and which pages are new. Whenever you update or add a page, you should always update your sitemap. Use Google’s Sitemaps to help find out any problem with your submitted sitemaps. You will also need to ensure that your site is crawlable and navigable.

2. Update your content. Yes, you should update your content often. Once Google knows that your site is updated often, they will send their spiders your way more often as well. You see, Google loves new content and they want their own index to be up-to-date as well. I would recommend updating your site once per day with real content which your visitors will find useful. Or just to tell them that you are alive.
3. Authority. Well, it’s same as content but Google seems to like sites which they believe to be an “Authority” on a particular subject. So, your content and information on your site should be useful and informative as well. Usually for experts in a certain field. Once you get into Google’s good books, they will send Googlebots to your site like crazy. And you will rank better as well.

4. Links. What else. Probably the most important is backlinks to your site. You will need plenty of them and from various and related sources. This is possibly linked to how Authoritative your site is and vice versa. Usually Authority Sites get a lot of backlinks and this will definitively get some spiders coming your way. And as with authority, having good content will ensure of that. If you get strong backlinks, you will most likely be crawled more often.

The reason why getting your site indexed and crawled often is important is that it gives you an edge in Search Engine results. Only once you GET your content into Google’s index before you can rank. If it is not indexed at all, then it will never rank and anyone searching will never get to your site. Basically, you need to get indexed first in order to rank.

Paid Link Detector

Yes, someone on the Internet has really created a “paid links” detector! You can find the site here. It’s free currently because it is beta. Ironically, it is created by a...

Yes, someone on the Internet has really created a “paid linksdetector! You can find the site here. It’s free currently because it is beta. Ironically, it is created by a company selling paid links themselves and their slogan is “BUY links that work”. Anyway, it is supposed to be able to detect paid links by checking the behaviour of the links. I believe that try to check the behaviour of paid links from Digitalpoint Forums and TextLinkAds. The actual way they do it, I am not very sure. Most likely, it checks the words around it by whether it has the words “sponsored” or “supported” near the links and whether they are site-wide.

Before we go any further, I think we should check out this detector first. So I tested out this detector with my blog’s mainpage and they found one paid link. And it’s the link to Authority Sites Directory, which is not a paid link. More like it’s just a link to my own site. So I go and test Authority Sites Directory and they found 2 paid links. These are links to my blog and to my friends website. These are also not paid links. I tried my High PageRank Sites Directory frontpage but no paid links were detected. This is kind of weird because I expected them to detect my outgoing site-wide link at the footer. The last I tried was my local business directory frontpage and lo and behold, no paid links were detected. It really looks like the detector is highly unreliable and very inaccurate. Since they don’t actually tell us how the detector works and what kind of behaviour they check, sadly, this tool shouldn’t be used by any serious webmasters.

I really hope that they improve on this detector. It can help webmasters who are rushed or don’t have the time to check a site properly. But I don’t think there is any real way to find out whether a link is paid or not, because most of these “transactions” are not displayed openly. If you check out blogs, you will be able to see textlink advertisements but are they really paid advertisements or are those actual reviews or just honest opinions? There is just no way to prove it. And I am pretty sure that Google won’t be that dumb to penalized a website because the links look like paid links. Some are pretty obvious, but most are not. Just because that Matt guy says it is, don’t mean it really is.

And the motive of creating this tool is highly suspicious. Especially if you see what that site is all about. I am naturally not a suspicious person, but this really stinks a lot.

Beating Google

Well, when I was surfing Digitalpoint Forums the other day, I stumbled on a very interesting thread. It’s all about beating Google and ranking better than Google itself for the term...

Well, when I was surfing Digitalpoint Forums the other day, I stumbled on a very interesting thread. It’s all about beating Google and ranking better than Google itself for the term “Google“. My first thought was whether that is even possible. That’s the giant Google we are talking about here. I mean, I am very sure that bloody big Search Engine has a lot of backlinks and a lot of anchor text with “Google” pointing back at them. Hmmm….and everyone on the Internet knows about Google, so I guess it’s really going to be a challenge to beat Google. And Google has a huge number of “supporters” like bloggers, website owners or just plain Internet users, who I am sure will not make this “challenge” any easier.But this challenge is interesting to say the least.

And who says we need to beat Google at Number 1? Just rank number 2 or 3 behind Google but I think it’s going to be tough as well. It looks like even Wikipedia ranks at Number 23 for the term “Google”. If such an authority site ranks Number 23, what can I say about the rest of us mere mortals? Maybe if it was Adobe or Apple who took up this challenge and start optimizing their sites, we could possibly see them at Number 2 or 3. And who is to say Google will not do some hanky panky and ensure that nobody comes to the top 10 except them? With such a vast array of backlinks, Google controls it all.

So anyone here willing to take up the challenge? There is no prize if you win but I think the increase in the number of hits and visitors will more than compensate the initial monetary loss. And with this increase in hits and visitors, you can get a lot of advertisers. Who knows, you could be laughing all the way to the bank?

Increase In The Number of Visitors But…

As you guys already know, I have several directories under my belt. One of them is a business directory meant for local small Singapore companies. It’s doing okay, I mean I...

As you guys already know, I have several directories under my belt. One of them is a business directory meant for local small Singapore companies. It’s doing okay, I mean I get a number of visitors here and there. But there isn’t much advertisement or promotion involved. I solely depend on Search Engine traffic and this has worked very quite well for this directory. Better than what I expected actually.

In the recent months, from my web stats program, the traffic has increased gradually. However, I realized that there is a difference between number of unique visitors and number of visits. It seemed that during the months of June and July, the number of unique visitors and the number of visits has been increasing. But after that, the number of unique of visitors drops significantly. From 16,000 unique visitors to like 9,000 this month. But the total number of visits has increased. I am not very sure what to make of this. Is this a good thing or is it going to be a problem for me?

Does it mean that fewer unique visitors is bad for my site? What’s will the overall impact on the directory be? Although my overall traffic has increased (which I am glad), but the number of unique visitors has decreased. Does it mean that I get a lot of repeat visitors but also fewer new visitors? And where does these repeat visitors come from? Are people starting to bookmark my site for future reference? That’s a good thing right? Search Engines are still the number one source of traffic for me. So again, I ask, what does this mean for me? Are these people doing “multiple searches” on Search Engines?

Well, I am pretty confused by these. Not very sure what I should do. And it’s my feeling that I should rely less on Search Engines nowadays, seeing that there will bound to have an increase in competition soon. I believe that offline and forum advertising could work better in the run long. And in Singapore, offline advertisements like newspaper or pamplets are still important sources, even for an online service like me. Look at mocca.com. Of course, we can never compare the monetary backing of mocca.com to my directory, but newspaper advertisements can be low cost too. I think it’s approximately S$33 per regular advert.

SEO Case Study

Got an interesting topic from Digitalpoint Forums today. Finally something useful from the forum. It’s about a case study on a website and how it grew from zero traffic to 400...

Got an interesting topic from Digitalpoint Forums today. Finally something useful from the forum. It’s about a case study on a website and how it grew from zero traffic to 400 visitors. It’s sort of like a step by step tutorial to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a website which has wallpapers for downloads. You can check it out here. Yes, if your website is of a different subject, it is still a good read and it has all the important basics writen down. As you can see, the most important parts are still keywords and backlinks. Getting indexed by Search Engines should be the easy part, the next thing would be building links and content.

And the article take on social bookmarking sites is right on. It gives you a powerful backlink as well as traffic, if you get enough “votes” or “diggs” or whatever. Although it is often abused, it is still effective as an SEO tool.

Content is probably the only thing nobody can teach you how to optimize. But it is an integral part because without content, any SEO will not be effective at all. Even if you do get visitors, they will not stay long or visit again either. The trick is for them to actually remember or at least bookmark your site. So, add more useful content to your site. The problem is the term “useful” has different meaning to different people.

The thing I would like to point out is there are a lot of web stats programs or scripts out there. Don’t be afraid of using them. Awstats and Google analytics are good web stats scipts but there are many others with more features. And it is one of the most useful tool you will ever get when doing your SEO. It tells you where your visitors are coming from, which page they visit most often and what keywords or keyphrases are these visitors searching for. And you can use these information to further optimize your website. It’s surprising that a lot of webmasters don’t make use of such tools.

I think that there is a part two coming soon, so please visit that site again soon.

Benefits Of Having Sitemaps

Google and other search engines offer webmasters a way to provide a little map (or we can say directions and locations) of their site to their Search Engine bots. It works...

Google and other search engines offer webmasters a way to provide a little map (or we can say directions and locations) of their site to their Search Engine bots. It works like a normal map, but just for internal links on a website. This way, Search Engine bots can more effectively map out the entire website. Google uses an xml format while Yahoo supports a text format. There are various formats of sitemaps available. And I think the best is an html sitemap, since ALL Search Engines can read and understand. But no matter which format they use, the basics is essentially the same. It should provide links to different parts of your website. And you can submit these sitemap location to the Search Engines and Search Engines will make use of the information on these sitemaps to crawl your site.

I have complied a little list on why you should have a sitemap for your site.

1. Allows Search Engine to effectively map out and index your site. Help Search Engine bots navigate your site much easier.

2. Provide a way for Search Engine to check for new webpages on your site. Especially useful for huge sites with a lot of pages and links which can be difficult to find. However, there is no guarantee that they will even follow the new links.

3. For new websites, it provides a map for Search Engine to crawl. Submitting a sitemap can help get your site crawled faster, but this is of course, debatable.

4. It cost very little and there are a lot of free sitemap generators on the Internet. A lot of CMS comes with their own sitemap generator as well.

5. Gives you some control over what Search Engines can or should crawl.

I am using GSite Crawler to generate my sitemaps. It is free but can only work on Windows, so if you are a Mac or Linux user, you are out of luck. Remember, this is an software, not a script, so you need to install and then the program will crawl the site for you. You can configure which pages or file types to crawl and so on. There have available options and settings for you to choose from.

Do note that Sitemaps are not the answer to your poor Search Engine rankings. It’s to help Search Engine bots crawl your site. So if you are having problems with your rankings, at most, Sitemaps can help improve the way bots can crawl your site. It won’t help you get high rankings. For that, you should write solid content and get good incoming links to your webpages.

Google Punishing Directory Submissions?

Got this again from our beloved Digitalpoint forums. Someone claiming that after they do directory submissions (around 1-5 per day), their biggest keywords fell off Google recently. Well, I am not...

Got this again from our beloved Digitalpoint forums. Someone claiming that after they do directory submissions (around 1-5 per day), their biggest keywords fell off Google recently. Well, I am not sure whether directory submission is the cause of it. There are rumours that Google is supposedly “banning” directories and webmasters are worried that these “bans” on web directories will affect the listings in those directories. They are also worried that any penalty incurred in those directories will “flow” down to the listings on those directories. There are also people out there claiming that directory submission is dead and virtually useless for SERPs.

In my opinion, I doubt that Google will be trying to devalue directories. I mean, web directories are one of the most useful sites on the Internet. I mean, just look at blogs nowadays? Most blogs are about nothing and everything, making them a free-for-all kind of site. I have nothing against general blogs, but seriously, what value does these provide for their readers other than getting entertained? The main purpose of a directory is to help categorize other sites, and this in turn help Search Engines understand what those sites are all about. You know, it’s like a university library which arranges everything for you so that students and professors can find information much easier.

And as for bad links, I really don’t think Google will use this too much. First of all, webmasters don’t have control over what other webmasters link to. So if a webmaster with a bad site links to your site, you can’t do anything about it. It’s out of your hands, even if your site isn’t some crappy nonsense adsense gallery. We cannot stop people from linking to whoever they choose. And if Google did, then I am sure a lot of devious webmasters will be spending time submitting their competitors’ sites to these “bad” sites. It doesn’t make sense for Google to do it this way.

Well, I have to tell anyone who is worried about all these is that actually website submission is not as easy as it sounds. It’s requires tough work to get results. You need to create unique descriptions about 500-600 words (if the directory supports that much) in length for your sites. And you need to plan your title (aka anchor text) to get the maximum value from the link. Doing 1-5 submissions per day is good, but beware that those submissions may be rejected or the editors may take their time to approve your submission . So I would suggest more, about 10-20 submissions per day. And if possible, link to your internal URLs. You don’t want Search Engines to see only your main page. Deeplinking can also help push competition away from your main page to your inner pages.

Which is better .html or .htm?

I found this very interesting thread at Digitalpoint forums today. I have always said that the Digitalpoint forums is the best place for you to get useful information and I was...

I found this very interesting thread at Digitalpoint forums today. I have always said that the Digitalpoint forums is the best place for you to get useful information and I was right. This is posted in the Search Engine Optimization subforum there and I must say, it’s really interesting. Why? Because I am always interested in knowing whether using .html or .htm for my webpage is more useful when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. I don’t really care about my content or my website design or even links, but the file extension keeps me awake all night. I mean, they are so different using one file extension can mean the death of your site because Search Engines are very particular about the file extension.

So which is better? After countless years of research and experiments, I discovered that the file extension html works the best. In fact, my rankings improved ten fold after I switch my webpages’ extension. I guess the simple reasoning is that when Search Engine Bots visit your website and sees the extension “html”, it knows it is a “html” file. I mean, who knows what htm means? I don’t. The word html means Hyper Text Markup Language. I have no idea what “htm” means. So armed with this information, Search Engine bots will then be able to read and index your webpages properly. If it is htm, the Search Engine bots get confused and so they will just fail to properly render your webpages. Sometimes they will ignore the webpage altogether and this is very bad. Yes, file extension is that important that I would recommend everyone to immediately switch their file extension to html. Trust me on this. I have been in the Search Engine industry for 20 years now before the Internet was even born. Everyone considers me the father of Search Engine Optimization and I know a lot on the ongoings inside the major Search Engines.

I hope that this tip will help you in improving your websites. I have a lot of other SEO tips for you, like using images, audio and flash navigation for your webpages and pointing different URLs to the same page which I will add later on. So remember to come back and visit this blog soon.

Rel=”nofollow” Tag Discussion

There have been a lot of discussion on the rel=”nofollow” tag recently. It seems that a lot of webmasters have taken to using these tags like nobody’s business. Nearly every single...

There have been a lot of discussion on the rel=”nofollow” tag recently. It seems that a lot of webmasters have taken to using these tags like nobody’s business. Nearly every single outgoing link has been tagged with “nofollow”. The reason is because a lot of webmasters are afraid that too many outgoing links will leak their PageRank and thus make their site less important. They are afraid that with less PageRank, they will lose out in Search Results rankings. As I said before, I am no fan of rumours and paranoia and if a lot of outbound links will make a site less important and leak PR, then Google (the Search Engine with tons and tons of links to other sites) will be the least important site on the Internet without any PageRank. Who can beat Google in indexing (and thus linking) the Internet?

Worse of all, some sites are suggesting to webmasters that one-way links are “toxic”. One way links are links that goes one way, without any linkage back. These sites suggest that 2-way links are better. So if a site reciprocate the link, then it would be healthy, but if not, they are suggesting webmasters to use rel=nofollow tag. Oh my god, you really can find all sort of nonsense and rubbish on the Internet. And these sites claim to be authority sites on Search Engine Optimization. Internet is all about links, and without links, we won’t be calling it INTERNET, won’t we? And if one-way links are toxic, then authority sites will never exist. Enemies of reason.

I think the rel=”nofollow” tag is good for stopping spam comments on blogs and other sites. That’s what it is meant for anyway. Google had known about the problem with blog comments and this is their solution. If a webmaster didn’t read the article, then I guess using the rel=”nofollow” tag on links for comments is reasonable. However, if a webmaster himself were to link to a site, then it should not have a rel=”nofollow” tag. If you write it, you should stand behind it.

And please, stop worrying about PageRank. It’s not very important anyway. I don’t mean to ditch link building completely, but you shouldn’t lose sleep over it. It’s a good gauge on the number of backlinks you have and it gives you a figure to “approximate” the “value” of your site. That’s about it. Write good content and do a decent amount of link building. Then be happy and drink some strong alcohol.

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