Art of seo reading notes

Written by Keith McDonnell. Last updated on Saturday, February 02, 2013.

= Questions

What new content is offered thats not already covered in SEO warrior? -
kw research screen shots are helpful – KW research (5) is better – I prefer
the presentation (screen shots, structure)

What are the key chapters? ch. 3, 5, 7, 11, 13

Does the hilltop algorithm imply that you should become a hub & link to as
many authoroties as possible?

= Notes

== Audience & objectives

Understanding Search Engine Traffic and Visitor Intent As we discussed in
“The Mission of Search Engines” on page 2 in Chapter 1, searchers enter
many different types of searches. These are typically classified into three
major categories of activity:

Navigational query This is a query with the intent to arrive at a specific
website or page (e.g., the person types in your company name, Acme Device
Co.). Informational query This is a search performed to receive an answer
to a broad or direct question with no specific source in mind (e.g., Celtics
game score). Transactional query A person who types in digital camera may
be looking to buy one now, but it is more likely that she is researching
digital cameras. This is an example of an initial transactional query, which
can evolve in stages. For example, here are some other types of transactional
queries that occur at a later stage in the buying cycle: • The user types
in buy digital camera. Although there is no information in the query about
which one she wants to buy, the intent still seems quite clear. • The
searcher types in canon powershot G10. The chances are very high that this
user is looking to buy that particular camera.

What products, services, and types of information and resources does your
organization have to offer?

Does your company need direct sales, traffic, branding, or some combination
of these?
• Are there specific influencers you’re trying to reach
with a message?
• Is the organization/brand subject to potentially
negative material that needs to be controlled/mitigated?
• Do you have products/services you sell, either directly over the Web or through leads
established online?

== Keyword research

70% in the long tail

1. Produce a list of key one- to three-word phrases that describe your
2. Spend some time coming up with synonyms that your
potential customers might use for those products and services. Use a
thesaurus to help you with this process.
3. Create a taxonomy of all the
areas of focus in your industry. It can be helpful to imagine creating a
directory for all the people, projects, ideas, and companies connected to
your site. You can also look at sites that are leaders in the industry and
study their site hierarchy as a way to start your thinking about a taxonomy.
4. Broaden your list by thinking of higher-level terms of which your products
or services are a subset.
5. Review your existing site, and extract what
appear to be key phrases from your site.
6. Review industry association
and/or media sites to see what phrases they use to discuss your topic area.
7. List all your various brand terms.
8. List all your products. If your
site has a massive number of products, consider stepping back a level (or
two) and listing the categories and subcategories.
9. Have your team step
back and imagine they are a potential customer, and ask them what they would
type into a search engine if they were looking for something similar to your
product or service.
10. Supplement this by asking some people outside your
business what they would search for, preferably people who are not directly
associated with the company.
11. Use your web analytics tool to see what
terms people are already using to come to your site.

(reminds me of Steve Blanks approach)

Competitors 1. Review your competitors’ websites and see what key phrases
they use for their products and services that compete with yours. 2. Record
what nonbrand terms they use for their business. 3. Read any articles they
have written that are published on sites other than their own. 4. Observe
what the media may have had to say about them.

Search results count (is this data reliable?) Use related search command
to come up with terms you may have missed

Using a search with the * character can give you a good idea of what
terms/phrases commonly precede or follow a given term/phrase. For example,
using * ringtones can show you phrases that are commonly associated with
the term ringtone

Using the very cool Google date range operator, shown in Figure 5-5, you
can determine how many times in the past day, week, month, or year your term
has appeared.

TABLE 5-1. Google date search operators could be useful for scripting

Traffic estimator != Keyword tool

he AdWords Keyword Tool offers a lot of useful information about your
keyword campaigns, such as suggestions for similar keywords, an estimate of
the keyword’s popularity, ad costs and positions, general search volume
trend information, and keyword campaign suggestions for your site or your
competitor’s site.

The Traffic Estimator provides a decent estimate of your keyword’s
click-through rate. Based on the estimated clicks per day, you can get
a relative idea of which of your keywords are the most popular and can
potentially bring you the most traffic.

When using the Traffic Estimator for keyword research it is best to enter
your keywords as “exact match” for direct comparison.

Misspellings Google trends: not applicable to long tail kewywords

Identifying relevant keywords How relevant is the term/phrase to the content,
services, products, or information on your site? It is a good idea to
target keywords that indicate imminent action (e.g., buy cranium board
game, best prices for honda civic), because searchers are more likely to
perform the corresponding action on your site when they search for those
terms than they are for terms such as honda civic or cranium board game.
How many people who search for this term will come to your site and leave
dissatisfied? (abandonment rate)

Run a PPC campaign (full coverage) for a more accurate estimate of search

text-mining relevant documents on the subject of your industry/service/product
for terms that, although lower in search volume, have a reasonable degree
of relation.

1. Extract the top 10 to 50 most common search phrases at the head of the
distribution graph from your existing keyword research in the industry.
2. Search Google, Yahoo!, and Bing for each term. 3. For each page in the
top 10 to 30 results, extract the unique usable text on the page. 4. Remove
stop words and filter by phrase size. 5. Remove instances of terms/phrases
already in your keyword research database. 6. Sort through the most common
remnants first, and comb as far down as you feel is valuable.

You can expand on this method in the following ways: • Text-mine Technorati
or Delicious for relevant results. • Use documents purely from specific
types of results—local, academic—to focus your keyword mining efforts.
• Mine forum threads on your subject matter. You could even use inurl:forum
in the searches to grab conversational keywords.

N.B. This methodology is highly effective. The return on this research has a
direct relationship to the amount of effort you expend (and how deep you dig).

The best approach is to use the long tail research techniques we discussed in
this chapter and identify the major patterns, or the major words that appear
across different long tail scenarios, and then work those words into your copy.

Authority “DiscoWeb: Applying Link Analysis to Web Search”
(, became the basis of the
Teoma algorithm,

The model of organizing the Web into topical communities and pinpointing
the hubs and authorities is an important model to understand (read
more about it in Mike Grehan’s paper, “Filthy Linking Rich!” at The best link
builders understand this model and leverage it to their benefit.

TrustRank The trust level of a site would be based on how many clicks away
it is from seed (trusted sites selected by hand) sites.

mozTrust from SEOmoz’s Linkscape is the only publicly available measured
estimation of a page’s TrustRank.

Google has publicly indicated that it starts its crawl in PageRank order.

Putting together a link campaign generally starts with researching sites
that would potentially link to the publisher’s site and then determining
the relative value of each potential linker.

Determining a links value: The PageRank of the home page of the site
providing the link. Note that Google does not publish a site’s PageRank,
just the PageRank for individual pages. It is common among SEO practitioners
to use the home page of a site as a proxy for the site’s overall PageRank,
since a site’s home page typically garners the most links. You can also
use the Domain mozRank from SEOmoz’s Linkscape tool to get a third-party
approximation of domain PageRank. • The perceived authority of the
site. Although there is a relationship between authority and PageRank, they
do not have a 1:1 relationship. Authority relates to how the sites in a given
market space are linked to by other significant sites in the same market space,
whereas PageRank measures aggregate raw link value without regard to the
market space. So, higher-authority sites will tend to have higher PageRank,
but this is not absolutely the case. • The PageRank of the linking page.
• The perceived authority of the linking page. • The number of outbound
links on the linking page. This is important because the linking page can
vote its passable PageRank for the pages to which it links, but each page
it links o consumes a portion of that PageRank, leaving less to be passed
on to other pages. This can be expressed mathematically as follows: For a
page with passable PageRank n and with r outbound links: Passed PageRank =
n/r This is a rough formula, but the bottom line is that the more outbound
links a page has, the less valuable a link from that page will be. • The
relevance of the linking page and the site.

Link factors: 3. Something on your site triggered an emotional reaction
from the publisher, causing it to link to your site. For example, perhaps
your site had the funniest cartoon the publisher ever saw, or it offered an
inflammatory political opinion. 4. The publisher may see something of value
on your site and wants its site visitors to know about it. The majority of the
highest-value links are given for this reason. 5. A business relationship
comes into play. For example, you may have a network of distributors and
resellers for your product. Do they all link back to you?

Creating emotional reactions can result in links • Create quality reference
material. Providing unique and powerful information to users can be a
great way to get links, particularly if you can make sure the publishers of
authoritative sites in your market space learn about what you have created,
including why it would be of value to their website visitors. • Leverage
business relationships. In our example, we suggested that you might be someone
who has a network of resellers. If this is your business model, having a link
back to you as a standard term in your reseller agreement is sound business.

identify the link-building targets and what content will most resonate with
the publisher of the target sites, and then tweak the content plan accordingly

Use content that helps establish your site as a leading expert on its topic
matter. When you produce really high-quality stuff, it builds trust with the
user community and increases your chances of getting links. • Minimize
the commercial nature of the content pages. Do not disguise the relationship
between the content and the commercial part of your site.

provide the content to another site in return for a link to its site.
Social media


Identify types of sites that might link to a site like yours Some example
types of target sites include: • Noncompeting sites in your market space •
Major media sites • Bloggers • Universities and colleges • Government
sites • Sites that link to your competitors • Related hobbyist sites
Make sure you take the time to answer the question “why would these sites
link to us?” Think broadly here, and don’t limit the possible answers
based on your current site. In other words, perhaps you can create some new
content that would be compelling to one or more of your target groups.

Find out where your competitors get links Simply use tools such as Linkscape,
Majestic-SEO, or Link Diagnosis, each of which will give you a list of the
sites that link to your competitors.

Once you have that data, look at the most powerful links they have (as
measured by PageRank or mozRank/mozTrust) to identify opportunities for your
site. Perhaps they have received great links from national media or a set
of government sites. By seeing what has worked for them, you can get ideas
on what may work for you.

One key aspect of this is that the content needs to be unique and

Ultimately, you will want to build a road map that provides you with a sense
of what it would cost to chase a potential group of linkers and the value
of each group of linkers.

Identify methods for contacting potential linkers You must undertake some
activities to let potential linkers know about your site. There are two major
categories of methods: direct and indirect. Some examples of direct contact
methods include: • Email • Social media sites, using the messaging features
of a social media property to make contact with potential linkers • Content
syndication (contacting people and offering them great article content for
placement on their site) • Blogger networking (building relationships by
commenting on others’ blogs, writing content intended to be of interest
to them, and letting them know about it) Some examples of indirect methods
include: • Social media campaigns (including Digg, Propeller, Delicious,
StumbleUpon, and others) • PR • News feeds (through Yahoo! News and
Google News)

Link bait ideas 1. Write down everything. Just collect any and all ideas
that come to mind. Do not censor or edit yourself during this phase; take
down every idea no matter how bizarre, idiotic, or farfetched it may sound.
2. Break down your ideas. Once you’ve squeezed every last drop of creative
juice from your head, it is time to filter everything out. It is a good idea
to break down each idea (no censoring or editing yet) into its Concept and
Content components. That is, what is the format (Concept) for the suggested
link bait (tool, widget, top 10 list, how-to guide, blog post, etc.) versus
what is the subject (Content) of the suggested link bait (Wii, iPod, PPC ads,
pigs, celebrity weddings, etc.)? Separate these into two lists. 3. Evaluate
the content. Ignoring your Concept list, critically evaluate your Content
list. Are some ideas time- sensitive? Can some wait for a relevant piece
of news to complement them? Are there ideas you’d really like to write
about? Are there ideas that can go into storage for a dry spell?

10, how-to, and so on. Can it be interactive? Perhaps a tool or poll
concept would be effective. By marrying your priority content to the most
appropriate concept, you can optimize the effectiveness, reach, and novelty
to your intended audience. If you use this process or something similar,
you’ll probably notice that you quickly generate a handy repertoire of
concepts. Once you have these down, you can turn virtually any random idea
that pops into your head into link bait.

Incentive-Based Link Marketing

Helping Other Sites Boost Their Value you can consider picking out the top
10 sites related to your space. Then you can send these sites an award badge
with a link to a review that lives on your site.

Another example is various forms of certification. For example, Google has
badges for its AdWords Qualified Professionals and AdWords Qualified Companies,
with links back to Google.

Blogging for Links at least two to three times per week (maybe more)

One of the best places to get links to a blog is from other blogs. This is
best done by targeting relationships with major bloggers and earning their
trust and respect. Here are a few key things to think about when building
these relationships: • Be patient when developing relationships with other
bloggers. Trust and respect do not come overnight. And they certainly do not
result from starting the relationship with a request for a link. • The
publisher should target a portion of its content at the interests of the
major bloggers. • Over time, this process should turn into links to the
publisher’s blog from the major bloggers. • Other lesser-known bloggers
will begin to see links on the major blogs and will begin to follow suit.

67.3% of people found what blogs to read by following links from other blogs.

Publishers just launching a blog should try to provide a personalized
response to every person who comments on their blog. One effective way to
do this is to send each and every one of them a personalized response by
email that shows that the comment was read.

Leveraging Social News and Tagging Sites (Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious
… )

If you create articles for social news sites such as Digg, Reddit, and
Propeller, focus on topics that relate to keywords relevant to your business.

The key insight into how to make that happen is to use the competitive keyword
in the title of the article itself and in the title of the submission of
the article to the social news site.

Tagging sites are best used in attempting to reach and develop credit with
major influencers in a market space.

Offline Relationship Building

“Build great stuff, tell everyone about it, and motivate them to share.”

== SEO research

Competitor analysis

1. Start with a simple business analysis to see how a particular company’s
business overlaps with yours and with other top-ranked sites in your market
space. It is good to know who is competing directly and who is competing
only indirectly. 2. Find out the starting year for the website. This can
be helpful in evaluating the site’s momentum. Determining the domain age
is easy; you can do it by checking the domain’s Whois records. Obtaining
the age of the site is trickier. However, you can use the Wayback Machine
( to get an idea of when a site was launched (or at
least when it had enough exposure that started tracking it).
3. Determine the number of Google results for a search for the domain
name (including the extension) for the past six months, excluding
the domain itself. To get this information, search for in Google. Then append as_qdr=m6 to the end of the
results page URL and reload the page. 4. Determine the number of Google
results for a search for the domain name (including the extension) for
the past three months, excluding the domain itself. This time modify the
results page URL by adding &as_qdr=m3 to the end of it. 5. Perform a query
on Google Blog Search ( for the domain name,
excluding the domain itself, on the default settings (no particular timeline).
6. Find out from Google Blog Search how many posts have appeared about the site
in the past month. To do this, search for the domain in Google Blog Search,
but then append &as_qdr=m1 to the end of the results page URL and reload the
page. 7. Obtain the PageRank of the domain’s home page as reported by the
Google Toolbar. 8. Use Yahoo! Site Explorer to determine how many backlinks
the site has. Better still is if you have an industrial-strength tool such
as SEOmoz’s Linkscape ( or Majestic-SEO
( These tools provide a much richer set of link
data based on their own crawl of the Web, including additional critical
details such as the anchor text of the links. 9. Pull a traffic chart
from Compete ( that compares the site’s traffic to
that of its direct competitors to see how it is doing trafficwise. Repeat
the traffic analysis with Quantcast ( and Alexa
( Be careful to not put too much stock in the specific
numbers, as the measurement techniques of these services are crude, but the
relative traffic numbers should be information of great interest (e.g.,
competitor A is doing better than competitor B and how they both compare
to you). 10. If you are able to access a paid service such as Hitwise
( or comScore (, you can pull
a rich set of additional data, breaking out the site’s traffic by source
(e.g., organic versus paid versus direct traffic versus other referrers). You
can also pull information on their highest-volume search terms for both paid
and organic search. 11. Determine the number of indexed pages in each of the
three major search engines, using 12. If relevant,
obtain Technorati’s authority number for the site, which derives from
the number of individual, unique blogs that have linked to a site in the
past 90 days. 13. If relevant, get Google’s feed subscriber numbers for
the site, which you can find by searching for domains inside Google Reader.
14. If relevant, determine Bloglines’ subscription numbers for the site,
which derives from searches performed inside Bloglines. 15. Search on
the company brand name at Google, restricted to the past six months (by
appending &as_qdr=m6 as outlined earlier). 16. Repeat the preceding step,
but for only the past three months (using &as_qdr=m3). 17. Perform a Google
Blog Search for the brand name using the default settings (no time frame).
18. Repeat the preceding step, but limit it to blog posts from the past month

(prime candidate for a Google spreadsheet app script)

When examining a competing website, ask yourself the following questions:
• What content do they currently have on their site(s)? how they view their
customers and how they use content to get links. For example, they may have a
series of how-to articles related to their products, or a blog, or some nifty
free tools that users may like. If they do have a blog, develop a sense as
to what they write about. Also, see whether the content they are developing
is noncommercial or simply a thinly disguised ad. • How rapidly is that
content changing? Publishers with rapidly changing websites are actively
investing in their websites, whereas those who are not adding new articles
or updating content may not be actively investing in their sites.

What type of content is it? Articles? Videos? Images? Music? News feeds? The
type of content they focus on can give you insight into their marketing
strategy. • Are they collecting user-generated content? Sites that gather
a meaningful amount of user-generated content tend to have an engaged user
audience. • Are they trying to generate sign-ups or conversions in a direct
way with their content? Or is it editorial in tone and structure? This can
give you more visibility into the way their strategy is put together.

You can extract a tremendous amount of information via link
analysis. Yahoo! Site Explorer provides a start, but going past a simple list
of links to gathering link data such as anchor text and link authority requires
a more advanced tool, such as Link Diagnosis (,
Linkscape (, or Majestic-SEO (http://www

Dig deeper What pages on the site are attracting the most links? These are
probably the most important pages on the site, particularly if those pages
also rank well for competitive search terms.

Determine where the content is getting its links This can help you develop
your own content and link-building strategies.

Analyze anchor text Do they have an unusually large number of people linking
to them using highly optimized anchor text?

Determine whether they are engaging in incentive-based link building Are
they offering incentives in return for links, such as award programs or
membership badges? Do those programs appear to be successful?

= Action points

Find out the seasonal search patterns for the PPC industry Check out the
upcoming conferences (pp. 506) Keyword research for ATE Competitor research
for ATE Keyword research for personal blog Content backlog for personal blog
Link building strategy for personal blog

If you'd like to discuss this article, you can send me an email and/or publish an article online and link back to this page.