The Apogee Results Blog

Your Site Needs an Espresso Shot

During PubCon Vegas 2009, Matt Cutts hinted that Google will start considering page load time in their organic search ranking algorithm in 2010.  Google already factors the time the pages on your site take to populate into its quality score, a metric used for Pay Per Click customers to reward higher quality sites with top placement and lower bid requirements.  Search engines care about the speed of your site because fast load times improve the user’s experience and increases their productivity, something you should be concerned with as well if you hope for loyal customers. Google is obsessed with speed.  They have been not so secretly developing a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search, dubbed Google Caffeine, that aims to “push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.” Google does not, however, want to leave your site in the dust.  In fact, they recommend several tools to improve your page load speed and thus the quality of your site. Since 2006, Google Webmaster Tools has been offering up diagnostic information on your site such as crawl errors, checking robot.txt, and content issues.  Now, under the Labs tab, Google has added a Site Performance page that delivers “information to improve the speed of your site and create a faster experience for your users.”  Here you’ll find your average page load time, how it changes over time, and how it compares to other sites.  You can also view suggestions on how to improve your site’s performance based on a tool called Page Speed. Page Speed is a Firefox Add-on that requires a popular developer extension calledFirebug.  It performs several tests on... read more

Nonprofit SEO Recommendations: Liberty Hill Foundation

In this week’s edition of SEO Odds & Ends, I’m shifting gears into the nonprofit SEO space. I came acrossLiberty Hill Foundation’s website and found their slogan to be impressive–”30 Years of Change, Not Charity.” As a fan of participating in change instead of throwing money at problems, this spoke to me and I thought I’d help out. First off, there is a great resource online for any nonprofit out there–a charity version of SEO Book. With 25 chapters, I must admit I haven’t combed through it all, but if you have the time, it gives a lot of great SEOinformation tailored to nonprofits. As with many nonprofits, marketing in general gets put on the back burner, because money could be better spent on making things happen rather than getting a shiny website, right? That seems to be the case with Liberty Hill, as well. Here are the top tips I’d start with for their site:   1. Create a specific page for each of the organization’s issues. Even if it seems that the issues cross over a lot, create each page to be as different as possible, and then link between similar pages. A well-optimized site involves giving the search engines a single page for each idea your organization (and website) represents. For Liberty Hill, initiatives related to developing a green economy and promoting environmental justice are extremely important. There are multiple pages about this, including the 2009 Environmental Agenda “Turn Green to Gold”, a donor page explaining what Environmental Justice is, and finally, a grant seekers page describes the funds available. To organize the site a bit... read more

PayPerPost Blog Links Still Impact Google Rankings

October was a tough month for PayPerPost (PPP) bloggers. Many PPP opportunities required a blog to have a certain PageRank to be eligible to take them. Unfortunately, right before the holidays, a very large number of PPP sites saw their PageRank drop to zero. Suddenly, they were unqualified for the better paying blogging opportunities. Posts from Matt Cutts at Google confirmed that this was an intentional penalty, not just the usual suspect data from the Google Toolbar. The belief passed through the forums and the blogosphere that these sites had lost all ability to provide benefits through links (e.g. “link juice”). Meanwhile, we were still seeing our clients benefit from PPP opportunities, both in direct traffic (suggesting that the sites had not lost search engine rankings themselves) and in ranking benefit (suggesting that link juice was still being passed. Clearly, something else was going on and I was determined to discern the facts scientifically. The details on my investigation follow. Hypothesis: The “penalty” Google imposed on PPP blogs is more cosmetic than actual. Prediction: If the penalized sites are truly unable to pass any link juice, then a link from that site to a page on another site will have no impact on Google’s rankings. To test this theory, I had a group of sites each use unique, fantasy anchor text to link to a brand new page (unindexed and never before linked) on a single site (so that there were no variances of site trust on the destination page). The destination pages all included different excerpts from the text of Beowulf (so that the content of the page... read more

Picking Your Poison: PPC vs SEO Keywords

Dart throwing, names in a hat, coin tosses, and binge drinking are all accepted formulas for devising a list of keywords for an SEM campaign. There is however differences in creating paid search keywords versus natural search keywords. The main difference paid search keywords have in comparison to natural search is the breadth of generated keywords. With paid search your keywords are at the mercy of a user’s search, which is unfortunate because a user’s intelligence pales in comparison to that of an algorithm. This is why paid search keywords need to be both precise and all encompassing. Take for instance name brand HDTV’s. Keywords such as “Sony,” “Magnavox” etc need to be included however those are all very high volume keywords, and unless you are willing to pay five or more dollars a click, chances are this keyword won’t see the first page of results. However if you tweak the keywords to match a probable user comparison thought process the keyword “Sony vs Magnavox” would be of more benefit to your overall campaign. Another important thing to remember in keyword generation is that your customers are not looking for you they are looking for your product or service, which means they’re looking for anyone. Bidding on competitors’ names has received some bad press in the past, but it’s a smart (and legal) way to be seen in the search engines. There is no need to use it as an assault on the competition, but having your name rank among their results will be of benefit to users shopping for your product or service. Those were just two tips... read more