Author Archives: Geoff

About Geoff

Geoff is a webmaster and SEO ninja, visionary, dreamweaver, plus actor. He has been working online for over a decade and has been mastering SEO for the past six years. In addition to being the co-founder and partner in Linkbuildr's client ventures, he maintains many websites and likes to share and discuss SEO tactics with anybody who will listen to him rant...

A Look at Advanced Web Ranking

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January 8  |  Link Building Tools  |   Geoff

I can’t remember why I even chose to download it again – it might have been Aaron Wall’s face looking at me telling me to do it – but I found myself downloading a trial copy of advanced web ranking and setting up a new project with it.

Search Engine Ranking
Reliable Data
Link Building

First Impressions

I definitely did get a little bit overwhelmed when I opened it; probably the same reason I hadn’t fully committed to using the software up until this point. Walkthroughs are nice and everything but if you’re not in the right mood when you first see the “hey welcome to our software, let us walk you through this jungle” popup, it might be the last time you open it. Muscle through and read everything there; it shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes to feel completely comfortable with where everything is and what it does.

Advanced Web Ranking LogoSimilarly, Java is great and all – I love having support in all OS’ – but when it messes with the window management and how a program works, it might get to my obsessive compulsive brain. The first really unforgivable problem I ran into was not being able to display the entire window. On my 1440×900 pixel display, the bottom bit of the actual application window was, and still is, utterly unseeable. The green maximize button brought the application to the full width of the screen but wouldn’t adjust the height to fit my screen. Even Cinch, an app that sizes windows appropriately, was unable to change the size of the window, I assume because of the Java issue. Granted, this didn’t pose much of a problem – I missed out on a few keywords and update notifications that were below the cut – but it still struck me as unpolished for a ten year old piece of software expressly developed for this platform.

But I digress. We need to talk about what the software was built to do – track your web rankings.

Price

I was initially really attracted to the pricing model of the software. Being a risk averse person, I would much rather pay a lump sum than a recurring monthly payment. A lifetime license at AWR is $399. You get updates for twelve months, should you like updates after those twelve months, you pay ~$120. Similarly, if you’re going to be tracking links, that isn’t free. AWR gets its link info from SEOMoz on their link credit system. Read more about link credits here and don’t let this scare you off; they’re totally reasonable if you need them.

AWR Pricing

You can track all the keywords you want on as many projects as you want for as long and as often as you want. Previously, we had been using a few rank tracking apps, but RavenTools was what I most used and trusted due to its wealth of information and reasonable price at $99 a month. Still, at $99 a month, I could have bought 3 AWR licenses for a year of Raven. They are different products, don’t get me wrong, but in the light of Raven and SEOMoz losing all their rank tracking abilities this month, if you’re looking for rank tracking software, your options are becoming fewer.

If you’re going to be using it for the next year, I don’t think there’s anything out there than can hold a candle to the price you pay for this software.

Rank

Keyword Rank Chart
As I tend to, I jammed in way too many keywords to track. Focus is important but the prospect of tracking as many keywords as I wanted got the best of me. The allowed use of Proxy servers around the globe will assure that the rankings you collect are the same rankings that your clients see. Importing data from whatever rank tracking software you have used in the past is totally reasonable. Simply tailor a csv file and import it to have access to whatever history you have. Tracking the competition has never been easier, either. Because of the unlimited keyword searches, feel free to track your competitors and see what their strategies are, how they rank compared to your site and what they’re doing to get there.

The searches are all done from your computer so it needs to be on to collect data. As mentioned above, you can set up proxies if you want to keep your IP clean for any reason, but I can assure you that after a month of searches, I haven’t seen a single captcha before a SERP in my browser.

Keyword Rank Chart

Arguably, the best feature of the software is the ability to keep our clients updated on how their rankings are performing. Every week we have the application automatically generate a report and subsequently upload that report to our server so that the client can, at any time, come to our site and see how their rankings have changed in the last week with some pretty fancy white label flavour. The data looks good, it’s easy to navigate and it makes us look awesome.

Other Features

AWR will also keep track of a few things aside from a website’s rankings. Integrate analytics, get a little more info in the reports and fill out the site’s profile within the app. Why go to google when it’s open here? It will also keep track of what’s happening across a couple social networks. Twitter and Facebook also integrate nicely into the application to show you and your clients what’s been happening on those social networks as well as tracking social shares automatically. The research tools are a nice addition as well. While I tend to optimize a site naturally first, I still find it nice to use simple little tools to determine what the competition is like, which keywords might make more money than others and what can be tightened up on page. AWR has a surprisingly round set of tools for research considering it is meant to be a web ranking tracker first and foremost.

Of all the big names tracking keywords in the SERPs, I don’t think you can do better for your money than Advanced Web Ranking. After you’re in (and as long as your screen is tall enough) using the software is easy, pretty and totally usable. There are programs that integrate better with your OS, but beggars can’t be choosers and I appreciate that it had to be built on Java for accommodation’s sake. Still, you should use this software if web rankings are valuable to you or your clients. Consolidate all your ranking data into this one, ten year old, very comprehensive application built expressly for tracking the SERPs.

EDIT:

To deal with the issues of the window not fitting my monitor, all you have to do is go to settings, click on application settings and change the sidebar menu size to small. The sidebar was too long and pushed the window beyond my screen’s capabilities. I honestly think the small sidebar looks better anyway!

Google+ Adds Pages for Businesses, Music and Every Other Noun

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November 7  |  Social Media Sites  |   Geoff

google plus pages logoGoogle rolled out its pages for business today and, as per usual with Google launches, nobody really noticed.

I have been using Google+ to follow Matt Cutts and a few other notable people in the industry, but don’t have many friends actively using it, let alone women, which is the reason Facebook is what it is.

googe plus pages

Anyways, I’m never one to hate on trends (I did not understand the appeal of Twitter), so I set up Linkbuildr’s Page to kind of get a feel for how it will work for businesses. So far, I only notice a couple of differences between the personal profile and a page:

First, your page has to be encircled to be able to circle. This will go a long way to prevent the twitter spamming method of following for followers and ensure that everyone who has you in a circle actively sought out your page and circled you. Opt-in marketing is something Google is very fond of and should encourage (enforce) some corporate responsibility. As such, I am currently the only person with Linkbuildr in a circle, and the page only has one follower. Change that for us! But I digress… The move will make it so that your page’s Google+ followers are of a much higher quality and anything you push to them via G+ should be pretty targeted content that they want to see. Hopefully this leads to much better interaction from the pages’ users and less opportunity to game the system.

Secondly, Google has added Direct Connect. Direct connect will use the plus modifier [+] to automatically bring you to and circle a page. If you’re looking for Linkbuildr, Googling +Linkbuildr should (one day, when we’re “eligible”) bring you to the Linkbuildr Google+ Page and automatically circle us.

Google+ pages will be showing up in the SERPS, so it’ll give your online profile a nice little bump for people searching for your brand name.

I think it’ll be great for businesses. The tools that Google+ offers can be very creatively applied to maintaining healthy relationships with your clients. The hangouts are a super easy way to connect visually and give face to face advice or what have you. Small businesses will be able to group their clients based on interests and only share what they think they’ll be interested in. You’ll be able to comment and interact with people in your circles and really get your name out there. Helping people will, I think, go a long way with these G+ pages.

As always, if you want to play nice with Google, do what they want you to do. In this case, they want you to create a Google+ page for your business. The links won’t pass juice, like any of their domains, but we know that Google accounts for social media profiles in their ranking algorithm and if you don’t have a G+ page for your business, your competition will. Google has more social information about your business here than it does anywhere else so you’d be silly not to.

Google also posted a clean little video sharing a bike shop’s experiences with Google+ pages and how it worked for him. It might be a nice little means of getting you pumped on working with your clientele.

The long and short of it is that if you want to be in Google’s good books, you have no reason not to create a page for your business and connect your site to it.

Creating Microsites for Amazing Real Estate Properties

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October 12  |  Real Estate Marketing  |   Geoff

It seems that creating an entire website, domain and all, is becoming a really fashionable way to market a single, usually very special, residence online. Granted, you probably won’t have nearly enough time to set one up for each listing, but for the ones that could really use some exposure, it might just be worth your time to throw up a micro site and maybe get a few potential buyers interested that wouldn’t have known about the property before.

Luxury Property on the Water

Admittedly, you don’t necessarily have to buy a domain for a micro site, but if you do buck up and spend the ten dollars, it will lend your page that much more credibility, you can buy a keyworded domain to help with your rankings, and customize it entirely for the property. Let’s be honest, the competition to represent some of these multi-million dollar pieces of real estate is tough, everybody wants the commission and prestige that comes with selling one, but you have to be willing to take that extra step for the client. Having a custom built website for the property is going to be just that.

You don’t necessarily want to stop at buying the domain and slapping up a picture or two with the MLS number. No, you’ll want to go full bore and get what you can from the property and the owner so that you can really market the place. The website you are creating is really only a container for the incredible content you should be putting up on the site so get all the content you can and make sure that its quality reflects that of the house.

In some instances, keyword domains will help you sell a place because of the ease of ranking for said keywords, but, similarly, you might be able to market a property entirely on its address, if it’s cool. I wouldn’t recommend buying a domain for “4152 12th Ave” but if it’s something cool and marketable like “1 Panorama Ridge”, go for it.

Pictures
As far as content goes, you’ll not need much more than a few pages. First of all, you’ll want to throw up a few pictures of the house. I think you’ll find that white, clean themes with rotating headers will look best for showcasing a beautiful house. Good pictures are probably going to be the most important element in marketing these properties online. Although hiring a professional photographer will yield more desirable pictures, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to take a few stunning shots of the property.

real estate at sunset

Always keep the website in mind when you’re shooting, and even though a 15 megapixel image won’t do much for a website, a nice crisp lens and proper lighting are going to be a necessity. If you don’t have massive flashes that you can move all around the house, use natural light as much as you can. Open all the windows and, if you need to, bring a tall tripod so that you can take longer exposures for crisp photos.

I recommend having at least a couple good pictures of each room before you call it a day and when you’re shooting the exterior, the lower the sun in the sky, the better. You might have to take photos throughout the day to get the different shots of the house in the perfect light, but it will pay off.

Post-processing is also going to be a very important part of your pictures so get your skills ready and make those pictures pop.

Video
Similarly, you’ll want to have a video for the house as well. In the age of super smart phones, anything less than 720p is basically not worth trying. You might be the creative type and really run with the video portion of the website, but if not, either acquaint yourself with a video editing program or have a video made by pros using the pictures you have of the house. Not every video needs to be of the “15 Queen Anne Court” level of quality, but something like that is certainly not going to hurt your chances of selling the house. Remember that everything you put up on the site is going to be very closely associated with the property, whether rationally or not, so make sure that you’re not just carrying your cell phone through the house with wobble and a commentary that happens at the same time.

If you are going to do a tour, keep your phone or camera (my phone takes awesome video and yours should too) steady and plan out the shots before you shoot them. Always record commentary later through whichever recording device you have that produces the best sound quality. Great microphones are $100 and if you’re planning on doing this often, it’s not much for a lasting investment. A few cheesy, but admittedly powerful, time lapse shots of sun rising and setting over the property with manipulative music for a couple minutes should be plenty.

Copy
Next, you’ll want to write about the house. People tend to get bored reading long articles so I don’t imagine you’ll need more than a thousand words to describe the house to any potential buyer. You will definitely want to have a few substantial paragraphs so that the search engines are friendly to the new website, but I think that the pictures and video will do most of the marketing. If the house has any really funny anecdotes or famous previous owners, that’s definitely something worth mentioning, but you don’t really need to do a room by room description of the entire property. That being said, if it’s not too much work for you, it might be an idea to create a page for each room with a few pictures arranged in a nice gallery and a small writeup for each one. You can create a menu item for bedrooms that drops down to all the bedrooms the house has and do the same for bathrooms, kitchens, pools, airports, whatever… It will probably be overkill for the average buyer, but the site will look nice and robust to Google and the customers who want to see the house from abroad can actually view every room.

Whatever Else You’ve Got
I’m sure you’ve used tools like 360 degree room views among others, but now is the time to whip out every tool in your arsenal that helps move houses. Use maps, schools, restaurants, community centers, and whatever else you can use to sell the house on the website. Try to put a little spin on everything you do for these special properties so that they stick out from the competition. Now is the time to put on your marketing hat and whip out all the good and creative ideas floating around in your mind. Spitball with friends, associates, and, if they’re up for it, the house’s current owners. The more minds on creative projects, the better, so get together with different types of people and we could be talking about your site when it goes up.

If you need help
Quite frankly, we’ve been providing this service to some of our clients in the past and they think we should offer microblog setup as a package on its own. Get in touch with us if you need to get some help putting everything together.

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Google PageRank Explained For Modern Times

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August 24  |  Link Building  |   Geoff

I imagine Rand had been getting quite sick of answering so many questions about PageRank and its (un)importance when it comes to SEO. So so so many people still think obtaining PageRank is the be all end all in this game, and that’s the last thing you should be worrying about. In this day and age, it’s all about great content and a well built website to make the rest follow. Rand does a really bloody good job of explaining the system for anyone else out there still wondering what to make of it all.

Wistia

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Linkbuildr Trademarks Use of the Word “Link”, Tries to Sue Nintendo

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November 24  |  Link Bait Tactics  |   Geoff

techcrunch logoRyan sent me a link today with a rather unbelievable headline.  According to TechCrunch, The US “Patent Office Agrees To Facebook’s ‘Face’ Trademark”. But trademarking a single word has famously been denied many a times before and why should Facebook be any different? Well, it isn’t.  Obviously, like all major news outlets, bloggers can sensationalize their titles to get people’s attention and maybe even get them a little worried about the power that some of these massive corporations wield.  As it turns out, Facebook does not own the word “face” and won’t anytime soon.  The title, however would have you believe that they do. Not unlike this post, TechCrunch’s article doesn’t really get into detail and Alexia only writes 180 some odd words on the subject.  You can’t really explain the intricacies of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to accept Facebook’s proposal in 180 words and they know this.

facebook logoWhat TechCrunch is really going after is the fact that your ignorance of trademarks and willingness to overreact to a headline will translate to controversy and some activity on their website. It works too; they got a link out of me… In the 19 hours the article has been up, it has received 786 Facebook likes, and more than 1200 retweets. In reality, Facebook is going to have no legal grounds to come after you for using the word “face” and this Trademark will in no way affect your life even in the slightest. What the Trademark does do is grant Facebook the use of the word “face” in electronic and online applications offering social services. If you are trying to brand or market the word “face” for a social networking app and it has nothing to do with the literal definition of face, you might have some issues. Hell, I don’t even know how true that is. They really have played to my ignorance.

One of the few reasonable comments left stated that this is very similar to how Caterpillar trademarked the use of the word “cat” when it comes to construction equipment. nobody else can make a backhoe called a “Cat” but they have no say over things like CatFeeder or lolCats. This hasn’t really ended the world.

Anyways, I’ve nearly doubled the amount of the original article so I’m going to shut up here. Just remember that if you can bring some emotion out of a reader, be it fear, hatred, sadness, or amazement, the odds that you will get a click in and a link back are vastly improved. You don’t even need to have any idea what it is you’re talking about!

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Track Your Link Stats With Ping.fm

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October 1  |  Link Building Tools  |   Geoff

Linbuilding and SEO are worlds where numbers help.  If we have more numbers, we can make better decisions based on new data. And come on,  who doesn’t want some free new data?  Recently, ping.fm gave us the ability to”track incoming statistics on the URLs you generate.”  Aww dude, exciting.

We track all sorts of cool information like link visits, unique visits, referrals and referral country origination. This is all presented to you in a fancy interface that let’s you see how well your posted links are tracking with your social network audiences. We think it’s pretty rad!

While we gather some feedback from you folks, we will be pondering other statistics you might want to see on your links and adding to the output every so often. You should totally give us a shout and put some bugs in our ears.

This is a user-opt in feature that you can turn on here.

If you’re curious for more, you can read all about how this works right over heeeeere!

They then finished with:

We have more stuff coming out soon, so keep on the lookout for forests full of unexplainable and ridiculous magic.

Adam & Sean
Ping.fm

Which is basically the reason I don’t really mind reading ping.fm news. But that’s another post altogether.

Anyways, you should start tracking your ping.fm link stats if you’re not already!

Author Bio

Geoff is a webmaster and SEO ninja, visionary, dreamweaver, plus actor. He has been working on line for over a decade and has been mastering SEO for the past four years. He maintains many websites and likes to share and discuss SEO tactics.

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