q and aI recently thought to myself: “Why is Quora getting all the benefit of my answers to their questions?” Why not put my “original content” here on the place it should of been written in the first place. These are some of my answers on Quora about SEO from February 7, 2011 thru February 24, 2011

What are some effective tips to quickly build inbound links and grow PageRank for a site?

Like Rand said, focusing on PR isn’t what you should be doing. It’s more about creating great content and having “reason” why people would be creating backlinks to your site.

There’s a reason why I bookmark a site or throw it into a spreadsheet so I can come back to it: it has great stuff I want to later read or possibly view. Focus on doing that first.

However, what your question sounds like to me is finding the best distribution points on the internet in order to give massive exposure and possibly have people link back to you. At least that’s how I’ll answer it.

* If you use WordPress, you can ping websites to show you’ve posted or created new content. Get as many of these distribution sites in your pinging section of your CMS. Settings -> Writing -> Update Services
* Do it the old fashioned way: use Public Relations distribution networks. There are plenty of these services from very cheap to very expensive. They are the reason why many articles are sometimes splashed over the ‘net and in many media outlets. Use ’em.
* Find unique sources that relate to your site. Honestly, you can dig through to many great websites by simply just searching, searching and searching some more. The way I got to become a great SEO (o.k. I’m biased) is that I searched, read, searched, read, searched some more, read some more until my eyes were bloodshot. And I repeated this daily for more than 17 years. Do the same and have the same vigor if you want to frankly exploit whatever market or area you would like to get backlinks to.

What SEO tool can track the number of backlinks using a specific anchor text?

Give Raven Tools a try. http://raventools.com

What are the best keyword research tools (for SEO not PPC)?

Having taught English for a number of years, thinking about it from a linguistic perspective sometimes helps. Use a thesaurus occasionally. Make sure you define terms precisely. Use visual “word wheels” or other ways to brainstorm ideas can be helpful. Making sure you also utilize industry jargon tools & lists can help as well. These are for brainstorming. The other add’l piece of advice is checking out what your competitors are using.

After you’ve done all the brainstorm, then you ultimately have to check the inventory which it’s already said, but Google’s Keyword tool is the best. Using adCenter’s Keyword Research tool wouldn’t hurt either.

Most of the other tools that I’ve experienced just display it in different ways. They basically do the same thing & I like manual research personally much better even though it’s more time consuming.

Remember each industry/niche is different…so you need to take advantage of experts and people who know those fields the best “mixing together” with what consumers/potential clients are using to find them.

How do you start researching keywords for your website and generate keyword matrices?

Yes, there is one better than the “Professional Guide to…”: It’s SEOMoz’s post on advanced keywords research.

Also, shortly after providing this answer, I created a powerpoint preseentation on the basics of keywords research which turned out to be quite extensive, but relatively elementary. I’d still go to seomoz above for advanced keywords research, but this is a good starter for keywords research.

Is it necessary to acquire every variant of a domain name?

I’d maybe even argue you only need the one you want. Remember that when you eventually (I’m assuming you’ll do this of course) SEO the heck out of whatever url you use, it will be the one that comes up for every search and will be the only one you need to be concerned about basically online.

There’s worries by people that there could be sabotage against your business or other ill intents targeting your business, but frankly, google (or whatever smart search engine dominates) should ultimately show the url you end up focusing all your efforts to market your self/company.

However, I haven’t thought through all the sneaky things that could happen with the other variants. The one thing I have realized though if you’re worried about others “hurting you” via other means, you should think that 1) they have literally “way too much time on their hands” if they are going to do it, but 2) abuse usually is discovered and society typically helps us weed it out.

Does anyone think that social media really works as a Marketing tool for small businesses?

Marketing = getting in front of consumers & being able to message them in the way they want to hear your message.

As society advances through the 21st century with different tools gaining acceptance (i.e., computers, internet, cell phones, iPhones, iPads, ???), the way messaging changes). Twitter, Facebook and other Social media are being integrated into these newer devices & tools and as a result, they are becoming larger parts of the messaging to consumers.

The question I think these companies need to ask themselves is how much can consumers handle? As we get more and more advanced as a society, we are becoming more used to multiple forms of messages, but our brains can only handle so much. The other question is whether these social networks or companies who leverage them can tap the limited time the messaging remains in our heads. The ones who figure that one out will be able to truly be able to profit: including small businesses.

Never has there been a time in history where I believe small businesses can compete with the “big boys” due to these tools. One person shops are turning into “gurus” and leaders in different industries because of these social networks.

So, my answer is obviously “yes”, it works for small and anyone sized business who leverages them intelligently.

What are the best small business (owner) social networks?

I’d argue for “actual contact” that Biznik.com is pretty dang cool and very useful if i’ts in your neighborhood. I’ve been using it for about 2 months now and it’s only done wonders for my business and networking local. This is totally unbiased, but Lara’s very approachable despite how big the group/user base has gotten and was even at the first Biznik event I went to.

To add a few others for options, I’d argue Meetup.com has been very useful as well. My only other online/offline business networking has been a Meetup group that has been incredible for my business as well.

Lastly, it’s not offline, but online MerchantCircle.com’s been VERY aggressive with their marketing efforts and are trying to get “small business owners” to work with each other there. I’ve seen it in the past few months get pretty intense frankly. (extra note afterwards: a client of mine showed me that merchant circle actually has had some problems in the past and I noticed they had a number of complaints online)

Are Internet directories still important for SEO?

Think of it this way here on Quora. There are lots of great people giving “honest” answers, but at the same time, if I truly did believe that Directory submissions were great and I knew that my competitors were reading this, what do you think I would say? Go jump on the same bandwagon I’m using? Go do stuff that I do so that you can compete with me?

I’m not accusing anyone of misleading folks, but do think through the answers when you read them and who are giving them. Give them the grain of a salt that they deserve (including mine frankly). I wish everyone in the world was honest, but if that was the case, we would have world peace already. 🙂

With that said, I really think directory submissions are horrible. 😉

If you do like them though, I do have a great list of directories I’m building that I’ll try to come back and share.

Is search engine optimization immoral?

SEO is similar to the same daily idea of entrepreneurs marketing or creating a product to the consumer. The better ones get rewarded more financially and the weaker ones unfortunately fail. There may be a number of sites that have been given “strong SEO” and are not as relevant as you want. Google’s constantly trying to find the right criteria to make sure you do get more relevance. Just like society has “sales people” who try to put products and services in front of you that you don’t need or want, we are responsible for filtering out those calls or advertisements and find what we truly do want or not talk to them at all.

Likewise, you have the option to a) not search b) look deeper in the serp (search engine results page) and under no obligation to click through to the first result. Even if you do, you didn’t pay for it. Maybe you wasted a few minutes of your time, but you simply haven’t become savvy enough to figure out what is a better result. Unfortunately, you’re blaming your lack of filtering skills on the entire field of SEO. Frankly, it’s like saying “I walked into this store on the way to work, the salesperson convinced me to buy this $750 new special phone.” Damn that salesperson! No, rather, you shouldn’t of dropped by and it was your fault for buying the phone. We need to take some responsibility frankly as users of the Internet.

Your question basically tags the entire sales and marketing industry as immoral. SEO just happens to be a very efficient and effective form of online m arketing in the past 10+ years and is no more immoral than someone who does good marketing. What if a great website is SEO’d and shows up #1? Is it then more than moral? I know personally my goal has always been to help the “relevant businesses” get to #1 if possible. Maybe if I’m successful, I’ll help SEO those great products and websites up to the top and the SERPS (search engine results pages) will feel more “moral.”

p.s. On a daily basis, when accepting clients, I ask them these questions when I can and judge them on these before I work with them:

1. Are they providing a service/product that will benefit others in the community
2. Are they good people? When people visit their website, will they get great service, awesome follow up and be as happy as can be?
3. Will I feel guilty at all if they’re #1 and making millions of dollars from my help?

If I can say “yes” to #1 & #2 and “No” to #3. I accept them as clients. I recently almost denied a client who I thought did not fulfill these requirements for me. I ignored them frankly until I finally was able to talk to them and learn that they are actually just a business person who has communication skills issues that I’m helping them work on.

Through the experience, I was reminded we shouldn’t use our biases and subjective opinions to simply label somebody. However, my “gut” was right that they had “some issues”, but I’m doing my best to help them provide great products and services to their future customers.

How accurate are the search estimates on Google’s Keyword Tool?

First off, don’t leave it on “broad” matches ever. You’re REALLY going to feel like most of the responses here in terms of it’s validity. Click on “exact” matches and don’t forget to reset it to that when you refresh your browser or start another search.

Second, it’s an “adwords” estimation tool. Yes, it is trying to estimate the number of impressions for any given keyword (organic or paid), but it’s also designed for adwords. I like the idea of setting up a campaign and truly seeing what you get, but not all of us have the time and money to truly validate the numbers for every niche we have to work with. You can use it as what it says it is, an “estimate.” You’ll have to prove the accurate results in the end.

It’s for guidance and that’s what it was designed for. You’ll have to figure out the real world results later when you actually perform the work (organic or ppc). Some numbers have been pretty dead on, but again, I’m very conservative and also deduct a bit of the numbers generated in the tool and do lower estimates in general after dividing out what I think I need to focus on.

Unfortunately, it’s still the best one for google – at least that exists. So, regardless of all the flack it gets, it’s the one and only.


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