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Month: January, 2008

Does RaSof Really Help You Rank Better?

8 January, 2008 (11:35) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

I didn’t get any questions over the weekend to answer, so I’m going to address the elephant in the room: Does RaSof really help you rank better? In a world full of bad SEO advice, is RaSof just another product based on hearsay and witchcraft?

James Brausch often points out the fact that he ranks very well for the competitive phrase “internet business”, and he credits that achievement to RaSof. This blog is not nearly as well known as JamesBrauch.com and it doesn’t have close to as many backlinks, so I figured this would be a really good case study of the power of just on-page ranking factors. Before writing this post, the RaSof score for the home page of this blog is 1,274 for the infamous keywords “internet business”. If you have rApogee you can quickly check the scores for the top ranking sites for this phrase. You will find that 1,274 is a very high score.

So this site has very few incoming links, it doesn’t have any of the keywords “internet business” in the URL, but the home page is optimized with RaSof. What did I achieve with this? I’m on the second page of Google for this very competitive search:

internet business Google page 2 ranking

And I’m on the first page of Google in the Philippines and Nigeria… There may be more good rankings out there, but I don’t go around looking for them. I have noticed all these stats just by monitoring my web analytics. Google is already sending me lots of free traffic and I can tell that it’s because of my natural ranking for “internet business”. Keep in mind that a good search engine ranking is pointless in itself. Your goal is to get traffic.

James Brausch received 1,636 free visitors from Google in November, mostly due to his first page ranking for “internet business”. How much would 1,636 new visitors to your web site each month be worth to you? If you had to get these visitors using Google AdWord you would have to pay at least $0.41 per click for an ad on the first page of the search results for “internet business”.

Obviously you can use rApogee and RaSof to optimize your web pages for any keywords. You are likely to have even faster success with keywords that are less competitive. I choose “internet business” for this experiment because it seems more worthwhile than coolest guy on the planet, and it is also happens to be the topic of this blog.

If you are new to this blog you may be confused by the references to rApogee and RaSof. Basically rApogee is a product that helps you use RaSof. Here’s what one of my readers who just started using rApogee has to say:

Thanks for rApogee. It makes using RaSof so much easier. I used it yesterday and got my score over 1400 and there are still a few tweaks I could make to get it even higher.

Checkout Aaron’s blog about online business. With a score of 1,400 I expect that we’ll see him rocket up the rankings for those keywords very soon.

Note: By the time you read this blog entry, my rankings in Google will most likely have changed. Writing about your ranking and especially explaining what you did to achieve it usually has a detrimental effect on your ranking. Using these simple tools everyone will be gunning for a top listing for “internet business”.

There is also a fourth ranking factor at work here. One I haven’t written about yet. But more about that next week.

If you found this blog post useful please link to it from your blog. That will give me a little boost in the off-page ranking factors. Thanks!

PS. Get a free copy of rApogee. I have decided to extend the Holiday Season to January 25, 2008. If you have not yet picked up your rApogee Christmas gift (and if you did receive something in your stocking from James Brausch) then go here.

Question Time: rApogee And Search Engine Ranking

5 January, 2008 (07:42) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Here’s how it works:

You ask me any question you would like about rApogee and ranking better in search engines.

Before you ask a question please read my recent posts on this topic:

If you ask the best question, I’ll send you a copy of James Brausch’s “Life Management 101“. I choose the best question and it is entirely arbitrary and what I personally think is the best question.

You can ask your question in a comment below or by posting to your own blog and linking back to this blog entry. I’ll answer questions in a post on this blog on Monday.

I Have A Great RaSof Score – How Come I’m Not On The First Page Of Google?

4 January, 2008 (11:33) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

This is the fourth installment of the RaSof/rApogee mini-tutorials. You can read the previous posts here:

First keep in mind that RaSof only deals with on-page ranking factors. In addition to the HTML on your page, search engines also consider the URL of your page and other web pages linking to you. According to James Brausch on-page ranking factors account for about 40% of your search engine ranking. 40% is huge and these are factors that you have direct and immediate control over. That is why RaSof and rApogee are such powerful tools. But even if you maximize the on-page ranking factors for your page, other web pages can still rank ahead of you based on their domain/URL and link factors.

Side Note: You can score your URL using the software Nemeas.

The second issue to keep in mind is time. Even if you make changes to your home page today, it’s going to take Google a while to index the new page. And it’s going to take even longer for Google to update the ranking of your web site based on the latest crawl. The Google ranking algorithm is very complex and it involves checking other web sites that link to yours to determine the relevancy and authority of those web sites for each query. The entire Google ranking system cannot be recomputed every day (not even with Google’s massive resources). Therefore you will see your ranking fluctuate day by day as different parts of the ranking system is recomputed. If you consistently apply the recommendations of RaSof and rApogee, as well as take action to get incoming links to your page, you should see your ranking improve over time.

This concludes my mini-tutorial series. No doubt you still have questions about search engine rankings and the softwares RaSof and rApogee. Therefore, tomorrow I will have an open question time where you can ask me any question on this topic. All questions will be answered on Monday and there will be a prize for the best question. Before you ask a question please check out James Brausch’s recent answers on the ranking topic. Your question may already have been answered.

How Do You Improve Your RaSof Score (And Thus Your Search Engine Ranking)?

3 January, 2008 (11:05) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Yesterday you learned what the RaSof results meant. Today we’ll build on that knowledge and learn how to increase your RaSof score. If you have not already done so please download my product rApogee – my Christmas gift to you. It will be very useful in this exercise.

In yesterday’s example you noticed that the page had a ranking factor score of -10 for a keyword count of 12 for the page. That seems like a score that is low hanging fruit for improvement. If having the keywords exist 12 times on a page results in a negative score, then there are probably values that are positive. Look at google-page.txt for the various entries “Does having a keyword count of x for the page affect ranking?”. And find the one which has the high score as the first number on the “Data” line. This is what I found:

Q. Does having a keyword count of 18 for the page affect ranking?
A. No; It does not significantly affect ranking.
Data: +32 7 3 6 5 3 5 6 2

Just by adding the keywords to the page 6 more times for a total of 18 will increase the score for this ranking factor from -10 to +32. That’s a good improvement and probably pretty easy to do.

However, the best value for this particular ranking factor is:

Q. Does having a keyword count of more than 50 for the page affect ranking?
A. Yes; It increases ranking.
Data: +92 123 100 95 95 93 81 81 77

For the best search engine ranking benefit you should have your keywords appear more than 50 times on a page. Now this is more of a challenge. How do you work in your keywords more than 50 times into your text without it sounding like gibberish? If you can that’s great. If not, then just focus on some of the other ranking factors. Keep in mind that search engine ranking is not a goal in itself. What you want is customers who buy your products. If they find your web site through a top listing in a search engine, but they get turned off by the text on the web site because it suffers from keyword stuffing, then you haven’t gained anything.

Locating the right entry in the ranking factors data files and correlating it back to the RaSof results can be rather time consuming. That is one of the reasons I wrote rApogee. If you’re using rApogee all you have to do is look in column E to see the value of the ranking factor. Just scan the rows to find the one with the highest value. That’s your target.

rApogee ranking factor scores in column E

There are a couple of things to keep in mind while you’re doing this process:

  1. Adjusting your page for one ranking factor can have an impact on another factor. For example if you were to add your keywords to your page 50 times it’s very likely that the page would get longer. Total page length is another ranking factor.
  2. Make small changes at a time and note the new total RaSof score after each change.
  3. If you are optimizing a blog, keep in mind that the content of the blog home page changes each time you write another post. Therefore you should not pay too much attention to ranking factors like number of keywords on the page. Focus instead on elements of the page that do not change with each new post: the page title tag, and anything you have in your page header.

Here’s an extreme example of how a small change can make a large impact on your score due to the compounded effect of multiple ranking factors. Say you want to rank for the keywords “golf bags”. If you change your title tag on the page to be just “golf bags”, nothing else, then this is the RaSof score you would get for just that one item:

  • KeywordExists: +71
  • KeywordBeginning: +78
  • KeywordEnd: +42
  • KeywordCount of 1: +35
  • KeywordCount of 1-10: +71
  • KeywordDensity of 91-100%: +32
  • SectionLength of 1-9 characters: +67

For a grand total of +421 !

Where do you start?

My recommendation is that you tackle the page elements in this order:

  1. Title
  2. KeywordsMeta
  3. DescriptionMeta
  4. Head – Optimizing the first three items will often give you a good score for the Head section too.
  5. FirstAlt – If you have an image in your page header this is easy.
  6. Page and Body – Your page presumably already contains your keyword multiple times, so this should just be a matter of tweaking the number of keywords.

Another important tip

Until you’re comfortable working with rApogee and RaSof, do your changes and experiments on a test page. Make a copy of the page you’re trying to optimize and call it www.yoursite.com/test.html. RaSof can score any web page that is publicly available. When you’re happy with the RaSof score then copy the page back to its original location. You can even create multiple copies, e.g. test1.hml, test2.html, where you keep a copy of the highest scoring page and then try to beat it.

Side Note: This is like the method you use in Glyphius to refine your headlines to ever increasing scores. Note that James Brausch is currently running a 24-hour special on Glyphius and Glyphius 2007. The price is now $100 instead of the regular $300. After the 24-hour special Glyphius will no longer be for sale by James Brausch.

What Do The Results In RaSof Mean?

2 January, 2008 (15:37) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Some of you who received James Brausch’s generous Christmas gift of a subscription to RaSof, may be struggling with how to use the service. RaSof is a very powerful tool. And I remember that I was puzzled when I first tried to use it.

This is the first post in a series of mini-tutorials on how to use RaSof and my companion product rApogee. As a reminder you can still get rApogee for free as my Christmas gift to you.

On the first page of RaSof (and rApogee) you need to enter the URL of the page you want to score and the keyword(s) you want your ranking score for. (If you don’t know what keywords you should select for your web site, then read my Concise Guide To Keyword Research.)

Finally you need to select a search engine. Since each search engine has a different algorithm for ranking web pages, the score that RaSof calculates will differ depending on the search engine you selected. A consequence of the different algorithms is that it’s very difficult to get one web page to rank very well in all three search engines. My recommendation is that you start with Google since they typically refer the most traffic. Once you’re done with optimizing your page for Google, then you can create separate web pages and optimize them for Yahoo and MSN separately.

The results you get back from RaSof look something like this:
RaSof results for internet business

Each of the almost 1,500 lines on this web page corresponds to one entry in the Ranking Factors data that you received with the RaSof subscription. The first line on the results page in the image above reads:
Section  Variable       Score
Page     KeywordExists  53

This corresponds to the first entry in google-page.txt, which looks like this:
Q. Does having the keyword exist within the page affect ranking?
A. Yes; It increases ranking.
Data: +53 353 346 349 342 342 343 344 340

What RaSof does is examine your web page and search for the keyword(s) you entered to see if they exist “within the page”. In this example the keywords “internet business” did exist at least once on www.jamesbrauch.com. RaSof therefore added +53 (the first value in the Ranking Factor “Data” row) to your total score.

Continuing on the next line, RaSof did not find “internet business” at the beginning of the page (”KeywordBeginning”) so no score was added for that ranking factor. Further down RaSof determined that “internet business” existed 12 times on the page. Unfortunately that resulted in a ranking factor score of -10.
Q. Does having a keyword count of 12 for the page affect ranking?
A. No; It does not significantly affect ranking.
Data: -10 5 10 6 8 4 9 8 8

Flipping back and forth between the RaSof results and the Ranking Factors data can be a bit time consuming. Therefore in rApogee all you have to do is hover over the variable name and a tool tip is shown with the Ranking Factors explanation.

rApogee Tooltip shows Ranking Factors data

This process continues all the way down to the end of all the ranking factors where a total score is presented. Now this score does not have any real meaning other then a higher number is better. James Brauch currently has a score of 947 for the keywords “internet business”. This is a very high score and it has contributed to his first page ranking in Google. On other not so competitive search terms you can probably achieve a first page ranking with a much lower RaSof score. What’s important is that your score is higher than your competition.

Of course you can, and should, analyze your competitor’s web pages with RaSof. From this you can learn what your competitors have done to optimize their web pages and what you can do better. You can also try different keywords to find some that are not as competitive for ranking well.

In rApogee you can enter more than one URL to analyze at a time. The results for each URL will be presented in separate columns so that you can easily compare the results against each other. Alternatively if you want to compare your web site against the top 10 web sites for a particular keyword then all you have to do is specify this in rApogee and the program will automagically retrieve the top 10 search results from the search engine you specified, and then compute the RaSof scores for each one.

2008 Predictions

1 January, 2008 (16:42) | Business | By: Nick Dalton

The Steady Decline of Web Sites

Companies spend billions of dollars on creating elaborate web sites promoting their company. Web site visitors and customers rarely care about your company. They want the information they’re looking for quickly. Blogs, RSS, gadgets and widgets, video and mobile browsers all make the web site more and more irrelevant.

The challenge for 2008 for you as an Internet business owner is to get in front of your customers through all these different channels and to provide a holistic customer experience across these fragmented interactions.

Video Saturation and the Raise of Brands

2007 was the year of the video and now there are more videos online than anyone can watch in a lifetime. How do you know what to watch when you’re tired of just “YouTube channel surfing”? How do you determine if a video is worth watching based on just a 1-5 star rating? 2008 will see the emergence of video brands that produce, compile or recommend videos for specific audiences.

Increased Use of CRM Systems

Are you inundated by poorly targeted marketing messages? Do you get multiple copies of the same message? In an increasingly noisy world, marketers who target their messages for specific segments of their lists will have an advantage. For example: prospects, customers and former customers should rarely receive the same emails. Top marketers like Rich Schefren and Perry Marshall have already implemented CRM. Many more will follow in 2008.

Increase in WordPress Security Exploits

In 2007 we saw several high profile security exploits where criminals used compromised WordPress blogs to add links to their own drug peddling web sites. Since WordPress is the worlds most popular blogging platform it is a very attractive target for exploiting any security holes. And there is a direct financial incentive for taking over thousands of blogs for the purpose of gaining high PR links or using the servers for other criminal activity like denial of service attacks or sending spam emails.

Continued Flood of Aspiring Internet Businesses

More and more people are lured by the Internet lifestyle and making money online. However as the competition increases the barrier to entry also increases. What used to pass as a $7 ebook will soon be difficult to give away for free. In terms of success stories Internet businesses will look more like the established book market: a few very well known authors always produce blockbusters, below that there is a large number of authors who make a living, and then there’s the majority of authors who sell less than 100 books. And that doesn’t even include the authors who never even get published.

There will be significant opportunities for those who can guide all these new aspiring Internet entrepreneurs up the path towards making a living online. There will also be opportunities for companies acting like traditional publishers. Who have the production and promotion machine ready to go and all the major JV partners lined up for new products.

Offshore Turning the Tables

In the past years most successful Internet businesses have outsourced many tasks to providers in countries with lower wages. In the next years these countries will have the greatest growth in Internet availability and Internet businesses. It doesn’t take much entrepreneurial spirit to realize the financial benefits of doing the work for your own Internet business, instead of working as an outsourcer for low wages.

Imagine the competition from tens of thousands of new Internet businesses emerging from these countries where they have significant (multiple orders of magnitude!) cost advantages over you. Welcome to 2008!

Other Interesting 2008 Predictions