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New Natural Skin Care Client

The Goldpetals Barn surrounded by the flowers used in the natural skin care products.

The Goldpetals Barn near Cooperstown NY

We were recently hired by a local natural skin care products manufacturer from Cooperstown New York: Goldpetals. Ellen White Weir is the owner, and she makes all kinds of natural skin care products. But she also has nature walks, a nature camp for kids, and a lot more.

Goldpetals Aromatherapy and natural skin care products are “flower powered” by the calendula officinalis. The flowers of this pot marigold have historically been used to promote the healing of damaged skin. Goldpetals Aromatherapy products include salves, creams, sprays and botanical oils infused with these golden calendula flowers. We use only high quality essential oils, and the flowers are grown without pesticides outside of Cooperstown, New York, at the Goldpetals Barn and nature preserve.

Ellen doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on her site (more about Goldpetals and Ellen here), so we kept it simple. But that didn’t stop me from fixing the site up for some basic SEO. The title tags were empty, the keywords hardly appeared on the pages at all, and there were hardly any links to the site that I could find.

Just doing those basic things was pretty easy, and now all I have to do is throw some links up and she’ll be doing much better in terms of targeted traffic sent to her site. Traffic for things like Cooperstown nature camp for kids, or plant identification walks in New York, and the like.

Real Time Brand Management


If you’re a brand manager or SEO consultant, you’re going to want to monitor what’s going on in the global social network in regard to your brand, site, or event. While I’m not big enough to warrant the price for this, I’ll quickly recommend that those of you working for a big company take a look at S4 Momentum: a real time index rating for content on the global social network.

S4 Momentum is a project from John Robb of Global Guerrillas. Here’s his recent take on the project, which includes this list of social networking data that the program compiles:


  • Number of Tweets

  • Facebook Statuses

  • Facebook Shares

  • Facebook Likes

  • Facebook Comments

  • Facebook Clicks

  • Digg Votes

  • Reddit Votes

  • Reddit Up Votes

  • Reddit Down Votes

  • Place On Page

  • Clicks

  • Bitly Clicks

  • Delicious Bookmarks

  • Big Blog Mentions

  • Imgur Views

  • Youtube Views

  • Youtube Rating

  • Youtube Favorite Count

  • Digg Comments

  • Reddit Comments

  • Youtube Comments


    As you can see, this is a handy list of data to have available if you’re managing a big-name brand. Being able to quantitatively chart social networking data is exactly the kind of capability you need on any project. I just wish it cost a little less than the $150 a month. Maybe a scaled back version in the $50 a month range for small entrepreneurs like me would be helpful. But if you’re one of the big boys, I don’t see how you pass up the ability to put all this information into forms you can use.

    I’d like to note that I get nothing for promoting this. I just stumbled across it and thought some of you might find it useful. If you go read the Robb post about it, you’ll see that he’s also working on another project that I’m really looking forward to, which he describes thusly:

    Working on a business plan for an open source venture.  It’s very cool and will likely be a non-profit organization.  Shooting for a Google scale venture that can employ millions of people world wide and serve as a way to bootstrap Resilient Communities.

    Robb’s been talking for a while about creating a social network that pays its users. Imagine if Facebook paid it’s users for creating content. Some power users would be millionaires by now!

    Political SEO


    Five years ago, I wrote a post on the Daily KOS about political SEO. At the time, there just wasn’t much interest. Now there is. Chris Bowers has started a series called Grass Roots SEO. That link goes to the first article, in which Chris lays out the overall scheme of things.

    The goal of Grassroots SEO is to get as many undecided voters as possible to read the most damaging news article about the Republican candidate for Congress in their district.

    By gleaning news reports for the most damaging news and then having a large team of bloggers linking to those articles, Chris is moving those articles up in searches for particular candidates.

    In the next article of the series, Chris is encouraging people to simply click on the most damaging stories. While this might make a difference if you have hundreds of people clicking, clicking is a very small part of the Google algorithm. I certainly don’t recommend it for small SEO outfits. Without tons of clicks from different IP addresses, it’s just not going to make much difference.

    The second article is about anchor text, and I can’t stress enough how much of a difference it makes. In this case, if you’re trying to move an article up the SERPs (search engine results pages), you need to make anchor text using the exact words someone would use to search for those results. So, if, for example, you’re writing a story about the Republican Chris Gibson in NY-20, you’d want to link as I just did, since that’s a likely phrase used to search for him. Note that I also included the title tag in the link as well.

    How important is Anchor Text?
    Hugely important. In fact, it might be the most important way you interact with search engines, whether you are a blogger or a commenter. The words you include in your anchor text will impact every keyword search on those words in Google and other major search engines.

    Chris is a wiz at this, and very good at explaining in ways that even amateurs can understand. I recommend keeping up with this series even if you’re not politically motivated, as the SEO advice here is sound.

    Of course, it helps if you have a large team of bloggers with highly ranked sites out there linking to the pages you want to move higher in the SERPs! We solo fliers just have to work that much harder, or find ways of enticing a large group to work for us! By encouraging a group to do this work, it seems the politics of SEO have a large impact on the SEO of politics. Talk about your link bait!

    Google is a good reader, LDA version


    While I don’t get all the technical talk, the gist of this article at SEOmoz is that, as I’ve said before, the Google bot is a very good reader. I ran the LDA tool (Latent Dirichlet Allocation, or topic modeling) on for “free desktop wallpaper” and got a 32%. Made a few changes, ran it again, and got a 55%. The changes? I added this paragraph under the right hand link to the computer backgrounds blog:

    Download all kinds of free desktop wallpaper, including high resolution nature photographsabstract photographywinter wallpaper scenescityscapes, and more!

    So, be a good writer and the Google Bot will reward you. My suspicion is that adjectives, adverbs, and the like are extremely important here. Also, using your keyword’s multiple forms (verb, noun, etc) is helpful.

    Don’t Count on Karma

    Hiking trail in Polipoli State Park, Maui, Hawaii

    Polipoli State Park, Maui, Hawaii

    I’m lazy. But when it comes to publicizing sites, I still do the work. Because I know that I can’t count on the other lazy people on the internet to do my work for me, even when the cause is a good one.

    A good cause works as link bait, for sure. For example, a site I built about volunteering on vacation in Hawaii offers something for every one: a chance to do good for the state of Hawaii, a chance to save on lodging on the island of Maui, a chance for good organizations to recruit volunteers, and a chance for tourists to learn something about Hawaii they could never learn on a tour bus. The site has gotten some links on the merits of its case. But not as many as one would think.

    So, I keep working at it. In order for link bait to work, people have to hear about it. So when I see a story about volunteering while on vacation somewhere, I pop into the comments and post a link so the vacation volunteer enthusiasts will see it, and maybe one of them will link to it some day. This method has managed to work a little, but still not enough.

    At this point, lazy ol’ me is getting tired of begging for links, so I go to the tried and true method for link building: my email address book. Over the years, I’ve managed to rack up a lot of contacts from Hawaii, due to my fascination with Hawaii Stuff. From the email I managed to find bloggers, webmasters, and other folks who are more than happy to swap links with a site about volunteering on vacation in Hawaii.

    Emailing for links is slow and hard work, and the client in this case can’t afford to have me toiling away in the email caverns for long, so I’m going to turn it over to her to get those emails out to former guests of her Maui bed and breakfast, and all her other many contacts, especially on Maui, where, because she’s lived there for years, she has more friends with Hawaii web sites than I’ll ever have.

    I expect this to work well, as she needs to do more work herself to save money, she has more relevant contacts than I do, and, well, I’m lazy!

    Don’t Be the Missing Link, but Evaluate before You Link Back

    Beach Accommodations on Kauai, Hawaii

    Kauai Hawaii Beach Accommodations

    When link building, I tell my clients that the best links will come from those they ask. If you’re running a beach accommodation in Hawaii, for example, you’ll want to contact everyone in the area who depends on your guests for their income (moped rentals, car rentals, boat charters, bicycle rentals, surfing schools, etc) and ask for links. If your rental is on Kauai, you’ll want to exchange links with other rentals like yours on other islands (like minded, but not in direct competition). Basically you’ll want to swap links with anyone in Hawaii who isn’t going to compete with you.

    Once you’ve done all that, you’ll sit back and watch the business roll in. Ha! You wish. If you have a web site, you’re going to want to constantly make it better, if only because if you don’t, you’re going to slip in the rankings and lose all that great business to your competition. But since you’ve worked so hard and gotten up there in the rankings, you’ve probably noticed that you’re getting email from all kinds of questionable sites wanting to exchange links with you.

    Since your time is at least as valuable as a link from your site, you should really be wary of these offers. Most of them are junk. You’ll see right away that many of them are form letter, poorly worded, awkwardly formatted, and from a site that is not a particularly good match. But don’t delete right away! Sometimes there is a person on the other end of those bad emails who might be able to help. But how can you tell quickly without wasting a lot of time on a bad lead?

    First, you have to have a Google Page Rank checker in your tool bar. They’re easy to find: just search for google page rank tool bar for your browser. I just got one for Google Chrome, finally. While Google is phasing out PageRank as an important factor in ranking, it’s still a good idea to use it when deciding with whom to exchange links.  If the link offer is coming from a site where the home page Page Rank is less than that of your site’s rank, forget it.

    Even if they are the same rank, a lot of times the site that wants to link to you will bury your link in a part of their site that has no rank, and will likely never get any. Forget that. Remember, links aren’t just for Google. People follow them. But if the site offering to link to you (or, often in these cases, already has–in order to guilt you into linking to them) is burying your link, it’s unlikely Google will ever find it worthwhile, much less a real person who might click on it.

    This is especially true if they want to bury your link while you have a highly ranked link page that gets a lot of traffic and people actually use it–meaning they click on the links and explore the sites to which you’ve linked. Link pages started off as resources whereby people discovered other cool stuff on the web at the recommendation of people. If your link page is such a resource, like this Kauai resource listing, then you’ll want to protect it by making editorial decisions about what links work as a resource for your readers, and what links don’t.

    Finally, even if they are burying your link, if the site is a directory of listings of your competition, you might want to give them a link back. Just try to do it from a page with similar or less page rank than the page from which they are linking to you. You don’t want to give more than you’re getting. And try to link to the page that has your link on it (that way your link to them might help their link to you with a little boost of link juice.

    Now get back to weeding through that inbox full of link offers. You never know–there might be  a good one or two  in there.

    Link with Your Clients and Suppliers

    Fruit carving in Los Angeles by Chef Ray

    Fruit carving in Los Angeles by Chef Ray

    Sometimes I forget the obvious. When Google’s caffeine update went completely into effect, my Los Angeles catering client slipped a few notches. My initial reaction to slips is to immediately build more links to the site using the keywords in question as the anchor text. From what I’ve read of caffeine, I expected to get killed on that search because I didn’t have all the keywords in the URL. But I was hoping that the authority of our site would hold up, and that the better understanding google now has of related words and synonyms would help a copy-heavy site like this one, especially in the long-tail area.

    And I was right.

    Almost as soon as we started the latest link building campaign, I started linking from within blog posts on Backstage w/ Supak, my more political blog that’s been around a long time now and has a PR5 and some serious authority due to it’s age. I made more prominent links on, which also has a PR5 and has been around since 1996. That helped, and within weeks we had the catering site moving up a few notches.

    Then I told the client what I should have said a long time ago: link with clients and suppliers. Both have jumped on the chance to exchange links with Culinary Delight Catering, and because the subject matter–especially from the suppliers–is so closely related and now even better understood by the Google Bot, we’ve moved up some more. And the mass email my client sent out to her clients and suppliers is still generating leads for links not just for her site, but for mine as well!

    Let this be  a lesson that the only way to get links from friends of friends is to have friends ask for links from their friends. And, also, to trust in the wisdom of the Google Bot and keep creating fresh content (even caterers have something to blog about) and keep on linkin’!

    Turning Crumbs into Meals

    Red Bellied Woodpecker

    Red Bellied Woodpecker

    The woodpeckers and grackles are messy eaters. When they go at the suet on my back porch, they scatter chunks of nut-filled beef kidney fat all over the catch board I built under the feeder. When I build web sites with link pages, the link pages are like those little chunks. They get scattered and forgotten, but they have enough page rank left to be attractive morsels to lesser-ranked and newer sites.

    So, to stretch the metaphor even further, I’m apparently a messy eater. When I build a site, my link pages usually wind up with substantial page rank on their own. It’s most likely a result of good internal link architecture, and the occasional outside link directly to the link page itself. These little chunks of PageRank attract smaller birds who want a piece of the action, and since those smaller birds usually have no smaller chunks of their own left over, I just ignore them.

    But occasionally I get a request from a small bird (of the same species, or subject matter) who has a nice chunk of suet (a site with decent PageRank), but for some reason the front page is eating it all, and the link page has no PageRank. Since I’ve suffered this phenomenon myself, I have sympathy for the webmaster, er, small bird, and, if the subject matter is on point enough, I’ll do the link exchange. And then I’ll do something like this post to try to help the link page get the PR it so richly deserves.

    The lesson here? If a site is close enough to yours subject-wise, and has any page rank on the home page at all, exchange links with them. Like-minded sites, regardless of their rank, are extremely valuable. So are the webmasters who work on them. Getting on the good side of the “small birds” can be extremely beneficial, especially when that bird grows up! The more you help those guys, the more they’ll help you. So, when you see that email asking for a link to a site that is very much like yours, go for it! After all, if you eat enough little chunks of suet, you’ll get just as full as if you ate only a few big chunks.

    Convincing Clients to Cross-promote


    I’ve said before that the Google bot has become a very good reader. When it reads your pages, it takes note of your various subjects, how they fit together, and how you’ve used those subjects in your writing. If you’re coherent, you display a knowledge of verbs and sentence structure, and you tie all your sub headings together intelligently with the main subject, you’ll probably out rank the hack writers who just splatter key words all over the page.

    The Google bot also understands linking patterns. If you link from a caterer’s site to a used car dealer’s site, the bot will not be impressed. The two businesses have no business linking to each other. It’s just not logical. But if you have a caterer and a restaurant linking with each other, well, that makes sense.

    I have a lot of clients in Hawaii. They run diverse businesses from Maui weddings to a Hawaii bed and breakfast to organic Kona coffee to a Kauai Hawaii beach house rental. Recently, my friend Cherie who runs the Hale Hookipa Inn in Makawao, Maui, launched a web site about volunteering on vacation while in Hawaii. This idea ties into almost every business client I have in Hawaii. So, when Klaus, my friend who does Maui weddings showed some interest in green weddings, I immediately suggested that he cross-promote with Cherie on the Hawaii voluntourism thing.

    Now the two of them have linked to each other so that Cherie’s volunteer on vacation site and Klaus’s green Maui weddings site aren’t just linking, but actively promoting each other, since they are similar in their subject matter. The google bot certainly likes that, as they both moved up a bit.

    Unless there was a Google update that would account for an uptick of both sites at the same time. It’s why I hate testing. No matter how good your test, no matter how good your control groupings, Google could make a change that makes it all useless, scientifically speaking. But what the hell. Lots of other people have tested this like-minded linking idea, and it’s been proven to work time and time again. So I’m sticking with it.

    Now if I could just get my other clients to cross-promote more…

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    A Cloudy Information Day

    The Wordle Cloud for this blog

    Wordle Cloud for this blog

    Today’s date reminded me that I needed to do some basic work on how Google sees my sites. I’ve been working on my home page a lot lately, trying to update from the unruly behemoth of the last two decades into a lean, mean, free desktop wallpaper machine. Oddly enough, the words you actually have on the page still make a big difference to Google, even in this day of algorithmic love for links.

    Back in those last two decades that has existed, I used to be able to make sure that I had the right keyword density on the page, and Google would love me. Those days are gone. Now that the Google Bot has gotten a college degree in web literature, it understands related words, and it wants to see them. If it just sees the same words repeated enough times to get some level of density, you’ll be ignored. It’s like the bot is grading essays, and vocabulary counts.


    I’ve been using a great tool to help you get a feel for your cloud of keywords: Wordle. Here’s the Wordle image, on the right. Click through to see the better detail, but even this thumbnail reveals that I’ve managed to reduce my Hawaii influence, which used to be huge, and thereby increase the wallpaper relevance. This is a measure of density mostly, but if you click through, you’ll get a whole bunch of other words about, including pictures, free, backgrounds, posters, photography, and photographs. Also included on the page, but not in this Wordle, are images, graphics, art, and more.

    When the Google Bot sees the page, with prominent h1 and h2 tags claiming this site is about free desktop wallpaper, it then expects to see a whole cloud of words that fit into that category. These Wordles are a great help with that. Most of you might be surprised to see that the most prominently featured words on your sites or blogs are not the ones you thought they were. Wordles are a great tool to help you see what your site is about, and to point you in the direction of the content you really want. In my case, I mentioned Hawaii a lot more than I wanted or needed to (since I have a whole site about Hawaii), and hadn’t stressed all the other words that are components of free desktop wallpaper. Thanks to Wordle, I’ve fixed that. Now I just have to do it for all my sites, and that, I’m afraid, is going to take more than one information day.

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