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Bald Mt. Press can build, maintain, and promote a blog and site for your business.

Turning Crumbs into Meals

06/12/2010
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.

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Convincing Clients to Cross-promote

04/18/2010

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

04/11/2010
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 Supak.com 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.

Wordle: Supak.com

I’ve been using a great tool to help you get a feel for your cloud of keywords: Wordle. Here’s the Supak.com 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 Supak.com, 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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Another Reason Why I Subscribe to Stephan Miller

03/29/2010
Abstract photograph by Robin Supak

Abstract photograph by Robin Supak

In order to keep up with the fast moving world of Internet Marketing, I read a lot of SEO blogs. Most of them go into details I just don’t need, so I spend a lot of time and mouse clicks on the “next item” button in my Google Reader.  But when Stephan Miller gets over his reasons not to blog and actually posts something, it’s almost always worth while.

In today’s Miller post, A Few Updates to My Lists for Building Backlinks, he reminded me of his great compilation of bookmarking sites, which I use on a slow day to make sure I’m getting the free links from the biggies of social bookmarking. Oddly, as a regular user of Digg and Delicious, I often forget to get into the other sites, which I have made mental notes to do, and then promptly forgotten.

First and most obvious is Slashdot, which is no guarantee since actual human editors make the decisions. But if you have something of value, especially to tech geeks, you’ll get in. Today I continued posting my little press release about 13 years of free desktop wallpaper, starting with Slashdot. While I was waiting for the editors to approve that entry, I popped over to Squidoo, which I’d honestly never heard of (How out of it am I?), and started making a lens, which is a web page with text, pictures, feeds and links (with do-follow tags). Took about 30 minutes to step through all the components I wanted, and I wound up with a nice lens about free desktop wallpaper.

It’s quite a list from Miller, enough to keep me busy for many days. All good back link campaigns should start with social bookmarking sites, since the potential link juice from such links is just too good to ignore.

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Strong Link Strategies

03/22/2010

Whenever I create a new blog or web site, like What’s New at Supak.com, I head off to the free directory listings to get in that usually very long line to have the site reviewed and linked to. For years now I’ve used this list of strongest links. I just head down the list, opening every free listing site in a new tab, and then spend a few hours filling out the forms for a free submission.

These free directory listing sites, especially the highest ranked ones, are more backed up than Grandpa after Thanksgiving, so it takes a while to get the listing. Many of them are specific to certain realms of subject matter, and you should always read the submission guidelines to make sure you’re not wasting your time. But after a while, you’ll get a feel for the ones that are more worth it than others, and it becomes a breeze.

Even though the page you’ll be listed on probably doesn’t have much, or any, PageRank, they’re still worth getting. From all I’ve read on the subject, a link from a lower page at a PR6 site is still worth some decent link juice, even if the actually page your link appears on has no PR.

This same rule about lower hierarchically ranked pages apply to any site you might be getting linked from. Don’t be discouraged if the page they’re offering to link to you from has low or no PR. Go to the top page of the domain and see what the PR for the whole site is, and work with that. I usually avoid domains with a PR2 or below, although I will make exceptions for sites that are about exactly the same subject as the site I’m working on. Or even if they’re close. It’s hard to have a bad link. You just don’t want to waste your time on something that’s not going to do you much good.

Another way to find good links is to set up a Google Alert about your subject, in quotes, followed by the word “comments.” I have an alert set up for “free desktop wallpaper” comments, so everyday I get an email with a list of sites that Google has found that have those keywords and a comments section, in which I can leave a comment (always careful to be on-topic and friendly) that has a link back to Supak.com in my signature. A lot of sites use open ID or some other form of ID through which I have a logo or gravatar, so I get my image in there too.

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Must See Freebees: The Art of Link Bait

03/09/2010
California Live Oak Trees Photographed and Touched up by Carl Bringas

California Live Oak Trees Photographed and Touched up by Carl Bringas

Every now and then I find something so shockingly astounding on line that I just have to link to it. As a member of the “linkerati,” I figure it’s my duty to help people who have something really cool to share. A lot of the time, that something is hidden in a web site that is not heavily traveled, does not show up very high in the search engine ranking pages, and is generally lost in the oblivion of a cold and indifferent world wide web. When I see that travesty, I really feel I need to act.

In this case, the art fell right in my lap. A while back, my Hawaii bed and breakfast client sent some pictures taken by a friend of hers, Mike Eilers, to post on her Maui blog. They were great underwater shots off Maui and Tahiti, including a couple of shots of a sea turtles and humpback whales. I posted them on her blog and on our computer backgrounds blog, and watched as they got a lot of interest and a good bit of links.

Of course, these pictures are all engineered to show up in image searches too, so it’s a double whammy there. Note the use of captions, alt tags, and title tags on these images, and the image names themselves, all of which should help these image score high on image searches.

Sea Turtle off Maui Hawaii photograph by Mike Eilers, retouched by Carl Bringas

Sea Turtle off Maui Hawaii photograph by Mike Eilers, retouched by Carl Bringas

Since Mike didn’t have a web site to link to, I was happy to get his work out there, and to garner a little traffic off of them. I really hope Mike gets a website soon, as I’m sure he has all kinds of great photographs to share with the world. Judging by the results of his collaberation with Carl, I’d say maybe they should cooperate, and post some of their work on Carl’s site.

Or, hell, I’d be more than happy to keep posting their work on my sites! If it helps us all, why not! Let this be a lesson to you webmasters and internet marketing gurus out there: do stuff for free for people and it can really pay off for you!

What started as some photo content for a client’s blog post had turned into some extra content for our photography site. It was a win-win situation, but it was about to get even better!

Just a few days ago, I got a mail from a friend of Mike’s, Carl Bringas, a photographer and post-production touch-up artist, who was wondering if I’d be interested in any of his work.

Wow.

Photograph, touch-up, and web maximization by Carl Bringas

Photo and touch up by Carl Bringas

Just look at this work. Go see the full size in our Carl Bringas gallery. It’s astounding. Carl has a photography web site, and I encourage everyone to go check out his photography blog. He was nice enough to let me post some of his work over at our photo blog in exchange for a link to his site. It’s a nice trade. I get some great art work to post (content is king, and I’m always looking for new content) and he got a link from a high ranking site that is on subject and can send some serious traffic his way. I hope he gets some work out of it.

In the mean time, he and I will definitely be getting some links out of it, as his work is the very definition of link bait. People who write about free desktop wallpaper for a living are going to find it hard to resist this when it shows up in their Google alert (note for another post: get Google alerts for your keywords).

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Culinarily Driven Travel Drives My Internet Marketing

03/06/2010
An Appetizer from Culinary Delight Catering in Los Angeles

Coconut Lobster Tails from Culinary Delight Catering in Los Angeles

We like to travel and eat. In fact, when we travel, our plans usually reflect our gastro-directionality, and lead us toward something delicious. We love going to Maine, where we have been known to include lobster in every meal for two or three days (lobster Benedict… arrglghhch…). Fantasy vacations include Baltimore during soft shell crab season, Ketchican Alaska (the Salmon Capital of the World), Italy (need I say more), and Ireland for the Oyster Festival.

So it’s no surprise that when I look over all the web sites that I manage for people, they’re chocked full of food and vacation rentals. Caterers, restaurants, Hawaii accommodations, Maui vacation activities, Hawaiian coffee… The web properties I promote look like a long history of palate-pleasing globe-trotting.

These web sites also reflect a tendency we’ve always had to go somewhere and work there, since we never had much money. If we wanted to visit a place, we would just move there and get a job. I did this when I was young, and apparently infected my family with this tendency once I got married and had kids. Even our current adventure near Cooperstown NY seems like a working vacation.

This common thread of travel destinations and food probably looks quite logical to the Google Bot. After all, people have to eat, and eating is a big part of any vacation. This kind of Google bot logic helps me help my clients get higher search engine ranks because I can link them all together and it looks cognitively harmonic to Google. I prominently link vacation rental people together. Romantic Maui vacation rentals naturally link with Maui weddings coordinators. A caterer in New York interlocks well with a caterer in Los Angeles, and they both figure in a link strategy for a Cooperstown restaurant.

These like-minded links can even be stretched to a higher level of inter-linkedness, if you consider the higher categorical imperative of hospitality. In that Platonic realm of ideas, a Kauai vacation rental beach house and a Cooperstown restaurant blog have a lot in common, as do an upstate New York internet marketing firm and a site about volunteering while on vacation in Hawaii.

Since all of these sites carry some authority, with minimum Google Page Ranks of 3, then I’ve created a slew of authoritative links from like-minded sites just because I like food and travel and have managed to attract clients in those fields. It’s the package deal of internet marketing, and it gestalts its way over al-la-carte.

Further, these clients have provided me with content for my guides to fun and free stuff, like my Hawaii stuff site, my free desktop wallpaper site, and my blogs like Backstage w/ Supak and this one. Now I’ve used the clients as content in sites that link to them while using their content, and I’ve got myself a nice portfolio of internet real estate, all inter-connected and passing authoritative, like-minded link juice back and forth.

It’s a resilient community in the virtual world that represents real people, real places, and real food all over the world.

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