Monthly Archives: February 2011

SEO Spyglass: A Great Way to Get Backlinks

SEO Spyglass box

There are lots of great programs out there for those looking for help with their SEO efforts. Some of them, such as Web CEO are more generalized, offering lots of bells and whistles, including help with figuring out how to optimize your website, while others, such as SEO Spyglass are much more laser focused as a backlink checker.

I’ve lately been looking into getting backlinks for my new financial blog, which is just starting to attract some attention. I’ve looked at lots of options, including places like Linkvana, which offers micro blogs (around 100 words) with backlink text built into them to allow you to get the maximum number of links to your website.

Others, such as Unique Article Wizard focus on getting your articles into the various article directories. Both concepts work well for a lot of people and both seem to offer value for your money, however both are also somewhat hit or miss as far as getting the most bang for your buck.

Finding Out Who Links to the Competition

The best way to do things, if you really want to ensure that you’ll outrank the competition is to find out exactly what the competition is doing to get their sites ranked high up in the SERPs. Now you could of course do this manually, by examining individual websites and checking out their backlink strategies, however there are also programs that let you do that.

SEO Spyglass – Complete Reports

SEO Spyglass is one such program and so far, it looks really good to me. The software basically works to analyze a website and show you, in great detail, where they are getting their backlinks from.

Now if you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have seen me mention a Firefox plugin called SEO Quake which should show you the same information. It does – with SEO Quake, you can examine someone’s website and find out who is linking to them. The thing is, the information is somewhat limited.

SEO Quake is Limited

For example, you won’t find out with SEO Quake what the link text is that they’re using. You can’t analyze a website based on a specific keyword. You also can’t see where the links are appearing so that you can see if there is a chance of appearing in the same locations.

For example, just because MSN Money happens to have links from the MSN home page doesn’t mean that I can just as easily get my financial blog featured on the MSN home page. However, other places that link to them may be easier to get backlinks from.

Generate Reports as Well

The other thing that I find impressive about SEO Spyglass is that it can generate reports for you on exactly what they recommend that you do in order to get your own site ranking higher in the SERPs. Plus, unlike something like Web CEO (which I also looked at, but haven’t really looked at since I first downloaded it), the information offered is in plain English.

This means that even if you’re not an expert at SEO and you have no idea was SERPs stands for (it stands for Search Engine Results Page by the way), you can still implement the suggestions and get your own site to rank much higher, driving traffic and sales your way.

What it Costs

Finally, the reason I like SEO Spyglass is that it’s relatively affordable for those just starting out with a web based business. You can download a trial version which limits certain features or you can buy the “professional” version for $99.95.

That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than most SEO professionals (of course, SEO professionals also do lots of other things for you above and beyond analyzing backlinks, but for those who have already optimized their sites and now just need to build backlinks, this could be a real bargain).

And in case you’re wondering, no, neither I nor Quantum SEO Labs has any relationship with SEO Spyglass other than being satisfied customers.

5 Tools to Help You Spy on Your Competitors

Spy on the competition

First of all, there is nothing illegal about spying on your competitors. At least, not in the way I’m going to tell you how to do it. These techniques have about the same legal value as Nabisco sending someone to the local grocery store to see how the rival cracker company displays their crackers and to buy samples to taste them and compare.

However, while these things are not illegal and will not get you in trouble, they are things that will provide you with powerful insights into what works and what doesn’t work for websites in your niche, no matter what your niche happens to be.

Why This Works

The web is basically an open place. You can’t see the proprietary code behind a software program someone puts out for sale, but you can see their HTML code because it’s a script which gets run when it hits your local machine. This means that it’s all effectively out there in the open for anyone to see.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – seeing the HTML code doesn’t give you real insight. Knowing which keywords work well for the competition, what features they seem to be keeping for a long period of time (presumably because they’re popular and work well) and even which sites they own can help you gain significant insight for your own blog or website.

SEO Quake

Probably my single most favorite spy on your competition tool, SEO Quake is a plugin for Firefox. It will provide you with a toolbar for a page or you can right click and see the info in greater detail for any particular web page.

The information you’ll see is positively invaluable. Want to know which sites your competitors are getting linkbacks from? You can find it easily with this tool. How about which keywords they’re using regularly? That’s here too. You can also see Alexa rank and Google page rank as well as how many pages they have indexed.

Way Back Machine

This is a somewhat unusual choice for spying on the competition, but it’s actually a great tool. The way back machine lets you look at snapshots of websites as they existed in months and years past. You can then effectively see what your competition has kept offering and what they decided to drop because it wasn’t working. Then, you can apply those lessons to your own site.

AdSpy

This one is a paid service, so use it only if you really have need for it. AdSpy will help you track down which websites are owned by the same person, especially if they are “MFA” sites (i.e. made for Adsense).

Now you may be asking what the big deal is. You can look up the whois information. Well, you could, but this information is easily spoofed. Not so easily spoofed is the Adsense account information for sites, since this is usually the same across all sites someone owns.

AdSpy can tell you which site use the same accounts for Adsense, Chitika, Kontera and a whole list of other ad networks so that you can see what your competitors are doing besides working in your niche.

Website Grader

Not so much for spying on the competition as on yourself, this tool will check your website and tell you what they think your potential for traffic is. It will also tell you how to improve. Of course, using it on a competitor’s site will let you see what they’re doing right (or wrong).

Xinu Returns

Finally, Xinu Returns is a really cool website which will let you compare yourself to your competition. You can spy on competitors by seeing how you stack up against them and then try to figure out how to make your own page rank higher in the SERPs.

5 Ways to Overdo Your SEO

SEO

The title above is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not really possible to overdo your SEO. It is however possible to overdo what some people think of as being SEO. The problem comes when people forget that SEO is not an end unto itself. Rather, it’s a tool which is meant to bring people to your website where hopefully they’ll spend money and stay for a while.

When you forget about the ultimate goal of SEO and instead focus exclusively on seeing your page rank go and up and seeing your impressions go up without seeing people spending time on the site, you are overdoing your SEO.

Overdoing it With Videos and Photos

Here’s a classic example of overdoing your SEO efforts: you stuff your pages silly with tons of pictures and videos. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with pictures and videos. They can be extremely effective tools for getting people to stay on your website longer (and hopefully make purchases of whatever it is you sell).

However, it is possible to overdo it. Putting 6 pictures and three videos on a page along with a bunch of flashing advertisements and 200 words of text may seem at first to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing – putting in tons of multimedia content. However, what you are actually doing is to make your page unappealing.

Obsessing Over Keyword Density

People who truly understand keyword density will ask for around 1% keyword density and no more than 2%. Now to an amateur, that sounds like miniscule amounts for keywords. The reality however is that if you do much more than 1% keyword density, your page begins to look spammy.

Going to 2% makes a page look like it was made for Google rather than for human beings. Going to 3 or 4% makes a page unreadable (remember that a keyword could be a 5 word phrase. This would mean effectively that every other word of a 500 word article is the keyword if you have 4% density).

Here’s a good rule of thumb: in a typical 400-500 word article, your keyword should appear in the first or second sentence, somewhere in the middle of the article and somewhere in the last paragraph. You really don’t need more than that and if you do make an effort to do more, your work risks looking spammy.

Stuffing Meta Tags with Keywords

Back when the Internet was still young, a really easy way to rank high was to stuff your meta tags with irrelevant keywords which were popular. That’s why Google ignores meta keyword tags today. However, they don’t ignore the title and description tags. They’ll display them if they’re written well.

But, they do ignore them as far as ranking is concerned, so you may as well write content there intended for human beings rather than for Google. Unfortunately, people become obsessed with meta tags and then stuff them with keywords thinking that it will somehow help their efforts to do SEO.

Being Overly Aggressive in Social Media

Here’s a myth I fell for when I started working with Twitter: You follow people and most of them will follow you back because it’s considered a courtesy to do it. Here’s the reality: people are tired of spam and when someone they don’t know suddenly follows hundreds or thousands of people at once, they know to ignore you as a potential spammer.

In my case, I was trying to provide real, useful content about personal finance for my personal finance blog. I wasn’t trying to spam, just to jump start my efforts. Fortunately, I didn’t go crazy and add 2,000 people at one time. I tried for 200. 180 of them have yet to follow me back.

I’m still hopeful though since I’ve changed how I do things, putting my own photo on my account rather than a logo and filling out a real bio. I also occasionally tweet ordinary status comments rather than just useful bits of information.

I’ve now managed to get myself lots of other followers who see value in what I have to offer and I continue to hope that those 180 people will see that I’m not a spammer and that I’m trying to offer real value. However, the bottom line is, overdoing your social media efforts is definitely a great way to overdo your SEO.

Chasing Every Link Imaginable

I’ve written about this before: you don’t want or need every possible link available. Nor should you be providing a list of links to other sites which link back to you. Google doesn’t like it and they look at such efforts as being highly suspect. And yet, people think that they must get links so they grab them any which way they can, ignoring the dangers of overdoing their SEO efforts.

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post