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Search Engine Optimization : SEO BOOK.

Chapter 8


Buling Up Your Site Complete With Content

Content is often a very important factor in getting a high ranking in the search engines. Content, in the broadest sense, is a geeky Web term that means "stuff on your Web site." A content-rich Web site is one that contains lots and lots of information for people to see, read and use. For search engines, content has a more narrow definition: words and lots of them. So if you are interested in search engine optimization , you should concentrate on the text part o your Web site's content. You don't need to care about pictures, video or sound at least as far as the search engines are concerned - because those forms of content don't help you get higher rankings. You don't need flash animations, either because although some search engines are starting to index them, most do not. Moreover, flash animations generally don't contain much indexable text. You may find that your competitors have Web sites stacked full of content. They have scores of pages, perhaps even hundreds of pages, full of text that is nicely laden with all the juicy keywords you are interested in.

Three Methods For Creating Content

You can compete in the search engines several different ways. You can create well-optimized pages, get lots of links into your site, target keywords that competitors have missed, or put content on your site. In some cases, when going up against a well-entrenched competitor, you may have no choice but to fight on several fronts. You may find that you must do something stack your site with content. You may be wondering at what point you should stop adding content. Compare your site to competitors that rank well in search engines. All major search engines now use some kind of link popularity to rate Web pages. If you are sure that your site has more well-optimized pages than those competing sites, it may be time to stop adding content. Instead, you may want to focus on getting links into your site and thereby raising your Google PageRank.

There is some good and bad news about creating content. The bad news is that the obvious way to create content - writing it yourself or getting someone else to write it for you - is a huge problem for many people. Most people find writing difficult, and even if they find it easy, the results are often less than appealing. Perhaps you know someone who can write well and you can convince this person to write a few paragraphs for you. You can always pay someone for content, but the problem with paying is that it costs money. The good news is that you can use some short cuts to create content, tricks of the trade that can help you quickly bulk up your Web site. Here are three different ways to get content for your site:
· Write your own content.
· Convince someone else to create your content.
· Find existing content from somewhere else.

Writing your Own Stuff
The obvious way to create content, for many small-site owners anyway, is to start writing articles. That's not a terrible idea in many cases. Thousands of sites rank well using content from the sites' owners. If you use the write-it-yourself approach, keep the following points in mind:
· Writing Content is Time Consuming, even for good writers. You may want to evaluate whether you can devote the time to writing and maintaining your own content and then allocate time in your schedule to do so.
· Many people are not good writers. Not only is the writing process time consuming, but the results are often rather pathetic.
· If you do write your own stuff, pleeze spill chuck it. Then have it edited by someone who has more than a third-grade education, and then spill chuck it again.
Do not rely on a word processor's grammar checker. This tool is worse than useless for a most writers. Grammar checkers are of benefit only to those what already has a good grasp of grammar.

Summaries of Online Articles
Here's a quick way to get keywords onto your page:
· Use the search engines to track down articles related to your subject area.
· Create a library area on your Web site, in which you link to these articles.
· For each link, write a short, keyword-laden summary of what the article is all about.

The advantage of this kind of writing is that it's fairly quick and easy.

You may want to include the first few sentences of the article. This comes under the gray area of copyright fair use. What really counts is what the article's owner thinks. In most cases, if you contact the article's owner, the owner is happy to have you summarize the article, excerpt a small portion of it, and link to his or her site. Most people recognize that this is good for them! You may want to approach the owners of the sites you are linking to, to ask them to add a link back to your site. Ideally, you don't want to link out of your site too much, though don't get paranoid about how much is too. Just be aware that linking out of your site leaks PageRank out of the site.

Reviews of Websites
Similar to the last tactic, you can link to useful Web sites and write short reviews of each one.

Product Reviews
Write short reviews of products related to the subject matter covered by your site. An additional benefit of such a program is that eventually people may start sending you free stuff to review.

Convincing someone Else to Write IT
You may find that having articles written specifically for your site is rather appealing for two reasons. First, someone else does the work, not you. Second if it doesn't turn out well, someone else gets blamed. One approach, assuming you cant force someone to write for you, is to pay someone. Luckily, writers are cheap. For some reason, people often have a bizarre idea of a glamorous writing life that's awaiting them. If you work for a large corporation, you may be able to convince a variety of people to write for you, people may assume its actually part of their job. Spread the work throughout various departments - marketing, technical support, sales, and so on. It may turn into a decent amount of content. If you pay someone to write for you, get a simple contract saying that the work is a work for hire and that you are buying all rights to it. Otherwise, you don't own it and can use it only for limited purposes that are either stated in the contract or are more or less obvious. If you ask someone to write an article for your web wire and don't get a contract giving you full rights, you cant later decide to syndicate the article on the other sites or in newsletters. If an employee writes the material for you on company time, the work is generally considered a work for hire and the property of the company . However, if you have a very small company with an informal employment relationship and the writing is outside the scope of the employee's normal work, you should probably get the employee to sign a contract.

Using OPC - Other People's Content

Writing your own content is the slow way to create content. Using someone else's content - now that's the quick way. See the following list of quick content sources for your site.

· Product Information: contact the manufacturer or distributor of the products you sell on your site for marketing and sales materials, technical documentation and soon.
· Web sites and email newsletters: Contact the owners of the other sites and email newsletters and ask them I you can use their work.
· Government Sources: a number of sites provide free content for the asking.
· Content Syndication Sites: A number of sites provide free content for the asking.
· Traditional Syndication Services: Numerous companies sell materials you can use on your site.
· RSS Syndication Feeds: this is a new, geeky technique for feeding syndicated content into web sites.
· Open content and copyleft: this is an usual new movement probably based on the old Internet maxim, information wants to be free.
· Search Pages: You can search at a site to generate a search-result page with your favorite keywords.
· Press Releases: you may be able to find press releases related to your area of business. These are copyright free, and you can use them as you wish.
· A O&A area on your site: This is a way to serve your site visitors and get keywords onto the site.
· Forums or message boards: With forums and message boards on your site, your visitors create the keywords for you.
· Blogs: Blogs - from the term Weblogs - provide another way to let people create content for you.

This list gives you a good idea of the sources of content, and the "Hunting for Other People's Content" section explores how you find evaluate and procure content from these sources.

Understanding Copyright - It's Not Yours!

When I speak to clients about adding content to a Web site, I sometimes hear something like this: " How about magazine article I read last week? Let's put that up there!" Or may be, "Such and such a site some great information, let's use some of that." That's called copyright infringement. It's against the law, and although serious harm is unlikely to befall you in most cases, you can get sued or prosecuted. So let me quickly summarize copyright law so that you have a better idea of what you can and cant use on your site.

· As soon as someone creates a work - writes an article, writes a song, composes a tune, or whatever - copyright ia automatic. There's no need to register copyright; The creator owns the copyright whether or not it has been created. Most copyright works, infact, are not registered, which is a good thing. If they were, the Library of Congress, which houses the Copyright Office and stores copyright registrations, would be the size of Alabama.
· If you don't see a copyright notice attached, it doesn't mean the work's copyright isn't owned by someone. Current copyright law does not require such notices.
· If someone owns the copyright, that person has the right to say what can be done with, um, copies. What this means is that you generally cant take an article you find in a newspaper, magazine, or Web site and use it without permission.
· In the United States, certain kinds of copyright infringement are felonies. You may not only get sued but also get prosecuted.
· If you don't know whether you have the right to use something, assume that you don't.
· You cant just take something and rewrite it. Derivative works are also protected. If the result is clearly derived from the original , you could be in trouble,
· Copyright has to be expressly assigned. If you hire me to write an article for your Web site and don't get a contract saying that you own all rights, or that the work was a work for hire, you only have the right to place it on your Web site. I still have the right to use the article else where.

A number of exceptions can prove very important when you are gathering content, so listen closely:
· If it's really old, you can use it. Anything before 1921, is free for the taking.
· If the guvmint created it, you can use it. The U.S. Government spends millions of dollars creating content. This content is usually not copyright protected.
· If it's donated, you can use it. Authors often want you to see their materials. If they have given the public permission to use it, you can, um, use it.
· It's only fair - Fair use explained. Copyright law has a fair use exception that allows you to use small parts of a work, without permission, under particular conditions.

Hunting For Other People's Content

Remember The Keywords!
When you are out on your content hunt, remember that the purpose is keywords. You are trying to add keywords to your site. You can do that several ways:
· Find content with the keywords already in it. You want content that has at least some of your keywords, though you'll often find it's not enough.
· Make minor edits to the content you get, to add more keywords. In some cases, you shouldn't edit the content because you'll be expected to use the content without changes. In other cases, you may be allowed to modify the content.
· "Chunk up" the article, breaking it into smaller, Web-friendly pieces and separating each piece with a heading.

Newspapers often modify content they buy, A syndicated column you read in New York may be different from the same column run in a paper in Los Angeles, because newspapers will cut and modify for space reasons or because they don't like the way something is worded. When adding content, you are generally interested in adding pages with a variation of keywords sprinkled throughout.

Product Information
Does your web site sell products that you buy from a wholesaler or manufacturer? If so, contact your source find out what materials are available: brochures, spec sheets, technical documentation, or user manuals. In many cases, the material may be available in Adobe Acrobat PDF files. You can post these files on your site within seconds, and they will be indexed by some search engines - Google, for instance, however the ideal approach is to also convert the work to HTML, files because you have more opportunities to insert keywords - in the TITLE, DESCRIPTION, and KEYWORDS tags and so on - and to stress keywords by putting them in bold, italic, <H> tags and so on.

Web sites and Email Newsletters
The Web is full of content that it's about to sink. Why not grab a few articles you like from other sites or from the email newsletters you subscribe to ? If you ask nicely, many people are happy to let you use their content. In fact, many people use content syndication as a strategy for site promotion. They want people to use their stuff, as long as the sites using the material provide attribution - meaning they clearly state where the material is from and who wrote it, and provide a link back to the site of origin. Asking for permission is quite easy. Simply contact the owner of the article you saw on a site or in a newsletter, and ask whether you can use it. When you talk to the article's owner, make sure that you praise the article. also clearly state that you will provide a bio at the bottom of the article and a link back to the owner's site. Those of you who own your own sites have it easy. You can simply save the email response from the article's author as evidence of permission to use the article. Those of you working for large corporations with legal departments have a bigger problem. Your lawyers, working under the principle of "common sense is dead", will expect you to get the article's author to sign a 32-page document providing permission, declaring that he or she has the right to give permission, and signing over exclusive and lifetime rights to the article and any spin-off toys or clothing derived from it.

Where can you find these articles? For Web sites articles, search at a search site for sites that are likely to have the type of information you need. I suggest that you avoid sites that are directly competing. Also keep your eyes open for newsletters while you are doing your web search, or look for appropriate newsletters at some of these sites.

· Coollist: www.coolist.com
· EzineHub: www.ezinehub.com
· E-Zine-List:www.meer.net/~johnl/e-zine-list
· ListTool: www.listtool.com
· Tile.Net: tile.net
· Topica: www.topica.com

Try searching for a combination of one of your keyword phrases and the words article and newsletter.

Government Sources
This source is huge with a surprising range of information. However you should be aware of some important exceptions:
· The Government may still hold copyrights on works that have been given to the government - bequests or assignment of some kind.
· The law is a U.S. law, making U.S government works copyright-free. Most other governments hold copyrights on their works.
· In some cases, works that non-government agencies create on behalf of the government may or may not be protected by copyright - the law is not clear.
· Works created by the National Technical Information service (NTIS) may have a limited, five year copyright protection.
· The United States Postal Service is exempt from these regulations. The Postal Service can have copyright protection for its works.
· In some cases, the government may publish work that were originally privately created works. Such document are copyright protected.
Even with these exceptions, vast quantities of juicy government content are available. Not only will you find the sorts of documents useful for your purposes - text heavy documents that the search engines can read - you'll also find other materials that may be useful for your site, such as videos. Here are a few good places to find government materials:
· FedWorld: www.fedworld.com
· Government Printing Office: - Catalog of U.S. Government Publications: www.gpoaccess.gov/cgp
- New electronic Titles: www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/locators/net
· Library of congress - Browse Government Resources: lcweb.loc.gov/rr/news/extgovd.html
· CIA's Electronic Reading Room: www.foia.cia.gov
· U.S.Historical Documents Archive: www.ushda.org
· FBI's Electronic Reading Room: foia.fbi.gov

Content Syndication Sites
Content Syndication sites are places where authors post their information so that site owners or newsletter editors can pick it up and use it for free. Why? Because in return, you agree to place a short blurb at the bottom of the article, including a link back to the author's Web site. Here are a few places to get you started in the wonderful world of content syndication:
· Bull Marketer: www.bullmarketer.com/free_content.htm
· EzineArticles.com:ezinearticles.com
· FreeSticky.com:www.freesticky.com
· GoArticles.com: www.goarticles.com
· IdeaMarkleters.com:www.ideamarketers.com
· Purple Pages: www.purplepages.ie
· Stickysauce: www.stickysauce.com
· World Wide Information Outlet: certificate.net
  Some Websites have their own syndication areas = libraries from which you can pick articles you want to use.

Geeky Stuff you must Understand: Many syndication systems use a simple piece of Javascript to allow you to pull articles from their sites onto yours. Thousands of people are syndicating content or using syndicated content, partly for search engine reasons. People syndicating the content want to place their links on as many Web pages as possible for two reasons:
· So readers will see the links and click them.
· So the search engines will see the links and rank the home site higher.
And people using the syndicated content are doing so because they want content, stuffed with good keywords, for the search engines to read. In many cases, both the syndicators and the people using syndicated content are wasting their time because the search engines aren't placing the content, aren't seeing the keywords, and aren't reading the links! How do you avoid this problem?

· Don't use browser-side inclusion techniques, such as Javascript, Java or Iframes.
· You can use server-side inclusion techniques, such as server includes, PHP, or ASP. If you are not sure whether a technique is server side or browser side, ask a knowledgeable geek - you want an inclusion technique that loads the content into the page before it's sent to the browser or searchbot.
· Use manual inclusion techniques - That is, copy and paste the content into your pages directly. Plenty of content relies on manual inclusion, and you may even get content owners who are using automatic-inclusion techniques to agree to let you manually copy their content.

As long as you are aware of the syndicated content's pitfalls and how to avoid them, It's quite possible to find syndicated content and make it work so that you reap the search engine benefits of having that content on your site.

The Problem with Automatic Updates: Another problem with content syndication sites involves automatic updates. Automatic updates allow the content owner to change the content immediately. E.g. sites that provide weekly or monthly newsletters use automatic updates. This technique allows the content provider to update the content on dozens or hundreds of sites simply by changing the source file. The next time a page is loaded on one of the sites using the syndicated content, the new information appears. But if you are adding content for keyword purposes, automatic updating may not be such a good thing. If you find an article with lots of nice keywords, it could be gone tomorrow, Manual inclusion techniques ensure that the article you placed remains in place, and allows allow you to , break up the article into chunks by adding keyword-laden headings.

Traditional Syndication Services: Content Syndication is nothing new. It's has been around for hundred years. Much of what you read in your local newspapers is not written by the paper's staff; it comes from a syndication service. Some syndication services will sell you content for your site. Here are a few places you can find commercial syndicated material:

· AbleStable Syndication: ablestable.com/content/syndication.htm
· Featurewell : www.featirewell.com
· Magportal: www.magportal.com
· Moreover: www.moreover.com
· The Open Directory Project's List of Content Providers: dmoz.org/Computers/Software/Internet/Site_Management/content_Management/Content_Providers
· OSKAR Consulting: www.electroniccontent.com/conFinder.cfm?cat=beauty
· Pages: www.pagesmag.com
· Thomson Gale: www.gale.com
· United Media's Uclick: content.uclick.com
· YellowBrix: www.yellowbrix.com

RSS Syndication Feeds
RSS is one of those geeky acronyms that nobody can define for certain. Some say it means readily Simple Syndication; others believe it means Rich Site Summary, or RDF Site Summary. What it stands for doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that RSS is the next big thing in content syndication.
RSS systems compromise two components:

· An RSS feed, a source of content of some kind.
· An RSS aggregator, a system that takes the information from the feed and drops it into a Web page.
e.g. Google provides RSS feeds of its news headlines. You can install an RSS aggregator on your site and point it to a Google search. The page will then contain recent searches on news headlines. First you need is an aggregator, An aggregator range from fairly simple to very complicated - and that's assuming you have some technical abilities in the first place. Before you go to the trouble of getting an aggregator, decide whether there's enough suitable content to make it worthwhile. Although RSS will almost certainly be very big in the future, at the time of writing most of the RSS feeds tend to be a little geeky. So if your subject area is macramé and knitting, I suspect you may find a dearth of material at present. Also, often RSS feeds merely pass a link to material on another site, in which case you won't benefit much. Make sure that you are getting the actual material passed to your site. Check these RSS sites:
· Blogdex: blogdex.net
· Fagan Finder: www.faganfinder.com/search/rss.shtml
· Feedster: www.feedster.com
· Lockergnome: rss.lockergnome.com
· myRSS: www.myrss.com
· NewsKnowledge: www.newsknowlege.com
· Sundic8: syndic8.com

Unlike the automated syndication techniques, which use Javascripts and other browser-side systems for inserting content, RSS aggregators generally use server-side techniques, so the content is inserted into the Web page before the search engines see it. If you decide you want to go ahead with RSS, you need an aggregator. Try searching for news aggregator or rss aggregator, and check out the following software directories:
· Freshmeat: freshmeat.net
· SourceForge.net: sourceforge.net

Open Content and Copyleft: Have you heard of open-source software? It's software that is created through the contributions of multiple individuals who agree to allow pretty much anyone to use the software, at no charge. Another movement that doesn't get quite the same attention as Open-source software is the open content movement. Open content is, the content that is "freely available for modification, use and redistribution under a license similar to those used by the open source/free software community." Open content relies on what has become known as copyleft. Under copyleft the owner of a copyrighted work doesn't release it into the public domain. Stacks of Information are released under copyleft. Start at these sites:
· Creative Commons: creativecommons.org
· Open Content List: www.opencontentlist.com
· The Open Directory Project's Open Content page: dmoz.org/Computers/Open_Source/Open_Content

You should really check out open content, in particular the open content encyclopedias, which have information about anything. You can find these encyclopedias on the Open directory Project's Open Content page.

Search Pages: The great thing about the search pages is that they have the exact keywords you define, liberally scattered throughout. When you conduct a search in a search engine - whether you are searching web sites, a directory of magazine articles, or news headlines - what does the search engine return? RSS provides one way to insert searches - searches of news headlines - into your pages. Even though the page's content will change continually, you don't have to worry about the content changing to a page that doesn't contain your keywords, because the content is a reflection of the keywords you provide. You may also be able to find search pages that you can manually copy and paste. Sites that contain large numbers of articles and a search function may be good candidates. Run a search, and then copy the results and paste them into a Web page.

Press Releases: The nice thing about the press releases is that you can use them without permission. The purpose of a press release is to "send it out and see who picks it up". You don't need to contact the owner of the press release, because there's already an implied agreement that you can simply take the release and post it wherever you want. You may be able to find press releases that have the keywords you want. Where do you find these press releases? Try searching for press releases at a search engine. Combine the search term with some keywords, such as rodent racing press release. Press releases can be find at these sites:
· Hot Product News: www.hotproductnews.com
· Internet News Bureau: www.internetnewsbureau.com
· M2Press WIRE: www.presswire.net
· Online Press Releases: prnewswire.com
· PR Web: www.prweb.com
· USANews: www.usanews.net

O&A Areas: after you get sufficient traffic to your site, you may want to set up a Question and Answer or FAQ area on your site. Visitors to your site can ask question - providing you with keyword-laden questions in many cases - and you can answer them. A number of free and low-cost software tools automate the creation and management of such areas. Search the utility sites, as resourceindex.com, for these tools, and find a friendly geek if you need help installing a tool. Make sure the search engines can read pages created by any tool you install on your site, such as FAQ tool or the BBS and blog tools I tell you about next. Find a tool you like and then find out if Google indexes the pages in the demo or sample sites. ? If not, ask the software author to point you to a demo that does have indexed pages.

Message Boards: Message board areas can be very powerful, in more than one way. Setting up a message board - also known as a forum or Bulletin Board System - allows your site visitors to place keywords in your site for you! A message board often draws traffic, bringing people in purely for the conversation. BBS systems - even really cool ones with lots of features, such as the ability to post photos - are cheap, often free, in fact. They are relatively easy to set up even for low level geeks. Don't underestimate this technique; if you have a lot of traffic on your Website, a BBS can be a great way to build huge amounts of contents. Search for terms such as bbs software and forum software.

Blogs: Blogs are sort of like diaries. They are systems that allow someone to write any kind of twaddle - er, musings - they want and publish this nonsense directly to a web site. Blogs provide another way to allow your site visitors to crate content for you. On your rodent racing Web site, for instance, you can provide a blog tool and allow anyone to set up a blogging account. Make sure that you use the right blog tool. It has to be one that creates pages that are readable by the search engines. Search for terms such as blog software and blog tool. You can use a tool such as blogger, which is owned by google and hosted on its servers. You can integrate Blogger into your Website, which means that you can automatically insert any blog page that's created. If you use any tool that allows visitors to post messages on your site, you should monitor the messages and delete inappropriate messages. Many search engine marketers use such tools to post messages with links pointing back to their sites.




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