Url Shorteners and Search Engine Optimization

TinyURL is one of the oldest, most visible and popular on Social-Media websites (Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, Identica, etc.) url shortener around. So first of all what are URL Shorteners and why do we need them? Are they really useful from the SEO and web traffic point of view and what are the adverse effects of using a URL shortener to publish links on social media and other such websites on internet.

All the url shortener services are not alike and some of them are less worthy from the search engine optimization point of view. They are all useful without any doubt on micro blogging websites like Twitter and Identi.ca where you are limited to 140 characters and this shorteners can help you extensively than. Now what about SEO? Links are connectivity of the internet and from a link you can have an idea about the content. What do you get about the content of a link from this: http://bit.ly/djlSqY ?? Can you have any idea that it would be about Writing Charismatic Blog Titles for SEO ?? No. But this original URL says a lot about its content: https://seosurf.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/charismatic-blog-titles-for-seo/ So what are the workarounds here?

Shortening urls thing become more popular after the rise of micro blogging services like Twitter and thousands of new sites providing the url shortening services chipped in. There are few who left this bandwagon now and very few survived. but Do we really need URL Shortener Services? and how do they survive in fiercely competitive niche market and ever changing internet. You will get it very soon why do we need them and how good they can be for SEO.

Why Do we need URL Shortener Services?

Now have a look at this url and say what do you understand from just having a look at the url:

http://maps.google.com/maps?near=Vadodara,+Gujarat,+India&geocode=CYkCipGOD4C9FfVeVAEd-MBcBCmr3aORq8hfOTG4P0fhv9M5rA&q=sayajigunj&f=l&sll=22.306647,73.19066&sspn=0.048756,0.104628&ie=UTF8&ll=22.323609,73.180221&spn=0.006094,0.013078&t=h&z=17

Almost nothing. And it is long as hell even to email or blog or add to some micro blogging service or social media website. Now you can shorten this url and can make it more SEO friendly using some url shortener service. But how? See it working here: http://vadodara-map.notlong.com Now this url shortener provides url as subdomain with customized words you can use so that it makes more sense to your readers who get the idea that it is a Map of Vadodara and not some junk.

It also help your content discovered by services like twitter, facebook and idenca. There are few other advantages like not revealing your actual url with no follow tag to some ‘gray zone’ websites who may comment spam your articles and only genuinely interested readers and visitors visit your blog and not spam bots.

What about SEO?

Now old seo wise guys says that to get the most link juice you should use more and more keywords whenever possible to your incoming link traffic. Few url shortener services doesn’t pro vide any custom words and the whole purpose of optimizing search engine for web-traffic and getting better page rank is defeated. What to do than? There are various services that provide custom urls where you can use your own keywords and phrases as part of the shortened url. One such service is http://www.snurl.com/ This service provides features like Custom Nickname which you can use to put your keywords like I have done here: http://snurl.com/seo-category You may also give the title to get the most link juice out of it. You can have the advantage of both Anchor Text and Alternative Title Text here.

301 Redirects and url shorteners

If you want to get the most out of this you need to use url shorteners that uses 301 redirect to drive visitors to your blog from shortener service. Why it is so important? According to Search Engine Guru Dan Sullivan as described on his blog post URL Shorteners: Which Service Should you Use :

A 301 redirect says that the URL requested (the short URL) has “permanently” moved to the long address. Since it’s a permanent redirect, search engines finding links to the short URLs will credit all those links to the long URL

Most url shorteners redirect that way using 301 permanent redirects that tells the search engine that it is moved permanently but not all of them do it that way. There are few exceptions and bad providers that don’t do that and you should select your url shortener service very carefully.

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Charismatic Blog Titles for SEO

There are few charismatic and simple tricks that you can use to write very attractive and magnetic blog titles for your small or moderate traffic blogs or websites. Better blog titles are very important also from the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) point of view and can gain you some respect in Blogging community. There are few things that one should keep in mind before making decisions about including phrases and keywords into Blog titles.  It should cajole users and readers and should gently persuade them to read the blog entry by just having a glance at your blog title.

Why and Does it really matter??

Internet has changed the way we look at things now. Titles and captions are no different as long as this change is concerned and undergone various changes and improvements after new media. Web 2.0 is going to change it for better only. Titles are not as long as they used to be before the online media was in existence. Now short is simple as a rule in most cases as blog titles are used by many sources including search engines. Most commonly they appear in following:

  1. Search Engine Results and Suggestions including Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask
  2. Blog Search Engines and Blog Directory Services
  3. RSS and ATOM Feeds other Feed services like Feedburner
  4. Links, Pings and Comments from other fellow bloggers
  5. Social media and social networking websites like Orkut, Facebook and Hi5
  6. On your systems internal pages including Archives, Blogs, Tags and Search Pages
  7. Google News results and various other news search engines
  8. Easy to list using URL shortners
Blog Titles in Search Results

Blog Titles in Search Results

So peaking up the right title is not only necessary but a very important condition in your blog’s success in social media and public bookmarking services like Digg, Delicious and Technorati. There are few things that you can avoid while writing a title for  your blog post. The most important thing is not to use vulgar slang or informal words and phrases and offensive words as a title of your blog. Creating controversy is not good but healthy debate is always welcomed by most of the readers and users who leave comments to your blog and help you indirectly with your unique content.

You can create that “This is So Important” feeling with your blog Title that may help you in positive way. You are giving some information that is new to your readers or just some updates from your niche or area of expertise. If you constantly deliver news before the world knows it you are going to get more targeted traffic, and Good Blog Titles are going to help you immensely here.  Free I’s of good blog titles are (i) Insightful (ii) Intensive and (iii) Instructive that may hook your readers to reading further or clicking on that RSS feeder link that he or she has subscribed to your blog.

Goals and Importance of a good Blog Title:

  • Make it easier for your readers to get and idea about the topic you are going to discuss
  • Make it easier for search engines to help people find your article who are searching for a particular topic on a Search Engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing
  • Make it simple so that people can easily manage and bookmark your blog post
  • Make it descriptive and yet short as possible to remember easily

Minor changes and you have more responsive blog titles or headlines that help you generate more traffic for your blog both via RSS feeds and direct traffic as well as through search engines as they help it understand your content better.

Have your say on “Importance of a Blog Title or Headline”

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Google Analytics Keyword Research Screencast – Part I

This is the first screencast in the series of screencasts on Google Analytics Keyword Research in particular and Keyword Research using other tools and tricks in general. You need to read this pdf file available here before proceeding any further if you already have not read it:  Google Analytics Digest for Keyword Research

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Google Analytics Keyword Research Digest

Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool

Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool

Till now I have covered how to use Google Analytics in General and particularly as the Keyword Research Tool along with Google Adwords External Keyword Research Tool. There are Few things that we need to keep in mind before we proceed further with a Video Screencast about Registering a domain to receive data with Google Analytics. Before that we need to review the articles I have wrote about Analytics till now. They can provide a good start for the keyword research and utilizing free resources available from google to optimize your website or blog for few keywords. Three articles you should refer before proceeding any further this point are:

All these three articles are available as single downloadable PDF file for your offline and future references. PDF can be downloaded here: Google Analytics Digest for Keyword Research

Before we proceed with a screencast we need to clear few things about this in brief and need to review everything once.

  • Most of the webmasters are using Google Analytics for collection of Statistics
  • You can also do a bit of keyword research with the help of analytics
  • One the right hand side it is located under Traffic Sources -> Keywords
  • It can be viewed in various predefined formats or you can create your custom filters also to view and organize data and statistics within Google Analytics
  • Can verify if for the keywords listed there you are on the first page of google or not. It can be done in two ways. Using a search engines (manually) or using Adwords keywords tool
  • You can use and test the keywords and keywords suggestions provided by adwords along with proper anchor test and data available through Google Analytics
  • Once you start using it you realize how easy and valuable it is for your small website or a blog
  • You can start optimizing those keywords with proper “anchor text” to get listed on the first page of google for the keywords of your choice by doing bit of research and analysis

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Google Adwords keyword Research Tool

There are two very powerful tools offered by google that you can use for the keyword research purposes. One is Google Search based Keyword Tool and other is Google Adwords Keyword Tool. There are two versions in google adwords tool one is internal that you can use with an Adwords account and one is External Google Adwords Keyword Tool that anyone can use even without registering a google account.

Internal Adwords tool has many advantage compared to the one used as an External tool but for the time being we need to learn and concentrate on the external tool and how we can use it to manipulate search results as well as exploring other niches that are there unexplored. One of the basic usage of this tool is to learn about potential domains that are available in a particular niche apart from regular keyword research and stuff.

Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool

Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool

There are few advantages direct and indirect of using this tool to research about potential domains available rather than other websites that you check your domain with. First is that if security is not proper on the website where you search about an available domain name, it might be leaked and lost even before you can register it. Big registrars don’t face this problem but it is there with smaller ones.  So we are going to learn more about features and advantages of using Google Adwords External Keyword Research Tool and how to use it for Search Engine Optimization in general and to book a niche domain name in particular.

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Google Analytics, Keywords Research and Showdown

Few years back I was doing the keyword research for one of my website where I used to publish information and updates about the services offered by Indian Railways, my offerings included every kind of rich and text media that I collected, studied, modified and worked upon according to my own needs. But the most important of them all was the ‘keyword’ in my domain name and proper use of them in ‘text’ articles and information that was retrievable in text from by both ‘search engine’ spiders and humans.

Statcounter Inside View

Inside view of a Statcounter Traffic Report

I was blissfully unaware about Google Analytics at that time and was using some other free and paid services available for the tracking of my webpages and analyzing them. One such service was Statcounter‘s free account. Though there were few limitations like I can not keep log for more than 500 entries and once they are deleted can not use them for analysis on long term basis. Only numbers were available but no the actual data. There were few advantages though that it tracked my webpages live and was able to see the activity on my pages almost in real time (Google Analytics still doesn’t offer it). Though it was not very useful for the long term keyword research and knowing/understanding the keyword trends.

Still today Statcounter doesn’t offer more than 500 log entries for free accounts and Google Analytics doesn’t offer live traffic analysis of the webpages, but there are few things that make Google Analytics slightly more useful a service compared to Statcounter. It is a good idea to keep record of the keywords that send you some traffic 3 weeks ago, 3 moths ago as well as 3 years ago as it offers great insights into the trends. Google Analytics wins here and of course the service is free. You also may integrate it with your Google Adwords account if you want to use SEM services offered by google in future.

Now back to the case we were talking about on SEO and usefulness of long term analysis of the keyword trends that may help you sustain your search engine rank for long time. My domain was placed on the first page of the google for keywords like ‘indian railways’, ‘indiarail’, ‘indian railways ticket booking’, etc. At that time I didn’t even aware about the Search Engine Optimization and SEM and never knew that such thins exists that can help me boost my rankings in Search Engines. I also was unaware about my placement in the search results until I started using Google Adsense and earned a bit because of that Indian Railways website.

That was the first time when I realized the power of better search engine rankings and how it can be useful to professional bloggers and small webmasters. After that I started studying about Search Engine Optimization in particular and Search Engines in general to utilize its power for running professional websites. It is very important to understand how major search engines like Google and Yahoo works and operates in order to understand Search Engine Optimization and ranking better in search results.

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