Have An SEO Question? Ask Away!

Welcome to the Searching Solutions Q&A section! Feel free to ask any SEO related question and we will do our best to answer it for you.
SEO Question?

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  • Only one question per person, per week.
  • Please be patient.  Most questions will be answered within 48 hours, but could take longer.
  • Please do not ask questions regarding your specific website (example: “why is my site not ranking for this term?”)
  • Before asking your question, please view the questions below to see if yours has already been answered previously.
  • There is no such thing as a dumb question.

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Previous Questions & Answers:

1) Does it matter if I use Bold or Italics in my website’s copy?  —

It depends on who you ask.  ;-)

My short answer is no.  It doesn’t play a significant role in your ranking.  There may be a small shred of evidence to show that SE’s place some value on the bolded words, but not the italicized ones.

If you start bolding your keywords all the time on every page, it’s going to make for a pretty bad user experience.  I would just concentrate on your titles and subtitles (h1,h2, etc.).  Those are generally accepted as the most important part of copy optimization.

2) How can I find out how much traffic my competitor is receiving?

There isn’t a clearly defined way of doing this.  There are a few tools out there that will give you a rough estimate, but many aren’t accurate, or don’t provide enough data.

But if you can’t resist checking anyway, try using compete.com, or alexa.com.  For larger sites, you can also use comscore.com, and hitwise.com

3) I’m trying to rank well for multiple keyword phrases, and thinking about buying multiple domains for each.  Is that a good idea or a bad idea?

In my opinion, if you go with multiple domains, you are splitting your search engine ranking effectiveness.  Google views each domain name as unique.  Because of that, you will have your work cut out for you if you try to optimize each one.  And I’ve heard the arguments…. “but I’m going to link them all together so they all have lots of links”.

What is the point of linking a bunch of sites together that have no authority.  This isn’t the year 2001.  Mini site network Page Rank manipulation doesn’t work anymore.  You need to place all your content on one domain that will gain trust with the search engines over time.  Domain strength plays huge into rankings, and you want to be building an overall link profile for the entire domain.  So… when you’re releasing that new product, shy away from the temptation to buy a new novelty domain name to promote.  Just put it on a directory instead.

4) With all the different search engines, which ones should I be optimizing for, and which are searched the most often?

The 4 most popular search engines by far are:  Google, Yahoo, MSN/Live, & Ask   They comprise over 90% of all searches online.

I believe Google is getting around 60-65% of all searches, making it the most important by far to be optimizing for, and that number is just increasing.  With all the algorithm changes, and dynamics happening between the different engines, I don’t know of many SEO’s that are specifically targeting one engine or another.  If anything, targeting Google is the most common.  So many of the principals are the same with all the engines.  You should really just be following a set of SEO best practices, and not necessarily focusing on one or the other in my opinion.

5) Should I be social bookmarking my own articles on sites like Delicious, Digg and Reddit?

It is a generally well accepted practice to submit your own articles and pages to social bookmarking sites.  The problem is that without a little help, it is highly unlikely that these pages will be discovered by anyone, and the links themselves coming from the sites will carry very little to no weight.

To be truly successful with these sites, networking with other users on these sites is essential.  It is nearly impossible to get a submission on Digg to the home page without a little help from other users in most cases.  So, if you plan to use social bookmarking sites for self promoting your articles, make sure you make some connections around the country that can help digg/save/vote for your articles.

6) My Google Page Rank is currently at a 3.  If it changes to a 4 during the next update will I see a spike in rankings?

The short answer… no.  The physical numbers don’t have alot to do with what is actually happening on Google’s end.  The Google toolbar ranking that you’re referring to is only updated every 3-4 months, and the change itself has no correlation with how your site will rank.  Your page rank is changing all the time, you just aren’t able to see it until they make the update.  All that being said, toolbar PR can be a measure of what Google is seeing and can be a general show of trust when compared to other pages, but there is no need to do backflips when you escalate to a PR4… Google probably had you at a 4 long before it’s update.

7) Regarding duplicate content – Will you be penalized if you post the same information on two blog sites – i.e. my personal blog as well as something like Active Rain? I am linking back to the original blog post on my personal site.

No.  You won’t be penalized.  The duplicate content “penalty” issue is fairly controversial, but most SEO’s agree that it’s not a penalty at all but a devaluing of the copied pages.  You have to understand that Google does not care that the duplicate content exists in the first place, it cares about which document is the original so it can place it in it’s search results.  So when you copy one of your blog posts to another website, the only thing I would be afraid of is that Google would decide that the version of the article that you copied from the original would be viewed as the original, thus stealing the search traffic that you may get to your site.  There are a few ways around this…  First would be to simply wait for a couple of weeks until after you post the original version before you copy it.  Second, you could create a direct link from the copied version back to the original URL so that Google sees it as the original and source for the content.  Either option can work.  So the short answer is:  no, you won’t get penalized as long as you’re doing it the right way… and it appears that you are.