A new article on Business Week, here, details how Twitter has managed to get both Google and Microsoft to pay them for the right to include tweets in their search results.

The article states that "In exchange for making short blogs, known as tweets, searchable on Google, Twitter will receive about $15 million…adding that the Microsoft partnership is worth about $10 million. "The deals were huge…With two scoops of the pen, a lot of revenue came in."

This is pretty big news as it's the first time that either of these major search engines has paid to index a website and is especially surprising given recent activity in the web world. Last week, Google was successfully sued in French courts for copyright violations, thanks to the books it has scanned and lets people search through the Google Books engine. The company is also currently in a war with Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp for indexing their news articles which get placed within Google News.

Writers and journalists around the globe must be scratching their heads, wondering why search engines are willing to pay millions for random tweets, yet their own content gets included regardless.

Twitter must be over the moon as this marks the end to a very successful year. Since starting up in 2006, Twitter has become one of the most popular and respected websites on the internet, growing at a phenomenal pace during 2009. Even so, the site still wasn't making any money. Whilst this deal doesn't make the micro-blog that profitable (it barely covers the estimated annual running costs), it does show that the vast amount of information held on the website is valuable and if the site keeps growing, selling content could become a very lucrative revenue stream.

In essence, SEO (search engine optimisation) is two areas: keywords and links. Whilst most people who have a website have thought about keywords and most website designers will help include these in the important parts of your web pages, links are often an afterthought, if considered at all.

This can be good news for your businesses as if you haven’t bothered seeking out links then your competitors probably haven’t either. If you start getting the type of in-bound links that the search engines like, then your site will soon start to rise to the top of the search results, bringing you much more traffic and enquiries.

Why are links so important?

The search engines need to be viewed as a popularity contest. Just because your website says that you sell cheap widgets doesn’t mean Google believes it. You need other websites to point Google towards yours, with each link acting as a vote of confidence. This means that Google finds your site more often and pays more attention as other sites it trusts are telling it about yours.

Where should you get links from?

There are many different types of link and it is important to build a diverse link profile, so seek links from a wide range of sites. Here are a few of the more common areas:

1. Directories. Directories list and link to other websites. It is a good idea to request links from popular general directories, such as DMOZ and Hot Frog, as well as niche ones that specialise in listing sites from within your industry. Quality is key with directories, so if it looks like a site full of spammy listings then move on and find another.

2. Blogs. Commenting on other blogs is popular in the link building world as you can choose the text displayed in the link and the page on your site that it links to. Blog comments can also bring high quality traffic but you need to leave a valuable comment and not spam them with some meaningless drivel.

3. Link requests. Send an email to other websites asking them to link to yours. If it is someone you know, such as a supplier or friend, then they will probably not hesitate to help. If it’s an unknown website then you may need to provide a reason why they should, e.g. an interesting article or special offer they can link to.

How do you find these links?

There are numerous ways of finding links but we only have a few hundred words here to try and describe what can be a full time job. Have a play around with these search strings and vary the words to find an array of sites that are easy link targets (substituting the word ‘keyword’ for your keyword or keyphrase):

If you are looking for directories then try typing this into Google:

keyword “add URL”
keyword “submit site”
keyword “suggest website”

Want to find relevant blogs? Try these and see what comes up:

keyword “add comment”
keyword “powered by Wordpress”

The entire ranking algorithm that Google uses is based on the concept of link popularity, so focusing on this area can bring in huge improvements to your search engine rankings. By doing nothing but building links, we have helped many businesses reach very high Google rankings for very competitive keywords. It really does work, so best of luck!

Recently we published three posts about SEO and online marketing jargon (read them here). In this post, we take a look at some of the more unusual SEO slang that you may have come across.

Algoholic - Someone who pays close attention to search engine algorithms in order to improve and optimise their website(s) accordingly.

Bad neighbourhood - A phrase made popular by Google, linking to “bad neighbourhoods” can have a negative effect on a website’s search engine rankings. Known web spammers and link farms are examples of bad neighbourhoods, which the search engines recommend avoiding.

The Big G - A nickname for Google, which highlights its importance and relevance as the biggest search engine and also as the main rule-setter in the SEO world.

Caffeine - The codename given to the latest version of Google’s search engine, which is due to be launched after Christmas. Previous other codenames Google has given its updates include Vince, Big Daddy and Florida.

Dofollow - When the nofollow attribute was introduced in 2005, the term “dofollow” started to become synonymous to regular, followed links, those that pass on a SEO benefit to the search engines.

Google Bowling - The act of sabotaging a competitor’s site by intentionally trying to incur them a penalty and therefore banning them from the search engines. For example, if Site A is aware that buying links from a dodgy site is bad practice, rather than buying the links for themselves, they might buy them  for Site B - a direct competitor - in order to get them into trouble with the search engines. A major worry years ago, Google now claims to have ways to find out how links are acquired and even who has acquired them on your behalf.

GYM - The initials of the three main search engines: Google, Yahoo! and MSN (although MSN’s search engine has recently been renamed Bing).

Keyword cannibalization - An issue with a website’s architecture whereby a number of pages on a site are competing for a single keyword term or phrase. This can be confusing for the search engines as they will not know which of the pages to show in the search results for the relevant keyword.

Link condom - The method of providing a outbound link but purposefully not passing on an SEO benefit. For example, a website might reference a link that it knows to be dodgy for the purpose of a research article, in which case it could add a link condom to it (such as the nofollow attribute) so that the search engines do not think the linking site is willingly acknowledging a dodgy site in order to help its rankings, otherwise the linking site itself might get into trouble.

Link juice - The passing of trust and authority from one site to another.

Link love - The effect that a website will rank better in the search engines if it has numerous high quality inbound links pointing to it.

Spamdexing - The method of deceptively modifying web pages to increase the chance of them ranking higher in the search engines. The term is a combination of spamming and indexing.

Spider trap - A set of web pages that cause a spider, crawler or robot to get trapped. An example of an intentional trap would be one that stops spiders from collecting email addresses from a website for the purpose of sending spam emails. Also known as a crawler trap.

Splog - A spam blog, which has little to no use to human visitors and has been created solely to spam the search engines. Not to be confused with “spam in blogs”, which might concern a genuine blog with human readers that occasionally receives spam in its comments sections.

Stickiness - The act of reducing a website’s bounce rate and therefore improving its “stickiness”, meaning that a visitor will be more inclined to stay on the site and access other pages before moving on, rather than leaving straight away.

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