Australian Online Business Directories

Michael Visser, an Australian based web designer (and more recently Search Engine Optimiser) has highlighted a distinct lack of resources available for identifying good quality Australian Online Business Directories.

Michael has started to develop and maintain a list at his Australian online business directories page.

While at the moment, it’s still in a very early development stage – at least its a start – If you know of any directories that haven’t been listed and you feel it will add value to visitors feel free to let him know of them…

Google’s New Pay Per Action (PPA) Product

Google is testing a new advertising system that allows businesses to advertise on a cost per action basis. You can read Google’s own announcement here.

Until recently, Google has mostly sold pay-per-click (PPC) ads, under its AdWords program – advertisers pay when someone on Google or a Google partner site clicks on the ad. Google have also offered for quite some time a Pay per Impression (PCM) model for Site Targeted Ads.

Google AdWords PPC has one big advantage and one big disadvantage: You only pay for clicks of potential customers, but you also risk paying money for nothing (sometimes a lot) because of click fraud.

There has been a lot of debate around click fraud because Google has a short term financial incentive to promote it. Google’s new advertising product is “pay per action” (PPA). With PPA you don’t pay per click anymore but you pay when a customer takes further action, such as buying a product or signing up for a newsletter – a Conversion action that you can define.

How can Google track the action?

If you use Google’s PPA advertising product, then you must use Google’s conversion tracking code in the HTML code of your web pages. By placing the relevant tracking code on your Conversion page (generally a confirmation type page which is displayed once a conversion has been achieved), Google is able to flag the “Action” and trigger a charge.

Of course, the advertiser has an incentive not to confirm the action, but cheating does not make sense. Like PPC ads, PPA ads will likely be ranked by profitability to Google, so if you ads not generating any actions, then it will probably stop being displayed in the first place.

Adwords PPA Ads will be competing directly with existing PPC and PCM advertisers, (all these types of ads will co-exist on the Google Content Network) so it will be interesting to see how Google goes about determining which Ads to display, and what impact this has on bid prices. Google will almost certainly choose Ads which offer them the greater profit.

What are the consequences for the market?
Google will be able to better maximize revenues on its advertising network, and it also should allay the concerns over click fraud.

Google’s new PPA program is in direct competition to affiliate marketing networks such as Commission Junction and LinkShare. Publishers could leave those affiliate marketing networks and concentrate on Google’s PPA program.

Yahoo and Microsoft may very well offer similar PPA programs in the future. The current players on the PPA market Snap and Turn now face heavy competition.

What are the consequences for you as an advertiser?
If you already track the return on investment (ROI) on your PPC ads, then you won’t be affected much.

If you are a smaller advertiser, then PPA advertising could mean that you will pay less for better results in the future, and that you will never worry about click fraud again.

Note that Google’s pay per action program is currently in beta test. This means that there are some limitations:

* participation is by invitation only, you must fill out a web form to request participating in the program
* the PPA program is currently only available to US customers
* ads are limited to Google’s content network of partner sites (Google AdSense)

Do Links Really Matter ?

While most SEOs will tell you that links are extremely important, most small business owners really don’t have any idea of why links matter beyond the simple concept that links will help them rank better.

Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide has recently published a new series of articles entitled Why Links Matter – that examines why links do matter so much to both search engines and to Internet users.

In part one, Jennifer raises the concept of links as the “threads of the web”, helping both search engines and humans find their way from one site to another :

Links Are the Internet’s Road Map
Perhaps the single most important reason why links matter is because they act as a sort of road map to the content on the Internet….

In the early days of the World Wide Web, links were the ONLY way to get from point A to point B. Since there were no search engines you had to rely on people to make note of good sites and to add links to them to their own sites. Once the first major search engine with a “crawler” or “spider” popped up in 1994 it didn’t take long before search engine programmers realized that following links was the most efficient way to find and index new sites.

By the early part of the 2000’s Search Engines were beginning to realise that a site with no incoming links probably didn’t contain valuable enough content to be worth indexing anyway. These days links are essential to making sure that the popular search engines will both find and index all of the pages on your web site. In fact, without links, your site might as well not even exist as far as organic search is concerned.

Why Do Search Engines Need to Follow Links?
It’s important to understand that search engine spiders simply do what they are programmed to do. They aren’t capable of thought or independent action. That means that search engines are unable to visit sites by typing in URLs that they’ve seen on television or by running searches for whatever query strike their fancy. As such, they must rely on links to help them find their way from one site to another.

This is why a good link building campaign will help your site get indexed more quickly and more completely by the major search engines. Spider-based search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN find new sites to include in their indexes by following links from one site to the next.

By working on building links to your Web site from other spidered sites, you’ll eventually receive a visit to your site from one of these spiders and will find your site listed in the most popular search engines.

It’s also why links are essential to the indexing process.

The more links you gain, the more quickly you will be indexed. In fact, the more links you have and the more search engines begin to recognise you as an authority in your topical area, the more often the search engines will visit you and the more time they will spend digging through your site to make sure they’ve included all of your pages.

So, you may have a fabulous site, full of great information and content… but if no-one links to you, chances are the search engines (and by extension just about everyone else) will never find you…

Link Building : Directories

Link building has been critical component of the online marketing mix since the first commercial sites and Internet resources originated.

As search engine optimisation has evolved over the past decade or so, links have become fundamental to defining the value of a site. Whether links are obtained via the old fashioned email request, building or buying relevant authority sites, directory listings, blog comment participation, and the recent phenomena or link baiting; link building has become an important, sometimes frustrating, and ometimes entertaining challenge for SEO’s.

Some of the most valued links can be obtained via payment, and many successful SEO campaigns begin with buying links or paying for editorial review.

Before there were search engines, there were Internet directories. Yahoo, MSN, LookSmart and Netscape have all been involved in the directory business at one time or another, and directories can be an effective way to define a site’s niche while generating some valuable links.

Netscape’s Open Directory Project (DMOZ) took the ‘free’ approach of having volunteer editors review directory submittals, but the realistic business model of paying editors to review the quality of directory listings can assure a fast and efficient turn around.

Below is a list of a number of valued web directories which you can submit your site to and have that listing reviewed (and hopefully approved) in a relatively prompt fashion (all prices are in US$):

1. Yahoo! Directory : The most popular and possibly oldest web directory still lists and reviews sites on an annual basis and these listings are long term traffic generators. $299 per year.

2. Best of the Web : Another older and well used web directory which takes pride in the listing and categorisation of quality web sites. $69.95 per year or $199.95 lifetime.

3. : A proven and well priced directory of business, both brick & mortar or online. $199 first year, $149 to renew.

4. Aviva Directory : One of the newer directories in this list, Aviva has built its reputation with Web 2.0 oriented marketing, link baiting and blogging. It’s a sleek and well thought out directory which your site should be listed in. $34.95 review fee.

5. RubberStamped : offers a clean, user-friendly, up-to-date directory that features human reviewed sites. $29.95 review fee.

6. JoeAnt : Like Best of the Web, Joe Ant is an older and valued directory which is a hybrid of paid and volunteer editing. $39.99 review fee.

7. Gimpsy : Very similar to JoeAnt, this is also an authority directory and excellent for link building. $40 review fee.

8. : Because all submissions are human reviewedGoGuide is considered a trusted source for finding quality spam free content by the major search engines. $69.95 review fee.

9. Umdum Directory : Umdum receives high traffic, has over 100,000 inbound links, has been well received by the SEO industry and is growing daily. $40.00 review fee.

There are many, many other valued web directories out there which offer paid express reviews. More can be found via resources like Search Engine Colossus , Paid Directories and

There is also a very wortwhile list of some of the Strongest Directories (based on the page strength tool at SEOMoz) compiled by Aviva Directory.

Note : A good number of web directories offer featured or sponsored listings which will list up to two or three sites at the top of the directory categories, above all other directory listings. Listings such as these can be very valuable in terms of traffic generation and building your site’s reputation and authority.

Writing Articles to improve your Site Traffic

How can you write article that increase traffic to your website? Here are 10 strategies :

1. Keep it Short. Articles should be between 450 -1000 words, with an optimal length of 700-800 words.

2. Be Selective where you submit. Many article submission services and article directories permit you to submit an unlimited number of articles on a weekly basis. Consequently, some of these services have been blacklisted by the more reputable directories.Some article directories permitting unlimited article submissions are simply repositories of poorly written articles – unless they have some type of article approval process attached to the submission. The reputable article banks (those that have great credibility with ezine publishers for having content-rich articles) usually limit article submissions to no more than 2 per week.

3. Make it Catchy. Creating a compelling title to an article is key in attracting a great readership. Most well read articles are “How to” articles, or they are some type of tips article that solves a problem. For example, “Top 10 Strategies to…”, “5 Secrets to Creating..”, “The 3 Key Ingredients to…”, or “7 Mistakes to Avoid”.

4. Include your keywords. In order to drive traffic to your site, you’ll need to include the keywords by which you want to be found in the title of the article. To maximise the effectiveness of the article, you’ll want to use that same keyword 3-7 times in the content of the article.

5. Short paragraphs are best. Your school English teacher may cringe, but when you’re writing online content, your paragraphs need to be no more than about 3 sentences each, and your sentences need to be rather simply constructed. Keep in mind that people are looking at light, not paper, when they’re reading online. That means that stress on the eyes is different in this medium than reading a hard copy of something. Because many readers tend to scan online content rather than thoroughly read it, divide your article content into numbered bullet points for easier reading and comprehension.

6. Valuable content. There is an incredible amount of drivel in online articles. It’s extremely frystrating when an article has a wonderful title that promise to solve a problem, but the content fails to deliver any valuable information. It’s even more annoying when the article is simply an advertorial of sorts for a product or service. You should always try to deliver the best information possible about a topic to your readers. Don’t be afraid of giving away what you know! It’s a great way to establish your expertise so that your target market will confidently buy from you when they’re ready.

7. Have a beginning, middle and an end. Your article should have an introductory paragraph to tell your readers what you’re going to tell them in the article, the body of your article with your prime content, and then an ending that summarises what you said in the article. If you write tips articles with numbered points, it’s important to end with a summary paragraph rather than your last tip, as many directory editors will refuse to publish your article because it’s considered incomplete.

8. Limit your URLs. Many article publishers won’t list your article if you have more than 3 URLs in the body of your article. Stricter publishers may refuse to publish any article containing affiliate links in the body, or links back to one of your websites in the body.

9. Compelling resource box. The resource box is the “commercial” that appears at the end of the article to tell the reader what you do. Typically, this commercial is 1-2 sentences containing your catchy “tag line” and the URL of your website (preferably on a separate line to make it stand out better). A resource box that makes a reader take action and visit your site such as a free offer often works best.

10. Place your articles on your website. Search engines love valuable and relevant content, so the more of this type of content that you have on your site, the higher your search engine rankings.

Your target market needs your expertise! If you use the strategies outlined above to write your articles, you’ll almost certainly start to see the traffic to your website increase.

The value of a Top Ranking

In his article What’s a Top Ranking worth at E-Marketing Performance, Stoney deGeyter has provided a superb analysis on what a top ranking is actually worth to a site owner. He goes way beyond the usual “a #1 ranking gets 5 times as many clicks as a #5 ranking” type statement and provides a detailed analysis on many different elements of ranking.

The various issues that may have an impact on rankin value that Stoney identifies are :

What is a Search Engine Worth?
The value of a top ranking on Google is different from that of Yahoo or MSN. Every engine gets a different volume of searchers, a different quality of searchers and a different intensity of searchers. Each of these plays a role in determining the value that a top ranking provides.

What is a Keyword Worth?
All keywords are not created equal… a top ranking for one keyword will produce different traffic, both in numbers and relevance.

What is Your Industry Worth?
Some industries get a huge amount of traffic while others can produce only a fraction of that.

What is Your Profit Margin Worth?
Profit margins are a huge factor in the value of a ranking. Search volume can be low for your industry or keywords, but if you are in an industry with a high profit margin it doesn’t take much to succeed.

What is a Search Position Worth?
The position you get in the search results can matter a great deal.

What is Localisation & Personalisation Worth?
Search engines continually look for ways to provide more relevant results to the user. This is both good and bad to the business because what is more relevant for one is not as relevant for the other.

So what is a top ranking worth? – it just simply depends. It is important to understand that search engine rankings are merely a single measure of success, not success in themselves. You can do a lot by focusing on other more traditional marketing aspects of your site such as usability, conversion improvement than top rankings alone.

The importance of Deep Linking

Updating your pages frequently is one way of encouraging regular visits by search engine spiders, and News sites and blogs, where the content of the site changes on a regular basis, can expect more frequent crawling. However simple updates it’s insiginificant in terms of your ranking compared to the effect quality inbound links will have.

The point is not to get Google to crawl your site as often as possible, but to build links to your pages that tell Google your pages are important enough to keep in the main index (and out of the supplemental index). From that perspective, regularly updating your pages is not a critical ranking factor. Automatically streaming RSS feeds onto your pages in order to make Google think your pages are being updated is mostly useless in terms of getting regularly indexed.

The Rise of Deeplinks

So how do you keep Google coming back and indexing your pages on a regular basis? Simple: You need links to those pages. Getting links to your homepage is not enough. If you want your pages to stay in Google’s main index, you’ll need some quality links pointing directly at those pages.

You don’t need an external link pointing at every page on your site, but making sure your most important pages get some links of their own is a very good idea.

And forget about link popularity. These days, getting lots of little links through traditional methods (reciprocal link swapping, submitting to large numbers of directories) is mostly just a ticket to the Google Sandbox for new sites and a waste of time for older sites.

The key to ranking in Google is not link quantity, but link quality. A small number of legitimate, high-quality links can have an amazingly positive effect on a page’s rankings. And the most effective links are built by creating viral content and networking with other related businesses.

A less labor-intensive approach to link building is to go after some free authoritative links. What’s important is that you determine which pages on your site are bringing in the most money and point quality links at those pages so you don’t lose them to the supplemental index.

If your money pages aren’t link-worthy (if they’re just product listings, for example) and you’re having trouble getting links to them, then create some valuable content on your site that can build links. Once those content pages have built up some strong incoming links of their own, then link them to your money pages.

And when implementing your link-building campaign don’t just focus on links to your home page, but make sure that you also get some deep links to other key pages in your site.

Constructing a Pay-Per-Click Campaign

This post outlines some of the basic steps in setting up a PPC campaign.

  • The first step in putting together a PPC campaign is to decide your budget and what level of risk you are willing to take, for both will affect which PPC search engine you ultimately choose.
  • Choose a Search Engine – As one would expect, the larger search engines such as Google and Yahoo may be less risky, since they already have excellent market coverage and tend to offer a lot of assistance to their users, but they also are often the most expensive in terms of the cost to acquire a top ranking based on a specific keyword or group of keywords.

    There are plenty of free, independent tools available to help you in your research of keywords which will tell you the current bid price for certain words or phrases on the different PPC search engines.

  • Once you have decided upon which PPC search engine you are going to use, have put together you ad, and decided the keywords you wish to have your ad appear under, register with the search engine, fill out the necessary information to open an account, and then begin the bidding process for the keywords you have decided upon.
  • When you first register your keywords with the search engine you have chosen (and some large businesses may use thousands of keywords), you will also specify the maximum amount you are willing to bid for those keywords. The price of a keyword can range anywhere from 1 cent to $10 or more, depending upon its popularity as a search term and the search engine itself.

So Whats Pay-per-Click Anyway?

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a type of marketing service offered by a variety of search engines. PPC typically involves the placement of an “ad” on the search results page for a specific keyword or keywords in return for a payment when a visitor clicks on that ad. The advertiser pays nothing to appear on the results page; they only pay the amount they have agreed to (or bid for) when someone actually clicks on their ad and is taken to their landing page; therefore, the term “pay per click”.

A PPC listing on a search engine results page typically consists of a title (around 50 characters maximum) and also a short (usually no more than 200 characters long) description of your service or some promotional wording. Some PPC search engines strictly control the text that can appear in the listing, while others are more open to using the advertiser’s own text.

3 Effective Link Building Strategies

For many site owners, link building is a drag. It’s just another thing that “has to be done” in order to build and grow their site. Most are looking for quick and easy link building methods because they consider it to be a necessary SEO evil instead of a long-term marketing opportunity.

In a recent article on Search Engine Land, Debra Mastaler discussed three highly effective tactics anyone can use to jump-start linking efforts.

Debra describes the following Link Building Strategies :

Refer & Recommend.. Getting recommendations and endorsements from highly visible industry experts almost eliminates the necessity of selling yourself and is the epitome of getting business in general to link to you. When you look at it from this point of view it makes sense to focus your efforts on getting links from the power players in your niche rather than chasing down reciprocal links or buying site-wide ads. Consider creating a company advisory board and invite the movers and shakers of your industry to be part of it. Tap into the collective business knowledge and link power these people hold.

Show and Tell. Whether you offer a service or product, dangle a carrot and give away something of value in exchange for the link. Step away from the mindset that you have to swap a link for a link and offer a free or lite version of your product as the incentive instead.

Expose Yourself. Now, now, not that kind of exposure! I mean the type of editorial exposure you get when you work the media. Explore alternative angles in addition to doing the standard press release submission. Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper, podcast, blog, periodical or trade publication in your niche about an issue that’s relevant to your business. Editors who are presented with well written cogent pieces will most likely reprint the piece and/or link to you in response. After all, everyone wants good content these days so make sure it’s yours their getting!

Link building is like anything else worth having— if you want the good stuff, you have to work for it. No matter what marketing strategy you use, it’s the passion and drive you have for your products and business that will be the single greatest element in attracting links to your website.