Category Archives: SEO

This just makes me nuts. What gets me is that there’s an actual human involved in this. If it was just a robot-spammer, I could shrug it off.

It’s an email one of my customers received recently. I’m listing out all of this bozo’s information so you (or your customers) don’t get scammed:

Dear Manager
We are a professional intellectual property rights consultant organization, who mainly deal with the global domain name registration and internet intellectual property rights protection.

12th,3,2012 we received an application from Matas export trade Limited. They want to register () internet brand and CN domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company name or trademark. In order to deal with this matter better, it’s necessary to send email to you and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner?

Please let me know whether you let they use or register them by yourself. Waiting for your reply.

Kind Regards,
Jerry Lan
Brand Registration Department Manager
HongKong Newname Net Service Co., Limited
Tel: +00852-8193 0858, Fax: +00852 8193 2728
4A, Units 19/F, Far East Consortium Bldg., 121 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong

My customer was (understandably) agitated and, believing this to be a real situation, responded. This is what he received back:

Dear Sir,

Since you have no relationship with this company, we assume that they have other purposes to obtain these domain names. Matas export trade Limited want to register the following Domain name:
Internet brand:(<yourdomain>)

If your company do not want other to register them, and need to protect by yourself. I will send you an application form to fill out. Then we will use it to reject Matas export trade Limited’s application and help your company to register it. If you think that it is not influences your company and give up it, we will help Matas export trade Limited to register it according to the registration procedure.

That’s when my customer got me involved. Here’s my response to him, and my take on the entire situation.

“My opinion is that the best way to deal with this is to ignore it. It’s meant to scare you into hasty action. Note the wording. He’s contacting you with an offer to PROTECT you from this other company infringing on your brand. What’s that sound like? Yep, Vinny and his cousin are standing in your store, saying what a shame it would be if there was a fire.

Those domain names are – in my not-so-humble opinion – less than useless to someone UNLESS they are going to actually develop it into a website.

If I just buy “.biz” and stick a single web page on it, it’s not going to show up on the search engines and it’s not going to do any good (or harm).

My advice is to either:

  1. let it drop.
  2. buy up all those domain names at $15 per name per year. It’s not THAT much if it’s really going to concern you. If you do, I would only buy the .net, .org and .biz variants. The ones he’s listing – .cn (China), .hk (HongKong) and .tw (Taiwan) are really less than less than useless.

The talk I gave for the Ohio Business Broker’s Association was a hit, and I’m grateful for the chance to speak to a group of thoughtful, interested folks. For links to some of the resource material I mentioned, you should check out my earlier post (yes, I’m directing you to another part of the site!).

Meanwhile, if you would like a copy of the presentation, it’s attached to this post as a PDF document:


To those who attended: Thanks again for making the time to listen, and I hope to have a chance to work with you in the future!

I’m giving a talk today for the Ohio Business Broker’s Association, thanks to a generous offer from Peter Vadas of MBA Business Brokers, Inc (one of my new clients). The subject of my talk? Websites and Social Media (and we’ll probably get into a little SEO along the way).

There are a few online items I will probably reference, so if you attended the meeting and you are looking for those links, here they are:

  • The ClueTrain Manifesto – “… learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”
  • Seth Godin’s Blog – Outspoken, driven, passionate, and visionary, Seth is the master of the “short form” blog post, boiling ideas down to their most potent essence and delivering them in a writing style that is clear and readable.
  • SEO, Lies and Video Tape – A series on that reveals the truth about Search Engine Optimization. It’s not all that hard, it shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars, and you don’t have to hire an amoral pantless weasel to do the job for you.

In the first first post of this series, I pointed out that SEO companies sell features that can be done easily by most people, thus avoiding cost. As a reminder, those 4 simple, easy-to-accomplish techniques are:

  • Having a descriptive domain name
  • Creating and submitting a sitemap
  • Descriptive titles and meaningful content
  • Getting other websites to link to you

Last time I discussed domain names. In this post I want to explore the next item:

Creating and submitting a sitemap

A sitemap is what the name implies – a map of your site. The point is that the automated indexing routines (“crawlers”) from Google, Yahoo, Bing and others can work faster if they have a list of web pages to scan. And that’s what a sitemap is.

NOT having a sitemap doesn’t mean your site won’t get indexed. But it does mean that pages might be overlooked or that updates to your site won’t show up on search queries as quickly – all of which translate to lost visitors.

Submitting your sitemap isn’t necessary – all the search engines will find it eventually unless you’ve named it something completely weird and/or stuck it into a stupid directory name like “golf scores”. That having been said if you are being a diligent web designer, you can push the issue so that you remove all doubt.

In most cases, you will need an account with each of the search engines in order to submit your sitemap. That also shouldn’t be an issue for you since, as a web designer, you ought to have those accounts anyway.

Also, let’s be honest: Google is THE game in town. So it behooves you to get a Google Webmaster account (as well as a Google Analytics account). Neither cost you anything. I’m not going to take time here to go over all the bells and whistles of these tools, but you can get the ball rolling by going to

To add your sitemap to Google:

  1. Sign in to your Google Webmaster account.
  2. From the dashboard, click the “Add A Site” button
  3. Go through the steps to verify the site
  4. Click on the site to bring up it’s specific stats
  5. Click “Site Configuration” from the sidebar to expand the list
  6. Click “Sitemaps”
  7. Click the “Submit a Sitemap” button and follow the prompts

To add your sitemap to Yahoo!:

  1. From the Search Engines page, copy the link to your Sitemap file.
  2. Sign in to your Yahoo! account.
  3. Enter the URL for your site in the Submit Site feed field (e.g.,
  4. Click Submit Feed.


Creating a sitemap is very simple. The instructions below really depend on whether your site is a “regular” static site made up of a bunch of pages, or if it’s more like a blog.

Regular Sitemaps

To create a sitemap for your regular site you have to generate it or write it by hand. If you immediately thought “oh let’s do it by hand, that sounds exciting” then I’m done speaking to you. Please leave my website. I’ll wait.

OK, now that the mouth-breathing village idiots have left the building, we can move on.

The easiest way to do this as a one-time-shot is to use one of the (many) online sitemap generators. For the sake of example, I’m using But feel free to use any one you want.

  1. Go to
  2. Enter the webiste URL
  3. Enter your change frequency (that tells the web crawlers how often to come back and recrawl the site.
  4. Fill in any other options based on the Sitemap generator you are using and click Go/Start/Run/Whatever
  5. Once the process is complete, you be presented with downloadable versions of your sitemap in at least a couple of formats (xml, txt, html). Go ahead and pull them down to your local computer
  6. Now upload them to the root folder on your website.
  7. Finally, using the steps I outlined earlier, submit your sitemap to Google, Yahoo, and wherever else your fancy deems important.

Blog Sitemaps

Setting up a sitemap for a blog is even easier than for a regular site, because most blog software have add-ons or plugins to do the job for you.

For example, in WordPress I recommend adding the pluging “Google XML Sitemaps“. From there the options are very straightforward and it even submits the sitemap to Google for you.

TRICK: Skipping webpages and folders with robots.txt

While it might sound counter-intuitive at first blush, every site has folders and even web pages that you DON’T want to have show up on search results. Things like the “images” folder where you put all your webpage graphic elements, or the webpage “testme.html” which you use to test out new stuff before adding it to the live pages, or the “documentation” folder where you store all the design information about the website

(What’s that, you don’t HAVE documentation on your website? Here’s some advice: Don’t say that out loud to your customer.)

To get Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc to overlook pages, you use a robots.txt file. This file – also found at the root of your website – tells web crawlers which pages to look at and which to skip. In it’s simplest form, it looks like this:

User-agent: *

This tells the web crawler that this file applies to ALL search agents, and there are NO pages disallowed. Using my example above, let’s say you wanted to tell google NOT to index /images, /documentation and testme.html. Your robots.txt file would look like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /images/
Disallow: /documentation/
Disallow: /testme.html

While there is a lot more the robots.txt file can do for you, I want to leave you with one reminder: Robots.txt is a well-known filename that anyone can pull up on your website. So don’t use it to try to hide things from visitors because robots.txt is basically a big fat finger pointing to those directories saying “look here for good stuff”.

Make sure you check back here (or better yet, use “sign up” options in the sidebar to add this to your RSS feed or receive email notifications) for the next installment where we rise up out of the weeds of step by step instructions to talk about descriptive titles and meaningful content.