Payday Loan Blog - Content
Undoubtedly if you stumbled upon this page from a search engine, you probably have a good idea at how frustrating this realization is. If you are not familiar with it, here's how it works:
1. Site in question (ex. Paydayloanaffiliate.com) enjoys a solid rank, such as #4 for 'cash advance'.
2. Upon checking the rankings the next day, we find Paydayloanaffiliate is mysteriously missing from the results. After vomiting a little in one's mouth, it is time to figure out if it is a ban, a global issue, or a localized issue.
3. Running a site command I can see that we're still indexed and receiving cache (wipe brow).
4. Now that we know we weren't completely dropped, let's see how global the issue is for the site. Does it rank for any other competitive terms? Yes.
5. If it didn't rank for the competitive terms, we'd likely do a search for a unique URL string, such as this. Thankfully, we didn't have to.
6. Okay, so we're just gone for 'cash advance'…that's so weird. What if we wrap the phrase in quotes. It's back…interesting.
Why is it back with quotes? It has to do with how the results are filtered, or in this case, not filtered. When I see something like this, I know that a site has either been scraped and has a duplication penalty, was too focused on its optimization and hit some sort of BLOOP filter, or it is just going to be a lousy day. Let's find out which it is going to be.
1. Running copyscape on the PLAN, I see several nasty results. Put that into a separate window for the next test.
2. Run an allinanchor: on the phrase; a lot of people will say allinanchor doesn't really tell you much anymore - I still like it because it tells me a little bit of information; namely, who's trying to really hit this phrase. Interesting results.
Right away I can see what happened. A certain blogspot URL has scraped our content and is trying really, really hard to rank for 'cash advance' by guestbook spamming everything in sight - since Google refuses to do the smart thing and not give blogspot weight for commercial terms, we find ourselves temporarily filtered out for a nice traffic phrase.
Now what? Well, we could submit our site to sitemaps and fill out a spam report I suppose, and really I don't want to discourage people from doing that - we have had clients that reported success when doing so. Instead, I'm going to take a fire fighting approach: get more links for cash advance.
Did this article help you? Place a link…
Title: Cash Advance
Optional text: Beating irrelevant blogspot spam, one day at a time.
…but blogging with images is a pain in the #$%!
Though I’m quite sure Cygnus is the more interesting blogger to most of the Payday Loan Affiliate Network subscribers, his attentions are elsewhere today and you’re stuck with me. Cygnus forwarded me a question posted on the Payday Loan Affiliate Marketing Blog profile which is today’s topic – big images can equal big trouble!
We’ve really hammered home one of 2003’s most played out phrases – content is king. Well, the shift in focus from regular SEO methods has sent most of your garden-variety webmasters out there in search of places to rip content for use on their own websites. Their salvation has manifested itself in the form of one symbol – sort of like what happened to Prince, sans the salvation part – and that symbol is:
RSS feeds, much like the one available through this blog, give webmasters the unique opportunity to keep their clients up-to-date with the latest goings on in their little corner of cyberspace. This is great news for people like Kimberly of Your Credit Network who manage a personal finance blog; an RSS feed allows for instant delivery of content to a subscription-based readership – but what happens when an RSS feed needs to be toned down because everyone and their mom is using it to suit their own purposes?
The Problem: Gargantor Images in RSS Feeds
First, let’s state some assumptions based on a preliminary analysis of Kimberly’s site:
- She manages a blog with an ATOM or RSS feed
- People are using the content provided via her RSS feed as a supplement to their own content
- Kimberly approves of this and want to help out by making sure any artifacts provided in her feed do not break her subscriber’s page
The Your Credit Network blog has a number of publishers, and an example of where a recent post was syndicated can be found at the LoanSaver credit card blog summary. As you can see, Kimberly’s most recent post about fixing up credit scores had an image that was far too large to fit the area allotted for it, even though this image fit just fine in her own blog.
The Solution: Communication!
It's also important to make sure you use absolute addressing instead of relative addressing - content hosted on another website will not be able to display your images otherwise!
Why is this Important?
RSS feeds provide publishers with fresh content updated by experts. They also provide free back links to interior pages and other relevant resources to the blog that produces the content. In both cases the situation is win-win for the webmaster, so it only makes sense that the two would work together to make sure that each webmaster’s needs are being met. We keep a list of acceptable image sizes here at the Payday Loan Affiliate Network, so on the rare occasion that I do design creative for use in a blog post I know it won’t be messing up any of our syndicating partners’ websites. The things we do for quality back links, eh?
…or, “not everything needs to be in enclosed in <H1> tags.”
We’ve been trying out a few on-page SEO variables on our test sites, and a recent update by Google showed that the overuse of the H1 tag can lead to troubles as far as ranking is concerned. This is a particularly valuable piece of information to know, especially considering how hard so many sites out there seemed to be hit by recent search engine updates. Why is this important? I smell the perfect opportunity for a clever analogy…
If you’re like me, it was difficult to pick just a few words from a paragraph in your college textbook; if you’re even more like me you highlighted entire pages at a time. This sort of defeats the purpose of highlighting altogether, doesn’t it? Header tags work off the same principal – it’s basically useless to make everything on a page an H1 since it dilutes the potency/purpose of that particular tag. H tags are supposed to underscore important points within a body of text, so the frequent/overuse of a tag not only distracts a user, it can be an obvious indication that a webmaster is trying to use H tags to sway search engine favor. Let’s take a look at why:
Rule One: No More than One H1 on a Page / Logical H Tag Order
This is the most valuable lesson of this recent study, as sites that utilized more than one H1 on a page seemed to take the strongest blow. An H1 tag tends to indicate a main topic, and if you think about it you really ought to only have one main topic on a page. You may use H2 and H3 tags to further break out that topic on the page, but keep your H1 tag reserved for the title/main focus of whatever you’re discussing.
It’s also useful to use H tags in a logical order by surrounding the tag with relevant text or related topics.
Rule Two: No Hidden H Tags or Tags in Weird Places
When I play site sleuth I like to see if I can’t visually identify an errant <H> tag before I cheat and view the source of a site; this only highlights the purpose of the exercise, since the purpose of an H tag in HTML is to identify a key point and it should probably be treated as such when displayed on-page. This means no using sneaky white-on-white text, margin-left:-1000px, or other tricky tactics to transform your tags into otherwise unidentifiable text (you can thank spammers for that one).
Rule Three: No Specific Keyword Phrases Only
Using H tags, while handy for SEO benefit, should always be a visual cue for a reader to learn about that tag’s contents. In other words, promoting a cash advance site by having multiple H1/2/3 tags with just “cash advance” or “cash advances” in it is bad news. If a client is on your site chances are they know you’re giving them the opportunity to apply for a cash advance, so an H tag with just the target keywords phrase is useless at best. From a spider’s point of view this is an obvious attempt to use H tags to artificially inflate the visibility of a target phrase, and it would appear that search engines are now discounting sites accordingly (you can thank spammers for that one too).
Putting It All Together
Here’s some example HTML of properly formatted H tags in action:
<h1>We’ve got Cash Advances for Every Occasion!</h1>
Whether you’re looking for a cash advance to cover an unexpected expense, emergency medical bills, or that much needed vacation, we’ve got the cash you need!
<h2>Cash Advances: Perfect for Unexpected Bills</h2>
With the cost of energy on the rise and record-breaking temperature lows, it’s easy to see why bills can be overwhelming. Did you know you can use a cash advance to cover unusually high utility payments without worrying about disconnections or late fees?
<h2>Paying for Emergency Medical Expenses</h2>
Sometimes life’s emergencies come without warning, which is why instant approval cash advances can come in extra handy should the unthinkable occur. Our cash advance products are favored by consumers because …
- <h3>Cash Advances are Fast</h3>
Once approved, you’ll receive your funds electronically overnight
- <h3>Applying Online is Easy</h3>
Our application only takes a few minutes, and in many cases no faxing will be required
(…and I could go on.)
As you can see, H1 was used to highlight the topic (cash advances for any occasion), followed by the enumeration of that topic with H2 tags (types of occasions), and then finally support for a specific topic (qualities that are attractive for a specific occasion). You might have even noticed that I didn’t use “cash advance” in every tag in order to avoid keyword stuffing; instead I would recommend using words that consumers might use to describe your product or your product’s qualities (in this case, “applying,” “fast,” and “easy” were used since these are common search descriptors). A good rule of thumb would be 75/25, meaning 75% cash advance or related phrases and 25% product descriptors.
What better way to be a true blogger than to blog about blogging? I can’t think of a single one…
We’ve been hammering home the importance of not using duplicate content on your cash advance site, but up until this point the assumption has been that “duplicate content” comes from copying other websites either verbatim or in chunks; what we haven’t talked about is sites that repost content in more than one location. A blog like ours is the perfect example of this, so the question is: will a site be penalized for owning pages with duplicate content throughout just because a blog tool slices the content differently?
What Might a Cash Advance Blog Look Like
Adam Lasnik of the Google Webmaster Central Blog offers a very thorough overview of what duplicate means to Google in a recent blog post, the gist of it being that Google’s algorithm can tackle the duplicate content and decide which page is the “best version” of the content you’re trying to present. So what does all this mean if you manage a blog for your cash advance clients? Well, let’s take the Payday Loan Affiliate Network Blog as an example – this post will be, at its maximum, located in five separate places:
- On the www.paydayloanaffiliate.com/blog page
- On the month listing for December
- On the day listing for December 19th
- On the category listing page for “content”
- At the article’s unique URL (probably the desired “home” of the unique content in most cases)
If that doesn’t scream duplicate content then I don’t know what does. When I got to thinking about this I began to sweat profusely, get the spins, and – I’m not gonna lie – I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit. Sometime between updating my résumé and thinking about the terrible irony of forcing the duplicate content issue on the very same blog that would later be penalized for duplicate content it occurred to me… surely Google has a device to deal with this!
If you have a cash advance blog and it posts similar to the way our does then yes, you do have duplicate content – but that’s not a bad thing necessarily. Google will sort out which page it thinks is the most relevant; an example of this can be seen by running a site command on paydayloanaffiliate.com, which will reveal the unique blog post URLs long before the month, day, and category assortments (they’ll be at the very end of the blog).
You can use cues such as internal/external links as a method to suggest which pages you favor to Google and the other search engines. Additionally, you can use redirects, .htaccess mods and other methods better explained by Jon (hint hint) to hammer the point home because, let’s face it, leaving Google to its own devices can spell SERP disaster.
The point? So long as you’re presenting relevant blog posts about topics of interest to cash advance consumers and you’re doing it in a manner that will help a search engine determine which is the most relevant then you are all set. Sweating, spins, and throwing up is all unnecessary – unless you’re Blumey, of course.
We've touched upon keyword research in the past for payday loans, but we wanted to give a couple examples of processes that have worked in the past. The problem, dear reader, is that trying to rank for "payday loan" is really tough, especially over a long period of time. However, ranking for "Indianapolis Payday Loan" isn't quite as difficult - the more niche the phrase is, the easier it gets to rank for. Additionally, if your content is tailored to that specific phrase, the conversions on your traffic are likely to benefit as well.
One of the golden oldies I like to use for quickie research is a script developed by Shawn at Digitalpoint. Plugging in our "payday loan" phrase, we're given a host of other phrases that could be relevant in our payday loan keyword research. The results shown are both from Wordtracker and Overture, but since Overture can be odd in the way it displays data sometimes, coupled with a nasty habit of combining singular and plural usage of keywords together, we'll just use
instant payday loan
no fax payday loans
no fax payday loan
advance cash loan payday quick
online payday loan service
faxless payday loans
payday loans online
bad credit payday loan
payday cash loan
savings account payday loan
cash advance payday loan
no teletrack payday loans
That smattering of phrases looks promising, but is there anything else we could do? If only there was something that could tell us similar phrases…something, like a thesaurus!
It is surprising how many SEOs don't consult the thesaurus when it comes to keyword research; more commissions for you I hope!
Since we're lazy around here, I typed in "loan" to my handy tool and was given a few results that might work. "Advance" sounds promising - substituting that word in the Digitalpoint tool I'm given a slightly different result set of lovely payday loan related phrases (this time selecting the Overture data):
cash advance payday loan
payday advance loan
payday cash advance
advance cash loan online payday
online payday advance
fast cash advance payday loan
no fax payday advance
advance cash loan payday quick
fast payday advance
payday loan cash advance loan
quick payday advance loan
advance til payday
faxless payday advance
cash advance until payday
fast cash payday advance
no faxing payday advance
1000 advance payday loan
cash advance loan payday internet
no fax payday cash advance
check advance payday loan
no fax payday advance loan
cheap payday advance
advance till payday
advance loan online payday
payday advance service
1000 payday advance
cash advance payday loan software
payday advance california
online payday cash advance
instant cash online payday advance
payday advance loan texas
payday advance services
payday advance cash faxless loan
payday cash advance texas
payday advance loan new mexico
get payday cash advance
payday advance illinois
payday in advance
advance loan military payday
payday advance loan washington
payday cash advance new york
payday advance utah
payday advance michigan
payday cash advance today
payday cash advance washington
faxless advance payday loan
advance cash from loan online payday quick toda
payday check advance
payday cash advance personal loan
Now, if you were to build a site around "payday cash advance today" and followed the other marketing advice given on this blog, the chances of your ranking aren't too shabby.
If search engine optimization is one of the ways you attract traffic to your site, you might want to consider capitalizing on the wonders of niche phrases above and beyond the usual payday loan / cash advance arena. I’ve covered the adjectives that can be used to describe our payday loan product features in the content section of this blog, but what about non-traditional descriptors such as typos? Is this type of search even lucrative? How do you even figure out common misspellings of a phrase?
Case Study: Payday Loans versus Payday Laons
Speaking in terms of SEO, everyone and their mother is targeting the keyword phrase “payday loan” since that’s the most common descriptor for the type of product we’re selling. The problem is, you’re going up against every other person out there who ever thought about using SEO to rank for this phrase, and you can’t really hope to get to the top of the SERPs where the best traffic sits. Rather than dumping a whole bunch of time going after the phrases everyone else is targeting, you may wish to consider the phrases that are less popular – phrases that are misspelled.
Give a look at Digital Point’s keyword suggestion tool and type in “payday loan” – you’ll see a whopping 25,000+ number of times that this particular phrase is searched for in a day. Now try the phrase “payday laons” (the a and the o are transposed) and you’ll see the a meager 8+ searches a day. Since most people are going after the big phrase it would be reasonable to assume that you’d get very little (if any) of the traffic; in the case of a typo, the competition is significantly lessened and your chances improve. If you capture even 25% of the traffic from being in the top ten for a misspelled phrase (in this case you would have gotten 2 loans totaling $40 to you) then you’ve already beaten your chances of getting applications from the regular spelling of the phrase. Neat, huh?
How Do I Find Out Other Misspellings?
I don’t really have any favorite tools for this type of SEO, but when I give advice for finding common typos I do suggest a Google search for “typo traffic generator” as a starting point. Let’s take MisterTypo.com’s generator for an example; the phrase “cash advance” yields these results:
- acsh advance
- ash advance
- caah advance
- caash advance
- cadh advance
…and these are just the first five. I count a total of 89 possible typos for this phrase alone, and you could go on and on with niche phrases such as “fast cash advance” (126 results), “instant cash advance” (149 results) or “emergency cash advance” (166 results). If you got one cash advance per week per permutation for one of these phrases, you would have banked $7,120 in one month’s time. Not too shabby if you ask me!
Driving Traffic Using (You Guessed It) Content
Now let’s take this idea and apply it to previous themes such as unique content generation. I’ve covered the reasons why it’s important to make use of unique cash advance content in a previous blog posting, but it’s important to take this new misspelled keyword idea and apply it to the same schema. Unique content is the stuff that makes search engines say “this site is important to people looking for (keyword phrase here)” and will subsequently cause them to rank you for your keyword phrase of choice. One of the methods you could use to hit a misspelling such as “acsh advance” home would be to write an article titled "acsh-advance.htm" using the phrase “acsh advance” throughout the page. Lather, rinse and repeat for the rest of your misspelled keyword phrases and bam – instant niche phrase targeting for relatively less competitive keywords. All you need to do is point some on-topic links to each of these pages to get them indexed (I’d recommend Digital Point's co-op ad network) and you’re good to go.
Othr Helpflu Tpis for Mispeled Contnt
- Keep an eye on your web traffic and make sure you have a stats solution that will tell you how clients are arriving at your sites as well as which phrases they used to get there. If it turns out that you get more traffic for misspellings of one niche phrase over another, divert your efforts to variations of the more lucrative niche phrase.
- Grow your site organically – add a new misspelled phrase once a day or week and interlink these articles to ensure maximum exposure.
- Misspell the links pointed to your pages to give your misspelling strategy that much more weight within the SERPs.
It begins so innocuously, rising on a sunny Monday morning, coffee in hand, logging into the top-notch Paydayloanaffiliate reporting interface to see how much money you've…oh no! What happened?!
Shaking with fear, you immediately pull up your domain's logs to see that traffic disappeared over the weekend, a fear every webmaster knows all too well, the fear of being banned by a search engine.
Before your coffee comes back up the esophagus, let's sit down and look at the three major players on how to check to see what happened and learn what you can do about it. For simplicity, we'll use www.paydayloanaffiliate.com as the sample domain.
1. In the Google search bar type in "site:www.paydayloanaffiliate.com" without the quotes. At the time of writing this, I see 61 results. If I were to go from 61 to 0 results found, I'd be suspicious of something being wrong. Carrying on the example, let's say that the site has disappeared; now what?
2. For any site that has been truly banned in Google, a reinclusion request is necessary. The purpose of the request is to let Google know that you've fixed whatever TOS infraction the domain may have caused, and that it won't happen. In order to do all that, you'll need to verify to Google that you are the owner of the site by going here: www.google.com/webmasters/ and then filling out the reinclusion request.
1. In the Yahoo search bar type in "site:www.paydayloanaffiliate.com" without the quotes. This time, the offending result is to show just 1 page. Granted, one page sites will make it tricky, so there is something else you can check. Copy a piece of unique content from the domain, usually a very descriptive title tag. One from our domain might be "Payday Loan Blog - Payday Loan Affiliate Blog" - search for this phrase in Yahoo. If it is the last result returned, then it is possible that the site may have been penalized.
2. Send some extremely polite e-mails explaining what you believe happened to email@example.com or fill out a form saying the same thing at http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/search/webmaster_support.html -- really though, I've done both just to be sure.
1. In the MSN search bar type in "site:www.paydayloanaffiliate.com" without the quotes. Like Google, a banned domain will not return any results. Fortunately though, MSN is probably the quickest in responding to banned domain inquiries.
2. Send an e-mail (please be polite) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "re-inclusion request", explaining the matter in as much detail as you can provide.
It is our hope at PaydayLoanAffiliate that you never have to use this article; if you do though, we hope that you find the information useful in getting back into the search engines.
We've mentioned duplicate content issues several times already. It takes a multilayered approach to avoid the issue completely.
The first thing you need to do is write your own content. That cash advance article you wrote needs to be your own. Those emails we all get about "free articles" for your site just won't do. They get posted on tons of sites. So even if they're well written and cash advance related, skip them.
You should also keep an eye out for other sites scraping your content. Search engine spammers create dozens if not hundreds of sites per day, each with many pages. As you can imagine, they just don't have time to write their own content. They have programs that go out and find content for them. Eventually, they'll find your site and grab your content. This can hurt your rankings in the search engines. If you find a site that's grabbed your content, send them an email asking them to take it down. That works in the majority of cases.
As far as your site goes, you want to make sure that a given bit of content is only accessible by one URL. So your cash advance article should be at http://www.example.com/cash-advance.php and only that URL. This blog isn't great about that. There are about 3 different ways to get to the same content: this main page, the individual post page, and then the archive pages. You should try to avoid this when designing your own site. If your site is purely static pages, this isn't hard. Just make sure your article is only on that one page. It's a little more difficult on dynamic sites. If you're pulling articles from a database based on the URL, make sure you do some validation to ensure that your content is accessible only via one URL. We recently had an issue where /page.php/page.php was pulling up the same content as /page.php. We added some code to check for multiple slashes in the url and 301 redirected all of the offending URLs to the home page. Problem solved.
Dynamic pages also sometimes have query strings appended to the end of the URL – all of those pages that have URLs like page.php?blahblahblah. This may or may not cause a duplicate content issue, but I'm of the mind that you shouldn't leave it up to the search engines if you can avoid it. Unfortunately, I haven't come up with a solution I like for this yet. If your cash advance article is at cash-advance.php, then cash-advance.php?blah is going to pull up the same article. You could add some code into each PHP page to check for things in the query string (they get put into $_GET), but that can be a pain if your site is already built. It should be possible to redirect all requests that have a query string via mod_rewrite, but I haven't figured out how yet. Once I figure it out, I'll let you know.
It's been brought to my attention that our FAQ page mentions nothing about the approved descriptors for our payday loans as previously indicated - my bad! It would appear that I need to follow my own advice as far as copywriting is concerned...
In order to ensure that you're on the level with your client base about the qualities of their payday loan, please use the following phrases:
- Get approved for up to $1,000 - Applicants have the potential to receive up to $1,000, but not all are eligible. Always refer them to the terms & conditions on the application page itself for more details.
- 100% Safe & Secure - All payday loan applications are submitted with 128-bit SSL (secure socket layer) encryption technology, which is the latest available. This ensures that the data can only be read by the sender and the intended recipient, thus creating a safe transaction between your client and the lending portfolio to which they are assigned.
- Instant - The payday loan application is itself instant, the approval may take "a few minutes" depending on the quality of the information submitted by the applicant. Money transfers are not instant and may instead be referred to as "available the next business day" or "overnight" as long as you qualify the phrase as being Monday through Friday, excepting weekends and holidays.
- No application fee - This may be used, but make sure you include the word "application" otherwise it becomes "no fee payday loan" which happens to be inaccurate. Unlike some lenders that tack on an application fee just for applying, we forego such a fee in order to be more competitive.
You may not use any of these descriptors:
- Faxless - You may not state that your payday loans are completely faxless / 100% online, as some are not; doing so seems to encourage the production of fraudulent information since there is no preconception of a verification process. If you choose to play up the paperless application route, say that your loans are faxless in most cases and that, from time to time, an applicant might be asked to fax a document in to support a claim made on their payday loan application - this seems to improve the quality of leads generated on the whole.
- Direct deposit is required - This statement is FALSE and probably the most common mistake out there; we do not require direct deposit in order to initiate an EFT (electronic funds transfer.) The two, though similar, are not the same. Instead we ask that your clients have "an active bank account" (not checking or savings, just "bank") so as to be as inclusive as possible.
We only accept payday loan applications from individuals that are...
- ...at least 18 years old
- ...make at least $1000 per month or $800 if on a government support program
- ...employed, on a government support program (i.e. social security) or receive verifiable income on a regular basis
Please remember to avoid copying this cheat sheet directly in order to avoid copyright infringement and duplicate content filters (see my previous post for more details.) Terms may change from time to time, so stay tuned to our blog for the latest updates!
Joe makes an excellent point when he says copywriting for cash advance topics is good for your customer and even better for SEO - but what separates the good content from the great content?
You can rest assured that writing copy that pertains to, say, cash advances and your pet goldfish will not only look foolish to the human eye but will also cause confusion among your search engine spiders. This is what I'm told at least, and I'll let one of my compatriots elaborate on spider theory a bit more at their leisure (that's far too programmy for my taste.) What I can say is I have seen many an affiliate come through my proverbial door and ask for copywriting advice, only to turn tail and run at the thought of creating something original; they clamor to the top ranked sites for their niche cash advance phrase and perform the old Ctrl + C followed by the Ctrl + V. "It worked for them, so it must work for me," I imagine they say to themselves. Unfortunately they have not only broken copyright law, but also managed to trip a duplicate content filter within the search engines themselves.
(More on duplicate content can be found at this Webmaster World posting.)
It makes sense, doesn't it? The job of a search engine is to bring order to a world of information that is otherwise the epitome chaos. As a search engine does this, trusted sources emerge and, conversely, so do those that are less than trustworthy. Take the phrase "cash advance" and plug it into any search engine of your choice, then take any URL in the top 10 and plug that into the Copyscape plagiarism search engine - what you'll see is a listing of sites that have copied the URL that you chose. If a search engine has already given preference/trust to one site (as demonstrated by the high search ranking) why then would it skyrocket a second site for providing the exact same content? Remember that a search engine's clients are looking for information, so it's only logical that providing page after page of the same content would cause their customer to go someplace else with their search traffic. As such it is in their best interest to provide fresh information, so copyright infringers will fall straight to the bottom of the list.
In the end, plagiarism shortchanges the writer of the content, paints the plagiarizer's domain with an unfavorable pigment of piracy, and ultimately adds no value to the customer experience (which is why we're all here in the first place, right?) The debate may rage on as to whether or not a duplicate content filter might exist and to what degree, but every client that I've worked with to create original copy has ultimately done better in the long run.
Cash Advances are Boring - How Do I Write for such a Humdrum Keyword Phrase?
As Joe suggests, I tell everyone who will listen to do a news search for your keyword phrase or any other variation that you can think of. (A great tool for seeing variations on your main theme lives over at Digital Point in the form of a keyword suggestion tool; type in something like "cash advance" and see all the other interesting results that come up!) News about your topic helps keep it interesting to both you and your consumer, so conduct a search and see what's in the news and issue a comment on a current event or an analysis of a story. As each of these articles stacks up on your site, it's just one more way that a client can find you by conducting a simple search (it goes without saying that a link to apply for a cash advance or our handy redirecting form should be present on each fresh article page - remember, monetization is key!)
If you're writing general copy such as a "how cash advances work" guide or a FAQ page, I would recommend looking at what your competition covers but be careful not to copy them directly. If you're one of our partners there are also some guidelines that you must adhere to in order to ensure that you're making credible promises to your visitors, so you may either borrow the message from our FAQ page or write me if you have any questions of a more specific nature.
....or how to get a blog posting idea only to find randfish just posted about it.
I'm mostly a programmer here and a lot of what I do is internal stuff that wouldn't be directly applicable to anyone else, so finding things to blog about is a little difficult. But I woke up this morning and thought "hey! I know what I'll blog about - giving dynamic sites static urls". Imagine my dismay when I starting browsing the blogs I read and found randfish's excellent post about 11 best practices for urls
. Fortunately for me, he's talking more about the form of the urls and not how to create and deal with them.
For most payday loan sites, this isn't going to be an issue. The vast majority of these sites have very few pages: a home page, an application page, a contact page, and maybe some sort of FAQ. Four pages, maybe five if your FAQ is really big. If that's the extent of your site, stop reading now and go create some static pages and be done with it. For such a small number of pages, creating your pages dynamically is overkill. If you've got more pages - a lot more - read on.
Maybe you want to add some sort of articles to your site - maybe news postings about site updates, or even your own blog. Eventually, creating those pages statically gets to be a hassle even with Dreamweaver templates and you'll want to move to some sort of dynamic system. The most common way to do this is to throw the page content in a database and then use php/aspx to pull that data out of the database to fill out a pre-built template. But how do you tell the system which post to grab? The easiest way is to pass an ID parameter in the url like http://www.seomoz.org/blog/11-best-practices-for-urls. It's easy. It's simple. It's functional. However, it's neither user nor search engine friendly. If I hadn't already told you what the url was, what would you think it was about? I'd say it's probably a blog entry, but that's about all I could tell you. The next step most people take is to use mod_rewrite to turn the url into something like http://www.seomoz.org/blogdetail/1422/. That's better insofar as it looks like a static URL to the search engines, but it still suffers from being uninformative. You want something more like http://www.seomoz.org/blog/11-url-best-practices.php. This is a great url. It doesn't pass any parameters in an obvious manner. It looks like a static url. It tells you what the page is about. It does however have one flaw. If, at some point in the future, there's another post with the same title, one or the other will never be displayed. If you're confident you can keep track of all your page names, great. If not, you'll have to add something that makes the post unique. You could tack the post ID on to the end like 11-url-best-practices-1422.php. That's unique and has the advantage of making grabbing the post easy, but to the average user, it's just going to be some random number tacked on the end. Adding the date on the end is another option - 11-url-best-practices-20060927.php. Most people would probably recognize that as a date. How you want to go is up to you and what you think will benefit your users more.
Let's assume you've gone with the post ID at the end. How do you get from url to actual post? In PHP (and I would assume other web scripting languages), there's a variable that contains the uri that was used to request a particular page - $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']. It's not much use if all your pages are static (i.e. 1 page = 1 file on your web host), but when your pages are dynamic, it's very useful. The main trick is to use mod_rewrite to make everything under /blog/ to go through a single script - say blogdetail.php. So blogdetail.php gets called and sees that the uri used was 11-url-best-practices-1422.php. The first thing I'd do is strip off the .php since it doesn't help us grab the right post. Then I'd extract the ID number with a regex and put it in its own variable. After that, remove the post ID from the request uri with another regex. At this point, you have the ID number and a url-ified version of the page title in their own variables for reasons I'll cover in a little bit. Now, you'd take the post ID and query your database to grab the post contents and then display it however you want.
So why did I put the page title in a variable too? It's simple - validation. You want to be sure that 1 piece of content is only accessible via 1 url. If all we did was pull the post ID off the end that post would then be accessible via any url that included that ID. ha-ha-ha-I-want-you-to-have-duplicate-content-issues-in-google-1422.php, and no-really-I-want-to-deindex-your-posts-1422.php would both pull up your posting about the 11 url best practices in addition to the real url of 11-url-best-practices-1422.php. If some unscrupulous person wanted to, they could use that fact to make Google think you've got a bunch of duplicate pages, which could lead to your page being deindexed. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you don't want that. So what you do is query your database and compare the title you got via the requested uri with the title the page should have based on what's in the database. Grab the title from the db and convert it into the url-ified version - make it all lowercase, replace spaces with dashes and remove any weird characters. If they match, great, continue on with displaying the page. If they don't match, you'll want to throw some sort of error like a 404 page not found error.
Hopefully, this has given you some direction on how to create and deal with pretty urls for dynamic sites. The fewer sites out there with horrific looking urls, the better for all of us.
P.S. Sorry if this was overly long. I got my degree in philosophy - we're a bit wordy.