Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

SEO Facts and fiction

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

There are adverts all over the net for SEO

“Top listing in Google only $19.95″
“Get listed on 3000 search engines for only $9.95″
“Guaranteed results in 24 hours”

The only thing I can say about these are that you get what you pay for, which is basically nothing. While someone may submit your site to 3000 search engines - who cares - there are about 6 or 7 that are key, and a submission to them doesn’t guarantee any listing at all.

As far as a top listing in Google - yes - its possible, its also possible that due to some very unethical approaches, your site will be banned. Finally the one I love - results in 24 hours…..not in this world or the next UNLESS you are personal friends with Sergey Brin.

Ethical SEO is not difficult, but it is time consuming. It requires thought, planning, good copywriting skills, understanding of how search engines work and patience. We have a number of sites that we manage that are at the top of their categories for key search terms on Google, but it didn’t happen overnight, and it certainly wasn’t actioned for $19.95.

Don’t waste your money on these con artists. If you are really interested in results, talk to a pro and be prepared to set aside a long term budget to get the results that you want. It may require creation of content screens, creation of link and site maps and it will most likely require re-writing of your main page to achieve the results you want.

If you would like a quote for SEO, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

Web Design in an economic crunch

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

It’s 2008 and the stockmarket is in the toilet. There is talk about a global recession, and everyone is using superglue to ensure their wallets stay closed.

You run a small business and are looking to trim your budget, so the first thing you look at is your web-site. It’s not part of your brick and mortar operation, so it should be the first thing to go - right?

Wrong!

Your web-site is your window to people that are not your customers yet. When times get bad, people spend less - so how can you counteract this? Get more customers.

It may well be time to re-look at your content and to spin a slightly more budget-focussed message, but it certainly isn’t time to close down one of your most effective marketting tools. In fact, it may be time to spend a small amount of your budget on an effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaign to ensure you reach more people.

If you would like a quote for SEO, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

SEO linking

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

You have spent the time and money getting your site tuned up from the SEO perspective. Your keywords have been well thought out, your text and tags reflect those keywords, and you are actively adding content to your site on a regular basis.

Congratulations - you have made a great start, but there is one more area that requires your attention. It is called back-links.

What these are are other web sites or web resources that link to you. The closest analogy I can come up with in the real world is networking.

When a search engine looks at your site, it tries to figure out how “important” your site is, and one of the ways it does this is by checking to see how many sites point to yours. The more links there are, the higher your site ranking.

Well almost….

Over the last few years, SEO pro’s have been exploiting this and there are many sites that have pages and pages that contain nothing but links for the purpose of establishing what is called reciprocal linking (I’ll link to you, if you will link to me)

I’ve seen sites with literally thousands of these links, and quite simply, it doesn’t work anymore. The people that program the search engines have noticed this phenominon, and have changed their ranking procedure to check for this to the point that if you get involved in this sort of activity, you may well find your ranking dropping, not improving.

So what sort of links are good?

Well - honest ones is the short answer. Web sites that regard you as a business partner, rather than a link enhancer will have your link on pages without thousands of others - those sorts of links will have a positive effect. Another source of links is from professional articles and the like. If you publish articles in any of the on-line resources and they contain a byeline linking to your web site, those will be positive.

The list of potential links is endless, it just takes time and creativity to come up with good targets. It also takes time to cultivate those relationships.

In other words - there isn’t any difference between networking in the real world and in cyberspace.

Best of luck coming up with a great networking strategy

If you would like a quote for SEO, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

SEO campaigns

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

And just how much money do you want to spend?

SEO campaigns can consume an aweful lot of budget very quickly with very little return in the short run. Lets face it, there are a lot of things that need to be done and time is money. So what are the tricks to a successful (and cost effective) SEO campaign?

First - establish a benchmark. If you don’t know where you are starting, you won’t know if you are winning the battle.

Find out how you rank on the search engines of your choice for your most cherished keywords.

Now choose carefully - you want to pick one or two search engines and a handful of keywords. Each search engine is different and while some will like your SEO tuning, others will hate it and your rankings may drop, so it is very important that you make a concious decision as to the ones you want to improve on.

Once you have done that - then look at your competitors, and see what they are doing. If they have been successful, then by emulating them, you too will be successful.

Now go and make your changes - update your copy, your meta-tags, your titles, your image texts - all of the things that a decent SEO tune up will do.

Now for the hard part - have patience. It will take somewhere close to a month or maybe more for those changes to have any effect, so there is no point in making changes on a Monday and expecting a shift in your rankings by Tuesday. It is simply not going to happen - so get back to your regular business and make a note in your diary to re-check your rankings in a month.

Rinse and repeat on on a monthly basis.

Simple isn’t it - well not quite, because even if your site is fully SEO’d there are other factors that you need to work on, and those are called back links. I’ll talk about those in my next article.

If you would like a quote for SEO, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

Have patience

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

We are so used to having the world at our fingertips through e-mail, text messaging, cell phones and PDA’s that the one thing that seems to be disappearing is patience.

When do you want it? “Yesterday” is usually the response.

Well I’m here to tell you that there are still areas that don’t work that way - and SEO is one of them.

When you first develop a web site, it takes time for search engines to find it. I’m not talking minutes or hours, I’m talking weeks and potentially even months. Sure, there are things that can be done to speed that up, but its still a long process.

When you improve your site through SEO, those changes don’t reflect very quickly. One of the most difficult things to do in SEO is to truly determine the success or failure of site changes. Your ranking may not change for weeks or even months depending upon timing and activities such as the Google Update.

When you are thinking about setting off on an SEO tune up for your site - bear that in mind. Expect results - yes, but don’t expect them tomorrow.

If you would like help on SEO for your Web Site, feel free to contact us

SEO Beginners Guide Part 2

Thursday, April 21st, 2005

Optimizing a site for search engines isn’t rocket science. It takes careful manipulation of content to emphasise the keywords that you want to be listed on in the search engines.

The key here is careful, because when you think about it, you have two audiences that you are trying to satisfy.

The first one is your actual visitor. When they arrive at your site, you have about 15 seconds to attract their attention before they wander off to surf other places. That is a very short window of opportunity, so your content needs to be catchy and to the point.

The second audience are the search engines. In order for your page to rank well, it needs your keywords in the body of your page in very specific places. If you get this wrong, then your page may rank well - but it will be for the wrong keywords and all of your effort will have been in vain. You may end up getting visitors due to excellent search engine rankings, but they won’t be interested in what you are saying, because your site isn’t relevant to them.

If you would like a free consultation on SEO then please contact us and we would happy to advise you. We will provide you with a free report on your current search engine rankings, and map out an SEO program that will work for you.

SEO Beginners Guide Part 1

Monday, April 11th, 2005

I had a learned marketing friend of mine comment that the information on SEO on this site was ok for a propeller-head, but didn’t really help a business owner, so this article is intended to set the stage for all of the rest of the information contained in the prior articles.

Firstly - what is SEO? Well - its short for Search Engine Optimization, and its the process of tuning up your web site so that it ranks better on search engines.

Why is that important? - well think of your web site as a book. It is sitting in the very large library called the Internet, and the only people that know about it are friends and current business acquaintances. They know the title of the site and where it sits on the shelf.

What you are trying to do through SEO is to get your site listed in the equivalent of the Internet catalog. That way people that are not intimately acquainted with who you are and what you sell will find you…..

Not only that - you are also trying to get your site listed at the top of the index for a particular subject. There are millions of sites out there on every conceivable subject. If you sell widgets, then it won’t do you very much good if your site is the 1543th listed under ‘widgets’. It would be like having a Yellow page advertisement where your business is listed in very small print at the back of the book!

There are two ways that you can get your site listed highly - the first is through paying for a listing - Google Adwords is one program that will help in that. These are the paid listings that you will see on the right side of the page when you do a Google search. The second method is through Search Engine Optimization, which will raise your rankings in the main listings.

What Search Engine Optimization does is make your web site more appetizing to the search engines, and make your site more important to them.

How is it done? That is a long subject that is addressed briefly in the other articles:

  • SEO Keywords
  • SEO Keywords Continued
  • SEO Keywords Continued 2
  • SEO Keywords Continued 3
  • SEO Keywords Continued 4
  • Can you SEO your own site? Yes of course you can. Follow those articles and I’ll guarantee your rankings will improve, but my recommendation is to leave it to an expert. Doing it yourself is like trying to build a deck armed only with a screwdriver and a knife. You can get there, but its going to be a frustrating experience.

    An SEO expert can save you an immense amount of time, trial and error and frustration, as they have the right tools for the job.

    If you would like a free estimate for SEO on your site then contact us. We can let you know for free where your site currently ranks on all of the major search engines, and propose a program for improvement. We can also implement a fully managed SEO and PPC (pay per click) campaign for your site for a very reasonable fee.

    Oh, one more piece of advice. If you see an organization promising to get you a top ten listing for $10 a month……RUN!
    It can’t be done ethically for that amount of money, and the search engines are just as likely to ban your site as to list it highly - you have been warned!!

    The Google Patent

    Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

    Well - isn’t it interesting reading.

    If you have been following this, Google has issued a very large and complicated patent for the way they rank sites and pages.

    It has been discussed in a lot of forums - one that is always interesting is the Threadwatch link.

    There have also been a lot of analysis about this subject, but in the end, what it boils down to is two things:

    1. Google is interested in sites that show growth and changing content - so they are looking at backlinks and changes in content to determine relative importance

    2. They have a number of algorithms that are attempting to determine whether that growth is organic or spam. When you distill the whole thing, the idea is that you either have a site that is real or one that is artifically trying to gain ranking. Google is getting into some very messy calculations to try to determine which side of the fence a site belongs on.

    So what does it mean to us in the SEO community? - well not a lot really when it boils down to it, except for one thing. We can no longer do things in ‘big burst’ mode. We will need to stage our SEO activities more, so rather than making huge changes to inbound links all in one shot, we need to make incremental changes over time. Our activities need to resemble the organic growth of an active web site, rather than an explosion of activity.

    Makes sense doesn’t it

    SEO Keywords - continuing 4

    Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

    We have dealt with the categories of visible and sometimes visible text. That only leaves text that is not visible to the user. The two categories of entries here are meta tags and html comments.

    Meta tags are largely historical in context. They have been so overdone by people practicing SEO on sites, that they are not given that heavy an emphasis by search engines. That being said, they still have a purpose and can add value. IF they support the visible and sometimes visible text, then there is every reason to believe that they add value. However, if there are keywords or description that don’t support your visible or semi visible text, then there is every reason to believe they are ignored at best, or used to penalize your ranking at worst.

    Html comments are a bit of an unknown. I have no positive evidence that they affect ranking one way or another. To that end - play it safe and add some that contain your search keywords but don’t go overboard. If they are supported by visible or sometimes visible text, I don’t see that it will do any harm. If anyone knows anything to the contrary - I would really like to hear from them…..

    If you would like an estimate for SEO on your site then contact us

    More later……………

    SEO Keywords continuing 3

    Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

    Last time we talked about the always visible elements on the page, specifically headings and visible text. If you have done a good job, you have ‘threaded’ your key phrase into the headings, title and content and still have excellent copy. It is important to get high rankings on the search engines, but that won’t count if your page copy is gibberish because its stuffed with your key phrase.

    Next we will look at the ’sometimes visible’ elements on the page. Specifically these are the ‘alt’ tags on each image, and the text descriptions associated with hyperlinks. I call these ’sometimes visible’ as they only appear after the cursor has been resting over the element for a little while.

    The ‘alt’ tag on an image is an alternate description that is loaded if the browser has its image loading turned off. This used to be important when people surfed the web using slow modems, but these days, hardly anyone has their image loading turned off. This gives us an excellent opportunity to put content into the page that can be loaded with our key phrase.

    Again, be aware that the ‘alt’ tag description will show if the cursor is left over that image for any length of time, so you still have to write good copy, but as its an image description, there is a little more latitude than with visible copy.

    The same is true for hyperlinks. There is an optional elemt called ‘title’ that again only shows when the cursor moves over the hyperlink, and is really designed to give the user a bit more information about the hyperlink.

    Great! - another place for us to put our key phrase. Again, its worth repeating that this text is still visible, so don’t go overboard, but some creative writing should allow you to do some threading.

    If you would like a free estimate for SEO on your site then contact us

    More later……

    SEO keywords - continuing 2

    Sunday, March 20th, 2005

    Having carefully selected your keyword phrase - now its time to start ‘threading’ it into your web pages.

    A number of years ago - it was simply a matter of entering it into your meta tags under keywords and away you went. Not so anymore!

    Search engines providers such as Google are in the business of trying to deliver relevant content to their customers. To that end, for them to be successful, they need to have proprietary algorithms that they use to rank pages for particular search phrases. Those algorithms are continually being revised and are a ‘trade secret’ of that search engine.

    When you optimise a page, really what you are doing is trying to guess how the search engine’s algorithm will ’score’ your page, and do everything you can do to increase that score. Each search engine is different, and having a page that works well for Google will not necessarily work as well for Yahoo or MSN. What we are going to do is talk about some general optimisation techniques that will help your page relevance, but discussion of full optimisation is much more complex. If you want a detailed review of any of your pages, then contact us and we will be happy to provide one for you.

    The HTML page consists of three levels of information.

    • Always visible content
    • Sometimes visible content
    • Never visible content

    Visible content consists of items such as page title, headings, page verbiage and hyperlink text.

    Sometimes visible content consists of items such as image tags and hyperlink titles.

    Never visible content consists of items such as meta tags.

    These days, the search engines are paying much more attention to visible content, than either sometimes visible or invisible. Don’t ignore these categories, but spend your time on the visible content for best results.

    Page title

    This is a key element for most search engines. You should try to ensure that the words contained in your keyphrase are threaded into this page title. Again, remember that this is something that will be viewed on search engine result lists and also in browser windows, so try to make it a good marketing phrase as well. Keep the title relatively short.

    Headings

    Most search engines consider headings to be more important than plain page text. They also consider H1 headings to be more important than H4 headings. Try to thread your key phrase into a heading somewhere in the page, preferably close to the top. Don’t go overboard with this, as the search engines will also be looking at the ratio of heading text to plain text and will most likely penalize you if your whole page is a heading.

    Plain text

    You need to strike a balance here. It is important that your key phrase is contained in the boy of the plain text of the page, but too much can get you penalized. A reasonably good guideline is to ‘thread’ it into the content twice or three times. Also remember that this is your marketing copy too, so ensure that the insertion of your key phrase doesn’t mess up your copy.

    If you would like a free estimate for SEO on your site then contact us

    More later……

    SEO keywords continued

    Saturday, March 19th, 2005

    In the last segment we talked about relevant keyword phrases, so at this point you have two or three phrases that you think might work well for your site.

    The next step is to check out those keyphrases.

    Open up your favourite browser and go to the search page of the search engine that you are trying to optimise for. Type in the keyphrase that you want to check and run the search.

    You will get back a list of results. Make note of the following:

    • The words that were actually used for the search
    • The number of pages returned

    Rinse and repeat for each of your potential keyphrases.

    What you now have for each of your keyphrases is a list of the relevant words that need to be ‘woven’ into the elements of your web pages, and also the number of index entries that you are competing against.

    At this point, you need to look at the number of index entries - if this number is in the tens or hundreds of millions, then you really need to revisit the keyphrase, as it probably isn’t specific enough. You have to think of all of the pages listed as your competition, and if you can’t get on the first two or three pages of the search, then for you, that seach phrase just isn’t going to be effective.

    You can also page through the search results until they start to lose relevance. Search engines sort pages, with what they regard as the most relevant at the top. They may well have 20 million entries for your search phrase, but after the first 60, when you look at them, they really don’t seem to make sense. That is because the search engine found some or all of your search terms in each document, but it was more a random collection of the occurrance of the words than the page targetting that subject. If you find very few really relevant pages, then you have a good search key phrase.

    This could take some time to do, but its time well spent. If you choose your key phrase well, then even partial page optimization will reap excellent rewards. If you choose badly, then you can optimise the page completely, and not manage to get any results.

    If you would like a free estimate for SEO on your site then contact us

    Coming up next - we get into page optimisation…..

    SEO - keywords

    Friday, March 18th, 2005

    When you look at search engine optimisation for a site, probably the most important thing to think about are what keyphrases you want to be found under in the search engines.

    If you are selling widgets, then it really won’t help you if you get a high listing for another search term, as its not relevant.

    Its also important to be very selective about your keywords and phrases. If you decide to target the phrase ‘toronto’, then you are going to have an uphill climb, as there must be thousands or potentially millions of sites that are indexed for that term. When you are faced with stiff competition for a keyword, then unless you want to spend the rest of your life optimising the site, the chances are that you will be so far down the index, that a potential customer will need a microscope to find you.

    So - get specific. Try to put yourself in your customers shoes and ask the question:

    If I was looking for whatever it is I sell - then what phrase would I put into the search bar?

    Write the phrase down and think about it a bit more. Can I refine it and come up with something even more specific that works?

    Once you are happy, try to think of a second keyphrase.

    Done that? Ok, now you stop.

    You can optimise a site for a two or three keyphrases, but unless you are a word smith superhero that is pretty much your limit. If you try to optimise for more than that - all you will do is end up making a poor job of all of them.

    The next thing to start thinking about is how you ‘thread’ your keyphrases into your content.

    We’ll talk more about that later….

    If you would like a free estimate for SEO on your site then contact us

    Search Engines - Friend or Foe

    Tuesday, March 15th, 2005

    The numbers of people that use search engines is absolutely mind-boggling, but for the small business operator is there anyway to get a relevant listing on any of the engines without paying through the nose?

    You can certainly optimise your site for search engine spiders, add the robots.txt file and load it with good content - but is that enough?

    That is enough that if you get noticed, then the search engine spiders won’t object to your site, and will probably come back and visit on a reasonably regular basis, but will it get you a high listing……….NO.

    Are there any approaches that work?
    Is there anything that you can do with a small budget?

    We would be interested in hearing from personal experience.