Category Archives: basic seo

Clever Content Not Always Best

Content is an incredibly powerful optimization metric on your website. It’s your effective communication to the search engines of the value of your website. Stuffing your page full of pictures, and not describing them in any way is almost a guaranteed way to get yourself lost online with little to no viewers via search. Now the flip side is also true, you can’t cram a thousand lines of text on a page and expect to rank on page 1 for your niche without using a degree of care.

The simplest way to describe it, you want to sculpt the language on your site, to appeal not only to the search engines, but to your visitors; current, and future of course. No one knows your business like you do, but a key point you need to be aware of as a business owner, is that your clients don’t know your business like you do. So don’t clutter your text with technical terms, or vague descriptions around products or processes. Making the assumption that your customers and clients know you as well as you or your salesmen do, can be a detrimental step in the structure of your content.

The number one rule when it comes to content generation?

Keep
It
Simple
Silly

On the social front of your site or experience, there’s been a mashup of the trendiest, retweetable terms determined. It seems that while there’s no sure fire way to have your news or posts immediately rebroadcasted, there are ways to help increase your chances. The most popular terms for titles would have to be “How to”, “Increase”, and “Social Media”. In theory, a surefire way to have your post picked up and passed around would be to use that text as your title, and craft an article around it. Apparently however, “Trust”, “Talk” and “Sentiment” seem to be very undesireable text tweets. Food for thought.

The Process of Dispelling SEO Myths

As with any industry, and any news source, there’s always a degree of fluff and grandeur applied to stories. It’s not different in the search world, although at times there are headlines which just strike as odd.

Take for instance the headline stating “Bing overtakes Yahoo for number 2 in search”. If you’re new to the game, that might seem like a pretty big deal, considering search engines generate cash in one way, by having users. If however, you haven’t had your head buried in sand for the last few months, you knew this was happening. Technically, Yahoo doesn’t exist as a search engine anymore, it’s just a name. Yahoo search is powered by Bing now, so the idea that Bing has overtaken them, isn’t entirely true; it’s more like they consumed them.

It follows the same line of surprise as when we have an inquiry call, and they utter a comment like “The last company I spoke to said they could have me on page 1 within a week”. It takes a minute to collect the thoughts, and re-itterate to them that SEO and SEM are not the same marketing strategies. They have some fundamental principles in common, how ever, they work differently. Driving a persons website to page 1 within a week is not SEO, if anything it’s SEM and AdWords promotion. Maybe if you owned the 1 website on the internet which serviced the niche market there’s a slim possibility it could happen. And by slim, I mean take the number of online pages in your niche (blogs, forums, picture repositories etc), double it at least, and that’s your chances of landing page 1 in a week. It’s almost always after saying something along the lines of “SEO isn’t the same as SEM” that callers make the statement “Oh, they never told me there was a difference” And that’s when the light is turned on, and the truth is realized, they’ve been sold snake oil.

The first right step was made, they called the experts. We’ll dispel the myths, we’ll uncover the truths, and we’ll tell you how it is. If we can help you, and you want our help, give us a call. If you’d rather continue on paying for AdWords campaigns, more power too you. Just remember, Google has shaken the search tree with adding Instant into the mix. Relevant, organic page 1 results are going to be returning as the creme de la creme of online marketing. This is only just the beginning.

Positive Bounce Rate?

Of all the verbage thrown around when working with online marketing, a term that is often used as a negative, would have to be bounce rate. Used usually as “The bounce rate of your site/page/products is why you don’t have conversions” It’s seen as a black spot on a site, and needs to be handled as soon as possible. Bounce rate can also be used as a metric for growth as well how ever, if your SEO expert is on the ball, they’ll understand how to analyse and adjust your pages to change that rate.

A definition via Wikipedia:

Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is a term used in web site traffic analysis. It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.

A visitor can bounce by:
Clicking on a link to a page on a different web site
Closing an open window or tab
Typing a new URL
Clicking the “Back” button to leave the site
Session timeout

Using the above list, you can begin to personally gauge where your pages may be going awry with a high bounce rate. Do you include links to external sites? If you do, are those sites also yours? Do you have loud music/sounds or flashy videos on your site which may startle people and annoy them to closing your page? Is there nothing eye catching on the page to compell visitors to stay on your site? Session timeouts are generally gauged in the 30 minute range, and if a visitor hasn’t purchased your product, or visited other pages on your site within that time frame, then you need to begin, by looking at your content.

Just as a rule of thumb, remember that your SEO can bring you visitors, it’s up to you to convert those visitors to customers and/or clients.

SEO Basics – Sitemaps

There’s a kaleidoscope of steps, styles, methods and opinions about the right way to implement search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. But, there are a few points which are generally accepted. Points such as:

  • Quality content is extremely important
  • Working actively to accrue quality links and backlinks is also paramount
  • Apply K.I.S.S. to your site

One of the most overlooked steps, which should be mentioned more often is having an accurate, up to date sitemap for your website. You can think of a sitemap as the formal written index of your web pages. Up until recently, multiple sitemaps were needed if you desired to have all of your content listed easily. Be it images, text, videos, your geo location, and a news section. An individual sitemap for each was required to speed up the indexing process of those assets. Google introduced the XML sitemap 5 years ago, and have just recently changed the game a little.

Instead of multiple sitemaps, webmasters can now submit one XML sitemap to include all of your websites features. From Google:

With the increasing number of specialized formats, we’d like to make it easier for you by supporting Sitemaps that can include multiple content types in the same file.
An example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″
xmlns:image=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1″
xmlns:video=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1″>
<url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/foo.html</loc>
<image:image>
<image:loc>http://example.com/image.jpg</image:loc>
</image:image>
<video:video>
<video:content_loc>http://www.example.com/videoABC.flv</video:content_loc>
<video:title>Grilling tofu for summer</video:title>
</video:video>
</url>
</urlset>

The idea of the inclusion for multiple content types within one sitemap was to streamline the entire process for webmasters and their clients.

XML Sitemaps and your Website

Most professionals in the SEO Services industry apply every possible advantage to a website to get better rankings. Some will focus on fixing structural issues and allow indexing to happen naturally. While an XML sitemap will not directly, nor immediately improve your search engine rankings, it does allow search engines such as Google to see any changes more quickly.

XML sitemaps have replaced the older method of submitting your website URL to search engines. You can now submit your XML sitemap directly to the search engines, or you can wait for the search engines to spider it.

What is included in a XML Sitemap?

* Links (URL’s) to all the pages on your website.
* The relative importance of each page on your website.
* The date each page was last modified.
* How often each page is expected to change.

When to use a XML sitemap

* On large dynamic websites that are poorly linked making them difficult to index.
* On websites using large amounts of Flash where the web crawlers have difficulty accessing the content.
* For poorly coded websites.
* Any website that changes their content frequently like blogs, forums, CMS (content management systems).

XML sitemaps doesn’t directly affect SEO results but they do communicate important information to the search engines to help them index your website.

Small Business Worries

It’s simple numbers, small businesses are at a financial disadvantage when it comes to marketing their website. Funds, time, or resources are needed to engage in marketing on a level they would need to be competitive. Small businesses often have to rely on do-it-yourself strategies built upon free advice gathered from blogs, forums, and social networking sites.

Every small business owner wants to ensure maximum ROI for their marketing efforts. But even with a good SEO and a good campaign outline, you can still break your budget–or render your SEO campaign ineffective–when you let your worries get the best of you. Worrying about smart things is smart. Worrying about the other stuff, well, that just sets you up for failure.

1) Perfection
SEO isn’t an exact science, there is no “do this to get this” formula. There are many trials and errors along the way and if you’re not prepared for that then you’ll likely spend too much of your time trying to perfect what can’t be perfected. There are many trade-offs made when optimizing a site. Ultimately you want to do what’s best for your visitors, while doing what’s best for the search engines. While Google likes to believe those are one in the same, the truth is that they are often two different things. The problem is when you want perfection on both, when you may need to settle for less than perfect on one front in order to get a perfect balance.

When it comes to both engines and visitor usability the paths to the perfect site is always changing because what would have been perfect yesterday is not perfect today. Settling for poor performance can be corrected, sometimes you have to accept what you have, get it out there and then move forward perfecting it later. By trying to make it perfect first, you’ll spend too much of your budget on that while and get no SEO improvement. Isn’t it better to start getting the benefit of the changes sooner, and perfect it later?

2) Worrying about being #1
Wouldn’t it be nice if getting #1 were easy (and cheap?). Unfortunately we don’t operate in a vacuum and there are many competitors out there. If you’re in a highly competitive industry, it’s not just your competitors that you’re up against. Informational sites such as Wikipedia, blogs and others can often dominate the top search engine rankings for your most profitable keywords. You need to accept that you may never outperform sites like Wikipedia, and you may never be able to outspend your competition. Settle on this and you can direct yours, and your SEO’s, efforts on things that will make a real difference in your optimization campaign. Once your site is optimized you can often get a better ROI by improving your visitor’s experience.

3) Worrying about competitors
Is your competitor climbing in the rankings? Are you worried that they will over take you? Are they outperforming you on some keywords? While disconcerting, you can’t expect your SEO to jump in and stop that from happening. Yes, you can invest in more SEO or links or social media… and maybe you should, but short of that, a site can only get so optimized for certain keywords.

The question here isn’t whether your SEO is doing their job or not. The real and only viable solution is to assess your campaign and make changes as needed. The problem with worrying about how your competitors are performing is that there is so much you don’t know. How much are they spending? Are they profitable? Are they focused on the right things? These questions are just a few you need to know before you decide what, precisely, is worth worrying about.

4) Traffic over conversions
Rankings get traffic, but why do we want traffic? Traffic alone is worthless unless it becomes a patron of your site; paying customer, signed up for a newsletter or news release etc. We often lose sight of that as optimization takes place. SEOs are paid to deliver traffic and are often happy to see traffic through to your site, even if the conversions do not follow.

While traffic is a required result of the SEO campaign, conversions should matter more. Before worrying about traffic changes, look first to see what your conversion rates are. If your SEO campaign results in more traffic but less sales, it’s time to look at content. As your traffic improves, your conversion rates need to be monitored. If you’re getting more sales, great. But if your conversion rate drops, then you need to focus on improving that before looking to improve traffic any further. Why bring more people to the site if fewer and fewer are going to convert?

5) Slow growth / instant success
SEO is a long-term investment that rarely, if ever, brings over night success. One of the most difficult expectations to overcome when pitching SEO services is the expectation that results will come fast. That being said, some sites can be optimized and see near immediate benefit. Other sites take longer to get optimized therefore the benefit in rankings takes longer. Newer sites have a much longer hill to climb before they see success. Before beginning an SEO campaign be sure that your expectations are in line with reality. Don’t look for a get-rich-quick solution, but instead be willing to invest in a long-term strategy that will pay off as you let it mature.

Small business budgets are tight and they have to make the most of every dollar. But sometimes trying to squeeze every bit of juice from a dollar ultimately squeezes the life out of it. Worrying too much about the performance of your SEO campaign can lead to jumping the gun on bad intel and making a seemingly bad situation worse. Give time for your SEO campaign to work before jumping in to make changes. It can be difficult if you are spending money and don’t see things going your way. There is risk in everything, including worrying about something that you shouldn’t. Worry less, and let your SEO campaign perform more.

SEO and Baking

Now, this may sound like a strange idea, but they two are actually much more alike than readily available. When it comes right down to it, baking is actually a very exact science. For perfect results, ingredients need to be measured, weighed, and added appropriately and at the right times. If you just take all of the ingredients for a cake, toss it in a bowl, stir and bake, chances are it’s not going to taste so good, and you’ll have to end up scrapping the whole effort. It would be a complete waste.

These exact same principles hold true when it comes to search engine optimization.

A cake has eggs, flour, sugar, butter, chocolate (yumm), some oil, and a few other here and there ingredients to make a yummy dessert. But we’ll go with the basics for now; flour, eggs, and sugar. If any of these are added in an incorrect amount, your cake will be terrible.

SEO, involves a great many details, keywords, content, coding practices, images, the list goes on and on. For the purposes of comparison, we’ll use keywords, content, and images. If any of these factors are handled improperly, or added/changed on your site incorrectly, your site will flop.

Just. like. the. cake.

When you’re looking for the perfect dessert for your party, you have it catered. You go to the professionals who you trust to bring you the results you deserve, and expect.

SEO, is no different than baking a cake it seems. Call us at Fresh, we’ll take care of your party for you.

Banned from Google??

It’s the largest, most widely used search engine out there, you know it well, as it’s basically everywhere. Google. At this point in time, the holy grail for businesses either already existing online, or thinking of it, there is an incredible laundry list of items, to do, not to do, and in between all the white and black exists the grey.

I’m going to talk, just very briefly, about some of the black, or the methods which will (most likely) end up with your site BANNED FROM GOOGLE!

Redirecting to another domain:
Redirecting to another domain is not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be banned from search engines. But it is a very common spammer trick used in conjunction with doorway pages and cloaking. If you set up a redirect that goes to a new domain, you need to write it as a 301 redirect. This tells Googlebot that the redirect is permanent, and they should change the listing to the new domain.

Invisible or Single Pixel Images:
Invisible images are images that are 1×1 pixels in size and cannot be seen by the naked eye on a Web page. This is similar to hiding text or displaying different content to search engines than to your customers. And don’t assume that search engines can’t read CSS or HTML tags that resize full-sized images. If you do this to optimize your pages, your site will be banned.

Hidden or Invisible Text:
Hiding text by making it the same color as the background color may fool your customers, but it won’t fool search engines. Another variation of this is where you make the font size so small that it’s unreadable by the naked eye. Text that is hidden from your readers but visible to search engines is considered spam and will get your site banned.

Cloaking:
It can be very tempting to use cloaking, but while it might give you better results at first, search engines don’t like it. Search engines want to provide a resource of information that is real, not something that has been doctored to give artificial results. This is often called cloaking because it is an effort to hide, or cloak what your site delivers in something that might be seen as more palatable to search engines.

These are some of the basic black hat SEO techniques out there, all are easily noticed even by a person browsing the net, now that you know what to look for. Ideally of course, these factors are paramount to keeping in mind when choosing your SEO expert.

SEO basics overlooked by fastest growing companies

A review of the top 100 fastest growing ‘start-up’ companies, as published by BRW magazine in August 2009, showed that just 42% of these firms included a targeted search engine optimisation structure on their websites. This might include the use of relevant search terms being used throughout the website, such as targeting relevant keywords in the title tag and description metatags, as well as the focus of page content or website structure to help improve the chances of the website ranking well on Google and other search engines for their product or service.

Nearly all of the 100 companies listed were using a website, either as their primary business tool or as a marketing or information site for their business. However, the majority of these have yet to implement these SEO basics to take advantage of reaching potential new customers who may not know of their business, but are searching the web for their type of business.

Clive Hawkins, commented on the results: “This proportion of business websites that have yet to utilize the opportunities for new business growth through search engines is symptomatic of the lack of awareness or perceived importance about the impact of SEO techniques. They may be using search advertising, such as Google AdWords, but if they have a website, they should also be developing search engine optimisation as a more cost-effective long term marketing strategy.”

Hawkins continued: “Clearly these top 100 fastest growing companies are doing something right in their business sectors, and they should be congratulated on their performance over the previous financial year. However, if nearly 60% of these companies are doing little to create even more opportunities for business through their websites, then it’s surprising since once of the essentials for any website these days is to get search engine optimisation basics sorted out. You can only wonder how much faster these companies might have grown if they had fully utilised the potential for search engine marketing for their businesses!”
(source PR USA)

When Search Optimization Will Not Work

Hitting the internet and searching Google for topics like, Search Engine Optimization, or, SEO Tips, or SEO Tricks, will yield you literally millions of pages. All with great shiny pictures of how SEO and optimization will change and enhance your (websites) life. Just like every cloud has a silver lining, and adhere to the “DO” sides of any advertising campaign; there are definitely the “DON’T”s that need to be minded as well. Search Engine Optimization, is no different in this regard. In fact, it’s more important in ways to mind the “DO NOT”s. For example:

Do Not:

Be impatient – Optimization takes time and effort. It’s not a quick fix, duct tape, band aid for a poorly built website. It takes time to fix any coding errors, search for the proper keywords to help boost you the most, and effort in placing the content within the site.

Tinker – After we’ve taken all of the time, and effort to repair any code or damage in your site, and help you add quality content, don’t mess with it. Because then we just have to start.. again.

COpy/Paste – Content, needs to be as unique as possible, while still being relevant to your site and it’s purpose. There are billions upon billions of pages of everything on the internet, and rest assure, Google has been there. Don’t think that you’ve stumbled upon the last jewel of the internet.

And most importantly!! DO NOT::

Try your hand at SEO – Don’t assume, that because you’ve read that tips list on Mr.SEO’s blog that you’re ready to step into the sea of SEO. It’s very deep, very dangerous, and not knowing what you’re doing, is a very quick way to drown and be lost in index.. or dropped completely.

These are only just a few of pitfalls which can be found when you embark on your SEO odyssey, always remember however, the advantages far greatly out weight the disadvantages, when you have the proper guide.