Category Archives: search engine optimization

Round 2: Vetting Your SEO Provider

The world of search engine optimization is like a large and fairly confusing maze. And while every business can benefit from improving their ranking on search engines like Google and Bing, as soon as you start looking for help, you begin to get email after email and call after call from SEO providers promising you the top position on the results pages. The problem is, how do you tell which SEO firm is the best one for you, and how do you begin to even decide which one is right?

Check the SEO on their own website:
When you search for their company name, are they at least the first result that comes up? Are there other pages that come up with them when you look for their name? Do they have strong meta information that helps to sell themselves and their services, just because they don’t carry any real authority with the engines it still shows as their snippet. Do they rank locally? Ideally you’re in talks with a local agency, but if they can’t show up for their business name or for their location, how could they possibly help you and your business?

What is their cost:
If they’re offering discount packages for their “services” then they are likely not the company that will work in your best interest. A true SEO company will be doing an in-depth investigation before they offer you a quote, every company has different markets, competition, and goals. Imagine a house painter quoting you a price without ever looking at your home – you can bet they’ll either do a shoddy job, won’t finish, or suddenly have all sorts of hidden fees.

What kind of relationship do they have with their clients:
Your goal is to build a relationship with a company that is going to be in constant contact with you for the entire scope of the project. They should be calling/emailing trying to understand your niche market, your online targets, and developing your conversion points on your website. Make sure they will report to you what they’re doing and the results, and in such a way that you can understand. You’re trusting your reputation with another company, make sure they have your best interest in mind, not just their bottom line.

SEO explained – 20 quick current factors

If you are reading this then you are investing time in understanding the topic which is a step in the right direction.

But let’s pause a bit and let me summarize the most important SEO.

1.) You need to have a website in the first place if you are a small and medium business owner.
2.) Your website and website text should contain those words and search terms you would like to be found for.
3.) Your website need to be complete and informative on your specialist subject field
4.) You should consider the cost of investing your time in order to employ SEO as a marketing strategy
5.) Don’t complicate things. To understand the competitive nature of your industry simply Google for searches you want to be found for and see the quality of the websites on the first pages.
6.) Backlinks are important. You can ask people in your industry to link to your website if the industries are related. If they are clients or suppliers who is happy with your services they should have no problem to link to your website. You can also buy links from directories such as Yellow Pages.
7.) Make use of free tools like Google Webmaster / Google my business / Google Analytics
8.) If you can honestly say that your website’s content is unique, fresh and of the best of a certain topic then you have done your bit and then you can realistically expect Google to view you the same over time.
9.) Make sure your website’s links are all working.
10.) Regularly blog / write newsletters if you can. Make it a habit by using your newsletters to stay in touch with potential clients.
11.) Use everyday language and keep things natural. Use the words which your clients use. They will use those words when doing searches.
12.) Continue religiously to build and develop your frequently asked questions section on your website. You typically answer questions from potential client in your everyday walk of life. Look at your email inbox and outbox for a rich source of content for the faq section of your website
13.) You need to have a userfriendly CMS website which you can update easily yourself. You do not want to wait for webmasters or pay webmasters each time you want to make a change. You need to get a website from Kwikwap and Buddy Web Design.
14.) Text on images can not be read by search engines. Vanity has a price. When using fancy graphics and images with important text on your webiste Search Engines will not be able to read the text on the images.
15.) Websites specialising on certain topics do better than general all purpose websites. EG a wooden floor website will do better for searches related to wooden floors than most general contractors or handyman websites simply because the websites are topic specific and the number of times certain keywords appear is relevant to the total number of words on your website.
16.) Ensure your website works on all devices as more than 50% of searches happens with mobile devices.
17.) In certain industries you simply can not avoid using directories, specifically the tourism industry
18.) Advertising with search engines like Google can be much cheaper than SEO when your time is viewed as valuable.
19.) Use photographs of you at work/your business place to describe what is happening on the photograph. It’s about the opportunity to ad text to the website and not only about having a pretty website.
20.) Be creative and make Youtube videos of your product and services. It’s free platforms and is also regarded as quality content.

by Francois F Marais

Doing basic on-page optimization

Once you identify your target keywords, make sure you include them into the title of your page, the body copy of your page, and if possible, the URL, Search Engines like Google are getting smarter about figuring out what a particular page is about, but it still helps to make it really clear your page is about a specific keyword.
Optimization recommendations:

A Web page’s title tag is still the most important attribute you can use from an SEO perspective, Use your main keyword phrase in the beginning of the page title tag. The first 64 characters of the title tag are shown as the click-though link in a Google search result. Every page of the website should have a unique page title tag.

Meta description a good description can attract visitors from the search results page. Include one or two keyword phrases that describe the page’s content, and keep meta descriptions under 160 characters.

The H1 tag is the main header of the page. Have only one H1 tag per page. This header needs to appeal to the page visitor and describe the page.
Use the page’s designated keyword phrase “at least once near the beginning of the content, and also anywhere it makes sense. Don’t use the keyword phrase, its variation or a synonym more than 4-5 times per page.

Alt tags are the floating descriptions that show up when you mouse over an image. It’s usually best practice to use keywords and their variations in the alt text of an image, and also in the image filename.

You should try optimize your top ten pages based on traffic and expand outward from there.

 

How Not To SEO

When you’ve finally gotten your website online there are a million steps that you need to take in order to be ranked at the top of your niche market on the results pages. Instead of trying to explain each point, we’ll take a different tack this time around, how about a list of things of what not to do on your website.

right-toolIf you’re not managing your site yourself, hopefully the person or agency you have contracted is on the ball and has a clue about how not to run afoul of the rules. If your site gets hit by a spam penalty, whether by the algorithm automatically or if you’ve been flagged manually, it isn’t the end of the world it can be fixed. But let’s get started so you can have a cheat sheet for yourself to check on your agencies efforts where your website is concerned. A note just before we get into things, these are not hard and fast rules, the internet isn’t even remotely a black and white entity, so take everything you read below with a grain of salt.

Misspelling words is an every day thing, everyone does it billions of times per day. But one way that you can run on the wrong side of the web spam team is if you happen to register a domain name with a misspelled version of a highly notable brand name in your niche with the idea to try and generate traffic off of the misspelled term. This is a good example of the web not being black and white, anyone can register any domain name so long as it’s available – but that doesn’t mean that the search engines don’t have a say in where it’ll place it in the results pages.

Having a meta refresh in your homepage, effectively locking visitors into your website by messing with their browser control. It’s not uncommon that when you arrive at the wrong website you hit the back button or the backspace key to return to the page you were at. But using a method like a meta refresh in the header of your websites home page removes that option to a visitor to your site. The basic sequence of events with this type of refresh is when a visitor lands on your page, it refreshes itself a time or two so that when they press the back button, they don’t actually leave the site. Instead they’ve just refreshed the page again and they’re back where they don’t want to be. It’s a frustrating experience in general for users, and a no-no with the search engines.

Having your website encoded entirely in Flash, Java and even some versions of Ajax or Silverlight which require specific browser plugins to function correctly. While this isn’t a negative with the search engines specifically, using entirely visual only coding effectively hides your website from the search engines. Being that Google, Bing and other engines look for text on a website, the text on a Flash and even sometimes Java scripts isn’t readable by them so they assume it’s a blank page. They are getting better at digging the text out, but they’re not all the way there yet so keep that in mind when a designer approaches you with a flashy visual display that has no real text elements. Along the same line of thinking but this time where users are concerned, more and more people are accessing the web with tablets and phones. iPads and iPhones take up a sizable share of the mobile marketplace and they can not display any Flash and some Java, your site would literally be invisible and unusable to an iPad user if you had an entirely Flash built website.

Once More Unto The Breach

seoThere is always a someone talking about how SEO is a dead industry, and more often than not the doomsayers used a very specific type of optimization methods.

When the online marketing game started it was a fairly simple matter to get almost any website listed. You didn’t even really need to have any content of merit or even any kind of following to your website. You didn’t even need to have an okay website never mind a high quality one and as for any kind of best practice guide it didn’t really exist in the beginning. There were no pure white hat methods, although there were many black hat methods and it took a while before the search engines even began to lay penalties to some of the worst offenders. This all started with real gusto across the web in the mid to late 90s.

As the web grew and expanded and as the search engine bots, crawlers and tech got better, the types of things that you should do and shouldn’t do began to become clearer. After a few years of clean up, the search engines and their algorithms fell almost into a routine. You could build a site, create or scrape some content, point any kind of a backlink at it and make a site start to show up in the results pages. It was at this point that the terms ‘search engine optimization’ really started to become widespread and the notion that you could make money from SEO started to become an avenue for people who frequented blogs and discussion forums about the quickest and easiest way to make a dollar online. This was in around 2005-2010 era of SEO, when the industry became suddenly inundated with experts in the field. It really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, that these are the same folk who are calling SEO a dead industry these days.

In the last few years SEO has had some major shifts with the algorithm much the same as the industry saw in 2003 with the Florida update which cleaned up a great deal of the spam across the web. Penguin and Panda were the most recent additions to the Google algorithm which changed the world of SEO enough that the prior blogged about methods of spammy content and tons of anchor text and backlinks disappeared as a viable strategy. They were very simple methods, easy to implement and even easier to spam multiple sites to help drive a target to the top of the results pages. But since the means and the methods became unusable as a reliable way to rank a site, it is suddenly the end of SEO as a viable means of marketing. So the next time you’re approached by an agency who tells you that ‘SEO is dead’ take a moment and remember that the industry is far from dead – if anything it’s growing. It’s only the that the wheat has finally been separated from the chaff.

What To Dominate – Search Or Social

In the quest for online dominance, where do you believe is the best place to lay your allegiance – Do you go after organic dominance, social dominance, or diversify?

social-mediaNot that it should really be a difficult question, but putting all of your eggs in one basket, whether it be organic or social, has never been a good idea. There are pros an cons to each area of online visibility the question that really needs to be asked and answered is what type of balance should you go after as a website owner?

Going after the top of the charts for organic listings is an almost immeasurably powerful position. When you’re in the top 3 results for your key term targets you can easily enjoy 95% or more traffic than being at number 5 or 6 on the results pages. The direct benefit of being in those top spots can be the difference between sending your staff on a paid holiday as a Christmas bonus, or taking them all out to McDonalds for lunch. In a survey conducted earlier this year it was determined that being number 1 for your search term safely netted you more than a third of all traffic for that term, while being number 5 and less, dropped you to the 5% of all traffic. And the reason is actually fairly simple – users like quick and easy to get to their end destination. When a user searches for a service, say they need a banner printer locally, it’s unlikely that they will scroll down the first page passed the first couple of results as they’ll get a listing of all of the local businesses that can provide them with a banner. And when you incorporate into the organic results the inclusion of maps results when someone is looking for a business, it’s even more likely that the user won’t scroll down the page.

The only real downside to organic search engine marketing is the time factor, it takes time for your site to be listed appropriately. And with the constant changes to the search engine algorithms, what is best practices today, may be a red flag the next, it’s a continually evolving landscape that needs to monitored and tended to. As a result of the due diligence required to appropriately monitor the fluctuating search changes, there is often the cost required to keep your SEO on call in order to meet the changes head on.

Social dominance is a whole other ball of wax that requires a different spin in order to capitalize on the marketplace. When you become a force to be reckoned with in the social arena your business enjoys the fandom of (hopefully) thousands of immediate customers and subscribers that are already part of your qualified consumer base. The potential of viral marketing is currently unmatched in how quickly it can bring your company to the attention of your local audience, and potentially even the world. So in short, the social area provides you with a prequalified audience of consumers, the quick sharing of information across multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc), and the potential to go viral and become world known in a relatively short time frame.

A negative to the added visibility and power of the social arena though is first off, it takes a fair bit of time to acquire your consumer base and make them believers in your products and service. It’s much like you’re contracting them to be your sales force by sharing your message as you share with them, and this required a fair bit of personal dedication. And with the potential to go viral with an incredible message (like the recent Westjet video) the potential to run afoul of the internet exists as well. Being active in the social arena needs to be carefully tempered, and your marketing team needs to be diligent in their handling of customers, both positive and negative so as not to find themselves on the wrong side of the news.

SEO Predictions for 2013

As always at this time of year we give our predictions for SEO for the following year, this year we have gathered some help from our friends & other search experts in the field who have given there twist on things to come.

In 2013, the SEO Role must go above and beyond. For example, a basic SEO strategy would obviously include some amount of reporting (for keyword rankings and traffic numbers at the least); however, I find myself analyzing the data to help my client better understand their demographic. Where are visitors accessing the site from, when do they access the site, and what are they specifically looking for when they are on the site?
All of these questions—and more—are in hopes of helping them identify new ways to effectively reach their customer base and ultimately make them more successful. It is SEO’s job to provide meaningful help.

Rand says links and rankings are just means to an end, not the end itself.

What clients really want is not better rankings and more links; they want to make more money.

The SEOs who understood and understand where Google is going and what their clients really want are the ones who are still in business and doing well. For them, the job of a SEO is content relevancy (public relations), user experience, web design, conversions, traffic segmentation, call tracking, research, writing, and anything else that sells products and services and leads to more profits for the client not just short-term, but long-term as well.

Most of all, the job of an SEO is to see the future. Those who can’t will go out of business and take their clients with them.

In conclusion, each of these experts—coming from multiple perspectives–agree that SEO will become a much broader and more complex function in 2013. Yet it will also become more vital than ever before, as it converges with every variety of online presence and marketing.

 

SEO 2013 predictions
SEO 2013 predictions

 

 

 

 

Infographic: Who says SEO is Dead

Came across this great infographic by Aaron Wall at SEOBook, what I found most interesting was the deluded people mentioned, here at Fresh Traffic we have been coming across people like this from day one of the internet. The truth of the matter is that most people who say or mention this are on the list, why? simple they cannot do it.

Click to enlarge to pdf version

Google’s New Algorithm

So Google has released a new twist in their search algorithm that it hopes will better catch people who spam the results or purposely do things to rank better that are against Google’s publishers guidelines. After all is said and done, Google says it will impact about 3% of search queries. That may not seem like a whole lot, but consider the fact they serve millions of searchers a day, 3% definitely adds up.

From their blog:

In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s quality guidelines. This algorithm represents another step in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content.

In the last day or so since their change has been online, some of the results are starting to be noticed. At the forefront, it looks like brands and genuine news sites, those that write the news, not aggregate it, are gaining rank back. At the other end of the site, we have those aforementioned aggregator sites, template sites which can be built and filled with scraped content in a matter of minutes, and news portal sites, those used to file searches into pages.

The over arching goal of this change in the algorithm is a simple one: Google wants creators of unique, quality content to get their chance to shine in the results. Up until this shift, and for the next while until it settles in to work, scraper bots and aggregators would just nab that great content and use it on their own sites, not linking back (most cases) to the original source. Just as a side note, this is not Google attacking or trying to circumvent any legitimate search engine optimization on yours, or anyone elses website. The real target are scrapers, black hat operators and those who try and game the system instead of trying to make it work for them.

Keep Advertising Simple To Win

There’s a main point that needs to be kept in mind when working with your website and search engine optimization. Your top priority needs to be your consumer, whether you are looking for sales, sign ups, etc. When you sit down to have a look at your website, your content, your print ads, you need to always know, you are not creating content for yourself. You’re creating this content to be digested by people you wish to attract.

Between the trillions of webpages, the thousands of television commercials, or the billions of pages of print advertising available, it may seem like a lost cause to try and be noticed. But no matter how daunting the obstacles might seem to be, there are ways to tackle the mountain of being found, and turn it into a simple bump in the road. A general rule of thumb to always have in mind when working on your brand, website or advertising – keep it simple. The more complex your imaging is, the more convoluted you make your content, all equate to putting up road blocks for your consumer. Often times, complexity is found in simplicity, keep your images crisp, clear and to the point of your brand, Coke and Pepsi are great examples of this. If you see a billboard painted completely red with a simple white wavy line drawn on it, you almost immediately think ‘Coca Cola’.

The same can be said of your written content you deliver, whether on your website or in print advertising if you still use newspaper adverts. Being cryptic, or non-descript in your text is more likely to hurt your advertising efforts rather than reward them. Think of your target demographic, the consumer which you wish to attract and even those who might see your advertising and be curious enough to search for you. Stay away from using strict industry only terms if you’re trying to improve awareness of your product. Having a clear, and concise call to action on your website is one the larger issues to over come when working with new clients. It is too easy to become caught up in trying to sell your company or products, and never get to the point of actually saying ‘Buy now!’.

Google recently wrote a blog about re-imagining some of the more influential advertising campaigns in the past 50+ years. One of the advertisers made the most relevant point, that covers every advertising avenue you could explore. “No matter what media you’re in, think about the content. Content is what matters.” – Amil Gargano