Browsing "search engine optimization"
2010 is right around the corner, and are you poised to march into the new year with authority and your presence online?
New Years Resolutions, out with the old, in with the new.. change is good. If you’re an “old hat” in the biz world, you have had your methods which have worked to advertise (tv, radio, newspaper, etc). But the simple, honest truth is, those mediums have lost the majority of their impact on society. The world is online, gone digital, and in the realm of switches, code, and information exchange, the world never sleeps.
The 24/7 marketplace, the Internet, where you can sink or swim based upon your decisions as a business owner. Is your site easy to use? The information relevant to your product or services? Are you easy to find within the search engines; Google, Bing or Yahoo?
If you’ve not concentrated on your presence online, don’t fret as it’s never too late to get started. In the game of cat and mouse online however, you’re not just competing with the shop down the street, you need to contend with your competitors the next town over, or in the next state/province. The web moves and breathes with a life of it’s own, and having the real optimization experts on your side, is your first step towards taming the beast.
In frequenting a forum or two, I’ve come across some rather interesting questions and scenarios from time to time. Potential clients asking about techniques, both white and black hat, SEO “experts” posing questions that they should undoubtedly know the answers too, in order to consider calling themselves even an SEO, let alone an expert.
Today I encountered a scenario I wasn’t entirely ready for, a person who used to create and publish advertisements under the Google Adwords program, wanted to use Google as a reference on a job application for a position as an “SEO Expert”.
The biggest and most blatant problem with their question being notably; under Adwords, you don’t work for Google. The relationship between yourself and Google, is one of independant contractors, not as an employer/employee relationship. So, out goes that reference.
The second problem, and it’s as much a pet peeve as an actual issue, writing Adwords does not qualify a person to be a search engine optimization expert. Trying to draw the comparison between the two, would be the same as having applied to be a mechanic after changing a tire on your car.
Would you go see that “mechanic” with your business, knowing his prior experience?
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.
Following yesterday’s news that Microsoft’s Bing is gaining share on Google (its searches are up 7% for October), a look into their similaries and differences was in order.
Bing’s stance on SEO doesn’t appear to be all that different from Google’s, however, users get different results, which is how to two can coexist in the first place. The difference isn’t necissarily in how the results are found, it is in how the results are presented. Remember that Microsoft marketed Bing as the “decision engine”.
Bing and Google have separate, unique algorithms, but both like quality, relevant links and good content, as opposed to deception and spam. In a white paper for webmasters, Microsoft says:
“There have been no major changes to the MSNBot crawler during the upgrade to Bing. However, the Bing team is continuously refining and improving our crawling and indexing abilities.”
Bing separates results into categories, which has so far worried some in the SEO sector, but Microsoft says proper SEO will work just as well. Bing also has the explore pane, which corresponds with the categories in the SERPs. This is similar to Google’s recent addition of “search options.”
Doing a quick search for comparison between Bing and Google for the keyword “snowboards” yields the following results. Bing gives you categories like shopping, brands, buying guide, providers, accessories, images, videos, and local. Google returning the relevant websites from sales, to local, to forums.
With Bing, it’s not so much about getting to the top of the results, it’s about getting to the top of the right set of results. And still, as always, having quality and relevant content is the best thing you can do. Incidentally, this will help your cause in Google (and other search engines) at the same time.
Curious About What Bing Looks for in Links?
Rick DeJarnette of Bing Webmaster Center recently posted a pair of blogTo try and help determine the good, and the bad:
- If you can’t endorse the quality of the content at another site, you shouldn’t be linking to them.
- Don’t seek links from sites whose content isn’t link worthy.
- Links to and from your site should be relevant to your site or the page you’re linking to.
- Quality > quantity.
- Avoid hidden text
Top Canadian search engine optimization guru, I see this advert on the paid sponsored links in Google all the time in my city of Winnipeg.
I thought first someone was advertising my company, hey and it would be for free too.
It was not to be, it was another company in town trying to drill up business using the phrase Top Canadian search engine optimization guru, so I then thought lets type that in google and see if they list organically, enclosed results.
Don’t say SEO Experts without being able to back it up, anyone with half a brain can list on google adwords, but to list top of the Google Organic results takes a bit more, people and company’s like this are the ones that get the SEO industry a bad name.
You don’t write a few blogs, twitter daily or do a radio spot and all of sudden become experts or guru’s. Time to stop kidding people and stick to what your good at. Rant!
It should be safe to assume that SEOs don’t know a thing about your industry. Ergo, We can also assume that most client’s don’t know anything about proper online marketing. Most clients think their audience is just like them, if they like technical details then that must be what the audience wants. If they like fluff then that’s what you have to provide because nobody looks at the technical stuff.
Nothing could be further from the truth, the target audience isn’t all like us. They search differently, they expect different things, and they respond differently. All of these differences aside howerver, there is one thing that all searchers have in common. They all want to know they landed on the right website. And if you don’t show them that with your content, they’re going to hit that back button.
Searchers don’t have time to figure out if you are going to meet their needs. Only once they know you do will they stay and read more or dig deeper. You only have a couple of seconds to grab their interest or they move off. If at first glance they don’t see their search results on the page, they are gone.
SEOs and clients can learn a lot from each other, but it takes a genuine collaborative effort. Knowing your stuff isn’t enough. Because you don’t know anything about SEO. How do I know?
Because you came to Fresh to do it for you.
One of the things we go over with clients when getting them involved in the SEO process is that they know their business better than we do. The argument can be made that as soon as they become clients we need to learn as much as possible about their industry to market it properly. But no matter what, they hired the experts in SEO and that takes enough time as it is.
And this is why clients need to be actively involved. Keyword research is our domain, we weed out the junk, and help organize them into strongly optimized groups. But we still need the client’s help with what fits and what won’t.
It would be foolish to barrel through an SEO campaign without seeking the client’s guidance along the way. We have to rely pretty heavily on the client’s expertise in many of the marketing tasks before us. Are these keywords targeted? Is this content correct? These are all common questions we pose to the clients before moving on to the next task.
Sometimes, we find that the client isn’t always the expert they think they are. So often we provide them keyword research and they just barrel through it and say, “yup, these look good.” So we run with it only to have them remove those very same keywords from the text we had developed. Or we send content for them to approve and they say, “looks good,” only to come back months later remarking that don’t like how it’s written. Fair enough, it deserves to be right, but couldn’t they have mentioned that earlier?
These things happen and it does no good to get bent out of shape about it. Everybody makes mistakes, gets things wrong or is caught not paying close enough attention. But sometimes clients think they know more than they really do.
Is the client always right? Well, yes. Ultimately the client always gets what they want, even if it works against their best interests. You can only make your point so many times before you just have to say, “Okay, we’ll do it just how you want it.” Even with knowing full well that they won’t like the results and will likely come back and blame you for it. Thank god for paper trails! After a few more rounds of trying to share knowledge of online marketing, “I really think we just have to focus on technical stuff. I don’t need help with marketing.”
Ok, but will they believe when the technical stuff isn’t enough to get their site ranked for their keywords? Or if by the off chance we are able to get their keywords ranked without any on-page optimization and they don’t see any improvement in conversions? Just as SEM (Search Engine Marketing) relys heavily on client guidance of industry specific knowledge, clients must also rely on their SEOs expertise.
Of the many steps involved in properly conducting a sound SEO (search engine optimization) campaign for a client, a step which seems to invoke some confusion is the link building portion of the campaign. Properly researched link building is just as important to your success as is the content on your website.
Because of the somewhat, misunderstood nature of link building, there are many fallicies which float around on the web about it. What sites to link to, which ones are worse, too many back links are bad for you, but too few isn’t worth the money.. And they go on and on. You can find some of these myths, demystified below.
Myth No 1.
It is bad for your website to leave your link on an “inner page” or inside page that is either new or has a very low Page Rank like PR0 which has a high Page Rank home page.
This is absolutely false. A solid strategy is to look for good quality sites to link to and most of these times linking is done through any of the many pages of such sites. Content doesn’t exist on only the front page of a website.
Myth No 2.
You should always obtain “relevant” links in the same niche as your website otherwise these non-relevant links won’t don’t help in your search engine optimization and will get you penalized by Google.
Ideally all of us should always try to obtain links belonging to the same niche, however it will not hurt you even if they come from sites belonging to entirely different niche. There is just no way that Google can exert much control over incoming links to your website. If this myth were true, many nasty people just need to start linking bad sites with their own competitors just to bring their sites down.
Myth No. 3
Building lots of backlinks too fast will get your penalized by Google.
Most people make this statement without defining what is considered too many links. The average marketer does not build links to the tune of tens of thousands on a daily basis. Only when this happens would we think it is too excessive and could raise an alert to Google, who may investigate if spamming has taken place.
Continue reading about the myths of link building..
In today’s marketplace, businesses large and small cannot wait before they concentrate on their SEO program. Search engine optimization is one of those things that if you are starting it up now you might be a bit late to the party, but at least you got there. It is important to really get started as soon as possible and get things going with your SEO efforts because each day a business waits to get active in the search engines is another day your competition might be really ramping up their search engine marketing efforts slowly stealing away valuable visitors away from your business.
Here are some pitfalls in waiting on building a solid SEO program:
1. Time: SEO is a very time intensive marketing effort that really requires patience, so the longer a business waits with their website the longer it takes to really see results. SEO is a lot like planting a seed and watching it grow. If you want to see results from your efforts they are not going to happen over night. There are cost effective ways to get things started if you are on a budget so at the very least it is important to get the ball rolling. Many businesses are under the impression that search engine optimization works immediately or soon thereafter and this couldn’t be further from the truth.
2. Loss of Sales: Ignoring search engine optimization efforts for your business or website will result in a direct loss of potential sales. I don’t care what your business is, if you are trying to promote yourself online and you have some sort of business to offer whether online or through a brick & mortar you will benefit from SEO. A loss of website visitors is a loss of potential sales in my book. The opportunity costs of not getting active in the search engines for some businesses could be very high and almost painful to discuss.
3. More Competition: All it takes is another few websites to pop up in the search engines and start promoting themselves through a variety of search engine marketing efforts and you might really get buried in the search results. Not to mention your potential customers that could be lost to this newly found competition. More and more people in today’s marketplace are really starting to head online for newly found streams of income. It is important to realize that the potential for your space to get crowded online is very possible. If it hasn’t gotten busy already image if a handful of new competitors move into your space in the search engines and bump you out of the way?
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.
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.