Category Archives: search engine optimization

Right, and Wrong SEO

SEO Experts unite? It seems everywhere online there’s courses, quizzes, training webinars, downloadable ebooks, the list is extensive. Things, are getting out of hand. Search engine optimization isn’t even remotely a light read over lunch, or a 2 day training course, or a handful of quizzes which magically “certify” you as an expert.

Now I’m not saying that all of the aforementioned methods are just snake oil in a jar, designed to take your money and run. For the most part, they will teach you best practices when you build a website and add to it, but if your plan was building a new site, why wouldn’t you already have an idea of what you wanted and how to implement it? And if you had no idea how to implement, there are web design shops out there which can help direct you as to what needs to be done, based on your needs.

Would you honestly trust your optimization efforts, to the SEO expert who actually writes a home improvement blog (yes they exist)? SEO is as old as Google, from when they first started building their index with the first pages. It’s not fly by night, it’s not short term, it’s not quick fix, and it’s not something everyone can do.

Optimization Resolutions for 2010

A new year, a new decade. Welcome to 2010, do you have your resolutions handy to go over them? Good! Lets begin..

Resolution #1: I will not try to perform my own SEO. This is a great start for the new year for you! Yes, you do indeed know your business better than anyone else, however, your expertise is not in SEO, it’s in your industry. SEO is our world, let Freshtraffic take care of that for you.

Resolution #2: I will communicate better with my SEO. Another great idea for 2010. Again, you know the best when it comes to your business, we at Fresh however know SEO. For us to serve you to the absolute best of our abilities we need you to remain in contact with us about any changes to your services or features so that we may change and update your pages properly. If we’ve helped you to setup a blogging service, please be sure to use the service regularly so to help firmly place yourself as the authority within your industry.

Resolution #3: I will work harder to understand “You get what you pay for”. In every situation, you get what you put in. If you receive promises of quick, high rankings for a low investment, expect to have very mixed results, worst case scenario, your website being kicked from Google’s index. Fresh has been in the search engine optimization business, since before SEO was a buzz word being tossed around marketing tables.

Resolution #4: I will understand that SEO is not SEM. Going straight to Wikipedia:

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs) through the use of paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion.

Versus:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results

SEM = sponsored links (top or right side) SEO = organic ranking (center of the page)

Resolution #5: I will not meddle after having my site optimized. We couldn’t have hoped for a more important resolution than this one. Search engine optimization isn’t an exact science to be sure, however, there are steps which need to be taken to ensure compliance within the industry, and that’s our job to know those lines and to not step over them. Something as simple as deciding to add a picture, or reword a page, without consulting first, could completely undo any and all work been done on your entire site.

Well then, it looks like you’ve compiled some great resolutions for moving forward in the New Year! We’ll have to check back in a few months, just to see how you’ve been doing at keeping to your resolutions. Happy New Year, may your year bring you highly placed organic rankings, limited to no paid inclusions, and exponential growth in unique visitors to your site.

Prepping your SEO for 2010

In continuation from yesterdays post about prepping for the new year, and being ready to take the bull by the horns online, below you’ll find a couple of tips to be aware of in regards to getting ready. An insight or two, as well as some advice to bear in mind as your advertising year starts anew.

An easily forgotten fact, is that web crawlers from the search engines treat each individual page of a website as it’s own entity. This means that rather than regarding the optimization of your website as a whole, it can be more productive to think of it as the optimization of each page. Using this approach is much more involved and meticulous care needs to be taken, but, once all of your pages have been optimized, your entire site will be search engine friendly, and loaded with relevant content.

An important SEO fact every business owner should know is that true, organic SEO, requires a multitude techniques, and time for those techniques to work if an SEO campaign is really going to be successful. Using a single SEO method may help improve your results a little; but if you want your business to be ranked highly by the search engines for a long time and to increase the amount of traffic that visits your site then proper identification and implementation of acceptable SEO techniques will be required. It is also important to note, that rankings can, and do, fluctuate day to day within the search results page. It’s impossible to guarantee the number 1 spot in the results, but when Fresh works your site, with our proven organic optimization techniques, you will climb the results in ranking.

The third basic fact in search engine optimization that you should always have in mind, is that SEO is a continuous process. It does not stop, because there’s always another website, another business, and/or another competitor knocking on your door online; trying to take your place. Once high rankings have been achieved through an efficiently run SEO campaign, if this optimization is suddenly halted then it is likely that the rankings achieved will drop too. You could liken the effect much the same as watering a flower garden properly and with care, to suddenly stopping. All of your efforts in raising that product, will be for nothing. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are constantly changing and developing their technology and new techniques to help be ranked are also constantly being developed. If you want to remain on top, then you must remain updated on all developments and make the necessary changes to your SEO campaign.

At Freshtraffic, we’re constantly monitoring our clients sites, and if a slip in ratings is found consistently, and not a momentary lapse in a reindexing, we will retool the site to return to, and retain the previously held high ranking.

SEO 2010 – Never say never

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.

SEO Mechanics

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?

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.

Bing or Google?

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

Canadian search engine optimization guru


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!

Work with your SEO

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.

Who's the real expert?

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.