Category Archives: seo strategies

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

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.

Step 2 – Follow The Rules of The Game

Time for a little bit of free advice for you and your website, especially if you happen to be an affiliate or a licensed dealer for a larger company.

taoofseoThere are definitely some positive aspects when you work as a dealer or an affiliate for a larger business or brand. You gain the instant recognition and the branding power built by the advertising dollars that have already been spent. You also usually have access to their marketing teams and some of their infrastructure in order to help develop and grow a web presence for yourself. Oodles of content, images, videos and more marketing materials than you would likely know what to realistically do with. Usually the conversation with the branding team consists of them telling you that as you build your site and use their assets, consists of being advised to just go ahead and copy what they’ve written and if you have any issues just link people back to their website.

Please, if you’re an affiliate or a dealer for a brand don’t do this.

Having all of their promotional materials, text content and images is an amazing start to your website and being able to promote their product but the last thing you want to do is follow that type of marketing advice. Instead what you want to do is use their text content as a guide and recreate it in a way that benefits your business and it’s location instead of copying it word for word. The images are less of a concern, as you can’t really edit them without losing the quality that some branding companies put into their photos. When you copy and paste your dealers content you’re basically telling the search engines that you’re selling their product – see my content is the same and I have the affiliate links and everything! And the search engines will promptly drop you down the page for that branding term as well, for precisely those points. Regardless of who you are, how large your brand is or how much money you make, if you try and skimp on the rules of the search game then you’re going to lose. Just ask BMW, Teleflora or JC Penny, they all had their own problems of course, but they’re multi-billion dollar brands and the search engines had no qualms about doling out penalties when they were necessary. Remember that with your small business when you’re ready to bring your site online, take the time to rewrite the content to make it relevant for you and your business. Cheat at your own peril.

Search Engine Solutions

When I arrived in Canada 4 years ago, the first people to contact me was a company working with a big yellow book. I had a lovely lunch meeting with the people, I gave them my thoughts & ideas on how they could move forward into this new digital world capitulating the planet and of course my contact information.

Now, as most people who know will testify, I don’t usually sugarcoat anything, shoot from the hip is a term used a lot here in Canada and I do, It’s just the way I am.

So today as I watch the demise of a once great institution taking place, I ask myself could I really of helped? The answer MOST DEFINATLY.

Can the Yellow Pages be SavedIf fact, with a little tweaking they could rule the search engine results pages, seriously, and that’s were the real dollars are, plus advertisers would flock back to be at the top of Google.

Now could the hierarchy on the east coast put up with a straight talking Brit? now that’s another question, they could’nt the first time. I did foresee the autotrader’s problems and mentioned it, they lost money on that one. I also told them about the Google Adwords reseller program/agreement they have and what would happen with that a full 12months before it did, psychic, no, Internet experience and common business sense.

They were great at selling advertising in a book every business wanted to be in, there not very good at the Internet game. They may have some good technicians, programmers and traditional marketers in house and they certainly have a few pretty faces, Ive seen them first hand :-) But they don’t have anyone near capable for the online strategy stuff that could relight the company back into a leader they once were.

Need proof? how much have they recently spent on videos, marketing, brochures, Adwords etc promoting the new search engine solutions  program, Mucho $$$$ and where do the list organically on search? They should be totally dominating this term.

Now, solution, get expert help, pay the dollars, it wont be cheap, take the company ego’s out of the room, don’t expect a slick marketer in a pinstripe suit showing you a PowerPoint or YouTube video, these guys know shit, the ones who know in this game don’t look or work like that, we just know.

It’s never over until the fat lady sings, do something now or you will be hearing those dulcet tones sooner than you think.

Dont let Bill Gates be right. The old-fashioned printed Yellow Pages used to be the way that people  found local business, but not anymore. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has gone so  far as to predict the  Yellow Pages will be officially dead 2012 .

 

Is virtual real estate the new frontier

What is a domain name worth? well the average price of a .COM domain name is $2,595, according to a study released last week that analyzed 10,608 domain sales during the first quarter of 2011.

Domains from www.delavegamedia.com
Buy your Domain Today

This could be pretty useful information for digital marketers out there to work into their budgets, but more importantly, they should look at the overall value that a domain provides because the return on investment can be fairly substantial.

Domain names are a pretty basic tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal and should be a main component of any campaign, brand management strategy, product marketing strategy, or even an SEO strategy. However, their importance is often overlooked and can sometimes be cast aside due to the sticker shock of how much the right name costs.

Domains have been sold for $13 and for $13 million, but if you consider the average price, it’s a reasonable investment in the grand scheme of a marketing budget.  To put it in a brick-and-mortar perspective that most anyone can understand, $2,600 is roughly the cost of a vinyl sign or display booth, making it a very reasonable investment for most companies.

Another thing to remember is that a domain is an investment, The money you spend upfront on a domain will pay dividends in the traffic it helps generate, but it’s also an asset that will appreciate in value over time.  According to the same market study that benchmarks domain transactions, the average price of a .COM increased 9 percent from the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011.

We often take domains for granted because they’ve become a part of every day life, but they’re a valuable tool for driving traffic, and in the end, that’s what it’s all about.  Short and memorable domains can make your site easier to find for new and returning customers; keyword domains can improve SEO and reduce the money you spend on SEM; domains that define a category can capture natural type-in traffic.  With the right strategy, domains prove their value many times over.

You only get one domain name, when it’s gone, it’s gone. Securing your business or personal domain name should be one of the first things you do online for Branding, Marketing & Sales.

If you require help securing a domain name for your business or to check out our stable of branded domains, call us today 1.866.259.2483 or drop us a line, we would be happy to help.

 

 

Managing Your Websites Traffic

If you own a website of any kind, and you pay attention to the traffic coming to and navigating it, you may discover that traffic is perhaps not flowing naturally through your pages. For example, a potential visitor arrives at your site, but upon not finding the information they were looking for quickly or efficiently they leave your site and head to a competitor. Another issue you might discover with visitors is a lot of traffic on pages which contain lots of images in regards to your market and you start to see them pop up on various other sites around the web.

There are a number of ways with which you can direct traffic on your website, the easiest of which is by building an easy to understand navigation menu highly visible on the page to help drive visitors where you would like them. Another method you can use to help direct visitors to your unique content would be to sculpt your traffic flow to your more popular interior pages on your site which contain more information than your front page. Think of it like setting up a series of traffic signals for the internet that helps people land on the pages they’re really looking for.

In the event of discovering your content is being scraped and used here or there on the internet, there are a couple of options easily and immediately available to you. You can contact the site owner and ask them to remove your content, and depending on the severity of the hijacking you may even be able to leverage the power of the DMC Act to help your case. If it’s a repeat offender, a more drastic way to deal with the prying eyes and light fingers would be to completely block their IP address from being able to access your website. It’s quick, fairly simple to implement and mostly absolute.

Using a method of blocking IP ranges can help you trim your traffic to the customers you’re truly interested in having using your site. For example with the recent buying frenzy that was created with Winnipegs new NHL team returning to town, the sales website could have essentially blocked all IPs that were not originating from Manitoba for the day of the sale and reversed the change when the sale was finished. At any rate, that would have cut down on the out of country ticket brokers from getting their hands on tickets they have no intention of using.

Wild Wild SEO West?

A trending topic for the last 6 weeks or so online has been the SEO changing Panda updates. Both the original and the latest versions of the algorithm updates. Some website owners have laughed, some have cried, but all of us in the SEO industry have had to adjust some to compensate for the changes.

A new twist on the update discussion that has been gaining traction as of late is the thoughts of the increased diligence that as SEO experts, we will be conducting when picking up new clients. Scouring the content, links and the structure of the site were always paramount to success, checking the backlink structure however was often just glanced at. With the scare which Panda has brought into the spotlight of using content farm back links or having a link farm tied to your site, checking on a deep backlink history for clients new and old has become a priority. The fear that snagging that new massive deal, be undermined because of shady link building practices in the past has elevated the concerns of the search community.

It has also raised another question about the discovery of link farm back links and paid link building schemes to boost clients page rank. The Panda updates and the Google algorithm in general, have often caught the ire of the masses as being poor and best and out right failing at worst. Being that anyone can check any websites backlink structure and history, the development of a built in website reporting widget for your browser from Google and it seems that the industry is due to become full of vigilantes. Imagine the scenario, while checking on a niche competitors backlinks you discover that they’ve been buying thousands of links to boost their page rank and SERPs standing. With just a quick click of your mouse and a short form filled out, you’ve essentially neutered your competition and kicked their feet out from under them in one efficient motion.

This could lead to a massive amount of finger pointing and name calling in the SEO community. But at the same time, it’ll help reinforce the organic search experts position in the field. Never forget the basics, always keep it simple, don’t buy into link schemes which claim to guarantee page rank and SERP position and always do your due diligence.

Search Engine Optimization Mis-Conceptions

There are some general misconceptions about SEO which crop up from time to time and often come up when going over the process with clients. Some points are extremely valid questions to bring up while others receive ambiguous answers as it changes every day.

Some discussion points like “Why do we need to wait in building back links to our site?” for example tends to come up. To build up quality back links to your website takes time first of all, secondly if you were to go the shady route and buy thousands of links to boost your Page Rank, it’s a very quick way to get the search engines attention. And not in a good way!

“Why should I pay you every month when this other guy says he can do the same for a one shot job?” This is probably the largest misconception about the SEO industry and one of the hurdles which we are met with in dealing with new clients. The biggest reason that you can’t do just a once over and expect the results to carry on forever is because the internet doesn’t shut off. It doesn’t stop, it doesn’t sleep, it’s always changing. And in order to compensate and keep up, the search engines do exactly the same. The change their algorithms, tweak the results and shift the rankings on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis. Upkeep is absolutely essential to remain competitive in search engine optimization and someone telling you they can plant you firmly at the top for a one time cost of $200 is yanking your chain.

“SEO doesn’t seem so bad I’m sure our techs can do it here” This is perhaps the most closed minded statement to be encountered. I’ve written of it here on the blog before, but pick the right horse for the course. When you’re building a new website, contract a web designer. When you’re adding basic information to your site or updating information, use your techs. When you want to bring your brand and website up in the rankings, use a search engine optimization expert. Saying that your tech who does your database scripting will do your optimization for you is basically money lost at best. At worst, they try and shortcut your site and you get kicked from the index for breaking a rule or two.

The First Rule of SEO is..

Search Engine Optimization, we’re in the business of driving your website to the top of the search results relevant to your industry. A lot of the time, it sounds too good to be true, that when reaching this position you can literally count yourself as a leader. So you sit back, relax and watch as the visitors pour in. And then you start to notice something you didn’t prepare yourself for, your visitors start dropping off.

Where you once were receiving hundreds of qualified visitors to your site, you’ve watched it drop off to a trickle of where you were at your peak. So what happened? Did your SEO expert fail you? Possibly, we do make mistakes from time to time. But the first rule of SEO is KISS it; Keep It Simple Stupid. With that in mind, grab your pencils and paper and let’s take a look at what are the contributing factors to dropped traffic.

First and foremost, check your content. Have you been creating fresh and compelling content for your site? Have you allowed your SEO to read it before you upload it to your site or did you just toss up what ever jargon you happened to jot down in a hurry? The search engines have always proclaimed that content is king and when your content doesn’t measure up anymore, you’re going to lose your crown. That means when you’re being creative, you need to bear in mind your visitor base. Do they understand industry terms? Or do you need to use generic terms. Will they be able to handle acronyms and specific statements about your products and services? Being hasty in the creation process can be a huge contributor to losing traffic to your site. Properly spelled, grammatically correct and most of all relevant to your site content, can drive you to the top of the mountain and keep you there like an anchor.

Another avenue to explore for you, have you done any massive changes to your website either functionality or design? If you’ve changed the way your navigation works on your site and didn’t properly relay that information to the search engines, you’ll likely slip off of search until the spiders find all of your content again.

Have you kept an open and consistent dialogue with your SEO expert? When a change is requested that needs to be completed, you need to bear in mind that the internet doesn’t stop. It doesn’t sleep, rest, eat or use the washroom. The bots are always out there, always searching, parsing and indexing. A requested change needs to happen as soon as possible. Lost time when making changes can make a huge impact on your search position.

The marketing game has changed significantly in the last 10 years with the growth of the search engines. Gone are the days of dumping a quarter of a million dollars into an ad campaign and waiting for the kick back from it. International marketing superstardom can be had with a well coded website with strong quality content created by one person sitting behind a keyboard.

Learn the lesson of SEO Mistakes

With JC Penny & Overstock.com getting penalized from Google for trying to outfox the search engines, what lesson can you learn from these stumbles?

Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand. Let me say this again, Be careful when it comes to technology you may not fully understand.  

Today, countless organizations—small businesses especially—are being told that their fortunes will improve if they learn to harness the magical powers of SEO. If you own or operate a Web site for your business, the come-ons are no doubt familiar: “I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines,” goes one popular one.

Do organizations fall for these pitches? They sure do. In fact, entire industries have become enamoured with SEO. Take the media business. Today, many publishing companies are putting more investment into search gimmicks than in quality content. The result? Fewer impactful features, more animated slide shows and plenty of SEO-optimized headlines, including one from The Washington Post that read simply, “SEO headline here.”

Infatuation with SEO and related technologies extends to companies of all types. According to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), North American spending on search marketing is growing nearly 15 percent annually and will top $17 billion this year. This is in addition to the vast sums spent on SEO technology and consulting.

With these figures search has seized the attention of scores of business executives worldwide, Sooner or later, every competitive company will develop or invest in SEO capabilities. When this happens, distinguishing your organization with basic SEO technology and knowledge will become very difficult.

There are signs that some SEO companies are having to go to greater extremes to produce results for their clients. Is the sun is about to set on SEO. It might, but don’t cancel your contract with your SEO provider just yet, For the foreseeable future, SEO technology will remain a very valuable business tool, but only if you keep a competitive advantage. For that, you’re going to have to focus on business basics, including your innovation, prices and operational excellence.

Some thoughts echoed from Inder Sidhu the Senior Vice President of Strategy & Planning for Worldwide Operations at Cisco