Category Archives: seo strategies

Organic SEO is not a Vending Machine

For some reason, some clients tend to look at Organic SEO like a vending machine. Almost as if they want to put their money in a slot and instantly want the prize. Organic SEO depends on the climate of the competition, the industry and variables such as the content on your pages, if your site is new, if your website has links or if it is virtually unknown. The list of potential obstacles that an optimization specialist has to overcome oftentimes seems insurmountable in comparison to the expectations of a client.

In the event that time is not a luxury one can afford for long term results, there is pay per click marketing. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for solid organic placement, but before getting there, oftentimes an education and above all clarity needs to be established between the SEO company and the client before embarking on a voyage into the raging waters of the search engine marketing.

Patience may be a virtue, but in SEO it is the cornerstone to long lasting organic search results. If you have a newer website that barely ranks for your company name and you hire an SEO company with the expectation of taking over a 2 word phrase with 5,000,000 pages competing for that term, what likelihood do you have of achieving search engine domination (that lasts) within a month? 2 months?, 3 months?, bleak…you see the point. To acquire such (in the real world) and not just theoretically would mean that you would have had to start somewhere (with related keywords) to chip away at the tail or the term (sometimes for 3-6 months), before even considering attacking the head. Not to mention that your ranking potential is to a great extent based on your link popularity. Now those of you who are not familiar with link building, here is an analogy.

Say for example that you want to appear for a search term that sparsely appears for a fleeting moment on your website, you don’t really want to change your content and you want fast results (all SEO’s raise their hand if they have had to deal with clients like this) then I have news for you. Your better breaking it to them that they are better off sticking risk vs. reward, no guarantee, pay per click marketing. At least then they know what their getting, a shot at the top, with no safety net. One can easily burn through 2-3 times as much money using PPC than just observing a bit of patience to organically occupy a top 10 spot and have the users click happily ever after when they visit your site free of the toll of the PPC troll. But to expect this from Organic SEO right out of the box (from a newer site – less than a year old) is simply contrary to the principles (mainly the algorithms) that control organic rankings.

What is the solution?

So what can you do if you are interested in increasing your rankings without spending a fortune? Invest your time in (a) looking at the top tier websites that are returned for the search terms you are coveting and (b) be frank with yourself to determine what those websites have that yours does not. Do they have 1000 pages and you have 3, do they have 25,000 back links to their site and you have 28, trust me details like this matter. What can you emulate and what can you do today to make changes that can provide relevance for your website aside from wishful thinking…

All kidding aside, if you are considering what it would take to be on top, usually the first thing to consider is what you need to be doing differently that can aid the process that is already known for being conducive with top 10 rankings. Because frankly, if you were doing that already, your wouldn’t need SEO to begin with. So if you are afraid of change, or quite simply just don’t have the time to commit 3 hours a day to your site (minor tweaks, revisions, polishing the content, building links, socially bookmarking to promote, etc) then your better off hiring an SEO company who does know how, and that can avoid the pitfalls in the first place.

Start from the ground up, content is the key

Organic SEO is based on maximizing the content on your pages to achieve the right balance of word density (percentage of keywords to non keywords) as well as proper use of signal flares or signifying elements that say HEY OVER HERE, HERE I AM, when it comes to that term. Not that repetition for the sake of redundancy occurs (otherwise known as SPAM), but your message should be clear, themed and concise, while being informative, compelling and engaging to consume (otherwise known as sticky) to ensure sales and conversion.

If you are a bit on the shallow side on the links, you can sign up for the Yahoo Directory to get the ball rolling, it’s the best $299 one could spend on investing in their websites instant recognition based on the process of affiliation with one of the oldest directories online. One site which was less than a year old went from a page rank 0 to a page rank 4, just on the strength of Yahoo’s back link, so this is a start.

My suggestion is to build links for about 3-5 months gradually sprinkling the terms you want to rank for in the anchor text (the text in the link) that reference your site. The idea is to have a balance of broad search terms as well as a combination of exact match terms to dial in the net and funnel the potential searches that may have any number of keywords that pertain to your industry. In this way, your site can become a catch all for various top 10 searches and create inroads with search engines as an authority in your industry.

This is what link building is for, building authority, from there once your website is viewed in that capacity, you can work smarter not harder to rank for more competitive terms. This is not intended to be interpreted as a tutorial, but rather a needed statement to address all of the misconceptions about organic rankings.

Organic SEO can work fast, but it depends on variables and since no two sites are alike, what works for one, may not work for another. Competition and the industry have the greatest impact on this part of the equation. Real estate vs. ant farming, sure you could rank in the top 10 for the best ant farmer, but then again the daily search volume may be 3 people a day if that.

The point being, the market is based on supply and demand and as any commodity is in great demand, it is taxed accordingly. In this case, the search engines view this as a commitment of time and energy. Visibility and links are crucial, but finding the right combination of old and new links as well as being present in the headlines, social scenes and other known factors that can produce rankings are all investments of time. So the next time you wonder why SEO companies charge so much, this should provide some incite into the logic behind the equation. They are essentially micro-managing thousands of steps and protocols, analyzing the results and systematically applying fundamentals to give your website the proper balance so that it appeals to the hungry, yet picky spiders and bots, whose purpose it is to catalog and retrieve useful content.

If you don’t make the grade, you can always build a few more links, clean up your code, your content and your act and then wait for them to breeze through again and catch a glimpse of your wares. If they like what they see, you should be ranking in no time flat. But if the results you are seeking fall short of your expectations, then it is either you than must come to terms with what you want and where your at, so that you can make the needed adjustments to find a happy medium between on-page SEO, off-page link building until you achieve your goal.

Selecting a Search Engine Optimization Firm

There are a lot of very good search engine optimization firms to choose from, and there are a lot (too many) of firms that say they do search engine optimization but end up being a waste of time and money. I hope today’s article will help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

When you begin your vendor selection process, you should start by defining your needs and goals. So many people enter into the selection process with no idea of what their goals may be other than, “We want to rank on page one of Google.” Here are some other issues to consider.

What Are Your goals?
Are you interested in branding, or more likely, are you interested in how search engine optimization can help you grow your business? To me, growing your business at a good ROI should be the ultimate goal. Just like you would measure any form of marketing, you should determine what the ROI should be from your search engine optimization efforts.

If you are not an e-commerce Web site, but you have a lead form on your site, you can determine a value to place on each lead that comes through your search engine optimization efforts and measure against that. If you get a majority of your leads/inquiries through someone calling, perhaps your goal is an increase in relevant traffic to the site. In that case, you can determine the value of each “click” from your search engine optimization efforts and then tally up the total clicks per month, measuring this against the cost of the program.

Saying this, I should remind everyone that proper search engine optimization takes time, so it’s best to evaluate year-over-year increases. This valuation should occur after the recommendations from your provider have been implemented for a minimum of two to three months. It has been my experience that measurable increases from your search engine optimization efforts will occur no sooner than this timetable, but each Web site is unique.

Unique Challenges
No two Web sites are the same. Every search engine optimization project will have its unique set of challenges/needs. If there’s anything that irritates me, it is search engine optimization firms that have “packages.” Some Web sites are new to launch and will require a lot more work to get the ball rolling (link building, among other things). Some Web sites are high-quality but may lack visible text, so they may require copywriting assistance. And then there are some that have many technical challenges, which may require a talented Web development team to sort through the issues.

Another thing to consider here is your available human resources pool, or lack thereof. Do you have a Web developer who can take the recommendations provided by a search engine optimization company and can accurately implement these recommendations? Would your company allow an outside vendor access to your Web site to make changes that may be necessary to assist in the search engine optimization efforts?

The catch 22 of all of this is a smaller company will probably require the most amount of help. A smaller company would probably not have a copywriter on staff, a development team, a public relations department, or any other resources to assist in these efforts. That means you would depend on your search engine optimization provider to bring all of its resources to the project. The more resources needed, the more amount of time the provider would be involved in. The more amount of time needed, the more money you can expect to spend.

Once you have managed to match your needs/goals with a list of providers you would like to contact, it’s now time to ask some very important questions.

Experience
How many search engine programs has your provider managed? I’m not saying that a shear number of projects is the key in the selection process, but years of experience can be very beneficial. Knowing what works in the long term is key to your achieving results that last and are not overly dependant on algorithm updates.

If they guarantee top-ten rankings, run. Don’t walk. Run. There is no such thing as guaranteed top-ten rankings in organic search engine optimization. We (search engine optimization companies) do not own the search engines. We are similar to a public relations firm in that we know how to best position you with the search engines, but the search engines – ultimately – will rank you based upon their criteria. A good search engine optimization firm understands the criteria and can, over time, help you to enhance your presence in the major search engines.

If they tell you they are going to submit your Web site to hundreds or thousands of search engines, you might want to consider another provider. Submission to the major crawler-based search engines, other than possible XML feeds, is not necessary. Quality link building (internally and externally) will get your site well indexed.

Can they show you live examples of their work and the results? Any firm worth its salt will be more than happy to point you to live examples of rankings and testimonials from clients. They should have a deep pool of references for you to call and speak with.

Transparency
I think this is one aspect of the selection process that is often overlooked. Many search engine optimization companies are not willing to divulge what it is that they do. Again, there are many very good search engine optimization firms that will want you to be educated in the process. The more you understand search engine optimization, the easier it will be to work with you.

After all, you will know why certain recommendations are being made, and you will become a champion in the efforts to get recommendations implemented and in pushing the program forward. There is little more frustrating than working with a large company that cannot seem to get the IT team to buy off on the recommendations or puts them on the back burner for weeks. So, the more you understand, the more you will be able to help the search engine optimization company do its job, and the more successful you will all be.

Hope this helps! If there are any topics you would like me to cover in future articles, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

SEO Warning for Business

“I would say that the most important policy regarding search optimisation is never allowing your programmers to try any kind of SEO at all.”

A free tip for business owners, you need to be aware of what your internet staff are doing, because programmers are constantly learning new methods, new techniques and tips from each other and from the web. “They would not give a second thought to using this new but perhaps untested and dubious technique on your live website just to hone freshly acquired skills or to appear to be a bit more professional in their own minds.

Afterwards, if Google blacklists you, the only thing to do is to close your old domain down and start again, fresh.

My advice to company’s seeking an SEO Consultant

Check the SEO company you intend to use is listed on Organic Search (not PPC or Adwords) on Google for what they do, check out a few common keyword terms, if they cannot get there own site listed, how can they do yours?

Ask for references from clients they have done work for.

If your still unsure, leave them alone and find someone else.

Employing an SEO Specialist

Not a question I really wanted to get in to but keep getting asked, How much should a SEO Specialist cost me to employ? Well here’s my answer as always shooting straight from the hip.

Well that I suppose depends on lots of different criteria.

Is the SEO going to be employed In House?

It it a senior SEO Role?

Are you employing the SEO Specialist on Contract? or Results?

How good is your SEO Specialist?

Ask many people and you will get many different answers, I am a true believer in Pay Peanuts, Gets you Monkey’s.

I know SEO Professionals that have earned 500k in a year, but the company they did the work for have benefited 20 times that much from the expertise provided, you see other jobs advertised, especially in the UK wanting a top of the tree search engine marketer come search engine optimizing wizard wanting to pay 30k -40k.

Now the way I see it is that anyone who knows they are good at what they do, with results and references to prove it would not look at that position, he/she will probably already have a few of there own clients, get enquiries from new ones on a regular basis and probably charge out at up to 1k a day for work they do.

Now I am not suggesting you have to pay every SEO this amount, some maybe, but put the boot on the other foot for a minute.

You may have an online business, you maybe a large media company, (some of these need real help at the minute)or just a one man band.

Now lets just say you paid the top rate for a day or two, but your sales treble, your serps were on the first page of Google and your phone was ringing of the hook, then all of a sudden this would be good business and money well spent if someone asked you.

Unfortunately this does not always happen, why? Like all businesses some are better than others, you would not buy a SUV and expect it to perform like a Ferrari, the same goes for all things.

One of my biggest moans is website design, web designers do a great job at making your website look brilliant, but they are not seo specialists, they are not search marketing specialists, they are web design specialists, no where on my own website do I ever claim to be a web designer. I can do simple ones but I leave that to the people who know what there doing, a website designer specialist, hence SEO and SEM should be left to the experts in that field.

I can count on one hand web designers who are any good at optimization, they can write code, do php, css, java the lot, anoraks at what they do, but having a great looking website with no visitors or serps is useless, horses for courses.

So in answer, you get what you pay for, like everything else in life, but like my old nan use to say, Cream always rises to the Top.

The 10 Commandments of Search

And the search god spoke all these words saying:

I am the god of your search, who brought thee to the land of good traffic, out of the house of the sandbox. Thou shalt use no other engine before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee a doorway page, nor any manner of cloaking, of any thing that is on your page, or that is on your site, or that is in the coding behind your site;

thou shalt not hide your content , nor serve different versions; for I the god of thy search am a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the previous owners upon the domain to the 3rd and 4th generations and showing mercy only to those that doth file a re-inclusion request.

Thou shalt not take the name of thy competitor in thine ad text; for thy competitor will not hold him guiltless that taketh his trademark in thine ad text (and may very well sue thine ass).

Remember the page titles and meta tags and keep them unique.

Honour the robots and the spiders with fresh content and inbound links, that thy sites’ days may be long atop the SERPs which the god of search giveth thee.

Thou shalt not let your search results be indexed.

Thou shalt not keyword stuff.

Thou shalt not sell links.

Thou shalt not link out from thine site to a bad neighbour.

Thou shalt not copy thy neighbour’s content;

thou shalt not spam thy neighbour’s blog, nor his forum, nor his contact form, nor his inbox, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

And all the webmasters perceived the thunderings of an update, and the changing of their PageRank, and the voice of the engine, and their rankings sinking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.

I cam across this in April by Skitzzo and thought i would share this with you.
www.freshtraffic.co.uk