Category Archives: seo techniques

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

Social Marketing & Semantic Search Evolution

When Google launched their first salvo into the social war with Buzz, they made some really big mistakes. Allowing anyone who was on your contact list basically be able to browse your contacts was a pretty big breach of trust for any social network, and it nearly sunk all of Google’s aspirations in one swoop. But fast forward 18 months or so and we’re over a month into their latest social offering with Google+.

They’ve made some serious improvements to their social understanding by watching the explosive growth of Facebook and their flop with Buzz. Privacy controls are easy and intuitive to manipulate, friends are easy to arrange and messaging controls are plain and straight forward. It’s easy to say that Google+ may be a contender in the social arena with hitting 25 million accounts in a fraction of the time that Facebook had, but public understanding and acceptance need to be used to temper their growth. People are beginning to understand the nature of social web sites with Facebook having been the king for so long. Many, myself included, find they have as much as entire friend feeds blocked as all they do is play Farmville or Cafe World. Facebook boasts having high day to day activity and retention rates, but if the majority of those people are just there to play games the quality of the use is definitely in question.

But just like Google’s AdSense and paid advertising you see on results pages, those game players on Facebook are served ads. Social Media Marketing is a very real avenue to explore if your a small company on a tight budget. Google+ at present doesn’t have business options setup, but they’ve made clear that yes, they are coming. So get your practice in with Facebook, Twitter tweets and PPC/AdSense marketing because even with a “paltry” 25 million users, Google+ will be a qualified market for advertising.

All of the taglines you generate with Twitter, Facebook and soon with Google+, may have more strength than you might think. Nicholas Schiefer recently won a Canada Wide science fair and made interesting inroads in the realm of search. The 17 year old is being compared to Mark Zuckerberg for his idea and implementation of his search algorithm, and those are no small shoes to fill.

The algorithm as it’s written, searches short documents like tweets, Facebook statuses and news headlines for starters. That 140 character string of gold is crunched and parsed by his infant algorithm to deliver results. It may not seem much different from what Google, Bing or Yahoo offer, but where it does get different is when his search algorithm applies context to the results. The advantages of a semantic algorithm which could determine context in the results it retrieves would be a great improvement in the realm of social search. As an example, you’ve been out for dinner and had a poor experience, you could use that type of search engine to determine if others have had the same experience. It’s possible to do so with the existing search engines, but it takes a bit of work to sort through the results to find customer reviews if you don’t include it as part of your initial search. It’s an impressive start for a young man who may be a part of changing the way the world searches. Time will tell how interested the world is in semantic, contextual searching should Mr. Schiefer continue his project.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Occasionally a client tries to take things under their own control when it comes to their website optimization. They start changing and adding their own links and text onto the page and the next thing they know, they’re scraping the bottom of page 4 when they were previously rocking their way up page 1.

It’s not unusual at all to have curiousity where your website SEO is concerned, but devestating effects can occur when the uninitiated try and take the reins and drive their site they way they see fit. The constant and recent algorithm updates within Google, Bing’s addition of the Facebook metric can wreak havoc with a constantly changing website.

It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, you hire a search engine optimization expert to optimize your website to increase your visibility online. Grow your brand name online, manage your reputation, perhaps bury your competition in the process. Molding your content, cleaning up your code and making sure all the steps are in the right spots for you to climb to the top of your niche in the search world. What we are not paid to do, is fix fleeting experimentation on your website conducted by your web techs in your hopes of saving a few dollars. We are contracted to build your online worth to a point where you become the authority in your niche market and make you a globally known name if you so desire. When we’re confronted with web programmers who only have an idea as to what we’re doing because it looks the same, that’s merely the surface of our work.

I’ve said this a few times on the blog already, but I’ll say it again. You don’t pay a mechanic to fix your home plumbing, you wouldn’t pay a plumber to fix your cars transmission. You should not be paying a web designer for SEO work, nor should you be contracting an article writer to design your website. Choose the right tools for the job, don’t skimp on the bottom line as you always get what you pay for.

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.

J.C. Penney and Google – An example in the making

Since it’s all over the news and has been talked about since word broke, here ‘s just another take on the J.C. Penney search gaff. The NYTimes did a piece titled “The dirty little secrets of search” and in it was outlined how J.C. Penney gamed Google into listing them for all sorts of terms, applicable to their stores, but always listing at the top irregardless of the search.

The chief way this occurred was through the value of backlinks coming into a site. When your search engine optimization expert does their work properly, the value of the backlinks coming into your site will be categorically relative to your site. J.C. Penney however had links for all sorts of things on what seemed like any kind of website. When it comes to broad analysis of buying links to link back to your site, Google frowns heavily on the practice and often the links are devalued, or even negatively valued, and your site can be negatively effected in such cases. Matt Cutts was questioned on the occurrence and admitted that although JCP.com was already dealt with three times previous, the most recent and wide reaching offence hadn’t been noted.

Some have said it’s because JCP spends so much money on AdWords, others have said it’s sloppy policing on Googles part. One thing that the NYTimes piece did however, was contact a black hat SEO marketer directly and asked their opinion on the matter, and I believe they hit it on the head the best. Think of search not as a one type tool (search) but as a dual purpose technology; informational and commercial. And while the black hat lauded the strength of Googles informational capabilities, he readily admitted that commercially the results were lack luster, a cess pool was the term used. The Google team has admitted fully that there’s a relevance problem as of late, which has become more pronounced with the advent of both Caffeine and Instant technologies into the Google search algorithm. It also needs to be noted however, that spammers didn’t all of a sudden triple their output, the right set of adjustments just haven’t been found yet to exclude them from the relevant results. Additionally since no one has thought to bring it up, the same (gamed) results would have shown up in Bing or Yahoo as well as they did in Google.

JCP is about to go through some growing pains, and will most likely learn a valuable lesson in search; always make a point to be aware of your hired SEOs track record . You may find yourself on the receiving end of a swat on the nose from the Google team.

In a bit of a change of pace, just a reminder that there are a few key points which need to be considered when working online whether as a new website owner just getting into the search marketing side of business. Or a long trusted brand both on and offline, that’s looking to stake a claim, or reinforce a position online.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly) – Keep your website simple in appearance, construction and use. That doesn’t mean like a printed sheet of paper, but flashy ads, a video clogged front page or fancy fly away graphical menus don’t help your position in the search world. All of the above technologies, without a lot of back work, can actually hurt your online marketing performance.

Relevant Content – Keep your copy relevant and consistent to what you want to be known for. If you’re a plumber, write about plumbing trends, technologies and concerns. If you’re a tailor, writing about style trends, materials and new patterns is helpful. As a carpenter you wouldn’t want to write about small engine repair or microwave ovens, it’s simply not pertinent to your business or your website.

Budget – Ahh money, the one aspect of the business that always seems to surprise people. The thing about advertising, is that advertising in earnest, with the idea to make contact with your customers or clients to earn a living, will cost you money. In North America, Canada especially, online marketing budgets are significantly below what they need to be to see the real rewards capable from high quality, skilled search optimization. It still makes no business sense how a company can have no problem throwing away thousands of dollars per month on a marketing metric which is untrackable (newspapers/radio), versus a significantly lower cost for a completely trackable one (SEO).

A Call to Action – Often the missed point of a newer website owner, a call to action for your visitors is a required point of your website. A qualified and capable search engine optimization expert can bring you traffic, but if your website doesn’t direct your visitors what to do, they will leave until they find a site that does. If the point of your website is to sell, ensure you have a way to sell to your visitors with a Buy Now button, or a catalogue to order. If your desire is to attract people to sign up for your newsletter, make sure it’s prominently displayed as such.

Time – One of the most important requirements for SEO is time. Time for your website to be crawled and indexed, time for Google, Bing and Yahoo to place you within their index and the time it takes to balance your website versus the millions upon millions of pages also within your sector. It all takes time in the end, and if you try to circumvent the time component and go quick and dirty like J.C. Penney did? You’ll get caught, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you’ll be caught.

The Need for Progressive Optimization (SEO Maintenance)

 When it comes to SEO many people make the mistake of thinking that search engine optimization as an action. They are wrong. SEO is a process that must be continually maintained for as long as you wish your website to competitively rank for certain keywords.

Imagine you had purchased a car with the intention of racing. You then spent a great deal of time; money and effort in upgrading that car competitively. After many performance upgrades you take it to the tracks and enter it to compete against millions of other cars of varying performance and experience. You do not however invest in a pit crew or a maintenance crew. Would you realistically expect your car to come in first place? You do not get new tires, or fuel or any of the other equipment and services needed to keep your car operational let alone competitive. You do however continue to enter your car in the race. Months later, when you check on its performance how surprised would you be to find out that its doing even worse in those races then when it started?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works the same way. The car is your website, the performance upgrade is SEO and the pit crew is progressive optimization.

SEO maintenance is the continued optimization of your search engine marketing campaign. The internet is constantly undergoing changes as is the algorithms used to prioritize websites rankings within the search engines.

There are many factors used by search engines to determine ranking. A major factor is the relevancy and authority of a subject related to keyword phrases. If your content is not being upgraded or updated then it stands to reason that your site content is less relevant then a competing site with up to date information.

Once you do obtain high ranking within the search engines, it is essential that progressive optimization is performed to keep those rankings. Make no mistake, your rankings will change. The search engines are constantly making changes to their algorithm which will affect the rankings for your keyword phrases. Sometimes this change will have a positive effect, often it will result in lower ranking. Sites have been known to disappear from search engine results entirely after an algorithmic change. It is important be aware of any such algorithmic changes and be prepared to counter any drop in ranking.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you and your competitors are all striving for the same rankings within the search engines. Your increase in rank comes at the expense of a competitors ranking. Remember your competitors are also trying to regain or improve their own search engine rankings as well. Without continually optimizing your own site, your competitors will overpass you and push your ranking results off of the first page, then off the second and so on.

Understanding the SEO Industry

One of the challenges facing any new industry is creating a demand for and an awareness of the industry in the mind of the consumer. Since many Website owners have only a general idea of what search engine optimization (SEO) is and how it works, I’ve come up with an analogy from another industry that makes it easier to understand.

Search Engine Marketers = Ad Agencies

Search engine marketers dealing with paid listings are very similar to ad agencies in offline media. They work with the message and the creative to get people to take action: to buy, subscribe or register. They have budgets and are able to monitor results and tweak campaigns to get the maximum return for their clients.

It’s pretty easy to see the parallels between SEMs and ad agencies, but a little harder to understand the role of search engine optimizers, as they relate to the “free” search listings.

Search Engine Optimizers = Public Relations Firms

A search engine optimizer is actually very similar to a public relations firm in the offline world. Public relations firms try to get their clients mentioned in news stories and featured in print and broadcast media, i.e., they obtain “free” publicity. An SEO consultant attempts to get their client’s site listed highly in the “editorial” or “free” listings of the search engines. As with offline media, the editorial content (or listings) often carries more credibility with consumers.

Just as a public relations firm carefully writes press releases and formats them in a way that is favorable to the news media, a search engine optimizer adjusts the code and wording in a site to present it in the way that the search engines prefer to read it. A good SEO (just like a good PR firm) will create content that is interesting and useful, making it much more likely to be ranked well (or be newsworthy).

PR firms often act as image consultants as well, working with the company and its executives to make sure they present the best possible impression when meeting with the press. They make sure their message is consistent and in keeping with their brand, to help firmly cement the company’s image in the mind of the customer. A professional SEO often does the same thing for a site, making design or usability recommendations to ensure that once people arrive they will easily be able to find what they need.

Not All Search Engine Optimizers Are the Same

There are different kinds of SEOs, just as there are different kinds of PR firms. Some PR firms merely churn out press releases on a regular schedule. They spend their time faxing and following up on items that may or may not be newsworthy. They make very little attempt to be creative or find truly newsworthy events within the company — they simply send a regular stream of minor happenings out via press releases. They may even try to sneak releases past screening personnel or exaggerate the truth in order to get a mention in the media. Ineffective PR firms waste your money; an unethical one can even hurt your company’s image.

The parallel in the SEO industry is those SEOs that use deceptive practices to place their clients’ sites in the engines. One such tactic would be the use of software to churn out keyword-stuffed pages instead of attempting to improve the site itself. Another tactic would be showing search engines different content than a human visitor would see. These are strategies that work in the short term. But just as a newspaper editor will eventually start throwing out all of the low-value press releases from a company that has proved they don’t provide good content, a search engine will eventually do the same to pages using deceptive techniques and which don’t provide any value to site visitors. Eventually, those SEOs will find that their clients’ sites are penalized or banned.

Neither public relations nor search engine optimization are forms of black magic; anyone can learn what needs to be done to get a company noticed. There are PR companies who see the media as something to be manipulated, just as there are SEO companies who see the search engines that way. However, you’ll find that it’s much more productive when an SEO actually works with the search engines, rather than against them.

New Possible Criteria to be Integrated in Search Engine Algorithms

The first criteria that are possibly going to be added are the amount of Click data. It has been noted that Google news does not use links as a ranking factor rather it uses clicks or the amount of clicks as a ranking factor.

Second Criteria is web referencing, a web reference is not a link but rather a mention of the target website in an external website. This means that the mere mention of your website from another website which you do not own is already considered as a ranking factor, not just by links anymore.

A third criterion is the presence of your website in social media networks. Social media is now considered to be the latest craze among different walks of life and the popularity of your website in a social media community will contribute greatly to your ranking.

Finally, page loading time is also going to become a factor nowadays that is why website design and web development will play an important role in the field of SEO. The rationale behind using page loading time as a ranking factor is the fact that fast page loading time improves user experience.

With these new criterias added would it help revolutionise the search engine algorithm?, we might also see another shift in terms of the SEO approaches being done by different SEO companies and SEO consultants

Black or White?

When dealing with website promotion, there are lots of different SEO techniques. There are two nicehs however, where these techniques can fit into. One is the squeaky-clean, good guy, White Hat approach, and the other is the diabolical bad guy Black Hat approach. Think of it just like in old western movies when the good guys wore white and, well, the bad guys wore black. In westerns there is one thing you can be certain of – good always prevails over bad, just like White Hat SEO will always prevail over Black Hat SEO.

There are several Black Hat SEO techniques to look out for, and if your current SEO comapny mentions any of them, look else where. These will get you penalized or even banned in Google, creating the complete opposite outcome from which you had anticipated. Take note if your SEO company mentions any of the following:

1. Keyword Stuffing – When keywords in content are glaringly obvious to the visitor, you can guarantee you have a keyword stuffing problem. Website copy should never appear spammy, meaning it should never have the same phrase appear again and again to the point where the content reads awkwardly.

2. Using Hidden Text – This refers to text that is viewable by search engines but not actual visitors. Examples of hidden text include text color matching the background and text that is too small for human eyes to read.

3. Cloaked/hidden pages – When a website presents one version of a page to the search engines and a completely different one to visitors, it is referred to as cloaking. A cloaked page shown to the engines will contain numerous keywords that the site wants to be ranked for.

4. Duplicate Content – It is never okay to have the same content repeated throughout your site or appear on any other websites. Even if you wrote the content and another site stole your work, it is best to change what you have on your site to guarantee your website and its content is deemed trustworthy by the engines. You lose credibility with the search engines.

5. Link Farms – When a group of websites interlink for the sheer purpose of gaining link popularity in the search engines, the practice is referred to as a link farm. This approach to link building is actually a poor choice. Instead you should seek out unique sites with relevancy.

SEO is not a legitimate form of marketing

What is SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Borrowing a definition from wikipedia… “it is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.” SEO is a process which requires a time investment in order to see results. For faster results, one might try PPC, which you can setup and turn on in the same day.

Is this still true? over the last few days a web designer called Derek caused a little flutter online with his comment “Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. It should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls. If someone charges you for SEO, you have been conned”

In the words of Aaron Wall at seobook
Uh-huh.

Well, I’m sure some SEO is undertaken by people without either brains or soul, but the same could be said of web designers.

It is true to say some web designers are clueless about the web, seemingly only interested in crafting pretty pictures. In Flash. They charge clients a fortune for it, and have no idea whether their self-indulgent nonsense will add any value to the clients business. It’s barely even a consideration.

That’s rather misleading. It might be true, but it’s still misleading. Some web designers, just like some SEOs, are pointless. That doesn’t mean all SEOs or web designers are pointless. Unfortunately, Derek thinks the entire SEO industry is a con.

Judging an entire industry by what some bad actors do is wrong.

I have to agree with Aaron, but got around to thinking that SEO should have a new meaning, Search Educating Operative.

Any front-end developer worth working with should be familiar with the basic tenets of search engine optimization, there is nothing evil about charging for what is obvious, the entire service industry is based on it. If someone else built a page and didn’t follow the obvious parts of SEO, charging to clean it up is perfectly ethical and provides a clear benefit.

A little more educating these people on the proper proceedures would help.

Like advertising, the worse your product (website) is, the more (SEO) you will need.

If web designers used more common sense in web development and writing quality content the less seo would be required.

It’s about education. We teach them how to write for humans rather than using internal jargon – again it seems so simple but you would be amazed at how many people don’t think about it.

SEO can also really tie into usability and accessibility. It’s us that tells them to not to write their entire website in Flash, put text as images, or hide links with javascript, etc.

In an ideal world, people would write their websites with content, usability and accessibility in mind but as they often don’t, this is where SEO comes in.

It’s unfortunate that there are a lot of shonky used car salesmen in this industry but there are some brilliant, clever people working in SEO trying to make the web a better place. It’s about creating quality content and good experiences and this is what we get our clients to do.

I think of SEO like usability – yes it’s common sense, but sometimes clients need you to come in and educate you on the best practice way of doing things

Danny Sullivan at search engine land said …

These SEOs, by the way, struggle with web developers who “think” they know SEO but don’t. Web developers who think that despite what an SEO tells them, a 302 redirect is the way to go. And thus the International Herald Tribune loses thousands of links because who wants to trust the scummy in-house SEO, right? I’ve got story after story of web developers and designers who think they know SEO but don’t, who cause major problems for web sites, and yet NO ONE ever writes a blog post blasting them.