Category Archives: seo

Off-Site SEO Tips

Off-Site SEO refers to search engine optimization techniques that are not performed on your own website or page, and are therefore termed “off-site.”

You see, these days, optimizing the content on your pages is not enough. For effective SEO you need help from other websites in the form of incoming links, commonly referred to as backlinks.

That’s basically what off-site SEO is all about – getting quality links relevant to your topic to assist the search engines in establishing what your web page focuses on. You can think of each backlink as a vote for your page. This is what Google’s PageRank measures, albeit in a complex way, taking many factors into consideration.

There are many ways to get backlinks; unfortunately, few of them are quick and easy. Here are some options:

Creating content that makes people link to it
Doing link exchanges
Getting directory listings
Writing and syndicating articles
Making forum postings
Posting comments to theme related blogs
Buying links
One link from a high quality site is worth tens from a poor site. And linking to bad sites can negatively effect your own website’s rankings.

One-way links into your website from another are of greater value than reciprocal links from carrying out link exchanges.

Links to your pages should use the relevant keywords in the anchor text. Use several variations on this text if you plan to create a high number of backlinks to a page. You’ll get better results and it looks more natural to the search engines, keeping you below the radar.

It’s generally best to avoid organized link exchanges or link farms. In the vast majority of cases they will harm, not help you. This is because the search engines see it as manipulation of the SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) and punish linked websites when they discover the network.

Although I’ve summarized link building in just a few sentences, don’t underestimate how important off-site SEO is. Good backlinks with targeted keyword anchor text carry so much weight these days that if it’s done well it’s entirely possible to rank a website highly for terms not even occurring on the page.

The advice on SEO in these 2 articles is all you need to start getting your pages ranking highly for traffic generating keywords. You just need to get on and do it, and be prepared to spend the time good off-site SEO requires. The more high rankings you get, the greater their influence on your overall rankings, and the easier it will become to tackle more difficult keyword phrases

Basic Onsite and Offsite SEO Tips

I keep on getting asked by newbies so here goes

Search Engine Optimization is broken down into two segments. Aspects of onsite changes to make your site more spider friendly and Offsite keyword text backlinking.

From an on site SEO perspective, consistency and placement of your keywords are important. Spider read a page top to bottom left to right. Therefore your major keywords should be consistent from your Meta tags all the way down to your footer page. Consistency in Syntax as well a prominence. Interlinking your site with keyword text links not only helps navigation of your site but it improves your keyword density.

There is much discussion in regard to the keyword density as to what is considered a non spam factor. Each page should have about 350-500 words per page with a keyword density of no more than 7-10%. Keyword density is also considered in your graphic alt text as well as hyperlinks.

Generally speaking, if your keyword looks stuffed, it is.

Basic On site SEO Factors:

Title Tag ( with Keyword)
Meta Description ( Consistent with Title Tag)
Meta Keywords ( Consistent with Title tag and Description)
H1 Tags ( with Keyword)
Graphic Alt Text ( with Keyword)
Keyword Hyperlinks
Keyword Density in body text
Keyword in Menu Links
Footer Page with Keyword Text Links

Off site linking is generally though of as the most effective way to raise in the search engine rankings. However if your on site SEO is not complete you are battling an up hill battle.

When planning your off site linking strategy you need to keep in mind that reciprocal links are considered devalued through the latest round of algorithm updates. Textual Keyword Rich links from various C-block IP address are the best links possible.

There are many ways to receive quality links.

Some of the top linking strategies to receive quality links come from the following venues:

Article Submissions
SEO Friendly directories
Blogs
Press Releases

Growing your links in a consistent manor is also relevant. Creating 1000’s of links in a short period of time could set up red flags. You will receive many links via RSS Feeds from the sources described above and be successful in your linking campaign.

Getting Search Engine rankings can take time depending on your keywords, but consistency and effort both on site and off site will bring you the desired results.

Wikia Search Launches With Google in Its Sights

Declaring that Internet search is currently broken, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is trying to fix it. And he wants your help.

After several months of development and acquisitions to assemble the infrastructure needed to build a viable search engine, Wikia Search service goes live today. Wikia Search is a product of Wikia Inc., a for-profit company wholly separate from the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that was founded in 2004 and oversees Wikipedia.

Following a brief period of private alpha testing, today’s unveiling is billed as a “public alpha release.” Wales has freely admitted that today’s launch is something of a test drive, and that the application will continue to see substantial modifications and updates.

With the community-driven, open-source search engine, Wales is hoping to transform Internet search, which he describes as currently dominated by a few large companies operating under a cloak of secrecy with virtually no accountability for how results are served up or pages are ranked.

“The philosophical background here is that I’m a very big advocate of openness and transparency,” Wales told InternetNews.com. The best parts of the Web are largely absent from the proprietary protocols of the major search engines, he said.

“My view here is that there’s an opportunity to change that.”

Starting from www.wikia.com, users can navigate to an unadorned search page that Wales compared to Google’s for its deceptive spareness — like Google, the Wikia Search launch page is just the tip of the iceberg.

Wales said that Wikia Search is both a social network and a search engine. On the site, users register, create profiles and are able to perform all the typical functions of a social networking site – messaging friends, uploading photos, etc.

The search engine serves up results as a series of links ranked in order of relevance, just as Google and Yahoo do (enter a query; receive a list of results), but the similarities end there.

Applying the collaborative editing approach that is the essence of a wiki, registered users can contribute to a mini-article that appears at the top of the results page, Wales said.

Users can click on the links and rank the relevance of the result to the search term on a scale of one to five; their evaluations are then fed back into the algorithm to improve the quality of information delivered.

Building a search engine from the ground up, with results delivered and refined the using the same approach that made Wikipedia the Web’s favorite general reference site, is not going to be an overnight process, Wales admitted. Just looking at the near future, “we’d be ecstatic if we grabbed 5 percent of the market,” Wales said.

The push toward community-driven search began in earnest in July, when Wikia announced the acquisition of Grub, the open source search project that harnesses the distributed processing power of individuals’ computers to crawl the Web.

The Grub Web crawler is just one of many technologies cobbled together to power Wikia Search, Wales said. On the back end, Apache efforts Lucene and Nutch shoulder the brunt of the search and indexing responsibilities. The front end, which handles the user interactions, such as the comments and rankings, is written in Java.

Wales said that Wikia Inc. is still exploring monetization methods for the search engine, but that, in a general sense, it would employ some form of an advertising model. No commercial partners have been announced.

Delivering search results through open source algorithms that evolve through community rankings begs the same question of user abuse that has dogged Wikipedia from time to time.

Search engine optimization is a microindustry in its own right these days. Asked about the concern that by turning the algorithms and rankings over to the community, Wikia Search could be a ripe target for gaming the search engine to artificially boost site rankings, Wales demurred.

“My view is that sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he said. “Talk with security experts and they will tell you that security through obscurity is a bad idea,” adding that the policing of Wikia Search will work in a very similar manner as it does on Wikipedia.

“We have a community that is in charge of the editorial content” that will be able to identify and block the bad apples who aren’t playing by the rules. Ultimately, SEO will be less of an issue for Wikia Search than it is currently with Google, Yahoo and the other major search engines, Wales said.

“I feel that this is going to be one of our strengths.”

Wales said he’s taking an organic approach to the development of the editorial community and that his own involvement will be extensive.

He wasn’t didn’t specifically answer whether there’ll be censorship or banning of rogue community members for trying to game the system?

“I have a general philosophy that’s served me very well: Avoid excessive a priori thinking – wait and see … we’ll see how it unfolds.”

Matt Cutts of Google Reveals SEO Secrets

Recently, a conference was held in Las Vegas, the Publishers Conference (pubcon.com). Lots of discussion around search marketing and opportunities to generate traffic and business online: Link building, universal search, local search, social search, personalized search, web 2.0, social media optimization, content strategies and much, much more.

One of the top videos that came out of the conference that’s available now is the Matt Cutts interview for top SEO advice. You will also find more tips on WordPress and its recent release.

Lastly, some tips on YouTube and Google Video optimization, which is important for possible massive exposure.

Watch the video here

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.

Why are SEO Costs so High

Good question!

If you approach an SEO company, like ours, for a quote to get your site working for you, you may be slightly taken aback by the costs involved. In many instances, especially where small businesses are concerned, SEO costs can be several times more than the original site development costs. But why?

The short answer is SEO takes time and time costs money.

The long answer? Oh, OK then……

For SEO to be effective your SEO consultant needs to understand your business and your business aims = time
To market your business your SEO needs to understand your market = time
To optimise your site your SEO needs to understand your customers search habits = time
To ensure the search engines can index your website’s content it needs to be structurally sound = time
To give your site credibility your site needs links from other sites = time
To make sure your SEO keeps working your SEO needs to stay ahead of your competitors = time
I could go on but perhaps you can now understand why SEO costs so much. Rates will vary but you will pay perhaps £150 per day at the lower end, £400 in the mid range and £000’s at the high end.

If you hire an mid range SEO firm for say 10 days at about £400 per day, that’s £4000.00. For that money you are getting a dedicated professional. You can hire by the day for as long or as little as you like. But there is an alternative, you could hire a full time employee.

Average fees using a reputable agency? Perhaps 5% of the salary. Expected salary? around the £40k mark. Finders fee = £2000.00. Now the salary, £40k grossed up for employers NI etc will cost you about £44,500.00. All this ignores sick pay, holiday pay, cost of a workstation etc. If you’ve ever worked out the cost of a providing a serviced workspace you’ll know it’s not cheap, let’s call it £300 a month.

That’s £4000 per month, every month of the year (even though your guy will be on holiday for one and half of those). Now you have an insight, extracts from redevo

SEO – Six Mistakes You Should Avoid

For the survival of your blog, website search engine optimization is as important as having a website, especially if you seek targeted traffic from search engines. SEO for me is not simply getting traffic from various sources; it is getting highly targeted traffic. A few mistakes here and there and all your SEO efforts will go down the drain. In fact wrong SEO tactics can sometimes prove costlier than having no SEO strategy. Although there are unlimited things you can do to improve your SEO and unlimited mistakes you can commit in the process, in this blog post I’m going to discuss 6 SEO mistakes you should avoid.

Here they are:

1. Don’t have the same title for every page: If you are a blogger you might not face this problem because most blogging software generates unique page titles (here too you can post blog posts without titles — some people do), but if you run a website make sure all your pages have a unique title. The logic is that every page carries a unique message and the best way to present that message to the outside world is by having a page title that aptly represents the message of your page. On external links people click on your link when they find your page title attractive. People using search engines click your link when they see the title of your link. So have a unique title for every page and make sure the important phrase that represents your page content appears in your title.

2. Don’t spam your pages by stuffing keywords: Your keywords and key phrases are certainly taken into account when search engine algorithms rank your web pages, but it doesn’t mean you insert your keywords everywhere. This will be considered keyword spam and your website runs the risk of getting black listed by all of the major search engines. Your keywords appearing nonsensically in your title, in your description, all over your text and everywhere in your links, is not going to get you anywhere. Even if for a few days you get to the first page of the search result pages your website will be blacklisted the moment it is noticed by someone from the search engine company. Instead, create highly focused, specialized web pages so that they cater to the theme of your keywords. Let your keywords and key expressions appear naturally on your pages. The important thing is not getting ranked higher as soon as possible, what is important is increasing the overall relevancy of your website.

3. Don’t use bells and whistles: The more needless stuff you have on your website, the tougher it is for the search engine crawlers to crawl and index your pages. Run a check on your website and see if there are some JavaScripts, some images and animations, or some CSS definitions that you can get rid of, and if you can, then get rid of them immediately. Make your website as light as possible.

4. Don’t use dynamic URLs: A dynamic URL is something like http://www.yourwebsite.com/index.php?p=345. The search engines simply cannot make sense of them, and even if they can, it takes lots of effort on their part. Instead, use a URL scheme that has your keywords in it. For instance, the URL of this post will probably end up with /6-seo-mistakes-you-should-avoid/. All current content management systems and blog publishing platforms give you the ability to create search engine friendly URLs.

5. Don’t participate in meaningless link-exchange schemes: Inbound links are definitely important for your website or blog, but they should appear on external websites voluntarily and not because you are going to put their link on your website. The entire logic of having inbound links is to convince Google that your blog or website has got content worth linking to and they should be coming from reputed websites. The very fact that the other website is readily exchanging links with you means that it does not get linked to because of its value, and this, consequently, is not going to give you any SEO benefit. In fact exchanging links with disrepute or totally unrelated websites can adversely affect your SEO efforts.

6. Don’t submit to search engines: It’s no use submitting your website to different search engines because the search engines themselves are perpetually crawling the Internet to locate and index new and recently updated pages. It takes its own time for your web pages to start appearing on search engine result pages whether you submit them or don’t submit them. So if you are thinking that by simply submitting your website to “1000s of search engines” your SEO job is over, please do a re-think.

So avoid these mistakes and keep yourself focused. Remember that search engines want to provide the best content available on the Internet to their users so that their users keep coming back to them for their search needs. Create a website or a blog that the search engines will happily present to their users among top results.

SEO and Web Design – The Eternal Debate

Having a beautiful website no one can find is like having a store and keeping the doors locked. You know it is there, you’ve done a great job decorating it, the products are waiting for the customers, yet no one comes in.

Web design focuses on appearance and aesthetics. SEO focuses on text quality and quantity. Web designers don’t really like to clutter their designs with text. They prefer to see the images stand out on their own. SEOs on the other hand don’t like images that much. Sure, an image can be optimized for the search engines by adding relevant alt attributes and titles, but this is not enough for a site to be properly optimized. Page copy still plays the most important role in website optimization for Search Engine Optimisation.

As a business owner you are caught in the middle of this conflict. For your website to convert you need both design and optimization. There is no middle way. You cannot have a little bit of this and a little bit of that and still be competitive. You cannot have just one of the two either. Without optimization your site is invisible to the search engines, hence to your potential customers. On the other hand, without a good design your site, although not invisible, will get nothing but hits. Web users are picky and if they find nothing of interest on your site they will just surf to the next site.

When you pay for web design don’t automatically assume that by paying thousands of dollars on a layout you’ll be a hit on the Web. The Web is a highly competitive place. There are already thousands entrepreneurs who, just like you, invest in design and hope to become the new “it.” Without online marketing (SEO being an important part of the discipline) all these entrepreneurs will remain in the shadow, with their beautiful websites closed to the world.

SEO is the key to that virtual door you need to open for your customers. It is important that you consider this tool when you first conceive your site. Web design and SEO don’t need to be enemies. There are enough professional agencies that employ both web designers and SEOs who work together to develop a good business website, a site that is SEO ready, accessible and readable with any browser. You just need to take your time, research and send a few inquiries. Then choose the company that answers your questions in a timely manner, basically choose the company that proves a clear ability of designing with W3C standards and a clear understanding of the online trends and realities.

Then balancing content with visual appearance shouldn’t be such a difficult task. Aside graphics and artwork you have to choose proper font types, in a readable size, with colors that harmonize with the layout of the site and so on. If your site is not SEO ready from the first stage of the project you’ll face additional costs after you launch. SEO ready means a site that is properly coded (errors in the HTML code might stop some search bots from crawling and indexing your site correctly), with good navigability and good internal linking structure.

On the other hand, SEO and appearance are not the only traits of a good site. Brand conscious companies should look at the broader picture: instead of debating what is better online entrepreneurs should ask themselves what works best to convert visitors into clients.

Studies show that an over optimized page might hurt the user-experience of people with disabilities. For example, many SEOs stuff the image alt attributes and their alternative titles with keywords. Blind and other visually impaired people who use screen readers to access the Web and read the pages cannot see the images and, instead of listening to a relevant image description, they’ll hear… nonsense.

Usability and accessibility are equally important as design and optimization. Strangely enough images are better for usability. They give focus to the design and when properly optimized they provide for less cluttered website content. The problems appear when the images slow down the loading times, but with the use of CSS loading times should not be a big concern.

As search engines prefer fast loading sites it is easy top understand why good coding and optimization are so important. Poor coding raises many other problems aside loading times and might increase costs when you need website updates, especially when your website administrator is not the one who created your site.

These were the words from Mihaela Lica.

How? – Latitude wins Haven Holidays SEO Account

It never ceases to amaze me how some media companies get SEO work, this is not picking just on Latitude here, they have done a great job promoting themselves and others in the last few years and I am sure a few would love to have done so well.

But, they just win an SEO account for Haven Holidays to do all there SEO work?, when they cannot even do there own?, anyone who has to advertise on Adwords or any other PPC Search Engine to be found for SEO and PPC services as they cannot be found anywhere near the 1st pages on organic search engines speaks volumes.

I am sure there branding skills, outside media skills making people aware is what they do best, but Online Marketing, SEO, PPC, sorry that does not work for me.

I must get half dozen emails or calls from media company’s monthly, they all usually have fantastic web designers, branding skills, smart educated marketing sales people who talk a good show, but when it comes to the net, they are nowhere to be found, unless of course you type the company name in the browser.

Look at this Google Report

I think this trend will continue to happen, especially here in the UK, until these people and company’s realise that SEO Experts dont grow on trees, the techie web designers they employ with ten degrees from university in computers,design and Linux is exactly what they do, design, they are not a sure fire guarantee to have your website sight seen in the top pages of search engines, its not what they do.

Having spent the last few years working in the USA with some of the largest company’s on the planet, I’m convinced on a whole that a lot of company’s here in the UK are at least 3-4 years behind when it comes to search, until these companies realise how important the net is and how important being found on organic search engine results on the top pages for your profession and for the services you offer, this trend is going to continue.

Some say SEO is a Science, an Art, I tend to agree with some of these comments, but what I do agree on is this, I am not a web designer, I cannot write programs, but I can and do know the art of Search Engine Optimisation, why? because I am where I should be on the Net for my profession, the front pages.

In typical northern style, listen people, Horses for Courses, the sooner you learn this the higher you will climb.