Category Archives: seo

The Uncertain Costs of SEO

A question often asked in the course of a discussion with a client, whether new or existing, is how do we determine our costs as a search engine optimization company. It’s not a single, or simple answer as each clients needs are unique as anyone fully involved in the industry will tell you.

One of the factors which determines your cost for your SEO, is what types of keyterms you desire to optimize your website for. If you own a company which manufactures toys and you’re the new kid on the block, being able to drive your website up in the SERPs is going to be difficult. Doing just a generic search for the term ‘toys’ returns 1.9b (yes, billion) pages. Granted that’s a rather generic term to try and optimize for, but each term is met with it’s own challenges to overcome where keywords are concerned. The number of terms you’d wish to be optimized for also lend to the maintenance cost of your website.

Another determining factor that affects your overall cost is the overall quality of your website and it’s content. If we need to sit down with you and assist you in rewriting each and every page due to lack of quality content, it’s a necessary step which needs to be in place before we even begin to think about scouring the web looking for back links for your site. As well, if your website is full of choppy code which needs to be addressed, or even if your website is so woefully out of date that a complete rebuild is in order, these also contribute to the overall costs.

These are only a couple of the factors which contribute to your companies online advertising budget, thankfully however if you need to rebuild your website or rewrite your content those are often one time costs. The consistent maintenance which needs to be addressed to continue ranking well in the SERPs however, is where the majority of your budget needs to be directed. And as the web becomes more and more competitive, that budget will need to be adjusted every 12 months or so.

2011 Website Audit & Construction Guidelines

If you’re building yourself a website for the purposes of getting your brand out there and it’s your first foray into online marketing, there are some key points you need to keep in mind. Whether it’s your first step into digitizing your presence, or you’re well versed with the jargon, a refresher course is always a prudent way to dissect your presence and how effective your search engine optimization has been implemented.

How is your content written? Is it clearly worded for visitors to quickly find what they’re looking for? Or have you crammed your pages with industry specific terms which only those ‘in the know’ could have any knowledge of? When you’re creating content for your website, new or established you need to keep your target demographic in mind. You also need to bear in mind the overall theme of your site as you create your content. Your keyword balance needs to in the forefront of your mind as does your target audience.

You should take the time to examine your website navigation and how your pages flow as you follow your pages. Is your menu well ordered and intuitive to the user? Or do you have it crammed with every single page within your website? Just because you may offer 35 different services as a company, doesn’t mean you need to build your menu with a flyout of 35 different pages. A sitemap takes care of a great deal of the indexing for the robots and allows them to follow it to double check your links for you.

A consideration to keep in mind as well, what is your target area. Are you searching for multi-national rankings, or do you want to own your local market. Your site needs to be tailored to your needs, sometimes shooting for a smaller target, can lead to larger gains as time goes on. These are only just a few of the good practices you should employ as a website owner or builder, but they’ll go a long way towards helping reach your goal of ranking well on the SERPs.

10 Google Search Changes

Google has announced 10 search changes – a mix of algorithmic, crawling, and user interface updates. Better long-tail indexing and parked domain detection are among the announced changes. Additionally, Google has committed to writing a new post with algorithm updates each month.

Google LogoThe 10 Changes

Here’s a quick breakdown of the 10 changes and what they mean for you:

  1. “Related query results refinements.” More results will be excluded when synonyms and related terms conflict with other words or phrases in the search query.
  2. “More comprehensive indexing.” Google is getting better at finding long-tail documents, making long-tail optimization even more important.
  3. “New ‘parked domain’ classifier.” Google now detects parked domains more easily, making them less likely to show up in the SERP.
  4. “More autocomplete predictions.” Does what it says.
  5. “Fresher and more complete blog search results.” Blog content now has a faster and deeper indexing system, making your blog even more valuable and likely to surface on the SERP.
  6. “Original content.” Google has “added new signals to help us make better predictions about which of two similar web pages is the original one.” In other words, Google has added some scraper counter-measures.
  7. “Live results for Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League.” Does what it says.
  8. “Image result freshness.” Google is now better at finding fresh images for news queries.
  9. “Layout on tablets.” Tablet users will see some changes in the color and layout that make Google more usable.
  10. “Top result selection code rewrite.” The code that “ensures that we don’t show too many results from one site” has been rewritten. While it will behave the same as before, it is now “easier to understand, simpler to maintain, and more flexible for future ex tensions.”

Rob D. Young

Link Building And SEO

There are many steps which are part of a successful organic SEO campaign. There’s all of the little steps like writing good content, making sure you have the titles and meta tags in place and having a menu which is comprehensive. When you’re finished with the good practices pages, you begin to read about one of the time intensive steps of the campaign, link building.

Since Panda has reared it’s head over the last year or so, there’s been chatter about how the SEO game has fundamentally changed. That scrapers and content aggregators, the black hatters and the link buyers would just disappear and we’d have pristine, precise results. Time has started play it’s part and while the scrapers, aggregators, black hatters and link buyers have mostly been swept away, there has recently been a new call to revamp the way the system has been working. The desire to change the link building metric portion of the search game sometimes comes up in discussion as the points for and against the practice are argued. When you break it all down to the basic points, primarily every search engine will tell you the same thing: content is king. If you produce quality, relevant content, you will rank in the SERPs.

The kicker about producing this kind of content however, is you will naturally receive back links to your site and it’s pages. When you’re a new site and you need to visit and email possible consumers and possible partners in the same niches, building those back links takes time. But they will be built, they will be taken as a metric by the search engines and until an algorithm can come along which can read and evaluate content as a user would, link building will be relevant. It will be an important portion of any and every organic SEO campaign no matter how big or how small. The success of your link building campaign can be directly tied to how much work you’re willing to put into contacting those who are in an industry which compliments your own.

Online Marketing Budgets Increasing

It’s reassuring, that even though some businesses out there are slow to improve their websites or their online marketing toolset, the trend is slowly but surely shifting. While still only a fraction of the marketing dollars spent out there, the numbers are showing that around 17% of most businesses marketing budgests are being spent on online marketing. Any positive growth is good for everyone involved.

A great graphic depicting some of these changes has been put together, which outlines some of the changes coming about in the marketing world. In the US, 70% of the businesses out there have indicated that they will be increasing spending on social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and 64% also chimed in to add their budget is increasing for SEO as well. With consumers spending more and more time searching online for their next purchase, it’s much more advantageous to get into the game now, as opposed to later. The longer you wait, the greater your costs are going to be. Surprisingly however, it came back that 17% of businesses out there planned on increasing their marketing budgets on print media, which is much like buying stock in Yahoo these days. I kid, I kid, all jokes aside however, almost anyone out there who has a job has access to the internet. It should be no surprise that on average people spend 3+ hours browsing the internet. 84% of people who use the internet, spend their time searching for information on what has caught their interest, there are billions of searches per day.

There’s a great deal more information which can be gleaned from the stats, have a look and take a moment to conisder your marketing plans. Are you on the side of innovation and forward thinking? Or trying to cling to an outdated, unmeasurable stand by. Just remember that the longer you wait, the more difficult the game becomes.

Google Puts The Shield Up

Around 18 months ago Google announced that it had a new search interface for the privacy concerned. This encrypted search, which encrypts both queries and results, was launched with the wireless user in mind I’d imagine. Seeing as it allowed for a level of privacy normally only enjoyed by a wired internet connection.

Now fast forward to today, on October 18, Google announced that it would begin pushing users with a Google account to Google’s encrypted search homepage. The move towards making search more private has some in the SEO sphere a bit troubled. Google is approaching this from an interesting angle as recently it’s being discussed that analytics is going to be changing as well to a different model of delivering search metrics.

The flip side of offering more secure searches and results to WiFi users and the portion which has some in the SEO community worked up, it also means that searches performed and returned in this manner won’t display the keywords which were used to conduct the search. Google search product manager Evelyn Kao wrote in Google’s official blog,

“When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information about each individual query.”

Paid search results will still pass on the same information as in a non-encrypted search. The only information which will be available will be from webmaster tools and even then it will only provide the top terms for the last 30 days, with no details as to which pages were visited on site. That’s the scary side if you’re an inexperienced SEO who may work on the darker side of the grey scale.

The other half of the coming story, Google hasn’t released any information as to how many signed in users perform searches. With the deeper introduction of real time searches, friend shares and the like, I’d be inclined to believe that it’s going to take a fair while before there’s any sizable changes in the SERPs.

SEO Will Always Be Relevant

There aren’t any magic tricks you can do to make your site rise in the search rankings. You could spend the rest of your life reading detailed guides to SEO and meticulously cramming keywords into every possible tag on your website. But for companies with limited resources, it’s critical to focus on the SEO strategies that yield the best results.

For those with absolutely no resources to build and develop a website, WordPress offers you a great option. The use is free, learning to develop the software and build a website only takes a week, maybe two weeks at the most. And with a host of plugins available to help with optimization, WordPress has made the basics as simple as they could have.

You can use Google to tell you what people are searching for. Load up Google and start searching what you *think* is relevant to your business niche. Do you come up in search? If not, visit the top 10 websites as they’ve been deemed more relevant than your own site. You won’t be able to discern 100% of a companies SEO campaign by visiting their website, but you may be able to pinpoint why they’re placed higher than you are.

Keywords are the bread and butter of search, the search indexes out there are founded on them. However, shorter keywords are significantly more competitive than, what you’ll find referred to as, long tail keywords. Using long tail searches like search engine optimization in winnipeg is often a simpler approach into a market as opposed to trying to balance a site around a more competitive keyword like seo, or seo winnipeg.

If all you have is time to invest into performing optimization on your businesses website, I’m sorry to say you’re likely not going to rank in the top 5 for your niche business model. However, that does not mean that you should just give up or ignore the best practices and basics of optimization. Create a solid website, fill it with quality content and promote yourself to your clients. In time, you absolutely carve out your own little corner of the web.

The Basis of SEO

When we have new clients which are chomping at the bit to take over the world with their website, it seems more and more often there has been some confusion just to how the SEO process works. For some reason, the idea that we as search engine optimization and online branding experts can just call Google and tell them to place you at the top of the listings, seems to be what we do. The demystifying of SEO is a somewhat difficult task at times, even more so when contacts believe you can walk on water.

With this issue fresh in mind from a recent conversation, I feel the need to reiterate some basic SEO facts for those who may hopefully read this post before jumping to conclusions. First off, optimization of your website is only a very small piece of the puzzle for your online business. Any SEO worth their salt will tell you that in order for you to be successful online not only do you need to be visible, but there needs to be a clear call to action on your landing page. It does you no good as an online store for example, to have visitors landing on your contact us or about us page. You want users to buy from you, optimizing your site to drive traffic to your catalogue is your goal.

Search engine optimization is not an over night or fly by night success. It’s been said a million times, organic optimization takes time. If you’re lucky and have a solid base to work with, it may take as little as a month or two, but the norm is closer to 12 weeks + to begin seeing consistently measurable results.

After these two basic points, then you get into the meat of the business which has been talked about at great length all across the web. You need to keep website usability in mind. You need to keep your all encompassing goal when writing new content and rehashing the old on your pages. You can completely derail an SEO campaign with as small a change as making a term into a plural as opposed to singular. Remember to keep your navigation menus clean and clear, the more accurate and simple you can make them the quicker your site can be crawled and indexed.

Just some very plain, basic facts about the SEO process (again) which just seem to keep eluding small and large business owners alike. For all of your search engine optimization and online branding success, you need only pick up the phone and give the experts a call.

Do You Need SEO Test

Let us partake in a litmus test, if you don’t know what that is here’s a very basic definition for you : A test that uses a single indicator to prompt a decision. So here’s the question to answer: Do you have a website for your business? If the answer is yes then the answer to this next question is yes as well; you need to have a solid SEO plan in place.

It’s not voodoo or black magic, it’s not about putting videos up on Youtube and tweeting to your Facebook fans (that’s social marketing and it works as well) SEO is about making the search engines love your website. SEO is about telling the world that “Yes I am the authority on <your niche> in <your location>. I can take care of all of your needs.”

Now here comes the tricky part, there are some simple things you’re going to need to come to grips with when it comes to search engine optimization. The number one point you need to realize is: SEO costs money. Who’d have thought that having someone go through your website, clean up it’s code, properly build it’s navigation and make it faster online would cost money! It’s like putting a new engine in your car, if you’re incapable of putting the hours and skills into doing the work yourself, you’re better off paying the professionals. Even those very simpe steps I mentioned can help to increase traffic and visitors to your website. Another extremely important point, arguably the most important, SEO is not an instant quick fix to your search rankings. It takes time to re-tune your website, update the content and clean the code. After all of that the spiders need to come and crawl your site and decide if it’s better than the last one you had and how you would stack up against your peers now. You could be re-indexed in a day, you could be re-indexed in 2 weeks. You may be on page 6 when you started your campaign and after first pass you’re up to page 3, while not the page 1 where all of the action is you’ve literally improved 100% from where you previously were. The most common metric we tell our clients new and old is, you’ll begin to see significant long lasting results in a 6 month plus time frame.

Enough of those two big scary ideas (money and time), lets talk more about what’s going to happen to your website once you’re up in the rankings. Sitting on page 1 enjoying all of the new visitors you’re receiving, you need to begin to take a good hard look at your home page. Traffic is useless without a conversion of some sort. Sign up for my newsletter, subscribe to our coupon book, buy our product. You need a call to action on your website where visitors arrive. Because if people show up to the party and there’s no party, then the visit was wasted.

To recap: SEO will cost you money and it will take time. Once your campaign is in full swing, breakdown your website and determine your call to action on your landing page. Because without these 3 key understandings, it doesn’t matter if you’re number 1 on the SERPs, or number 1000.

Search – Mobile Marketing & Your Website

Nokia, Android, Apple, Blackberry, all just a few names in the world which compete for market share in the mobile industry. And according to a new report out today from Canalys, Google – the search engine if you didn’t know, holds the lead with 48% of the global market share. Apple’s iPhone running with iOS, comes in at second place with 19% of the market. It’s just another arena that the search giant is dominating in, thanks to their adaptable operating system, Android.

The tech industry has been saying it for years, that the mobile side of search and business was going to be coming soon. Judging by the numbers in the report, that time isn’t just coming, it has arrived. People are using their phones to conduct searches, post to their social network of choice, make purchases and to text their friends about the newest fad/movie/music/television show. Mobile isn’t just a growing industry, Android has grown 379% in the last year to become the market leader, it’s a massively burgeoning marketplace. Business owners and website developers are acting out of sheer folly to not move to take advantage of this space.

And on that note..

It seems that the more we as search experts try to help someone, the harder it seems to become. Search engine optimization is a momentum based business, it takes time to get the proper results so as not to disappear when Panda attacks or the algorithm makes a major change. It’s sort of like pushing a huge stone along a level pathway, it takes a lot of work to get it rolling, but once you start it going it requires smaller amounts of effort to change it’s direction or even to accelerate it. Once you stop pushing however, or once you stop using SEO on your site, you’ll begin to slow immediately, and soon you’ll stop. And then you’re back at square one in the game. And to make matters worse, all of your competitors that have been working out your methods are coming up faster and faster on your rankings, when you stop they’ll just blow right by you like you’re standing still.

So once you’ve reached your desired rankings, it’s not time to let off on the work. It’s actually time to take it up a notch and begin pushing harder and in perhaps an additional direction, say into mobile marketing.