Category Archives: seo

The Power of Linking in SEO

Republican Rick Santorum has had a few.. issues over the course of his public running for the head of the US office. All politics and personal opinions aside, Santorum has run into the most recent iteration of what used to be known as Google bombing.

A few years back if you visited Google and searched for the term ‘miserable failure’ the first result used to be the then president of the US, George Bush. Santorum unfortunately hasn’t been so lucky with what he’s become associated with, but the methods as to why he’s momentarily stuck there is due, in part, to how SEO works.

The bare basic principles of SEO – you create content, you contact people to link to it and repeat over and over again until you’re the king of the mountain. Backlinks, the fuel for SEO is what keeps you flying high in the rankings. An extremely popular social community, Reddit, has decided that the politician will remain associated with this alternate meaning for the near future at the very least.

You can think of the woes that he is experiencing as you will, on a technical note however it needs examination and repeating. Until Google, Bing and Yahoo outright remove a website from it’s index, it can and will continue to rank for the term(s) with which it’s been written to be found for. The act of completely removing a site from the index is an extreme measure that the search engines rarely wield, let alone with permanency. It needs to be noted that irregardless of the poor quality of the links, the relevance and sheer number linking to the offending website are what is keeping the politician tied to his less than stellar ‘definition’. To quickly deal with the issue the search engines could enforce a nofollow on the Reddit site but Google in particular deems itself a color blind indexing machine. Mr. Santorum would do well to contract the skills of a search engine optimization expert to assist with his character control.

Google Punishes Itself

So Google made a little bit of a blunder with their Chrome advertising it seems and what was the end result? Well perhaps the best way to understand what happened and it’s ensuing result, the algorithm needs to be a little more understood.

The Google search algorithm was intentionally designed to go out and read as much of the content of the web as it could find. It pays no heed to race, color or quality of the content. It doesn’t care how pretty your pictures are, how impressive your flash intro is or how quickly you can flip through your menu items on your navigation bar. It takes in the content of the web and spits it out when you ask it a question. It’s because it’s so simple that there needed to be filters put into place and penalties levied against people who either managed either by accident or on purpose to get around the quality controls put in place.

Paying for pagerank, that intangible mega star of the Google world, is a heavily punishable offence in the quality control guidelines. So it came as a rather big surprise when it was found suddenly, that Google was seemingly paying for advertising which was passing pagerank to its Google Chrome web page. The skeptics of the web automatically assumed that the Google machine would just shrug, apologize to the web, as they didn’t intend for it to happen, and everyone would be on their way. The outcome however, was actually the opposite.

Matt Cutts, via is Google+ account had the following to say of the incident:

“Google was trying to buy video ads about Chrome, and these sponsored posts were an inadvertent result of that. If you investigated the two dozen or so sponsored posts (as the webspam team immediately did), the posts typically showed a Google Chrome video but didn’t actually link to Google Chrome… we did find one sponsored post that linked to www.google.com/chrome in a way that flowed PageRank.. we only found a single sponsored post that actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank, that’s still a violation of our quality guidelines”

So okay, it was found out there was a minor slip in what was intended and what was the actual result, so what did they do?

“In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days. After that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would. During the 60 days, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won’t trust outgoing links from that page.”

If anyone ever questioned as to whether the machine would point it’s gun at itself, question no longer. As the webspam team has shown, no one is above the rules set with quality searches in mind. So bear in mind when you next work on your websites SEO, ensure that you’re following the best practices and the search guidelines readily found all over the web, else you’ll find yourself flung deeper into the ranks than you could imagine.

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.