Category Archives: seo

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.

Search Engine Optimization and You – Driving Qualified Traffic

There’s a massive amount of information on the Internet on absolutely everything, the downside of this of course is the (seemingly) even larger amounts of mis-information. This holds true in any industry, but when it comes to the topic of search engine optimization, it often seems that it’s not so much the fact and fiction mixed up. It’s more akin to the information being tossed in a blender and spread in a mess.

The most antagonizing part of all of the information out there, is that people who partake of what makes the most sense to them, claims to make them experts in the field. It’s from these same sources that the newest experts don’t even learn how to properly 301 a website, or are unable to tell the difference between paid links and paid advertisements.  Some of the latest crop have seemed to be of the belief that building websites to rank for obscure long tail terms, is the same skill as being able to rank a client for their desired and preferred terms.

The whole idea about marketing your business is about driving qualified visitors to your website, where hopefully your SEO company has advised you on how to build your site to facilitate conversions. Whether it’s convincing visitors to sign up for your news letter, or to buy your product, or sign up for your discussion forums, the idea of pushing and marketing your site is to increase your bottom line, what ever it may be.  Say for example your business is in making shoes, and your website has a built in shopping cart so your customers can buy custom footwear direct. Along comes the newest ‘expert’ in SEO and builds your site around a long tail search along the lines of ‘custom designed walking equipment’. You may shake your head an scoff at the idea, but it happens, and happens far too often.

No, this doesn’t mean that long tail searches are dead in any way, there are users out there who don’t use the Google Instant feature, or simply type out their entire query. But the point of my description was to drive home the idea that search engine optimization isn’t about tricking the search engines, isn’t about spamming on blog comments and posts and it isn’t about tricking visitors into visiting your website. It’s about driving qualified traffic to your site with the decision to purchase your product, or sign up for your newsletter or become involved in your community. Real SEO performed by the real SEO experts drives measurable, qualified traffic to your website to make your bottom line better.

A Little Company that do BIG THINGS

We heard this statement the other night from President Obama in his state of the union speech, it made me smile, why? because we are exactly that.

Since our inception on a coffee table back in the UK this is exactly how we have seen ourselves.

Over the years we’ve done big things with major brands like Sony, Sanyo & Best Buy, we’ve worked with celebrities & governments to making a small back street vendor a major player online across North America beating the likes of Sears & Costco, A little company that do big things.

What do we do? Well, everything to do with online search & branding, we have a team buying domain names daily, in fact we see opportunities before most others do, an example was the presidents quote of A little company that do big things, we bought that domain within 5 minutes of him mentioning it, a great slogan, we have done the same with others, company’s spend millions marketing there new project with traditional media, TV ads & Newspapers without first securing the web domains they will need to secure the brand first, how stupid is that at $10 a throw? then they complain when someone beats them to the punch and they have to pay Big Bucks to a little company for there ignorance, it’s just business.

We also run and manage Google Adwords accounts for clients, that’s easy considering I was consulting when the program was being built by Google, but what we really excel at is SEO, yes we know everyone can do this, if this is true then why don’t the company’s or individuals selling the service show up for themselves for major terms on the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, it’s a no brainer, if they cannot list themselves, how do they list you?

Like Obama said, The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an Internet connection.

Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution, Innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.

Call a little company that do big things today on 204.942.4200 it could change your life.

Online Branding Cost vs Return

When discussing with clients, both current and prospective, about the costs entailed with their SEO campaign, there’s almost always a measure of shock and or disbelief at the bottom line. Being that it’s a marketing industry at it’s base, and other marketing campaigns yield little to no tangible results, SEO offers a break down that can be examined.

You can determine if you’re attracting the proper type of visitor. Are your keywords effective, is your content driving your search rankings to help you climb to, and maintain a commanding position on the SERPs? Or are you only receiving immediate bounces to your site because you’re appearing on the wrong results pages? SEO when performed properly, and maintained rigorously on an ongoing basis, can give you these answers.

As for the costs associated to get the results you want, just like in any industry you get what you pay for. There are bucketfuls of “experts” out there who will do your websites SEO for you for $200-$400, but what will that really get you? Just like when you need maintenance done on your car or home, if you’re not a qualified professional to do the work, you pay for the services you require. Now say for instance, instead of having a contractor repair your basement foundation, you get your neighbor who you’ve seen mix concrete help you, imagine the recourse you have available when your basement walls begin to crack, leak and sag again.

Just as it is with the “experts” out there, when you’ve noticed that the $200 you’ve paid doesn’t deliver you any measurable, or quality results, there’s only one person to blame. Nickle and dime spending when it comes to your online branding and marketing has to leave the train of thought, you get what you pay for.

The Greatest Guessing Game

What is the greatest guessing game you ask? It’s the game which has made Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as other search engine start ups and even failures, piles of money just by mention of the word. Search, is the greatest guessing game.

What happened when Google took the game and applied it’s own rules, was dominate the online community as it propelled itself forward, clawing and fighting for all of the infomation it could find. There are various illustrations of the web which come to mind when it’s pictured. Firstly as a web of course, of interconnecting websites and pages, all of which the search bots, spiders naturally, navigate their way around and build up this interconnectability between them. I’ve seen pictures of the internet visualized as planets in galaxies and solar systems, as continents on a map and even as a DNA strand at one point. The best visualization I can come up with is that of an ocean, and all of the websites and pages of the internet are just kind of floating around. People are like little fish, darting around from point to point, sometimes finding what they want, sometimes not. But it’s a fluid environment, never the same from day to day and always on the move.

An article written about which search engine is better at delivering relevant results was the inspiration for today. It tried to demonstrate that by using identical results in different search engines, that one could clearly deliver better and more relevant results than the other. The reality is I believe, much murkier than that. Google is absolutely a brand name, and used extensively in all walks of life. Bing is working hard on branding itself as a decision engine and not a search engine, but in the end both algorithms do primarily the same thing. They guess at what you’re looking for, they guess that they’re delivering you what you want to see and they guess mostly correct only because you’ve already told them what you want to see. Whether it’s via your search history, cookies saved on your computer or even your directly typed search query. Search is still just a game, and for now Google still plays it best. The internet and online technology being what it is, we’ll revisit the topic in a year and everything may be upside down.

Online Marketing for 2011

And with the Happy New Year celebrations behind us all, it’s that time again where people make those resolutions to themselves to lose weight, be a happier person, exercise more etc. The very nature of resolutions is a noble one, but unfortunately most people shoot too high, disappoint themselves for not being able to perform or maintain and end up quitting all together. The best method, is baby steps of course.

Of course I can’t tell you if you need to exercise more, or eat better, but I can promise that if you take baby steps involved with your online marketing, you will see results, and results which will leave you very happy and in a very strong position for the next holiday shopping spree.

Your first baby step, should involve actually breaking down your current online agenda. Is your website up to date? Has your site been built with tons of active elements like Flash or Java menus? Is it easy to navigate your website? It’s hard, but try and imagine visiting your website for the first time as a new visitor, can you find information quickly and easily? It’s a small, but extremely important step in reprioritizing your online efforts in the new year. If you can realize what needs to be fixed after all, you can move forward with confidence.

Your next step, after having a good honest look at your website, should be a stark examination of your current online marketing efforts. Are you an AdWords afficionado? Does your web copy read naturally, or is it full of technical jargon about your product or services? It’s a fine line to sell yourself online to new clients, you need to be able to explain yourself as simply as possible, as accurate and concise as can be.

Now that you have a clear staging point from which to begin, it’s time to bring in the experts. SEO and online marketing experts at Fresh Traffic draw on over 25 years of experience in providing Search Engine Optimization & Internet marketing solutions. As specialists in Online Brand Development & Search Engine Optimization, Fresh Traffic makes the Internet an accessible & successful addition to all businesses, driving more unique visitors & brand impressions to websites. We’re the best at bringing you the traffic you desire to your site, start the new year right and let 2011 be your best online year yet.

Cheap SEO “often too good to be true”

 Getting your company noticed online is not always an easy thing to achieve. If your Website does not appear near the top of the first page on a Google search, chances are it will not see very much traffic. So in what is becoming an increasingly cutthroat business, how does an organisation draw attention to itself online?

By employing a  specialist search marketing company like fresh traffic whose goal is to help customers to find new business online, there are two distinct options for driving traffic to your Website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making your Website friendlier to search engines, thereby achieving a higher ranking on the page. SEO focuses on optimizing elements such as keywords, navigation, images and videos, in order to obtain the best possible ranking on a search engine page.

The second option is Google’s AdWords, a paid for offering designed to maximise your online return on investment (ROI). AdWords ensures that when a Google search makes use of one of your keywords, your advert appears opposite the organic search results. Since it uses a pay-per-click system. AdWords can be more costly than SEO, but it is also more targeted and will not fall foul of changes in a search engine’s algorithms.

The down side to this is the fact that not only do the majority of users look predominantly at the left hand side of the page, (the organic SEO side) they also trust organic search results more, meaning they are more likely to click on these. Other problems include the rising cost of pay per click, along with the limited amount of copy space available – everything needs to be squeezed into a 70-character limit.

Businesses paying to improve their websites with search engine optimization (SEO) should be prepared for the cost, many companies today are paying a small amount of cash and expecting big results, but that as with most things “you get what you pay for”.

People investing in SEO should be wary of companies who charge very little as if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.

SEO to some can seem like smoke and mirrors, some companies we know now simply offer search engine submission, or Google adwords and camouflage it as SEO.

Doing it half way will leave you no better off than when you started down this path and don’t forget the thousands of dollars you could potentially spend in the effort, businesses should invest time and money in proper organic SEO and remember that the service is not a “one-time hit”.

Our company has experts who can help in respect of both SEO and AdWords. Call us today 204.942.4200

You can always add social media into the mix with a facebook or twitter account if needed.

Another Google Car

At what lengths do you go, to save yourself or your business some cash? Where do you decide to trim your budget. Production? Acquisition? Marketing? Development? Depending on your niche and business model there are many more to add to the list I’d wager. So when it comes right down to it and you need to find some money, where do you trim, all too often the budget cuts fall on the marketing angle. And the first place that gets the shaft, is online marketing more than not.

The argument usually heard is that it’s not tangible, you can’t track any results or gains with it. The internet is a virtual world of switches, capacitors and electrical connections, so in a touchable tangible sense it’s not “real”. The numbers however, the web is full of numbers which are very easily countable. That machine you use on your desk at the office and at home everyday is, at it’s core, an overgrown calculator. Traffic, sales, visitors and unique first time viewers are all metrics easily tracked by the software that expert SEOs use to demonstrate to clients that what we do works like gang busters.

And a question that we are asked time and time again is: “Why should I retain you on a contract if the guy down the street says he can do the same for me for only $300?” And since people keep asking, the simplest and honest to god answer is maintenance. See, the internet never sleeps, never rests and is always changing. Google, the king of search and search marketing is the same. Always changing the algorithm, making it faster, smarter and it can throw the entire results page into disarray when they make a number of changes at once. Retaining your position on the SERPs in the midst of these changes is why we’re the best. And it’s why we can command the costs required for the care we give to your online marketplace. Now, if you’re still unsatisfied that this is the case, a simple analogy for you in easy to understand terms.

Your website is a car and Google is it’s engine. The internet are the roads you travel endlessly. Knowing you need a tune up (SEO) you look for a mechanic to tend to your car, and decide to settle for the budget variety to save a few dollars and settle in for a rest. Waking up, you find out that your Google engine has decided that it doesn’t like unleaded fuel anymore and instead wants diesel. So back to your mechanic who tells you ‘Sorry, I don’t know what I need to do to work with diesel’. And instead of driving your way to the top, you’re stuck, stranded on the side of the road with a stalled site (car), and work done on your engine that no longer works.

If you need to save some budget dollars and decide to focus on marketing, then trim your budget in the old, untraceable metrics like television, radio, newspapers and billboards. Playing catch up on the web is an exponentially more difficult game the longer you wait Winnipeg, time to get a move on.

Penny wise, pound foolish

“Rant” I got a a call today from a Winnipeg business who decided to use another vendor 12 months ago for Internet marketing and some SEO Services and they are not happy with what they got. 

Surprise surprise, they went with them to save money or so they thought, now they are further back then ever and I’m suppose to be supportive of this.Winnipeg business when will you learn? Here’s the truth, you are already 5 years behind the eight ball on many other major countries, business has been supplying budgets for online marketing for over 10 years already, you guys are still humming and arring whether or not to do it and asking if the internet is going to still be around in 5 years. Take your heads out of your orifice.

Answer, No your web shop, IT guy, traditional media company, PR Marketing person or any other person who read a book or did a half day seminar in Winnipeg will know how to do it effectively, you need an expert to list nationally or globally, period. Any idiot can list for the town or city they live in, or the name of the company website, these are the ones that mainly work from basements or have a shingle over the door and charge $300 a month, some call themselves consultants.

The latest trend is calling themselves social media marketing or new media marketing experts and charging 1k a month. Beware!!!

Wake up, stop being Penny wise, pound foolish.

Rant over.

Practicing Safe Search

In the world of SEO, there’s the good guys and the bad guys. It’s discussed in great detail on a lot of websites, blogs and forums. So to contribute to the trend, I’ll briefly touch on the subject as well.

The big news as of late to hit the news reel is the royal engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it’s been in print, online, I’m certain it’s been on television and the radio by now as well. But before you run off and hit the web to find all the latest gossip about the couple, follow a few simple rules first.

1) Know full well, that with news which floods the web like this engagement, it’s a prime target for black hat SEO. What black hat is usually associated with are all of the wonderful malware infections which keep computer repairmen in business, and shady companies in cash. What happens is the black hatters pick a hot, fast rising trend, and “poison” the search results. With hundreds of millions of people using search daily, it’s easy to pull in a few unsuspecting curiousity seekers.

2) Don’t click a link, if you don’t recognize the url. When you perform a search in Google, you’ll have the blue link headline, the black description text, and a green url. If that green text is not a website you recognize easily (such as cnn.com or bbc.com for example) take a pass on the link! It doesn’t matter if the description says it has the latest on the wedding, your hard drive and OS will thank you later.

3) The easiest way to gather information via search is built right in now thankfully. All of the major search engines return relevant real time results as well as part of a search. If a topic is trending well, and people are posting about it, there’ll be social and real time search listings.

Do yourself a very big favor when it comes to search, just because the websites which rank in the top 5 say they have the dish on all of the secrets, think first and click later. Malware has larger implications than just slowing down your computer and providing nagging pop ups. It can start there, and go all the way up the ladder to identity theft, password stealing and/or keylogging.