Category Archives: seo

Mayday? Again?

The third time’s the charm, the idiom basically dictating that the third attempt at something is likely to yield the results desired, apparently didn’t sit well with Google.

The algorithm change which happened April 28th – May 3rd, nicknamed Mayday, showed a shift in long tailed search results. It’s been hashed, and rehashed all over the web, but basically put, it was done on purpose, it was done for quality purposes, and it’s completely algorithmical; no human interaction at all.

Since the Mayday change, there have been 3 more seeming drastic shifts in the SERPs, with some seeing changes as little as 10% shift, to as much as an 80% drop in results. Reports of spam sites taking front page placements, poorly written, poorly constructed, and ad filled pages replacing formerly authoritive, professional sites. The shifts being discussed have all been around long tail returns, with the shorter queries having only slightly adjusted.

After all the ideas have been discussed, the tin foil hat theories disected, there emerges one common, agreed upon result: the first week of July will be a doozy.

Can Google SEO?

Google, the king of the web, the go to guys in the realm of search, and the players holding all the cards, was put to their own test. Just some of the self imposed questions for Google:

How many of Google’s web pages use a descriptive title tag? Do we use description meta tags? Heading tags? While we always try to focus on the user, could our products use an SEO tune up?

So how did they do? The report was published on their own webmaster blog, but it will be just a couple of the more interesting points we’ll touch on. Google always works for the user, to improve the users experience. They don’t work for their own ends, on how to rank or be found online, Googling is a verb now, so it’s not hard to find them. Some of their fixes they found which were needed included 404s, broken links, URLs were confusing in some places, and better titles and description tags for their pages.

As described in their own SEO report card :

Google’s SEO Report Card aims to identify potential areas for improvement in Google’s product pages. If
implemented, these improvements could:
• help users find our pages more easily in search engines
• fix bugs that annoy visitors and hurt our pages’ performance in search engines
• serve as a good model for outside webmasters and companies

They took 100 pages of different Google products, and ranked them following common SEO strategies. They found interesting numbers such as, 33% of their products had descriptive meta tags. Only 1/3 of their pages had proper snippet text, terribly low number for the company who relies on that tag, in order to pass on the summary of a page to a user.

They found that only 10% of their pages had proper titles, in length and format. They have some confusing URLs which could be redirected for ease of use, and that nearly half of their images alt text needed improvement. 301s, 404,s and proper tags missing oh my!

The entire report is an insightful read, and it’s plain to see that even when you’re the king of search, you can still make mistakes from time to time.

You can read the report for yourself here I recommend the read.

Basically Google

Recently Google produced a short video where in they dug into a few sites with checking out their optimization. People submitted sites for review, and Matt Cutts showed just a few of the things that are stand out points in the SEO game.

In essence, they really just covered the best practices rules of SEO, but as always it was great to hear them.

Be sure to use text on your page - Google Bot can’t see images the way a user can, so you need to have text on your page. Text also helps with your content and about selecting your keywords to attact searchers. Keeping your content original, and with the option of having user generated content as filler is also good.

Focus is better - If you have multiple sites, it’s better in the long run for you to focus on your main site as opposed to any others so as not to dilute your time and/or skills. Focusing your time, and energy, into building, SEO’ing, and maintaining a single site will pay off better than trying to spread your self out.

Titles, Metas, and Layout - All are very important, the title tag was a topic point multiple times within the presentation. It seems a lot of companies construct, or implement poor titles on their sites and pages within their sites. A good practice is for your titles to include the keyword(s) for that page. The meta keywords tag, while not indexed, is not ignored, and the description tag is important, so be sure not to blank it. If your page has no meta description tag, Google will do it’s best to try and find a description from your page text to use on the SERPs, but, no one knows your content like you do, right? And layout, if you’re going to build a site and promote it to your patrons, be mindful of it’s layout. If you place the quality content too far down the page, you run the risk of people using that back button before they discover just how valuable your website truly is.

If you use a Content Management System - Keep it up to date!! They spent a good deal of time on this topic as well, as CMS are prone to attack. The more popular one is, the higher the inherent risk. By keeping your CMS up to date, you lessen the risk of successful hacks on your website.

UK Ramp up SEO

Companies in the UK have ramped up their investment in paid search and SEO this year as the economy has emerged tentatively from recession, according to research published today.

The proportion of companies saying they plan to increase spending on search engine optimization (SEO or natural search) over the next year has increased to 60% from 55%last year.

Pay-per-click search advertising is also buoyant, with 52% of companies planning to raise their budgets for paid search over the next 12 months compared to only 45% who said they would do so in 2009.

While the majority of companies are increasing their search budgets, only 14% said they are planning to decrease their paid search spending and only 4% plan to spend less on SEO.

Google to Enter SEO Business

In late March 2010, rumors were swirling that search engine giant Google, Inc. was preparing to launch its own SEO (search engine optimization) firm. In early April, Google put an end to the rumors and unveiled a plan to open the SEO agency as early as May. Apparently, this project had been in the pipeline for quite some time and Google had done an excellent job of keeping it secret. In light of that, it is easy to believe that those March rumors were in fact Google manipulations, at least an attempt to test the waters before a formal announcement.

Now, Google is assembling a Google SEO team of approximately 100 employees. The company professes that their intentions are noble. Google wants to set the standard for an industry that outsiders so often criticize. Google SEO promises to use only the most ethical practices to increase a client’s PageRank™, and they promise to do it without adding to the spam glut that currently exists on the Internet. However, the fact remains that Google SEO will be the only SEO agency in the world that can guarantee first page rankings because they are the only company that will have access to the algorithm that dictates it.

In addition, early estimates place the cost of this service in the neighborhood of $25,000 per month. Not only does Google have a monopoly on the search engine optimization, they will be fostering an environment of exclusivity. Google will cripple the thousands of small Internet business vying for your attention. That is not to say that it is currently easy for small business but at least they have the opportunity.

So consider the situation where a firm owns the audience and owns the power to give or take away visibility from a business. Now imagine that they offer you the path to greater visibility, at a cost. The nonprofessional might not know the intricacies of antitrust laws but he or she knows a racket when they see one and this is, at least potentially, a racket. Again, Google promises to do the ethical thing but it begs the question, do we want to trust a corporation to do the ethical thing or do we want to legislate law that mandates it?

Are you worried? Well I’m not, maybe knowing Google as well as I do, remember I sold my company to them, I know how rank page 1 for what we want, but it might well put paid to the cowboys out there.

Measurable Natural Optimization

Most companies see SEO (search engine optimization) as a black hole. It’s full of technical terms, and they don’t easily understand it. As a result, they treat SEO as a nice-to-have rather than a necessity, and as an IT project. The executives who control the purse strings can’t easily distinguish between paid and organic/natural search. So, it’s up to marketers to help them understand, because until they do, they won’t spend the money.

Then who’s to blame for your company’s marketing failures? And who gets credit for its marketing successes? The answer should be Search Engine Optimization, along with PPC (pay per click) and every other facet of your marketing programs. It must be held accountable if it wants a seat at the table with the big boys.

Natural search is the most under-spent channel in internet marketing. Even though most site traffic comes through search, it only gets about 10 percent of the budget because natural search is difficult to put a price tag on. Companies tend to just direct their spending to paid (PPC) search.

It’s also important to put a long term plan in place. Rather than work toward a single, final goal, set up milestones which allow you to measure your progress to get you there. This will keep you on the path to success. All kinds of measures will work well – number of keywords, traffic flow, number of indexed backlinks, search engine rankings. Using an easy to follow metric to track your SEO success, and where you need to make improvements will only improve your internet marketing strategy as a whole.

Search Optimization Art

Everyone it seems is a search engine optimization expert these days. Blogs, forums, webinars, seminars, videos, and pretty much every other method of teaching seems to have a tinge of SEO flavour to it. While SEO itself isn’t a terribly difficult concept, in practice, it’s an art.

Most anyone can “brute force” their way with optimization, just following good practices can get you a long ways on the SERPs. Constructive relevant text, a friendly and engaging user experience, and don’t clutter your site with flash animations, and videos (hint: search engines don’t have eyes). Really basic search engine optimization can be broken down into three basic principles really:

Keep it simple

Keep it clean

Keep it interesting

More often than not, when speaking with a prospective client about their website and their honest chances at landing a position for their desired terms, it’s a somewhat uphill struggle when telling them that the oodles of cash they’ve spent on their dynamically interactive and splashy website, is invisible to the search engines. It’s an even longer fight, when you have to tell them that the company they initially hired to optimize their site, and charged them hundreds if not thousands of dollars, did nothing for them.

Search engine optimization is not flash in the pan, it is not search engine marketing (like AdWords), it is not submitting your website to hundreds of search engines. There are three that matter, Google, Bing and Yahoo; and of the three.. the world knows which is king.

Follow the priniciples, don’t get discouraged, and if you’re getting traffic but not making sales, check your premise first, before blaming the vehicle. And don’t be handily fooled by those saying they know the “secrets to SEO” and will share (for only $49!!). SEO is as much an art, as it is a science, and the differences between the artists and the weekenders, is fully evident on the SERPs.

Is Social Media a Fad?

In the last 3 years I have been told the Internet is a Fad and recently Social Media is no better, I think the following video says it all. Here at Fresh Traffic we can help you, not only with social media marketing, but with online branding, SEO and Internet Marketing Solutions.

We are the leading company in Winnipeg, Manitoba supplying these services.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01&border=1]

Search Marketing in 120 minutes or less! ?

Sure it rolls of the tongue, just like the late night informercials selling juicers and vaccuum packing machines to help save you storage space. But can you really teach or inform a room of, safest to assume, people who’ve never heard the term before?

Doesn’t seem to make a lick of sense when you think of it as such, and anyone who is truly in the know in the industry will tell you, SEO isn’t something you learn, teach, or even give a strong idea of, over a long lunch.

Say it with me – Search engine optimization is not quick fix. It is not flash in the pan success in advertising. SEO is long term, strategic success in online marketing. It’s a long term plan, with very real, very measurable results in driving traffic to your website.

Recently, it’s seemed that an additional misunderstanding of SEO is that it doesn’t sell your products or services well enough. Optimization isn’t a salesman so to speak, SEO is more like the car the salesman used to get to your home in order to sell you the goods. It doesn’t matter if the salesman (your website) arrived in a gleaming, brand new, state of the art shuttle (SEO), if it’s poorly dressed and hard to understand it’s goals and motives.

You may be advised to have a new website built, to have it restructured, or any number of things. Traffic and exposure to the world is our business. We will bring you the people, it’s up to you to sell yourself from there on in.

Not that this is terribly long to read, but to summarize ::

SEO is NOT a get rich quick business model.
SEO is NOT to be taken lightly.
SEO is NOT a salesman, it’s a vehicle to bring you your customers.

SEO IS the best return on investment, marketing wise, that you can use for your business.
SEO IS long term.
SEO IS is becoming increasingly important, every single day.
SEO IS much, much more than Twitter, Facebook, blogging and Adsense.

Don’t be fooled into simple explanations for the artful science of search engine optimization. You do yourself, and the industry a disservice.

SEO now, or risk being lost.

With the trend online leaning towards social media as a communication medium for the masses, should it really be any surprise that even CEO’s are announcing their resignations with these methods? Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, announced via Twitter, that he’d resigned his post. Not in a news release, not in a formal announcement in the papers, Twitter.

In another, unrelated story, it’s been found that the youth of this generation (12-29) are straying from the idea of blogging, citing reasons such as, it’s time consuming, people will just get disinterested, etc. Strangely however, they’re not flocking to Twitter as most may think, but using mobile messaging and browsing means; over half of 18-29 year olds using mobile technology as their main means of online activity.

No, this doesn’t mean SEO is dead, dwindling, or disappearing anytime soon. In fact, it means you need to focus on it even more than ever before as time rushes on. The internet, and it’s generation, evolve, adapt, and absorb information faster than any other before it. Attentions spans are shorter, but if you provide the quality, loyalty is also higher.

The world has always moved, inexorably towards it’s digital embodiment, and that growth is becoming faster each year as technology improves. It’s an age of (mostly) free information exchange, whether it be in business, or socially exchanged, and if you’re not findable now, presenting your best face to the world, you’re going to get lost as the wave grows.

The future isn’t coming, it’s already here. Just like nature wipes out those species who don’t evolve, the same will happen online, if you don’t catch the wave, you’re going to just get swept away. Let Fresh help you stay the course, and instead of being swept along, lead the pack and find yourself on top where you belong.