If you’re a website owner, then you probably already know that websites need plenty of love and attention. Then you have to think about how you use your website to get the best return on investment. Most companies pass the request on to the marketing team in the hope that they can work wonders in implementing a successful marketing strategy. This isn’t always the case, as normal marketing employees haven’t got the faintest idea on where to start to help market a website for the internet.
There is a phrase for one of the best parts of internet marketing, this is search engine optimisation(SEO). This is when a company makes changes to your website and a range of other strategies to help your website appear as high as possible in the listings in major search engines such as Google. Because search engines are still relitavely new in the world of business it can be difficult to find resources to help you, or even people to find who are willing to help. I can imagine there are not many people out there who even knew what SEO was let alone think that they needed it.
There are 100’s of people out there that claim to be someone who can help. Don’t be fooled by techincal talk from these guys as they don’t generally have the results to back up their claims. If you decide you need to look at marketing for your website then make sure the company you choose, are not scared to show previous customers or results. Always make sure you recieve testimonials from these customers to otherwise you could be sending an awful lot of money down the well and not getting much in return.
It’s a perfectly natural assumption, so if you think your Web developer (designer, master, or whatever other term he or she goes by) does or should understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you’re in good company. You’re wrong, but in good company.
It’s a simple fact, but critical to understand: The people building your Web site almost certainly do not understand how to optimize your site so that it will rank well in the search engines.
Please, Web developers, don’t write and tell me that you do understand SEO. After all, there are a couple of possibilities:
1.You actually do know SEO; I’m not claiming there are no SEO-savvy Web developers … just that they are a very rare breed
2.You only think you know SEO
Unfortunately SEO has become such a hot topic that Web developers now all say that they can handle your SEO for you. Firstly, it’s another great revenue source. Perhaps more importantly, though, if they don’t claim they can help with your SEO, another firm down the street will.
It’s simply not true, though. How do I know this? Well, I’ve worked with many, many Web designers, and have rarely found any with more than a rudimentary understanding of SEO (an “enough to be dangerous” level of knowledge). Even the ones who know it “well,” don’t know it that well.
In addition, in my role as an ecommerce consultant, I’ve worked with literally hundreds of businesses, large and small. Many of these businesses come to me after it’s dawned on them that perhaps their Web sites are not ranking well in the search engines because their Web designers actually know next-to-nothing about optimization.
But I’ve even had Web developers admit to me that they don’t know much about it. (“Yes,” the owner of a large development firm once told me over lunch, “we sell SEO services, but I can’t say we really know much about it.”) Furthermore, I’ve worked with Web designers on projects, providing them advice on how to optimize mutual clients’ sites, only to notice later that one of the services promoted on the designer’s Web site is, you’ve guessed it, Search Engine Optimization. I occasionally have designers come to me for training, when they have already been selling the service for some time.
Also consider this. Why should a Web designer understand SEO? SEO is actually a complex subject that takes a long time to learn well. I’ve been doing it for years, and still learn new things every day. SEO is difficult because the laws are hidden; the search engines don’t really want you to know too much about the subject, and they’re constantly changing the rules, too. It’s like being an engineer without fully understanding the laws of physics … and in any case, the laws change every Wednesday. So SEO is difficult, and takes a long time to learn well.
Web development is also a complicated subject. I know how to create Web pages … but I would never claim that I’m an accomplished Web designer! Yet for some reason we’re expected to believe that every Web designer is also an SEO expert.
Now, this is of more than merely academic interest, because if you think that your designer will get youir site ranked well in the search engines, you’ll be disappointed. And if you actually pay for the designer’s SEO services you’ll also be just a little poorer.
Achieving a high ranking in the search results at Google and other search sites is, for many websites, the primary means of attracting new visitors and increasing traffic. That’s why it’s important to optimize your site for search, using various search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. The better optimized your site, the higher it will appear in the search rankings—and the more traffic you’ll attract.
With that in mind, here are 10 SEO tips that you can use with any website, no matter what the site’s content. Follow the advice here and you’ll likely improve your ranking!
TIP #1: Improve Your Content
Ultimately, people visit a given website because it has valuable content. If the content isn’t any good, all the SEO in the world won’t create new visitors.
That’s why of all the SEO tips in the world, the one that has the biggest impact is improving your website’s content. It’s simple: The better your site is, content-wise, the higher it will rank.
You see, when it comes to search rank, content is king. Ultimately, the better search engines find some way to figure out what your site is all about; the higher quality and more relevant your site’s content is to a particular search, the more likely it is that a search engine will rank your site higher in its results.
So forget all about fancy keywords and technical META tags for the time being, and focus on what it is your site does and says.
If your site is about NASCAR racing, work to make it the most content-rich site about NASCAR you can; if it’s about aquariums, make it the highest-quality aquarium site possible. Don’t skimp on the content—the more and more relevant content you have, the better.
Here’s what you need to remember: SEO isn’t about technological tricks. It’s about making your site more useful to visitors—and that means providing the best possible content you can. Everything else follows from this.
TIP #2: Create a Clear Organization and Hierarchy
Here’s an important fact: Web crawlers for the major search sites can find more content on a web page and more web pages on a website if that content and those pages are in a clear hierarchical organization.
Let’s look at page organization first. You want to think of each web page as a mini-outline. The most important information should be in major headings, with lesser information in subheadings beneath the major headings.
One way to do this is via standard HTML heading tags, with the most important information in H1 tags, the next most-important in H2 tags, and less-important information in H3 tags.
This approach is also appropriate for your entire site layout. Your home page should contain the most important information, with subsidiary pages branching out from that containing less important information—and even more subpages branching out from those. The most important info should be visible when a site is first accessed via the home page; additional info should be no more than a click or two away.
TIP #3: Fine-Tune Your Keywords
Just as important as a page’s layout is the page’s content in terms of keywords. A keyword is a word or phrase that the user searches for.
In determining search ranking, the major search engines look to determine how important a keyword or phrase is on your page. They do this by seeing where on the page the keyword is used and how many times it’s used. A site with a keyword buried near the bottom of a page will rank lower than one with the keyword placed near the top or used repeatedly in the page’s text. It’s not a foolproof way of determining importance and appropriateness, but it’s a good first stab at it.
When various search engines examine your page, they look for the most important words—those words used in the site’s title or headings, those words that appear in the opening paragraph, and those words that are repeated throughout the page. The more and more prominently you include a word on your page, the more important a search engine will think it is to your site.
For this reason, you want to make sure that each and every page on your site contains the keywords that users might use to search for your pages. If your site is all about drums, make sure your pages include words like “drums,” “percussion,” “sticks,” “heads,” “cymbals,” “snare,” and the like. If your site is about dogs, include words like “dog,” “puppy,” “canine,” “beagle,” “collie,” “dachshund,” and such.
Try to think through how you would search for this information, and work those keywords into your content.
TIP #4: Tweak Your META Tags
A search engine looks not just to the text that visitors see when trying to determine the content of your site. Also important is the presence of keywords in your site’s HTML code—specifically within the META tag.
The META tag includes metadata about your site, such as your site’s name and keyword “content.” This tag appears in the head of your HTML document, before the BODY tag and its contents.
It’s easy enough for a search engine to locate the META tag and read the data contained within. If a site’s metadata is properly indicated, this gives the search engine a good first idea about what content is included on this page.
Fortunately, you can insert multiple META tags into the head of your document, and each tag can contain a number of different attributes. For example, you can assign attributes for your page’s name, a description, and keywords to the META tag.
You use separate META tags to define different attributes using the following format:
META NAME=”attribute” CONTENT=”items”NOTE
In the previous line of code, replace attribute with the name of the particular attribute, and items with the keywords or description of that attribute.
For example, to include a description of your web page, enter this line of code:
META NAME=”DESCRIPTION” CONTENT=”All about stamp collecting”
To include a list of keywords, use the following code:
META NAME=”KEYWORDS” CONTENT=”keyword1, keyword2, keyword3″
TIP #5: Solicit Inbound Links
Google got to be Google by recognizing that web rankings could be somewhat of a popularity contest; that is, if a site got a lot of traffic, there was probably a good reason why. A useless site wouldn’t attract a lot of visitors (at least not long term), nor would it inspire other sites to link to it.
So if a site has a lot of other sites linking back to it, it’s probably because that site offers useful information relevant to the site doing the linking. The more links to a given site, the more useful it probably is.
Google took this to heart and developed its own algorithm, dubbed PageRank, which is based first and foremost on the number and quality of sites that link to a particular page.
If your site has a hundred sites linking to it, for example, it should rank higher in Google’s search results than a similar site with only ten sites linking to it. Yes, it’s a popularity contest, but one that has proven uncannily accurate in providing relevant results to Google’s users.
And it’s not just the quantity of links; it’s also the quality. That is, a site that includes content that is relative to your page is more important than just some random site that links to your page. For example, if you have a site about NASCAR racing, you’ll get more oomph with a link from another NASCAR-related site than you would with a link from a site about Barbie dolls. Relevance matters.
So when it comes to increasing your rankings at Google (which is, far and away, the largest and most important search engine), you can get a big impact by getting more higher-quality sites to link back to your site.
There are a number of ways to do this: from just waiting for the links to roll in to actively soliciting links from other sites. You can even pay other sites to link
back to your site; when it comes to increasing your site’s search ranking, little is out of bounds. But however you do, increasing the number and quality of inbound links is essential.
TIP #6: Submit Your Site
While you could wait for the each search engine’s crawler to find your site on the Web, a more proactive approach is to manually submit your site for inclusion in each engine’s web index. It’s an easy process—and one that every webmaster should master.
Fortunately, submitting your site to a search engine is an easy process. In fact, it’s probably the easiest part of the SEO process. All you have to do is go the submission page for each search engine, as noted here:
•Windows Live Search: search.msn.com.sg/docs/submit.aspx
As easy as this site submittal process is, some webmasters prefer to offload the task to a site submittal service. These services let you enter your URL once and then submit it to multiple search engines and directories; they handle all the details required by each search engine. Given that many of these services are free, it’s not a bad way to go.
TIP #7: Create a Sitemap
Here’s something else that you can submit to increase your site’s ranking: a sitemap. A sitemap is a map of all the URLs in your entire website, listed in hierarchical order. Search engines can use this sitemap to determine what’s where on your site, find otherwise-hidden URLs on deeply buried pages, and speed up their indexing process. In addition, whenever you update the pages on your website, submitting an updated sitemap helps keep the search engines up-to-date.
The big three search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Live Search), along with Ask.com, all support a single sitemap standard. This means you can create just one sitemap that all the search engines can use; you don’t have to worry about different formats for different engines.
Your sitemap is created in a separate XML file. This file contains the distinct URLs of all the pages on your website. When a searchbot reads the sitemap file, it learns about all the pages on your website—and can then crawl all those pages for submittal to the search engine’s index.
By the way, the new unified sitemap format allows for autodiscovery of your site’s sitemap file. Previously, you had to notify each search engine separately about the location of each file on your site. Now you can do this universally by specifying the file’s location in your site’s robots.txt file.
While you could create a sitemap file by hand, it’s far easier to generate that sitemap automatically. To that end, many third-party sitemap-generator tools exist for just that purpose. For most of these tools, generating a sitemap is as simple as entering your home page URL and then pressing a button.
The tool now crawls your website and automatically generates a sitemap file; once the sitemap file is generated, you can then upload it to the root directory of your website, reference it in your robots.txt file, and, if you like, submit it directly to each of the major search engines.
TIP #8: Use Text Instead of Images
It’s important to know that today’s generation of search engines parse only text content; they can’t figure out what a picture or video or Flash animation is about, unless you describe it in the text. So if you use graphic buttons or banners (instead of plain text) to convey important information, the search engines simply won’t see it. You need to put every piece of important information somewhere in the text of the page—even if it’s duplicated in a banner or graphic.
So if you use images on your site, which you probably do, make sure that you use the ALT tag for each image—and assign meaningful keywords to the image via this tag. A searchbot will read the ALT tag text; it can’t figure out what an image is without it.
TIP #9: Update Your Content Frequently
It pays to constantly update your site. Because most searchbots crawl the Web with some frequency, looking for pages that have changed or updated content, your ranking can be affected if your site hasn’t changed in a while. So you’ll want to make sure that you change your content on a regular basis; in particular, changing the content of your heading tags can have a big impact on how “fresh” the search engine thinks your site is.
TIP #10: Know Your Customer
This final tip is a piece of business advice I’ve been hawking for the past two decades. Everything you do in business—or on your website—should come in service to your customers. You don’t develop a new product just because you have the capability; you do it because it’s something your customers want.
To that end, knowing what your customers want is the most important part of your business. If you know your customers, you can develop a website that they will want to visit—and that search engines will want to rank highly. Know what your customers want and you’ll know what kind of content to create, and how to present that content.
And because SEO starts with your optimizing site’s content, the better and more relevant that content, the higher your site will rank with Google, Yahoo!, and the other search engines.
Know your customer, and everything else follows.
From Company Push to Consumer Pull
What is push and pull marketing? Push is the 30-second TV / radio spot. Push is the billboard and web banner. Push is the full-page magazine / newspaper spread. Push is becoming evermore difficult to push. The converse of push, is pull. Pull marketing is engaging; interactive; a two-way line of communication. To illustrate the push / pull marketing dynamic 15 years ago, if you were in the market to buy a TV, what resources would you have at your disposal? TV, radio, billboard, direct mail advertisements might have influenced your decision. Those messages are finely crafted to be persuasive. In essence: they’re bias. For a more objective view, you might turn to your friend that knows something about TVs. Or, you can go to Best Buy and they might be able to educate and inform your decision. In short, advertisements and a handful of “experts” were your resources. That was the push / pull dynamic then.
In the digital era, we can better manage and prioritize the influence of each resource. With the ubiquity of the internet, resources are seemingly endless; therefore you can choose which are more important as you refine our decision. Where in the past your decision was constrained to a limited number of resources, in the digital age, there are countless information hubs to help you choose one product over another. With the extensive consumer conversation on social media sites and product pages, what weight does the mass message—pushed from TV, billboard, radio, etc—carry when you’re making your decision? Though consumers will still soak up push marketing—and factor those impressions into their spending decisions—the internet and its vast networking reach typically bypasses traditional push media. In the past, the number of resources was limited—therefore each opinion meant more and consumers were just consumers. In today’s age, consumers are researchers, advocates, creators, promoters and marketers.
Reallocation of Marketing Efforts
In response to this consumer empowerment, companies are developing new strategies to adapt and grow in this different marketing world. Consider the marketing landscape only 15 years ago. If a company wanted to launch a product, they would allocate X amount of dollars to cast a wide net of impressions to influence a buying decision.
In a world influenced by the digital consumer network, even the word “consumer” is limiting in its simplicity. In the most innovative marketing efforts, consumers are the creators, advocates, promoters, marketers and buyers. To have a presence in the new consumer world, marketers are facilitating the conversation and activities through valuable tools and concepts online. The most engaging marketing tools can be implemented in the digital world. With a multi-sensorial experience and a multitude of engagement opportunities, brands can enhance their consumer experience beyond the conventional marketing tactics.
Pull marketing combines viral, blogging, social media, SEO, internet marketing, RSS etc. into a methodology where consumers engage and build something with the brand. No longer is advertising an interruption between news, or a distraction in nature’s landscape. Marketing is more about choice and engagement, less than it is a distraction. If you are relying too much on heavily push media today, now is the time to embrace the paradigm shift towards consumer-powered marketing
Im still at a lost for words, The world over will miss what i called the absolute entertainer of music and artistry.
He was one of the most important and influential musical figures of the 20th century.
I had the great pleasure of first meeting Micheal back in 1979 when I was in my early days in the entertainment business and being a guest at a few of his concerts in the 80′s, a very private and misunderstood man.
I will treasure my signed Picture Album of Thriller.
Good night my friend and our thoughts are with the family.
You can’t swing a dead cat nowadays in Winnipeg without hitting a self-proclaimed SEO expert. Just about every web design worker and internet company is deeming themselves real masters of search engine optimization.
Most of them are liars.
People tweak a few title tags and do some casual keyword research, (one recently even stole my title and description) and call themselves experts. These guys are the same ones who tell women they meet at the bar that they make seven figures and have a house in Fiji. When in reality, they live with their parents and lease their BMW.
The truth is, SEO is pretty complicated, and the rules that govern good search engine rankings change more often than the guards outside Buckingham Palace.
To be a real expert in the process of improving your position in Google requires a solid understanding of Google’s complex algorithm, which determines what site occupies that position.
The best search engine optimization specialists have been in the business for years and are constantly involved in implementing and testing new strategies and techniques. They live and breath keyword density, anchor text analysis, crawl tests and permalink structures.
In reality, there’s only a handful of real SEO experts out there. I’ve personally met and dealt with hundreds of search engine aficionados, some relatively knowledgeable of the SEO best practices.
But only two or three people I’ve met are real SEO warriors. These are the people that grabbed Google’s top spot for ridiculously competitive terms in tough markets such as travel, car insurance, mortgages and pharmaceuticals.
Casual SEO workers drown in these areas.
Needless to say, most people fall short of expectations.
If you want to know who some of the best search engine optimization specialists are, try a simple Google search for seo marketing or seo world expert. The sites coming out on the top 10 (not sponsored links) are probably pretty good at their craft.
Getting listed within your town or city is a piece of cake for most, but do they come up nationally or global? NOPE.
Just for the record for the wannabe seo’s in Winnipeg, you cannot learn SEO from books, forums or seminars, you can learn good practices which is totally different, sorry Aaron, people, Mr Wall does a great book called SEO Book which can be purchased to help beginners, I suggest you read this, then stick to what your good at.
My Granny had a great old saying, People in glass houses should not through stones.
For years, Microsoft has been struggling to chip away at Google’s dominance in the search engine market. And for years, they have been largely unsuccessful, mainly because their own search engine, Microsoft Live Search, produced unwanted and often irrelevant results.
But a few weeks ago, Microsoft released Bing, an updated version of Live Search, in their newest attempt to knock Google off its pedestal.
Although Bing is partially a rebranding of Live Search, it does include new features like instant previews of Web sites and videos.
Microsoft is so committed to Bing’s success that it will launch an astronomical $80 million to $100 million advertising campaign. That’s more than four times Google’s entire advertising budget last year.
It’s been hard to determine how Microsoft’s newcomer is stacking up against its two greatest competitors, Google and Yahoo!. According to StatCounter, one of the world’s largest Web analytics companies, Bing temporarily overtook Yahoo! in terms of market share. Currently, however, Google has 81.5 percent of the search engine market, with Yahoo! at 9.39 percent and Bing at 4.82 percent.
But one Microsoft employee, Michael Kordahi, thinks that some users might be prejudiced against Bing because of Google’s perceived brand name superiority.
He created a blind search engine that shows the search results of Google, Yahoo! and Bing in three nondescript columns. The Web site then invites users to vote for the most relevant results.
Unfortunately, the results were too erratic to name any consistent winner, prompting Kordahi to conclude that “some douche is gaming the system.”
I must confess that, as someone who has had bad experiences with Live Search, I prefer Google. Before I could adequately review the usefulness of Bing, I thought I should first experiment with the blind search engine myself.
So, in completely unscientific fashion, I typed in ten random searches – five single words and five phrases – and picked the results I thought were most valuable and applicable.
And the results were somewhat surprising: While Google crushed the competition with six votes, Bing received a surprising three votes, and Yahoo! just one vote.
It seems I find Microsoft’s search engine a fairly legitimate contender in the battle for supremacy, although Google is still the undisputed champion.
But how do Bing’s other search capabilities like News and Maps compare against Google’s?
Well, I certainly found that the Bing homepage looks pretty. The search bar is superimposed on a beautiful panoramic stock photo that changes every day. Each picture is embedded with invisible squares about the picture that users can click on for more information.
But while this design is certainly unique, Bing’s hide-and-go-seek feature is basically self-promotion masquerading as helpful innovation.
Each square merely redirects users to a search through Bing. For example, clicking on “Learn more about Flag Day” directs the user to a Bing search of “Flag Day.”
But Bing does have some helpful, interesting features.
Unlike Google, Bing’s image search displays the results in one giant scrollable window, thereby eliminating the annoying need to click on multiple pages. And Bing Cashback offers buyers to receive a small percentage back of payments they have made on participating Web sites.
These are Bing’s best features, however, and ultimately Bing still plays second fiddle.
Bing News lacks all the customizability, readability and wealth of information that exists in Google News. Bing only features 14 translatable languages to Google’s 41.
And while Bing Maps is speckled with aesthetically pleasing mountains and forests, it cannot easily display directions and locations like Google Maps.
We must remember, though, while developers have made significant blunders along the way, Bing is still being improved.
They failed to realize, for example, that Bing can mean “sickness” in Chinese (the nationality of Bing’s biggest audience), prompted a name change to “Biying,” meaning “must respond,” which Microsoft is coyly marketing as a “decision engine.”
And they received criticism when Bing’s filtering mechanism could not adequately block porn in its parental settings, which was quickly rectified when the company consulted 25 security vendors for assistance.
Microsoft is certainly improving its image as a legitimate search engine competitor. But the company needs much more innovative firepower before successfully waging war against the Google Empire.
A smart entrepreneur knows to stay connected. Twitter, a micro-blogging tool, enables you to immerse yourself in your industry, develop your company’s brand, and relate to your customers. With 14 million people on Twitter (and more joining daily), if you’re an entrepreneur and not participating, the only question is: why not?
Is Twitter just a techies facebook?
An ex-AOL executive has launched a new online news delivery system in America which hopes to capitalise on the changing trend from traditional print advertising to online advertising.
Advertising spend in traditional media has been on a downward trend for a while now, whereas internet advertising has been a lone bastion of growth in an otherwise declining industry. Newspapers, journals and magazines in particular, the “print” collective, have suffered more than television and radio in terms of incoming advertising revenue.
As traditional journalism fades, the logical step is to move to online journalism and capture advertising space to compliment news articles online. Lewis Dvorkin, a previous writer for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal has formed True/Slant along with former colleagues from AOL News.
True/Slant officially launched some eight weeks ago in April but entered beta testing phase earlier today. The site is a mix of blogs and industry news generation, bringing together professional journalists from the BBC, Boston Globe, New York Times, CNN and other news services to contribute articles.
Adverts run alongside the articles, and contributors are either paid a stipend or a share of the online advertising revenue generated from the article. Mr Dvorkin’s vision is to create the newsroom of the future: “What we’re trying to do is combine traditional standards and values and standards of traditional media with dynamics of the web,” Mr Dvorkin told the Financial Times.
The project was given a $3 million financial backing from Forbes and Fuse Capital. True/Slant hopes to be at the forefront of news delivery online, enabling the internet community to “efficiently find relevant and interesting news culled by contributors they respect.”
A new report from CNN International has found that consumers respond best to multi-platform advertising which combine the best of traditional and online advertising.
Cross-platform advertising offers marketers the best of both worlds, combing the conventional clout of television with the effervescent buzz of digital media online. The most effective advertising campaigns according to CNN are those that can yoke the strength from both platforms to encourage people to buy into the brand.
CNN’s Cross-platform Advertising Study on Effectiveness and Engagement (CASE) involved a dual monitoring of market penetration through a comprehensive online survey and biometric assessments. Candidates were asked to wear a “smart vest” to monitor their heart rate, respiratory rate and body movement during a television screening.
The report showed a high cross over between the two media platforms. Adverts with a call to action have enjoyed success by promoting a teaser on television with a follow up advertisement online.
The results from the scientific investigation found that advertising breaks increased engagement in viewers by up to 10 per cent. Contrary to popular belief, consumers do not switch off during when their programmes are interrupted by advertisements. The study also introduced eye-tracking technology which found that viewers responded well to video content on websites, taking between 66 to 80 per cent of their attention.
According to CNN International’s senior vice president of research, Didier Mormesse, with a combined TV and online advertising approach: “an advertiser can markedly increase campaign recall, leading to positive shift in brand attitudes,” reported bizcommunity.com.
Television adverts in isolation had a 20 per cent chance of being recalled by viewers, but with the addition of internet advertising or mobile marketing, this figure rose to 33 per cent.