Search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessary part of any website strategy. The potential traffic is simply too big to ignore.
The question isn’t “Should I do SEO?” it’s “When should I do SEO?”
As a site owner, you have to make hard decisions about how to spend your always-not-enough budget and when. In this post, I’m going to talk about some of things your should consider when trying to determine…
When Should I Invest in SEO?
SEO is not direct marketing. Just because you put a dollar in today does not mean you’re going to get a $1.50 out tomorrow.
Fundamentally, natural search optimization is a long-term investment. With the right strategy and the right implementation, I do believe you will get the return on that investment and, possibly, a sustained competitive advantage.
Of course, this presents a problem: you have to spend the money now, but you might not see it for a while.
Fundamentals to Make the Most of SEO
Search engines don’t buy from you, people do. There a few things you need to have in place in any site to make the most of SEO:
Functioning Site – There’s no point in bringing people to your site if it doesn’t work. People don’t like it and neither do the search engines. Getting your site to work properly is as important as getting people there.
Great Product – You can optimize your site till you’re blue in the face, but if you’re product stinks, you’re fighting an uphill battle. They say the quickest way to kill a bad product is to advertise it…
Measurement (Web Analytics) – Spending money without any way to track it is pointless. What’s more, you need analytics in place to help you refine the SEO you do execute.
The Resources You Need to Execute SEO
There are 2 paths to SEO: do-it-yourself or hiring an SEO consultant.
The choice between the two could fill several blog posts. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume you are looking for professional help.
A good organic search optimization agency will:
Do your keyword research
Make recommendations about your platform and information architecture
Address on-page code elements
Conduct a competitive and market analysis
Make specific content recommendations
Build and, possibly, execute a link strategy
You then have to execute that advice you paid so much for.
Oftentimes this is a hurdle for people who buy SEO services. With so many priorities clamoring for your attention, it’s easy to put off.
Make sure your marshal the right people together before the start of the project to convince them of the value of SEO.
Your key people will be:
The Developer – Someone will have to change your code and address server/platform issues. With apologies to the technology folks in the audience, these folks are usually the least inclined to understand the importance of SEO, but they’re absolutely essential to doing it right.
The Creative – Search engines are text readers. You will probably need to get more content onto your sites. This is going to piss of some artist. Best to suck up to them now and get them on your team.
The Copywriter – Somebody has to write all of that new content. What’s more, they have to do so in a search engine friendly way. A new way of writing + new things to write = another team member to persuade.
The Marketer – If this isn’t you, then it’s likely your colleague or boss. The marketer has to ensure everything is on-brand, and that includes the changes to the meta-data and content you’re going to recommend. Figure out the approval process and key concerns early.
Chose: Buy SEO Services or Something Else?
You can buy $25 worth of paid search. You can’t buy $25 worth of SEO.
In reality, you’re going to have some per hour, per project or per month fee to get sound SEO advice customized for your business.
Assuming you’ve addressed the fundamentals mentioned above and can convince the key team members to pitch in, you now have to ask yourself: is this the best time to invest in SEO services?
There are times when SEO is a no-brainer:
Pre-Launch – It is 10 times easier to change things in the design phase than during coding or after launch. What’s more, the education and research will also weave its way into all of your decisions the sooner you learn about SEO.
Starting Paid Search – It makes sense to coordinate paid and organic search marketing. Think about it: do you want to pay for clicks you could get for free? Shouldn’t buy words that will take you months to win?
You’ve Done Everything Else – Well, that just makes logical sense
It’s always better to start SEO sooner rather than later, but there’s often an opportunity cost with that choice. The opportunity you could be giving up is better email marketing, more paid search, affiliate expansion, upgraded user experience, multivariate testing… the list goes on.
You need to ask:
Do I have the cash flow to pay for natural search optimization when it could take 6-9months before I get that money back?
Can I execute the SEO recommendations in a timely fashion?
Are there minor site changes that I could address in 1-3 months that would produce immediate returns across all channels (e.g., shopping cart improvements)?
How much traffic and revenue would I have to generate to make this investment worthwhile?
I’m not trying to scare you away from SEO. It’s totally the opposite–I think SEO is vital and, frankly, amazing. It’s important to have realistic expectations about how and when SEO will pay off.
The point is that there’s a reason many people don’t succeed at SEO–they’re not willing to put in the effort and give it time to succeed.
Understanding what it takes to be prepared for SEO will help you understand when you should invest in it.
Let me turn the question back to you: how/when did you decided to focus on SEO?
Search engine giant Google is focusing its energies on developing free music downloads in China, as well as struggling to maintain the online advertising industry in the west.
Google is battling with Microsoft over its potential takeover of Yahoo!, which the search engine market leader claims would unfairly affect competition.
But in China, Google is also trying to secure a deal which would allow it to offer free music downloads from some of the world’s leading music companies.
The move is part of a strategic battle with Baidu.com, the online search engine which is currently dominating the Chinese market and causing some concern for Google.
Baidu.com gets a lot of its traffic from users searching for illegal music downloads and Google is hoping a legal, free service, would be able to prise some of the huge amounts of traffic onto its own sites.
The Chinese-based engine currently holds a 60 per cent share of the search market in China, compared to Google’s 26 per cent.
Internet users in the US watched a massive ten billion videos online in December, according to new figures from comScore.
The figures bode well for Internet Advertising companies, which are keen to develop this potentially lucrative market.
As expected, Google sites (including YouTube) received the most hits, with a total of 3.3 billion videos watched, representing 32.6 per cent of the total. Google was followed by Fox Interactive Media (with a 3.5 per cent share), Yahoo sites (3.4 per cent), Viacom Digital (2.3 per cent) and Microsoft (1.8 per cent).
Google’s dominance also partly explains why Microsoft is so keen to buy Yahoo, as together they would arguably be better-placed to take on Google.
“December represented a considerably strong month for online video viewing,” said comScore’s Erin Hunter.
“With the writer’s strike keeping new TV episodes from reaching the airwaves, viewers have been seeking alternatives for fresh content. It appears that online video is stepping in to help fill that void.”
On YouTube, 77.6 million US viewers watched 3.2 billion videos in December. Google is investigating various ways of implementing online advertising on the popular video sharing website.
Are you ready? There are no magic tricks or quick answers. I know this may sound crazy, but when you create your website pages you have to keep one very important thing in mind, the end user. KISS, keep it simple stupid will allow you too page rank in the top 5 search on any niche or keyword you are using.
Even when Google changes their algorithms you won’t be worried. These SEO techniques are not really fantastic, they just work. You will need to stick with the basics, these have worked for years, they work now and it is what the search engines want I feel there are two types of SEO people, 1. the first is simply setting up your website so the search engines will serve you when a potential customer types in your keyword, 2. the second is Search Engine Octopus.
This person constantly sits and tweaks their pages , not thinking about the end user. You don’t want to be the second SEO. We all want to be on the #1 page and listed with all the major search engines. Keywords are the bread and butter to your online success, but gathering a large number of keywords and then dumping them into your site will not work.
Relevant keywords and relevant content on your keyword is the key to success. Don’t build your pages using only your main keyword, search engines will also determine other relevant keywords, use variation keywords.
A reality check, use every possible keyword, one month that keyword may only have 300 searches, but the previous month it may have had over 1500. Here is another basic SEO technique often overlooked, site structure. We all do it including myself, create a couple of pages ftp them and then hope the search engines pick them up. Maybe later on you will add a couple of pages and hope for the best this is generic and wrong!
Want to see how a site should be properly structured?. Head over to Ebay. The key here is to concentrate on categories and not the menus on our site, use your keywords and create a skeleton structure of your website so that your keywords flow consistently. Another important part of getting listed in the search engines is the Title tag, get this wrong and you will lose a lot of traffic.
Remember the first two or three words should have your keyword in it, I also wouldn’t go over a maximum of 9 words. Try and create a catchy and inviting title, something that will appeal to the surfer, so you can get the click. Elaborate and make the title catchy, provide a solution for your customer to ensure the click.
I believe 99% of all webmasters shoot for the top ten keywords, certainly understandable to get a lot of traffic. But consider this, why not concentrate on the bottom of the list and work your way up, here you will want to try and focus on the targeted keywords for your industry. What you want to do is understand your main keyword and think logically.
Yes .it may have less people searching for them but at least they will be more accurate and highly targeted. Remember each page you create for your website will have it’s own value, so each page is keyword targeted. If your particular market has 50 keywords then by all means create 50 pages. Linking between sites is an crazy task, most webmasters will spend weeks searching for links and a lot of webmasters are very choosey with whom they exchange links with.
If you set up your site properly and it is established, you can let them come begging to you for links, the key here is to properly structure your site.
Does putting two losers together make a winner, or just one big loser?
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has declared that combining his company with Yahoo would make the internet marketplace more competitive by establishing a strong number two in search and search advertising.
Then again it, maybe it will just make a weak number two. Microsoft and Yahoo have both been leaders in their own fields but in search, they suck. Put them together and they will still suck, in a bigger way.
These days it’s search that matters and the customers are discerning about it. The key to success is not brand or scale but the quality of the algorithm, and Google’s is the best.
Maybe Microsoft and Yahoo together can invent a better search algorithm than Google, but it’s doubtful. They haven’t done it separately and anyway Google is now making so much money it is attracting the best programmers who are constantly refining the algorithm that Sergey Brin and Larry Page invented in 1995.
It was then called ‘BackRub’, named for the way the algorithm analysed the “back links” that point to a website. Now it’s called PageRank, after Larry Page, and although the algorithm has been refined and added to over the past ten years, at its heart the system still computes a recursive score for web pages based on the weighted sum of the other websites that link to them.
That was the insight of Brin and Page: that the number of links to a website that are generated by other human beings is a good way to measure relevance based on human concepts of importance.
The other advantage of Google was that it focused on search. That meant it has a beautifully simple website, with nothing but a good brand, a search field and – for the first few years at least – the number of web pages being indexed. That number passed a billion pages in April 2000, which made the Google search offering astounding and compelling.
In February 1994, a year before Brin and Page started creating their search algorithm, Yahoo’s founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, working in a trailer at Stanford University California, started organising their own web surfing into links that they saved as bookmarks. As the list of links got longer, they put them into categories and then sub-categories.
It was a pretty useful bunch of links, so they created a web page to make them easier to use and available to others. It was called ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web’. That soon became too long so they used an acronym: Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle – that is, Yahoo
Word spread fast around the internet and Yahoo had its first million hit day in the autumn of 1994, which translated to 100,000 unique users. In April 1995 Yang and Filo got $2 million from Sequoia Capital, which had seed-funded Apple Computers, Oracle and Cisco Systems, and they were away.
So Yahoo is a directory site that added search later, when the company bought the Inktomi search engine in 2002.
Inktomi was developed in 1995 by Eric Brewer, at the University of Berkeley, and put more emphasis on keyword density than external links. It was a sort of wholesale search, designed to power the search engines of other websites, including AOL. In 2003 Yahoo also bought Overture, another wholesale search business.
Microsoft, meanwhile, was sound asleep, lying on the soft bed of the cash it was making from its Windows operating system monopoly. It eventually used the Inktomi/Yahoo search engine in msn.com, but basically Microsoft was caught out by Google’s advance in the same way IBM was caught out by Paul Allen’s and Bill Gates’ PC revolution during the 1980s.
The only other major search engine that survived the shake-out that followed the tech wreck is Ask Jeeves, later renamed ask.com, developed by Garrett Greuner and David Warthen. They had the idea of users being able to search using plain English questions; it was pretty cool, but never really took off, although Ask is still one of the top four search engines.
So there are four major search engines, but it’s Google, daylight, and then the other three.
The reason Google dominates is that its algorithm is still the most efficient – it most quickly searches the most pages and sorts them better than the others. It’s true that its brand is powerful and the advertising model produces so much cash that the company is a juggernaut, but those things derive from the quality of the search engine.
Google now is the market. Search engine optimisation (SEO) means manipulating or subverting Google to get a better ranking, and Google spends a fortune trying to maintain the integrity of its results. For example, there’s a ‘sandbox’ that you sit in for a few months while Google’s web crawlers inspect your website to make sure it’s kosher.
Brin, Page, Yang and Filo have themselves proved that on the internet scale does not matter – they succeeded when their businesses were small.
One day someone will challenge Google, but it’s unlikely to be Steve Ballmer.
If you set yourself up properly, when users click through an ad for your product or company on another site, they end up on your main page. This is your chance to grab their attention and keep their attention. You’ll find plenty of tips for building, testing, and improving your site, but it all boils down to one word: focus.
Hard selling belongs on your main page, but it’s a special kind of hard sell. You must take your visitors by the hand and guide them to what you want them to do. In the days before the web, consumers simply read and/or watched ads, which marketers could at least imagine led smoothly and directly to a sale. But it’s quite rare for a person to go online, type a URL into a browser, visit that single site, accomplish a task, and leave the web completely.
This is what you’re up against when you create your main page. Your main page needs to grab your visitors’ attention, hold onto that attention while giving them what they want and expect, and persuade them to do what you want them to do: buy the product, sign up for the newsletter, what have you. In marketing, this is sometimes referred to as the three C’s: capture their attention, communicate the value of your offering, and close the deal.
A main page is actually a “second impression.” The first impression is the ad through which the visitor clicked to arrive at the main page. Since they left one page to go to another, it behooves you to make sure they know they arrived at the right place. Tell your visitors that the main page is relevant to what they clicked through. Use the same colors and logos if you can. Use the same title as you used for the original ad. If you made a particular offer in the ad, it should be clearly visible on your page. Some main pages that visitors arrive at through sponsored links on search engines even include search text: “You searched for Gibson guitar,” for example.
Once your visitors know they’re in the right place, it’s your job to keep them focused. Most people have a shorter attention span for online activities than they do for offline things. That’s even true for something as simple as reading. No matter how good your monitor is, it’s still much more enjoyable to read a book or magazine offline than it is to read online. This makes users restless; they’ll fidget, and fidgeting can mean they click away from your site if they’re bored.
You may or may not be aware, but Google has released a list of SEO do’s and dont’s that you should follow if you want any hope of being indexed and ranked in the search engines. Most SEO information is disputed, but when it comes from the BIG G’s mouth, you know it’s probably very true!
Ok, so maybe this isn’t breaking news – and although it’s been out for a while, Google has a small guide on what to do and what not to do when it comes to getting ranked in their glorious index. Again, while these are some common sense items, you’d be surprised at the amount of people that do not read it, and end up either suffering a drop in rankings, penalized, or banned from Google’s index all together.
I want to sum up the Do’s and Don’ts of Google’s guidelines to SEO best practices (not all of them, because some are extremely basic, so just the ones that you may have forgotten)
Have other sites link to yours (quality, relevant sites).
Submit a sitemap using your Google Webmaster Tools account.
Submit your site to quality, high authority directories in the appropriate category.
Make a site with text links and a clear hierarchy, and make sure every page is reachable by at least one static text link.
Create useful, unique, and clearly written content. Relevancy is key.
Make sure your TITLE tags and ALT tags are”descriptive and accurate” (see, even Google recommends this – told you I wasn’t BS’ing!)
Maintain clean HTML code.
Keep the outgoing links on a particular page under 100.
Make it easy for search bots to crawl your site without error.
Make use of the robots.txt file to limit crawling on pages that aren’t useful to visitors.
Make pages for users, not search engines. (It’s fine to optimize your page, but don’t do nasty spammy things just to get the search engine’s to look for it)
Don’t have any broken links on your site.
Don’t use hidden text or hidden links (people, doing that is soooo 2002, and will get you heavily penalized)
Don’t cloak or use “sneaky” redirects.
Don’t load pages with keywords or keyphrases. This is spam, and Google knows it.
Don’t send automated queries to Google.
Don’t create duplicate content. (This will kill your rankings most of the time)
Don’t create pages that install bad things (trojan’s, viruses, malware, etc..) – kind of a no brainer anyway.
If you participate in an affiliate program, don’t provide duplicate, run of the mill content. Provide useful, relevant content for the user.
DON’T participate in linking schemes!!! Bloggers pay attention to that one. So many of those viral linking posts go around, and they are just not good for business.
That’s why you rarely see the bigger A-list blogs take part, because they know it’s bad for rankings. Resist the temptation to gain 30 extra links overnight (do you really think Google doesn’t know what’s up with that, c’mon….).
So, what you just read comes from the horses mouth itself, and I personally agree that you can’t go wrong by following the above advice. I take it for granted sometimes that people know all of this stuff, but I see it every single day that people will still try to keyword stuff, white text on white background, cloak, and all sorts of nasty things. Rarely, there are a few that get away with this and achieve good rankings, however, those rankings don’t last long at all.
Google is all knowing, and will catch you eventually. You can bet on that.
To read the entire paper from Google, check it out here.
Looks like we have coursed a little stir within the SEO community in Canada,especially in the Winnipeg area where I new office is to open shortly, not before time may I add as Canadians spend more time online than any other country, have more connected households than anyone else and most are still in the dark ages when it comes to online marketing for there business.
Yes a new office in Winnipeg, another soon in BC and newly trained staff are ready to bring the world of search engine optimization and online marketing to the Canuck’s.
It’s going to be tough, these guys have heard it all before, they have either been ripped off by some website design company who profess to be SEO’s, been shafted by individuals who think >SEO Winnipeg is being listed on top of Google AdWords and the list goes on, we have heard some horrendous stories within the last 6 month’s in Winnipeg while setting up the new global office.
All is not lost, we have been inundated with requests from every Province, why, because we get the job done right, we get results and we get return on investment, not hard to work out really, that’s all that anyone could ask, after all is that not what they pay us for.
So if your in need of an SEO company in Canada or search engine optimization in Toronto, a SEO consultant in Vancouver, a trusted SEO company in Winnipeg, SEO services in Calgary, website optimization in Montreal or an seo expert in Quebec, please give us call, it’s free and you have nothing to lose.
We work with company’s large and small from $100k – $100 million turnover, be the best you can, make that call today. SEO Winnipeg 204 661 5295
Below is list of names of some of the perceived experts in seo and Internet marketing,
Aaron Wall, Bill Slawski, Jim Boykin, Jeremy Schoemaker, Jill Whalen, Bruce Clay Barry Schwartz, Danny Sullivan, Dave Naylor and others.
I am sure most people in the industry will have come across or heard of these people, what makes them who they are? I personally know a few of them myself and from what I have seen do great work, I would love to see some answers on this please,
but Im guessing here,
but could it be fees they charge for there work?
results they achieve for clients?
or just be that they seem to be at every SEO marketing Internet show, they get out there and like to be seen?
Question, I know one so called SEO Expert, there retainer for consultancy is $300,000 per year to each client, they have other experienced seo’s in the company who work for a lot less.
They where making $2 million a year in the early 2000′s on affiliate websites.
They worked with both Yahoo & Google on PPC in the early days helping them improve the products we know today.
Google even paid an out of court settlement in 2004 to this person after a 2 year high court battle, along with a gagging order included not to divulge information about the company, it algorithms, its workings etc before the Big G’s floatation. I know that they are now free to speak if they wish, but will they?
Today they still work with some of the best known companies worldwide.
Who is this person?
Ideas are a plenty, do you know them?
Some people may be surprised to find out, they rarely ever post on forums, keep a reasonably low profile, don’t show up at shows and don’t write books.
All will be revealed in 2008
Let me have your thoughts
SEO, link building, website optimisation, article submission, directory submission, blog posting, the list goes on.
How many times have you sat at your PC and thought “OK I’m going to do some SEO for my site”6 hours later, you are still sitting there, your head hurts, your stomach is empty, and you have done nothing.
Search Engine Optimization is a frustrating time consuming job. You can spend weeks working on SEO for your site, and your rankings are still no where near where you want them to be.
The most frustrating thing about SEO is you cannot really see the results of your efforts. It may take several weeks, or even months, before you see any change in your search engine rankings. So how do you know that what you are doing today, is going to benefit your site 3 months down the line? Well unless you are an SEO expert you don’t.
So what is the answer? Well the answer is to outsource your SEO work to someone that specializes in SEO. Would you consider rebuilding the engine on your car? No, you would probably employ a car mechanic to do it for you. So do the same with your SEO.
How do you know which SEO companies are good at SEO, and which are just good at talking? Testimonials are one way. Don’t just read the testimonials on their site, as most, if not all of them, are made up. Ask for telephone numbers of their clients and speak to them directly. Or ask them to show you results that they have achieved for their clients. If they will not give you this information just move on to someone who will.
A good SEO company will tell you exactly what they are going to do for you. They will try to explain SEO in a format that you will understand, not try to baffle you with tech speak.
Take SEO Company Fresh Traffic for example, they are an SEO company based in Globaly with offices in the UK, USA & Canada. They believe that the key to their success is customer service. They give their customers free SEO resources to help them understand what SEO is all about.
Look for SEO companies like Fresh Traffic. Companies that are not afraid to explain SEO in lay mans terms. If you have a better understanding of what is involved, then you are in a better position to decide what you need. It is then down to the SEO company that you choose, to deliver the results that you are after.
Choosing an SEO company is very a difficult job, there is no doubt about that, but if you take a few of these pointers on board, then you should be better equipped to negotiate the minefield that is SEO.