Tag Archives: seo

Beginners Rules For The Web

There are a great deal of rules that determine how to conduct yourself and your business online, and make no mistake, the rules for SEO are some of the least flexible of the bunch. Due to the nature of the web being so flexible as a whole, it’s common to see new Search Experts crop up and whither away in a very short time. There are a lot of myths, misconceptions, and just plain bad advice out there online about search engine optimization, and with that in mind allow me to offer just a little bit of insight.

bounce-rateFor all you internet beginners out there, you need to realize that just because you can find a template and put it online, it doesn’t mean you’ve optimized a site for search, let alone basic web use. You need to start with the basics of building and designing a website, clean coding with a navigation menu that is simple to use and crawl-able by bots. One of the more simple methods we use to get across to a new client when we tell them they need a new website, is when we show them the output of a basic spider and it returns a blank page regarding their website. If you don’t make it visible, don’t expect it to rank, regardless of how much time and effort you spend on optimizing it.

One of the necessary components to being able to rank online is by having quality content on your pages. Well written and keyword rich for both the search engines and for your visitors which come to your site, you need to be able to quickly and clearly deliver your message and call to action. This is where some of the time intensive processes come into play, because our goal as SEO’s is to deliver visitors to your site primarily, if you’re unable to convert those visitors however it’s irrelevant how much traffic you get. Your call to action needs to be obvious on your landing pages so that when someone arrives at your site, they know precisely what you want them to do. If you’re into selling merchandise, make your sales or features prominent for example, with contrasting text or images so it stands out to your viewer. You only have around 3-5 seconds to get your message across to the user, so you need to do it quick and clean.

The one last thing you need to remember as a new denizen of the web, is that just because there is the world at your fingertips and the code can do wild and incredible things, doesn’t mean you should use it. The more complicated you make your site, the more you invite something to go wrong, whether it’s with search or with conversions, and when things go wrong online it can be a game stopper for a business. Keep your site simple, and keep your message simple, and you will begin converting your new visitors almost as fast as they’re coming in.

The SEO That Isn’t

We get some fairly interesting calls at times here regarding optimization, and every now and then it can make us shake our heads here in the office. We’ve had some site owners contact us for help, detailing to us how they responded to an online ad to help improve their position for as little as $25 – and when we take a look at their history we find thousands of links pointed at their site that have nothing to do with their market. One of the interesting calls we’ve received involved a business who had questions about their on page optimization strategy. They wanted to make sure that they had done everything correctly, and wanted us to check the site over before it went live – note that there is no site yet, the url lands on a generic coming soon page. Once I went about describing how we handle all aspects of the online marketing strategy, I was told one of the strangest things, the site wasn’t online as of yet, but they already had their off site marketing setup with thousands of links pointed at the address. I just succinctly advised them to check into the Google and Bing best practices guides and follow them to the letter – what I didn’t include was that they needed all the help they could get if they were already pushing links at a non-existent site.

Web DesignWe won’t even get started about the calls from agencies offering to help us with our SEO strategy – we usually follow their first sentence with “Do you know what we do?” and from there they excuse themselves from the call.

It’s a wonder sometimes that anyone out there could possibly trust someone who sells themselves as an SEO, and it gets even harder at times when we come along with our skills and services and people balk at the idea of our contractual cost. There are thousands of pages and sites out there who are ready and willing to sell you an optimization package for the low price of only $150, but what will that really get you? In our experience it will get you a basic Adwords account with a single running ad (see you’re on page one for your terms!), a report which was generated by a free online tool that checks for basic website design, and a few hundred, or thousand links pointing to your site that have little or nothing to do with your marketplace. In return you’ll end up with a very temporary rise in placement, followed with a crash back down, hopefully not further than you were previously.

Search engine optimization isn’t the type of game you get into with the search engines where you can just saunter your way to the top and cement yourself there. It’s a constant battle uphill to get you to your desired position, and an even longer one to keep you there. Because you see, when you finally reach the top of your market, and you have no where left to go, remember where you came from and realize, everyone is going to try and catch you. Just a funny side note I just saw, Bing comes up as a misspelled word, while Google does not. Guess there is still some work for them to do there.

On Site Optimization – Covering Your Basics

There is a huge list of the things to do, and the things you don’t do when you’re working on online marketing. As an example, you don’t send out thousands of spam emails everyday just to try and get your web address out there, it’s a good way to quickly make a terrible name for your business. I’ve written a number of blogs about the steps to follow in order to meet the quality guidelines that the search engines advise you on. I have also written about what not to do to your website, as there are many mistakes that you can make to run on the wrong side of search, some of which can be entirely accidental.

seoEvery time we get a phone call from someone asking about our SEO services it is a unique conversation and experience. Every person and website needs a different approach when it comes to improving their presence and conversions. We’ve had the occasional conversation with someone on the phone for example who has no need of our long term organic services once we’ve learned their goal. Sometimes it has been a problem of cost with a small or very new business, and there have even been times where we can’t accept someone as a client due to already having one in their niche market. That is one of the points which we don’t waver on here at Freshtraffic, we will only take on a single client per niche, because otherwise we would end up working against ourselves. We have a long list of clients who have been with us for a few years, all of whom retain our services because we’re the best in town.

Due to the way that we operate ourselves here, we have a handful of requirements which if they are unable to be met, can make our job difficult, or depending on the severity, impossible. As an example, we require either the FTP access of the CMS access to be able to process on site changes in order to make sure you’ve got the basics covered on your site. Very brief example would be if you sell widgets, and all of your content talks about cogs and widgets working together, we would need to help you recreate your content so you become more relevant to your market and target audience. All of the changes that we come up with are brought to you, and together we decide on the best course of implementation. Once we have the basics covered and your content tweaked, then we start to watch your traffic flow and your conversions. Based on how visitors conduct themselves on your site, we can begin to determine where your problem areas may lie, and then take the steps to correct those issues as well as continually working on your sites message and delivery.

Building up your website to make sure you’re capturing and retaining your visitors attention is only the beginning of your online branding journey. After all of the on site work is completed, we begin the long process of off site work, and from there your rise to the top.

Delivering the SEO Goods

When you’ve taken the time and put the cost out to have a website built for your business there are a ton of variables to consider and decisions to be made. I’ve covered a number of those multiple times through our blog, but as I looked back over some of the material I’d written I realized I hadn’t really made clear a certain point, the point of how important the time factor is.

leaderI’ve discussed a number of times how important it is to trust in your online campaigns and realize that web traffic doesn’t just magically appear over night. It is a process to get your site listed legitimately in organic search without trying to find or exploit a viral niche, and it takes time for the bots to properly scour your content and make a decision at that point where you should list. Those few points are deliverables that are the responsibility of your in house SEO or your contracted SEO agency. A very major deliverable on your end as a client however, is a matter of time as well, as in the longer you take to deliver the harder our life gets as search engine optimization experts.

As an example, if you’re working your way into a competitive market and your SEO is asking for content, it’s extremely important that you do not sit on your hands for this. You need to get that content created and delivered as soon as absolutely possible so we can dig into it and make sure it fits in with the rest of the scope of your campaign. The longer you sit on a request for content, the longer and more difficult our job will become, especially in highly competitive niche markets, and what makes our job harder takes longer for your site to climb the ranks. The point of being on the ball when asked for new or updated content is only the tip of the iceberg, though it goes without saying that you should also make sure that your other contract obligations are upheld in a timely manner. The search engines throw out hundreds of optimization tweaks within a year, and it would be an utter loss to both of our businesses if a request goes unfulfilled. Here at Fresh we’re constantly watching your site, for any crawl errors from Webmaster tools for example, and we always make a point of monitoring the news just in case something slips into the algorithm late in the day. We do everything we can to make sure that you’re ranking as high as possible based on your current website and it’s content, just make sure that you deliver on what we need when we ask for it. Lost time can never be found again, and a day on the internet is a year on the street.

Monthly SEO Costs and Their Value

Every now and then I try and make it a point to go over the major talking points which seem to come up when we hammer out a contract with a new client. There are some very specific points which usually are the conversation starters, and the biggest issue that often comes up is the monthly cost associated with an SEO contract.
Winnipeg SEO CompanyThere are some important facts to keep in mind where optimization is concerned, it is a time intensive project which requires constant tweaking, updating and monitoring. Once we’ve performed your on page changes, we need to begin work on your off page campaign where we scour the web looking for highly relevant websites to try and work out backlinks for your site. And for every link that we can build for your site, it adds another factor that we need to keep tabs on. Off site issues include managing Adwords, your social pages and efforts and working on protecting your brand. Your name is everything in business, and if your brand becomes tarnished, you either dig your way out, rename your business and start over, or you can give in. If you’re genuinely great at your job, then none of these points should be a concern to you, as your client interaction and the brand monitoring can help you identify any issues and do some damage control.

That’s only a snapshot of the always on SEO management that we as an agency need to keep in our cross hairs for every single client that we have. As far as on site needs and changes are concerned, we always have to keep watch on your positions and the way that the search game is always changing. The way that the search engines are constantly shifting means that we need to keep tabs on the news and the way that the algorithm shifts, and make sure that we adjust your site to make sure you don’t mysteriously disappear from the results.

And to be perfectly blunt, one of the main reasons we tie a monthly cost to our services, is because of who we are, and who the man behind the company is. You pay to have the ability to pick up the phone and talk, one on one with a team who has a former Google exec at the helm. Our time is valuable, and if you like the idea of being able to pick up the phone and go over your analytics and site traffic with the leading search experts in Winnipeg, we’re gonna charge you. Don’t be bothered about the total cost at the end, concentrate on your sales and conversions and before you know it, you’ll have more business than you know what to do with.

Carefully Manage Your Backlinks

There are many steps to the optimization game, there is the content management side of things, social optimization which takes a lot of hands on time to properly handle, and there is the link building side of the equation. Just like when you work your content to be readable and highly relevant to your niche, you also have to make sure to properly build your back link profile. The level of detail needed to properly sculpt your profile is thankfully left to us SEO experts to make sure it’s done properly. If you would like to try it on your own for some unknown reason though, there are a few rules you need to keep in mind when searching around the web for a back link.

link-buildingFirst and foremost one of the largest mistakes you could make when working on link building is to assume a back link from someone in your market or niche. Just because someone may share a complimentary aspect of your market, does not necessarily mean they would automatically like to link with you. By this point in the age of the web, it is thankfully a mostly lost tactic in the back link game. Occasionally you will receive an email saying that a website has created a link to your website, the very first thing you need to do is check the integrity of their website. If necessary webmaster tools can be used to disavow a link to your site if for some reason a request for removal has been ignored.

One of the fastest growing methods of contact between webmasters in the last couple of years has started to come down to social networks. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ there are more than a billion social signals out there with Facebook alone with which to get your name and address out there. You can create your content and flog it under your own banner and work to garner back links based on your own quality. One of the biggest reasons to build your back link profile this way is you are able to say with certainty that the credit for the links is due to your hard work, and not the result of spam emails. Social networking and building your business through the social channels of the web is one of the newer ways to generate buzz, mostly in the local scene but it is a highly effective form of marketing limited only by the time you are willing to put into it.

And one last important tactic to keep in mind when working on your back link profile, is do not fall for some of the contat emails which offer to sell you packages of links. In a best case scenario the links will be useless to your campaign, and at worst, it may serve to sink your website in the rankings. The negative side of this equation is much greater than the positive, as anything worth doing online is worth doing correctly, it can be difficult to recover from a bad link profile so it is best to stay away from easy solutions like an emailed offer.

Be Careful With SEO

closelookEvery now and then there is a whipped up frenzy on the web and blogs about the dangers of SEO agencies and experts, and that the game is rigged so that unless you pay for advertising you may as well be lost on the web. While there is always someone out there trying to make a quick buck, even just a little bit of research can help clear your conscience.

When you are approached by an agency to help your company with SEO, there are a handful of basic checks and balances you can use to decide whether or not it is worth your time, and your money, to accept their services. One of the first things you can, and should do when contacted by someone professing to be SEO experts, is to find out what their website address is. Seek them out and have a look at their website for yourself, does it look like the type of website that search professionals would use? Their message should be clear on their site, and their skills in online marketing should be obvious. Ideally you should be able to perform a search for the terms you find on their site, and find them listed in the top of page one, for most if not all of them. After all, if they are experts at SEO, it should be a simple affair to find them in search.

If they are not apparent on their website, you should be able to also ask for a list of referrals from existing clients of theirs. If they have done their job well enough, there should be no problems with providing a list of clients or testimonials, that are able to confirm their skills as an online marketing firm. Search engine optimization is much more than just being able to get your site listed in organic or paid search listings, they should also have been able to demonstrate they can also assist with improving conversions on their clients websites.

A very telling point as to the type of SEO you’re dealing with as well, is unfortunately one of cost. Real website optimization is a time intensive project, and not one that is a short term solution. It takes its time to work, and if done properly can help position your site with a positive gain in ranking. To have an SEO agency properly help your rankings, it will not come at a small cost. If the price seems to be too good to be true for improved search positions, then it likely is. So if someone has approached you and offered a one shot at being able to improve your ranks for only a minimal cost be very wary of their services.

Your website is your storefront on the internet, and if you engage the wrong agency or expert to try and improve your listings, you may end up where you least want it – removed from the index.

Malware Infected Search Results

Google is the biggest fish in the pond, of that there is no doubt as they retain somewhere north of 65% of all online search activity. There are others in the search game, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Blekko, all of which have their own little piece of the pie and serve their own version of the internet they have indexed. It has never been a surprise to see Google the target of anti-trust suits, targeted negative ads, and lawsuits over some really silly topics, and yet despite all of those things it is still the most widely used search engine on the web.

viralOne of the major issues that competitors and detractors of the search engine enjoy bringing up, is the level of spam and even malware that searchers can sometimes find in the search results delivered by Google. A recent survey however, has turned up with some interesting results regarding the malware side of the equation at least. The most often touted second most used search engine out there, Bing, has come up on the wrong side of the malware results side. While it’s entirely true that Google delivers a great deal more search results in total, it is the Bing results which have the higher rate of dangerous links attributed to them. How bad can it really be though? Bing was recorded at having nearly five times as many malware links as compared to the results pages that Google delivers, and Yandex, which is the Russian equivalent of Google, gives up 10 times the bad links.

All of the search engines that were tested were found to consistently removing malware from their results pages, it just turns out that Google is doing something just that much better than everyone else. It came up that every search engine was doing all that it could to handle the malware pointed at it, but because each search engine is targeted in different ways, then the levels of malware will differ. The process of detecting websites serving malware hasn’t changed so much as the process for delivering them has. Malware programmers aren’t typically the most rules abiding bunch to begin with, so they are always looking for ways to circumvent the safe guards put in place by the search engines. As always, practice safe search and if a link seems too good to be true in the search results, it very likely is.

Own Your Brand Entirely

As an online business, you need to work hard at getting your position cemented within the SERPs, hopefully with the end goal hopefully that you’re a recognizable brand both online and offline. It is a long road to work at gaining a high position within your relevant ranks, but it’s also not impossible to completely own the results pages for your brand, and with a lot of hard work and a little luck, you can easily dominate branded search.

leaderYour first stop, as it should always be with branding, is with a strong AdWords campaign. There are a number of reasons you need to take the step to owning your own brand with AdWords, one of the main points being, it’s your brand. Any ads that are on that page should all be sent back to your website and no one elses. You’ll want to focus your campaign with exact match keywords and phrases so you can keep the costs down, and while their may be some competition initially you’ll push out the interlopers purely by being more relevant to the exact match settings of your branding campaign. Over time your costs to maintain a branded AdWords campaign will drop, and it will cost you a fraction of what it took to initially build up your position. What you’ll earn by owning your brand in AdWords is a higher than expected conversion rate from your PPC campaign, especially if you make sure to have your landing pages ready to make that conversion possible once the visitor arrives.

The bigger trick, and a more difficult one to earn, is owning the organic listings for your brand. Again though, just like with AdWords just because it’s difficult does not mean that it’s impossible. But just like with building your relevancy and authority with any organic search, focusing on a branded term will eventually pay off. Having the AdWords positioned and fully owned by your brand will help with your organic positions, as you’ve already had to develop the content and relevance to list in paid search. Expanding on your overall site will help your case with organic, and if you keep your quality of content as high as you needed initially over time you’ll soon have an entire branded results page, dedicated wholly to you and your business.

Whether you’re going for a pay per click campaign to get your branding started, or you want to invest the time into building a strong organic position you need to identify what your goal is from the beginning. One of the most common mistakes you can make when you have your business online is to not have a clear, defined goal or purpose. This leads the search engines to try and figure out what it is you do and who you are, and all the while you should be doing it yourself.

Questions To Ask Your SEO

When we engage a new client in SEO, we always expect to be asked a number of questions, all of them of varying importance. We’ve been asked the practical things like “can you guarantee results” and we’ve been asked some that come off the wrong way like “can you make my site take over -competitors- results”. Search engine optimization is a process, it is also a skill set that takes years to properly develop, and there are some very important questions that you should be asking yourself when you approach an SEO company, or are approached by one.

closelookOne of the basic questions to ask should be of their awareness to the Penguin and Panda updates and how their penalties can affect a website. Within those two major updates, there are all of the smaller ones which have happened, most in the last year or so and you should have warning bells going off in your head if the agency you’re speaking with has no knowledge of them. Things like the exact match domain update, or the changing sizes of the results pages from 10 down to as little as 6 or 7 on a page, any SEO worth their chops will be able to answer those questions, and others you may have without any issue. Search optimization is a bit of a jack of all trades type job, where you need to have at least a grasp of web coding practices. Knowing how to properly fix code errors within a web page can actually help rank a website, just because you’ve taken the time to correct a potential spidering error, allowing the bots to access your entire site. Your SEO company should also be able to handle properly redirecting pages or an entire site if necessary, and where and when to use 301, 302, and even 404 codes to shape the user experience, and the bot interaction on your site.

Social media optimization is one of the newest buzz words in marketing, and while it is an increasingly more important factor to your optimization efforts. It actually has less to do with the actual act of search engine optimization, and more to do with the interaction with your clients and visitors. By having an active conversation with your customers and visitors, it indirectly shows the search engines that your site has activity on it, and it lends to the authority of your website. It’s the relationship with your visitor base that can allow you to garner legitimate, high quality backlinks which all give benefits to your positioning in the results pages.

And one of the most important questions you need to ask any agency, whether you’ve contacted them or they have contacted you, is how involved you will be in the optimization process. The answer should always be something along the lines “entirely” or “every step of the way” because it’s your brand, your website, and your online image. When we pick up a new client, we make it abundantly clear that while we will not creat your content, we will help you mold and shape your content to deliver your brand and message properly – with the end goal of ranking your site higher in the search engines.