Tagged with " website optimization"
Recently Google went and turned on their own tool which enabled website owners to disavow selected backlinks coming to their site. Great tool, that allows a diligent site owner to take control over who links to them. The process is fairly basic as to the steps to follow, you create a text file which you upload to your webmaster tools account with the backlinks you’d like to have disavowed and voila, supposedly case closed.
It seems however, that some people aren’t content with the way the system works. After submitting his disavow list, and resubmitting a reconsideration request they were greeted with the advisory that there was still some bad links pointing to his site. The timeline with which this webmaster is unhappy with, has been a month since their initial submission of their disavowed links. There are a couple of theories about why there are still some problems, but there are also a handful of points that all webmasters who use the disavow link tool need to bear in mind.
A primary point you need to think of when using the disavow link tool, is that it is not an instant or a quick fix tool to any and all back links you might want to remove. Google has data centers all over the globe, and with that it has a number of different versions of your website at any given time. As odd as it may sound, it’s like using a collation system when working on a project through various stages of completion, so when you’re finished you can see what your steps were all the way through. Just like you could look at version 2 of your project development and have an idea of where you were, each data center will have a slightly different version of your site and it’s backlinks. It takes time for any kind of a clean up request to propagate through the entire system.
A second major point that needs minding, is you need to understand that just because you’ve submitted the disavow list, and/or asked the offending back links to be removed, it doesn’t mean it’ll happen quickly (as per the first point) or at all. The tool funtions much like asking another site owner to remove a link to your site, it’s a request, and if it happens you have no control over how quickly it does.
It has been about a year since Google began encrypting the search data automatically for it’s signed in users, which has crept up in the search metrics to be a rather hefty portion. As it has turned out, almost 40% of the keyword results to a group of 400+ websites has returned the ‘not provided’ Google Analytics.
The 40% statistic of ‘not provided’ is just an average sampling of what has been found, some sites reported as high as a 60% sampling of the returned value. As a user of the web, on the surface it looks like a great feature that being signed into your Google account does not disclose how you searched for a site, but as someone who works daily on the web has been a slight hinderance. A very basic break down of how, as marketers, we would use search metrics to handle our site traffic is:
keywords you searched
page you landed on
does content match
did you stay on the page
That’s just a very basic run down of how we use the information that is now hidden to Analytics users. Now that Analytics users are getting the returned value of ‘not provided’ keyword for as much as 40% of their search results, it makes it tougher for them to discern visitor flow through to their website.
It sounds on the surface like a win for user privacy and control of your information, but in reality it makes targeted marketing campaigns much more difficult. Think of it in terms of shotgun marketing versus precisely tuned, instead of finding exactly what you’re looking for in your search results page, you have to start playing the back and forth game. Click a result, if it’s not what you want, search again and try again. It can make the process much more drawn out than it should be.
We’re firm believers that you choose the right tool for the job, and that’s why here at Fresh I am not a web designer. I can optimize a site, I can make it run like it’s on lightning and clean and organize code to an point of near OCD. Design a site however, and I fail horribly in the aesthetic aspect. It’s at that point that we bring in a proper designer to create the product image, and I take it from there.
It is very important that we do this too, as just as it’s a time consuming process to work the optimization to a proper level, so is the design of a site, all the way down to the color scheme. Color isn’t so much as a deciding factor in the case of organic search optimization, but you need to consider what visitor you’re building your site for. People, not crawlers are what is going to bring you the return on your website investment, and if a visitor is immediately turned off by the aesthetic of your site and clicks that back button, you can just as well chalk it up to a negative mark to the search engine results pages. If visitors don’t like spending time on your site, it won’t matter if you have the best content in the world, they won’t link back to it and you won’t build relevance which won’t help drive you up the results. It’s a circular issue, and it can all come down to a simple website trait, even just your color scheme.
It’s been offline for a great while, but anyone who used the web 10 years ago remembers the visual atrocity that was the Geocity personal pages. Gif laden with pixel graphics and flashing banners, it was a difficult task to navigate through them to find what content you might happen to be looking for at the time. I’m sure there are enough people out there who remember trying to read yellow text on a green background a time or two. The web has thankfully matured to a much better point, with high resolution graphics and some vastly talented designers coming up with some incredibly detailed and interactive websites.
So when you’re working on your image of your website, remember to keep things easy on the eyes. You can be stylish and still be functional, make your site easy to navigate and read. Make sure your images and graphics blend in naturally with your site and try and stick to color schemes that don’t assault your senses. It seems like such a trivial point when you think of the bigger picture, but even just the colors of your website can drive your site around on the results pages.
After putting in extensive time and effort into procuring a website and filling it with great content, it’s then that the single most important step you can take online needs to take place. Your search engine optimization efforts – do you hire the professionals, or do you try to take care of it in house. In case you’re asking, the right answer is always hire the professionals, but, if you do decide to take on more than just the basics of good design, there are some pitfalls you need to be aware of.
One of the primary steps you need to consider with a new website if you had one previous, is what to do with all of those old links and content. The right answer, is to properly 301 redirect them and make sure that you’re tieing everything together properly. If you don’t, you’ve basically destroyed any kind of history and relevancy you may have already built with the search engines. Just because you’re revamping your image and/or your marketing drive, doesn’t mean you immediately toss out what you had previous, think of your old site and links your bedrock. If you just toss it to the wind you’re cutting your legs out from under you.
Also in the same line of thinking, just because you may be the big fish in the pond for your industry, that means little or nothing on the search engines. Even if you’ve been the key player for the last 10 years, don’t automatically assume that you know how your current and prospective clients might try and search to find you. Proper keyword research is absolutely imperative in being able to be properly indexed and found online. Just like in the previous example, you’d be selling your site short if you don’t do it right.
Don’t be lazy and take shortcuts, whether it means in your website or in your optimization efforts. If you’ve hired someone to take care of your SEO for you (as you should) then make sure to get periodic updates from them so you can have an idea as to how you’re progressing online. It’s in our best interest to do our absolute best for you, because great ROI for you means great ROI for us, it goes both ways. If you’ve chosen to go your own way and try and perform SEO on your own, be extremely mindful that there are hundreds of ways to get caught up, even accidentally, in the search web. If you don’t know how to navigate through the myriad of mazes that is the search engine optimization process, then you should know enough to call in the big guns.
My last point has to do with the idea of being lazy, and not really knowing what you’re doing, but I won’t elaborate on it a whole bunch as the answer is very simple. Links – if you don’t have the time or the skill to properly build them, do not assume you can buy them. You never buy links.. ever.
Recently Google confirmed that another Panda Update has happened. Worldwide, the update will impact only about 0.4% of queries that a regular user might notice, in the US that number reaches around 1.1%. This latest update makes the 21st confirmed Panda Update by Google and while it can leave site owners a bit leery, there are a few things that you can do to help your site.
One of the simplest things that you can do for your online position is to create a dialogue between you and your customers. Keeping them apprised of developments in your business or your product, and encouraging discussion. It can lend your site ongoing, timely stuff to encourage the Google algorithms that feature content based on freshness.
What this can do is attract your audience to interact with you. User interaction signals like a comment discussion, can help your site gain higher prominence in Google local results. Having an active blog can also develop into more subscribers and frequent visits, and generally make a site/business appear more friendly and open. Blogging enables you to rank in Blog Search results as well as assisting with regular keyword results. Ultimately your goal, is gaining more prominent positions in your local search result.
An added benefit of blogging is it provides you with your own voice, in case anyone ever tries to attack your company online. You can think of writing your own blog as a linchpin of proactive online reputation management. Because where the internet is concerned, it’s forever and once it’s out there anyone can find it. This is also your simplest route into the social media market, as you can develop your own Facebook fan page, Google+ page and a Twitter feed, and link your blog directly to it. This provides your business with a solid bedrock for developing your own, unique social media presence. Using your blog as a feed source, you can use it to actually reduce your workload by simply adding content in one place and having it show up in your various social media pages if that’s what you want.
In the online digital world that we’re moving towards, there are a lot of intangible elements that can leave you wanting for more. Are my documents really safe to be stored only in a cloud service? How can I discerne how my visitors interact with my website? Is it possible for me to work out a precise return on investment for my SEO and PPC (pay per click) campaigns?
With there being so many extra variables, it’s difficult to acurately answer those types of questions, as each case is unique. Some cloud services are much more reliable than others for example, while even the biggest and best companies don’t sell themselves as having 100% uptime. Because where the web is concerned, it’s still has more than enough unknown variables affecting performance. There has been software, which reports assumptions of how visitors interact with your website for example, basing it’s calculations on mouse point duration and location. It takes the clicks that users perform on your website and use the aforementioned mouse position to determine your highest activity zones on your website. It’s still a best guess scenario at any rate, as it can only assume that each visitor to your site is actively engaged, and not tabbed out of the screen leaving you with a false positive.
Return on investment, is also one of those intangible variables that can be difficult to distinguish where search engine optimization is concerned. Pay per click is different in that you are actively bidding on your traffic and visitors, banking on their impulses to make conversions. Google Adwords for example can give you a calculated percentage of what each click through visitor was worth for you, so you can determine if your Adwords cost is justified, so you can make a solid decision on that investment. SEO is a tougher variable to work with, as your site content has to be that much better. Once you’ve worked on your campaign well enough to rank organically, you need to then work on your content to determine if it will elicit the response you want, whether it’s a newsletter sign up, email address or a direct purchase. There are a handful of sites which are built to help you work out the return on your SEO investment, some of which run with a hefty price tag. Organic optimization is the business of bringing your website relevant traffic, if your content is well done, you’ll convert to the type of result you’re looking for. Sometimes the information you’re seeking, is only a few clicks away, and you will learn how you’re being found.
Now that Halloween is officially over, the shopping rush of Christmas is going to begin. Each and every year there is billions of dollars to be made online as more and more often shoppers are using the web to avoid the holiday masses in store. Here in Canada we have about 1 in 5 gifts purchased online, and while that might seem like a sizable amount, the reality is we’re well behind the pack.
A great quote about our current state of online shopping:
E-commerce could be a much, much larger trend in Canada if consumers had more places to shop online.
Rafe Petkovic, Google Canada
In terms of saturation, Canada is 5 to 6 years behind the rest of the world for online shopping, much where the UK was in 2006/07. There is an upside to our situation however, and it exists mainly because everyone else already did the work, all we would have to do is copy it, for lack of a better description. Can we improve our online offerings and move more towards the digital world with the rest of the world? Absolutely, all of the trials and tribulations with building the online shopping centers have already been ironed out.
There is a downside however, and it’s one that we frequently meet here at Fresh. The business owners who are resistent to change, growth, and adapting the online world and business model. When Jerry opened the offices here in Winnipeg, he was often met with resistence when outlining a new plan for an online presence even though the methods are proven successful in much tougher markets. In 2011 in the US, 70% of Internet users were online shoppers and for the UK that number was 82.5%. Canada was sitting at just under 57% of users were online shoppers, and the only one stopping that number from going up are the business owners.
The steps that are needed to be made to have a successful online shopping destination are not small ones, and make no mistake about the cost, because you get what you pay for. If you try and go cheap on a website or a shopping portal, just to get your name in the game, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you shipping issues, security issues or problems with payment processing. It’s a job that needs to be monitored, that needs to be guided and needs a proven professional company to do it right. Christmas is fast approaching, it’s only 7 weeks away, are you ready or able to properly serve your customers?
Search engine optimization as new as it is as an industry, still seems to raise the ire of in house company marketers. When a company has an advertising budget to use to be able to drive people to their business, whether it’s on or offline, it’s where online marketing becomes a problem.
The reason it becomes a problem, is because crafty marketers will try their hardest to think outside the box and find that niche strategy that lands the large influx of new customers or clients. One of the newer trends to online marketing is the idea that social marketing is thee benchmark requirement now, if you’re not using social then you’re losing out. The truth of the matter though? If you really, really wanted to you could entirely skip social media marketing and do just fine. Social media marketing and trying to take advantage of the potential there in isn’t the next big thing in the sense that if you’re not doing it you automatically lose, all it really does is give you another means to communicate with your customers/clients/consumer base.
It works like this, you set your business up with a Facebook page, a Google+ page and maybe a Twitter account, add the maintenance of these pages into your already packed full scheduled needs. Now you need a dedicated person to manage these pages, whether it’s posting a flash sale for example, or maybe it’s to respond to some criticism that’s trying to be pushed onto your brand or business image. This is a full time job, in and of itself, and if mismanaged can lead to negative repurcussions with your image directly offline. Now, is having a social media presence a positive aspect for your brand/business? Yes, but it needs to be managed, and no it is not required to be found in the results pages.
If you’re thinking about making the plunge into the social sector, ask yourself these few questions before you do, you may end up saving yourself a large amount of time and headaches down the road.
1)Do our customers ask for our Facebook/Twitter/Google+ name?
2)Is our customer base shrinking because of the lack of a social space?
3)Do we have too many testimonials and positive reviews to post on our website?
4)Are we missing out on conversions due to lack of a social presence?
There’s merit to the web search team and the tidbits of news they put out everyday. Sometimes they talk about the changes to the algorithm, and about how to expect a shift in the search rankings or placements.
It’s not uncommon for sweeping changes to be made to the web which leaves old code irrelevant, if every little bit was always left as part of the formula, then the search algorithms wouldn’t be the few hundred factors they are now, it would be in the thousands. The search industry would be substantially slower moving, both in use and as a business. Building a website would be an absolute nightmare if you still had to worry about table construction for a half dozen different browsers, and if the flash menu you’ve built with fancy fly away modules would even start up in others. Thankfully, none of that is an issue, as old coding techniques get replaced with much more up to date methods.
One of the basics of web development, that we’ve always made sure to mention to web developers and clients, is to make sure they utilize the metas keywords and description tag. For a number of years, the search engine optimization industry has said that the tags no longer bear any relevance or importance, and that the engines themselves will more often than not choose which they like to use anyways. Putting time and effort into even writing the few lines of code it takes to put them in, is a few lines too many. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I do offer an example of what can happen when you let the engines decide what to publish as your websites description in search.
SEARCH. <div> <div > </div> <div> <div templateType=”C1″> <ul role=”listbox” class=””> <li role=”menuitem”> headline </li>
Just a couple of points to note, this is from a multi-million dollar company, with strong rankings in search and in traditional media, and this is the description that was pulled to use in the results page. This mix up won’t hurt their positioning online, or offline, but it proves that skipping the basics isn’t always a good idea. Skipping adding a description tag on the premise that it’s an out dated step, would be the end for a new site online with that type of description pulled.
With your online branding and optimization strategies working at full steam, there’s even another metric which needs to be considered. It’s the realm of internet usage that’s so large, it has nearly double the install base that computers have. It’s also one of the most fastest growing methods to access the internet for product searches to purchases. So that begs the question, did you remember to factor in mobile optimization when you developed your strategies?
If you’ve forgotten to take this form of access in mind when building your site and strategies, there is no need to fret, you can still work your way into the results. Because it’s one of the fastest growing access methods around, it’s also one of the least explored where brands and branding are concerned. So what are some of the points to consider when you focus on your online branding going mobile? Well, your audience is using a phone, at most a tablet of some sort, and they don’t have the ability to long tail search easily. So their searches are going to be skewed towards the shorter term searches and especially towards local venues. They won’t be searching on Amazon for an item they’re wanting to pick up in the same day, so you need to ensure that your site is optimized for local searches as well.
The social angle, using reviews and capitalizing on trends are strong factors to bear in mind when your site is setup for mobile search. Knowing that your major brand is sponsoring a give away or a sale can be key to driving foor traffic through your door, easily facilitated by using your Facebook page or Twitter account. Make sure that your pages are designed to be viewable on a mobile device. There are hundresd of millions of users out there using phones and tablets to use the internet, but not all of them can display the web the same as a desktop pc can. You need to make sure that your pages are quick loading, and can fit on the displays of the mobile devices out there. It’s only a handful of tips to get your brand started on the mobile front, but it will get the ball rolling and the customers coming.