Happy new year to all our clients and friends, we hope 2012 will be prosperous to one and all.
A question often asked in the course of a discussion with a client, whether new or existing, is how do we determine our costs as a search engine optimization company. It’s not a single, or simple answer as each clients needs are unique as anyone fully involved in the industry will tell you.
One of the factors which determines your cost for your SEO, is what types of keyterms you desire to optimize your website for. If you own a company which manufactures toys and you’re the new kid on the block, being able to drive your website up in the SERPs is going to be difficult. Doing just a generic search for the term ‘toys’ returns 1.9b (yes, billion) pages. Granted that’s a rather generic term to try and optimize for, but each term is met with it’s own challenges to overcome where keywords are concerned. The number of terms you’d wish to be optimized for also lend to the maintenance cost of your website.
Another determining factor that affects your overall cost is the overall quality of your website and it’s content. If we need to sit down with you and assist you in rewriting each and every page due to lack of quality content, it’s a necessary step which needs to be in place before we even begin to think about scouring the web looking for back links for your site. As well, if your website is full of choppy code which needs to be addressed, or even if your website is so woefully out of date that a complete rebuild is in order, these also contribute to the overall costs.
These are only a couple of the factors which contribute to your companies online advertising budget, thankfully however if you need to rebuild your website or rewrite your content those are often one time costs. The consistent maintenance which needs to be addressed to continue ranking well in the SERPs however, is where the majority of your budget needs to be directed. And as the web becomes more and more competitive, that budget will need to be adjusted every 12 months or so.
If you’re building yourself a website for the purposes of getting your brand out there and it’s your first foray into online marketing, there are some key points you need to keep in mind. Whether it’s your first step into digitizing your presence, or you’re well versed with the jargon, a refresher course is always a prudent way to dissect your presence and how effective your search engine optimization has been implemented.
How is your content written? Is it clearly worded for visitors to quickly find what they’re looking for? Or have you crammed your pages with industry specific terms which only those ‘in the know’ could have any knowledge of? When you’re creating content for your website, new or established you need to keep your target demographic in mind. You also need to bear in mind the overall theme of your site as you create your content. Your keyword balance needs to in the forefront of your mind as does your target audience.
You should take the time to examine your website navigation and how your pages flow as you follow your pages. Is your menu well ordered and intuitive to the user? Or do you have it crammed with every single page within your website? Just because you may offer 35 different services as a company, doesn’t mean you need to build your menu with a flyout of 35 different pages. A sitemap takes care of a great deal of the indexing for the robots and allows them to follow it to double check your links for you.
A consideration to keep in mind as well, what is your target area. Are you searching for multi-national rankings, or do you want to own your local market. Your site needs to be tailored to your needs, sometimes shooting for a smaller target, can lead to larger gains as time goes on. These are only just a few of the good practices you should employ as a website owner or builder, but they’ll go a long way towards helping reach your goal of ranking well on the SERPs.
2011 is very nearly complete, another year of search under our collective belts and hopefully we’re all just a little bit smarter. With the world being digital, it’s fairly simple to get in tune to the heartbeat of the world and what is on ‘our’ minds. Google has pushed out it’s Zeitgeist for 2011, in a great little tool that’s easy to browse through and learn just a little about what makes us tick.
The overall top 10 fastest rising searches of 2011 just happened to be:
8)TEPCO – Fukishima Reactor Plant
If someone who’d never met a human before saw this trend list, they’d be hard pressed I think to wonder about our fleeting fascination with global topics. One potential disaster that could have harmed untold numbers of the Japanese population nearly buried on a list of electronics, television and pop stars, video games and tech gadgets. Maybe the list is a little better closer to home? Lets have a quick look at the top 10 fastest rising searches for Canada
3)Canada Post Strike
7)Game of Thrones
Well.. it seems that we’re not much better than the rest of the world, with having Rebecca Black, Ryan Dunn and a video game taking 3 of the top 5 spots in Canada. Maybe next year we can try a little harder? Happy holidays
Search engine optimization for the web is pushing along to nearly 20 years old as a technology, so it stands to reason that a lot of the work that you may have had to do years back is no longer applicable to the web standards of today. Some of the previous ‘tactics’ that web techs might use to be noticed by the search engines have even been kicked to the curb as black hat, or completely against the rules.
As time moves forward, so does technology and the means of which to be used and be visible on it. Smart phones have made a massive impact with how people access and interact with the web, so it’s nearly past due that you should check your website. Check it for how friendly it is on multiple mobile platforms. Smart phones, tablets, iPads and more. Mobile web browsing is quickly becoming one of the preferred ways for people to satisfy themselves. Dining, entertainment, shopping, travelling directions, they’re just a smidgen of the reasons that you need to be concerned about.
Don’t get too worried however, just because more and more people are using mobile devices to browse online it doesn’t mean you absolutely need to dump mounds of cash into a new, mobile only website. Your normal site may even do the trick, provided you have a few ideas in place. Primarily, don’t let anyone tell you that you absolutely need a dedicated mobile site. The majority of the tablets and smart phones available have the ability to render a standard website just fine on their view screen. With pinch and drag zooming technology on their touch screens, browsing isn’t terrible provided the site isn’t crammed with flash or a lot of dynamic mouse over content.
Try and keep your website clean, professional and simple to navigate and it will help with your users and with basic SEO. Adding java or ajax navigation or having a completely flash based website makes it very tedious for a mobile user to work around on your website. As well as giving search engines difficulties when trying to determine what your business does. Think simple, mobile devices don’t have the same processing power as desktops do so keep the active elements to a minimum if you absolutely have to have them. Search engines as well on that same token, don’t see the internet the way people do, they don’t see images and effects, they’re only concerned with the language of the page. Bear that in mind.
We won’t even bother delving into mobile metatext files, CSS devoted to handhelds or trying to optimize a site with shorter keyword points. If you’re worried about how your website handles mobile devices, get one and have a look. If you have problems working with your site then you need to re-evaluate how your site is constructed. And just maybe consider “if it’s this difficult to use and find on a smart phone, where do I stand in the SERPs”. Keep it clean, keep it simple, keep it to the point. If you bear in mind even just those three very simple SEO pointers, you’ll do well on both the mobile and the desktop front.
Online marketing has been shifting for the last 18 months or so towards a more social environment. Facebook, Twitter, company blogs and games are even making an ever growing impact on the marketing world. As the social aspect of the web continues to gain momentum, you’d be foolish as a business owner to turn a blind eye.
Just one aspect to keep on your business radar would have to be the growing usage of online economies and digital currency. I’m not speaking of using credit cards to make online orders, the currency in question is like a Facebook credit. Micro transactions using a websites own marketable credit is a direction the social sites are currently using and one which will continue gaining headway in 2012. Facebook has it’s 800 million users and more than half of them play at least one of the social games found on the site. Just like the Air Miles program which rewards points for using their card at select retailers, social sites are getting in on the act in much the same way. Play a game or use an online product for a certain amount of time can earn you points or virtual currency to use on theirs or an affiliates site.
Also tieing into the micro economy and transaction realm, is the ever growing use of turning the world of business into more of a gaming atmosphere. Not in the sense that meetings will be comprised of blasting away zombies or taking out an enemy force, but issuing challenges and giving bonuses and rewards to successful completion of tasks. To further expound on the idea, all of the little tasks you complete each day help contribute to a greater overall company score which in turn grants you a position on your divisions leaderboard. This positioning may influence things like when your turn comes to book vacation days, helps drive you to a higher raise or perhaps even a promotion further into the company. It can help give instant gratification to workers and also long term growth as an employee as it can give everyone a visual of just how they’re doing in relation to their peers.
And of course, as the social scene continues to grow as we add +1 and Like buttons to our websites, sharing your ideas, opinions and tastes helps you and your website if you take the time to notice those metrics. Every new product you launch, new page you add to your website or blog post you submit with information about yourself and your company can, and will be scrutinized by the never sleeping eyes of the web. As scary as it may sound initially, it’s actually an incredibly powerful tool if you track the positive and the negative feedback you receive.
The social side of the web won’t slow down or stop growing anytime soon, with more and more people coming online everyday to share their likes and dislikes you’d be foolish as a business owner to shy away from it. After all, the people who grow the social web, are the customers you want coming through your door everyday to pick up your products.
It’s been nearly 20 years since the terms search engine optimization became a staple on the web and it has gone through a number of changes. Both in perspectives, actual and perceived, and in usage. For the most part however the basics of proper web development, online marketing and promotion have stayed the same.
When building your website, there are only three words to keep in mind Keep It Simple. Search engines like to say they have no problems crawling imperfect code, it’s safer to assume search engines are dumb and help them in every way I can. Simple code is honest code it also makes your website easy to analyze and troubleshoot should anything break down. The more code you use on a page, the more things that can go wrong from spider access to browser compatibility.
Looking passed your coding, you need to keep in mind your overall design. It was a great example given, but when using Apple products as an example with their pure, simplistic forms. By contrast, too many websites, primarily enterprise sites, try to be all things to all people. Their administrators or managers fear they might miss out on a conversion for lack of a link.
Websites should have clean internal linking. You do not need a site-wide menu three levels deep. As long as people feel that they are progressing toward their goal or the useful information they seek, they will continue to click through your site.
Coming up next, the age old king of the web – content – will be discussed as well as how its importance has only increased over time on the web.
Google has announced 10 search changes – a mix of algorithmic, crawling, and user interface updates. Better long-tail indexing and parked domain detection are among the announced changes. Additionally, Google has committed to writing a new post with algorithm updates each month.
The 10 Changes
Here’s a quick breakdown of the 10 changes and what they mean for you:
- “Related query results refinements.” More results will be excluded when synonyms and related terms conflict with other words or phrases in the search query.
- “More comprehensive indexing.” Google is getting better at finding long-tail documents, making long-tail optimization even more important.
- “New ‘parked domain’ classifier.” Google now detects parked domains more easily, making them less likely to show up in the SERP.
- “More autocomplete predictions.” Does what it says.
- “Fresher and more complete blog search results.” Blog content now has a faster and deeper indexing system, making your blog even more valuable and likely to surface on the SERP.
- “Original content.” Google has “added new signals to help us make better predictions about which of two similar web pages is the original one.” In other words, Google has added some scraper counter-measures.
- “Live results for Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League.” Does what it says.
- “Image result freshness.” Google is now better at finding fresh images for news queries.
- “Layout on tablets.” Tablet users will see some changes in the color and layout that make Google more usable.
- “Top result selection code rewrite.” The code that “ensures that we don’t show too many results from one site” has been rewritten. While it will behave the same as before, it is now “easier to understand, simpler to maintain, and more flexible for future ex tensions.”
Rob D. Young
Did Bing play dirty over the shopping holidays? If you tried at all this most recent Cyber Monday to use the Bing search engine, the signs currently point to yes, they did play dirty with their results.
The creators of the idea of Cyber Monday, found themselves lost in Bings search listings because according to Bing their content was too “thin”. If the term is familiar, it’s because it sounds a lot like Google-speak when they started rolling out the infamous Panda updates and culling “thin content” based websites from their index. A difference to note however, Panda didn’t actually remove the offenders from the index, it just meant the odds of those sites ranking well plummeted.
Back now to Bings version of taking care of thin content and removing websites which fall into this category. Cyber Monday is now a billion dollar online shopping event, where website owners have the opportunity to make some good money heading into the holiday shopping weeks. If a site which could promise and deliver strong referrals could rank well, they would also stand to make a fair bit of change. Shop.org came up with the term Cyber Monday in ’05 and a year later created the corresponding website, cybermonday.com. This past Cyber Monday Google had the website in their SERPs, while Bing did not. Bing did however, have their shopping channel listed at the top of their results for searching cyber monday.
Bing has stated previously that they will dispense internet justice on sites deemed unworthy to be listed as part of their SERPs, but completely removing any and all traces of a site? Bing defines spam as:
Some pages captured in our index turn out to be pages of little or no value to users and may also have characteristics that artificially manipulate the way search and advertising systems work in order to distort their relevance relative to pages that offer more relevant information. Some of these pages include only advertisements and/or links to other websites that contain mostly ads, and no or only superficial content relevant to the subject of the search. To improve the search experience for consumers and deliver more relevant content, we might remove such pages from the index altogether, or adjust our algorithms to prioritize more useful and relevant pages in result sets.
So by removing the cybermonday.com website, if Bing were to stick to their guidelines they should remove all “thin” websites which fell under the same blanket. Yet they did not entirely and websites which feature almost identical content to the cybermonday.com website still appeared in their results. To further muddy the waters, the Bing powered search results which were served up in Yahoo would turn up Black Friday “websites” which would be deemed even thinner than the Cyber Monday website. With all the fuss that Bing was putting up about Google favoring their own results over all others, this sure doesn’t look well on the Bing radar. The Panda updates may drop websites rank if they’re found as being too thin a website, but at least they’re not completely removing them from the index ala Bing.
In what may yet become a global precedent, a judge in Nevada has passed judgement on nearly 700 domain names tied to counterfeiting Chanel products. Currently there are two bills being pushed to become law, whereby the courts and trademark owners could essentially tell search engines and social media sites what they are and aren’t allowed to index.
This current case has the makings of a SOPA like enforcement all over it, in that the judge didn’t bother to check domain registration locations only deemed that they all need to be turned over to a US GoDaddy registrar and that “all Internet search engines” and “all social media websites” explicitly naming Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Google are required to remove the addresses from their indexes.
One law professor was empathetic towards companies trying to force IP protection of their products and was quick to point out that perhaps SOPA is just fake punch against internet pirates. “I’m sympathetic to the ‘whack-a-mole’ problem rights owners face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds,” he writes. “I’m not sure how this court can direct a registry to change a domain name’s registrar of record or Google to de-list a site, but the court does so anyway. This is probably the most problematic aspect of the court’s orders.” said Venkat Balasubramani. The case with Chanel has shown he says, that IP rightsholders don’t necessarily even need the SOPA bill to pass to get what they want. Total control over their product, intellectual property (IP) and their trademarked name.
If rightsholders can already essentially dictate the terms they want federal judges to enforce, on globally owned website names and properties, much darker days are on the horizon for those who legitimately share ideas online. It shows there’s nothing stopping a we said/they said fight from enforcing the rule of law online.