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Browsing "search engine optimization"

SEO 101 – Remember your Sitemap

Jan 27, 2012   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, internet news, search engine optimization, seo, sitemaps  //  Comments Off

There are many key elements once you’ve built your website which you need to stay on top of, besides trying to focus on search engine optimization. Updating content, perhaps having a blog or a Twitter account with which to interact with customers/clients, and if your niche demands it, publishing a newsletter or email campaign to keep subscribers in touch.

In the background of your website, there’s also another element which needs consistent attention. Everytime you add a page to your website, create a new form or maybe add a photo album, your sitemap needs to be attended to. A sitemap is exactly as the name implies, it’s a table of contents for every page on your site. If you add, change, or remove pages, you also need to update your sitemap to reflect the changes. Typically your sitemap will be in xml or html format, but the important point is: it needs to be updated everytime you make a change.

Until now, there’s never really been a way to validate your sitemap without waiting for a short while until the search engines pass by your site to index it. At that point you could sign into your webmaster tools or site analytics and verify that you’ve either done things right, or if you needed to make some adjustments. But now for those who may be a little less technically inclined, Google has added the ability to test your sitemap before the spiders get to it, to make sure that everything is done correctly. This update, as well as a handful of other new and upcoming changes to their site tools are detailed on their blog post.

SEO What they don’t tell you.

An optimized website

What they say: Even if you don’t actually sell products online, a website gives potential customers and investors the opportunity to find out more about you and your company. For a website to be effective and bring new customers and investors to your doors it needs to be seen. Search engine optimization can help position your website on the first few pages of the search engines which means it’s much more likely to receive visitors.

As well as ensuring the copywriting on your website is optimized with keywords, you need to make sure your web developers or designers have created an SEO friendly website.

With 65,000 new websites coming online every day, not including new pages and blog added to existing websites daily the chances of you ever seeing high traffic and rankings without a BIG cost is near on impossible. Nobody ever mentions the cost do they.

Fact: Investment for marketing the website from approx. $1500 – $20,000 per month depending on size and your competition.

Active social media channels

What they say: Having a profile set up on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (plus the numerous other social media networks) isn’t enough. For your social media campaign to be a success you need to continually interact with your network.

And to be honest who gives a crap what bus stop or pizza shop you’re at or what you have just eaten, Your top score on a farm game or flirting teens pretending while the parents are out. Get a life. Limited for business unless very local.

Fact: A full-time job to do it properly along with a full-time salary approx. $30,000 – $50,000 per annum.

An up to date blog

What they say: Blogging is one of the quickest and easiest ways to forge an identity for yourself online. Blogs allow you to share your expertise with your visitors and it encourages them to see you as a leading authority in your industry sector. As you build up your blog with opinion pieces, news stories and reviews you will create an online resource for your blog visitors.

Fact: Takes your time and money, time is money or employ someone to do it, another salary.

While there is a lot of information and help out there to get you started, do not be taken in by all the BS that people and company’s shovel out. Sure Google also has SEO guidelines which cover what you should and should not be doing in order to create a well optimized website. Check it out  Rand at SEOMoz have a multitude of free blogs, videos and podcasts on their website to help people understand the basic (and more advanced) SEO techniques too, but the cold hard facts are it takes time, money and knowledge to be a real player. As I have said many times, pay peanuts and you will get monkey’s.

As a small business if you don’t have at least $20k a year to throw at marketing your online presence, forget it, you will never even scratch the surface, if some company gives you bullshit about the must have Facebook, twitter and rest accounts, run for the hills, these usually are the wannabe online marketers, with sharp tongues (usually forked) and snappy suits. You can get business from social, but it’s limited, search is and has been #1 from the start and will continue for a very long time.

Ask yourself what you do when you want something, whether on your phone, laptop or desktop, you search first.

Opinions are those of the writer.

Are You Participating?

Jan 18, 2012   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, internet news, search engine optimization  //  Comments Off

In just a few more hours, the internet will be officially on strike in demonstration of the resistance being put forth versus the SOPA bill currently trying to be pushed in the States. There are a great number of sites ‘going dark’ in support of the event, with the idea that it will give web users an indication as to what the web may be like, should this bill, or any like it, come to pass.

Some popular web destinations like Reddit which bills itself as the front page of the internet, Facebook, Wikipedia, Tucows and even Google are gearing up to participate in tomorrows black out. There is some very strong language circulating where SOPA is concerned, going so far as to even name the bill an attack on free speech on the web. Those who support the bill being passed are deeming the blackout as a knee jerk reaction, trying to emphasize the bill in a bad light, the documents are out there for you to make your own decision.

Google has come along with a handy dandy guide as well, to assist with going dark in support of tomorrows events, which also come in handy should you need some downtime to work on your website. The advice comes in the form of enabling a 503 header return for your website which is your way to tell web spiders to come back later, your site is currently unavailable. This handy implementation will work should you decide to be part of tomorrows protest and come in handy should you need to work on your site in an emergency.

It’s fairly easy to return the 503 instruction for bots, especially if you have root access on your server. Adding the following line to your .htaccess file can take care of it for you:

RewriteRule .* /path/to/file/myerror503page.php

just adjust the instruction in accordance to your webserver. What this will do, is redirect visitors to your site to the error page for you, as well as taking care of any spiders poking around so as not to thwart any search engine optimization efforts you’ve been working on for your site.

Winnipeg Digital Marketing: Would Your Business Benefit?

As technology advances, so does our means of communications with others and the public. The radio and television were two technological mediums that companies used to advertise to their target audience. However, since the mid-1990s, the Internet has drastically changed the way we share information. It has turned into a new way for businesses to market their products or services directly to their target audience. Online platforms, such as websites and social media, offer a lot to companies such as higher ROI on their marketing campaigns and more business.

Research shows that more than half of all U.S. residents and more that 3/4 of all U.S. adults are online.  A recent survey found that 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Internet, with 59% who do so on a typical day.  Of these daily searches, 46% are for information on products or services.  89% of U.S. Internet users search online before they make a purchase, even when the purchase is made at a local business. 

With an astounding amount of people and potential customers online, it is important for Winnipeg companies to have an online presence so they do not miss out on opportunities and business that could be found on the Internet.

Top 5 Ways to Create Strong Online Presence

1. Website – This allows companies to post valuable information about their company and their products or services. It is a centralized location where users can learn about what the company has to offer. 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results. With correct SEO and keyword placement and number of indexed pages, websites are able to rank on search engine results – helping them get found by users who are searching for topics related to their company.

2. Blogging65% of daily internet users read a blog. By keeping a frequent blog, 2-3 times a week, you are contributing to your website’s SEO and are generating traffic to your site. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that do not. Businesses that blog at least 20 times a month generate 5 times more traffic and 4 times more leads than those who only blog a few times a month. Blog posts need to be valuable and remarkable content and need to be of interest to your target audience. Instead of solely company news, you should write about industry updates or other information that is of value to your target audience. By continuously updating your blog with industry updates and information you are positioning yourself as a subject matter expert. Also, by opening up the comment box, you are allowing direct communication between you and your potential customer – a place where you can offer advice and suggestions.

3. Facebook93% of U.S. adult Internet users are on Facebook. As of date, there are more than 800 million active users on Facebook. When users “like” company pages get updates made to the business’s profile, such as new wall posts (blog and industry news updates), pictures, videos, discussion questions and more. Facebook allows companies to easily provide updates to followers as well as interact with users via comments.

4. Twitter – There are 100 million monthly active users on Twitter with over 250 million daily tweets. Companies with over 1,000 Twitter followers get 6 times more traffic. 70% of U.S. Twitter users are more likely to recommend the brands that they follow. Twitter accounts allow companies to share quick industry or company news, as well as blog posts to followers. Since posts are only allowed to be 140 characters, they are read quickly by followers, allowing them to easily decide if the topic is of interest to them. These updates can link back to your website or blog to drive traffic to updates you have made. With more than 1/2 of active Twitter users following companies, brands or products, it is important to make sure your company creates a continuously updated page for them to engage with.

5. LinkedIn – As of date, there are over 135 million professionals on LinkedIn. Company profiles allow businesses to connect with other professionals and establish themselves in a professional setting. They are also able to provide status updates on industry or company news as well as blog and Twitter updates to its followers. It grants companies the opportunity to network with others in their industry as well as become members in groups consisting of other members that may be of interest to them.

The Danger of Knowing a Little

Jan 10, 2012   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet marketing, search engine optimization, seo  //  Comments Off

Working in the field of search engine optimization, you can sometimes run into one of your most dangerous client. Dangerous perhaps, is a rather strong word but let me explain a little and then you can make your own judgement.

There are millions of pages on the internet about SEO, SEM, social marketing, etc. There are experts that number into the millions as well if you were to believe all of the results when you search for search engine optimization expert as well. A problem with having so much.. information available for consumption is you tend to end up with large amounts of people who think they know what they’re doing. And more often than not, that blog that they read only told them a portion of the steps necessary where SEO is concerned. This point, is where the ‘dangerous’ part stems from.

When you’re dealing with a client who has done a lot of reading on the web about SEO, you start to run into some frustrating situations. Hopefully they just like to have a conversation occasionally about SEO, ideally questioning what they’ve actually read for themselves. Your worst case scenario would have to be your client poking around at the work that you do on their site for them and, at best unravelling it, or at worst completely ruining it. And as terrifying as that may seem, it can even get worse yet. When your client has a tech who actively builds onto and maintains their site, it can turn into a bit of a stand off.

It’s a thin line to walk when your client thinks they know what SEO is, but that line gets blurred when they try to push what they know as the method they would like you to use on their site. Horses for courses, if you don’t know what you’re doing where SEO is concerned, it’s best that you just sit back and work out how to capitalize on the influx of new traffic.

The Power of Linking in SEO

Jan 6, 2012   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet, internet strategy, linking, search engine optimization, seo, SEO Expert  //  Comments Off

Republican Rick Santorum has had a few.. issues over the course of his public running for the head of the US office. All politics and personal opinions aside, Santorum has run into the most recent iteration of what used to be known as Google bombing.

A few years back if you visited Google and searched for the term ‘miserable failure’ the first result used to be the then president of the US, George Bush. Santorum unfortunately hasn’t been so lucky with what he’s become associated with, but the methods as to why he’s momentarily stuck there is due, in part, to how SEO works.

The bare basic principles of SEO – you create content, you contact people to link to it and repeat over and over again until you’re the king of the mountain. Backlinks, the fuel for SEO is what keeps you flying high in the rankings. An extremely popular social community, Reddit, has decided that the politician will remain associated with this alternate meaning for the near future at the very least.

You can think of the woes that he is experiencing as you will, on a technical note however it needs examination and repeating. Until Google, Bing and Yahoo outright remove a website from it’s index, it can and will continue to rank for the term(s) with which it’s been written to be found for. The act of completely removing a site from the index is an extreme measure that the search engines rarely wield, let alone with permanency. It needs to be noted that irregardless of the poor quality of the links, the relevance and sheer number linking to the offending website are what is keeping the politician tied to his less than stellar ‘definition’. To quickly deal with the issue the search engines could enforce a nofollow on the Reddit site but Google in particular deems itself a color blind indexing machine. Mr. Santorum would do well to contract the skills of a search engine optimization expert to assist with his character control.

Google Punishes Itself

Jan 5, 2012   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, internet news, search engine optimization, seo  //  Comments Off

So Google made a little bit of a blunder with their Chrome advertising it seems and what was the end result? Well perhaps the best way to understand what happened and it’s ensuing result, the algorithm needs to be a little more understood.

The Google search algorithm was intentionally designed to go out and read as much of the content of the web as it could find. It pays no heed to race, color or quality of the content. It doesn’t care how pretty your pictures are, how impressive your flash intro is or how quickly you can flip through your menu items on your navigation bar. It takes in the content of the web and spits it out when you ask it a question. It’s because it’s so simple that there needed to be filters put into place and penalties levied against people who either managed either by accident or on purpose to get around the quality controls put in place.

Paying for pagerank, that intangible mega star of the Google world, is a heavily punishable offence in the quality control guidelines. So it came as a rather big surprise when it was found suddenly, that Google was seemingly paying for advertising which was passing pagerank to its Google Chrome web page. The skeptics of the web automatically assumed that the Google machine would just shrug, apologize to the web, as they didn’t intend for it to happen, and everyone would be on their way. The outcome however, was actually the opposite.

Matt Cutts, via is Google+ account had the following to say of the incident:

“Google was trying to buy video ads about Chrome, and these sponsored posts were an inadvertent result of that. If you investigated the two dozen or so sponsored posts (as the webspam team immediately did), the posts typically showed a Google Chrome video but didn’t actually link to Google Chrome… we did find one sponsored post that linked to www.google.com/chrome in a way that flowed PageRank.. we only found a single sponsored post that actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank, that’s still a violation of our quality guidelines”

So okay, it was found out there was a minor slip in what was intended and what was the actual result, so what did they do?

“In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days. After that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would. During the 60 days, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won’t trust outgoing links from that page.”

If anyone ever questioned as to whether the machine would point it’s gun at itself, question no longer. As the webspam team has shown, no one is above the rules set with quality searches in mind. So bear in mind when you next work on your websites SEO, ensure that you’re following the best practices and the search guidelines readily found all over the web, else you’ll find yourself flung deeper into the ranks than you could imagine.

The Uncertain Costs of SEO

Dec 22, 2011   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet, internet marketing, internet strategy, online, online marketing, search engine optimization, seo  //  Comments Off

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.

2011 Website Audit & Construction Guidelines

Dec 20, 2011   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Google, internet marketing, internet strategy, search engine optimization, seo  //  Comments Off

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.

Search Engine Solutions

When I arrived in Canada 4 years ago, the first people to contact me was a company working with a big yellow book. I had a lovely lunch meeting with the people, I gave them my thoughts & ideas on how they could move forward into this new digital world capitulating the planet and of course my contact information.

Now, as most people who know will testify, I don’t usually sugarcoat anything, shoot from the hip is a term used a lot here in Canada and I do, It’s just the way I am.

So today as I watch the demise of a once great institution taking place, I ask myself could I really of helped? The answer MOST DEFINATLY.

Can the Yellow Pages be SavedIf fact, with a little tweaking they could rule the search engine results pages, seriously, and that’s were the real dollars are, plus advertisers would flock back to be at the top of Google.

Now could the hierarchy on the east coast put up with a straight talking Brit? now that’s another question, they could’nt the first time. I did foresee the autotrader’s problems and mentioned it, they lost money on that one. I also told them about the Google Adwords reseller program/agreement they have and what would happen with that a full 12months before it did, psychic, no, Internet experience and common business sense.

They were great at selling advertising in a book every business wanted to be in, there not very good at the Internet game. They may have some good technicians, programmers and traditional marketers in house and they certainly have a few pretty faces, Ive seen them first hand :-) But they don’t have anyone near capable for the online strategy stuff that could relight the company back into a leader they once were.

Need proof? how much have they recently spent on videos, marketing, brochures, Adwords etc promoting the new search engine solutions  program, Mucho $$$$ and where do the list organically on search? They should be totally dominating this term.

Now, solution, get expert help, pay the dollars, it wont be cheap, take the company ego’s out of the room, don’t expect a slick marketer in a pinstripe suit showing you a PowerPoint or YouTube video, these guys know shit, the ones who know in this game don’t look or work like that, we just know.

It’s never over until the fat lady sings, do something now or you will be hearing those dulcet tones sooner than you think.

Dont let Bill Gates be right. The old-fashioned printed Yellow Pages used to be the way that people  found local business, but not anymore. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has gone so  far as to predict the  Yellow Pages will be officially dead 2012 .

 

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