Browsing "search engine optimization"
In late March 2010, rumors were swirling that search engine giant Google, Inc. was preparing to launch its own SEO (search engine optimization) firm. In early April, Google put an end to the rumors and unveiled a plan to open the SEO agency as early as May. Apparently, this project had been in the pipeline for quite some time and Google had done an excellent job of keeping it secret. In light of that, it is easy to believe that those March rumors were in fact Google manipulations, at least an attempt to test the waters before a formal announcement.
Now, Google is assembling a Google SEO team of approximately 100 employees. The company professes that their intentions are noble. Google wants to set the standard for an industry that outsiders so often criticize. Google SEO promises to use only the most ethical practices to increase a client’s PageRank™, and they promise to do it without adding to the spam glut that currently exists on the Internet. However, the fact remains that Google SEO will be the only SEO agency in the world that can guarantee first page rankings because they are the only company that will have access to the algorithm that dictates it.
In addition, early estimates place the cost of this service in the neighborhood of $25,000 per month. Not only does Google have a monopoly on the search engine optimization, they will be fostering an environment of exclusivity. Google will cripple the thousands of small Internet business vying for your attention. That is not to say that it is currently easy for small business but at least they have the opportunity.
So consider the situation where a firm owns the audience and owns the power to give or take away visibility from a business. Now imagine that they offer you the path to greater visibility, at a cost. The nonprofessional might not know the intricacies of antitrust laws but he or she knows a racket when they see one and this is, at least potentially, a racket. Again, Google promises to do the ethical thing but it begs the question, do we want to trust a corporation to do the ethical thing or do we want to legislate law that mandates it?
Are you worried? Well I’m not, maybe knowing Google as well as I do, remember I sold my company to them, I know how rank page 1 for what we want, but it might well put paid to the cowboys out there.
A new’ish trend in search would have to be the local aspect. Building your site with the idea of attracting local clients, is getting to be a very lucrative market, namely because if people can get what they want just around the corner, why order online and wait a couple of weeks?
Now the question is; what to do to be found locally? There is a derth of information out there in what to do and what to avoid, and in all the noise there are a few gems which should be the highest on your list of “to do”
1) Google map listing : While this is a fairly straight forward process to set your listing up and be found, optimization does in fact play a part in where you will list in this area as well.
2) Local SEO onsite : On page optimization is huge in being able to generate quality content to compel visitors to link to / remain on your site. Being able to have that type of content *and* be locally optimized is a delicate touch, so as not to upset your balance. And as always, just adding a bunch of local addresses or slang to your pages doesn’t help your case, so much as damage it.
3) Social Media? : If you have a Facebook/Twitter account, and chances are you do, you can and will benefit by including as much localization to your profile as you can muster.
There is so much more than just these few tips to bear in mind as you gear your site for local dominance in the organic search results.
Most companies see SEO (search engine optimization) as a black hole. It’s full of technical terms, and they don’t easily understand it. As a result, they treat SEO as a nice-to-have rather than a necessity, and as an IT project. The executives who control the purse strings can’t easily distinguish between paid and organic/natural search. So, it’s up to marketers to help them understand, because until they do, they won’t spend the money.
Then who’s to blame for your company’s marketing failures? And who gets credit for its marketing successes? The answer should be Search Engine Optimization, along with PPC (pay per click) and every other facet of your marketing programs. It must be held accountable if it wants a seat at the table with the big boys.
Natural search is the most under-spent channel in internet marketing. Even though most site traffic comes through search, it only gets about 10 percent of the budget because natural search is difficult to put a price tag on. Companies tend to just direct their spending to paid (PPC) search.
It’s also important to put a long term plan in place. Rather than work toward a single, final goal, set up milestones which allow you to measure your progress to get you there. This will keep you on the path to success. All kinds of measures will work well – number of keywords, traffic flow, number of indexed backlinks, search engine rankings. Using an easy to follow metric to track your SEO success, and where you need to make improvements will only improve your internet marketing strategy as a whole.
So you start with some content, add a dash of keywords and images (with proper code of course). A few linked pages, some good meta data and top it off with a title and voila! SEO recipe is complete, or is it? Is it really so simple as it seems? Not really, no, and even Microsoft has admitted as much.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have the same fundamental goal; deliver the most relevant results to a query for a user. Google however, has that extra ingredient, that spice in the cake which you just can’t put your finger on, which threw it into top spot and has allowed it to become fully entrenched in the position. Bing and Yahoo, while not inherently inferior in their core purpose, just are in the end missing that secret ingredient.
To paraphrase Steve Ballmer :
“..there are certainly some things. I would love it if advertisers would share with us their experience on Google, and we could, if that was allowed to be shared in the right way, with the right algorithmic support, there are certainly things that we could do to help those advertisers on Bing, and we’d be happy to do, and probably offer the advertiser a better value. But there are some things that Google still holds as its proprietary data that makes that tough..”
In the same intervew, Ballmer also admitted that yes, they do want to be number one in search, because you never begin something with the idea to be number two. But that they’re focusing on their long term goals in that aspect with Yahoo.
With no plans to attempt to acquire Twitter or Facebook, Ballmer also said that Bing is happy in it’s long term partnerships with the social media giants. Going so far as to say :
“.. great partnership, a company that is doing, I think, a very nice job, very much wants to be an independent company, so we continue to work the partnership with them (Facebook), and we’re pleased to have extended our search relationship with them a number of years into the future.”
Not happy on being number 2, can’t change it because of that secret ingredient, and unable/unwilling to make the leap via acquisition. Bing is a fine search engine, colorful, interactive and such, but it’s still (admittedly) behind it’s quicker, more efficient leader; Google.
Fun tip: In reading online, I’ve noticed every now and then that an “SEO Expert” will optimize your site for “whichever search engine you wish to be visible on” Be number one and all that jazz. It doesn’t work that way, Google, Bing, and Yahoo are similar enough to a degree, that properly optimizing, will get you listed on all of the SERPs. The only way to be found on a single search engine, is via AdWords and such. Beware advertising resellers in the guise of true SEO’s.
“Location, location, location” — William Dillard
Also known as the three most important rules in real estate, location, is everything in business. Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and such, all infer an immediate sense of value. But what if your new business partner told you that his street address was 123 Pickles Street, Noname USA; but that they rank for all of their terms in search in Googles top 5 organically?
Location, whether it is physical, or electronic, is a key to your success in the business world. A shift however, is in motion. Physical address, is becoming less important, as search results location. There are some key differences in the two, and they all come down to cost vs worth in the end. Having a physical street address like Macy’s 151 West 34th Street, New York, sounds impressive, but at what cost? With a price tag average of around $50 per square foot (4Q 2009), and one million square feet of retail space, Macy’s in New York has a hefty price tag to just keep the doors open. Macy’s is a global brand, the name has been in the public for a great many years, but that they don’t even appear in the top 100 listings of Manhattan shopping in Google? The top 10 is populated with primarily information sources, tourism sites etc.
Macy’s, who made close to $25 billion dollars in 2009. doesn’t appear on the first page of Google for Manhattan shopping. It begs the question; why? They rely on their physical location and brand history, to pull them through. But physical location, like street address, is old business. Just like advertising with the radio, newspapers and billboards are dwindling, so will the importance of physical location begin to crumble.
So what is the cost to be in the top 10, or top 5 even on Google? Time, and tenacity and a fraction of the investment of a prominent street address. Online marketing, online branding, and organic search engine optimization needs to be the focus of business in the Information age. The 13-18 generation lives, breaths, interacts, and learns online. Attention spans are lower than ever, but retention rates for products and services deemed worthy, are higher than ever. Building your site properly, marketing it effectively, and being ready for the rush of traffic, can make your business, the newest brand online.
Page 1 is the new “Location, location, location”, what’s your location?
Sure it rolls of the tongue, just like the late night informercials selling juicers and vaccuum packing machines to help save you storage space. But can you really teach or inform a room of, safest to assume, people who’ve never heard the term before?
Doesn’t seem to make a lick of sense when you think of it as such, and anyone who is truly in the know in the industry will tell you, SEO isn’t something you learn, teach, or even give a strong idea of, over a long lunch.
Say it with me – Search engine optimization is not quick fix. It is not flash in the pan success in advertising. SEO is long term, strategic success in online marketing. It’s a long term plan, with very real, very measurable results in driving traffic to your website.
Recently, it’s seemed that an additional misunderstanding of SEO is that it doesn’t sell your products or services well enough. Optimization isn’t a salesman so to speak, SEO is more like the car the salesman used to get to your home in order to sell you the goods. It doesn’t matter if the salesman (your website) arrived in a gleaming, brand new, state of the art shuttle (SEO), if it’s poorly dressed and hard to understand it’s goals and motives.
You may be advised to have a new website built, to have it restructured, or any number of things. Traffic and exposure to the world is our business. We will bring you the people, it’s up to you to sell yourself from there on in.
Not that this is terribly long to read, but to summarize ::
SEO is NOT a get rich quick business model.
SEO is NOT to be taken lightly.
SEO is NOT a salesman, it’s a vehicle to bring you your customers.
SEO IS the best return on investment, marketing wise, that you can use for your business.
SEO IS long term.
SEO IS is becoming increasingly important, every single day.
SEO IS much, much more than Twitter, Facebook, blogging and Adsense.
Don’t be fooled into simple explanations for the artful science of search engine optimization. You do yourself, and the industry a disservice.
It seems to be a consistent trend when a new client meets with us, telling us about their incredible website which they’ve paid (sometimes) thousands of dollars to have it built for them, only for us to turn around and tell them plainly “I’m sorry, but this is terrible to work with”.
Having a flair for style is a great thing when it comes to being a designer, but there are some key points which designers should always bear in mind when constructing a new website, whether for themselves, or for a client. It’s time, I think, to cover just the bear minimum of basics for all of you web designers out there.
1. Title and Meta tags
Important to your site, as a note, don’t try and wedge all of your keywords into these places, it can just get you a mark for trying to be overly spammy. Too many marks, and your website can actually start working against you.
2. Avoid frames, keep flash and java to a minimum
Frames are a no-no code wise for a great long time now, it’s sloppy, looks terribly unprofessional, and best to be avoided completetly.
Flash and Java, while they can add some neat tricks or interesting effects to your site, don’t make a lick of sense to Google.
3. Alt attributes
It’s simple, as with Flash and (some) Java : spiders can’t see pictures. the “alt” tag is there for you tell the spiders what it’s looking at.
4. Use clean, valid mark up.
Make your HTML clean and simple – don’t use tables or use lots of unnecessary DIVs. This will improve your load time which is great for visitors and also make it easier for search engines to crawl and find your page’s content.
5. Make use of header tags
Think of header tags like chapter titles within a book, makes it easy to navigate the index of pages contained within.
6. Try descriptive link text
Linking your website together just makes the navigation better, period, for both bots/spiders and a user experience. Try to avoid things like “click here” and the like.
7. Help bots crawl your site
Bots/spiders are pretty good at navigating your site, but just like having an index or table of contents to a book, it’s helpful to have the same in place for your website. A well formed footer, or sitemap only helps our job as SEO’s when you come to us to assist your rankings online.
All of the above tips, are very basic tips that all web designers should already know and bear in mind when constructing a website. But it is always a good idea to brush up on the fundamentals. Because often times, designers can’t see a forest for the trees.
There are many schools of thought dealing with online marketing, how to do it, how not to do it. Who to talk to, who you should avoid. A post or two ago I mentioned how strange it was that since Fresh has moved into Winnipeg, that SEO companies all of a sudden appeared out of the woodwork. The idea of this writing, is to just share some basics of what you should consider when looking at your online marketing strategy.
1. Optimization Experts – These are the individuals and firms that have been around for quite a while, come with years of experience, and clearly offer a healthy organic approach to search engine optimization and marketing. They know how to market themselves. These are the individuals and companies that stand out and very well should from the other type of SEO’s. Have you seen them in multiple areas online? Are the search results for their name filled with nice juicy related content?
2. Web Designers – Web design and SEO are two very different things. Many web designers try to offer SEO on their websites but that doesn’t mean they know search engine optimization. That is not to say that every web designer out there is not capable of properly executing search engine marketing efforts but horses for their courses. A web design company which builds an SEO page during slow economic times should not be a choice.
3. Fly by Night SEO – It doesn’t take much to get a website up and running, don’t let some trust badge or Google logo on their website fool you. Many are taking one day training courses, maybe a webinar and all of a sudden they are an expert. Search for their name and see what you find online.
4. Offshore Optimization – It is ok to work with an offshore company, if your website is targeting the audience where that company is based. Why would you risk hiring someone to conduct SEO in a foreign country, if they don’t natively speak the language of your target audience? The inexpensive prices of going with someone oversees can be very appealing but you will pay for it in the long run.
5. Optimization Software – Software can not grow a business. A very large portion of SEO requires a human mind or touch. You need to be able to put yourself into the shoes of your audience, and software can not do that. There is no magic pill or easy way out with SEO. It takes time and patience, and proper monitoring and execution of all efforts.
This is all very simple, basic information that should be in the forefront of your mind when you consider your online marketing strategy. Search engine optimization is not a step to be taken casually, it needs to be taken with confidence in the experts you’ve hired to help push you to the top of the engines.
Breaking ground to make a new flower garden, you can get some unpleasant issues from time to time. Grass creeping into your garden, weeds, bugs, animals rooting around, all matters which just need to be handled as you tend to your garden. The majority of the issues can be taken care of with simple due diligence, but one problem in particular, weeds, can pose additional risk to those who don’t know what they’re looking for.
Weeds can look deceptively similar to flowers which you have planted in your garden, blending in with your desired product, choking them out and hiding their true worth. Only by taking the time, being fully aware of what you have, and what you need to remove from your field of view, can you seperate the weeds, and appreciate your hard earned effort.
Flower gardens and SEO? What do they have in common? Nothing. Neither do house hold do it yourself repairs have with optimization, baking, painting, or anything else for that matter (but all of the aformentioned sites, I have read blogs posted by them on the topic of SEO); search engine optimization is relevant to search engine optimization.
So why the analogy? Well, since Freshtraffic has opened up in Winnipeg, there were only one or two other businesses in town offering services which barely begin to resemble SEO services for clients. The realm of search engine optimization, was firmly in the hands of the Freshtraffic team; yet here we are, 2 years later and there are dozens of companies offering SEO services in Winnipeg. Strange how Fresh breaks new ground in Winnipeg, and all of a sudden there’s a wealth of “experts” in the field in town.
Take some time, do your due diligence when taking your companies first steps into having your website optimized. It would be a shame to have all the work of building your businesses website all for nothing, by not having the best work for you.
Newspapers and other print mediums, even TV are losing a huge portion of their advertising revenue share to the web, most of these now own an online property where they are trying to make up revenue losses, is this too little too late?
There are many reasons that have made it hard for the traditional media company to compete with its own online web property and here are just a few of them:
1. The web has more competition:
Offline they are competing with only a few other newspapers/stations, but on the web they are competing with millions, the web has given everybody a voice for free!! Not everyone can establish a print newspaper or a TV station, but everyone can easily own a Blog FOR FREE, and if you happened to be a really good ad writer in a specific niche, you could well start to get your own audience.
2. The web is fast paced compared to traditional media:A few months in the web world is a very long time, so while those guys are strategizing for the next 5 years, a young 20 year old could come up with another Facebook or Digg, or may be another Google.
3. Should you care less about brand/reputation:
When it comes to the web medium, it is an open environment, expect criticism, spam and all kinds of other attacks, fear will get you know where, get rid of these fears and go online.
4. The low cost of getting traffic on the web:Thanks to paid search and search engine optimization; you can get instant traffic online once you have finished your website, you can also control the amount of traffic/money you want to spend every day.
5. The web has a huge user base:
Before the web there were millions of people who were unreachable by any media, the popularity of the web has created a huge user base where small ideas can find people interested them.
Is traditional media going to die soon?
It will not die, but traditional media should expect to lose more of it is advertisement revenue year by year, they have a solution, which is to convert more resources towards their web departments and try to hire some creative minds AND online marketing experts in order to;
- Drive more traffic to their online properties
- Enhance their brand
- Make it harder for smaller players to penetrate the market by continually growing your own online presence to catch any new opportunities.