Browsing "search engine optimization"
Being the start of the year, it’s always a good idea to remember what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished, and the lessons you’ve learned. It’s also a good idea to remember and brush up on the basics, because if your foundation has no strength, what ever you build upon it will fall.
Search engine optimization, an industry born from neccesity, is as much an art, as it is a mathematical science. But just because you get the perfect ratio of keyword to text and what not, it doesn’t mean you’ll rank well in the SERPs. Google, the king of the multi-billion dollar mountain of search, basically birthed SEO and has brought it’s evolution to it’s current state. So who better to review the basics with?
We’ll go over the basics very briefly initially, and pay closer attention to some of the key points as they merit.
1) Create unique, accurate page titles
“A title tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is.”
2) Make use of the “description” meta tag
“A page’s description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about.”
3) Improve the structure of your URLs – Basically make your URLs easy to read.
“This can not only help you keep your site better organized, but it could also lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines. Also, it can create easier, “friendlier” URLs for those that want to link to your content.”
Try your best when designing your site, to avoid URL structure like www.testsite.com/72a00065a.htm It’s non-descriptive, makes no sense to a visitor who may choose to link to your content, and can make it difficult to keep your site and pages organized.
4) Make your site easier to navigate
“The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important.”
5) Offer quality content and services – this is really in their guide, it surprised me honestly.
“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.”
6) Write better anchor text – Avoid using anchor text like click here and the like
“Anchor text is the clickable text that users will see as a result of a link, and is placed within the anchor tag. This text tells users and Google something about the page you’re linking to.”
7) Use heading tags appropriately – Six types, ranging from H1 to H6, H1 being the most important.
“Heading tags are used to present structure on the page to users.”
8) Optimize your use of images – Search engine spiders can’t see pictures the same way we do
“Images may seem like a straightforward component of your site, but you can optimize your use of them. All images can have a distinct filename and “alt” attribute, both of which you should take advantage of.”
9) Make effective use of robots.txt – Note: You need to exercise care with your robots file. You could accidentally prevent your site from being indexed properly if you’re unsure of how to configure it.
“A “robots.txt” file tells search engines whether they can access and therefore crawl parts of your site.”
10) Be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links – Note: As with the robots file, if you’re unsure as to proper use of nofollow, use caution.
“Setting the value of the “rel” attribute of a link to “nofollow” will tell Google that certain links on your site shouldn’t be followed or pass your page’s reputation to the pages linked to.”
All of the above are essentially the good, solid practices that any SEO should be following. Additionally, every one of the points I’ve touched upon, is found in Google’s own search engine optimization handbook; their “starter guide”. If you happen to catch, or notice, an SEO Expert, not following one or more of the above, then how much of an expert could he really be if he can’t even follow the beginners rules?
A post or two back was a bit about why social media isn’t going to be surpassing search engine optimization as the “golden egg” in advertising as it were. Interestingly enough, there is even factual evidence to add to the mix.
Tracking the numbers, traffic and uptime firm Pingdom, has proven that Facebook is demolishing all comers in the social media arena with 260 billion page views. When it came to monthly page views, Facebook was front runner by more than 10 times the views that MySpace had. There were nearly 60 times more page views for Facebook than Twitter, which ranked 4th in the study. It’s not a huge surprise that Facebook is the dominant entity in social media, but as little as 18 months ago (June 2008) MySpace was still larger worldwide, and kept a hold on that title for a few more months in the states.
Are these the only factors which contributed to Facebooks overwhelming success? Of course not, but, when social media, embraces SEO fundamentals as a built in function of their website, it’s obvious they know where the merits of the internet are. Because after all, what good is it to sell advertising on a social media site, if it can’t be searched? And the best way to be found?
Follow SEO basics and fundamentals.
A portion of the SEO industry seems to be focused on this topic as of late, and while I can see why the idea that social media over taking search engine optimization may be seen as a very scary prospect, it really won’t be that bad. Let me tell you what I see happening.
Jon (fictional of course) cranks up the internet, goes on over to Google and decides to check out “deals on netbooks” for example. Upon hitting enter, and getting their search results, lets pause for a moment to see what it is that actually comes up for Jon to peruse. There’s the option of the sponsored listings off to the side of the page of course, as well as the organic search results which populate the center of the page.
Almost all users understand the sponsored links are on the edge of the page, and don’t use them, but there is a certain number of users who still use them, so that’s a positive. The center column, with all of the organic results, are where your organic SEO skills come into play. With a quality website, well written and properly optimized content, you will be viewable within those organic rankings. Now there’s a new twist however, using the more options tab, you can include real time posts into your search as well. Blog posts, twitters and the like can be intermixed with your results for a very well rounded opinion on the search Jon has made. A true SEO Expert will advise, and assist, their clients in the initiation and use of a blog as well as how to continually update their entries with relevant, quality posts.
The internet is an incredibly huge arena to have a presence in, and having a presence of authority isn’t just expensive, it’s priceless. And with the proper tending, skills, and time invested, it would be entirely possible for a company to rank exceedingly well in all 3 areas, practically ensuring the highest possible ROI on the SEO performed for their company.
Is Social Media going to overtake, and run past Search Engine Optimization as a more powerful form of marketing? No, but if you have the real SEO Experts working for you, they won’t try and feed you that mis-information either. True SEO experts will advise you, and assist you, on ranking highly in all areas of online marketing.
SEO Experts unite? It seems everywhere online there’s courses, quizzes, training webinars, downloadable ebooks, the list is extensive. Things, are getting out of hand. Search engine optimization isn’t even remotely a light read over lunch, or a 2 day training course, or a handful of quizzes which magically “certify” you as an expert.
Now I’m not saying that all of the aforementioned methods are just snake oil in a jar, designed to take your money and run. For the most part, they will teach you best practices when you build a website and add to it, but if your plan was building a new site, why wouldn’t you already have an idea of what you wanted and how to implement it? And if you had no idea how to implement, there are web design shops out there which can help direct you as to what needs to be done, based on your needs.
Would you honestly trust your optimization efforts, to the SEO expert who actually writes a home improvement blog (yes they exist)? SEO is as old as Google, from when they first started building their index with the first pages. It’s not fly by night, it’s not short term, it’s not quick fix, and it’s not something everyone can do.
A new year, a new decade. Welcome to 2010, do you have your resolutions handy to go over them? Good! Lets begin..
Resolution #1: I will not try to perform my own SEO. This is a great start for the new year for you! Yes, you do indeed know your business better than anyone else, however, your expertise is not in SEO, it’s in your industry. SEO is our world, let Freshtraffic take care of that for you.
Resolution #2: I will communicate better with my SEO. Another great idea for 2010. Again, you know the best when it comes to your business, we at Fresh however know SEO. For us to serve you to the absolute best of our abilities we need you to remain in contact with us about any changes to your services or features so that we may change and update your pages properly. If we’ve helped you to setup a blogging service, please be sure to use the service regularly so to help firmly place yourself as the authority within your industry.
Resolution #3: I will work harder to understand “You get what you pay for”. In every situation, you get what you put in. If you receive promises of quick, high rankings for a low investment, expect to have very mixed results, worst case scenario, your website being kicked from Google’s index. Fresh has been in the search engine optimization business, since before SEO was a buzz word being tossed around marketing tables.
Resolution #4: I will understand that SEO is not SEM. Going straight to Wikipedia:
Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs) through the use of paid placement, contextual advertising, and paid inclusion.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results
SEM = sponsored links (top or right side) SEO = organic ranking (center of the page)
Resolution #5: I will not meddle after having my site optimized. We couldn’t have hoped for a more important resolution than this one. Search engine optimization isn’t an exact science to be sure, however, there are steps which need to be taken to ensure compliance within the industry, and that’s our job to know those lines and to not step over them. Something as simple as deciding to add a picture, or reword a page, without consulting first, could completely undo any and all work been done on your entire site.
Well then, it looks like you’ve compiled some great resolutions for moving forward in the New Year! We’ll have to check back in a few months, just to see how you’ve been doing at keeping to your resolutions. Happy New Year, may your year bring you highly placed organic rankings, limited to no paid inclusions, and exponential growth in unique visitors to your site.
In continuation from yesterdays post about prepping for the new year, and being ready to take the bull by the horns online, below you’ll find a couple of tips to be aware of in regards to getting ready. An insight or two, as well as some advice to bear in mind as your advertising year starts anew.
An easily forgotten fact, is that web crawlers from the search engines treat each individual page of a website as it’s own entity. This means that rather than regarding the optimization of your website as a whole, it can be more productive to think of it as the optimization of each page. Using this approach is much more involved and meticulous care needs to be taken, but, once all of your pages have been optimized, your entire site will be search engine friendly, and loaded with relevant content.
An important SEO fact every business owner should know is that true, organic SEO, requires a multitude techniques, and time for those techniques to work if an SEO campaign is really going to be successful. Using a single SEO method may help improve your results a little; but if you want your business to be ranked highly by the search engines for a long time and to increase the amount of traffic that visits your site then proper identification and implementation of acceptable SEO techniques will be required. It is also important to note, that rankings can, and do, fluctuate day to day within the search results page. It’s impossible to guarantee the number 1 spot in the results, but when Fresh works your site, with our proven organic optimization techniques, you will climb the results in ranking.
The third basic fact in search engine optimization that you should always have in mind, is that SEO is a continuous process. It does not stop, because there’s always another website, another business, and/or another competitor knocking on your door online; trying to take your place. Once high rankings have been achieved through an efficiently run SEO campaign, if this optimization is suddenly halted then it is likely that the rankings achieved will drop too. You could liken the effect much the same as watering a flower garden properly and with care, to suddenly stopping. All of your efforts in raising that product, will be for nothing. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are constantly changing and developing their technology and new techniques to help be ranked are also constantly being developed. If you want to remain on top, then you must remain updated on all developments and make the necessary changes to your SEO campaign.
At Freshtraffic, we’re constantly monitoring our clients sites, and if a slip in ratings is found consistently, and not a momentary lapse in a reindexing, we will retool the site to return to, and retain the previously held high ranking.
2010 is right around the corner, and are you poised to march into the new year with authority and your presence online?
New Years Resolutions, out with the old, in with the new.. change is good. If you’re an “old hat” in the biz world, you have had your methods which have worked to advertise (tv, radio, newspaper, etc). But the simple, honest truth is, those mediums have lost the majority of their impact on society. The world is online, gone digital, and in the realm of switches, code, and information exchange, the world never sleeps.
The 24/7 marketplace, the Internet, where you can sink or swim based upon your decisions as a business owner. Is your site easy to use? The information relevant to your product or services? Are you easy to find within the search engines; Google, Bing or Yahoo?
If you’ve not concentrated on your presence online, don’t fret as it’s never too late to get started. In the game of cat and mouse online however, you’re not just competing with the shop down the street, you need to contend with your competitors the next town over, or in the next state/province. The web moves and breathes with a life of it’s own, and having the real optimization experts on your side, is your first step towards taming the beast.
In frequenting a forum or two, I’ve come across some rather interesting questions and scenarios from time to time. Potential clients asking about techniques, both white and black hat, SEO “experts” posing questions that they should undoubtedly know the answers too, in order to consider calling themselves even an SEO, let alone an expert.
Today I encountered a scenario I wasn’t entirely ready for, a person who used to create and publish advertisements under the Google Adwords program, wanted to use Google as a reference on a job application for a position as an “SEO Expert”.
The biggest and most blatant problem with their question being notably; under Adwords, you don’t work for Google. The relationship between yourself and Google, is one of independant contractors, not as an employer/employee relationship. So, out goes that reference.
The second problem, and it’s as much a pet peeve as an actual issue, writing Adwords does not qualify a person to be a search engine optimization expert. Trying to draw the comparison between the two, would be the same as having applied to be a mechanic after changing a tire on your car.
Would you go see that “mechanic” with your business, knowing his prior experience?
Most professionals in the SEO Services industry apply every possible advantage to a website to get better rankings. Some will focus on fixing structural issues and allow indexing to happen naturally. While an XML sitemap will not directly, nor immediately improve your search engine rankings, it does allow search engines such as Google to see any changes more quickly.
XML sitemaps have replaced the older method of submitting your website URL to search engines. You can now submit your XML sitemap directly to the search engines, or you can wait for the search engines to spider it.
What is included in a XML Sitemap?
* Links (URL’s) to all the pages on your website.
* The relative importance of each page on your website.
* The date each page was last modified.
* How often each page is expected to change.
When to use a XML sitemap
* On large dynamic websites that are poorly linked making them difficult to index.
* On websites using large amounts of Flash where the web crawlers have difficulty accessing the content.
* For poorly coded websites.
* Any website that changes their content frequently like blogs, forums, CMS (content management systems).
XML sitemaps doesn’t directly affect SEO results but they do communicate important information to the search engines to help them index your website.
Following yesterday’s news that Microsoft’s Bing is gaining share on Google (its searches are up 7% for October), a look into their similaries and differences was in order.
Bing’s stance on SEO doesn’t appear to be all that different from Google’s, however, users get different results, which is how to two can coexist in the first place. The difference isn’t necissarily in how the results are found, it is in how the results are presented. Remember that Microsoft marketed Bing as the “decision engine”.
Bing and Google have separate, unique algorithms, but both like quality, relevant links and good content, as opposed to deception and spam. In a white paper for webmasters, Microsoft says:
“There have been no major changes to the MSNBot crawler during the upgrade to Bing. However, the Bing team is continuously refining and improving our crawling and indexing abilities.”
Bing separates results into categories, which has so far worried some in the SEO sector, but Microsoft says proper SEO will work just as well. Bing also has the explore pane, which corresponds with the categories in the SERPs. This is similar to Google’s recent addition of “search options.”
Doing a quick search for comparison between Bing and Google for the keyword “snowboards” yields the following results. Bing gives you categories like shopping, brands, buying guide, providers, accessories, images, videos, and local. Google returning the relevant websites from sales, to local, to forums.
With Bing, it’s not so much about getting to the top of the results, it’s about getting to the top of the right set of results. And still, as always, having quality and relevant content is the best thing you can do. Incidentally, this will help your cause in Google (and other search engines) at the same time.
Curious About What Bing Looks for in Links?
Rick DeJarnette of Bing Webmaster Center recently posted a pair of blogTo try and help determine the good, and the bad:
- If you can’t endorse the quality of the content at another site, you shouldn’t be linking to them.
- Don’t seek links from sites whose content isn’t link worthy.
- Links to and from your site should be relevant to your site or the page you’re linking to.
- Quality > quantity.
- Avoid hidden text