Seo-mama’s Blog


How Hosting and The Location of Hosting Affects Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 17, 2008

An often-overlooked component of thorough, professionally applied search engine optimisation (SEO) is web hosting. Hosting plays an integral part in search engine optimisation for a number of reasons. Whilst website owners and SEO professionals direct their efforts almost exclusively at on-page factors and link building, most will spare little thought (if any at all) to the actual hosting of their website. When ranking differentials, especially on popular keywords and keyword phrases are incredibly marginal, you will appreciate any SEO assistance you can squeeze out of the scenario. Where you host your site can potentially offer that all-important distinction and might be the difference between flying high on page one of Google for competitive phrases or languishing in the lower reaches of the Google returns, out of sight, out of mind.

As in most walks of life you tend to get what you pay for. If you used a shared hosting plan, you will probably find that you are sharing your hosting with numerous (possibly hundreds) of other sites all hosted on the same Internet Protocol (IP) address as you. If only one of these sites causes trouble and is flagged as rogue, your site along with all the others being hosted on that same IP could be seriously, adversely impacted. Your search engine ranking positioning (SERP) could take a big hit in the process. All the meticulous work you have invested in your SEO – the crafted content, the beautiful structure, the lean, clean coding and the authority-promoting inbound links cultivated over months and months of off-page SEP – will most probably be undermined. If you have taken professional SEO advice and entrusted your organisation’s Internet presence to a specialist company or consultant, then this is the moment that things come unstuck.

A simple check is to have a look at the IP address of the websites ranking well on popular search terms in your industry. It’s more than likely that you will identify at least 70% of them to be hosted on unique IP addresses. They appreciate the potential grief of developing weak SEO muscle through association with sites of dubious reputation, and have already taken measures to place themselves one step ahead of the game.

It’s best to get the foundations of your SEO campaign securely in place before committing time and money. Weak fundamentals might lead to the collapse of the project further down the line – it’s not worth spoiling the SEO ship for a ha’porth of hosting tar.

As well as checking for shared hosting and if necessary securing a dedicated IP, there are other aspects of your hosting optimisation that need to be addressed. It’s important to look closely at the overall reliability of your hosting provider and the package you have. If, for whatever reasons, your site is suffering outages in site uptime, there will probably be search engine indexing gaps. GoogleBot and the other engines are continually crawling the net collecting snapshots of sites with which they update their indexes. If your site’s down they’ll pass you by. It gets worse… If your site is completely down or responds with a server error page, Google will come back later and try again. After several attempts they will give up and remove you from their index. In other words, you lose all the traffic you get from searches in Google if you suffer repeated or lengthy periods of downtime.

Matt Cutts of Google says: “Sometimes temporarily down pages turn into truly-gone-forever pages, so we have to drop those pages at some point. But it’s also true that we go back and revisit those pages pretty often and try to recrawl them in case the site comes back up.” Best not let an inefficient host give the wrong impression to the search engines.

A recent factor in the Google algorithm is load speed, especially if your page has acquired authority and climbed to the front page of the SERP’s. High ranking tends to mean high traffic volumes; if users bounce before the page has finished loading this can have a negative impact on your SEO strategies. From a search engine’s perspective, if the user bounces it’s likely that the page found in the search results is not what the searcher is looking for, ergo that page must have little relevance.

It’s also the case that not everybody has a broadband connection. Others use comparatively slow WiFi, and mobile users can be subjected to slow data transfer rates. These users will probably experience slower site load time. Don’t let your inefficient hosting bounce them and damage your SEO.

As if to underline the concept, Google have recently optimised their Adwords pay-per-click product. Whereas it used to be the case that the higher you bid on keywords the higher you ranked, this is no longer strictly the case. Load speed has been added to the ranking formula meaning that it is actually possible to rank higher in PPC listings with a lower bid, purely because the site loads faster.

When it comes to whether the physical geographical location of the hosting plays any role in SEO, there are divided opinions. Some professions assert that IP Addresses (specifically Geo-specific IP Addresses) have no impact whatsoever in regards to Google, MSN, and Yahoo!. Unless you are doing PPC with the engines, then it might have some bearing on where you are advertising. They regard the whole concept as rather 1990’s. On the other hand there are those that firmly believe geographical location of the host to have a bearing on SEO and rankings, especially as Google focuses more and more on personalisation using any factors available to its search algorithms to laser guide returns as tightly as possible.

There are plenty of anecdotal experiences suggesting that either case might be true but it’s best to err on the side of caution in our view and play it locally as much for the speed issues and reliability of service than for any specific geographical/algorithmic considerations.

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How Does Flash Affect Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 17, 2008

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) doesn’t just happen. It’s conceived, it’s crafted, it’s honed. It’s the product of much research, development, experience, insight, creativity and application, There’s only one top spot for any given keyword or keyword phrase; there’s only one first page. If you’re not on the first page on your chose search terms, you will struggle. If you’re not on the first three pages, then forget it – back to the drawing board. The world of search engine search returns is a competitive space, especially in the more popular industry sectors and with the more popular search expressions.

It’s a tough job at the best of times. Why would any organization or SEO company choose to make it any tougher? Sounds like a non-question really but the odd thing is that many companies do choose to take the path of most resistance. They chose to develop sites using Flash, and Flash flies in the face of SEO fundamentals.

A site built entirely in Flash faces enormous obstacles. Whilst both Google and Yahoo! have started to implement forms of indexing the content from combined Flash/SEO sites, the jury is well and truly out as to whether these new developments will yield any real SEO benefits, especially in competition with highly optimised HTML sites.

Adobe recently announced that they were releasing technology to Google and Yahoo! that enables them to crawl and index SWF files, making them searchable. The ‘opening up’ of millions of Flash files to search sent SEO consultants and marketers across Internet land scrambling to study, learn and adopt the latest tricks of SWF optimisation. SEO Consult was no exception and we are exploring in depth all the potential advantages and best practice techniques to offer the SEO benefits that might emerge from these new developments.

Traditionally sites using embedded Flash or Flash elements that are usually externalized don’t suffer too badly, as the site will probably be comprised of standard HTML elements that can benefit from optimisation. SEO is normally the first thing to suffer though for sites built entirely in Flash. Here are some of the issues that developers face.

URLs of Flash sites are generally static, irrespective of where people navigate to on the site, in effect meaning that from an SEO perspective you only have one potential entry page – the main URL. Tens, hundreds, or thousands of potentially indexable pages are missed out. When the only potential landing page in the search engine listings is the home page, it is can be very limiting and it is very difficult to target a healthy assortment of keywords and keyword phrases, potentially eliminating SEO results or rankings. It is possible to develop unique frames or even movies within movies that appear to be completely unique portions of the Flash site. However there’s no way to link to these individual elements.

One of the most important criteria of SEO is contextually relevant site content, ideally in the form of nice clean text upon which pages can be evaluated against queries. Search engines primarily read HTML text (although some also read text in the PDF format). Google can index the output files in the SWF to see words and phrases. But in Flash, a lot of text isn’t in nice clean

or

tags, it’s jumbled up into half phrases for graphical effects and will often be output in the incorrect order. Often words are broken apart into individual letters to animate text effects. Text displayed in graphic form including Flash can only have a detrimental effect on SEO results. It’s true that Yahoo! and Google have both recently introduced enhanced capabilities in reading content within Flash, but these developments might be regarded as to only serve as a distraction to genuine SEO.

In an age when many users are taking their data on the move, it’s also worth noting that very few mobile devices have the capability of displaying Flash content, despite Adobe’s ‘Flash Lite’ seeking to change this. Whether lean HTML content will be usurped by Flash in the longer run remains to be seen. It’s likely though that function will triumph over form for the foreseeable future.

Flash sites struggle to earn link juice. A lot of Flash content is only linked to by other Flash content wrapped inside shell Flash pages. This weak succession of links, with no other internal or external URLs referencing the interior content, equates to some very low PageRank/link juice pages. Even if they manage to stay in the main index, they probably won’t rank for anything. Whilst an all-Flash site may receive plenty of links to the homepage, interior pages almost invariably suffer. For embedded Flash content, it’s the HTML host page earning those links when they do come. Flash text can be hard to copy and paste unless built properly and even then linking still isn’t common practice.

Flash can be, and often is, used for great effect on the Internet, although it’s probably fair to say that many Flash developers can get a little carried away, paying closer attention to Flash than basic usability issues. Whilst acknowledging that there are mixed opinions on the application of Flash and mixing Flash and SEO on the Internet, perhaps the lack of Flash/SEO compatibility is best revealed by examining the top 50 search returns on a competitive term in a specific industry sector and realizing that in fact there are very few (if any) totally Flash built sites.

When it comes to developing Flash solutions with SEO in mind, it’s not a simple case of it just being more difficult to do. SEO and Flash are just culturally divorced. Oil and water. Bedrock SEO concepts such as anchor text, headlines, bold/strong text, img alt tags, and even title tags are not simple elements to properly include in Flash, and more often than not won’t be properly included.

What is Home Page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) vs Full Site Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 17, 2008

SEO is not just about your site’s homepage. For better or for worse, it’s about every page of your site. Every individual page stands on its own merits and can fly or die based on its unique interaction and relationship with other internal and external pages, it’s content and it’s structure. It’s this fact that makes full site search engine optimisation (SEO) such a potentially rewarding marketing option. You’re not limited to a narrow range of keywords or keyword phrases; you can sculpt and mould content to meet your specific business objectives, attracting and guiding traffic while all the time using your strongest pages to power the rest. Approaching SEO as a site-wide, page-by-page discipline will, if applied intelligently with planning and insight, yield successful and long lasting benefits.

If your SEO has been conducted professionally, not just your home page but every page on your site is a potential landing page. Each page on your site has the opportunity to make a positive first impression, to provide content or information of interest and to lead visitors to a call to action. Don’t spoil your home page, giving it all your SEO attention at the expense of the rest of your site. Every page on your site is potentially a home page, with holistic SEO techniques used to drive traffic and deliver business rewards.

Home Page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) vs Full Site Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? It’s not a simple question of either or. It’s a question of both.

Many SEO professionals consider there to be three main pillars of SEO – Structure, Content, and Links. They’re all interrelated, with effective SEO the product of great content applied across a well-structured site attracting authoritative inbound links. Of those pillars the structure of a website is often one of the most under rated aspects of SEO, not just with website owners but also by experienced search engine optimisation companies and consultants. Website structure consists of several intertwined elements including coding, internal links and the nature of technology applied to the site build. Failure to structure a site professionally will completely undermine site-wide SEO. You may end up with individually successful pages but will miss out on the internally generated authority evolution.

HTML has evolved. Modern versions such as CSS 1.0 and XHMTL offer clean, semantic and search engine friendly solutions. Light, tight, clean coding.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) enable developers to remove redundant design code from a website and place the content closer to the start of the document, whilst at the same time reducing the code to mark-up ratio. CSS also facilitates easier, more cost-effective site maintenance by separating content from style.

The conversion of a website from table based to pure CSS based design will decrease the amount of code by somewhere in the region of 40%. All the major search engines appreciate streamlined code, especially Google, with many of the best ranked SEO companies themselves applying CSS based deigns.

Search engines care immensely how web masters categorize and label their own content – Internal Site Navigation. It’s recommended that every website have a user accessible XML Sitemap linked from every page then submit it to Google sitemaps and Yahoo! Site Explorer, not only to assist user navigation but to generate internal link juice. The more internal links you have to a page, the more internal strength this page will accrue. Some SEO specialists report that one relevant contextual link from your own site can be worth more than 10 good external links.

Most sites with indexing problems are suffering from an inefficient internal page linking structure, with the biggest issues relating to JavaScript and CSS navigation systems that the search engines struggle to crawl.

Create a Robots.txt file that defines your sitemap and lists exclusions. Though the robot.txt file does have uses when used to prevent unnecessary or duplicate information being indexed, failing to manage the it properly by listing exclusions will cause spidering problems as it might inform the search engine’s content fetching robots that they may not fetch that particular page.

By sculpting PageRank Flow using the no-follow tag you can cap off the flow of PageRank to pages considered unimportant from a search point of view. For example, though a Privacy policy page may be useful to customers, there’s probably little point in it being picked up by the search engines. By capping off PageRank to pages like this, you increase the relative importance of other more important pages such as those relating to products or product categories.

The engines are not at all keen on dynamic or session-based URLs and URLs with more than one or two variable parameters. This can create duplication problems or inconsistent indexing. By far the best approach is to apply static URLS or mask your dynamic content by having it appear as a static URL.

A lot of dynamic websites present the same content on multiple pages. An example of this is the ‘view a printer-friendly version of this page’ option offered. A better web solution would be to develop a printer-friendly Cascading Stylesheet.

It’s always good policy to purge any unnecessary URLs from the site. Create static pages by applying forms that allow the posting data to reduce page count. Multiple URLs can confuse spiders to the degree that they don’t index the catalog properly and some of the main content pages are not cached.

Ideally all individual pages should benefit from the complete range of ‘on-page’ SEO that is normally applied to the Home page. Title tags, H1 tags, high quality keyword rich content, alt tags, and even meta tags should be optimised before moving onto organising external links. Since ‘off-page’ factors are more difficult to directly influence, many experts are of the opinion that on-page and site-wide SEO tactics will become increasingly important.

At SEO Consult we apply expert site-wide SEO techniques. Not only do our developers pay close attention to client home pages, but also work across the whole site generating authority, driving traffic and fulfilling business objectives.

How The Importance Of URL Structures Affects a Sites Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 17, 2008

The whole point of search engine optimisation (SEO) is not to exploit or try to take advantage or trick search engine rankings. It’s to match the most relevant content to a search audience. SEO experts apply numerous on and off-page techniques in order that their clients’ websites are in the mix when it comes to matching web users search requirements. The two main areas of focus traditionally associated with successful SEO are the creation of high quality content and the generation of strong, authoritative inbound links. An often-overlooked aspect of SEO that can have definite positive impacts on online presence when conducting an organic SEO campaign is URL structure. It is pointless optimising a web page without giving search engines easy access to that page’s content. Search engines don’t like crawling sites with too many parameters in the URL with content management systems in particular prone to problematic URLs.

Defining and applying effective URL structure is a discipline that can take a lot of organisation and planning when launching a new site or contemplating a site re-design. Taxonomy, hierarchal structure, classification and grouping are all issues that need to be considered. It’s energy well spent, as proper URL structure can have a wonderfully positive impact on your site rankings in the long run. Conversely, ill conceived or poorly deployed URL structure can have immediate negative impacts on your search engine visibility and web presence.

URL structure is often an aspect of an organisation’s website where it’s worth looking to see if there is any room for improvement. But closing the URL structure door after the horse has bolted is far less effective than taking the necessary organisational steps to carefully plan site architecture before launch.

Here are some of the most common areas for improvement when considering URL structure in the context of SEO:

1. Describe Your Content
Promote the theme of your site, and where possible try to ensure that your URLs accurately reflect the page content. They say an obvious URL is a great URL. If a user can guess the content of a page simply by looking at the address bar (or a pasted link), you’ve done your job. These URLs get pasted, shared, emailed, written down and recognized by the engines. One of the criticisms of ‘tinyurls’ is that they render the user blind, offering no clues what so ever as to what the page may relate to. Because TinyURLs ‘301’ (permanently redirect), search engines should not index the TinyURL but instead should index and pass PageRank to the actual URL. In that respect they are beneficial for SEO.

It is important to note that TinyURLs to paid links passing PageRank is a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines and that sites like Twitter use ‘nofollow’ techniques to prevent spam.

2. Less is more
Shorter URLs are better than longer ones. Google’s Matt Cutts says, “If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit.” Shorter URLs are also less prone to typos.

3. Static URL’s are best
Static URLs tend to be shorter and more effective than dynamic URLs. Some engines make a point of treating static URLs better than dynamic ones with ‘?’, ‘&’ and ‘=’ both unfriendly and unhelpful.

4. Descriptives are Better than Numbers
Avoid use of numbers as opposed to using descriptive keywords. It’s far better to use words when possible. The exception may be incorporating the date into URL such as a number sequence reflective of a defined time period.

5. Keywords Won’t Harm
With sites that target plenty of competitive keyword phrases, you’ll want all the help you can get. Employ keywords in your URL structures. For dynamically created pages through a CMS, create the option of including keywords in the URL.

6. Subdomains? Best avoided.
Subdomains can be unnecessarily complex and lengthy. They also have the potential to be treated separately from the primary domain when it comes to passing link and trust value. Benefits derived from reputation management are minimal compared to the potential loss of link/trust juice.

7. Fewer Folders
Avoid burying content deep within a site. Use fewer folders; try to keep your important site content less than three or folders deep. Why should the search engines give your content priority if you don’t? A URL should contain no unnecessary folders (or words or characters for that matter).

8. Hyphens Separate Best
Some SEOs believe search engines prefer the use of a hyphen to an underscore. When creating URLs with multiple words in the format of a phrase, hyphens are best to separate the terms followed (in order) by, underscores (_), pluses (+) and nothing.

9. Keep it Conventional
Apply your URL guidelines consistently, so users (and future developers) will have a clear idea of how content is organised into folders and pages.

10. Don’t be Case Sensitive
Unlike a domain name, URL is case sensitive – Don’t ever, ever allow any uppercase letters in your structure. Mixed cases can complicate and confuse.

11. Don’t Append Irrelevant Data
There’s no point to having a URL that will generate the same content in an abbreviated form. You can virtually guarantee that it will cause duplication issues.

Whilst not adhering to the above practices won’t necessarily lead to perfect SEO results, organised and well-applied URL structures should be considered a component of any organisation best practice SEO in the same way that W3C and CSS validation is applied.

How On-Page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Varies For Different Coded Websites

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 17, 2008

SEO is a multi-faceted and holistic discipline; a crossover where keyword, key phrase, audience and semantic space research and definition, SEO copy-writing, link building and code optimisation all merge in harmony (hopefully) in an attempt to address a variety of search engine ranking factors and deliver defined business objectives. Programming the website in a way that allows engine spiders to access, categorize, and index the content to ensure your other SEO tactics fulfil their potential is also an important aspect of SEO best practice. Put simply, organic search engine optimisation boils down to two things:

1. Getting other quality sites to link to yours and:

2. Optimising your website’s code and content.

You will want to ensure your code is as error-free as possible, from a W3C validation standpoint and that you follow guidelines for semantically correct mark-up. Testing shows that good, clean, semantically correct code allows for faster indexing by the search engines.

Code is often the most neglected aspect of search engine optimisation campaigns. In a recent online poll only 2% of respondents rated coding as the most important factor in SEO campaigns. Well-written, standards-compliant code makes your site load fast, and opens it up to search engines. With Google now giving pages a score for download speeds, the less unnecessary code on a page the quicker it downloads and the better you score.

The big question when it comes to coding a website is whether to opt for pure HTML coding, in particular Semantic XHTML Mark-up, or to go with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Each option has SEO implications. At SEO Consult our programming team share experience and expertise in both specifying on a project-by-project basis, depending on a range of factors.

It is a universally agreed principle that the whole concept of SEO is to optimise a page so that the engines can better understand what it is about. There are those that argue that the simpler the page – meaning a CSS solution (with less HTML and relatively more content), the easier it is for an engine to understand what it is about. It will also load faster and be less prone to spider blocking code errors or any other programming glitches that might prove detrimental to the SEO campaign.

Another particularly influential argument for CSS solutions is that search engines tend to weight content towards the top of HTML documents highest and search engines spider the content that comes first in your source code. CSS can be easily structured so that the SEO relevant content takes priority. In an HTML page you cannot adjust which parts of the page are positioned higher in the source of the page. So when a search engine comes to your site it will usually see the links first, and maybe some text that you wanted in the header. If you use a template then this will be the same on almost every page. However, if you use CSS then you could easily have your main body first, the H1 tag and paragraph text on display to the search engines, when in actual fact when you look at the page it appears to be the main body that appears last.

Other people argue that search engines don’t even read CSS and that although using CSS is a better way to develop websites from a content management, bandwidth and code volume perspective, it doesn’t matter to the search engine whether you use CSS or not. They still view the page exactly the same, as it is the content that is important. Yes, they may read the CSS file, but they are looking for links not styles. They advocate Semantic XHTML Mark-up. Semantic coding can be regarded as the art of programming your website so that the code used is descriptive and representative of the information it contains, more meaningful to search engine bots and more productive SEO-wise.

Some SEO experts are of the opinion that for the purposes of or search engine optimisation, semantic HTML coding is the best way forward, improving how easily search engine crawlers can discern the meaning of your web page. In fact one of the highest ranking sites for the term ‘SEO’, which is probably the most competitive of all the keywords in the world, actually uses tables in their pages.

When a search engine spider like Googlebot visits your web page to index it, it generally extracts the text from the code so it knows which parts of your web page are readable to humans. Googlebot isn’t interested in indexing or displaying any code or text from your website that isn’t visible to humans – it doesn’t record how many div tags you used. What it does do, and what many other search engines are starting to do, is attempt to apply more weight or importance to certain text on your web page.

Here are some great semantic coding guidelines, courtesy of Barry Wise:

  • tags should only be used once on a page, to define the title and/or purpose of the page. It should be very close in meaning to the

  • header tags should be used for subheadings, in order of descending importance. Try not to skip.
  • Don’t use
    to separate list items. Instead use the
      tag with

    1. elements for ordered lists, and
        and

      • should be used for unordered lists.
      • For bold or emphasized text, use strong or em, instead of the less descriptive and tags.
      • Wrap paragraphs in

        tags, and never use

        or
        tags just for spacing. Use the margin and/or padding attributes of the

        tag in your CSS code to add visual spacing.

      Either way it’s wise to check W3C compliance as although it’s unlikely that validity has any direct influence on search ranking, it is incredibly important for error checking, browser compatibility and overall site usability. Who knows; in the future Google may just include W3C validity in their algorithm.

      An increasing number of people use PDAs and mobile handsets with the majority of social media users these days accessing the web via Safari or Firefox. You’ll do well to nip any browser compatibility issues in the bud or risk missing out on a growing audience.

Top Tips For Ongoing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Strategies

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 15, 2008

Professional and successful search optimisation is a multi-disciplined process requiring a well measured combination of copywriting, web design, web development, marketing, advertising and analysis – the blend and proportion of each skill dependent upon the experience and expertise of the marketer.

It’s an acquired craft that when applied expertly can yield powerful returns.

Without doubt SEO (search engine marketing) is best applied as an ongoing project. The healthiest and more rewarding SEO results derive from a long-term commitment to search engine optimisation. Six to twelve month campaigns (or ideally even longer) give you and your SEO partner the opportunity to reveal you online audience and develop an intimate bond, to hone the technical as well as content related components of the site and to cultivate mature linking strategies. By regularly assessing and measuring site performance SEO can be adjusted on an on going basis, the core SEO running background to innovative micro campaigns and web related marketing projects.

Selecting the right SEO partner is an all-important factor in determining the success of any web marketing campaign and whether your campaign fulfils business objectives. Identifying a partner with their eye on the horizon and solid long-term strategies is absolutely vital.

Employing under-qualified or ineffective short-termists can risk damage to your site and reputation. A bad SEO company or SEO consultant may do irreparable harm to an online business. Strong, on going SEO will see your business flourish. Although, there are no absolute guarantees when it comes to SEO, Google themselves say ‘No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google… there is no priority submit for Google.’ there are a number of important issues that you should consider when looking for a high quality SEO partner.

Perhaps the number one question you can ask yourself is whether you can expect to still be working with a prospective SEO company in a year’s time. Are they in it for the long haul? Does their reputation and the relationships that they have already developed with clients tell you that they see SEO as marmite or marinade, Marion Jones or Paula Radcliff?

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to successful ongoing SEO but there a number of important pre-requisites. Follow our Top Tips For Ongoing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Strategies and see your Internet profile improve significantly over the long term.

Top Tips For Ongoing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Strategies

1. Link building – Do it naturally and organically. Traffic spikes can draw unwanted search engine attention especially through grey hat link exchanges or black hat link purchasing or links farm links. Even legitimate link-baiting campaigns can sometimes backfire, resulting in too many links in too short of time. If Google considers your link building unnatural you will be penalised. The best bet is to slowly inspire high quality links over a longer period of time.

2. Content first, SEO second – If you focus on your content good rankings will follow. Authoritative content drives the conversation. It’s important to establish your organisation as a thought leader that inspires recognition within your community. If you don’t, your competition will. Communicate your brand messaging powerfully by highlighting you expertise in your field through content is key. Make your site a resource and place of reference. Answer the important questions that those in your industry seek guidance on.

SEO will help good companies be better and do nothing for sites that have nothing to offer in the first place.

3. Heuristic keyword research – Perfect keyword research doesn’t exist. The ‘banker’ keyword simply doesn’t show or one that is showing isn’t converting. By adopting a reactive SEO keyword research method, rather than doing a perfect job of keyword research in the first instance, you review the traffic you are currently getting and re-optimize your pages accordingly. You’ll notice from your analysis visitors finding you almost accidentally on terms and expressions that you hadn’t deliberately focused on marketing. Exploit these type of searches by expanding on terms in these areas.

4. Get lateral – Focus on long tail keywords first, then broaden your approach. It’s likely that the big keywords in your industry are virtually unassailable without huge amounts of work and time. Build from the ground up to develop a position from which you can attack those positions in the future. Think of related terms and associated expressions. Use the big keyword as the kernel of imaginative variations. Instead of simply applying the keyword ‘camera’, try ‘silver camera’, ‘10 mega pixel camera’, ‘homework camera’.

5. Be creative – Be alive and alert to trends and hot key words and buzz phrases. The popularity and topicality of Matt Inman’s cadaver calendar and zombie quiz viral widgets released around the time zombie movie 28 Weeks Later is a good example of the type of media related creativity that can generate powerful inbound links. SEO services like these don’t always come cheap and Mr Inman certainly isn’t free. The benefits and returns of such innovative SEO though when applied alongside core SEO practices are likely to exceed expectations and prove more than value for money through the generation of leads, conversions, sales.

6. Keep on top of your keywords – It’s possible the performance of your competitor’s keywords may catch up over time. Try to stay ahead of the games and use your content and keywords to dictate terminology and industry specific language so that you remain one step ahead. Start to research or imagine now what you’d like to rank for a year or two in the future.

7. Preparation – Experiment by creating landing pages before you need them. Preview a new keyword on a new page and be sure to include a few internal links. This gets the Google authority/index clock ticking. You can always come back and optimize it later.

8. Measurement – Monitor your position on each search engine, track traffic to your site from each search engine keyword but most importantly measure audience response. Do the sales, registrations, subscriptions or votes your calls to action inspire really result in your business objectives being met?

9. Adjust – Based on the performance of your site you should be prepared to add content and make any changes necessary to improve your rankings. As traffic increases so adjustments to the site may be necessary to deal with the additional visitors and maximize conversion rates. Good SEO is not simply about successfully building web traffic, it’s also about building your business.

The important aspect when considering all of the tips above is to help you to identify an SEO partner who is able to provide you with a professional and creative SEO service that can deliver business benefits over the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Quick fix results are all well and good but if they burn bright and tail off quickly too, not replaced by a longer term and sustainable Internet presence then you’re going nowhere, slowly.

Top Tips For Outsourcing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 15, 2008

Of the major search engines Google is the massively dominant force – the daddy. According to recent metrics from comScore, 63 percent of searches conducted in the USA during August 2008 were made using Google, up from 61.9 percent in July and 56.5 percent in August 2007.

Having run a search, 80% of Internet searchers find what they are looking for within the first three pages. Of these nearly 70% would rather click on a natural listing. Over 50 percent of online shoppers primarily rely on a search engine when trying to find a product to purchase online.

If you want a profitable online profile it’s absolutely vital to be at the top end of the search engine returns – sorry…make that Google returns on your key words and key word phrases.

How to achieve high profile search engine placing?

Answer = SEO.

SEO, search engine optimization, or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of marketing a website via search engines to achieve high profile search returns. It primarily consists of either or both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. And works to evolving and reveal site’s relevance so that the engines can easily identify and reward them with top return listings.

Rather than trying to scam the engines or play the system, by far and away the most positive and rewarding policy is to put your energy into creating sites of genuine content and worth, sites of real value to users. Not only will you save time, cash and reputation over the long term by focusing on your content, structure and web relationships, the inherent value in generating trust and authority will act as it’s own SEO establishing self-reinforcing domain authority.

SEO is clearly an important aspect of any organisation’s marketing mix these days with search marketing having evolved into big international business. Spending on sales and brand awareness SEO in the USA alone, predicted to top the $11 billion figure by 2011.

In-house or outsource?

One of the fundamental SEO related questions that companies need to ask themselves is whether they have the resources and expertise to run effective SEO campaigns in-house or whether it is in their best interests to outsource their SEO.

Either way it’s probably a good idea that you know a little about SEO and how it works.

It’s important to know that sites are ranked according to how useful the search engines find site’s content – the relevance of a page against the search term. Search engines use variety of parameters and each search engine has its own algorithm to rank different websites. Factors that influence ranking are numerous however there are tied and trusted methodologies that in the hands of experienced SEO professionals like SEO Consult will yield website owners an important competitive edge. Amongst other things search engines like, fabulous content, quality site organization, clean code, intelligent linking and simply categorized content.

SEO projects are based on four fundamentals:

1. Business Objectives: Research and define the most useful keywords and phrases – map your business objectives in relation to the target audience. Appropriate search terms bring appropriate visitors likely to convert into leads, customers and ROI.

2. Search Engine Preparation: Apply clean current standard compliant HTML code to develop sites that search engines can easily read and index. We encourage a high ratio of content to code and a fast-loading, accessible search engine friendly structure.

3. Site Content and Structure: Search engines look for text content and respect structure. They are priority hungry. Results are more predictable if the site and content are structured.

4. Link Popularity: Google, Yahoo and the other major search engines like to see sites that have clean incoming links from other relevant sites. It’s all about authority. Sites with strong authority linking to your site pass on their authority. It’s a quality by association sort of thing.

If you as an organisation feel that you have the capabilities to deal with the above thoroughly and professionally then you might want to do your own SEO. Remember though – SEO is a craft. As well as commitment and expertise it takes a great deal of specialisation and experience to really master SEO to a high professional standard.

If you are interested in outsourcing your SEO or even part of it to generate more traffic, leads, conversions and sales then here are some important points you need to consider when searching for your perfect SEO partner.

Top Tips For Outsourcing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

1. Key words and keyword phrases – What tools and methodologies do the company use for search term analysis and definition? Ideally they’ll test a range of terms.

2. Campaign wide SEO integration – Check to see whether the company appreciates the holistic nature of SEO, that good SEO integrates with public relations and SEM using optimised and clearly researched and defined key words and phrases.

3. High quality content – Great content rules. Carefully craft content that addresses key search terms and makes sure that content has genuine value and interest to both real people and the search engines. Look for an innovative and imaginative partner who can generate a range of content, graphics, video, widgets, copy etc ideally created using a dedicated media staff. Check samples of their content creation.

4. Ongoing? – Ideally you will partner an SEO company that will create content on a regular basis, continually inspire new links continuously and closely monitor trends and competitors.

5. Link building – Can your prospective partner clearly define their linking strategy processes and prove their abilities in finding quality links for their clients? Directories, blogs, articles, press releases, competitive analysis, etc. Check samples of their link building campaigns.

6. Evaluate what you can measure – What metrics does your prospective partner propose using? Leads, online sales, phone calls generated? When it comes to SEO there’s often an inverse relation between the amount of guaranteed success that a SEO company will guarantee and the amount of success that they deliver. Nobody can hand on heart guarantee top search engine positions.

7. Gather References – SEO is a results business. By referring to clients who’ve benefited clients with increased sales, leads, profile brand awareness a potential partner can go along way in establishing their credentials.

8. Check the lay of the land – Don’t pick the first company you come across. Be sure to meet them in person. Take and check references, do your homework and check previous and ongoing projects. Establish contact with a variety of people within the company. Request and search their keywords and see how well the SEO ranks for the keywords they have chosen to go with. How good the SEO agency is at SEO.

In life you generally get what you pay for. Don’t choose an SEO company just because they offered you the lowest price. Be sure the SEO consultancy is ethical and won’t risk your organisations web presence with deceptive practices. Be sure to do your homework thoroughly.

Top Tips For Off Page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 15, 2008

The major search engines’ search algorithms are constantly evolving in their pursuit of relevance, each engine applying highly complex and secret formulas by which they assess queries and match them to (hopefully) the most relevant returns. – The engines’ fundamental values reside in their ability to rank accurately. As well as the currency of the search engines, relevance is the life-blood of the Internet.

That most of the traffic on the Internet today is driven by the search engines with 90% of web users generating hundreds of millions of queries a day bears testament to the engines success in maintaining search integrity.

Admittedly though, for all the successful search results conducted millions of times a day by numerous Internet users, many others click away from search engines, disappointed at being unable find the information they were looking for. Search engines often find what users want, but not always. It’s an ongoing algorithmic evolution with increasing emphasis over recent years placed on Off Page factors.

Early versions of the search engine algorithms relied on webmasters providing On Page data such as the keyword meta tag, or index files. Solely relying on meta data as the means of indexing soon proved unreliable as often keywords in the meta tag were not truly relevant to the site’s actual keywords. Inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent and manipulated data in meta tags and other attributes within the HTML page source generated irrelevant searches.

The search engines became increasingly vulnerable to abuse and manipulation of the system. Irrelevant search returns though of short-term benefit to unscrupulous web site owners undermined their credibility and profitability. Over time the search engines have evolved increasingly complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional on and off page factors that are more difficult for webmasters to interpret and manipulate.

Link popularity

Link popularity is now the single-most effective factor influencing search engine rankings. It’s not a case of how you see yourself. These days it’s very much a case of how others see you. What esteem they hold you in that make the biggest difference to the search engines.

The main reason for the importance of linking is that it is extremely difficult for webmasters to “fake” good links. Link analysis gives search engines a powerful tool in determining which pages are appropriate for particular topics and search terms – which sites and pages are relevant – each link acting as an endorsement, a vote of confidence. If other sites acknowledge the value they see in a site through linking to it then why shouldn’t users? Links, in the eyes of search engines offer clear indications of relevance.

Obtaining high quality links, these days, is the number one objective of every website owner and SEO professional.

The $64,000 question is how?

There are many opportunities that enable web owners and SEO professionals to cultivate a range of powerful links,

  • Digg bait
  • Top 10 articles,
  • Sensational articles,
  • Geo targeting,
  • Blogs,
  • Linkbait strategy
  • Internal structure

All build reputation, domain authority and ranking in the process.

Here are our Top Tips for Off Page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

  1. Wear a white hat – Don’t underestimate the passion search engines have for relevance. If they think you’re trying to undermine their efforts by playing the system, buying in links, “artificially” inflating link popularity or generating links on any basis other than the quality and worth of your site – your merit, they’re strike you from their indexes. It’s not worth it. Any short-term gains will quickly be wiped out.
  2. Social Networking and Community Creation – Online reputation management can be enhanced by contributing to the most popular social networking sites like Myspace, Facebook, Linked In, Ecademy, Bebo etc., and create a profile. Extend your online network, connect with friends, share ideas and promote your company/website to build an online reputation.
  3. Blogging – An incredibly powerful way to promote your website. Freshly updated comment and content, highly relevant to your industry. Be concise, be precise and be human. Build a fan base by sharing information, tips advice, wisdom and opinion. Encourage participation and attempt to establish authority in your given subject area. Turn your blog into a resource for others. Truly great articles ‘own’ web traffic. Identify the leading movers and bloggers in your market place. Link to them from your blog but let them know you’ve done so.
  4. RSS Feeds – Are very well worthwhile targeting. Google now tracks the number of your RSS feed subscribers. The magic number seems to be at least 25. RSS can have amazingly positive implications in terms of how your articles rank.
  5. Press Releases and Articles – Submit and syndicate your news and opinion. Keep it concise, keep it interesting and a make it worthwhile read. Use Press releases to enhance kudos and evolve your reputation. Go into detail. Work in depth offer a professional level of information or insight. The more useful your information, the more often they’ll return and the more likely you are to cultivate additional back-links.
  6. Social Bookmarking – is another powerful way of promoting websites. Search engines like them as content updates frequently. It’s important when using popular book-marking sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Propeller, etc. to handle the tags properly and not spam them.
  7. Widgets – Innovative features such as quizzes. Creativity counts. Matt Inman of SEOmoz cites his ranking widgets that rank on any term he chooses with viral badges. The “how geek are you?’ or “what’s my blog rating?” widgets for example that encouraged many thousands of people to rate their own blog as a film would be rated, checking for swear words or violent language. All anchor text linking straight back to his home page.

There are many other highly effective ways to conduct ‘off page’ SEO, link baiting, CSS, W3C & RSS directories submission, cross linking, directory submission etc. A professional SEO partner like SEO Consult able to examine a range of creative possibilities best suited to your online strategy.

Though not strictly Off Page, it’s important to remember to get your own house in order before rushing off to try to attract links. Prepare your campaign by applying comprehensive and considered business requirements analysis and On Page SEO. Most of all, be absolutely committed to SEO copywriting and truly great site content. There’s no substitute for brilliantly optimised sites, beautifully presented with content of genuine worth to build self-reinforcing domain authority and generate profits.

Top Tips For On Page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 15, 2008

Conceptually straightforward and an absolute pre-requisite when it comes to successful SEO (search engine optimisation), on page optimisation is no more, no less than well conceived and applied web page construction, placing your keywords and keywords phrases at forefront of the process.

Of course, the end game when conducting any SEO is to increase targeted traffic to your web site. Before you can successfully accomplish this though there is some initial ground that needs to be covered.

We’ll shortly give you our Top Tips for On Page SEO but before then we need to take a brief look at the background to your On Page SEO

On Page SEO

On Page SEO is a discipline that covers coding, content and the structure of the content. It’s a process of defining and honing those aspects of your web presence directly under your control making sure that your website is as search engine friendly as possible.

Applied holistically On Page SEO a product of the definitive SEO development stage.

The SEO Development Stage

Determining keywords and key phrases – defining your semantic space and the terms you will be targeting for engine indexing is a vital first step in the SEO process. This is a task that needs to be tightly integrated with the business objectives. Getting the keyword selection aligned with business objectives is an absolute must. Failure to do this thoroughly and correctly could undermine the whole SEO process from day one potentially leading you up a blind, expensive and time consuming alley. The effective definition of your semantic space will drive visitors and convert prospects to leads into customers.

There are a variety of powerful keyword research tools, Wordtracker for example shows crossovers between products and services and the search terms of a prospective audience. We identify audience behaviour and how they apply language to search for the types of product and service that our clients offer. Research not only reveals the obvious and important keywords, but also the more obscure terms and even misspellings that can also prove profitable in delivering visitors to your site.

Clean code

Search engines and their spiders adore light, tight and clean code that lets then burn through sites pulling out all the relevance and indexing it ready for retrieval. It’s important that the site can be easily crawled and indexed by search engine bots. From a search engine perspective, the best site in the world is unlikely to rank if the crawlers struggle to extract any content from it. Make sure that your code is valid, bad code can lead to search engines not being able to properly read a page. You’ve gone to the trouble to define your keywords and keyword phrases, now feed them to the spiders. Make it easy for them. Use the W3C validator to check your markup.

Remember, each page on your website is a potential landing page, it’s its own entity offering its own ranking potential. Keyword analysis and tight coding don’t just apply to your home page. Neglect the rest of your site and your missing out on massive SEO and conversion opportunities.

Now that we’ve covered the foundations of your On Page SEO it’s time to focus in on the ways to make it really effective. Read on…

Top On Page SEO Tips

1. Keyword in title – This tip was in fact cited as the number one on page factor by SEOmoz.org when their team of SEO experts evaluated the ten factors with most effect on Google’s ranking algorithm. Make sure that your keyword or phrase is contained in the page title. It’s your best chance to achieve a high ranking as well as your best chance to convert a searcher into a site customer.

2. Use H1 and H2 tags properly. Your H1 tag should be near the top of your web page and include your most important keywords. Your second most important level of keywords should be listed in your H2 tag. If you have a third level, place it in an H3 tag.

3. Keyword in Description – Write a concise, informative description of your website, using your selected keywords. This description will appear in search engine result pages and will attract to potential visitors.

4. Domain Name – A domain name that features your keyword(s) or at least closely related words will also help boost your rankings. Similarly, sub-domain names and other inner page URLs should also use words that are relevant to your keywords.

5. Meta Tags – All a little old school but still worth applying. Google is not the only search engine and meta tags can be more important factors for other search engines. Insert your keywords in all meta tags, but don’t over do it and risk penalization.

6. SEO Copywriting – Search engines rely on identifying relevance. It’s their currency, and the means by which they claim their competitive advantage over each other. They live for relevance. Nothing pleases them more than finding the most informative, appropriate and useful website to match a query. Make it easy for them. Professional SEO copywriting both nurtures relevance and then reveals it. Flags it up. Deliver it on a silver patter to readers and search engines alike. By developing topical relevance within your site with fresh, informative, interesting and stimulating written content and by cross-linking it with other useful and authoritative pages you start to close the gap between what people want and what you can offer.

Good SEO Copywriting also takes into account:

  • page structure
  • headings,
  • italicising
  • paragraph lengths
  • bullet pointing information

7. Focus on internal linking – Link to your own pages from other pages in your site that have tremendous link weight. Internal link juice is critically important. As important as inbound links in fact. The nature and quality of internal links to a page says a lot about the page with contributory factors including the number of inbound links, placement of the inbound links within the linking pages, anchor text patterns, and the content of linking pages. This sends a clear signal to search engines that that phrase or group of semantically related material is a predominant theme on your site. Make sure that the links within your site are complete, there are no spider blocks in the system and that the links also have a semantic relevance.

Whereas simple ‘on page’ SEO was once sufficient to place websites high on search engine returns these days it takes far more than simply stuffing keywords into various HTML tags, knocking up half a page of mediocre copy then uploading the files.

On Page SEO is a thorough process that surprisingly few organisations pay as much attention to as they ought.

Following the tips above is a start and will see your ‘On Page’ SEO sharpening up no end.

How The Importance Of URL Structures Affects a Sites Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on November 15, 2008

The whole point of search engine optimisation (SEO) is not to exploit or try to take advantage or trick search engine rankings. It’s to match the most relevant content to a search audience. SEO experts apply numerous on and off-page techniques in order that their clients’ websites are in the mix when it comes to matching web users search requirements. The two main areas of focus traditionally associated with successful SEO are the creation of high quality content and the generation of strong, authoritative inbound links. An often-overlooked aspect of SEO that can have definite positive impacts on online presence when conducting an organic SEO campaign is URL structure. It is pointless optimising a web page without giving search engines easy access to that page’s content. Search engines don’t like crawling sites with too many parameters in the URL with content management systems in particular prone to problematic URLs.

Defining and applying effective URL structure is a discipline that can take a lot of organisation and planning when launching a new site or contemplating a site re-design. Taxonomy, hierarchal structure, classification and grouping are all issues that need to be considered. It’s energy well spent, as proper URL structure can have a wonderfully positive impact on your site rankings in the long run. Conversely, ill conceived or poorly deployed URL structure can have immediate negative impacts on your search engine visibility and web presence.

URL structure is often an aspect of an organisation’s website where it’s worth looking to see if there is any room for improvement. But closing the URL structure door after the horse has bolted is far less effective than taking the necessary organisational steps to carefully plan site architecture before launch.

Here are some of the most common areas for improvement when considering URL structure in the context of SEO:

1. Describe Your Content
Promote the theme of your site, and where possible try to ensure that your URLs accurately reflect the page content. They say an obvious URL is a great URL. If a user can guess the content of a page simply by looking at the address bar (or a pasted link), you’ve done your job. These URLs get pasted, shared, emailed, written down and recognized by the engines. One of the criticisms of ‘tinyurls’ is that they render the user blind, offering no clues what so ever as to what the page may relate to. Because TinyURLs ‘301’ (permanently redirect), search engines should not index the TinyURL but instead should index and pass PageRank to the actual URL. In that respect they are beneficial for SEO.

It is important to note that TinyURLs to paid links passing PageRank is a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines and that sites like Twitter use ‘nofollow’ techniques to prevent spam.

2. Less is more
Shorter URLs are better than longer ones. Google’s Matt Cutts says, “If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit.” Shorter URLs are also less prone to typos.

3. Static URL’s are best
Static URLs tend to be shorter and more effective than dynamic URLs. Some engines make a point of treating static URLs better than dynamic ones with ‘?’, ‘&’ and ‘=’ both unfriendly and unhelpful.

4. Descriptives are Better than Numbers
Avoid use of numbers as opposed to using descriptive keywords. It’s far better to use words when possible. The exception may be incorporating the date into URL such as a number sequence reflective of a defined time period.

5. Keywords Won’t Harm
With sites that target plenty of competitive keyword phrases, you’ll want all the help you can get. Employ keywords in your URL structures. For dynamically created pages through a CMS, create the option of including keywords in the URL.

6. Subdomains? Best avoided.
Subdomains can be unnecessarily complex and lengthy. They also have the potential to be treated separately from the primary domain when it comes to passing link and trust value. Benefits derived from reputation management are minimal compared to the potential loss of link/trust juice.

7. Fewer Folders
Avoid burying content deep within a site. Use fewer folders; try to keep your important site content less than three or folders deep. Why should the search engines give your content priority if you don’t? A URL should contain no unnecessary folders (or words or characters for that matter).

8. Hyphens Separate Best
Some SEOs believe search engines prefer the use of a hyphen to an underscore. When creating URLs with multiple words in the format of a phrase, hyphens are best to separate the terms followed (in order) by, underscores (_), pluses (+) and nothing.

9. Keep it Conventional
Apply your URL guidelines consistently, so users (and future developers) will have a clear idea of how content is organised into folders and pages.

10. Don’t be Case Sensitive
Unlike a domain name, URL is case sensitive – Don’t ever, ever allow any uppercase letters in your structure. Mixed cases can complicate and confuse.

11. Don’t Append Irrelevant Data
There’s no point to having a URL that will generate the same content in an abbreviated form. You can virtually guarantee that it will cause duplication issues.

Whilst not adhering to the above practices won’t necessarily lead to perfect SEO results, organised and well-applied URL structures should be considered a component of any organisation best practice SEO in the same way that W3C and CSS validation is applied.

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