SES London Conference
I am very surprised to hear so many SEO companies throwing in the towel after Google’s Penguin update in April 2012. The general feeling amongst the experts is that Google has defeated SEO companies. I don’t agree!
Celebrating Our 14th Birthday
Happy Birthday to us! We’re very proud to say that we are in our 14th year in this business and are continuing to grow and evolve with the fast pace of the online industry. We’d like to thank Fari and Carolyn for putting together such a great team and our clients and associates for their loyalty and support.
It’s such a huge achievement to have survived so long amongst many competitors and the daily challenges that the internet throws at us. Here is a virtual toast to another 14 years of success and hard work!
A professional team of web designers, web developers, and SEO experts will create search engine friendly websites through on-site optimization. Here are some steps that should be taken to ensure that your site is optimized:
1. Title Tags
It’s the title of the page and is one of the most important steps. It should have keywords in it and accurately describe the page.
2. Meta keywords
Keywords and keyphrases that are relevant to your business or purpose which will help search engine users find your site and understand what it is about.
A sitemap is a list of the pages on your website which allows visitors but, most importantly search engines to view all the pages and get a better understanding of the site’s content and purpose.
4. Meta tags
A meta tag is an HTML tag that provides information of the site. It cannot be seen on the site but it can be picked up and analyzed by web spiders.
5. Internal Links and Link Optimisation
Linking from page to page within the site is a key for search engines as well as encouraging visitors to navigate around the site.
Useful anchor text should be used to link, for example, linking the text “bespoke websites” is more useful than linking “click here” as it will be clearer to search engines and visitors what page the link leads to.
Unique content that includes keywords and keyphrases needs to be on every page. Search engines will penalize sites that have copied content.
7. Image ALT Tags
The images on your site should have ALT tags so that search engines know what the image is and are able to direct users to what they are looking for. Search engine spiders can only read a text and not images. When your cursor hovers over the image, the text should represent the image and be relevant. The image file name should also be changed to match the ALT tag and should never be labeled as “photo1.jpeg”.
8. Social Marketing
By producing and distributing content across social media, you will be able to build a good relationship with search engines as well as your virtual audience. Having the buttons clearly linked on your site and making frequent and consistent updates improves a sites organic search presence. Facilities such as blogs allow websites to be frequently updated which is another search engine criteria for ranking.
While on-site optimization is only one part of SEO, it is the first process to help improve sites organic search presence. This is why it’s important to understand and appreciate the value of a professional when making a site and to seek their services. You should get your site audited to make sure all these steps have been taken and what can be done to improve and update your site.
It’s common knowledge that a good Google ranking can make or break a business, so it’s no surprise that companies regularly get into a lather when they don’t get the results they believe they deserve.
The European Commission Competition Chief, Joaquin Almunia, is currently investigating the claims of three firms who claim that Google, far from sticking to the objective algorithms it is so well-known for basing its results on, is deliberately downgrading them.
The aggrieved companies are Foundem, a price comparison site, ejustice.fr, a French legal search engine, and – most interesting perhaps, given the rivalry between the two companies – Ciao, which is owned by Microsoft.
While we would agree that Google is not always blameless in its various activities, we’d be willing to bet that they will be found innocent on this one. Their algorithms are so complex that we could foresee a situation where sites were accidentally penalized, sure. Plus, Google does also automatically blacklist sites which adhere to any one of several practices it frowns upon, all of which fall under the banner of ‘black hat’ SEO. Might these sites have fallen foul of the sometimes labyrinthine guidelines?
Whatever the case, we’ve seen many a website owner who was convinced that Google had a personal grudge against his site. In every case, it turned out not to be so.
One of our many services for small businesses is checking that your site has nothing in place that might mitigate against your Google rankings. If you are thinking you have a lot in common with Foundem, justice, and Ciao, why not give us a ring and we’ll see if we can get to the bottom of it for you.
Getting sites to the top of Google rankings is a serious business – so serious that it’s easy to forget that the company also has a fun side. This week, the BBC showed us a video and images of Google’s new offices in Zurich. Fancy making an entrance to your staff canteen? The slide from the second floor is just the thing. If that’s not quite your scene, there’s also a fireman’s pole.
As with the other Google offices around the world, a sense of fun, luxury, and comfort pervades the offices. In return, of course, Google expects commitment and creativity – and it probably gets it. What other workplace is going to be worth leaving this for?.
We’ve all enjoyed poring over the details and dreaming of our very own phone booths made from repurposed ski-lift compartments. But in the meantime, we’ll get back to the hard work of optimizing your website for Google.
Images are taken from the BBC website, where you can also watch a video tour of the premises.
If you sell internationally, it’s definitely worth reading the technology section of the daily papers. For example, did you know that many websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, not to mention the all-important Google, are blocked in China?
That’s been the case for quite a while, but recent news stories have also alerted us to similar and less-predictable restrictions in Turkey and Pakistan. On the other hand, the Finnish government has apparently decreed that broadband Internet access is a human right, and are promising every citizen super-fast access by 2015. Currently, almost 100% of the population is already connected at a more normal speed.
Why is it worth knowing these things? Well, obviously, if you sell to Turkey, say, you won’t want to waste your efforts on a viral marketing campaign on YouTube. Similarly, there’s little point in optimizing your Chinese web pages for Google. On the other hand, if many of your customers are from Scandinavia, you can have a lot of fun designing fairly weighty websites with as much video or Flash content as you like – it won’t clog up their capacious broadband.
Apart from anything else, it’s fascinating to see how each country restricts or enables access to the 20th century’s greatest invention – and your international strategy will be a whole lot more likely to bear fruit.
Microsoft’s search engine product Bing was a year old on Sunday. Setting aside the question of whether we’ve got any more used to its rather silly name (no), has it become a proper contender in Search during that time?
Well, according to Thinq, Bing has managed to grow Microsoft’s search share from eight to almost 13 percent over the past year but has barely made a dent in Google’s dominant position. Microsoft’s gains have largely been at Yahoo’s expense.
Does this mean we can largely ignore Bing, and Yahoo for that matter, and optimize purely for Google? Absolutely not. 13% may not sound like much, but given the vast quantity of searches being conducted at any one moment, we’d be fools to let it go.
Don’t forget, too, that these figures relate purely to UK usage. OK, fine if you trade purely within these shores. If you don’t, be assured that Google’s dominance is by no means replicated across the world: in Japan, Yahoo has it. In China, Google has all but given up and Baidu is king. In the States, Bing is much more commonly used than it is here.
Many SEO firms will talk of Google as if it is the only search engine worth optimizing for. It’s easily done, especially when the word ‘Google’, like ‘Hoover’, has become a verb describing the very act of searching. But the savvy optimizer will know that the best benefits in all search engines will be found by putting high-quality, relevant content on your web pages, signposting it clearly, and attracting decent links from the sites that matter. That way, no matter which search engine is dominant at any one time, you’ll be properly represented.
Google makes over 400 small changes to its search algorithm per year, on average, so why is the Search community all abuzz with the recent Mayday update? Simply, it seems, because many of them have seen their rankings suffer, especially when it comes to the ‘long-tail’ results we were talking about only last week.
As ever, Google is striving to make a better user experience: it seems that the losses will largely be felt by gargantuan e-commerce sites with thousands of automatically-generated pages and little content. Ultimately, that’s got to be good for the consumer – and good for you, the small business.
Matt Cutts, increasingly the voice of Google, especially when it comes to addressing concerned webmasters, toes the party line (as you can see in the video below): concentrate not on your rankings, but on being the authority for that product (or service, or topic). Add great content, that’s all you have to do. Admittedly, for a party line, it’s a pretty good one.
Vanessa Fox on Search Engine Land has some practical tips for those wishing to find out if the Mayday update has affected their sites for the better or worse – and what to do about it if it’s the latter.
It’s quite labor-intensive though, so if this is new ground for you, or you simply don’t have the time, we would be very happy to take it on for you. Just drop us a line.
Now here’s that video.
It’s very tempting, sometimes, to have all the latest bells and whistles on your website. Everyone likes novelty, which is probably what led to the many sites that used to play music as soon as they started up, back in the last decade. Thankfully, that’s a trend that has largely now gone the way of the dodo, but, human nature being what it is, there is always something else to replace it. Heavy animations, videos, or just tricksy fonts – they can all add to a site’s “weight”, and you might not even notice it.
The chances are that you visit your own site often, and your browser will be caching certain elements to make them faster to load. What’s more, you almost certainly visit predominantly on the same browser and the same operating system, so you simply might not be aware that what takes a few seconds to load on your own set-up is taking an unacceptably long time on someone else’s.
If you market abroad, stop to think about the distance between your server and your customer’s machine. Not everyone has broadband, and, globally, there are many users who may be used to long page loading times, but still unwilling to wait for your snazzy animation to load.
Not long ago, Google announced that page speed had become one of the many factors in their increasingly-complex ranking algorithm. In other words, it’s no longer just a courtesy to your customers that your site loads quickly, but a real business imperative for those who rely on top search engine rankings. Fortunately, at Notting Hill Web Design, our best practice policy means ensuring, among many other things, that your site is always as streamlined and efficient as can be. Why not follow the Google link given above, where you’ll find some tests you can do on your website – and if you find it lacking, give us a call.
As we have already seen in the previous two posts, the big corporations have certainly cottoned on to the importance of online sales, and have the resources to corner the market when it comes to PPC, SEO, and, increasingly, social media. While there used to be areas in which a nifty small business could nip in and make quick wins, the landscape is now very different.
One area in which the small business still has dominance, though, is the local search. Many small businesses by their very nature can only service a narrow geographical area, and this limitation can become a benefit.
You might choose to optimize, for example, for the specific area of your town in which you operate. It is unlikely that the national and multi-national companies will have drilled down to that level, but you will scoop up all the searches of anyone looking for your type of business in your specific area.
Don’t forget Google’s increasing moves towards local search tied in with the user’s geographic location, too. We’ve discussed before how having an updated profile on Google Maps can pay big dividends, especially when it comes to users who are within a couple of miles of your business. Include photos, videos, and even special offers coupons, all at no cost to yourself, and see your local profile improve.
Then there’s the tailored, local use of social media. Increasingly, businesses are discovering locality-based cliques on Twitter which are easy to break into. No full-on marketing strategy is required: it’s enough simply to be available and communicative, and you’ll find your business becoming entrenched in users’ everyday perceptions of your town.
These are just a few ideas of how to think local, and beat the big boys at their own game. We’d be happy to tailor strategies for your own specific small business: just drop us a line or give us a call.
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