Archive for April, 2006
I received a telephone call today from an overjoyed client who was telling me that all the hard work had paid off and his site was number 1 for the money phrase.
I checked, and indeed on google.co.uk on a worldwide search, their site is number one! Happy days. Simply accepting it is not good enough though, as even though we have done a LOT of work on page and off-page with this site, taking it from obscurity to top 5 for the money phrase, the sudden jump from #5 to #1 was not yet expected. The top sites have massive inbound link advantage, and although the gap was closing this was simply to instant. Something else had happened.
I had a strange feeling that possibly Google had started to weight the ‘world’ search option towards UK sites, and my initial research tells me just that! In a search for a particular phrase, (client confidentiality insists I don’t mention the phrase), the SERP’s were littered by a combination of UK, US, Canadian companies. Today not a single non UK ‘physically hosted’ site exists in the top ten, nor in fact anywhere before #15!
While I discuss this little point, I should say that the meaning of the phrase ‘physically located’ has very little to do with where the SERVER is physically located. The Physical location of a website is wherever the IP of the server physically resolves. So it is quite possible for your website to be on a server in canary Wharf London, but be physically located in the US, as US hosting is cheaper and many resell US company IP blocks.
Too early to really say what has happened here, but the outcome for UK sites is good, and weighting them toward UK sites can also only be good for UK residents.
If like me you are the sort of person who need a roundtooit, then please read on.
What is a roundtooit? I hear you ask. Well a roundtooit is in fact what we need to get things done. The wife asks you to do something, and the standard reply is ‘I’ll get a roundtooit!
So now you can do some good and not exert yourselves, by throwing a £ or 2 into a sponsorship of a brave man who is going to do the Great North Run. Paul of Aardvark fame is going to run around in the cold for miles and miles to help lazy buggers like us who eat pie and chips and drink red wine. YES he is going to save us gluttons, those of us who have turned overindulgence and under-exertion into an Olympic sport.
Click this link and give the old bugger some money so he can give it to the British Heart Foundation, so they can give it to the hospitals etc, so that when we us lazy buggers are in the back of an ambulance being taken to hospital them there paramedics can have batteries in their heart restarting defiblirators.
I have given him a couple of quid, so stump up and help him, tell him OWG sent you LOL
Well I was going to answer some questions today, but due to the many emails I received, I am continuing with another section of the basic guide to SEO. I am now glad that I set up this blog, as had I not, then I doubt this article (well it is an ebook really) would ever have seen the light of day!
In part I & II we covered the basic, elements of a website. I covered these as I believe in holistic SEO, in other words, ranking alone is not my goal, as my goal is to make a site as good as it can be to maximise conversion of traffic into clients.
In Part III we move onto some more Traditional SEO elements — enjoy
SEO can really be broken into 3 stages:
This includes the reason for living, and getting a better picture of what everyone expects the site to do, and as importantly, what it has/hasn’t done in the past, and what it is doing currently. This helps plan landing pages for PPC campaigns etc.
Is a cornerstone of successful SEO/SEM if you’re targeting the wrong phrases, then no matter how successful you are with your efforts, you will still end up with nothing to show for your effort. Accurate marketplace information is 100% essential, and is something that should really be treated as the lifeblood of the site and should involve both the SEO & the client.
This is the next stage after the research. Armed with your agreed list of keywords you now have to ‘match’ them to your existing site, and either split pages into more focused individual pages, combine pages to give them better topic focus, or create pages to accommodate the content to match what your clients are looking for
Get this wrong, and no matter how good your optimisation is, you’re just going to get rankings and not traffic, worse than that the traffic you do get will be poor quality traffic that serves only to cost you bandwidth aplenty, with the odd sale mixed in.
How do you decide what keywords to go for?
Ideally you start with as many as possible, and then break them down into different groups. I usually brainstorm with the client, then research some more from that list, test them and get back to the client with the findings to decide on the final list.
Single words rarely describe enough what your target visitor will be searching for.
While that might appear on the surface to be great, and ideal for your business, with a little more thought into the purpose of your site, the ‘reason for living’, you will se it is not. If you sell bicycles, but do not offer an out of state/country mail order service, then what good is attracting traffic from outside of this geographic area? The phrase ‘bicycles UK’ would produce far more qualified traffic, even though they traffic will be lower volume. When researching your keywords you must keep in mind what you intend to do with that traffic for that particular phrase. The phrase ‘bicycles Uk next day delivery’ is so specific that if you capture traffic for that, and you provide that service, all else being equal your going to make money on your efforts.
So how do you research?
You research by talking to the client, but and this is a big but, get them out of talking technical. Many industries use technical references that the public do not use. A printer for example might use ‘4 colour process digital printing’ but a client will look for ‘colour leaflet printing’ you have to get this across to the client, and get them to really think about this initial seed of the keyword process.
Armed with this seed list, you then go about using a thesaurus; you research by using the online tools provided by the pay per click suppliers like Google AdWords and Overture (please not this is the UK version, other geographic regions are available) Overture is now part of Yahoo search marketing. You can research using word tracker, or Keyword Discovery (free or paid). Do not hold back during your initial research, now is not the time, while you may think a word or phrase has little baring, it might turn out to uncover more relevant phrases a little later.
You as an SEO need to put trust in your client to remove the totally non relevant words/phrases. An important note here is to let the client know that they are not deciding which phrases to attack, they are removing phrases not relevant to their industry After all they are the ones who will know their technical jargon for their industry.
So there you go, you now have some keywords, well probably hundreds if not thousands of keywords to play with! But what do you do with these keywords? Part4 will tell you about this.
In part 2 we follow on with the basics of design as part of optimising your site. In Part 1 we ended with the following list and explanation:-
Although the above are really design considerations, design is one of the keys to good rankings and having a successful website. With this in mind I will briefly run through them.
The site has to look nice, it has to be easy on the eye, and must never be difficult to look at. The only movement on a page should be to draw the eye to a call to action or other very important element. Music should be opt in, not opt out, as this is a no no. Plug in technology should be avoided if it is not bundled with the main browsers. Many people do not have the ability to allow downloads, as they will be visiting from their place of work, or, even at home will be reluctant to download anything for fear of viruses.
The site must feel right, IE the feel/tone of it should match the aim of the site. If your product/service is up tempo then so should be your feel. Bright reds etc are mad colours, and will stir the emotions, whereas soft pastels will relax.
Although broadband in pretty much the norm, there are still a lot of people on dial up, or slow connections, to force large sites on them is to lose clients. Keep the site fast to load, and if you must have images, make sure the text comes down first if possible.
This is the first real SEO related element. The search engines can only add pages to the index that they know about, with this in mind, the easier your site is to navigate, the faster you are likely to get spidered, and also the easier it is for your visitors to find what they are looking for. You should have a small navigation element on every page, that as a minimum takes you to the main category pages within your site.
The search Engines have to build their opinion of your pages from the content on the pages, and what others think of your site, there is nothing else for them to work with. The early days of the web, you would read pages of text, some of the text on those pages would be blue and underlined, we knew that meant they were hyperlinks. The only way to know what to expect when following the link was to read the text that was within the link itself, this is known as ‘anchor text’ and now, only a few years later people are realising that it is important, while it always has been, many simply forgot.
The anchor text within your navigation system is an important part of helping the search engine algorithms to understand your pages, where possible, you should use anchor text that describes what to expect from visiting the target page. Please note though that at no time should this be allowed to affect the usability of the site.
This is another key element to SEO/SEM. Many of the DP (donkey Pooh!) pages have no focus, and because of this the quality information is simply lost in the flood!
An essential part of the success of your site is the way you deliver your information. Before you put pen to paper you must carve in stone the ‘reason for living’ that is your site. you MUSt decide what you want your site to achieve, what the initial aims and goals are for the site. What do you expect the site to do? So I say again, decide the ‘reason for living’ ask yourself, WHAT IS THE REASON FOR BUILDING THIS SITE? An answer like ‘to get me business’ or ‘to attract customers’, simply isn’t good enough. the reason for living should be clear and measurable. EG.
The website exists to let people know who we are and what we do. The ultimate aim of the site is to get more customers to our services. We will achieve this via them contacting us via online and offline methods.
Unless you focus on this question, your site is never going to reach it’s full potential. Once the reason for living has been established, then and only then can you begin your SEO.
Part 3 Monday, together with some answers to the MANY questions I have received from you all.
First off let me say that no Search Engine Optimisation company can guarantee you top rankings in organic search results (SERPS). As such please don’t think that this is a blue print for SEO top rankings, it isn’t, what it IS, is a paper to help you understand the methodology that will set you on the road to bettering your rankings, and understanding the workings of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It is hoped that the information in this paper will take you up the road by something in the scale of two years or more from a standing start.
The search engines are constantly tweaking their methods for evaluating pages (algorithims), and as such this paper is aimed to prevent you ‘algo chasing’ the flavour of the moment, and setting you on the longer road to better long term rankings and, more importantly, traffic and conversions of visitors into clients. One thing that you should always keep in mind is this simple bit of logic, People need information to allow them to make a decision, and as such, the aim of your site should be to provide enough information to help them make the decision. Then and only then can you ask them for the order.
The job of Optimiser is to work with the search engines, not against them, it is not a war, it is not a fight, it is a client pupil relationship, with the job of the SEO being that of the teacher, and the Search Engine the pupil. It is the job of the SEO to make sure that the course content is delivered to the pupil in such a way that they completely understand it, and go away educated as to what your site is all about as a whole, and where each page fits into it.
Most websites are lousy, make no bones about it, they are piles of donkey poo! The sites that are not DP are the ones doing the business (no pun intended), and this is mainly because they are well thought out and well presented on all the basics.
Although the above are really design considerations, design is one of the keys to good rankings and having a successful website. With this in mind I will briefly run through them.
In part 2 we will run through the above and move forward
Question: What can I do to move up Google on searches like “school tours” or “school tour”?
Old Welsh Guy Says: Hi Hugh (good Welsh name) Well Firstly, and odd as it may seem, are you sure that those are the phrases you need to rank for? Here are some search stats
school trip 37.5 /day
school trip europe 12.6 /day
school trip abroad 12.2 /day
event school trip visit 2.6 /day
school trip and geography 1.7 /day
school field trip 1.2 /day
school residential trip 1.0 /day
school trip organisers 0.8 /day
school trip to france 0.7 /day
coach company school trip 0.6 /day
educational school trip 0.6 /day
school trip to spain 0.6 /day
school trip uk 0.5 /day
school trip idea 0.5 /day
school coach tour 11.6 /day
school tour 11.0 /day
battlefield tour for schools 5.7 /day
school tour to europe 4.2 /day
history tour for schools 2.4 /day
Keyword research is the key to getting the most from your web marketing efforts, target the wrong words, and all your efforts will come to no more than a top ranking site for a phrase no one searches for. The Above show just how many different search phrases people are searching for. Ideally you should have pages set up on your site to cover these phrases.
‘Battlefield tour for schools’ is a prime example. returns 39000 pages in google Search results
Look closer though and NONE of the sites have the phrase in their page title In Title search
And only 93 site have the words in any order in their title In Title search non phrased
A search for how many pages have the phrase in links pointing to it shows zero.
This tells us that hardly anyone is optimising for this phrase, and that getting a decent ranking for it is a possibility, this should bring in approximately 6 visits a day for this phrase alone, that is some 180 per month.
It is plain to see then that the key elements to getting good rankings are
1. accurate page titles
2. good focused page content aimed at providing information to your visitors about a particular phrase.
3. Backlinks containing the phrase you are aiming for.
Oh and this is one area that you could come up against some hard competition. Because ‘schoolgirl trips’ might be a little difficult to optimise for
Name: Peter D
Site: Another anonymous unfortunately but it is a UK site
Question: I have been told that advertising with AdWords will affect your position in the normal listings, is this true?
Answer: Oh this old chestnut Peter. Well there are those who will swear blind that their rankings have suffered since starting Google AdWords, while there are those who will also swear blind that their rankings have improved Since their AdWords campaigns Started. The thing is though you see, that those who swear blind they have suffered, decided to use AdWords because their rankings were already suffering. While those who swear blind they have benefited from AdWords involvement, have generally been promoting their site and the time factor has started to kick in.
Organic web marketing is rarely an instant fix, and Back links etc take time to be factored in. So using Google AdWords as a boost is the logical thing. As your organic rankings start to improve, then your AdWords ad spend can be cut back for those words.
Site: user prefers to be hidden
Question: Even though I’ve been writing articles on my blog (1 a week) the google bot doesn’t seem to be visiting very regularly to the point the the cache of my page is 3 weeks old now. I’m either writing terrible content (probably!) or there’s a problem?Do you have any advice?
Old Welsh Guy Says:
Well Stu, great things come to those who wait, although like Diana Ross said ‘ I’m still waiting ‘.
Your blog is not very old, and from what I can see does not have many backlinks pointing to it. In a post on His Blog in March, Matt Cutts (senior Google Engineer) wrote:-
One of the classic crawling strategies that Google has used is the amount of PageRank on your pages. So just because your site has been around for a couple years (or that you submit a sitemap), that doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically crawl every page on your site. In general, getting good quality links would probably help us know to crawl your site more deeply. ——> snip —–> That’s what I would recommend looking at.
The above for me sums it up. In the words of Andrea True Connection That 70′s on hit wonder ‘More More More’ . The more in this case being incoming links You should look at submitting your blog to blogfeeds, add it so your signature on any forums you visit (although judging by the content on the site I dread to think what sort of forums you hang out in LOL. Submit the RSS feed, tell the world about your blog especially those who are interested in bad hosting companies, ipods, not having number plates on your car, and 3D maps of underground Britain. (and I thought I was messed up)! Odd Eclectic mix of things on that site by the way! You are either A man after my own heart or just plain nuts! (not salted)
Well I kind of thought about it for a little while, even set one up on blogger, then left it. I like forums, I like to know that I am actually achieving something here. so blogging has really never appealed to me. All that will change now though as I force myself kicking and screaming into the bloggospher AAAARRGGGHHHHHHI decided to do this because of a comment made on a post at Digital Point Forums . The comment was made by Peter Hugo (who runs Freewarepub ) the post was made here and really it made me think of the fact that while I post on many forums, there really is no central point for all things ‘Old Welsh Guy;
So here it is, the new Old Welsh Guy blog that is really ‘answers by Old Welsh Guy! Ask away and I will answer at least one question about Web marketing and SEO daily.