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February 28th, 2011.

Google’s amusing captcha images

Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing a lot more keyword research recently, but I’ve been seeing a few amusing captcha images lately:

Google's 'bing' captcha

Google Bing captcha

Turns out I’m not the only one- here are a collection of amusing (and somewhat embarrassing on Google’s part) captcha images I’ve come across:

‘no dick’ captcha via ImpactLab

Google 'retard' captcha

‘retard’ captcha via Techeblog

'hymen' captcha

‘hymen’ captcha via yogomozilla

'hymens much' captcha

‘hymens much’ captcha via @ilmv


December 2nd, 2009.

Domain Legality & Appeal: Oasis Case Study

A few weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with a few attendees to one of our online marketing workshops. The workshops are designed to give small business owners guidance in what they can be doing to improve their own marketing campaigns with advice on link building, creating content and how they could be using social media to promote their sites.

One particular debate arose on the legality of competitors squatting on variations of their branded domain names, and offering up the domain name for extortionate prices. I did a little research and dugg our the Oasis case study from earlier in the year:

Since 1991, the highstreet brand Oasis has been trading as a UK women’s clothing chain, and in 2006 the domain name was acquired by Mr. James Dale who parked the domain name and displayed sponsored links to women’s clothing sites using the DoubleClick advertising network through Google AdWords.

Earlier this year Oasis challenged the registration of the domain, stating that the domain took unfair advantage of the company brand and trademark, taking their appeal to Nominet. Under Nominet’s Dispute Resolution Service, the initial case had been won by Oasis, and initially decided that the domain should be transferred to Oasis.

However this was no ordinary Nominet recovery case. Mr. Dale then came forward shortly thereafter to advise that the complaint had been mailed to his previous address, thus meaning he found out about the decision without having a chance to appear to do anything to fight it.

Mr. Dale had failed to update the Whois registration information after changing both physical and email addresses, and only found out about the decision after a friend contacting him to offer commiserations on loosing such a valuable domain. Mr. Dale was able to appeal against the decision, stating that Nominet had his correct details from other correspondence and asked that this violation was overlooked. He was allowed to file an appeal, although the DRS appeal to a three person panel would cost him £3000.

In Mr. Dale’s response to the complaint, the panel allowed the submission of new evidence, which was not their normal practice. However, due to the fact that his non-appearance at the initial hearing was due to circumstances of notification rather than just a basic failure to appear, they felt that the fee for filing the appeal was punishment enough. Thus they allowed the new evidence in the interest of true justice, rather than depriving him of the domain in an unjust fashion. By this time the appeal panel had in essence already found in favor of Mr. Dale based on the merits of the case.

Mr. Dale informed the panel that when he spent £4000 to purchase the Oasis domain name he had no idea that it had been a domain related to a women’s clothes shop. He had no interest in such a business and wanted to use the Oasis domain for a financial services or bingo website. Mr. Dale then produced proof of discussions that had taken place in which he could prove that the domain was intended for financial services. These kinds of claims are often viewed by dispute domain panels with much skepticism, but they could not dispute the proof provided by Dale. Combined with the fact that Oasis was a common English word, the panel accepted Mr. Dale’s argument that he did not wish to target Oasis with the registration of the domain and thus the acquisition of the domain could not be considered an abusive registration.

Due to other factors, however, the case would not end here. Unlike the UDRP, under the DRS abusive use later on is sufficient, even in cases where the domain was actually acquired in a genuine fashion. The question that then came about was if it was abusive to use the domain for sponsored links directing to women’s clothing websites. Under Nominet’s policy, parking pages are not abusive in and of themselves. The nature of the domain, it’s links, and the ultimate responsibility for the domain by the registrant must all be considered by the panel.

Since some parking pages depend on specifications set by the owner while others have content that is generated automatically, the appeal panel found it would be dangerous to simply draw conclusions by looking at parking pages. Parties should explain in detail how their parking pages work, but in this case there was no explanation by either party.

It was then claimed by Mr. Dale that the parking page originally used contained only general links. To build his case against Oasis, Dale produced a statement from the parking company. The statement suggested an uncommon situation of how the women’s clothing links appeared on the domain’s parking page. It seemed that Oasis was using the domain name of “”, which was not owned by Oasis, as a keyword in their online marketing campaign. This in turn meant they would be targeting users specifically searching for the domain owned by Mr. Dale. Although Dale’s claim was short and did not provide much detail, the panel thought it was something that should be considered.

Oasis’ dismissal of the claim as “fanciful, unproven, and bizarre” did not satisfy the panel, as there was no statement provided by Oasis that it hadn’t used the keyword “” in their marketing efforts.

Since this claim was brought up by Mr. Dale and Oasis didn’t seem to have a valid defense, the panel then decided to check the Oasis website out for themselves. Upon inspection of the Oasis website, it was found that the keyword “” was indeed among the keywords being used to drive traffic to their own website.

What turns a genuinely acquired domain into an abusively used one can be assessed by Nominet panels by using the abusive acquisition or abusive use test provided under DRS. The normal approach to this situation has been that liability by the registrant is only present if they actively exploited their position by making reference to the trademark. The panel backed up Mr. Dale’s claim that it was the action’s of Oasis themselves which led to women’s fashion links appearing on the domain Oasis lost it’s appeal as it was proven that not only did Dale not actively exploit his position, but the complaint that Oasis had filed was actually caused by their own behaviour.

While this may have looked like a good case for Oasis, it shows that assuming any DRS case is a “pushover” is a risky assumption. Detailed evidence must be provided explaining how the parking pages of any parties domain work. The content of a domain parking page cannot be assumed to be the responsibility of the registrant, and information from the parking company itself could be a necessity.

My point is this: if you can prove domainers are holding a variation of your domain to capitalise on your brand or trademarks then you probably have a strong case for appeal. If however the domainer can find any excuse (such as not updating their whois record after moving house!), they can drag the process out and duck out if they have some form of proof the domain was acquired for any other purpose.

Also trademark owners need to be aware that it may not be in their best interest to include domain names that they don’t own in their marketing strategy!

Further reading: Is It Me Or Is Everyone Else Stupid, Perspicacious, Ashurst


December 16th, 2008.

Subdomain or Subdirectory- Which Ones for You?

One question many site owners make as their website grows- “should I use a subdomain or a subdirectory to place my blog in?”.

This common question isn’t limited to just blogs– news sections, articles, careers sections… any grouping of content will at some point cause the question.

For those who don’t know- ‘’ is an example of a subdomain, where “news” is the subdomain of “”.

A subdirectory is a folder within a domain- e.g.- ‘’ where “analytics” is a subdirectory (or folder) within “”.

While these may appear relatively similar, subdomains and subdirectories have different uses for a site, as well as different effects in a pages ability to rank in search engines.

Generally, search engines will allow pages within subdirectories to rank easier in comparison to pages within a subdomain. This reason being subdirectories inherit more authority from the domain name, whereas pages within subdomains inherit less authority from the domain (thus being treated similar to an external domain, although still receiving some of the authority from the main domain.)

So if subdirectories inherit more authority from a domain, why do companies choose to use subdomains?

Subdomains are used to segment a large amount of content on a site by a specific topic. If the number of pages are relatively high for a section (e.g. hundreds of pages), it may be logically better to place these pages within a subdomain rather than a subdirectory.

Otherwise, we recommend keeping within the content within the domain (i.e. using subdirectories)- this will make it easier for pages to rank better in search results as these pages inherit more authority from the main domain.


December 12th, 2008.

Multiple Domain Names- More Harm than Good?

One common misconception many site owners make is the assumption that:

more websites = more traffic = more sales.

Logically, this may seem like a good idea- after all, two hands are better than one, five are better than two, right?

When it comes to domain names and search engine optimisation- this couldn’t be further from the truth!

Sadly, many site owners with limited SEO knowledge make this assumption- either, pointing many other domains to their existing site or copying their existing site and hosting it separately with other domain names. Both methods don’t work, and are likely to get your existing site penalised, causing less traffic and less sales. Why?

Search engines use links to crawl pages within and outside of a site. If links point to a page on a domain name, search engine robots will crawl that page. However, having multiple domains pointing to a site allows search engines multiple entrances to the same content, effectively presenting the same page multiple times.

E.g. if points to the same server directory as, search engines can see the same single page through more than one source- and if not correctly managed (using 301 redirects) duplicate content problems will occur which will result in the sites receiving a decrease in rankings and potentially a ban from search engines altogether.

In the second instance, by hosting the same content on multiple sites the duplicate content issue is also present, resulting in a drop and a possible ban for all duplicate sites (including the original site) in extreme circumstances and probable indexing issues.

How Can Multiple Domains Provide Any Value?

Having multiple domains can provide your site with additional value if managed correctly. For branding purposes, companies may purchase premium domain names which can potentially provide additional direct traffic from searchers typing in the URL directly.

For example, searchers for “cables” may directly type into their address bar “”, providing this site with additional direct traffic.

Other large corporations buy the localised versions of their domain name, partly to protect their brand and largely to help with usability.

For example, provides the UK index page for HP, while HP also own, and, to name a few.

How is it then that large companies are able to use multiple domains and not get penalised in search engines? The answer is, these domains are managed correctly and redirect these domains to the appropriate pages on the server. By using a ‘301 Permanently moved’ redirect, these domains point to a single page on the server, therefore minimising duplicate content issues.

i.e. when someone types in, a request is made to the HP server, where the server then identifies this request and directs the visitor to the UK main page on the universal site, therefore not duplicating the content on the page as search engines see the same file on the same server, be it through or through

Should You Consider Using Multiple Domains?

If you are a large corporation and if this will help the usability of your site then consideration of multiple domains should be made. However, if your brand is not internationally known and if there is no main benefit and no potential direct traffic, we strongly advise against it. Remember- very few people are going to directly type in ‘’ or ‘’- domains such as this example will bring little (if any) direct traffic from the domain name, and whilst they may look good for additional branding, they provide no real support to your current sites domain.


December 10th, 2008.

Interflora Suing M&S and Flowers Direct over AdWords

After reading some interesting posts over at Holistic Search and Brand Republic, one of the largest florist chains worldwide is suing Marks & Spencers and Flowers Direct for using the Interflora brand name to trigger AdWords ads for their competitors.

Google updated their policy on brand name keywords and trademark terms that trigger competitor’s adverts to display back in May. Previously, competitors could not bid on other brand names to display their ads, but since Google updated their policies on brand name keywords and trademarks, competitors in various industries have been using competition brand names to trigger their adverts.
It has been reported keywords include “Interflora”, “Intaflora” and “Inter-flora” which have been used to trigger the display of competitors adverts.

Interflora’s argument is that the actions of Marks & Spencers and Flowers Direct are a breach of trademark law, as marketing director Michael Barringer stated:

“The Interflora brand is extremely valuable and we will not tolerate competitors taking advantage of it and infringing our right.”

However, both M&S and Flowers Direct are abiding by the Google Terms of Service- no mention of the band is made within the advert itself and is now somewhat of a common practice across industries, as a spokeswoman for Marks & Spencers was quoted saying they are “extremely surprised by Interflora’s course of action” adding it was industry-wide practice and not unlawful.

Interestingly, there has been no mention of Interflora or any other company suing Google over the use of trademark terms in AdWords for allowing this to happen.

This is not the first report of companies suing over the use of their trademark terms on Google AdWords either, as Dominic Farnsworth (a partner at Lewis Silkin) commented:

“There are a lot of legal letters flying around in the background at the moment and many disputes are being resolved without the need for legal proceedings”.

This poses an interesting situation for advertisers and search agencies- how long is it before competitors terms cause a lawsuit against your company or client, or how many more examples are needed before Google considers refining their policies? As Google have recently allowed the advertising of gambling and alcohol related sites, it appears they are expanding their policies to get even more from their advertising revenue—could this be Google’s solution to the current economic downturn? Let us know your comments.


December 9th, 2008.

Your Product Pages- How Copying The Manufacturers Description Harms a Site

If you own or operate an e-commerce website, chances are your competition may supply the same products you do. While competition is great, there are certain considerations you should make regarding the content on your product pages to beat your competitors.

Every product page should have great descriptions of the product, as well as inviting and well-presented professional photography to entice and attract searchers into making a purchase. However, one common mistake many e-commerce sites make is copying the descriptions written by the manufacturer.

Lets take the Apple iPhone product page as an example:

From the official product page, searching for the first sentence “With its beautiful 3.5-inch widescreen display and Multi-Touch controls, iPhone is also one amazing iPod” in Google returns 13,500 pages!

iphone duplicate content example

This shows there are hundreds of pages using the default description as the description on their pages- causing lots of duplicate content in Google’s index.

Why is This a Problem for You?

Duplicate content is a large problem search engines face. Search engines do not want to display pages in their results which contain the same content as another, as this can affect their credibility in delivering the closest possible results to which the searcher is looking for.

In addition, search engines do not want to waste their time indexing content which is provided on another site, so may skip a duplicated page, and are likely to skip an entire site if too many duplications are found. This not only has an effect on the new product page but also has a knock-on effect to other pages already indexed- penalising your site.

And this example is just for one product- supposing you sold other Apple products and copied the description from the manufacturers product pages? This means a large amount of the text on your product pages is copied.

This causes a problem for your site in search engines, as duplicate content is a major problem which search engines can and will penalise your site for!

So how can you avoid this problem? The ideal solution is to not copy the manufacturers description to begin with. Instead, creating your own product descriptions is far better- not only can you tailor it more specifically to your customers needs and desires (thus getting you a better conversion rate), but this also gives search engines more unique content to crawl when indexing your page.

If however it is essential to copy the product description from the manufacturers site, ensure you add additional unique content to the page- and don’t forget to reference and link to the manufacturers page.

By applying this small change, search engines are less likely to penalise your site for duplicate content, giving you a better chance of outranking your competitors, along with other on-page and off-page optimisation techniques!


December 5th, 2008.

Footer links vs Breadcrumb Navigation

I read an interesting post over at SEOmoz regarding footer link optimisation last week, and after stewing it over for a few days (and finally getting the time to) I’ve decided to share my thoughts on footer link navigation, and more importantly- how you can improve the internal link structure of your site (and hopefully see the results in search engines!)

For those who don’t know, footer links are a common method for linking pages to other pages within a site. Placed at the bottom of the page, footer links link to some of the popular pages of a site- like this fine example from ebay-

ebay footer links

The advantage is search engines will potentially crawl these links more often as they will come across them more often, thereby noticing any changes made to these pages and follow the links on these category pages to pages deeper within the site.

This in principal is a great idea- take a category page for example, which lists all of the products within that category. If you add a product to that category and place a link to the product on the category page, if that category page is linked from other pages in the footer links, chances are search engines will crawl the category page and follow the link to the new product page (in principal anyway).

The problem is search engines do not have as high a regard for footer links (or any links towards the bottom of the page) as they do to links towards the top of the page. Because of this, footer links are no longer as effective as they once were (but this doesn’t mean they are redundant, yet).

My thoughts are how long is it before footer links become worthless? In my opinion, footer links do little for visitor navigation anyway- when was the last time you scrolled to the bottom of the page to find out where in the site you are, or to find other pages which might be of interest?

My take on this is this- in time, footer navigation will have little effect to the internal link structure of a website in the eyes of search engines. Enter breadcrumb navigation!

For those who have no idea what it is, breadcrumb navigation is a form of navigation placed towards the top of a website (either in a vertical or horizontal format) which uses hyperlinks to show the depth of the current page within the site, allowing easier navigation to previous (higher level) pages. Here’s a great example from The Financial Times.

Financial Times breadcrumb link navigation

Users and search engines can easily identify related pages and can work backwards to higher level sub-category and category pages.

The beauty of breadcrumb navigation over footer links for SEO purposes is breadcrumb navigation is at the top of the page, therefore having a higher regard than footer links in the eyes of the search engines, as well as being useful for site usability (a visitor is more likely to click a breadcrumb link than scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking a footer link).

Breadcrumb navigation is also better for larger sites with hundreds of pages, as dynamically generating breadcrumb links is relatively easy to achieve (remember to avoid doing this in JavaScript- search engines have difficulty in indexing JavaScript). By using keyword rich anchor text for breadcrumb links, search engines will be able to get a better understanding of the pages content, as well as being able to traverse links up and down the site, improving the accessibility for search engine spiders.

I’m not suggesting everyone rushes out and does away with footer links- footer links are still an effective method of internal linking. However I am suggesting you look into implementing breadcrumb navigation in your site if you haven’t already done so, especially dynamic sites with 100+ pages. Having the two is not likely to hurt your rankings (although this is dependent on the number of links already on the page) and you are likely to find an improvement in the number of indexed pages over time by implementing breadcrumb navigation.


November 11th, 2008.

Link Building- What’s the Point?

All website owners and business owners want their websites to succeed online. Whether it’s an ecommerce site, company site, forum or any other type of website, you want your site to be seen by others, and you want to be seen as an authority within your particular industry.

If you take your website seriously, you’d hire a professional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company who dedicate their time to improving the visibility of your website, and all good reputable SEO companies will provide link building within their package… (and if they don’t then I’d stay well away!)

BUT… what exactly is link building- What’s the point?

First we need to understand what a ‘link’ is. Short for hyperlink, a link is navigation to another web page- this can be on the same site or a completely different website. Search engines ‘crawl’ the web based on these links, and more importantly, links from other websites are considered votes or recommendations. The more links your website has from greater authority websites, the more ‘votes’ have been assigned to that page, which search engines take into consideration when ranking your website in their search results.

A web page can have two types of links- inbound and outbound links, inbound being links coming to your page from other websites, outbound going to another webpage on a different website.
Reciprocal links are links from different websites that exchange links for the purposes of creating more inbound links. Search engines can see that the two (or more) websites have linked to each other and give less weight to these links in comparison to one way links.

Inbound links are the focus of a link building campaign, and there are several ways of achieving inbound links. There are also several other factors to consider in inbound link building. For example:

inbound links

•    The topic of the webpage linking to you- If a site linking to you is within the same topic as your site and the page being linked to, the link will have more weight than from a page from an unrelated topic. E.g. ‘dog grooming’ page linking to ‘dog brushes’ on a different site will have a greater weight than a link from a ‘real estate’ page to ‘dog brushes’.

•    The authority of the site linking to you- The authority of the linking website is also important- a link from to your website will be far more important than a link from as CNN have a higher authority.

•    The location of the link on the page- The location of the link- search engine robots read the code on a webpage from top to bottom. Generally links at the bottom of the html code have less weight than a link in the middle of an article.

•    The text used within the link- (known as ‘anchor text’) The text used in an inbound link- the anchor text helps inform the search engines what the page is about as it crawls your page. So if your webpage is about dog grooming brushes and the anchor text is ‘dog grooming brushes’, this link will have a greater weight than the same link but with less relevant anchor text such as ‘dog stuff’.

•    The text on the page linking to you- (including the text surrounding the link) The text on the page and around the link also helps in the weighting of an inbound link. The text on the page and surrounding the link (i.e. within the same paragraph) should contain the keywords to the pages topic, and if the topic is closely related to yours (as it should be), the search engines can identify this is relevant to your page, thereby increasing the weighting of the link.

… as well as several other factors.

So now you have an idea of some of the factors used in link building, how can this help your business? Well firstly, if you are performing your own link building of your site, taking these considerations onboard can greatly increase the effectiveness of the inbound links you get.

If you’re already hiring a company to do this for you, you can evaluate their efficiency. If you’re currently looking to hire a company to do this, you can find out how much they really know about the topic.
You can also assess the status of your current inbound links. You may find that potential changes could increase the visibility of your website in search results (inbound link statistics are taken into consideration when search engines rank your website in their results), you may also find that changes may need to be made to improve the navigation to your website for human visitors also.

You may want to suggest to other website owners within your industry to link to you (legitimately)- by providing your own linking html code (which of course takes onboard the above considerations), website owners may be more likely to link to you if you’ve made it easier for them by giving them the code to do so.

I believe it is important for any website owner, manager and webmaster for any business to have an understanding of link building, and how it affects your website. For human navigation, inbound links can bring visitors who are already targeted (may have read a review and now want to buy from your online shop, for example) which can maximise the conversion of your website. For search engine rankings, effective link building can have a massive impact in the ranking of your website in the results, thereby having an impact on the number of potential leads coming to your website. It’s a fact- good link building campaigns can make your website stand out from the crowd, and can make your company an industry leader—if done correctly.


October 13th, 2008.

Optimising Your Company’s WordPress Blog For Search Engine Optimisation

The benefits of a blog on your company’s website can be phenomenal. If you haven’t already got a blog on your company site, Matt’s post on corporate blogging is a vital read.  If you do have a WordPress blog set up, great!
Not only is a WordPress blog great for engaging with visitors and sharing information, it’s also a great traffic stream to your company website. However, there are a few tweaks that can be made to ensure you get the most out of your blog in terms of search engine optimisation.

Out of the box, WordPress is pretty search engine friendly- it has an excellent internal linking structure through its use of categories, archives and tags, along with its ability for easy content creation, which are a couple of reasons why search engines like them so much. But to maximise the efficiency of your WordPress blog from a search engine optimisation perspective, there are a few additional steps we recommend taking to ensure your blog is as efficiently optimised as possible.


By default, WordPress uses URLs which aren’t so efficient in terms of SEO. Permalinks allow more efficient URLs to be used making links more efficient, improving the structure of posts and not to mention the ability to include keywords in the posts URL.
Permalinks can be activated under ‘Settings>Permalinks’. We recommend using the ‘Day and name’ option- the URL shows the age of the post through the date as well as the post name (and if you’re using post names correctly you’ll have important keywords in the post name, thereby including them in the post URL if using this method).

optimising wordpress permalinks

Post Titles

Post titles represent the title tag for the posts page- one of the most important aspects of on-page search engine optimisation- their importance has already been covered in the Top Five Tips For Optimising Your Business’ Meta Tags post. By default, WordPress uses the format “Blog title » Blog Archive » Post Title” which ideally should be “Post Title » Blog Title”. Search engines pay more attention to keywords at the beginning of the title tag; therefore placing the post title (which should contain those important keywords) at the beginning of the title is more efficient. This also helps the readability of the pages result in the search engine results, therefore increasing the click through rate (CTR) in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
To change the post title structure, additional plugins are required. There are a few good WordPress plugins available, we recommend using the All in One SEO Pack plugin and changing the post and page titles found under ‘Settings>All in One SEO’.

To optimise the titles, click the ‘Rewrite Titles’ checkbox and change the title formats for each option. We recommend:

‘%post_title% | %blog_title%’ for post titles
‘%page_title% | %blog_title%’ for page titles
‘%category_title% | %blog_title%’ for category titles
‘%date% | %blog_title%’ for archive titles
‘%tag% | %blog_title%’ for tage titles
‘%description%’ for description format
‘Nothing found for %request_words%’ for the 404 title
‘- Part %page%’ for page format.
It is also wise to check the ‘Use noindex for Categories’ and ‘Use noindex for Archives’ checkboxes to disable indexing of these pages.

wordpress optimisation page titles

Optimising Posts and Pages

Now that the basic general optimisation for the blog has been set up, you can optimise your posts, starting with the post title.

Post Titles

Remember to keep the title relevant to the post topic and to include your important keywords in the post title. Also remember the post title will show up in search results, so make the title interesting and have a call to action in  the title where needed.


Tags are incredibly useful for internal linking- if a visitor is on your site and likes the content for a specific topic, they may click on one of the tags. You should therefore add tags to all posts and pages, making sure the tags are relevant to the post. Tags are comma separated, just click the ‘Add’ button after you’ve entered the tags and the post will be recognised under these tags once the post is saved or published.
wordpress optimisation tags


As with tags, categories are also efficient in terms of internal linking. Categories can also improve the time a visitor is on your site- if they can see you have more relevant information on a topic under a category, they will probably want to see what other posts are in that category if they enjoyed the content  of your post.
wordpress optimisation categories

Make sure categories are well structured and specific. Check the boxes which your post is most relevant to.

All in One SEO Pack Tag Optimisation

If you’re using the All in One SEO Pack recommended earlier, you will also have an All in One SEO Pack tab when writing/modifying a post or page. Here you can override the defaults already configured. To do this, enter a title tag, description tag and keywords tag to override the default settings already entered.

wordpress optimisation- all in one seo pack

There is also a ‘Disable on this page/post’ checkbox- this will disable all SEO modifications and revert back to the WordPress defaults (which is unlikely you would want to do so) so do not check this box unless there is a specific reason.

Once each post/page has been optimised, save the changes. This covers the basics for WordPress Search Engine Optimisation- there are more advanced changes which can be made but by implementing these recommended changes you will notice an improvement in your search rankings, your listing in the search engine results and an improvement in the indexing of your blog.


September 25th, 2008.

Top Five Tips For Optimising Your Business’ Meta Tags

Anyone who’s been around long enough in the SEO industry will remember how meta tags where used and abused to get short term results for sites all over the world. Of course, search engines cottoned on to these tactics, and over time removed some of the weighting meta tags (especially keyword tags) have in the ranking algorithms. However, well optimised meta tags are still important, and it is worth taking the time to optimise the meta tags for your business to increase your sales, signups, leads- whatever your business aim.

Today meta tags should be used responsibly. By optimising these tags efficiently you may notice an improvement in search engine results pages (SERPs), as well as the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your results in the SERPs.

The following tags are found within the HTML code of your page. By using these tags wisely, you can increase some of the on-page search engine optimisation for your site with very little effort.

Tip #1: Title Tag Optimisation

Although not a meta tag, the title tag is widely considered to be one of the most important parts of on-page optimisation, not to mention being equally important to visitors. The title tag is the text you see in the top left of your browser window – a tag that displays the page title, but the text does not actually appear on your page itself. In the HTML code, your title tag may look something like this:

<title>Web Site Design And Web Development London UK : Datadial Ltd </title>

Title tags are important to visitors- just as a title is important to a book. The title tag can be used to identify your site from another if multiple browser windows are open for example. Obviously the title should be accurate to the content of the specific page. It’s very important that each page on the site has a different title to reflect that specific pages content. Having uniform title tags across all pages is a waste of prime optimisation space.

The title tag is also be used in search engine results. For example, in Google (and many other search engines), the blue links millions of searchers click on everyday, almost without a thought, uses the title tag for the page.

You can see from our example the title tag is being shown as the title of the search result. By creating a well optimised title tag that is compelling to the reader, you will notice an increase in your CTR.

Tip #2: Placing Keywords In Title Tag

By placing your most important keywords in your title tag, your page in the search results has more of a chance of getting that click, as the keyword will be bolded, as you can see in this example:

So a result for the search query ‘free widgets’:

The page with the title tag: “Free Widgets: Download Your Widgets For Free Here Now” should get more clicks to their site over a page with the title tag: “The big title tag that mentions Widgets”.


Firstly, several key phrases are found in the tag (as opposed to just one of the keywords). This means potentially more of the title is bolded if those search phrases are used, which attracts the searchers attention.

Secondly, the keyword is located closer to the beginning of the tag. Since most searchers read from left to right, the quicker the keyword is seen in the tag, the more likely the user will stop to read the result, and as less text has been read prior to discovering the keyword, your result may appear more relevant.

Thirdly, the tag is exciting, as opposed to the other, which doesn’t inspire the searcher to stop and read the description for the result.

Fourthly, the tag has a call to action, inviting the searcher to click the link.

The main aim of your sites title tag should be to include your main keywords (which will be bolded and attract their attention), then provide them with a compelling title that fulfils their search need. By fulfilling their search need, the searcher will either click the link, or continue reading your listing (by moving on to the results description).

Tip #3: Description Meta Tag Optimisation

The description meta tag is an important part of on-page optimisation. A well optimised description meta tag can have a large impact on your click through rate (CTR) for your site in the search engine results, along with the ability to contain your top keywords.

The description meta tag is intended to contain a brief description of the page’s content. Certain search engines use the description meta tag within their results, therefore it’s a good idea to get your description meta tags right!

The description meta tag in the HTML code may look something like this:

<meta name="Description" content="Datadial offer complete online marketing solutions to meet your targets and fit your budget. Internet marketing services and consultancy that gives results." />

And may appear in search results:

The description meta tag text does not appear in the page text itself. However, when optimising your description meta tag, be sure to keep the description of the page accurate, and to include your main keywords. These keywords will again be bolded in the search results, therefore drawing more attention to your result.

It may also be wise to place a subtle call to action, slogan or mission statement within your description meta tag or a description that will entice the searcher. Remember, you are competing with many other pages so providing searchers with a reason to click on your page is a good idea and can easily be accomplished with the description meta tag.

Note: If you have submitted your site to the DMOZ Open Directory Project, you may find that your description is used from that of the DMOZ description.
To prevent this from happening, and to prompt search engines to use the description meta tag on your page, add the following robots meta tag:

<meta name="robots" content="noodp">

This meta tag also works for MSN, as well as Google.

Similar effects can also be found in Yahoo! Results if your page is listed in the Yahoo! Directory by using the following robots meta tag:

<meta name="robots" content="noydir">

If you would like to use both, you can simply comma separate the ‘content’ for the robots meta tag, like so:

<meta name="robots" content="noydir, noodp">

Tip #4: Robots Meta Tag

In addition to instructing search engine robots to not use DMOZ or Yahoo! Directory descriptions, the robots meta tag can also be used to control which pages can be indexed, followed and archived.

The robots meta tag is also found in the HTML code, and again does not appear on the page. This meta tag is an instruction to search engine robots when crawling a page and can be used to control which pages can be indexed or followed by the search engine spider. The robots meta tag may be similar to this:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,noodp,noydir">

The ‘content’ part of this meta tag controls the instruction to the search engine robot. The following operators can be included within the content:

  • noindex- prevents search engines indexing the page
  • nofollow- prevents search engines following links on the page
  • none- combines the function of noindex and nofollow into one
  • noimageindex- prevents search engines indexing images on the page
  • noarchive- prevents search engines caching the page (keeping an archived copy of the page in their results)
  • noydir- prevents Yahoo! from displaying the Yahoo! Directory description
  • noodp- prevents search engines from displaying the description from the Open Directory
  • nosnippet- prevents a description appearing in the SERPS

The robots meta tag is useful for excluding pages you do not wish to be found in search engines (such as member pages), as well as the use previously mentioned.

Tip #5: Keywords Meta Tag Optimisation

The keywords meta tag used to be a powerful SEO tool. By placing keywords in this meta tag, SEOs used to be able to see their pages ranked for these keywords relatively quickly.
Once the search engines realised that it was effectively being abused, all weight that the keywords meta tag had on a page’s results was removed by the majority, effectively making the keywords meta tag relatively redundant.

Now it is not necessary to place keywords in the keyword meta tag- this has little to no effect on the pages ranking in search results. However, placing your keywords in the keyword meta tag can still be found in practice today, as small search engines may still rely on keyword meta tag content.

The keywords meta tag is found in the HTML code and may look similar to this:

<meta name="keywords" content="seo,buying seo,seo guide" />

Keywords are comma separated, and should not be repeated. This was once a tactic spammers used to trick search engines into thinking a page was relevant and today repeating keywords can hurt you rather than helping. You can also include synonyms of your keywords as well, ‘book’ and ‘books’ are not the same.

There are many other meta tags in use today, including abstract, author, copyright, distribution, expires, language, refresh and revisit meta tags, amongst others. While these meta tags can also be used, these tags have little effect on optimising your pages for search results, therefore these meta tags have been excluded.


By using the meta tag optimisation tips mentioned, you should notice an improvement in search engine results, as well as an increase in the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your results. To make the most out of meta tag optimisation, we suggest testing different title and descriptions to maximise the amount of click throughs your results get, tracking the results over a set period and using the best performing tags to improve your CTR from search engine results pages (SERPs).

You should also be aware that other on-page search engine optimisation efforts should also be used to make your pages search engine friendly and rank higher.


September 17th, 2008.

Online Marketing after the fall of Lehman Brothers

The recent news of the fall of Lehman Brothers Bank has caused a knock on effect for large and small businesses around the world. More and more companies are assessing their expenditure, including online marketing budgets.

However, the latest report from Netimperative shows that online advertising is proving to be the choice advertising stream for small and large businesses, having a dramatically increased prediction for advertising spend over the next couple of years.

According to the report:

“81% of advertisers claim that their allocated online ad spend has grown in 2008 and predict that it will continue to do so over the next couple of years”

With a predicted increase of 16% in 2009 and 17% for 2010.

Furthermore, “three quarters (73%) state that they are increasing their use of online as an advertising medium whilst 31% of advertisers claim their use of TV is decreasing and 40% cite a decrease in the use of newspapers.”

So What Does This Mean For Your Business?

In this economic climate companies are rightly evaluating where and why they are spending money. However, businesses looking to cut back on their advertising spends should be aware of this report when deciding which advertising streams to cut back on.

The predicted growth of online advertising according to this report is set to be potentially the best, with TV and newspaper advertising decreasing. With the support of these latest statistics, it would be a wise move to increase your online marketing budget, as the growth of your online audience delivers cost effective results.

The timing for increasing your online advertising return on your business is now. With the growth prediction for online advertising for the next two years, increasing your online advertising budget now will help increase brand perception and brand awareness for your business, whilst bringing greater return on your online advertising spend.

Contact Datadial to maximise your online advertising budget today


September 16th, 2008.

Google AdWords Keyword Matching Options

You’re probably aware of the quality targeted traffic Google AdWords can bring to your website through Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, and if so, you should be aware of the importance of keywords.

Google provides several keyword matching options to enhance the exposure of your ads, which when used correctly, can pre-qualify visitors and maximise your advertising budget.

Google’s keyword matching options include: –

•    Broad Match
•    Phrase Match
•    Exact Match

Broad Match

Broad Match is the default keyword type where the advert runs on relevant variations of your keywords and phrases. This means your ad could display when the search term includes synonyms, singular/plural forms and other phrases containing your keywords.

Google’s example provides an excellent example of how this keyword matching option operates. In their example, if the keyword web hosting is used, the advert would display for the following search queries:

web hosting company
web site hosting

You can see that related synonyms also trigger the advert to display, along with additional terms within the triggering keyword (such as site in the last example).

As the keyword variations triggering your adverts change over time, Google continually monitors the keyword quality and performance, meaning you continue to display the highest performing and most relevant keyword variations.

Broad match has several advantages: – more visitors can be attracted to your site as your advert is displayed for other keyphrases which you may not have thought about targeting, but are still relative to the keyword you’ve chosen.

The disadvantage to broad match keywords is that unwanted search terms may trigger the ad to display (if not correctly managed using negative keywords, which will be explained later).

Phrase Match

The next keyword matching option is phrase match. Phrase match keywords trigger your advert to be displayed if the search query contains the keyphrase in the order specified, and phrase match keywords are enclosed in quotation marks (“ “). For example, the phrase match keyword “football boots” will display for the search queries such as:

football boots
buy football boots
football boots review

but would not display for search queries such as:

boots for football or football shoes.

Phrase match has the advantage of being more targeted than broad match, but also has the disadvantage of potentially displaying the advert for an unwanted search query if not correctly managed using negative keywords, i.e. for the phrase match keyword “football boots” the advert would also display for the search query free football boots. If your business is selling football boots and your ad displays for this term, you’re unlikely to make a sale from this searcher!

An important note: For phase match keywords, your keyword or keyphrase triggering your ad is not case sensitive to the search query.

Exact Match

The third keyword matching option is exact match. Exact match keywords will only display the advert if the search query is exact to the keyword.
Exact match keywords are enclosed in ‘[‘ and ‘]’ characters.

For example, for the exact match keyword [buy dog bowl], the advert will only display if the search query is buy dog bowl and would not display for any other search query.

Exact match keywords have the advantage of being extremely targeted if you know an exact popular term for your industry.

Negative Keywords

The final and equally important keyword matching option is negative keywords. Negative keywords are used to NOT display the advert if the search query contains the negative term. Negative keywords are used by placing a ‘-‘ character before the keyword.
For example, if your business is selling web templates, using the negative keyword
–free will not display your advert if the search query as free web templates.

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