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On the subject of SEO

emds

Matt

October 25th, 2012.

EMDs Don’t Make the Final Cutts

If you are at all familiar with the concept of classical conditioning, then you should understand why roughly half the webmasters in the world wince every time Matt Cutts (Google’s head of search) mentioned a change to their algorithms. We’ve been burned too many times by the likes of Penguin, Panda and the fold algorithm and as such most of us treat his announcements a little bit like we treat a trip to the dentist – with a lot of trepidation.

Well if your website is called ‘www.oompadoo.com’ then you can breathe a sigh of relief – this time Cutts is overlooking you and giving you a bit more time to lick your wounds. This time Google is interested in targeting the owners of ‘www.buycheapfuronline.com’ and ‘www.bestbodybuildingarticles.com’. That’s right – ‘exact name domains’ or ‘exact match domains’ that have URLs designed to precisely mimic the phrases people are searching for. According to a tweet from Cutts this will only affect 0.6% of English queries – though sometimes as we know these low sounding statistics can leave fairly devastating shockwaves.

Why This Change?

Of course the reason for this change is that many sites that use ENDs do so in lieu of actual good content. This is an easy way for a site to get to the top of the SERPs and so in many cases the quality content simply isn’t there to back it up. At the same time this strategy lends itself to sites that don’t have very diverse content but rather simply focus on answering a single question in order to get AdSense revenue.

In fact this is something that has been on Google’s agenda for a while now, and not so long ago a foreboding announcement came that Google would be favouring websites that focussed on building a brand for themselves with a recognizable name and image rather than one-hit wonders. Of course this direction wouldn’t favour ENDs.

What Does This Mean?

It’s worth noting that Cutts’ tweet also stated that the change was targeting low quality exact match domains – but of course there is likely to be some collateral damage and some perfectly good sites are likely to see their rankings drop too. Some sites of course use ENDs simply because they were there, and some business names happen to be great keyphrases.

That said this will likely call a stop to people buying up keyword domains and selling them on and it might level the playing field for those sites do have more obscure and original URLs (that said ENDs will still have some value due to direct traffic which Google can’t control). For every person who will be angry at the changes there will be a new opportunity created for webmasters to jump in and fill a void at the top of the SERPs. Whatever else you say about Panda and Penguin they do seem to have reduced the amount of spam sites that come up and this does make for a better browsing experience…

So looks like this time ENDs haven’t made the most recent Cutts. But the real question still lingers… could bad puns be next? (Then I’m in trouble…)

The author of this article, Jeet is an avid blogger and expert SEO analyst. He is also a good writer and often writes guest post on SEO niche. He founded GetLinksPro, a link-building and SEO company. He also shares his knowledge and tips on SEO on twitter. You can also follow him on twitter @getlinkspro.

penguin2

Adam Adam

May 22nd, 2012.

The Non-SEO Guide to The Penguin Update

There has been a lot of discussion around the search marketing industry over the past few weeks thanks to what many consider to be a pretty major update released by Google. There has been a lot of speculation that has followed with some good and not-so-good advice as a result.

With all of this information floating about it’s difficult for anyone without their ‘ear to the ground’ to get a concrete understanding of exactly what ‘Penguin’ is, and what the effects have been. I’ll put the speculation to one side for the moment and start with the facts:

What is it?

Google’s latest update aimed at rewarding high-quality sites in search results by targeting and demoting sites appearing ‘overly optimised’. Some sites that have used or are continuing to use outdated tactics (specifically tactics to get other websites to link to theirs for the purposes of improving rankings in search results) have been affected by this, however there are reports of websites that have never engaged in such tactics being affected by the update as well.

When did this happen?

Google released a blog post  stating that the update would roll out “in the next few days” back on 24th April- almost one month ago at time of writing. Most sites affected by this will have noticed changes around 24th onwards.

How to I tell if I was affected?

Sites affected by the update will probably notice a change in rankings and visits from organic search traffic (specifically visits from Google) around this time. If using Google Analytics you should be able to tell by navigating to ‘Traffic Sources’->’Sources’->’Search’->’Organic’, making sure you have a date range that spans a few weeks before and after this date. To be sure it’s best to limit the data you are viewing to Google only. Look for ‘Primary Dimenson’ and click ‘Source’ next to it to give you a list of organic search sources, and click on ‘google':

Google penguin visits graph

The example above shows a drop in visits from organic search (specifically from Google)- if you see a consistent increase in visits around this time it is likely that a competitor may have been affected and your site may have improved in rankings as a result.

OK it looks like my site has been affected- What else do I need to know?

1- You’re not alone-

thousands of sites have been affected by this update- some undeservingly so (to the point where Google has created a feedback form  for sites that don’t believe should have been affected by the update)

2- Penguin is an algorithmic update- it isn’t personal.

Google has identified your site as being within this ‘category’ based on the data it has, not due to a human reviewing your site personally.

3- Reconsideration requests won’t help-

SearchEngineLand.com reported:

“Because this is an algorithmic change, Google has no plans to make manual exceptions. Webmasters cannot ask for reconsideration of their site, but we’re happy to hear feedback about the change on our webmaster forum.”

4- Noone that has been affected by Penguin has recovered… yet-

There is a wealth of speculation and tips for recovering from the penguin update online, however noone can confirm what the best solution to recovering from this update is. Currently there has been no ‘refresh’ or ‘reevaluation’- sites that were affected are still in the same boat.

5- Penguin isn’t ‘real-time’-

Like the ‘Panda’ updates before, the Penguin update isn’t continually reevaluated in real-time, meaning any changes that are made now won’t have any impact until Google reevaluates their data at a later date.

How can I get my traffic and rankings back?

The only certain answer at this stage is no-one can be 100% sure (as with pretty much anything within the SEO sphere), but the potential signs of redemption lie in evaluating the existing links to your website and the methods used to attract links from external websites.

Microsite Masters released some interesting findings of sites they analysed that had been affected by the Penguin update:

“every single site we looked at which got negatively hit by the Penguin Update had a “money keyword” as its anchor text for over 60% of its incoming links. On the other hand, the sites that were not hit by the update had much more random percentages.”

This suggests that sites with a higher percentage of links that use the keyword they are trying to rank for (‘money terms’) in the clickable part of the link to their website (‘anchor text’) are more likely to have been affected by this update. This isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ issue, and I’m certain that Google would have considered several other factors rather than the percentage of keyword-rich links a site has, but suggests that Google are looking for more evidence of brand promotion rather than search engine manipulation when assessing the links to your website.

 

As with other large updates introduced by Google in the past, this re-emphasises the importance of diversifying the sources of income your business as a whole has. Depending on one revenue channel alone can be risky- even when times are good, so it’s important to remember that channels such as paid search, email marketing, online PR, affiliate marketing and social can be profitable.

 

img credit: opencage.info

fawltytowers

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

Fawlty Towers and Trolls SEO strategy – have you got the balls?

 

We all know that if a customer is unhappy that they are 10 times more likely to complain than if they are happy. Well poor service could be a fantastic opportunity to improve your SEO.

Let’s say you run a restaurant.  Consider a situation where for a day you deliberately gave all your clients appalling customer service – picture a day at Fawlty Towers.  In the past your clients would have just grumbled and not come back, nowadays they’ll be straight online on Facebook, twitter, mumsnet, forums, tripadvisor, restaurant review sites etc. and anywhere else to vent their spleen and to take revenge on your appalling rudeness.

They’ll be so agitated that they’ll post a link back to your site just so that your readers are in no doubt as to where you are and so that they can avoid you.

What a great result!   Fantastic.  Go out into the streets and rejoice.   Think of all those juicy, natural, organic links pointing back to your site. Clever though the poor old Google bot is it cannot determine sentiment very well (or may not even want to) and will treat those links as a good reason to boost your site’s rankings.

This is obviously a very dangerous tactic and not one to be approached lightly but you do see instances of it happening if not deliberately then definitely inadvertently.

Ryan Air are exemplars of deliberate bad PR to attract venom and spite from their clients, who keep coming back, and who presumably keep posting links to their site.

Mothercare were in the spot light last month for its appalling customer service, this was all over Mumsnet for days and other forums just clicking up the inbound links.  What a gift!

Also see here for a case study from american company My Decor Eyes whose poor customer service has catapulted them  up Googles Rankings. Here is an excerpt with a comment from the owner:

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

 

For the ultimate SEO buzz and getting attention online why not try Troll SEO.

It’s dangerous but could be fun

 credit

Indeed it is not all about links on the Internet it’s all about getting attention and this is where Trolls come in.

Online a Troll is someone who deliberately stirs up forum discussion by posting extreme, controversial, rude, occasionally funny, comments just to annoy and cajole other readers.  He is the firestarter, the poker of ants nests.

Get it right and and everyone gets on their high horse and attacks the troll, the number of contributors increases, attention and eyeballs gather and hey presto suddenly everyone’s on your site.

This is maybe how we know about Liam Stacey who used twitter to launch a stream of racist abuse against footballer Fabrice Muamba as he fought for his life.  Is he really such a racist?  Maybe, maybe not but now we all know who he is and he’s got our attention.

Why did I find myself reading Louise Mensch’s (Tory MP) Twitter the other day?  Well she had decided to promote all the sexist abuse she gets on Twitter in her favourites.  Too disgusting to broadcast on the radio I had to see it for myself when I heard about it!  As did thousands of others neatly promoting her profile, her number of followers etc.

But who were these people posting all this sexist abuse?  If you were to meet them face to face would they be so bold?  I suspect not, but online they are Trolls, operating unseen, below the fold of the page, viley expurgating their venom and inadvertently promoting their hosts’ blogs and websites.  Everyone should have a pet Troll.

 

 

seo

Martina Martina

April 20th, 2012.

Over-optimisation: too much of a “good” thing?

Over-optimisation

So, what’s the problem?

Nothing, if you haven’t been massively over-zealous about how well optimised your website is. Being vigilant and up to date isn’t a problem, the issue Google is trying to fix relates to those link-fiends who have over-used their ‘white hat’ so much so, that is has turned a miserable shade of grey (In case you’re confused, I refer to this post).

Okay, so what is ‘over-opimisation’?

In a nutshell, it’s the act of doing everything that is possible to optimise your website, in a non-human and bot-like way.

Examples?

Sure, over optimisation can include (and will probably be identified by inclusion of ) any of the following:

  • Scraped, copied web content
  • Too many ads on the page & not enough original content and copy
  • That fact that your website loads faster than the speed of light
  • When all links that are inbound and have identical anchor text
  • Infinite forum links
  • Hidden text (in a colour that matches the background, so it can’t be seen)
  • Sites linking to you that are dodgy or malicious in any way

This list is not exhaustive as there are many more examples of things Google might suspect & then penalize you for.

Below, I’ve included a helpful video from SEOMoz’s very own Rand Fishkin that does well to explain what changes should be made to save your site from dropping in the ranks and possibly fading into obscurity online after Google’s next update:

Parting words?

Good luck! ;-)

google

Adam Adam

March 7th, 2012.

Does Google Places Trust Their Citation Sources Too Much?

Barry from Search Engine Roundtable posted an interesting find from a Google Webmaster Central forums post. The OP pointed out that PC World (a leading electronics chain in the UK) is ranking with “Mothercare” (a leading baby/parenting chain in the UK) as it’s title in search results for the term ‘PC World teeside park':

PC World teeside park serps

 

I’m still very intrigued as to how this happened, but after some digging around I think I’ve found a reason why (which I posted on Barry’s post).

1- It’s showing up for ‘mothercare teeside park’ as well (suggesting it’s not ‘one way’). Both results show a Google Places result with the same address and a phone number: 01642 618325

2- A quick search for ‘01642 618325 pc world’ returns http://uk.wowcity.com/hartlepool/?what=digital+camera+consumer+products

3- On this page the first result for Mothercare links through to PC World’s homepage (although the details are correct for Mothercare). Note this passes through an internal tracking script and isn’t a direct link.

This looks to me like an error in Wowcity’s listing as the cause of the problem, and probably isn’t anything to do with the folks at PC World or Mothercare (or the agencies they may be working with), but is an interesting fine nonetheless.

If my theory is correct it begs the question- Does Google Places trust it’s citation sources too much? Would love to hear your comments (particularly if you work for PC World, Mothercare and Wowcity!) below.

Adam Adam

December 6th, 2011.

SEO Industry Survey Results [Infographic]

A few weeks ago we asked a few folks on Twitter to complete a short (okay, maybe not that short) 22 question survey, looking specifically at the business side to working in SEO. We asked the all important questions, including:

  1. Where are you based?
  2. What kind of business are you?
  3. How many people work in the business?
  4. What other services do you offer besides SEO?
  5. How many clients do you currently manage?
  6. Do you contract your clients for a set period of time?
  7. What is your usual client contract arrangement (i.e. how do you charge for your work)?
  8. Your average charge per month for SEO services?
  9. Typical client retention period?
  10. Biggest issues facing your business today?
  11. Biggest barrier to sales?
  12. Biggest source of leads?
  13. What activities are included in a typical campaign?
  14. Link building tactics- what tactics do you employ for the majority of your campaigns?
  15. Do you buy links? (what SEO survey would be complete without this question? ;))
  16. What 3rd party tools do you subscribe to?
  17. What keyword tools do you use primarily?
  18. How long on average do you spend reporting to a single client?
  19. What metrics do you include in your standard reports?
  20. How did you get into SEO?
  21. What skills do you consider to be the most important skills for an SEO?
  22. Have you ever had a site penalised?

The results of the survey are pretty interesting- take a look for yourself below:

SEO Industry Survey

Click to enlarge

Embed this:

We’ll be releasing the source data as promised in the next few days. Let us know how your company compares to these averages in the comments below!

LINK

Martina Martina

October 25th, 2011.

How to ‘Think Link’

linkbuilding
Image Source | Featured Image

Are you aware just how many kinds of links that are relevant to building the Page Rank of your own website? Are you convinced that  mindlessly spamming Joe Bloggs’ blog (see what I did there?  Ha! ;-) ) with comments totally unrelated to the topic at hand, in hopes to receive some free link juice in the form of a back-link is the answer to success?

If this still works on particular blogs, chances are they are not very high quality ones, are probably unmonitored, and are places where your comment & anchor text are left to dwell in the company of other usually very dodgy peers.

So what other links exist & how do you create them?

Here is a list of a variety of different links available to a website with a quick breakdown of how they work:

Reciprocal Links

As suggested by name, these are links gained in return for giving links. This can be achieved by guest posting for instance, where you write content for another blogger which they include on their blog and somewhere within the body of that content, you include a link back to your website. Usually the blogger writes some content for you too, leaving their link; hence it’s reciprocal as you are exchanging links.

One Way Links

As their name suggests, these are the opposite of reciprocal links. You receive a link to your site but do not give a link from your site. Think of it like following a celebrity Twitter profile that doesn’t follow you back, the numbers show the power here. Search engines catch onto this and class your site as valuable and useful because other sites wish to promote you asking for nothing in return. Ranks can dramatically improve with such links and they also help to generate a good amount of direct traffic to you.

If you can achieve these naturally you are on to a winner.

Authority Links

An authority link is a back-link from a site Google trusts in terms of its Algorithm. Trust comes from a site being detected as an authority (because of its page rank, it’s number of strong back-links and many other factors) the beauty of such links is that the sites they are placed on  get more visibility in search engine results for keywords that are both related and non-related to the sites topic.

Directory Links

These are links submitted to and contained in web directories which are an online resource specialising in linking to other web sites and categorizing those links. Links can be searched for and found on in a way similar to a search engine search engine however this is not to confuse the two as unlike a search engine, which uses automated methods to index it’s web-links, directories usually use humans, you know people – to do this. This is good news in terms of quality, as someone actually deciding that a site is quality leaves less room for undeserved sites to rank highly through use of “spammy” techniques.

‘Run-of-Site’ Links

Less popular in recent times, these kinds of links are (or were) in used in footers on websites or links in “blog-rolls” usually in seen in the left of right panel of a bloggers site. As the site grew, gaining back-links and content, the worth of your link would grow too. The name ‘Run of Site’ comes from the fact that the link remains in the same place throughout the entire website (in that left panel or footer).

This had its time. A person could have their link planted on a website that grew to have 1, 000 pages & the link would count as 1, 000 back-links. However, search engines smartened up which has resulted in any one link only counting once in these positions.

Edu. & Gov. Links

The birth of the Internet came about from successful research funded primarily by the American government and educational institutions who shared information with each other.  When it was ready to give to the wider world, these government and educational sites were its main content and were later followed by directories and search engines which were initially built to catalogue these sites.

The older algorithms were less advanced than today’s and once it became obvious that the best way to increase Page Rank was through linking, techies started using edu. And gov. links to spring to the top in terms of ranking for keywords. This has changed however as webmasters began to crack down on people spamming for links, making it difficult to achieve these days.

‘Presell’ Page Links

Without the jargon, these are paid links.
A presell page is one that you create yourself, complete with titles, descriptions, content and of course, links!
You then hand over cash to similar sites in your niche and hope for them to put it up on their domain, link to it from one of their pages and pop it on their site-map too. It totally goes against Google’s guidelines because unethical methods such as ‘cloaking’ are usually used among other things so probably isn’t something you want to be getting into.

Dofollow links

The opposite of nofollow links, (which are crawled by “spiders” in the same way, but are not given any “link-juice” or value once the nofollow tag is added because search engines do not follow them) these are links that webmasters allow spiders to crawl with the intention of giving some authority to the link. When spiders crawl a dofollow link, that link gains a little “juice” because search engines are being told that that site is trustworthy, which helps its Page Rank. Over time, as you build up a list of links to your site that are “followable” your site will grow in authority. You are likely to find dofollow links in the comments section of blogs and profile links on some social media websites.

RSS Links

RSS feeds can be rather helpful in aiding your SEO and enhancing your ranking efforts because of the fact that they get picked up by search engines quite quickly. Feed results can appear for the keywords that your website is ranking for and often such feeds are actually more likely to appear than a regular SEO result for other pages on your site simply because news feeds are updated more frequently (think blogs). To achieve this, ensure you have a feed/subscription option on your site and ensure this is not written in javascript, as search engines cannot crawl these.

Article Marketing/Author Biography Links

This can certainly be effective if the article you write is a good one, contains the link to your website in the biography snippet and gets a considerable amount of traffic. This is because  the more your article is linked to acorss the web, the higher the amount of links there will be to your site from other peoples sites which is the key to ranking success.

Three-Way Links

These links work the same way as reciprocal links whereby each site links to another. With this kind of link however, there is a third site in the equation and the process works by website A linking to website B, and website B not linking back to A. Website B does however, link to website C and instead of C linking back to B, it links to website A (see image above). Reciprocal links are very common and it isn’t unlikely that search engines aware of them might question how natural they are over time. The 3-way link provides the same benefits whilst looking as natural as possible to search engines, which will improve your site rankings.

 

So, now you know how to ‘think link’ – go get ‘em! :-D

Matt

October 24th, 2011.

The Importance Of The Long Tail – 16% Of Searches Have NEVER been Typed-In Before

Google claim that 16% of more than a billion queries entered every day have never been seen before may sound hard to believe, but perhaps a closer look at how people search online is warranted first.  450 billion new, unique queries have been handled by Google since 2003. All of this begs the question what are users doing that results in such a large number of new and unique queries each day?

Credit SeoMoz

Firstly we need to look at how people actually use search engines. In their early experiences with search portals users tend to put in short, generic terms into the search engine. As users become more skilled in searching for the items or information that they want, their search terms become more specific and descriptive.
Instead of using short, generic keywords when searching for a pair of shoes for instance, the user might be inclined to be more descriptive of the type of shoes they are looking for using far more adjectives, e.g. light brown, leather, high heeled ladies court shoes, in the hope that it would be more specific to get exactly what they want.

It is also worth considering the search buying cycle as this especially impacts upon conversions.

Firstly think about how you yourself might behave online when you’re researching buying a product.

Taking a typical online purchase for something like a television. You might start with a search query for a very general phrase like TV or television. You’ll see that there are several irrelevant results for our purpose such as the BBC and ITV results, but using the informational properties such as Wikipedia, or the Google shopping results you may then make a decision that you’re looking for a plasma TV rather than an LCD TV.

Of course you may also decide to visit one of the commercial websites listed for these queries, or buy from the PPC listings, but it’s more likely you’ll want to research a bit more first.

Next you’ll probably search for Plasma TV, this is looking a bit more promising, there are several relevant shopping results some reviews websites and a few more relevant commercial sites appearing. After reading a few of the sites you decide that the Panasonic 50PZ800B looks fairly impressive and you want to find out a bit more about it.

Of course you search for it, possibly adding terms like review, test or comparison to bring up the more informational resources.

It’s about now that you feel you’re happy with your choice, you have compared it against other makes and models, you’re happy that it’s what you’re looking for and you want to go ahead and purchase.

To find online shops selling that specific model you may use buying trigger search terms such as buy or cheap, or possibly even adding geographic search terms such as London or UK.

As a site owner you need to be prepared to be targeting as many of these longer tail phrases as you can with your main site, no easy task when you don’t even know what they are!

Try to develop good (great) content on your site, category and product pages warrant special attention for this. Getting this right will result in high levels of targeted, focused, converting visitors.

 

Adam Adam

October 20th, 2011.

Google Trusted Stores

Google trusted storesTrusted Stores is an ecommerce certification program that Google launched early in October. The idea behind the program is that it will give people more assurance in buying from online retailers. At the moment the program is still in beta those ecommerce stores that attain Google qualification will be able to add a badge to their site, proclaiming them a Google trusted store. The program is backed, more interestingly, with a consumer purchase protection package worth $1,000.

Those retailers interested in applying to become a trusted store will need to furnish Google with certain consumer information as the company is of the opinion that retailer’s data is more trustworthy than customer surveys. In order to qualify for the Trusted Stores status internet retailers will need to demonstrate good customer service and a record of shipping goods on time. In terms of customer service retailers must have evidence of resolving any customer issues and disputes in a timely manner.

When customers move their mouse over the Trusted Stores badge, they will see the store’s customer service and shipping grades. Unlike the Google Checkout the company states, there is no connection between the new program and Google Adwords. Google further reiterated that the program is still in its early stages and too soon to speculate on how the program might be enhanced and expanded.

With respect to the purchase protection package mentioned earlier, it appears to work in a similar way to credit card companies that extend manufacturer’s purchase warranties. Google however, does not offer guarantees rather the $1,000 is potentially money back where retailers fail to resolve problems. The customer can only benefit from this package if they have chosen the free purchase protection option. The consumer should contact the retailer first where there is a problem, if this is not resolved, then the customer can call on Google to deal with it, or be able to claim money back. The fact is that Google is capable of getting retailers to find quick problem resolutions.

While Google have stated that their motive for introducing the program was to increase buyer confidence in online retailers, some may suspect the company of having hidden motives. Notions of a future tie in with Checkout or Adwords are at the moment, pure speculation. As yet it’s unclear precisely what data Google will be capturing, but if customers choose the personal protection, the retailer is more likely to have a record of the transactions.

Adam Adam

August 25th, 2011.

Google’s hidden text in Google Plus posts- a violation of their own guidelines?

I’ve been playing about a bit with Google Plus posts this morning, and with the recent share of Vic Gundotra’s Icon Ambulance post I know a lot of people have been viewing the same page that led me to dig a little deeper into Google Plus pages.

Take a look at the source code of the cached version of this page- scroll down and you’ll notice a lot of names appearing in the source code within the <span class=”To”> tag. This tag appears to contain the names of almost everyone who has shared the post, and in this particular case this is a lot of names. On the page this either appears as:

or in some cases:

As seen in this example from one of Larry Page's posts

I’m not yet able to determine why some pages do display some of this text and why others don’t- it doesn’t appear to be influenced by the number of shares, comments or age of post from what I’ve seen. In any case this still contains a list of names hidden from the page:

hidden text google plus

In order to determine whether Google Plus pages were ranking for people’s names included in the hidden text I decided to run a small experiment. I took this Google Plus post from Matt Cutts and decided to check the rankings of the first 2 pages of Google UK for 38 of the names included in this span tag:

Out of the 38 names I tested for this URL only 2 ranked this URL within the top 20 results. This isn’t a massive feat but I’m sure we’d see more results if we rolled this out across the thousands of post URLs indexed, or expanded the depth past the second page of search results.

This goes to show that the usernames contained in the hidden text can (and does) rank which may be a violation of Google’s Guidelines on Hidden text and links.

Now I’m 100% positive that this isn’t deliberate- I think this is simply a classic case of a developers oversight… another classic example of why SEO needs to be baked into the development process from the very beginning- no matter how big an organisation you are!

Martina Martina

August 24th, 2011.

Why your website isn’t as fast as it should be…

Heavy wheelbarrow

400 Error!

Image source

Imagine…

…a wheelbarrow in an open field that you drag along every day filling it with this and that – each thing you add to it has some significance and some use.

Now imagine you never empty the wheelbarrow. Each day, not only do the things you found the week before now lie at the bottom covered by the newest additions, but the device also becomes increasingly heavy to pull until eventually, it becomes almost impossible.

Now think of the wheelbarrow as your website, and think of its contents as the factors affecting its speed – Let’s explore these factors…

Bad HTML:

Bad HTML example

Erm...does "b" stand for "big" or "bold"?

 

  • Empty spaces between code (This only adds to processing time)
  • Missing tags (Causing internal errors & bugs in the site)
  • Bulky HTML (such as using unnecessary tags where something more CSS compatible would work better e.g. using the tag “font-size” rather than just “small”)
  • Background colour being the same as text colour (making all text unreadable)
  • Hyperlinks that fail (Devaluing your site in terms of credibility, and possibly increasing bounce rates)
  • Missing images

An overload of HTTP requests:

An example of too many HTTP requests

Kabooooom!

Image source

 

Whenever your web browser fetches a file from a web server, for example when it loads a picture, it does this by using HTTP which stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol”.

HTTP is an action whereby you’re computer requests for a particular file. One example is a request for ‘home.html‘ (the homepage of a particular website). The web server then sends a response to the computer that says something like: “Here’s the file you asked for” which is followed by the actual file itself.
Understandably, if your server is receiving a very high volume of requests for a range of different things, such as pictures, graphics, photographs, music players and video rendering, it can take its toll and end up really slowing your website down.

JavaScript/Flash overuse:

Glowing computer

Dude, too much flash!

Image source

 

JavaScript helps make things look nice. Lines of code enable things such as widgets, adverts, and analytics services to work successfully. The issue is that both kinds of software can be “heavyweight”. JavaScript performs ‘sequentially’ rather than ‘concurrently’ – this means that nothing else loads before JavaScript loads. Of course, this becomes an issue when you have tonnes of JavaScript code, each one longer than the last, preventing anything else from happening.

Too many cookies:

The Cookie Monster

Nom Nom Nom!

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HTTP Cookies are used mainly for personalization and authentication purposes. A series of saved information is exchanged between the web server and the browser in order to remember things about how you are using the internet. For example if you are shopping online and exit the website returning at a later date, a cookie will enable the site to remember what you had in your shopping cart so you don’t have to spend time finding the same items again.

However, because saved information is being kept on the server, a build up of this can add to the process time on a website. In some cases, hackers even use cookies as an opportunity to track browsing activity; this is called spyware…so beware!

Bad hosting:

 Image of Robert-Kilroy-Silk

Erm...

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Web hosting is the business of providing storage space and access for websites. Bad web hosting happens when said storage space is overloaded with many websites, yours is added to the list and so runs slow. Other issues caused by a bad web host include:

  • Search engines being unable to crawl your site resulting in a fall in Search Rank
  • Your website being “down” (not working, sending out 404-errors)
  •  Not being able to contact your web host to fix the issue (since the service is so bad the system has probably crashed)

Excess of external media:

Multiple Satellite Dishes

No signal...

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Embedded YouTube videos, actually embedded anything that is coming from another website can potentially slow yours down. When you embed something from another site, you are relying on that sites web server, that sites speed, and that sites ability to ensure the embedded item is working properly there, so that it works properly on yours site. Often, even when it works just fine, it might add an extra few seconds to a certain page loading…a few seconds a potential customer may be unwilling to wait!

Spam:

A Can of Spam

Ew, gross!

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Spam is so much more than just a bunch of annoying emails. It slows down the Internet and it increases consumer fees.

The internet is a network where spamming effects everyone that uses it. To push spam around the internet relies on a process; it begins with global networks that pass the spam along to their destination, and ends with the message being received by the recipient.

Simultaneously, time, money and resources are used trying to catch and prevent spammers from infiltrating mail servers resulting in higher costs to the consumer because providers are forced to add more security to their servers and hire more staff to manage and prevent the problem.

Be sure to spam proof all web forms by adding “captchas” or similar.

Favicon neglect:

Image Illustrating a Favicon

You need one of these!

 

A ‘favicon’ is an image (as shown above) that stays in the root of your server. It’s definitely needed because even if you don’t care about them, the browser still requests one. If there isn’t one, it will respond with a 404 error (meaning not found). Any error message, such as a 404 or 301, is an extra message sent that adds time to the processing of a site.

This image or lack thereof, interferes with the processing sequence by requesting extra components in the load, and since the favicon is the first thing that is downloaded before these extra components, if there isn’t one, the first thing downloaded will be an error.

Too many advertisements:

Too many Ads

Hmm...where to start?

Image source

Any time a site uses advertisements, you are adding to other processes a site goes through in order to function correctly. Programmes like Google Adsense and Microsoft adcenter are external, and reputable, however it is logical to practice the same rules as with external media; everything in moderation – besides, sites with too many ads look un”site”ly! :-P

 

If any of these apply to you, take active steps to protect your website against sloth! Speed be with you!

Martina Martina

August 11th, 2011.

[Infographic] – Which search engine holds the most weight?

Google, Google, Google…it’s all we talk about, it’s (possibly) all we care about in terms of SEO ranking and PPC ads, and some might say they even live in fear of it (you know, since the big bad Panda updates).

One thing we can’t argue with however, is its resourcefulness; it has “everything” one could need, making it so much more than just a search engine. It’s a machine.

Now that isn’t to say that Google can’t be annoying sometimes (infact an earlier post of mine focuses on just that *shakes fist* :x ) and familiarity breeds contempt after all, right?

Perhaps it’s because of its ‘one size fits all’ approach or perhaps it’s because of it’s dominance of the entire internet that causes people to look elsewhere for a search engine that fits their particular needs and that feels slightly more personal…in any case, I came up with this helpful infographic to help you decide:

Click image for the full HQ infographic

Use the following code to post the full infographic to your blog:
<a href=”http://picturepush.com/public/6293344″><img src=”http://www1.picturepush.com/photo/a/6293344/img/6293344.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Image Hosted by PicturePush – Photo Sharing” /></a>

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