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On the subject of SEO

Katie Hopkins

Joe Joe

January 6th, 2014.

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

 

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

“The Daily Mail is a worm-ridden sack of pus, sucking the life out of everything that’s beautiful about our world”

– reportedly the opening lines of The Dead Sea Scrolls. That said, they run one of the most successful websites on the internet.

Now I’m going to tell you how you can be loathsome and get 100,000,000 visitors to your site. I’ll also tell you how you can do it without being loathsome. That’s the kind of nice guy I am.

First, a quick note on ‘Virality’ and ‘Sharing’. ‘Viral Content’ is a term that can only be applied retrospectively. Nobody makes intrinsically ‘Viral’ things – it’s theoretically possible for anything to go viral provided it’s appealing and enough people share it. When I talk about ‘Sharing’, I mean exclusively the sharing that takes place on social media. Tweets, Retweets, Likes, Shares etc. The two concepts go hand in hand.

I’m a big fan of Jonah Berger, author of ‘Contagious’. Berger has scientifically tested different theories about virality and sharing to see what makes the best web content. He gives a selection of ideas. They are:

Social Currency – Make sure you’re supplying information that people will want to know.

Triggers – Make sure it’s something people are likely to be talking about.

Emotion – Make people emotional – this is really important (I’ll explain why later)

Practical Value – Make something useful

Public – Do everything you can to make it sharable

Stories – Tell a story. People love stories.

I will now go through and systematically address each of these points and explain how the Daily Mail uses them to great success.

Social Currency

People love to show off about things they’ve learnt. ‘Pub Ammo’ is the toe-curling cliché that seems to sum this phenomenon up neatly. If you make something that you think people will want to tell people then they’ll want to share it.

Take this example:

hoverboards

A cursory glance is enough to make you think we’ll all be riding around on ‘hoverboards’ next week, but a little critical thinking tells us that this would only apply to hoverboards that were 1mm in size. Take away the misleading opening question and this article could be quite interesting – and it certainly fills a knowledge gap (albeit not the one it advertises), plus 447 people shared the article

hoverboard shares

 

…presumably with this expression on their face:

You don’t have to be misleading with your own content. Just telling people something really, really interesting will be enough to ensure it gets shared around.

Triggers

In creating content, I would normally advise you to see what people are talking about by going on Twitter or Reddit and trying to tap into that subject with your own slant. Giving a different perspective can be good. However, if you’re the Daily Mail, instead of adding to the discussion you can just make news up about anything you like.

Here is a selection of things deemed newsworthy by The Mail. I have provided notes on how each tapped into ‘Triggers’.

‘The Only Way is Pregnancy: Billy Faiers and boyfriend Greg are ‘expecting their first child’ in the summer

(5 shares in the first 20 minutes. Not bad. I have no idea who these two people are, but based on the particularly rubbish pun I guess they’re reality TV stars. Obviously I’m not the target audience, so possibly they’re well-known in certain circles. The people who are interested in the breeding habits of television stars will be likely to share it).

‘What are THEY doing together? Justin Bieber takes Selena Gomez for a Segway ride around his neighbourhood’

(Obviously ‘Justin Bieber’ is a hot topic. I forecast that there is someone Googling ‘Justin Bieber’ somewhere in the world every second of every day. By running a non-story about ‘Justin Bieber’, The Mail ensures it will appear in the news results for ‘Justin Bieber’, increasing its clickthroughs and engagement. This article had 79 shares in an hour)

 ‘I would rather be alone with dignity’: ‘Relieved’ Jack Cockings opens up on Twitter following abrupt ‘trial separation’ from wife Melanie Sykes

(Only 4 shares for this one. Probably because nobody knows who Jack Cockings is. I’ve heard of Melanie Sykes, but she’s not the focus of the story, so this is quite unremarkable.)

‘Sam Faiers leaves home to cheers from family before being ‘hidden’ as she arrives at secret location ahead of CBB’

(Obviously the whole world will be tuning in for ‘CBB’ tonight. And readers will be pleased to learn that Sam Faiers (possibly a relation to the Billy Faiers above?) is a potential housemate. A reality TV star is going on a different reality TV show. This is the greatest thing to happen since The Flintstones met The Jetsons. For tapping into a ‘big new story’ (CBB) they’ve earned 34 shares).

You may think that these articles don’t have a particularly huge number of shares, but bearing in mind The Mail produces hundreds of new pages each day, these shares (and views) soon add up.

Emotion

We all know that the Daily Mail’s articles usually tick one or more of the following boxes:

Inaccurate, insensitive, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-NHS, warmongering, scare-mongering, sensationalist, science-fearing.

That’s because they’re trying to make people emotional.

According to Jonah Berger, the best emotion for getting people to share things is ‘Awe’. If you create something awesome, people will be more willing to share it. Some people would incite ‘awe’ by cataloguing every sighting of Jesus’ face in everyday objects… but The Mail doesn’t care about awe. They’re targeting a different emotion (and one which I personally think would be more useful to target…) Anger.

Anger causes arousal and arousal causes activity. If you spend an hour on Facebook, you’ll see roughly 66,753 posts from your friends, outraged about some story or another.

Take this example:

breast is best

The article is about a woman who had post-natal depression and committed suicide after seeking help for her mental illness. The article (written in the words of the woman’s husband) suggests that she was failed by the system because the hospital staff focussed on the breastfeeding issue and ignored the mental health issue.

Firstly, women aren’t admitted to hospital just because they can’t breastfeed. Maybe she had Mastitis and needed antibiotics, maybe the baby was losing weight and needed to be monitored. In any case, this probably wasn’t the focus of the hospital staff when treating her.

Secondly, breast feeding wasn’t the direct cause of her suicide. She still killed herself after she’d fed her baby with a bottle so although the breast feeding problem probably wasn’t helpful, it wasn’t the only cause.

Thirdly, hospital staff aren’t trained to treat mental health issues (it’s still a fairly new discipline). Even then, people aren’t admitted on mental health grounds unless they’ve attempted suicide before or have a solid plan to do so.

So this article is unscientific, inaccurate, insensitive, sensationalist, anti-NHS and misleading. But it was still a viral success.

People could have shared it for 4 reasons:

1)      They applied basic critical thinking and were outraged that this type of ‘journalism’ exists.

2)      They were angry that a woman was driven to suicide by a breast-feeding obsessed society.

3)      They were angry at the mail for suggesting the breast feeding obsession is a bad thing.

4)      They were depressed by the story (sadness is still an emotion, though not as arousing and therefore not as useful for sharing).

It doesn’t matter what made them emotional. They still got worked up and shared it, causing more people to read it and get worked up and share it.

And with every angry share, The Mail grows in strength.

(If you’re creating content for your business, a bit of controversy is ok but it’s probably better to stick to ‘awesome’ stuff)

Practical Value

Content that teaches people how to do something in a simple way is a success story in the making. Life Hacker has made its entire business model out of it, and there are thousands of similar tips and tricks doing the rounds all the time on social media.

The Daily Mail doesn’t really target this aspect too much (unless you find paparazzi shots useful), but occasionally they’ll offer something vaguely practical:

slimming

The article doesn’t answer the question, the ‘expert’ is a dietician who says ‘there is no quick-fix for weight loss’ and the rest of the article reads like a series of press releases from dieting products.

But you can see they were trying to be useful, and for their trouble the article got 226 shares.

If you were thinking about content for your company, you could keep it interesting and useful and summarise some kind of industry secret. That would be pretty valuable. The more useful, the more people will share it and promote it.

Public

Making your content easily sharable is the key to getting it shared. If you can prompt people to talk about your company on Facebook or Twitter then you’re on the path to viral success.

Just think about The Daily Mail. If you’ve ever taken to Twitter or Facebook to complain about the latest ball of hate spouting out of the Daily Mail, then consider yourself a sucker.

Last year, Samantha Brick wrote an article claiming other women hate her for being beautiful.

She claimed that although she is heaped with gifts from men, she is admonished by jealous women. The article included lots of pictures of Brick. I don’t want to republish them here (I’d have to credit The Mail) so instead, I’ve done an artist’s impression of Samantha, complete with Rotten-Seafood Grimace.

sammy

Bearing in mind The Mail’s readership is 52% female, the formula of ‘piss off the most people’ seems to be in full swing. People took to Social Media in their thousands to complain. In the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye, ‘Samantha Brick’ was trending on Twitter and the firestorm of comments drove an untold amount of traffic to the Daily Mail site.

Digital success is fickle. While it’s likely 100% of the Tweets were chiding Brick, they turned out to be a tool of success. By complaining about her en masse, the Twitterers strengthened her platform – lifting her onto a pedestal and turning an unknown woman into a ‘celebrity’ overnight. Now we have to put up with her trending on Twitter every time she meets her controversial opinion deadline.

Stories

We enjoy stories.

I mean ‘we’ as a species. It’s possible other species also like stories. Of course, there’s the famous case of the bonobo which learned a rudimentary sign language. He was able to tell the zookeeper that the missing toucans could be found in the lion’s belly. Amazing.

I made that up, but I reckon you liked it. People like stories. See?

I’m afraid The Daily Mail’s stories aren’t quite as heartwarming as mine.

They’re ‘human interest’ I suppose. The breastfeeding example above is a beacon of story-telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. A hero (the woman who died). A villain (the NHS). And a moral (don’t obsess over breastfeeding?).

Other stories the Daily Mail has introduced to the literary cannon include these heart-warmers:

‘RAF veteran has clocked up a million miles over 73 years (and hasn’t had a single accident or prang)’

 ‘Baby-faced gang leader is banned from town centre unless he is with his mother after terrorising shoppers’

‘You’re the best dad ever’: Mairead Philpott’s sick letter to a vile father of 17 who killed six of their children in a house fire’

‘Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle: Dictator had him stripped naked, thrown into a cage and eaten alive by a pack of dogs’

These stories are so reductionist they can fit into one grammatically-questionable sentence, but that’s part of their beauty. You’re intrigued by them and you click on them to read more.

Then you get angry and share it.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand why The Daily Mail is so consistently horrible.

In the words of Pope Benedict: ‘I DID IT ALL FOR THE RETWEETS, BABY!’

If you want to emulate this kind of viral success, give us a ring and we’ll sort you out with a bespoke content marketing strategy.

P.s. If you don’t like anything I said, you should probably share this with everyone in your social circles and possibly write a blog post about me (but be sure to link back).

master bait

Joe Joe

February 14th, 2013.

An Essential Tool for Seeding Your Linkbait – The D.O.G.C.A.T.

master bait

 

Linkbait. The One True Love of the Content Makers.

That essential tool in the arsenal of online marketer, Linkbait is content designed to attract the attention of other web users by baiting them to link to it (see?).

Linkbait isn’t just ordinary content. Blog posts are easy; but making something that your industry will want to share and celebrate is a different ballgame entirely.

Linkbait can come from a stroke of genius or hours of planning, or both. As long as people look at it as either a resource for their industry or something novel and entertaining, there’s no reason it shouldn’t attract links from the right people.

 

More links means more traffic and better SEO!

So we know you’ve already made a killer piece of content. You’re just here to find out how to spread it around properly, right? Well fret no more, Ladies and Gentlemen. We present:

 

The Datadial Original ‘Guide to Content Appreciation’ Triangle.

Or

D.O.G.C.A.T.

 

Seeding Linkbait copy

 

Ok, Calm down. We know it looks overwhelmingly complicated, but let me explain exactly how it works:

 

LEVEL 0 – Creation:

The whole thing works on the basis that you already have a piece of original content that you think will attract attention from your peers in industry. Whether it’s a video explaining how Les Miserables is a great model for growing your start-up, or an infographic explaining the best way to seed Linkbait, as long as you think people will be able to use it; you’re on track.

 

Level 1 – Social Media:

This is the most basic type of seeding. It’s an essential step, but exposure will be limited to the size of your following. If you’re lucky, your content might be Shared, Retweeted or +1’d to a wider audience. It’s possible that you have 6 million followers on Twitter, but if you don’t it might be worth taking measures to grow your following. Social sharing is a self-fulfilling process – the more people share it, the more people see it. The more people see it, the better the chance of them sharing it.

 

Level 2 – Social News Sites:

This is a stage that requires a bit more work and skill. Sites like Newsvine, Digg and Reddit allow users to submit links and articles to be read and reviewed by their peers. These sites are community-powered and collaborative.

– Newsvine is more news-based and content is reviewed by site-users who can indicate good content by clicking the ‘Seed Newsvine’ option. The more people who seed it, the more it spreads.

– Digg is a little serious but reflects a community interested in alternative news and modern trends. Content is promoted by clicking the ‘Digg’ button and the more Diggs an article gets, the higher it climbs on the front page.

– Reddit has the potential to be the strongest tool in your Content Sharing arsenal. Reddit is, in essence a news/link/media sharing site which is comprised of niche special-interest Subreddits. There are Subreddits for pretty much anything you can think of, from /r/pokemon to /r/indiegaming. Finding the right Subreddits to seed your content is key, and if the community like it; you’ll reap the rewards.

 

My Top Tips for Submitting to Social News sites:

1)  Think of a catchy title to draw people in and make it seem newsworthy. (‘New Study Shows Horses are Just Really Big Dogs’ is a lot catchier than ‘I read an article earlier about how horses are really big dogs and I thought I’d share it with you on here’).

2)  Don’t offend the community. There’s a certain tribalism associated with community-based social sites and it would be a faux-pas to insult the people you are trying to impress. (‘Redditors Might Benefit from this Spell-Checking Plug-in’ works better than ‘Redditors Can’t Spell!’)

3)  Don’t be too self-serving; for some reason people think it’s less authentic to promote your own work than to find something organically. (‘Cool Infographic about Seeding Linkbait’ works better than ‘I made this amazing article about Seeding Linkbait).

 

Level 3 – The Newsiest Blogs in Town:

These are the former Search Engine Contenders that for the most part have bowed out of the Search Wars to focus on other parts of user experience. They’ve become pinnacles of the online news world, and although they’re still somewhat community-focussed, they are edited.  They now support a news format with a kind of blog/online magazine layout. Emailing the editors of relevant sections with your ideas could earn a link to your content and massively improve your exposure.

 

Level 4 – Industry Specialists:

If you’ve written a post on ‘Implementing Google Authorship to aid SEO’, you might consider contacting SEOMoz or other industry leaders to see if they’re interest in the resource you’ve created. One tweet from a well-followed industry leader is worth more than an email to everyone in your address book. If your specialism is music you might contact a blog such as Pitchfork or AllMusic; and if books are your forte, Waterstone’s are industry leaders. Specialism can extend into things as niche as genre, so don’t hesitate to hunt for the best blogs in your industry.

 

Level 5 – Actual News Sites:

If your content is really a revolutionary resource you might consider contacting the editors of international media and news sites. The Guardian, The Times or The Huffington Post could (if targeted properly) gain you worldwide exposure. If your content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll just be wasting your time, but a carefully strategized approach could land you on the pages of the centres of global news reporting.

 

Level 6 – The BBC:

Only one step up from The Huffington Post, but perhaps a world apart. The BBC departs from the idea of community-based news reporting and presents itself as the leading resource for news. You can submit news stories to the BBC and its various subsections, but since they are keen to avoid any undue consideration in news reporting, the only way to get an acknowledgement from this avenue would probably be to create something that actively changes how people think about your industry.

 

Some Final Notes on the D.O.G.C.A.T.

Three factors that seem to change as you move up the ladder are cost, difficulty and exposure.

Cost

Cost is actually higher on level 1 than level 6. Using paid methods of promoting your material on Social Networks can be very useful. In fact, the clever clogs in charge of these outlets have been sure to make sure spending money is easy and will benefit you. However, as you move up the D.O.G.C.A.T., cost is no problem. You can’t buy your way onto the pages of reputable news sites, but truly strong content dressed up properly can be submitted for consideration for free.

Difficulty

If you’ve already got social media plug-ins installed, spreading your content on Level 1 is a cakewalk. You literally have to do nothing. Isn’t the internet amazing? That said, by relying on the automated service alone you probably won’t see the benefit. Pumping your content back into the mixer will ensure more people will have a chance to see it and click through. Level 2 requires only an idea of what that particular online community are looking for; but from Levels 3 to 6 it becomes much harder. The content must be of an incredibly high standard and it will help to have a point of contact in the business rather than emailing ‘editor@x.com’.

Exposure

Level 1 could go one way or the other in terms of exposure. On the one hand, if you run the social media for a multi-national corporation; you’ll probably have a big following and high exposure. If you’re a local fruit shop, you might find significantly less exposure. Level 2 can offer a high level of exposure if your submission proves possible; but as we’ve said, this requires a certain level of skill. It goes without saying that a lot of people read news websites, so Levels 3-6 will be guaranteed high-exposure.

We hope you find the D.O.G.C.A.T. as useful as it definitely is.

 

It will probably change the industry.

 

…BBC here we come.

Google_images

Martina Martina

October 17th, 2012.

Google adwords: Image search ads

Google_images

Topic in question:
Google Adwords’ image search ads

Are these new?
Well yes and no. No technically, since they were originally launched at a Google Search event back in 2010, but to you – yes if you have never used them before, obviously.

What are they?
In short, they are ads that include images similar to the ones you see on the search network as part of a PPC campaign.

Where do you use them?
These can be used as part of your online advertising campaign in Google’s display network. Specifically, they will appear at the top of Google’s image search above the lines of images returned. Here is an example:

CLS
 

Why would you use them?
For many reasons. There is a huge untapped opportunity to be found via the images you have on your website than just through regular SEO. For instance, through the ALT-tags used in your images. These can lead people to the content on your website.

Also, often people are genuinely just looking for an image rather than actual text content – for instance when looking for new shoes, or any product they are interested in. This is a great chance to draw in prospective customers.

Hold on, don’t we already have image ads on the display network?
We sure do!

So, how are these different?
They’re completely different. Image ads are ads featured in Google’s display network. This network is different from Google’s search network. Instead, it is a large collection of websites that are in a partnership with Google that work to display graphical ads that have been built with the display ad builder.

Those ads look like this:

cooking_ad

Will these cost me more than usual search ads?
No, you can bid on relevant keywords as you usually would. So this will only cost you as much as you choose to bid.

Any tips for effectiveness?
Google advises you create a separate campaign for these kinds of ads. This way you can gauge quality scores much more accurately and hone the campaign in a way that works best.

Things to keep in mind?
Although a useful way to advertise, it is worth noting that there are no guarantees this will be a huge success in terms of conversions, and as with text ads, it is a process of constant tweaking until you find what works.

Some users have suggested that this is something that best works with tangible products (on e-commerce sites) where someone will search to get an idea of a product they will eventually wear, use or feel (i.e furniture, clothing or decoration).

If your product doesn’t fall into this band, then the outlook for image ads search might be branding; a way to advertising the visual aspects of your services. Low Cost Holidays does a good job of this. Here, I searched the term winter holidays:

winter_holidays
 

Okay where do I start?
You can explore this feature in Adwords by selecting a campaign on the left and then selecting ads from the top panel. From there, select new ad and then Specialised – Search from the drop down menu:

search_ad



Follow the instructions from there. – Good luck! ;-)

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! ;-)

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

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!

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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?

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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

July 8th, 2011.

5 reasons to blame yourself for a bad SEO experience…

1. You didn’t explain exactly what it was that you wanted…

Did the SEO agency you chose actually understand what it is you do? Did you assume they would? I bet you did! Well that was a rookie error – just because they know SEO, it doesn’t mean that automatically they’ll know all of your business goals and aspirations. It certainly doesn’t mean that through SEO, all of your dreams will come-true overnight. Covering things such as budget and goals are essential in order for us to devise the appropriate strategy for you.

 

2. The SEO’s weren’t told what already worked (or didn’t work) for you…

Were you clear about what the best features of your online endeavours are so far? Did you talk about what proved successful, or things you  tried and that were unsuccessful?
All conversions can be tracked which shows any progress SEO’s have (or haven’t) made. However, if you don’t inform the SEO’s of what already works or doesn’t then you can’t argue if there are repeat mistakes.

 

3. You didn’t indicate the importance of having one main person oversee the account…

Because any reputable SEO agency isn’t made up of just one person behind a desk and computer handling every enquiry made, but is rather formed of a team of people ranging in size (the team not the people, although this applies to both :-) ) that help manage your account – it is likely that,  much like a ‘Chinese-whisper’, your goals, aims and dreams are somewhat diluted to anyone that didn’t speak to you directly.
For example, when person 1, explained the information to person 2, who made brief notes and handed those to person 3, person 3 wasn’t following your direct instructions. They might not have fully understood the notes…however, you don’t have to accept this. If you only feel comfortable with one person in particular handling your account, request that only that person have access to it. This way, any changes made by you won’t come as a surprise to the SEO.

 

4. You didn’t understand the amount of work needed and so were surprised when costs were higher than expected…

Good Search Engine Optimization will get your site discovered in online search results. There is however, more to it than that. Many people in an SEO agency work to get your site to its optimum, and you need to be aware of just how much work goes into this.

SEO :
This team will mainly be in charge of making sure that SEO is being carried out for all your online needs
Online Marketing:

This team works alongside the SEOs to help get you publicity online.
Usability & Design:

This team will have the job of creating a smooth user experience for all users that come across your website.
Web Developers:

This team will develop, build and ensure things work – such as buttons on your site, conversion tracking and more.
Providers of Content:

This team will ensure that good content is maintained, and optimised so that people can find it.

 

5. You didn’t maintain a good relationship with the agency…

Chances are, you started off all guns blazing, before slowly falling into a pattern of laziness, assuming the agency would take care of everything the way you wanted – meaning you wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Further, you were unavailable for meetings, you didn’t specify what kinds of reports you wanted, and changes were (or were not) made that you caused dissaproval.  When (on your say-so) these changes were reversed, rankings and conversions fell and this caused (even more) tension between you and the agency.

Remember, rankings and conversion rates can see-saw and any changes made to your site can take time to show the positive affect they are having. You should try not to ignore advice about possible re-designs or new pages that should be added to your site. Other things to consider are using services to monitor your online reputation and  testing better versions of your website to get the best results.

Good luck! ;-)

 

Martina Martina

March 25th, 2011.

What colour hat matches your shoes?

Ok, this isn’t a post about fashion.

If you are familiar with the various SEO techniques that exist, then you might already be familiar with the infamous ‘hats’ and what they all stand for. If you have no idea what I am talking about – you should definitely read on.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO is the nice clean cut, ethical and moral way to practice SEO. This hat represents by-the-book SEO that doesn’t cause harm or upset to anyone because every success is the result of hard work and quick thinking.

Black Hat SEO

This is known as SEO from the dark-side. Bending search engine rules, adopting various naughty techniques and deceiving Google to achieve a quick result in a short space of time. Techniques include things like putting invisible hidden text on web-pages, cloaking – whereby a web user is redirected to a different webpage than they initially searched for, keyword flooding – using hundreds of paragraphs on any one page including every keyword you are bidding for…the list goes on…

Grey Hat SEO

In a palette, black mixed with white = grey, well the same thing counts here.
Tactics used that cannot be clearly described either as ethical or unethical but sit in the middle of the two, are ‘grey hat’. While grey hat SEO is often frowned upon, it is unlikely to cause a site to be banned or shut down…take from that what you will…

Green Hat SEO

New to the collection of hats, green hat SEO represents a less tactical approach and a more procedural one with the main aim of increasing the amount of visitors to a website. Focus is placed on creating brand awareness, becoming trustworthy and gaining customer loyalty as opposed to targeting keywords that will increase impressions and click-through rates only for the user to find that the pages on your website are not relevant to them anyway. It seems the ‘green’ element relates to being friendly (think eco)…the customer is the focus, and the aim is to make them happy.

Blue Hat SEO

This one isn’t “official” just yet and many SEO’s may refuse to accept it. Others however, will understand this hat as one that relates to what is essentially advanced white hat practices. In plain terms, these are advanced internet marketing and SEO techniques that get the results you want in the best way possible without annoying or upsetting anyone. This is not to say that blue hatters are not aware of black hat practices, in-fact it is quite the opposite, blue hatters have an advanced knowledge of both hats, and use this knowledge in a creative way enabling them to manipulate search engines in a way that benefits their site.

So choose your hats wisely and happy SEO-ing :-)

Martina Martina

March 11th, 2011.

Slightly immoral and unethical ways companies might use Google Adwords to generate business…

In July 2010, ‘Goldtrail holidays‘ a British tour operator, collapsed leaving thousands of holidaymakers abroad when it went into administration.

It took no time at all for fellow tour operators to see this as a great way to generate business. ‘EasyJet’, ‘Fly Thomas Cook’ and ‘Sunwings’ were but some of a few who cottoned onto this and broke a fundamental rule – bidding on a brand-name term that isn’t your own.

Nevertheless, a search query using the term “Goldtrail” or “Goldtrail holidays” returned adverts for cheap holidays abroad and the like. Of course Google would have had to allow this, and probably didn’t act on it because at that point, technically, Goldtrail was no longer an actual legal entity.

The recent Earthquake disaster in Japan, hitting 8.9 on the Richter-scale and sparking off several Tsunamis’, is all over the news and the internet today. It isn’t a brand name, but could this idea be adapted and used as a possible gateway for business? For example, charities pushing sponsorship in the third-world for instance, might post adverts asking for financial help in countries where natural disasters are common by using the words “Japan disaster” “Japan” “Tsunami” “Japan earthquake” “Japan Tsunami” etc, as a broad match – or any keywords that are relevant to this recent tragic disaster.

Click the thumbnails below to see some search terms that are fairly popular at the moment due to current events, and have little competition:


If ads are tactically written so that technically they are not breaching any rules or regulations – like the Goldtrail example above – and instead are tugging at peoples heart strings, this might work.

It seems fine until you consider how this could be misused, for example by charities who take most of what is donated to them and use it to pay “administration fees” and “business costs” before any of it makes it overseas to those in actual need.

You never know…

Martina Martina

December 15th, 2010.

An introduction to pay-per-click (PPC)

There are tales of retired businesspeople or sometimes new parents who leave jobs to raise families, who then get bored of monotony and decide to try and use the internet to cure their boredom. Perhaps this idea was launched after they stumbled across Google AdWords and PPC, both helpful tools in allowing companies to bid on certain keywords and phrases.

It works like this – if their bid is high enough,  the winning bidder pays the bid price which ranges from pennies to pounds depending on the competition for those words. Once paid for, a short advert from that bidders company will appear alongside the search results of anyone typing those keywords or phrases into a search engine or a website. Whatever the winning bid price was, is paid every time someone clicks on the ad. The benefits come from the traffic that is drawn to the site mentioned in the advert.

This may sound great, fantastic even – but there are ways to get it wrong, so read on for some handy tips in getting the most out of PPC:

Measuring Click-Through Rates

The success of pay-per-click is found in how many time someone clicks on your ad. This is called the click-through rate. In theory, a high click-through rate equals one click for every four times the page containing your advert is displayed. However you should remember that you are paying for any clicks, therefore – if no business is gained by the ad being clicked, you are potentially losing money.

This is why decisions about your campaign should be focused on getting customers to spend money on the product or service you supply, rather than simply getting them to click on your ad. Completely removing ad that gets lots of clicks but rarely results in a transaction is an idea; perhaps replacing this ad with of one that isn’t as big of a click draw but ultimately entices more transactions would help.

Understanding Conversion Metrics

Online ads allow for you to calculate the money you will make based on what you invest. Although it can be pretty straightforward in some cases, in others it may not, especially if you are using many different forms of marketing already. Google has conversion-tracking tools designed specifically to determine the rate at which people come to your website through clicking on your ad and actually go on to complete a transaction. This can be in the form of making a purchase, signing up for something or simply joining a mailing list. By telling these tools what different types of clicks on your site are worth, it can calculate what your total return will be.

Setting Manageable Budgets

Figure out where you are getting a positive investment and base your budget primarily around that – and that alone. If you are making money, continue to spend more and keep doing so as long as you are making money. Only stop this if it is absolutely necessary, or becomes too much of an outgoing each month to pay. If you are not making money on a campaign then fix it, or walk away from it but do not throw money away month after month in the hope that things will improve, chances are they won’t.

You’re Job Is Never Done

Make constant changes. Such changes include better ads, better keywords and better methods of converting ad clickers. There are some helpful tools provided by Google that assist you in doing so, such as ‘Bid Simulator’ which predicts how new keywords will pan out. Never assume you can do no better, there is always a way to make extra money, or to ‘right’ any wrongs.

Being Realistic

If your keywords are not highly sought after by other advertisers, then you will probably be just fine. But if you are in a crowded industry facing stronger competitors, then prices can get extremely high for keywords.

You can save some money by using more obscure keywords reflecting your businesses strengths and niches. Also, an ad that makes it to the second or even third page in a search engine is not a bad ad. You can save money this way – instead of doing all you can to land on the first page, which new businesses cannot always afford to do.

Good luck!

Martina Martina

December 2nd, 2010.

The nature of the ‘NoFollow’ tag… and some reasons you should avoid it.

Blog spamming is inevitable. It occurs when people post numerous links within comments sections in a blog article with the intention of readers of that article scrolling down to the comments bit to add their two pennies worth, seeing these links posted by other “readers” of that article and clicking on those links.

Whilst this is unfortunate for the blog owner, since many of these links drive traffic elsewhere, there is one proposed solution to this, and it goes by the name of the ‘NoFollow’ tag (written in HTML as (rel=”nofollow”)) – its one aim? To block search engines from following such links in comments.

Problem solved right? … Wrong! Regardless of the intention of the tag there is one overarching issue here – spammers haven’t hung up their spamming hats just yet, so if the tag does little or nothing to stop spam, ultimately it has failed.

Here are 5 more reasons why the NoFollow is a NoGo:

  • It’s Pointless - It doesn’t work. Spammers still spam. If you want don’t want spam then perhaps you should use an(other) anti-spam tool such as ‘math’ alongside useful plug-ins like ‘SpamKarma’.
  • It’s Pointless – The use of ‘NoFollow’ in comments on WordPress blogs (which are widely used) is default, hence – you may already be using it.
  • It’s Pointless - There is no value, in terms of search engine indexing, & if the search engine indexes can’t find your link, and having many indexed links is your aim (and it is) then there is no point.
  • It’s Selfish – Leaving a comment on another’s blog post is a nice thing to do and the right comment can even lead to more comments. If someone takes the time to do this for you, why not give back a little. Sharing is caring.
  • It’s … Pointless – Guess what, Search Engines such as Yahoo, actually follow ‘NoFollow’ tags and have been known to count them as back-links in SiteExplorer. So, if you’re goal in comment spamming is to build such back-links in the hopes of building your site’s value … NoFollow is of no use to you here either.

The choice is yours…choose wisely.

Martina Martina

November 2nd, 2010.

The importance of blogging regularly.

Blogging regularly is important for many reasons. The most obvious being that if your want to retain a degree of professionalism (assuming your blog is not a personal one) then it looks better if you are continuously finding new and interesting things for your audience to read.

Honestly, how eager are you to get involved with a company or a business through its website, when you visit its blog and see that the ‘most recent’ entry has a date stamp of 6 months ago…?

Besides, there are some little gems you may be sacrificing if you neglect your company’s blog – such as:

Being fresh and innovative!

A blog post is an article that varies in length, can be about anything you want and is usually beneficial to the target audience it was written for.  Through blogging, you can use it to encourage people, persuade them or simply to entertain them. Why lose out on something this beneficial? If you are a company or a business that has something you are trying to sell, your blog is the place to do this!

Being seen!

If you want to improve your chances of being visible in search engines (and you do) then well structured posts are essential. A great post can start to rank in search engines over time and could potentially bring in web traffic to your website. (For tips on how to write a great post you can read my earlier article titled ‘Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs’)

Being communicative & media savvy!

Simply because blogging and social media marketing must coexist when it comes to marketing a business, communication is essential.

Social communities, such as Twitter, Digg, and Facebook among others, can be used as a platform for your blog, and so being a consistent (but quality) blogger could create the opportunity for more traffic to find drive its way to your blog. Perhaps most importantly, through these social networks you could gather new business opportunities.

Being heard!

Blogging is a way to explain to your readers who you are as a company. Distancing yourself from the competition is what your brand and your website will attempt to do, but a blog can add that extra panache needed to make your business really stand out. Much like a chronicle, your blog can be how you document the goings on in your company – which will give allow it to develop a voice and a personality.

So blog & blog often!

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