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On the subject of SEO

Martina Martina

October 1st, 2010.

Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs.

You are probably already aware of the importance of guest posting to for the purposes of promotion in the world of SEO. The two work hand in hand. However, there is more to guest posting than simply getting your article uploaded to any random blog on the internet – if you want it to be seen and seen often, then you need to be featured on successful high powered blogs that get attention.

As somebody that is fairly new to SEO, I have learned that there are many ways to ‘get a link’, but perhaps more importantly, I have recognised the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to guest posting.

So what shouldn’t you do?

  • Aimlessly send out requests asking a multitude of questions regarding guidelines.

Why? – Because blogs like this usually have set guidelines that can be found on ‘guest posting’ sections of their site. Asking webmasters questions that they have already answered shows your lack of attention to detail. Not a good sign.

  • Ignore the target audience.

Figuring out the niche for that blog, or the readers interests from previous posts that they have on the site is helpful. Of course you may be working for clients or have your own ideas that are far away from the niche theme of the blog that you are approaching. One solution to this is to be creative and to try and marry the ideas that you have, to this niche. For example, I recently found a blog on video-gaming where I wanted to incorporate a client that supplies contemporary decorative art; I came up with ideas such as ‘concept art in video-games’ and even ‘tattoo art inspired by game characters’. These worked well.

  • Follow-suit.

Taking initiative is highly appreciated in the world of guest posting. Don’t be afraid to send some material to the blog owner, rather than simply asking to send some. If they are a successful blog, chances are they will be inundated with requests daily, many of which they turn down. Instead, sending some well written content with a good email explaining your intentions will be a breath of fresh air, will get you noticed and will heighten your chances of getting that post.

  • Be generic.

Go ‘gaga’ with the hyperbole, the numbered titles and the informative language used. If the blog owner wants changes to be made, you’ll be informed, but standing out is the key – a title can make the topic seem boring even if the content is great. Huge blogs of text with no photographs are a no-no. Avoid these.

  • Give up.

If your post was refused but you followed the above steps, chances are it’s going to have been a pretty well put together and thought out piece of work. A well constructed post is never a wasted effort, so don’t waste it – use it elsewhere or use it on your own blog if you can. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. :)

Martina Martina

September 14th, 2010.

About me…

Hi!

I’m new to the field of SEO and I came across it after graduating university with a degree in law. I enjoyed studying law but as far as the practise of it in the workplace, I felt as though it was a field that didn’t really leave room for me to utilise my creative abilities and imagination.

After getting some worthwhile careers advice, I decided that marketing was a field that I wanted to explore. I did some research on the different types of marketing and what these entail. I brainstormed, combining what I enjoyed doing, with the transferable skills that I already had, and figured that since I’m technology and Internet savvy (I like to think) and have an interest in how companies market themselves (perhaps sparked by my many years of experience in sales and retail as a student), I wanted to work somewhere that combined these skills and interests.

This led me to Datadial where I am currently an SEO Intern. So far, I have enjoyed coming up with ideas that really make a difference to the success of our clients.

In my spare time I love to write music, and I love to read. I also really enjoy going out & socialising with friends…and I like to cook. :)

Matt

July 13th, 2010.

Maximising offline activity to get the most out of your SEO campaign

It often seems to be normal practice to treat SEO campaigns as a stand-alone form of marketing.  Groups of shadowy geeks perform magic in the room at the end of the corridor, with sales and marketing teams avoiding them as much as possible at the water cooler.

However, it’s important to remember that SEO is just another form of marketing – and as such planning and integrating your search engine optimisation with your other marketing channels will mean far more coherent and effective campaigns.

Advertising

All advertising campaigns should have SEO and the company website in-mind. Is it easier for rushed commuters to remember an often random telephone number or a website address?

Do you now see more and more TV and poster campaigns telling people to ‘Google’ or ‘search’ them?   With the growing bias towards the personalisation of Google search results, having users Google and click-through to your brand is likely to mean you’re then likely to appear more favourably for them in subsequent searches.

Any increase in brand searches on Google will also (arguably) benefit your site with increased brand visibility after the UK brand update back in March.

  • Feature your website address prominently
  • Consider asking people to Google/search you – make sure you’re ranking for the term though!
  • Maybe target your SEO towards a memorable phrase you can ask people to search for – “army jobs” is a good current example.

PR Campaigns

Leveraging offline PR campaigns is a great way of getting added value out of both. I’m often surprised how many SEOs haven’t even asked if a client has a PR campaign in place, think of all of those link opportunities that have been missed and all of the great web content that is going to waste.

  • Ensure you have spoken to the PR campaign account manager so they know the importance of asking for their editorial to be placed online and understand the impact of links from their content.
  • Make use of the content the PR is generating. Ask to get cc’d in on their releases and discuss the scope for them to help distributing your linkbait to their journalists and their media contacts.
  • Between you draw up a list of the online properties you want to see your client featured on. Many blogs now have larger readerships than national newspapers – they make-up an important part of both PR and SEO campaigns, you need to make sure you approach these sites correctly with a strong proposition.

Content

Publishing good content is often the stumbling-block that holds-up many good SEO campaigns. The first port of call should be the client, asking the right questions about what’s on their shelves gathering dust can save thousands in content writers fees.

  • Encourage staff at the company to make public the results of any research or industry analysis that they have performed.
  • Ensure your entire product catalogue or list of services is published on your site. The more you can break this down into component products and services and publish these on their own individual pages the better.
  • Consider making any stats facts and figures that you have into an infographic. You’ll find presenting data in a graphical format gets a lot more attention than a simple table of figures.
  • Get the entire company blogging. If you can get everyone enthusiastic about publishing great content it takes a lot of the time pressure away from the SEO and marketing teams. Often the real industry experts in the company lie outside of these departments anyway.
  • Are there already any user guides, FAQs, or client literature already in existence that can easily be published online?

Sales Teams

Keep in regular contact with your sales teams about client feedback. make sure you gather data as much as possible from phone conversations.

  • Find out from your sales teams how customers refer to your products and services. Often it’s different to how you refer to them – the keywords that you’re targeting should reflect this.
  • Get feedback from your sales teams about questions and objections that frequently crop-up. The chances are that if people are asking questions they’ll also be Googling them too so make sure you add these to the FAQ section of your site.

Existing Contacts

In any linkbuilding campaign your existing contacts should be your first port of call. High-quality, on-topic links from relevant sites, as easily obtainable as a quick email or phone call.

  • Partner companies and suppliers and distributors sites are always worth leveraging for links.
  • Encourage your staff to blog if not doing-so already. Either on your own corporate blog or on their own sites. Branding your staff as experts can be as effective as branding your company.
  • Check to see if industry association or corporate qualifications sites offer links back to their members
  • Make sure you put your company forward for corporate awards, usually even the nominations receive links back to their site.

Image credit – Rachel Creative

Rob

June 14th, 2010.

Presentation on building a successful search engine friendly website

Many thanks to the Biblical Suppliers Association for listening to my talk on:

How to build a Successful Search Engine Friendly Website.

You can download the presentation here.

Seminar-powerpoint – 20 minute version -Biblical

I have also added some extra slides on attitudes to Social Media at boardroom level.

Also there is a slide of Resources slide for links to keyword tools, Datadial’s Reputation Management tool and a few other links worth looking at.

Thanks

Rob

Matt

April 13th, 2010.

SEO In Pictures – Our SEO Infographic

Images are a fantastic way to present data and abstract concepts, they’re a much clearer way of getting information across and more people take the time to digest it. I thought it would be a good idea to try to present solutions and explanations to the more common SEO questions that we hear from our clients.

Click here for the full sized version….

SEO Infographic

The image covers everything from basic keyword research concepts, through site architecture, page optimisation, link building, SEO tactics, social media, and some basic SEO and PPC clickthrough stats and explantions.

Big thanks to SEOMoz, Loch Duart and Social Refection [1] for their inspiration on the SEO tactics and social media sections.

Matt

January 27th, 2010.

Small Business SEO & SEM

lemonadeSearch engine optimisation and digital marketing for small business isn’t easy. For big-brands people love linking to them without them having to ask, even without them deserving it in many cases.

Small business don’t have that luxury, that’s not to say that the smaller guys can’t compete, they just have to work harder and smarter to get their share of attention online.

Some of my favourite small business SEO tips are below, some are mine, others are from people who volunteered their own ideas on Twitter.

  1. Optimise for local search. Figure out who are the authoritative citations within your city – ie touchnottingham.com via @APSG
  2. Concentrate on local search and longer search terms as these give more of a chance with a smaller budget. Google Maps add is a must in your town! via @StuartFlatt
  3. Be active online. Forge relationships with blog owners, find journalists on Twitter. These contacts will be invaluable when it comes to getting coverage.
  4. Write content that’s relevant to your business and your customers & keep it up to date. via @picseli
  5. Get your analytics package in place as early as possible. The more data you have the more you’ll be able to analyse your marketing decisions.
  6. Utilise your current relationships – reciprocal linking is not perfect, but still has a good effect on local search (imo) via @CMaddison
  7. Brand yourself as an expert. Write informative articles about your industry. Post them on your site, ask to have your work published on others.
  8. Try to focus on conversions rather than rankings. Too many small business owners are obsessed with being first, rather than focusing on profits. via @CMaddison
  9. At the very least ensure your page titles are unique and relevant to the content on them.
  10. Don’t scrimp on your website, a less than satisfactory site may save cash in the short term, but it’ll cost you in conversions.
  11. Build your list – capture customer data, segment it, test it and contact them regularly (not too regularly) with useful information, articles, links and offers.
  12. Consider using Adwords for initial data collection / keyword selection – find your best converting/most profitable keywords for under £100 via @CMaddison
  13. Build trust – make sure you’re easily contactable, make sure your site has a prominent address and telephone number on each page, explain why your buying process is secure.
  14. Find out who your competition is, then find out who links to them using Open Site Explorer – get those sites to link to you.
  15. Setup Google alerts for your business name. Make sure you monitor these, it’s a great opportunity to ask for links when people forget, or to network with people who are already talking about you.

Rob

December 22nd, 2009.

So you think you’ve got a search engine friendly website?

One of the first tasks we perform when working with a new client on search promotion is a health check of the website.  The idea is to make sure that the way the site is built does not hamper its performance in search engines.

Business owners and managers don’t have time to learn technical jargon, so if their web developer puts keywords in the URL then the “search engine friendly website” box is ticked.  There’s a bit more to it of course, and here are some pointers…….

First things first – hosting

Is your website a .com address? Which company is hosting the site, and where are their servers located?

.com / .net / .org and similar domains are glamorous for businesses as they don’t “belong” to a country like a .co.uk web address does. When confronted with a .com (and other non-country specific domains) search engines look at where the server is geographically located to determine which country the website is intended for. If your website is aimed at a British audience, has a .com address and is hosted on a server in Germany, then your website will tend to perform better in natural search results done by people on German soil.  You need to host your website with a company that has servers in the same place as the majority of your customers.

Put your web address in http://whois.domaintools.com to find out more.

If you’ve got a .co.uk or a country specific domain, then you don’t need to take any action.

How much Flash on my site?

Sites built completely in flash don’t always do well in search engines, and tend to be used as a marketing tool or a campaign site. http://www.speakvisual.com is a good example of a brand using flash as a showcase site.

speak-visual

If you go to Google and search for something competitive that people want to buy e.g. consumer goods, clothing, specialist equipment etc, the sites that feature at the top of the natural listings make limited use of flash and concentrate on providing text that search engine spiders can crawl.

Want to see your site like a search engine does? Go to http://www.seo-browser.com and enter your URL.

If you see some text and blue underlined hyperlinks, then what you see is what a search engine knows about your site. If you can click your way through to all your pages then a search engine can do the same.  Try getting to Colin Smiths’ page on Speak Visual using SEO-Browser…..

Canonicalization

There are a number of different definitions of this word. Google them at your leisure.  For this tutorial its the process of choosing between http://www.example.com and http://example.com versions of pages.

Try this simple test go to your website and type in one of your deeper pages without the “www” part e.g.  http://example.com/page

  • if the website automatically adds the “www” to the URL and you see the page you expect then you’ve got nothing to worry about
  • if the website shows both http://example.com/page and http://www.example.com/page then you’ve got duplicate content that needs to be fixed

Duplicate content

“If I’ve got more than one version of the same page on my site then its all good! It means there’s a greater chance of search engines finding it right?”

Search engines take the view that information on a website should not be repeated, and generally adds one version of a page to their records, and ignores other versions.

http://www.webconfs.com/similar-page-checker.php have a good tool for checking duplicate content.

Canonicalization is one instance where duplicate content may happen.  For ecommerce sites a particular problem is where a product may “live” permanently in the brands category, and the lifestyle section, and therefore will have two (or more) web addresses for the same item.

The content management system can be configured to create only one version of a page, and its worth talking to your team about their proposed way of addressing this.

Page titles, meta descriptions, keywords, and headings

Search engines scan the HTML code on websites for clues as to what the site is about.  Its easy to get carried away here so in order to keep it simple….

page title <TITLE>

Each page on your website should have a unique title with the most important word starting on the left….

description <meta name=”Description” content=”…..>

The information that appears here is not visible to customers looking at your pages, however search engines sometimes use this text as a summary of the page when it lists natural search results.  This should include calls to action to encourage people to click on your entry rather than others listed on the page…..

headings <h1> – <h6>

<h1> is the most important heading <h2> less so, and so on. So keywords important to your business (and appropriate to the content on the page) should be organised accordingly…..

Most content management administration systems give you the ability to manually edit page titles, and meta descriptions.

Take action

Hopefully this article has explained what some of the jargon in SEO-world means, and you now know what impact it can have on your business.  Have the conversation with your people, and if any of the above need attention, ask them to fix it.

Matt

May 20th, 2009.

Thought You Knew About Online PR? – Think Again

Online PR has been a huge growth area in recent times. As the shift from print to digital media becomes more pronounced, the relative importance of digital PR continues to grow against its more traditional equivalent.

digital-prThe problem for many companies is that there are some fundamental differences between the two disciplines, while at the same time it’s increasingly important to maintain as much synergy as possible between your online and offline PR messages.

Where Does Online PR Fit In With SEO?

It’s often confusing nowadays where SEO ends and digital PR begins, the two disciplines are complimentary and do overlap to a large extent. There are certainly two differing objectives, I view SEO as being more metric orientated, it’s about maximising revenue through increasing traffic sent via search engines, ultimately raising search rankings. Online PR is more about client perception, managing exposure, and building relationships with key influencers. Where some confusion lies is that very similar techniques are now used to achieve both goals.

Developing Key Relationships

Certainly the largest difference between online and offline PR is the diverse and fragmented nature of online media. Your offline press targets may consist of 40-50 publications, online that total may well run into several hundred, potentially more. These contacts themselves will almost certainly be diverse, spread worldwide, some professional writers, many part-time amateurs.

Obviously maintaining one-to-one relationships with all of these people is unrealistic due to time constraints, however, be aware of the key influencers in your industry, find out which sites are the highest trafficked or have the most RSS subscribers and make sure you try to forge relationships with them.

Going Social

A valuable alternative to forming direct relationships online is community participation. A key part of any campaign is being aware of where and how your industry communicates online, these days most industries now have forums and message boards, influential industry blogs and Twitter communities. It’s vital that you’re not just aware of these, but active participation will ensure that you have a direct line to these influencers at what should be a minimal time cost.

Writing For The Web

Often the bane of the offline journalist, mundane press releases and content along the lines of “We’ve just hired John Smith” or “Our new Widget 3000 is the best Widget since the Widget 2000″, these kind of topics just don’t cut it as content any more – they never really did. Whereas before a cosy relationship with a tame journalist may have helped snooze inducing releases get published, online it really is the content that counts. You will find yourself having to water down brand messages and promotion in order to maximise your take-up rate.

Before you sit down and write anything, ask yourself what’s in it for other people. Despite being a great bunch, bloggers (I’m one myself) are generally pretty selfish. They’re not going to publish something just because you ask them to. You have to give them something in return.

6 Great Paths To Publication

  1. News – Bloggers can’t resist genuinely newsworthy stories that aren’t already published all over the web. A possible alternative to this is expert commentary on breaking industry news.
  2. Humour – everyone loves a bit of humour, especially bloggers.
  3. Controversy – Be careful here, controversy works very well at generating publicity, much of it negative. Be prepared to defend yourself and field some awkward questions – Ryanair, we’re looking at you.
  4. Tools and applications – Building great tools and apps and making them available for free is a sure-fire way of getting great publicity.
  5. Resources – Articles that act as how to guides or resource lists are usually well received.
  6. Poll and survey results and data – Try conducting customer and industry surveys and publish the results via press release and offer them to key industry sites in advance of publication.

Writing Tips

  • Be aware of the keywords that people use to find your products/services, and be sure to use these in key areas such as press release titles or page headings.
  • Keep it short and punchy. People tend to scan text online. Bullet points and lists work well.
  • A punchy attention grabbing headline is key, this is what readers will see first and influence their decision to read or not.
  • Work an angle – where possible relate the content to something topical that is happening in the news or your industry.

Time For Release

Once you’re happy with the content of your press release there are several dedicated syndication sites such as PR Newswire, PRWeb and PR.com. However, by just syndicating to these sites you’re almost certainly missing a huge proportion of your market. Contacting news sites and blogs directly will bring far better short term success and will also help to develop a long-term relationship.

  • Start by creating a list of blog and news sites in your industry. Google is a good place to start, use searches like [your industry]+news and [your industry]+blog to find some established sites. Follow their blogroll links to find out who they link to. Search blog directories and Technorati to create an extensive list of your press targets.
  • Contact them all individually, introduce yourself and your company, ask them if they’re happy to receive press releases from you, and ask about their editorial policy
  • Keep a spreadsheet of information such as URL, contact email, key staff, editorial policies and notes on the site content. This will help you later when it comes to choosing who to send individual releases to. For example, some sites may be happy to conduct product reviews, others may prefer to concentrate on industry news. The key here is to continuously add to this and to keep it updated over time.

Pre-release be sure to publish the release on your site and link to it, rather than emailing the whole thing to people. Bloggers don’t generally like to just republish releases, they’ll generally want to rewrite them and offer their own opinions. The editorial integrity of blogs is pretty sacred to many bloggers, don’t try to ride roughshod over this.

Be sure to include high quality images that you’re happy for people to re-use. Again, don’t email these, give them a link to them

Some Examples Of Successful PR/Social Media Campaigns

Will It Blend? – A great example of a brand using the humour hook to generate publicity. Blendtec got around the problem of having a fairly mundane product by videoing their blenders being used to destroy all manner of interesting items.

Compare The Meercat – A fantastic integrated campaign, engaging users on a variety of social media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and of course the microsite.

obama_hope_poster_faireyRyanair – Ryanair are either the kings of the contraversy hook, or they just don’t care about PR at all. I’d go for the latter, especially when carfully crafted stories such as this, this and this manage to get them a disproportionate amount of media attention from the national press. How damaging some of these stories are to the brand is of course debatable.

Barack Obama – The Obama presidential and nomination campaigns both focused on listening, engaging and getting people involved. Another cross channel campaign, engaging on Twitter and a range of online tools to increase participation.

Measuring Impact

One of the advantages of the internet is the fact that almost everything is measurable. Whereas offline you may be relying on a press cuttings service and measuring success in column inches, online you can measure an almost infinite number of metrics, such as visits, sales, links, search rankings, social media mentions etc.

Of course, to be able to do this you need the correct tools. Some of my favourite ones are,

Google Analytics for measuring traffic, referring sites, keyword search data.
Blogpulse – for tracking brand/story mentions in the blogosphere
Google Alerts – Sign-up to receive an email alert each time you brand is mentioned online
Technorati – Another great way to search what blogs are talking about.

Matt

November 17th, 2008.

The Online Spend Disconnect – PPC And SEO

An interesting post over at SEOMoz highlights the spending disconnect that exists in the way that many companies allocate their online marketing spend.

Not surprisingly, search advertising should continue to be the largest category, growing from $9.1 billion in 2007 to $20.9 billion in 2013.
- Source: C|Net News, June 30, 2008

While the current spend on natural SEO?

SEO: $1.3 billion (11%)
- Source: SEMPO data via Massimo Burgio, SMX Madrid 2008

So, out of a total of around $10.4 billion spent on search, only $1.3 billion, or 12.5% is spent on natural search placement. Therefore you would expect the potential traffic from natural search to be the smaller piece of the pie, right?

Wrong.

Looking at the Google heat map we can see that it’s the natural results that catch the attention of users viewing the page.

This superior visibility is matched by the click through rate data,

The natural results in Google drive more than 70% of search traffic, though only account for 12.5% of online spend.

Why is this? Take your pick from any one or more of the following,

  • PPC is an easier concept for people to understand, there is a general lack of education and understanding of the SEO process.
  • PPC is quicker (almost instant) to get results and you only pay for traffic that you actually receive. There is a higher perception of accountability and control.
  • Traditional marketers pay far less attention to SEO, column inches in the business press given over to SEO are far less than PPC. Again this may well be due to a lack of SEO understanding amongst journalists.
  • There is a lack of trust in a segmented and unregulated SEO marketplace. A basic lack of understanding handicaps buyers and can lead to acceptance of poor advice and wrong buying decisions.

Matt

October 14th, 2008.

Small Business SEO

Although Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a skill that takes time and effort to master, there is no reason why a small business can’t give themselves an edge over their competitors by putting in place some of the framework that a professional SEO consultant would expect to cover.

In this article I’m going to look at why you, a small business owner needs to consider SEO for their website and some steps that you, or your web developer can put into place that will help ensure your site is performing as well as possible in the search engines.

Why do small business need SEO?
If you have a website then you should at some point have considered how people are finding you online. Relying on ‘push’ marketing factors such as brochures, business cards and flyers is all very well, but you already have had some contact with these targets – it’s not really using your website to its full potential to draw in a previously untapped market.

Over 70% of online sales start with a user conducting a search. If you sell or gather leads online, that’s a huge slice of your potential market that you’re missing out on. Good search engine rankings for relevant and often used search terms will drive qualified leads to your site at a fraction of the price of other marketing methods.

When To Keep Things In-House
Given the skills and the time it’s perfectly possible to conduct a reasonable SEO campaign in-house. If you or your web developer are happy to edit your website, and you and your staff have some time to devote to the campaign, then there’s no reason why you can’t make a success out of things without getting some experts in.

When To Outsource
If your website is (or has the potential to be) one of your major revenue streams, and a budget is available, then you should consider getting some experts in to run the campaign for you. Take care when hiring, make sure you ask the correct questions and ask for references. Our free SEO Buyers Guide should help you out here.
Essentially when hiring an SEO consultant, you’re not just paying for their time and knowledge, but also their experience and industry contacts – it is this that will give you a real edge over your competitors.

Some SEO Tips For Small Business’

Know Your Market
Firstly, before you go any further, you need to ensure you’re targeting the correct people. Is your market geographically based in one country? If so try to ensure that you’re using the correct top level domain for that country, for example a .co.uk domain in the UK, or a .fr in France. Failing that, if you have a more generic .com or .net domain then make sure that your website is hosted in the correct country. This will help to ensure that the traffic that search engines send will be from the market that you’re targeting.

Understand Your Keywords
One of the most important stages for any SEO is understanding which keywords are being used by people to find your products. Start off by brainstorming a list of keywords that you think people may use to find your products and services. Then use a keyword research tool to expand and develop your list beyond those that you have already thought of.

Page Titles/Descriptions
Ensure that each page on your site has a unique page title and meta description. If you’re comfortable editing web pages yourself then it’s not terribly complicated. Otherwise you may want to ask your web developer to do it. The titles and description tags should always be unique and reflect the content of each individual page. Here it’s best use your keyword list in order to understand which terms are most frequently searched for.
Other areas of the page to use your keywords are places like headings, image ‘alt’ text, bold text and the page content. First and formost ensure the pages read well to visitors, avoid stuffing as many keywords onto the page as you can – that doesn’t work anymore!

Use Analytics
You’ll be able to make far better decisions regarding the marketing of your site if you have a solid understanding of how people are finding your site, which keywords and sites are driving visitors, and which visitors convert into sales. Signup for a free service like Google Analytics which will give you all of this information and more.

Consider Your Content
Great content can make it far easier to get a website ranking well. Look at the kind of information that your competitors are offering and improve on it. Try to ensure your site is a resource for everything that someone in your industry will need. Resource sites tend to rank a lot better as people are compelled to link to the information contained on them. Consider adding a blog your website that you can publish and archive regular posts on.

Think Links
Up until now everything that you have done has helped a search engine to understand what your pages are about. The page optimisation and content creation all help a search engine to decide which subjects your pages cover.
However it’s the links that point to your pages that let search engines know how important your pages are, and therefore how highly they should rank on the results pages.
Look for opportunities to get other webmasters to link to you. You may have suppliers or clients that you can ask. You may have industry bodies that link to members. You can consider writing articles on other industry websites or adding your site to relevant directories. The list of linking opportunities is endless.

Local SEO
Add your business to the local search services that the main search engines now offer. This will help return your business when people perform geographic queries such as “London accountant” Go to Google, Yahoo or Live to add your business.

Above all SEO takes time and patience. It’s not something that happens overnight. Over time you will find your efforts are rewarded with high quality relevant website visitors that convert into sales.

Matt

September 18th, 2008.

SEO Buyers Guide – Free Download

Datadial have launched a revised second edition of their SEO buyers guide. The guide is designed to take the confusion and guesswork out of buying SEO services. One of the main problems facing the SEO industry is that buyers often aren’t clear on exactly what they are buying and why.

The problem arises when less scrupulous companies aim to take advantage of this lack of knowledge, promises are made that can’t be fulfilled, or the required work simply isn’t carried out.In the end it is not just the client that loses out, but also the industry as a whole as confidence is a difficult thing to win back.

Our buyers guide is aimed at taking the guesswork out of choosing your SEO vendor. It details the more common scams, details the work that should be being carried out in any good SEO campaign, and offers a list of key questions that you should be asking your potential SEO.

The key for any buyer is to educate yourself as much as possible about the service that you’re buying, the more you know, the more informed your decision will be.

Download our buyers guide for free

Matt

June 26th, 2007.

How to choose an SEO and avoid wasting your money

Choosing a search engine optimisation service provider isn’t an easy task. It’s difficult to evaluate what is essentially an intangible service that can take time to see any evidence of improvement. This business isn’t made any easier by the marketplace being full of people that are quite happy to take your money and run.

The internet is full of tales of woe from clients that used companies that either promised results that they couldn’t deliver, or simply used scams to take their clients money and run. The process can be made easier by knowing what the most common scams are, knowing which questions to ask, what answers you should receive and the warning signs that should make you run a mile.Let’s first start with the scams – these usually involve charging over the odds for services that either won’t help you get ranked in the search engines, or may even damage any existing rankings that you have.

  • The guaranteed #1 listing in Google using PPC. A company approaches you promising to get you ranked at #1 in Google for whatever keywords you want. Sounds great right? The problem being is that these people then use a small proportion of the money that you’ve paid them to get you to the #1 position in the sponsored listings rather than the natural results. Of course once they stop paying for your listing then your website is back where it began and the ‘SEO’ company is walking away with a tidy profit.
  • Search Engine Submission Services. You’ll probably see a lot of people offering to submit your site to 25,000 search engines. While this isn’t strictly a scam, it’s not really a service that you need. You can submit to search engines, though usually they’ll find you though links to your site. You certainly don’t need to submit to 25,000, there are really only three main search engines, and less than 10 worth worrying about. Paying for a submission service is a waste of money – and besides, if you must do it then you can do it for free here, or create a Google sitemap to submit. This format is now recognised and used by all of the major search engines.
  • The guaranteed listing, but they won’t let you choose your own keywords. Many companies that guarantee top 10 or #1 rankings do so while not letting you choose which keywords you’d like to be ranked on. Many companies that ‘guarantee’ rankings apply this to keywords that nobody ever searches for, so while you may want to be found for search phrases such as ‘Estate Agents’ or ‘London Estate Agents’ you actually find that you’re #1 for ‘London Property Estate Agents And Homes’. Of course very few people, if any search for this, so the ranking is worthless. The lesson here is to ensure that you have full control over which search phrases the SEO is targeting.

  • Creating offsite pages or ‘doorway pages’ not on your own site. Many companies offer to create pages that aren’t on your own site to capture and direct traffic to your site. In some instances this can be against search engines terms of service and can result in penalties or bans. Of course when you stop using the company you find out that you don’t retain ownership of these pages and in the worst case scenario you find that they’re sold your your competitor.

Okay, so now you know the scams that you should be looking out for, how do you sort out the companies that know the basics from those that will actually do a good job?Google themselves actually offer some good advice on choosing a search engine optimisation company to work with.

  • Be wary of companies that contact you out of the blue or through spam emails.
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google – be wary of those that do.
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t explain their methods.
  • You should never have to link to an SEO’s own website.

So what questions should you ask a potential SEO when you’re deciding who to work with?

  • The first thing that I’d ask is for some examples of current work; ask for the sites URL and the keywords that the site is ranking for. By doing this you should narrow the field down to the people who are actually able to get sites ranking well. Check that the keywords that they have the client ranking for are competitive and people would actually search for them.
  • It also doesn’t do any harm to ask for a telephone number of some existing clients to talk to. Not only does this ensure that the rankings that they’re providing are genuinely sites that they’re working on, but you’ll also get some idea of what the company is like to work with from another client’s point of view.
  • Check that the optimisation process involves three clearly defined stages. 1) Keyword research, 2) On Page Optimisation 3) Off Page Optimisation (LinkBuilding)
  • Keyword research – check that you as the client as the final say in which keywords should be targeted.
  • On-Page optimisation – check that the SEO will change the pages titles, meta-tags and where appropriate alt and titles tags. Make sure that they confirm that they are familiar in working in you site’s technology – HTML/ASP/PHP
  • Off-Page optimisation – Ensure that your strategy includes a link building campaign. Links are vital in the ranking process, a strategy that doesn’t involve some form of linkbuilding campaign will most likely fail.
  • Ensure that you are the copyright holder of any work that is completed.
  • Ask the company to confirm that they stick to search engine guidelines and avoid any unethical practices that may get your website banned or penalised.
  • Find out what kind of timescale they expect to start seeing results. Changes can take between 6 and 12 months. Answers of days or weeks should set alarm bells ringing.
  • Check to see how they will update you of any progress. I’d suggest that you should at least receive a monthly rankings and traffic report from them.
  • Ask what you can do to help your SEO along. It’ll probably be the case where offline promotional activities can be synergised with your online efforts in many cases.

Making sure that you ask the questions above and are aware of the common scams should help to minimise the risk when hiring an SEO. Above all make sure that you’re comfortable with the person that you’ve hired and where possible have some face to face meetings to discuss your strategy.

How much should I pay?There are several different pricing models that SEO’s use, including hourly consulting, pricing per project, or on a monthly ongoing basis.Pricing between companies can vary wildly, with the general rule of thumb being that you get what you pay for. If you’re quoted £50 per month for an SEO service you have to ask yourself how much that company values it’s time, and how much your you expect to get done on your site for the price of a half decent pair of trousers?

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You probably don’t need me to tell you that ads like the one above end up with disappointed customers rather than #1 results. If it was that cheap and easy wouldn’t everyone be ranking in the top 10?Generally pricing is dependant on factors such as the competitive nature of the keywords and the industry, the age and existing rankings of the website, the size and structure of the website along with any potential problems that that the site structure causes.This table shows the general industry prices for different levels of SEO services at the moment,

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Usually, as with anything, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

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