Tag Archive | "seo"

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Who Should We Believe? Jill, or Google?

Posted on 22 January 2011 by John Britsios

Shoot in the footA recent thread on Jill Whalen’s forum sparked some controversial comments when she posted an anecdote regarding Google’s indexing of site search pages on her site. There’s nothing earth-shaking there, of course.

What’s interesting came from the comments and her responses to them. The first that caught my attention was:

There’s actually no use for the keyword tag for words that are already appearing on the page. The idea is to use it for keywords that don’t already appear on the page, but which might be relevant anyway. After all, if they’re already on the page, what good is it to use them again? (bolding mine)

That was my first WTF moment. I responded with:

Jill, as we both know, the purpose of the keywords meta tag implementation is to specify keywords that a search engine may use to improve the quality of search results. It provides a list of words or phrases about the contents of the Web page and provides some additional text for crawler-based search engines.

That said, the keywords placed there must be found within the content of the document. If you want to target semantically relevant keywords not found in the content of the page, the appropriate solution would be the implementation of “Common Tags

She responded with:

Disagree. The meta keywords tag was originally created to provide a place for words that were not contained on the page. After all, if they’re already on the page, the search engine already know it’s relevant for those words.

So I asked her:

So if I got you right, do the keywords meta tag serve the same, or partially the same purpose the “Common Tags” do?

She responded with:

Since common tags are just something someone made up and not a real tag, I don’t really know.

At that point, I felt a headache coming on, and responded with this:

Well here is some info about CTags by Vanessa Fox.

You said above that using relevant keywords but not found in the content of the page is legitimate. So I felt like I had to be more explicit.

The purpose of implementing keywords in a keyword meta tag is for preliminary indexing and specifically conceived for exhaustively and completely catalogue HTML documents, and not for determining semantic related words or attempts to boost the overall semantical relevancy of a document.

Her response:

Since Yahoo isn’t doing search anymore, that tag probably has died it as well.

I answered with:

I am afraid that I will have to disagree.

Then, in response to another poster’s comment, she added this:

Anyone who was paying attention has known that Google has never used the Meta keyword tag to know what a page is all about in terms of where it might show up in the search results.

As far as I know, they’ve never used it so it’s not something they declared that they’re suddenly not using.

That poster responded with:

So you’re saying that Google never read the meta keywords tag for its purposes? I know Google declared they suddenly stopped using it.

To which, she answered:

I think you’d be hard pressed to find this declaration from them anywhere.

He then offered this link:

Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking.

The pertinent excerpt from that link (Google Webmaster Central Blog) is this:

“Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.” (bolding mine)

So Google clearly DID at one time use the keywords meta tag. And Jill Whalen says she’s been in SEO since before Google was born. Hmmmmm…

That brought on another one of those WTF moments, and her earlier comment, claiming that Common Tags aren’t “real” tags was adequately responded to by another poster, with:

…as W3C also has maintained that Common Tags continue to play a part in tagging and folksonomies for Resource Description Framework. SPARQL and its derivatives, for instance, still recognize C-Tags, and there haven’t been any discussions of discontinuing the practice.

About that point, having been called out on a handful of inaccuracies, Jill closed the thread to further comments. However, there was still some discussion in the comments of Ben Pfeiffer’s article on SEO Round Table.

And many of the comments there show that some people are still confused about the true past and present nature of the keyword meta tag. Is it any wonder, when such misinformation is published?

So the question that arises is, if an SEO of her experience and supposed knowledge can state as fact, opinions that are in such opposition to what Google and W3C state… who do we believe?

  • Did Google NEVER use the meta keyword tag?
  • Are Common Tags not “real” tags?
  • Were meta keywords intended to be only words that DON’T appear on the page?

I know who I don’t believe. Do you?

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Why Use Organic SEO?

Posted on 02 July 2010 by John Britsios

While some site owners may not be certain what is meant by “organic”, in terms of search engine optimization (SEO), it would be wise to learn the basics, in order to utilize it correctly.

Search Engine OptimizationFor those that don’t care what it means, as long as their site is near the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs), remember, what goes up, can come down.

If you desire lasting results, then organic SEO is the proper strategy to pursue. Most reputable SEO specialists will tell you that short-term gains are achievable through other methods, but natural rankings, gained through organic SEO efforts, will provide more stable, longer lasting results.

Precisely what is “organic SEO”? It’s the use of techniques that will achieve a naturally high ranking in the SERPs, without attempting to trick the search engines, or purchase links or traffic.

There are two aspects of SEO, whether organic or not. The first is on-page… the work done within the site.

On-page SEO Factors

On-page SEO first involves thoroughly researching ideal keywords and keyphrases. Then, proper structure of the site, with clean, intuitive navigation and no broken links or dangling pages, should be verified.

It also addresses the page title and appropriate meta-tags, proper headers, and an acceptable keyword density, each of which must be properly placed and structured.

These factors can be thought of as road signs, without which, it would be difficult for the search engines to locate your page and match it to a user’s search query.

Quality Content

Quality content is another critical factor in a successful SEO campaign. Without interesting, informative or entertaining content, users won’t stick around long, and other sites won’t want to link to your page.

“Content is king” is a common statement in the SEO community, meaning sites should be built for the users, with the search engines’ guidelines having secondary importance.

Off-page SEO Factors

Organic off-page SEO, means using the tactics recommended or accepted by the search engines, without purchasing links or using any techniques that are frowned upon or can cause penalties.

The main goal of off-page organic SEO is to build backlinks to the site, from other relevant sites, by offering content that they will naturally want to link to.

As your site gains a quantity of such links, of sufficient quality, they will establish your site as an authority site, and your PageRank will increase. Those links will not only bring more traffic, but will also pass pagerank (provided they are not nofollow), depending upon the page rank and number of outgoing links on the source page.

Submission of articles, press releases and blog posts, as well as social marketing and blog and forum comments are perfectly acceptable practices.

Best Organic SEO Practices

A well executed organic SEO strategy will help you avoid penalties or devaluation of your inbound links, and will help build your site’s reputation and pagerank. The following tactics should be avoided:

  • Don’t buy links. Get them naturally. Be sparing in reciprocal links.
  • Don’t stuff your content or graphics with keywords.
  • Don’t use link-wheels or link-slabbing.
  • Don’t cloak or mask content. That’s a sure way to get penalized, or even have your site banned from a search engine’s index.

When properly done, organic SEO should provide the most lasting and stable results.

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How Should You Price Your SEO Projects?

Posted on 25 June 2010 by John Britsios

Research is always the first step! Decide what niche you want to focus upon… ideally, one which is not heavily populated. In this case, it’s better to be the large fish in a small pond, than the small fish in a large pond!

Know the Competition

Analyzing the competition on the search engines will help you to identify those areas of professional services that are in high demand, with little competition. Those are usually the areas in which you can most quickly establish a prominent presence.

From there, you can extend your reach to encompass a wider area, building upon that stature.

Set Up Your Plan

Lay out a plan, identifying the ultimate and intermediate goals, and the tasks to be undertaken to get you there. Establish milestones by which you can gauge your progress.

You should do this for your own SEO efforts, as well as for the benefit of your clients. Examining those areas in which you failed to achieve an intermediate goal or milestone will afford you insight as to the causes.

Be Clear to your Client

Explain clearly to your client what the intended tasks, goals and milestones are to be, and by what metric they’ll be measured. Begin the actual project with a written agreement, agreed to by both parties, that fully describes the responsibilities of each party, so as to avoid conflicts later.

Avoid Empty Promises

The results of SEO services cannot be guaranteed 100%, but they can be measured. There are, however, many variables that are beyond the SEO’s control.

Attempting to bill your work on an hourly basis is not wise, at least until you have a track record to justify it. It’s usually better to bill per task, with achieved milestones being the metric.

The Best Approach

Given the foregoing, a wise approach might be the following:

  • Divide your selected keyword and keyword phrase into two groups. The first, comprised of those with relatively low competition, can offer you the quickest results. The second, highly competitive words and phrases, will take longer, but once achieved, may offer you the greatest overall benefit.
  • Once your client has seen that you can achieve massive improvements with the low competition terms, your credibility will be greater, and they will be more willing to allocate more time and money for even greater results.
  • Your pricing for on-page and site structure optimization should typically be based upon the site size and intricacy. You should consider the amount of time and expertise level you’ll be putting forth, as well as your competition’s pricing.
  • Off-page SEO costs depend more upon keyword competition, which means that you may be incurring additional expenses when chasing the more competitive terms. It is common for SEO companies to price various aspects of off-page SEO, by unit, such as a given dollar amount per inbound link from a blog, article or press release, or a directory listing. This allows you to bill incrementally, and easily adjust for changing requirements.
  • Don’t be afraid to collaborate with other SEOs. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and if your client requires some service that is outside your current capability, you always have the option of subcontracting that portion out to another professional with more expertise in that area, or with more support staff available.

Major Factor: Service Quality

The quality of the end result is the most important factor, and it’s possible that sharing the project may ensure you of an ongoing contract.

Most SEO companies bid their projects for a six or twelve month term. If the optimization project is well done, maintenance efforts are considerably less demanding than at the outset. Your pricing should reflect that, if you value a long term relationship with your client.

Emailing a monthly automatically generated report requires very little effort on your part, and does little to foster such a relationship.

It’s much better that you provide the client with the quality of service that will assure you of a long term client, and a glowing recommendation to their acquaintances. All else being equal, it is ultimately the client’s perception of value of your services, that will be the deciding factor.

Three years ago, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, wrote a blog post that still makes good sense. It also gives some good examples of different SEO billing styles.

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Importance Of SEO Tools For Generating Online Traffic

Posted on 15 April 2010 by John Britsios

If you were in internet marketing line, you would most probably know how important SEO Tools are for generating traffic.

For those who are in the dark about SEO, it is shot for Search Engine Optimization. As the name implies, SEO is vital to generate traffic for your blog or website. In SEO, keywords, title of the blog or website, meta tags and others play a role for search engine traffic.

So, if you have a blog or website and want some analysis or work on improving it, use one of the SEO Tools like SEO Analysis Tools.

SEO Analysis Tools gives you lots of information like general status, meta tag list, keywords found in anchor tags and alt attributes for images. Under the category of general status for your site, this tool informs you if there is any http errors, the type of host server, character encoding and content type.

Meta tag analysis gives the score for the page title, meta keywords and description from a rating of zero to one hundred percent. Of course, one hundred percent would be prefect. However, under normal circumstances, an excellent rating score should do well enough.

For keywords found in anchor tags, alt attributes and on the page, you will be able to view results from Google, Yahoo and Bing. As you may realize, keywords play a vital role in SEO. Hence, seeing your page ranks for particular keywords is indeed important.

For URLs found in the site, the SEO Analysis Tools gives a list of each internal and external link found on the site. Google advises not to exceed one hundred links per page. According to Google, one hundred is the limit for optimum indexing by its Google bots.

To make your site or page more SEO friendly, just make sure you edit and check the spelling of your content. Correct all the grammatical and syntax errors before publishing your content. You can use SEO Analysis Tools for each page or for the whole website or blog.

Simply spend a few minutes to test your site. There is a SEO Firefox Extension created by SEO Workers, which gives you a rare chance to test your page or site using SEO Analysis Tools. It only takes one or two clicks of the mouse.

Then, you will be able to some informative display of results based on the categories listed above. This extension is free of charge. As you may know, SEO is the critical in driving traffic to your site.

You have to drive the appropriate traffic especially people who frequently check out your website or blog. The more people who visit your site or blog, the better it is for your site or blog. If you put up free or paid advertisements in our site, there are more chances of people clicking on to these advertisements.

Depending on the number of clicks, you can earn a side and passive income. Some people make lots of money by pay per clicks advertisements.

So, check out the SEO Tools like SEO Analysis Tools to analyze and improve your site further.

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Google’s Supplemental Index Exists

Posted on 18 November 2009 by John Britsios

One way that you can measure your websites’ SEO health is by figuring out if your most important web pages (such as those that contain your biggest selling services or products) have been placed in Google’s supplemental index.

Many people think that when Google ceased to label the supplemental results pages, that signaled the end of their supplemental index. False. Google made in clear in their article “Supplemental goes mainstream“, published at their Webmaster Central Blog, that:

“The distinction between the main and the supplemental index is therefore continuing to narrow. Given all the progress that we’ve been able to make so far, and thinking ahead to future improvements, we’ve decided to stop labeling these URLs as Supplemental Results. Of course, you will continue to benefit from Google’s supplemental index being deeper and fresher.”

The pages which are the first results for any SERPs are those in the main index. The only time you’ll find pages from the Google supplemental index is if there are very few or zero results for your chosen search term in the main index.

Furthermore, Google has a tendency to transfer old cached pages over to their supplemental index. These might be pages which aren’t even on your server any longer.

Bot Herding for PageRank Flow

For appearance in Google’s main index, your web pages must have a certain indefinite amount of Pagerank or “juice”, in addition to and apart from other relevant factors. Google makes use of PageRank values for setting crawling priorities and determining whether or not a document belongs in their main or their supplemental index.

Matt Cutts, who heads up the Google Webspam Team, has this to say:

“PageRank is the primary factor determining whether a URL is in the main web index vs. the supplemental results.”

Once you understand the common causes behind supplemental pages you will be able to determine which pages might be placed in the supplemental index. Then you’ll be able to improve your websites’ internal linking via links from fully indexed and more prominent pages added to your pages and your home site.

Effective Link Building

Andy Beal says something very similar to Matt Cutts:

“If you got 60,000 pages, and you only got ’this much’ PageRank, and you divide it […he mumbles], some of them are going to be in the supplemental index. Given ‘this many people’ who link to you, we’re willing to include ‘this many’ pages in the main index.”

An SEO professional or a Link Builder will tend to advise you that the most highly effective way of getting your pages out of the supplemental results is by creating unique, high quality content and then doing promotional work to acquire inbound links.

That’s right, but why go through all that trouble without first seeing just how far you’re able to get with the PageRank that your site possesses now?

There is a handful of internal link-based strategies that you can use to fight supplemental results. One highly effective and widely used popular strategy has been dubbed “Bot Herding.”

This is merely a methodology for improving yourwebsite’s navigating system via control of the flow of PageRank for enhancing the prominence of your most valuable and important pages. You can achieve this through linking to them from pages within your domain, etc.

What commonly causes supplemental pages?

The main cause of Supplemental results is very simply a lack of Page Rank. Nevertheless, this is not the sole cause. There are several others:

  • Pages with no or very low PageRank;
  • Suspicious pages, including non-unique or irrelevant page content heading tags, meta tags, links to bad neighborhoods, and so on.
  • Pages with canonicalization problems (duplicated content, too much content similarity);
  • Lengthy URLs, especially ones with extensive parameters, starting with a question mark (?) and being separated with an ampersand (&) and are not rewritten;
  • Pages with very little or zero original content;
  • Poor website navigation;
  • Keyword stuffing (using many irrelevant keywords);
  • Orphaned web pages which no-one links to, including your own;
  • Error pages, if a site does not use If-Modified-Since, Last Modified and/or Expires rules.

If you have pages that have been placed in the supplemental index, you know what to do. Remove them from there, save yourself money and time, and increase your website’s rankings!

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Web Site Marketing with Link Building

Posted on 15 November 2009 by John Britsios

Link building should be part of the foundation of any successful web site marketing strategy. Since link popularity is such an important factor in determining page ranking, a campaign of link building can make a great deal of difference to your web site in terms of increasing your visibility through the search engines.

Since the vast majority of the traffic which comes to your site (like the traffic to all sites) will come to you via the search engines, it behooves website owners to implement any and all SEO practices which are ethical and effectively increase PageRank.

Having inbound links from other sites improves your site’s page rank, regardless of whether or not these links generate any traffic to your site themselves. While it certainly helps to have traffic coming in from these links, it is the links themselves rather than the visitors who do or do not arrive through these links which makes the real difference to your site in terms of SEO.

There are different types of link building campaigns, though broadly speaking, links can be categorized in one of two ways:

Reciprocal Links: These are links which are generated as part of a link exchange; you and another site agree to link to one another.

Non-Reciprocal Links: These are links from another website to whom your site does not link in return.

Which type of link is more desirable?

While it used to be that neither type of link was given more weight, it is now non-reciprocal links which are considered to be more valuable by the search engines and as a result, by webmasters.

Google and Yahoo now give reciprocal links a lower weight when determining page ranking. Reciprocal links are by no means worthless, though you’ll probably want to focus primarily on building non-reciprocal links given the choice.

Links which point in one direction only are taken to indicate the importance of the website to which they point and are more important to your page ranking. There’s nothing wrong with reciprocal links, but webmasters need to be aware that these links will have less of an impact on their site’s page rank.

As with any other aspect of your SEO efforts, link building does have a lot to do with the keywords for which your website is optimized; as such, you should decide on what these keywords will be before you begin implementing your link building strategies.

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Why You Need To Spell Check Your Website

Posted on 23 October 2009 by John Britsios

One of the things which a surprisingly large number of webmasters neglect to do in their haste to optimize their site for the search engines and fill it with content is also one of the most simple: spellchecking their content and giving it a once over to catch errors in grammar, syntax, usage and those spelling errors that spell check software doesn’t find.

It’s widely overlooked but essential part of making your site appear professional, improve your site for indexing by search engine bots and most importantly of all, making your content more readable.

People look over most sites very quickly, often giving them no more than 3-5 seconds before deciding whether to read on or hit the back button on their browsers.

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression – and misspellings and grammatical errors hardly make the kind of first impression you’d want to make on your visitors.

If yours is a business oriented site, forgetting to proofread and spell check your content is an oversight which can result in tangible dollars and cents losses.

Furthermore, experts in the field report that the major search engines seem to be giving more weight to websites which are free of misspellings. If not for your readers (who should be your primary concern), you should make sure that your content is properly spelled for the sake of your search engine ranking. In a largely text based medium, spelling is essential to effective communication.

Google engineer explains importance of proper spelling

Granted, we’re not all spelling bee champions and you definitely don’t have to be to have a popular, highly ranked website. However, you need to make sure that any content which goes on your website is spell checked and gone over afterwards – spell check software does not make some important distinctions which your readers will notice: “there” vs. “their”, for instance.

But How Much Does Proper Spelling Really Affect SEO?

A good question – and one which a lot of webmasters ask. The answer is that it can make a great deal of difference to the page ranking of your website.

Aside from the mounting evidence that search engines are rewarding proper spelling and good writing, there is one vitally important factor which has nothing to do with the search engine crawlers but everything to do with your page ranking: credibility with human readers.

Let’s get back to the matter of making a first impression with your website – and here’s the real takeaway of this article: would you want to do business with anyone who couldn’t be bothered to spell check their content?

Of course you wouldn’t – and if you want your website to be taken seriously, spell checking is essential. The couple of seconds it takes to run a spell check and the couple of minutes it takes to look over your content (or have someone do it for you) can make all the difference between closing the deal and losing a potential customer to a more meticulous rival.

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Why Your Site Needs Expert Search Engine Optimization

Posted on 20 October 2009 by John Britsios

A lot of people ask what SEO is. The short answer is that it is an acronym for search engine optimization; and the long answer is somewhat complex. SEO isn’t monolithic; the term refers to a number of different techniques used to increase the visibility of web pages and websites to search engines in order to make them easier for users to find.

Expert search engine optimization consultants offer services which are aimed towards this goal, including reworking the content of websites to make it more relevant to the overarching topics of the site or the particular page. They also do a variety of other work on sites which make them more readable by “spiders” or “crawlers”; the software used by search engines to index websites.

As a business owner, you may have some questions about whether professional search engine optimization services are something you actually need for your site. It is and I’ll explain why.

Suppose that you decided to make your business’ phone number unlisted. Of course you’d never do this; how would potential customers find you with no listing of your phone number or address available? When you don’t optimize your website for the search engines, it’s a lot like this. You can think of the major search engines as being like a phone directory – in fact, they have largely replaced phone directories for many consumers. If your site isn’t made easy for users to find with some expert search engine optimization techniques, it’s almost like it isn’t there at all.

Now of course, you have probably put a lot of work into making your site attractively designed and no doubt your URL is prominently featured in all of your advertising – so why am I telling you that your customers won’t be able to find you?

It’s because you can’t be sure that every potential customer will actually see your advertisements. There are always those who won’t see that newspaper or magazine ad or happen to be watching or listening when it comes on the television or radio – but everyone uses search engines.

Of course, having a website is no guarantee that your site will come up right away when someone types in a search term relevant to your business. This of course is where an expert search engine optimization firm comes in- SEO is the process whereby you make your site as easy to find as looking up your business in the phone book.

What Professional Search Engine Optimization Can Help You To Avoid

Sometimes you’ll see an example of a site which gets it all wrong in terms of SEO and web design. For example, sites which present their content as Flash animation. While there is a place for interactive multimedia content on websites, Flash should not be used in place of actual text content. Why? To answer this question, let’s return to the search engine crawlers for a moment.

The crawlers used by Google and other search engines to index your website and determine what the site is about don’t care about Flash animation, color schemes or much of anything else except for text -which is all they see. Using Flash as the means to deliver your content means that all Google will be able to determine about your site is this: that your site is there and that it contains Flash content; that’s it. It won’t be able to tell what the site is about or what sort of content it actually contains.

When your site is indexed, the crawlers analyze the content of your site. When a search is performed, the search engines scan through their database of web pages, ranking them in order of relevance to the search term used.

How exactly the determination works is a proprietary trade secret and the algorithms used by each of the major search engine is different. These algorithms are also being refined constantly; but through analysis of search engine results and a little reverse engineering enables expert search engine optimization consultants to determine what the most effective SEO strategies are at a given time.

This is why a professional search engine optimization firm doesn’t make guarantees about specific rankings within search results – SEO is a process, not a single task. It’s a fast moving world and no one can promise results with 100% certainty; but there are certain things which are known to work to improve the page rankings of websites.

Why Ethical Search Engine Optimization Is The Way To Go

If the search engines use the relevance of your content to search terms to determine ranking, then couldn’t you bring more visitors to your site by adding popular search terms to your site, whether or not they have any relevance to the actual content of your site?

Yes, you could – but only for so long. This kind of misleading SEO practice is known as search engine spamming and should be avoided. No ethical search engine optimization firm uses these methods and they can lead to your site being penalized or dropped from the search engine indices altogether; so even if you manage to fool the search engines and bring in more traffic for a while, the results won’t last long and you’ll likely end up worse than you started off.

These are some of the less than ethical SEO techniques which should be avoided:

  • Dynamically created doorway pages;
  • Hidden links/text;
  • Duplicate content;
  • Keyword stuffing with relevant or irrelevant keywords;
  • Link cloaking and hidden redirects;
  • Anything else used deliberately in the attempt to trick search engines.

Stick with ethical search engine optimization methodologies instead. The results may take a little longer to materialize, but they’ll be lasting and won’t result in your site being blacklisted by search engines.

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Why Usability An Important Part Of SEO

Posted on 20 October 2009 by John Britsios

Search engines work by determining the relevance of the sites which are in their indices to the search query being made by users. In order to get a site moving up through the results, a plan to not only have the content of the site relevant to what are determined to be the most important search terms, but also to make the site as usable as possible.

There are a number of factors which search engines use to determine the relevance and the importance of sites. One of these is whether a website has been bookmarked with social bookmarking services like Stumble Upon, Digg and Del.icio.us and others.

The search engines see sites as having more importance if users have thought them useful enough to bookmark and rank them accordingly.

Bounce rate is another factor which search engines use to determine page ranking. This refers to when a visitor leaves (or “bounces”) after only looking at one page or only stays a very short time.

The usability of your site is something that will help your site to gain more inbound links which originate from popular websites; the kind of links which are of higher value. If your site is easy to navigate, you’ll find that a lot more websites are willing to link to you.

There are some basic web design best practices which are beneficial from the standpoint of SEO as well as usability. Building your website with a clean, attractive design and putting your pages together with a logical hierarchy which is easy to navigate and is intuitive, given the content contained on your site. Every site needs a user-friendly navigation bar which appears on each and every page.

When you know your target market (which you should), you’ll be able to develop a design, architecture and navigation bar which will appeal to this group. Your site has to be not just user friendly, but friendly to your users in particular.

As you build your site, usability and SEO are equal concerns; there are some things you can do to take care of both at the same time, such as making the titles of each page (and where possible, even the URL) reflect the theme and content of each page.

As you design a new website, the factors of SEO and usability should be part of the design from the ground up. Before the first line of code is written, you should know the answers to the following questions:

What is your site for- and how will you know if it’s working?

There is more than one right answer here. Your site may be for directly selling a product or service, to appeal to prospective customers, a sort of interactive advertisement for your business, a resource for customers to reduce the workload on your customer support department or any combination of the above and other purposes. Whatever your site is for, you need to determine metrics to measure its success.

Who is your audience and what do they want?

This is an elementary question; if you’re not sure who your audience or target market is, you’ll need to take a step back and figure this out before you proceed. If you are trying to reach new demographics, you have to decide exactly who you are trying to get your message across to and tailor it to appeal to their interests.

Can your visitors find what they came to your site for?

Essentially, what you’re asking yourself here is whether your site is something that your audience will want to use. You may have already added the sort of content that these people are looking for – but you need to ask yourself if you’ve made it easy for them to find it on your site.

There is a usability test here often referred to as the “man from Mars” test. Take a look at your site and ask yourself this: if you were an alien who came across your site knowing nothing about you or your business, would you be able to quickly figure out what your site is about? Would you be able to navigate the site quickly to find specific information?

What you’re trying to establish here is whether your site is designed with a logical hierarchy which makes navigation intuitive. If your hypothetical alien couldn’t find what they were looking for in short order, the chances are that your customers won’t be able to either.

Making your online presence work

There is more to making your online presence work for you than search engine optimization alone; usability is just as important as SEO. Generally speaking, these two factors are complementary to each other.

A site which is built in accordance with web design best practices takes both if these into account to create an end product which fosters improved visitor interaction, a lower bounce rate, a better chance of getting high value inbound links and of course, a higher ranking in search results – a combination which equals higher sales, more visitors or any other goal you have set for your website.

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Local Search Engine Optimization

Posted on 20 October 2009 by John Britsios

If you have a “bricks and mortar” business, you still need a great online presence. People are getting more involved in doing a local search on the Internet to do business with local merchants these days. And for this reason, you need to capitalize on the power of local search engine optimization to remain competitive.

With the global economy and the outreach of the World Wide Web today, what is so important about a local search? Well, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As business becomes more global, people start remembering the importance of community and locality.

People may do a great deal of their research into businesses on the Internet today, but they still like knowing that if they needed, or desired, to they could come see you in person. It gives them a greater sense of trust.

People also like to keep their own local economy thriving. So, with local search engine optimization, you capture the business of those who are doing today’s typical “product plus MY town” Internet search.

Besides local search engine optimization content, you want to capture local search business with strategic submissions to directories and other hubs. But let’s look at some key underlying strategies now.

  • Submit your website to Yahoo. Yahoo is the leader when it comes to local search help. They mix their Yahoo 360 social networks with local listings. This means that businesses not only get listed, they get rated by people who have used them, making people’s searches that much more informative. Note that the new search engine Bing is coming on strong with this localized search information as well, so submit your website to them, too.
  • Remember the mobile search market. People love to be on the move, so they are turning more and more to their hand-held Internet devices like the iPhone and the Touch Diamond. Think of how things will look to someone like that when you conceive your local search engine optimization content.
  • Press Releases — there are free PR websites that you surely want to take advantage of whenever your business is doing something new or reaches a milestone. PR content gets picked up by journalists and can spread fast. It can end up in your local online and print newspapers.
  • CitySearch is a huge provider of local information for sites such as Ask, MSN, Ticketmaster, Expedia, and so on.
  • One important aspect of local search engine optimization is putting your physical address and phone number within an “address” tag at least on your contact page and one other page (if it’s just one other page, make it your homepage). But easily, the best option is placing your address on every page of your site. This information builds both trust and your website’s search engine results rankings.
  • Use microformats when building your local search content.

Now, what are the top directories and other hubs for taking advantage of the local search?

So, now you have a greater understanding than most of your competitors about how to capitalize on local search tendencies. For help with creating your local search engine optimization, contact an SEO Consultant.

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