Monday, 21 December 2009

Death to 2005; SEO for 2010

By Jon Paget
2005 was a great year. Gorillaz were top of the charts and the UK was enjoying a booming economy (seems like a long time ago doesn't it). Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies had already started to promise the world (a trend that unfortunately continues) and keywords were crucial to Google's assessment of your site.
And as we approach 2010 things have certainly changed. Social media has greatly influenced this year's Christmas No.1 (Rage Against the Machine) and we're still in a recession. So, 5 years on and a lot has changed around the world; including SEO.
Over the next three weeks I'll be reviewing three of the most (historically) important on-page SEO factors to determine what you should and shouldn't be spending your time optimising.
Part 1 starts with the HTML Title (Title Tags)
What is a title tag?
This is the string of words that sit at the top of a web browser and, in windows explorer, are written in white font on the blue browser bar. See below.

So should you optimise your page title?
Yes. It remains the case that the page title is important to on-page SEO. In fact it's still one of the most important factors the search engines will use to assess relevance and establish a ranking.
How to optimise your title tags?
Here are some useful guidelines:
  • Ensure your most important keywords are included at the beginning of the title (decreasing importance placed on every word after the first word)
  • Try to keep your title to 70 characters so make sure every word you include adds value
  • Keep punctuation, capital letters and grammar consistent on all of your page titles
  • Add geographic locations - can be a good way of getting fast results (if applicable)
  • Don't stuff your title with all your keywords*
*Remember that each page of optimised content should be specific. Very specific. Don't water your page's relevance down by stuffing too many keywords in it.
Next week: Part 2 - Optimising your meta description.

Monday, 14 December 2009

85% of us have no control over our own privacy (on facebook)

By Jon Paget

If you’ve logged on to facebook recently you might have been asked to review your privacy settings. In the past, status updates and other information (contact, personal, work etc) could be shared with your friends, your network or everyone on facebook.

Now facebook is prompting users to change their settings to ‘everyone’ which means that (for the information you’ve selected to share) data is visible across the Internet (eg: found in Google). Facebook claims that its latest update empowers users and puts them back in control of their privacy. However…

85% of users have facebook default settings

Seemingly unbelievable but true. The majority of us have the default privacy settings, giving facebook power over how and where it displays our information. So, if it was daunting before, the prospect of so many people (apparently unaware or disinclined to care) now sharing their information across the web is scary.

The impact for business

Many bloggers and digital rights groups have been up in arms over facebook’s latest move. But, how will it affect business?

Well Google are soon to release Google Caffeine, an updated version of their search engine, which is set to place a much higher importance on social media (early suggestions are that it’s a much greater importance).

One of Google’s aims for improving search is (and will continue to be) to incorporate real time results (updating content within its search results as and when it’s published) whilst improving the accuracy of each search request. Incorporating facebook information such as status updates is the first step but it’s not difficult to foresee twitter (already in discussions) and all the other platforms from following suit.

What’s the impact for business? 2009 has seen some very strong success stories for brands and businesses using social media but it still remains a misunderstood tool by many. As Google updates its search engine and social media continues to grow businesses will have to consider the power of online communities/social media.

And if you don’t, your competitors will…

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