Wednesday, 20 October 2010

SEO Myths - 50 apples a day will keep the doctor away

They won't. They'll make you sick. Very sick.

We're constantly told that five portions of fruit and veg a day is good for us. But there are always those that take it to extremes, eating nothing but carrots and bananas and become very sick as a result.

Well surprise surprise this gluttony holds true for more than just healthy levels of fruit consumption.

Yes - the same philosophy can be used for SEO and in particular the length of page copy.

Many experts will tell you 'the more text you have on your site the better'. Whilst the origins of this sentiment hold some truth, here are some reasons to be cautious in your approach:

1) Research tells us that website users don't like to scroll (down a webpage). So if your web pages are too long you're unlikely to still have the attention of the reader at the bottom of your copy. Why is this important? Well many web pages have their call to actions and important links/forms at the bottom of the page. If people don't reach this important area of the page it'll be having a large (negative) impact on the success of your page.

2) Boredom and impression. If a visitor lands on your web page and can't see what they're looking for they won't invest the time to read anything, let alone paragraphs and paragraphs of convoluted copy. Make sure your page copy is clearly broken up with the use of H tags. It pays to be clear and concise.

3) Usability. Research again tells us that visitors don't read web pages (unless it's a news article - like something you might find on BBC news) they scan them. Time is a precious resource and visitors to your web page certainly don't want to waste it. If they can get to where they want to be with the minimum amount of time invested they will.

With this in mind long page copy will only hinder this process giving the visitor more reason to click that dreaded back button (and leave your page, or worse, your site).

As a general rule ask yourself if your page is specific to one topic/product or service. If it isn't, break the topics up and introduce a larger number of shorter, more specific pages. This in turn should improve the success of each of your pages.

Not only will you be able to more specific for search engine marketing but it will also prove easier to capture the attention of visitors looking for specific information/products/services.

As a final note of caution - remember you need more than fruit and veg to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The same is true for the length of your web pages and their relative success.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The importance of keywords


This topic seems to come up all the time.

A website is being developed, lots of thought has gone into the design, plenty of cool features have been added to the website and you've got those all important links to your social media presence. That must have it covered then. Job done. Complete. Finished.

Not quite.

Keywords are vital if you want people landing on your site who are interested in the products/services/information you have on your website as Google and the other search engines will start to rank your webpages according to the relevancy of its content.

However, the importance of keywords isn't just restricted to getting to the top of Google (although this is still the no.1 reason why you should research your keywords). It's often overlooked but keywords also help with navigation (when used correctly in your Meta title or as anchor text on links).

That's great but they still have a wider significance.

As we move at great speed towards 'online optimisation' instead of just search engine optimisation (this incorporates everything that you're doing online) the need for accurate keywords is growing by the day. This is because Internet users are using so many different platforms from which to start their online journey.

From tagging a YouTube video to designing facebook ads - keywords are everywhere!

If you haven't already take a look at our optimising your keywords post and if you have any questions - ask!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

What can you expect (realistically) from an SEO campaign

It's a common question. Agencies and SEO specialists ask companies to spend significant amounts of money from their marketing budget and very often don't explain what they'll be doing in return. What then can you expect and in what time frame?

In an attempt to be as clear on the subject as possible here's what you can expect broken down into three (hopefully) easily digested points:

1) You won't hit the top of Google straight away (it doesn't matter what keywords you've used).
Google needs to send its crawlers to your site before your site can even be considered for indexing in the search results.
As a webmaster or SEO professional you can submit an XML sitemap to Google to ensure it knows how many pages your site has - but it won't necessarily speed up the process of becoming indexed. This process can take up to 6 weeks.

2) Once Google has visited your site there are several things that can happen.

a) You may get on the first page of the search results
b) You may end up on the 4/5/6th etc page
c) Your web pages, initially at least, won't be found anywhere in the search results

Why is this? Well it's all down to how well optimised your web pages are for your targeted keyword and how competitive that keyword is (there are other factors but these are the two most important at this stage).

For example if you are targeting the keyword 'tennis equipment' you may not rank initially or your page may be found on the lower pages - which no one will ever see. However, if you've added geographic search terms to your optimised page you may find that search queries with your keyword + your geographic location rank much quicker. For example, 'tennis equipment in Covent Garden' may go straight to Google's first page.

The distinction here is that the more generic 'tennis equipment' will be much more competitive than 'tennis equipment Covent Garden' and hence the difference in results.

3) For those more generic terms it is a question of patience and perseverance. Google will not favour, initially at least, a domain (especially if it's brand new) over an established competitor - even if you think their website is awful. This is because Google takes two things into account when choosing which websites to place on its first page; authority and relevance.

Relevance is (generally speaking) concerned with how well the content on a particular page will meet the needs and requirements of the user who is looking for something.

However it's authority which we're more concerned with here. Domain age and in-bound links are two of the more important factors here and if you have a new website/new web page it will take time to convince Google that your webpage is worth ranking above others that are already established and linked to.

Again, this takes time. It might take 3 months it could take 3 years. It depends on the levels of competition and the strength of that competition. This is one of the reason why in-depth research is needed before selecting the keywords your website/web pages will use.

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