Do you know how to set up SEO?

How to set up SEO

How to set up SEOIt might sound like a strange question when we’re the ones offering SEO services! But we exhibit at lots of business and networking seminars and in talking to visitors about SEO, when we ask that question we often hear the answer:

“It’s all right, I know how to set up SEO – leave it with me!”

But all too often their knowledge is just outdated. Lots of people have content managed systems (CMS) to manage their websites and see the section called ‘SEO SETUP’ which has a few fields to enter information such as META TAGS, META DATA, PAGE TITLE and URI. They quite rightly enter these details and then assume that’s all there is to SEO and away they go expecting their sites to be ranked on the first page the next day. If only it was that simple!

SEO management covers a whole host of areas, is an ongoing activity and needs to really inform the search engines about every aspect of your website and your business:

  • detailed analysis of how you want to be seen;
  • how on-page content is related to underlying website SEO information;
  • how to create a unique focus on the information on each page;
  • the correct way to submit your website to each search engine;
  • updating information regularly;
  • ensuring videos are managed correctly to avoid down grading by search engines;
  • image tagging for performance and recognition;
  • site structure levels and the money pages…

There’s so much to do to setup and then manage regularly to get that search ranking and to maintain it.

SEO Top Tips – Download this guide now

The list of activities and requirements is extensive and is more than just entering the scant data into the SEO fields that may be available to you. So we’ve put together some SEO Top Tips to get you started that touch on some of the key areas to look at when starting out on SEO.

 

Can you delegate social media management to a third party?

Can you delegate social media

Can you delegate social mediaI often attend events where the speaker says “of course you can’t delegate social media to someone else, you have to do it yourself.”

There seems to be a belief that a third party can’t possibly know your every thought or opinion on what’s going on in the world, so how can they possibly post something on Twitter or Facebook on your behalf?

Another objection is that a third party won’t know all your contacts, so when a friend or business colleague posts a message to you and asks you a question like “so how was the seminar yesterday?”, a third party won’t know how to respond.

Of course, to a certain extent, this is true, and there will always be added value you can add to your own Twitter or Facebook account. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hire a third party to create fresh content, Tweet and Facebook it, and implement regular posts to engage with your social media contacts.

If you work closely enough with the right social media agency, you can delegate all the daily slog of thinking of things to post, finding followers, responding to messages, uploading photos or videos, retweeting interesting news items or running competitions. As long as you make sure you also have an admin login for your social media accounts, you can post your own thoughts whenever you feel like it and so your followers will get a good mix of off-the-cuff comment, corporate messages, news and views.

Let me tell you how we work with one of our clients, who travels around the world a great deal. He gives us regular updates by email when he can get online, then we turn that content into smaller posts, with photos if he has some, or with photos we supply. Occasionally he’ll also post stuff himself and he’ll sometimes reply to the contacts he knows best. Sometimes, we’ll get a question that we can’t possibly know the answer to, “Which hotel did you stay at in Sydney?” In which case, we’ll drop our client a quick email or ask him next time we talk to him, so we can reply on his behalf.

As long as you work closely with an agency who can give you a dedicated account manager who understands your business and your objectives for social media, and who also – crucially – has a good feel for your personality and how you’d talk to people on social media channels, there’s no reason why you can’t delegate this marketing activity to someone else.

Share your experience of delegating social media with us, good or bad, we’d like to know your views.

Fact: Our website is #1 on Google and SEO only cost us $99!

That was the comment I was confronted with when I went to see a client recently.

“See this? See this!” said my client. “There we are, our website is right up there at number 1, and it happened overnight after I paid my $99. How simple was that? And I have a cast-iron guarantee that it will stay at that position for that single payment!”

Now I had two options here:

  • Hit him hard with the facts i.e. there is no way you can go to #1 overnight

or

  • Let him down gently and explain what’s happened and that he’s just wasted $99

I have to admit I was so annoyed that he’d gone off and done this that I wanted to take the first option, but I decided that our long term relationship deserved more than that – my annoyance is my problem!

How Google indexes websites

So I explained that when you type your own website url into Google search, Google will return all instances of the pages it has indexed. So yes it appears to be number 1 (and 2 and 3 and 4….). And yes every time you do that it will be the same, but actually that’s not what he wants or needs – if someone knows his url then SEO is not needed, people will just go straight to his site anyway – a fact that he had forgotten during the sales pitch.  I expanded on ‘real’ SEO and what it meant, what people search for, how his competitors are defined and how to set up his USPs. We talked about all the different areas that needed to be considered, from search terms, on-site content, domain authority, meta data, video and PDF optimisation through to Google Search Console, articles, blogs and on and on. It was then that he realised just what a mistake he’d made.

#1 on Google for $99? No way!

Don’t waste money on the wrong sort of SEO

Next, I showed him how it worked for any website by entering website urls at random. He saw that they were also #1 and the penny dropped big time – yes he’d been duped. What came next was more embarrassment for him and shock for me. He’d been so impressed by what he’d seen that he’d paid out another $199 to do the same for his site on Bing (because, as the sales pitch went, “Bing is so much more complicated to get to number 1 than Google”). He’d also paid out $248 ($49+$199) for 3 other sites he runs plus a general overrider fee of $499 for a whole host of secondary search engines that “we can get you to number one on as well”. So in total he’d handed over $1,491 for absolutely nothing.

Giving SEO agencies a bad name

While I am fuming that there are con artists out there that play on the innocent (and give real SEO agencies like us a bad name) I was more annoyed at his naivety – but part of me can’t blame him. Everybody (and their dog!) must get the same emails that I do “$99 to be #1 on Google with instant SEO techniques”. These emails scream that they can achieve the impossible. But when you want to drive people to your site it does seem attractive and low risk. To give him his due, he then said “OK – I was stupid” and proceeded to give me an order to carry out ‘real SEO’ for him – I just wish it didn’t have to come on the back of wasted money.

SEO – where to get help

My plea to anyone reading this is – don’t be duped and fork out money for nothing. The old adage is worth remembering more than anywhere else at this time:

“When people expect to get ‘something for nothing’ they are sure to be cheated.”

By PT Barnum (that great showman who knew a thing or two about convincing people to part with their money)

I rest my case.

If you’d like help with your SEO and want to work with a white-hat (ethical) SEO consultant, please get in touch.

Find out more

Please click to find out more about our SEO service.

Have you been conned by SEO?

Have you been conned by SEO?

Have you been conned by SEO?“Hello, my name is Sonya and I’m an SEO consultant. We can get your website to the number 1 position in Google for only £99.”

How many emails and phone calls per week do you get that start off with something like this?  If my own experience is anything to go by, you probably get quite a few.  What’s your first thought? “Mmm, maybe they might be onto something here, I would love to be in the top position on Google”?

You might think it sounds tempting. But let’s just analyse this for a second. What exactly are they promising? To get your website to the Number 1 position in Google.

What do they mean by “Your Website”. Do they mean the home page? Do they mean a particular section page?

And when they say “Number 1 position”, what search term would someone have to search for in Google, for your website to come up in the “Number 1 position”? I would hazard a guess that if you typed your company name into Google now, your site will probably already come up in the Number 1 position. But the people you want to find you on Google are the people who DON’T already know your company name. What search term will they type in?

Let me explain why this promise is meaningless

Let’s say your company name is “Lannards” and you sell office furniture. What search term do you want to be found for? “Office furniture” probably, right? Maybe some other terms like “desks”, “office chairs”, that sort of thing. Certainly, you’ll want to come up in the top 3 search results if someone types in “Lannards” and “Lannards office furniture”, but you probably already do. what you really want is that if someone types in “Office Furniture”, your website will come up in the top 3 results. Probably you’ll want this to be your home page.  If that happens, you’re reaching new potential buyers who may not know about your company and who will click on the link to your site.

What page should come up in the search results?

But if someone types “desks” into Google, you would probably want the “desks” page of your website to come up into Google, so that the potential customer goes straight to the page containing the products they’re interested in. And if they typed in “office chairs”, you’d want them to go to the “office chairs” page. In this way, each page of your website needs to be optimised so that it can be found for its main topic when people search for it.

Don’t be conned by style

So it’s totally meaningless for someone to say they can get you to number 1 in Google, because it depends on a) the search term being searched for and b) which website page will be returned in the search results. They could quite easily take your money and then say “we got you to number 1” because if you search for “Lannards”, you’ll come up top. And don’t be fooled, it can’t be done for £99. Because all your competitors are constantly changing their own websites and doing their own SEO, it has to be a continuous process of updating content, tweaking copy and key search terms, to keep on top of it all.

How can you improve your Google rankings, then?

What you should really be doing, is deciding on a main topic for each page of your website, make sure each page has a good volume of high quality text and other content such as images and videos that talks about this topic, and optimise each page for its own unique topic. In this way, Google will be able to easily work out what each page of your site is about and your rankings will improve. You can do this yourself of course, if you have the time and the inclination, or you can use a trustworthy SEO agency, based in the UK, who have proven results and a good track record with other clients. They should want to talk to you about what’s important to your business and what your potential customers are looking for.

For more information about how to improve your Google rankings, see our SEO top tips and other marketing resources and read about our in-depth, organic SEO services.

 

Google+ but not as we know it and how the G+ break up affects your SEO

google-plus-breaking-up-2015Going, Going, Google+ Gone

Since Google+ was introduced it became one of the must haves to help boost your SEO. G+ and YouTube from Google gave website owners the optimum resource for search engine optimisation. No matter whether it was personalised search results you were looking to improve or gaining increased organic reach G+ was a key driver to get Google on your side and to build on SEO for your businesses. Anyone searching for terms would see posts in Google+ being posted in top spots and YouTube helping with video promotion was also part of the social move by Google. But all this is set to change with Google’s change to G+ and its reorganisation into:

  • Communication
  • Photos, and
  • Streams

The three new areas were announced by Bradley Horowitz, the new VP in charge of the changing face of Google social media. In a recent Google blog on 27th July, Bradley commented:

“When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life. While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. So over the next few months, we’re going to be making some important changes.”

And these changes are still in an embryonic stage and include:

  • A more focused Google+ experience
  • Moving Google+ Photos to the Google Photos app
  • Putting sharing into Google Hangouts
  • Using Google without a Google+ profile (hurrah!)

The move makes perfect sense because since G+ was installed in our mindset the general concensus was that it didn’t quite hit the mark of knocking Facebook or Twitter off their respective pedestals. It had some nice features, some confusing features and a lot of irritating features like not always being able to access other Google products without a G+ profile. With photos becoming increasingly important (e.g. Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram) the move makes sense and Google+ has seen a lot of pick-up in the image area. Google Hangouts has had a solid following and the move to breakout Google+ into streams signifies that Google has recognised that it has strengths but not the overall Social Media clout it thought it might achieve.

Changes to your SEO activities

Q: Should I ditch my Google+ business page?

Definitely not! You should keep your business page (and if you haven’t got one, then set it up now!) The “Google My Business” section of Google+ is still key to search results and allows you to add and verify business listings – these are the details that appear in organic search results and in Google Maps. You should ensure that you manage this business page to enter all correct business details, add up to date photos and videos – and to make sure that you stay on top of, and respond to customer comments.

 Q: Is it time to split my YouTube & Google+ accounts?

Again, not yet. On YouTube’s own blog they say:

“Do NOT do it right now or you’ll delete your YouTube Channel!”

Google+ has been a good tool for locating people with similar interests but in its new guise it will help ensure that the people are actually using it, and where useful, should help it thrive. Your activity on Google+ has been sharing itself across the platform and once the separation occurs (G+ split from YouTube) comments will only appear on your YouTube channel. This is great news as it should raise engagement on YouTube. At the moment comments include Google+ activity and these tended to go to the top of the comment section, which discouraged interaction as the comments just listed the activity of a video being shared – not a lot of meaningful feedback. Keep an eye on the split as you’ll need to make a positive change to split your G+ & YouTube channels to take advantage of the SEO gains of a focused YouTube offering.

 Q: How do capitalise on the changes?

Reading between the lines of the announcement and the focus on ‘Photos’ the clue here is that Google are still placing a major importance on imagery. This means ensuring that you are using images liberally across your website, when they add value and when they are relevant – just posting holiday photos on your business website doesn’t hack it with Google search! But also make sure that the images are setup correctly, tagged correctly and pushed to Google search with Webmaster tools and if used in a blog use blog posting indexes. So if you are moving to a new generic/vanity TLD you won’t have a loss of SEO – but remember Google needs to know what’s happening, just moving without following the SEO rules WILL upset your current ranking. You can read more about getting on top of Google SEO with our guide

To see other areas of website SEO check out these links:

► Learn more about ranking techniques with examples of client rankings and approaches: ‘How to be found in Google Searches

► Why Social Media is so important to SEO and Google: Using Social Media Profiles for SEO

How Google is handling SEO for new top level domains

Great News! New Top Level Domains (TLDs) avalable to boost your marketing – but what happens to your SEO?

top-level-domains-and-google-seoSince the new extensive list of TLDs (gTLDs) were announced there has been rumour upon rumour that Google is marking down your SEO if you use a vanity TLD or in one blog post that I saw, “Don’t use a new vanity TLD as Google will remove your site from SEO search and give a zero ranking!” Really? Will implementing a new TLD upset Google that much and kill your SEO?

In a recent blog John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google posted a comprehensive Q&A to put the record straight and to squash some of the more ‘outlandish’, scaremongering rumours. Here are the key highlights of the blog on new TLD’s and the impact they will have on your SEO… or not!

“With the coming of many new generic top level domains (gTLDs), we’d like to give some insight into how these are handled in Google’s search. We’ve heard and seen questions and misconceptions about the way we treat new top level domains (TLDs), like .guru, .how, or any of the .BRAND gTLDs, for example:

Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search? 

A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

Q: Will a .BRAND TLD be given any more or less weight than a .com?

A: No. Those TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way we crawl, index, or rank URLs.

Q: How are the new region or city TLDs (like .london or .bayern) handled?

A: Even if they look region-specific, we will treat them as gTLDs. This is consistent with our handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia. There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as we see how they’re used in practice.

Q: What about real ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) : will Google favor ccTLDs (like .uk, .ae, etc.) as a local domain for people searching in those countries?

A: By default, most ccTLDs (with exceptions) result in Google using these to geotarget the website; it tells us that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country. Again, see our help center for more information on multi-regional and multilingual sites.

 

So if you are moving to a new generic/vanity TLD you won’t necessarily have a loss of SEO – but remember Google needs to know what’s happening, just moving without following strict SEO rules WILL upset your current ranking. You can ensure your SEO is not hit by following these four basic steps:

  1. Prepare the new site and test it thoroughly
  2. Prepare a 301 table from the current to the corresponding new
  3. Configure the server to redirect from the old to the new ones
  4. Monitor and track the traffic on the associated URLs

 

Aside from TLDs you can read more about getting on top of Google SEO with our guide

To see other areas of website SEO check out these links:

► Learn more about ranking techniques with examples of client rankings and approaches: ‘How to be found in Google Searches

► Why Social Media is so important to SEO and Google: Using Social Media Profiles for SEO

Google Penguin 2.0 is Live – are you ready?

Google Penguin 2 - is your website ready

Penguin 2.0 – is it relevant to your website? Well, if you are interested in keeping your website at the top of the Google rankings then you need to make sure that your website is ready for Google’s Penguin 2.0 to – the latest and major update to Google’s search algorithm.

Google-Penguin-2Matt Cutts, Google’s Search Engineer and key spokesman for all things Google, first announced that there would be the next generation of Penguin in March. He officially branded it Penguin 2.0 in tweets earlier this month and earlier this week he said it was rolling out late Wednesday afternoon on the channel “This Week in Google”.

“It’s gonna have a pretty big impact on web spam,” Cutts said on the show. “It’s a brand new generation of algorithms. The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a site. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper and has a really big impact in certain small areas.”

In his blog post , 22nd May 2013, Cutts added more details of Penguin 2.0, saying that the rollout is now complete and affects English language queries, and that it affects non-English queries as well. He said:

 

We started rolling out the next generation of the Penguin webspam algorithm this afternoon (May 22, 2013), and the roll-out is now complete. About 2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice. The change has also finished rolling out for other languages world-wide. The scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.

This is the fourth Penguin-related launch Google has done, but because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh), we’ve been referring to this change as Penguin 2.0 internally. For more information on what SEOs should expect in the coming months, see the video that we recently released.

What does Penguin 2.0 mean to your website?

The main thrust of this release is to clamp down on ‘spammy’ backlinks i.e. links that have been bought or add no value to the ranking of your site. Backlinks must adhere to key rules, they must not:

Come from sites built exclusively for the purpose of SEO
Use overly-optimised anchor text throughout
Come from adult or other “bad neighbourhood” websites
Come from sites that are irrelevant to your own site and its content

Download the key features overview of Google Penguin 2.0

And if you are not managing your website SEO – email us now to discuss how you can ensure your website is adhering to 2.0 and previous Google guidelines to manage your visibility on Google search results. Or call us on 0843 289 3060.