Is Google’s SERP to be completely trusted? The importance of your social network vs your SEO efforts!

Recently I was asked by my director to buy some fresh databases for a project we wanted to run for one of our training programmes. The target group was small to medium enterprises, SMEs in the United Kingdom. I had been disappointed in the past with a couple of data mining companies I worked with, so I decided to make a fresh start and do it myself.

I’ve been into SEO for some time now and after reading Google’s latest quality rating guidelines I decided to put my faith in the king of search engines (despite the huge fiasco with the Go daddy anchor text spam link building technique which resulted in them being optimised on a number of keywords bringing Google’s quality techniques into question!) The keywords I decided to use were “buy SME uk database.” Simple and straightforward. What I expected to see popping up on my screen was the top ten best web sites that can offer me a database of UK SMEs available for purchase.

To read the whole story please follow http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog/is-googles-serp-to-be-completely-trusted

 

How to 301 redirect non-www and index.php web site versions to www ones

I normally aim to write one to two blogs per week but the reason I was kinda away this week (apart from the nasty flu I’ve suffered from since Friday night) is due to some development issues with a client’s web site. You see, I consider myself a very good SEO consultant but when it comes to development I know what must be done but not necessarily how to do it, as I have web site developers to do that for me.

I decided through this article to give some technical information about two very well-known SEO issues most companies suffer and most people are not aware of. Through this you will be able to check your own web sites and see if you suffer from similar technical problems and how to solve them.

How to redirect your non-www web site version to the www one.

Whilst working for a client recently, I noticed that her web site was duplicated – what I mean by this is that there were two web site versions online – one without www and one looking like this: atladasmedia.co.uk (I will use my link so as to keep the client anonymous).

If you type atladasmedia.co.uk you will be directed to that address, while you should have been redirected to www.atladasmedia.co.uk, even if you did not use www on your link bar.

This is a killer SEO situation for the reason that search engines consider these two web sites different, meaning that any potential links from other web sites means that the links will be split.

How did I resolve this? Well, I used a 301 redirect on the non-www version of the URL to the www one by adding some coding, which is essentially a “permanent” redirect in server talk, so now the client can consolidate all of her link popularity to the www version. This eventually will help to increase her website’s chances of obtaining top rankings.

How to redirect index.php to the home page.

The second problem I faced was the /index.php version of the site. Imagine you have your web site appearing as http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk and http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/index.php . Normally the /index.php version should redirect your web site to the non index.php one. I noticed that every single page of the web site had an index.php version. This is again a negative SEO situation. I followed exactly the same procedures as above and now before starting the link building campaign I know for sure that all efforts will be concentrated to one proper web site and not split on two different versions.

How did I solve this?

Drum roll…..I added some coding on the htaccess file of the web site. Please do speak with your web developer before you try and do it on your own web site should you not have experience with coding. The following code applies to appache servers only, your web site might be hosted by a different server. This is what worked for my web site and a client’s web site both using apache:

For the non-www website solution you add this coding:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Replace the example.com with your web site link!

For the index.php solution apply this coding:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^.*/index.php
RewriteRule ^(.*)index.php$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

So your final version of the htaccess file (on the top of your notepad and if you wish to make BOTH changes) should be looking like this:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^atladasmedia.co.uk [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/$1 [L,R=301]

RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^.*/index.php
RewriteRule ^(.*)index.php$ http://%{SERVER_NAME}/$1 [R=301,L]

You are good to go! Please be aware that if you happen to have a Joomlart web site your administration zone is written on index.php which means you wont be able to access it. I am working on a solution to this right now!

If you test your pages now they should all drive you through the main web page.

If you found this article helpful by any way please +1 one it and share it. It took me a lot of time to solve these issues – let’s make sure people who suffer the same problems find this information and optimise their web pages properly!

Is Social Media the new SEO? How content is set to take over the race to the top!

A week or so when I posted my first blog post I wrote: “By the time I publish this post, Google might change ten algorithms in its code, SEO techniques might cease to exist and search engines might become personal”.

Now not meaning to blow my own trumpet or anything 🙂 but it seems there was something somewhat prophetic in my observation.

By “..search engines might become personal” I meant that Google could create a personalised search engine for each one of its users, by using information collected from +1, Google + circles etc. Soon afterwards, I read this very interesting article on a Google blog post titled “Make search more secure”.

As I know you are all keen to keep on top of Google developments and changes, I am going to have a look at what exactly was meant by this title. In my humble opinion I very much doubt that their aim is to raise privacy levels, but rather to ensure they keep their currently (very) large chunk of the search engine market safe from competition…

Let us have a look at the post:

As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users. Over the next few weeks, many of you will find yourselves redirected to https://www.google.com when you’re signed in to your Google Account. This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page.

The post continues:

What does this mean for sites that receive clicks from Google search results? When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information about each individual query…If you choose to click on an ad appearing on our search results page, your browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you.

So what does that mean in one sentence? Unless you run Google Ads you will not be able to see the keyword responsible for your traffic increase. Of course, the excuse “importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver” is non-existent – if that was the case then they should ban the keyword queries from Google Ads as well – but that would kill their product.

For me, SEO was always a silent PPC competitor, as there are ways to reach high rankings simply through a bit of research on short and long tail keywords. However, what I see here is Google trying to remove one of the most important pieces of information available for SEO services.

So how do you get the crucial keyword information from now on?

Well you will not be able to – unless you are running Google Ads. In terms of SEO, it is not catastrophic, as I am sure a lot of users will not be logged in their Gmail accounts 24/7 so there will still be sufficient information to plan SEO/PPC campaigns.

However is there a more efficient way that will benefit business’s marketing mix in the long run apart SEO?

Well, if you are not already an avid user then now is the time for you  and your company to really make the most of social media marketing.

Tools such as Twitter, Foursquare, +1, blogging and Facebook help you directly connect with your target audience and their circles (friends or personal networks), but most importantly you will be able to identify the language used, keywords and terminology used for your product or services, topics that concern them in your industry sector, trends and so much more. All of this is invaluable information, that will keep you ahead of the game and help you start building personal relationships with your audience, by directly connecting with them as well as providing content that will add value to your brand and products.

If you are still dubious about obtimising your web site content, then remember that Google just introduced Google dynamic ad. PPC ads will now be displayed based on your content and not selected keywords. Also meta-description will be automatically generated by Google based on your online content.

It appears that SEO methods is no longer guaranteed to increase your site rankins on its own. Instead, content marketing and social networking sites will play a very important role in terms of gaining the edge when it comes to the Google machine…

If you enjoyed the read and found this article useful please +1 it and share it via the social media buttons below. You will find these posts also @: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog . Site still under construction so bear with me :-)

A quick overview of Google’s quality rating paper

There was an 125 page document leaked last week on various blogs and newspapers online claiming to be Google’s new quality guidelines. Whether leaked by accident or not, it is a very interesting read for anyone who wants to improve their site rankings, as it clearly states what people should do in order to secure their web sites from being spam or regarded as low quality. I read the whole document with great interest and decided to make a simple guide for small companies who do not have the budget for marketing or SEO consultancy. Things need to be checked in order to make sure that you do not violate some of the basics rules flagged up by Google.

Here we go:

Rating scale and web spam

The biggest news is that Google now rates your landing page using five different scales: “Vital”, “Useful”, “Relevant”, “Slightly Relevant” and “Off-Topic or Useless”. This rating is judged by the relevance of your web site’s content with the search term. The “rating” of a web page is a scale, “web spam” is a flag. That means that in some cases your web site might be relevant to the search query but identify as spam. Your content is what will determine the scale rating and your web site design the one for spam (see web spam paragraph below).

 “Vital” rating scale

While a celebrity’s name is classified as “vital” and will most probably drive traffic to that person’s personal web page (it makes sense if you google Britney Spears to get her official web site as the number one ranking), a generic entity is NEVER categorised as vital. For example the phrase “ipod reviews” would never be considered as vital, because while “ipod” is an entity,”ipod reviews” is not. It is an information query which means that users may be looking at many web sites which provide similar information to yours. So even if you bought the domain name http://www.officechairs.com unless your content is unique and relevant and not generic do not expect a number one ranking on the keywords “office chairs”.

 Queries interpretations

Google ranks queries with multiple meanings in three different categories: Dominant, Common and Minor interpretations. Many queries have more than one meaning such as Windows or Apple – which could refer to the big computer software companies or the actual glass or fruit. The dominant interpretation of a query is the interpretation that most users have in mind when they issue the query. Bear this in mind when you choose your keyword optimisation strategy for your blog or web site.

 

Location is important

Good search engines return results that are local, which means that the results are good for users in their specific location. For example, if an English (US) user searches for [pizza], he is not interested in pizza restaurants in London, England. He wants pizza restaurants in the US. In most cases, Google will lower the rating if the page content is from another country. Specifically instructs: Do not hesitate to lower the rating to Off-Topic if there is a mismatch between the task location and page that makes the result useless for a user in the task location.

The above shows that Google has brought location based marketing to a new level, highlighting its importance not only as a marketing technique but also as a SEO optimisation rule. As I explained in my last blog regarding long tail keyword optimisation, this actually might be a good thing, since adding a location to your selected keywords will give you a competitive advantage as well as drive more targeted customers to your web site.

Web spam

Web spam is the term for webpages that are designed by webmasters to trick search engines and draw users to their websites. Web spam pages include the following:

Hidden text & Hidden Links

Google also highlighted: Webmasters add hidden text and/or hidden links to lure search engines and users to their pages. Hidden text is visible to the search engine, but not to the user, who might find it distracting or annoying.

However, if you press “Ctrl” and “A” keys on your web page you can reveal any hidden text. Copy paste the text to Word format and make sure you increase the font size as well as click the font colour. Some webmasters add text with the font colour being the same to your web pages colour so you would never be able to see it while search engines do. You can also use Ctrl+U to see your front page source on any browser as well if you do not want to do the abovementioned procedure.

Keyword Stuffing:

Webmasters sometimes load pages with keywords that are related to the query.

  •  Keywords repeated many times on the page
  • Words that are related to keywords repeated many times on the page
  • Multiple misspellings of keywords on the page.

Your selected keyword should never be more than four to six percent of your overall word count. If Google reads 100 words in your index page make sure you mention your main keyword four to five times, no more, to be on the safe side.

Keyword Stuffing in the URL

URLs may also contain keyword stuffing. These URLs are computer-generated based on the words in the query and are often formatted with many hyphens in them. They are a strong spam signal.

So if your web page looks like this: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/our-services/social-media-marketing-for-small-business

Maybe consider making it look like this: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/services/smm

While it is not yet determined how many keywords on the URL are considered spam, I would make my links look like the above just to be sure. In most default templates you can change this through your Menu Manager.

Did you buy your web site by an agent or freelance designer?

If you or your webmaster happens to use a Joomlart or Drupal template, please do make sure that you have deleted ALL demo articles from your article directory. Most of these templates come with pre-set articles with irrelevant text. Even if you do modify your articles and pages based on your business, remove all other articles from your article directory when your web page is up and running. If Google reads this it will count toward your content relevance and you will be considered spam.

Sneaky redirects

We call it a sneaky redirect when a page redirects the user from a URL on one domain to a different URL on a different domain, with spam intent. Search engines “see” the first page, while the user is sent to a different page and sees different content.

Simply put, if clicking on the same URL several times sends you to different landing pages each time that is considered sneaky and spam, even if your landing pages are high quality ones such as Amazon, eBay, Zappos, etc or any other popular affiliate programmes.

All this information enhances even more the need to be socially engaged with your potential customers. Social media marketing is going to be one of the most important parts of your overall internet marketing strategy especially with the latest changes on keyword queries Google presented a few days ago. Bear with me, I will update you about this very soon.

If you enjoyed the read and found this article useful please +1 it and share it via the social media buttons below. You will find these posts also @: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog . Site still under construction so bear with me :-)

Before you optimise your web pages and spend money on Google Ads do a bit of research!

Let me start this blog by emphasisng that a successful Internet marketing campaign is so much more than keywords, PCP campaigns or SEO optimisation. When someone come to me with a SEO consultancy request I make it clear that keywords are indeed important, but it is crucial to be part of a proper Internet marketing strategy plan. Quality, carefully designed content which includes trends and demographics, a powerful social media presence and valuable links are vital in this competitive era.
A marketing campaign where 80 percent of a site’s visitors are from the UK cannot be designed the same way if they are from China. Cultural awareness, market and national trends must be considered. The country’s internet and technology status is also something to bear in mind (I will try to cover this topic on a later blog).

What I am aiming to do today is give give you some hints and tips regarding a  short and long tail keywords campaign I did for one of my clients. Now, I believe in practical examples – not just theory like lots of blogs out there – so I am going to illustrate my blogs with graphs and pretty numbers (are you still awake?) mainly so you can get an idea of how I work.

The results for this particular client gave pretty much the same results as a Google Ad campaign would – but – hold your breath – much less money was spent! At the end of the day saving money is a BIG incentive for most businesses and for me social media is all about sharing our experiences and helping others get the best results for the best value they can.

By the time I publish this post, Google might change ten algorithms in its code, SEO techniques might cease to exist and Search Engines might become personal. This is valuable content if you are planning to do search engine optimisation or a PCP campaign today. Tomorrow is a different story, especially when it comes to internet and technology!

Now, as i said I have been working on a keyword strategy for one of my clients who is a language training provider offering courses to help improve accent reduction for native and overseas speakers. Let me clarify that by saying “keyword” I mean words you will use in your web site content, your blog, your tweets, your PCP campaign or any search engine optimisation service you have chosen to invest in.

The client requested some research for keywords containing the words ‘business english‘ and I used six keywords that would increase web traffic performance. On the table below you will see two different numbers – the one in the Searches column and the one in Google Count.

The reason Google Count has so many keywords is because Google calculates all possible phrases which includes thes keywords as the Exact Match Format shows below. Please remember that this is a sample and that when it comes to keywords and trends one company needs to continuously monitor the market, as people change the way they search for products or services so a keyword that is popular today might not exist in a year.

Please see the table below:

Keyword (Exact Match Format) Searches

Competition (IAAT)

Google Count
business english in england

168

352

25600000

business english in uk

167

6

106000000

business english

114

1677460

128000000

business english training courses

104

86

21300000

english for business

49

21586

385000000

english business course

41

225

143000000

Let us now examine the phrase ‘business english‘. Based on UK web searches there are 114 people that use that word to search every month. In the competitors (IAAT) box you can see the competition that this keyword has, how many web sites have optimised their web pages for this keyword. This table shows there are 1.677.460, quite a lot don’t you think?

Now of course it is your personal choice to use this keyword, to optimise your blog, a page or even your whole web site because you or your SEO consultant believes that you can compete with sites ranked at number one such as the BBC for example and I wish you good luck with that.

I believe however there are alternative solutions to achieve similar results in a more cost effective way.  So what can you do? Let us examine some alternatives:

If we look at the phrase ‘business english training courses’ we can see it has 104 people looking for this term and only 86 web sites as direct competitors. So we are talking about 10 less searches in comparison to ‘business english’ keyword and some 1.65 million less web sites to compete against, just by adding the term ‘training courses’ to the optimisation strategy.

Exactly the same applies to the other two keywords I used. ‘English for business’ has only 8 more searches than ‘english business course’ yet the competition is much less (225 web sites versus 2,1586 web sites).

Business english in england’ and ‘business english in UK’ share exactly the same search requirements, but the later have only 6 web sites to compete with, while the former 352, which means that my client’s competitors optimised their web sites on the word ‘england’ rather than ‘UK’.

These are some small tips and tricks you can use before optimising a blog, a web page or your whole web site. You can do searches with free tools on the internet to find relevant trends and keywords, you do not have to pay anyone for this. I created a delicious stack for you with links such as Google trends, Google keywords so you can do your own research. So before you start spending money on Google Ads or optimise your web pages do a bit of research. There are no secrets with search engine optimisation, it is just a question of spending time investigating!
If you enjoyed the read and found this article useful please +1 it and share it via the social media buttons below. You will find these posts also @: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog . Site still under construction so bear with me 🙂