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Engage Web » 2009 » April

Why you should talk about your competitors on your website

Posted on April 30, 2009

Talking about your competitors on your website is often a taboo subject with most companies. They don’t want to be seen promoting competitors, discussing them or even admitting their existence. You can understand the reasons for this in the business world, but in the world of SEO this is naive.

Google gauges the relevance of your website to your industry based on the content of your website, who you are linking to, who is linking to you and who you are talking about. If website ‘A’ talks about websites ‘B’ through ‘P’, links to them, mentions their names and the keywords they’re optimising for, website ‘A’ will be seen as a hub for that industry. It’s relevant to all of the websites so therefore will be classed by Google as a resource.

If website ‘B’ doesn’t mention website ‘A’, or websites ‘C’ through ‘P’ then it is cutting itself out of the loop. It’s not talking about the industry players, it’s not linking to them and it’s not relevant.

Consider the Internet as one giant networking function (after all, the ‘net’ by its very definition is a network). When you’re at a function you need to mingle with everyone, get your name out there. You need to speak to suppliers, customers and yes, even competitors. You don’t sit in the corner and wait for customers to come to you. The Internet is constructed on the same principle. By talking about your competitors you’re ensuring that your website is mentioned in the same breath as them, the same Google breath that is.

By cutting your website off from your competitors you’re putting up a wall between you and them, a wall that will see you left out in the cold.

Posted by Cheryl Mathews

Beware design agencies who offer SEO

Posted on April 29, 2009

SEO is so easy to research, with thousands of websites offering advice and tips, that finding information on search engine optimisation takes just a few minutes. Very quickly, anyone can learn some basic techniques on performing SEO on their own websites.

For this reason, most web developers and designers offer SEO as a service, usually charging a very small amount for their ‘skills’. In fact, you’ll often find that web designers advertise their web design services as being ‘SEO friendly’, with their websites being constructed with ‘SEO in mind’.

So why would you use an SEO company that charges you several thousand pounds per year, when your web developer can offer it for a one off fee of a few hundred pounds, or even for free?

The difference in the services lie with what they actually do, what they actually know, and what prior experience they have. Web developers are that, developers of websites. If you have a technical spec they’ll be able to meet it and develop a site to suit your requirements. Web designers are visual people. They’ll construct a website for you that looks good, fits your branding and is attractive to your customers. An SEO will get you results… pure and simple.

When your web designer offers their SEO services along with their website design, ask them what they’ll do for you, what exactly their ‘SEO’ entails. You’ll often find they’ll have little answer outside of the standard one of adding Meta tags to your website. They may, and we stress may, even know about making Title tags unique on all of the pages. The might even know about search engine friendly URLs, but that’s about where their expertise will end.

You’ll be placing the success of your website in the hands of someone who doesn’t perform SEO for a living. It’s not their job. They don’t live and breath SEO. They don’t know all of the intricacies of Google, the history of its updates, how to solve an SEO problem, how to analyse a competitor’s SEO and what phrases like ‘universal search’ and ‘semantic search’ actually mean.

Will they monitor your rankings constantly, being proactive on your website to any drop for your keywords? Will they issue you with reports? Will they know about some basic, and some not so basic SEO mistakes that could get your website banned from Google?

You might find a design agency that has a professional, in-house SEO department, or one that partners with an SEO agency. If that’s the case, your site would be safe in their hands.

In short, use the right professional for the right task. Web designers design, web developers develop and SEOs SEO.

Posted by Cheryl Mathews

The stickiest sites get the best links

Posted on April 28, 2009

Some of the best things in life are sticky, and websites are certainly one of them. A ‘sticky’ website is one that keeps visitors on the site instead of them ‘bouncing’ off at the first page. Bounced visitors can cost you heavily in online marketing, as generally you’ll be paying for your traffic, whether it’s through PPC (pay-per-click) or organic SEO (search engine optimisation).

Every visitor you get is precious, and a potential customer, contact or repeated visitor. If they leave after viewing one page you’ve lost the chance of a sale, this is why you need your website sticky, you need the stickiest website you can have, one that will have your visitors sticking around for as long as they can, and then (more…)

Posted by Cheryl Mathews

How to get accepted into Google News

Posted on April 27, 2009

Google, being the all round Internet giant that it is, has cornered the market on all things search. It has not done this by trying to run before it could walk or offering people incentives to search (like Microsoft’s Live search did recently). No, Google has become the giant that it is today by giving people the most relevant results to their query. Basically, when you perform a search on Google, for whatever you might be looking for, you’ll find what you need.

Google works where other search engines don’t.

One of Google’s most popular, and effective, offerings is Google News. Google News is a service that gathers together the best content updated throughout the day from a preselected list of websites. These website are all chosen, or approved, by Google for their quality, impartiality and accuracy with regards to offering news. Websites such as the Times Online and the Independent are joined by specific niche sites on divorce news and celebrity news, amongst others. If it’s a topic you want news for, you’ll find it in Google News.

When a site is listed in Google News it will benefit from more traffic, obviously, because every time the website posts a story the article is spidered and indexed by Google News very quickly, sometimes within a few minutes. This means you could (more…)

Posted by Cheryl Mathews

Rankings are vanity, traffic is sanity

Posted on April 26, 2009

To paraphrase the classic saying about business ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’ we can apply the concept of turnover to rankings and profit to traffic.

We all want to rank number one in Google for our chosen key phrases, because being number one means being the best. Those who rank at the top are obviously doing better than those who rank below them, it stands to reason… or does it? Perhaps ranking #1 in Google for your ‘main keyword’ means you’re receiving very little traffic at all. If you’re receiving a low volume of traffic, you’re not (more…)

Posted by Cheryl Mathews

Does SEO cover the cracks in your website?

Posted on April 25, 2009

SEO companies are usually hired by website owners because their website isn’t ranking well within Google. They want to rank higher for their chosen keywords in order to receive more traffic, win more business and earn more money.

It’s a simple numbers game, one where more visitors should equate to more profit.

However it’s not always that simple. Often, simply improving your rankings isn’t enough to turn your website into a roaring success. After all, Google is a very clever at what it does, and if it’s not ranking your website, the chances are it’s for a good reason.

When an SEO looks at a website and optimises it, is he just papering over the cracks of the website? Sometimes an SEO will just perform the (more…)

Posted by Cheryl Mathews

How getting into Google News is important for SEO

Posted on April 24, 2009

We’ve talked about Google News before; how you can submit your website to Google News and how if you’re accepted you can expect to receive lots more traffic and links as a result of the inclusion, but exactly how does this work?

Here’s a case study of a website that is updated daily with content. The website is called ‘Dream Dogs’ and features news and tips to do with dogs. The website recently featured a post about the US President Barack Obama, and his quest to find a new dog for the White House. The subject of Obama’s dog caused quite a stir with news agencies and websites, resulting in a lot of searches within Google for his dog, what breed the dog would be and what the dog’s name was.

As a consequence of this, any sites that write about the subject featured within Google News for these searches, and received a lot of traffic for the searches.

google news obama's dogThis screenshot (click to enlarge) shows the sort of coverage the story received, and our case study website ranking at the top of the listings, together with an image. This means that anyone searching Google News for this particular news item found the case study website.

What this meant for the website was:

  • Increased traffic as a result of the listing
  • Increased new visitors
  • Increased links as a result of other websites picking up the story, and linking back to the source: Dream Dogs

The level of content added to the website meant that Google saw it as an authority on the subject, and ranked it accordingly, at the top.

However, you may be thinking that (more…)

Posted by Cheryl Mathews

Basic reputation management mistakes

Posted on April 23, 2009

Reputation management is a hot topic online at the moment, as web based companies vie for every customer and every lead they can to see them through the recession. With this in mind, some bad publicity online and you can find your website’s earning potential severely hindered. You need to ensure that when a customer Google’s your brand they get nothing but positive listings and glowing reviews.

The advantage (and thus the disadvantage) with Google is its immediacy and its availability. Anyone can research anything quickly and easily, therefore you need to know how to manage your reputation online. With websites such as ciao.co.uk, blagger.com and various forums and blogs being favoured by Google because of their regular content, tackling the problem isn’t easy.

Indeed, reputation management is a difficult and complex process, and there are many mistakes you can make along the way. Here are a few basic mistakes in reputation management.

Replying to comments on blogs
Because of the way blogs are written, they are favoured by Google and rank exceptionally well. Furthermore, when comments are written on blogs, the blog post itself is kept fresh with content, which ensures that Google spiders it more frequently and ranks it higher. Therefore, if you have a negative blog post about your company or website, the worst thing you can do is (more…)

Posted by Cheryl Mathews
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