Engage Web April 2009 - Engage Web

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

Promote yourself and you promote nothing

Posted on April 28, 2009

Adding self promoting content to your website won’t help your website to rank organically. This is a fact that website owners need to realise when it comes to updating their sites. If you’re simply talking about your products, your services and how great you are, you’re adding nothing more than marketing material to your site; sales copy in other words.

This is the sort of copy that Google doesn’t want to read as it doesn’t add any value to the SERPs. When users are searching Google, they’re not looking for sales copy to read, they’re looking for information that answers their queries. Your website needs to have this information in order for it to rank within Google.

The Internet is built on information, not sales material. If you expect your website to perform well within Google you need to understand this and publish the sort of copy that will get your website noticed by Google and ranked accordingly.

You can always save the self promoting articles for article directories and submissions websites, but keep your own website full of useful information.

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

If you don’t have anything interesting to say…

Posted on April 26, 2009

This saying means as much online as it does in real life. If you have nothing to say, keep quiet. There’s nothing worse than finding the search results filled up with waffle, especially when you’re trying to find some useful information in answer to a query.

Luckily Google is fairly good at weeding out the wheat from the chaff, and if a website is filled with gibberish it tends not to rank anyway. Therefore, if you add rubbish to your website you’ll be doing it a disservice.

The reason we mention this is that most people know by now that websites with regularly added content rank better in the SERPs, that’s why content providers are able to sell content to clients. However, that content needs to be intelligent, useful and relevant to the client’s website. If it’s irrelevant, it won’t help the rankings of the site at all. It will have the opposite effect, causing the rankings to suffer.

So, if you want to add content to your website make sure it’s relevant, well written and interesting. Don’t add content for the sake of it, you’ll find it has the opposite effect than you were hoping for.

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

Why WordPress is the best platform for blogging

Posted on April 25, 2009

As a rule we prefer to use WordPress for adding content to our client’s websites. It has a number of features that make it both ideal for content writers, and for Google when it comes to indexing the website’s content.

Here are a few of the advantages of WordPress over other blogging and news delivery systems. Does your CMS (content management system) do all of this?

Wordpress allos you to have custom permalinks in the URLs, which are keywords in your page name. Instead of a page such as ‘?id=234’ as a page name for a post, you can have ‘wordpress-is-the-best.html’. This is much better for Google as the URL is a big factor in your rankings.

Scheduling posts
Most CMS systems don’t allow you to set posts to go live in the future. This means when you want your website to be updated every day, you have sit there are write it every day. With WordPress you can schedule ahead so that posts go live when you want them to. This means you can do a week’s posts when you have the time, making sure that Google always has something to index.

Varying authors
Google likes to see websites that are written on by different authors, and WordPress has a way of clearly displaying which author wrote which article.

There are numerous other benefits, which we’ll look at another time.

Posted by Cheryl Mathews
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