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February 2017

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Crafting content that is SEO compliant

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To gain maximum advantage from your marketing spend your site must be clearly visible to the public, which essentially means that it should be ranking in the top pages of the Search Engine Ranking Pages and preferably Page one. It is not just good enough to reach that coveted position but is necessary to sustain it as a proof of your sites integrity and authority. We are reminded continuously by SEO experts of the ever present need for SEO friendly content that Google bots can crawl and reward for its authenticity by sending it to the Search Engines for superior rankings. Google’s goal, since the roll out of Penguin and successive algorithm updates is to provide all internet users with a fast and effective search service. Websites should be compliant with the clear algorithmic guidelines in terms of creating better content. Google is making every effort to get websites to provide the best experience possible for all users, offering fast search queries so that potential users/customers can find what they are looking for in as few clicks as possible and be converted quickly with no other distractions. Content is a crucial element in providing  that ultimate online experience which feeds directly into the E Commerce site owner’s goal of user conversion and increased ROI. Creating great SEO friendly content will enhance your site’s capability of climbing the rankings in SERPS and here are some technical pointers  to crafting that all important rich optimised content.

It is proven that organic is the best pathway to top Google rankings – so when writing content take cognisance of the following suggestions:

  • Ensure that you include clearly visible Keywords organically into the subject matter
  • Place your keywords in titles and subtitles for maximum optimisation
  • Select the most prominent keywords that promote the most search generation and create a hierarchical taxonomy
  • From the taxonomy deploy the most important keywords in both the title and subtitles
  • To emphasise your page in image searches, incorporate images with alt text
  • For more interesting content use images to create greater dynamism
  • Make more frequent use of content that is image driven as it gets much more play.It is a very plausible digital marketing ploy, especially as it sits well with viral content
  • Consciously write content that is engaging,informative and authoritative; that will permit optimal optimisation and will allow the SEARCH bots to scan and enable high rankings in the SERPS. Write ethical content with skilled digital manipulation to gain maximum visibility online and increased conversions.
  • To propel organic growth and grow conversions transparently and honestly adhere strictly to algorithmic demands
  • Promoting your brand through savvy and informative content is only part of the digital marketing equation. You need to get your readers to empathise with you as a real person so do not be afraid to engage by using amusing experiences or stories as long a you stay within the bounds of professional appropriateness.
  • Follow some practical rules when writing, especially those that have worked for other successful writers. Use the appropriate language register or style most pertinent to the subject matter and suited to your readership
  • Avoid use of jargon if at all possible and stick to the language appropriate approach
  • Keep your paragraphs relatively short and snappy
  • Dissect complex content into easily understandable ideas
  • Attach links to citations that will explain and clarify the content
  • Look critically at your work and amend as often as necessary to achieve the perfect draft
  • Cut to the chase and present the chief concepts that will engage your readership  
digital promotions belfast

Captchas – spam blockers or conversion killers?

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Web users are exercised by pop-ups which can be distracting as much as they are annoying. Equally, captchas can be one of the most bothersome things on the web. Even if they drive irritated visitors from your website, which in essence might not offend you, how do you feel about losing conversions?  The overarching concern regarding the negative effects of captchas on your website is loss of earnings and no return on investment. The whole concept and establishment of captchas resulted from the explosive growth in the web at the end of the 1900s and the corresponding  increase in spam. The latter phenomenon was counteracted with a spam prevention or blocking system named captchas whose raison d’etre was to stop spam robots from carrying out their task of recognising spam and penalising accordingly.

Even though captchas were designed to block spamming they proved in reality not to be totally spam proof as they were quickly outwitted by spam robots and their architects. However in spite of their shortcomings they did manage to filter some of the spam, which is the reason why they remain a popular feature on Websites. Their existence, whilst helpful in that respect can also act adversely as a barrier to real human visitors. That causes a dilemma for site owners in their analysis of the pros and cons of captchas. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? As an anti-spam application captchas come at a price in that they hinder search engine crawlers from performing their natural role of scanning webpages and rewarding certain algorithm criteria in the Search Engine Results pages. The problem for search bots is that content could be so far beyond their scope and accessibility that they simply move on to more friendly sites.

When not written and presented properly with due care and strategic planning, captchas can actually cause data loss. Such an extreme scenario might well occur. However, countenance the situation where your captcha is placed near unreadable text or where it has been filled in inaccurately resulting in the erasure of the data and causing the angry user to start over again. How many visitors in that situation would be put off to the extent that they would not be bothered to refill a form just to purchase something from your website? It follows that captchas, if they adversely affect UX and as a consequence degrade or prevent spider indexation of web pages beyond them, will prove a barrier to SEO in this context.

To make some comparisons – spam is less annoying and less expensive than loss of conversions and the resultant loss in revenue. Captchas on diverse locations such as newsletters or shopping sites can be a definite turn-off for site visitors or customers who find them frustrating and a distraction. The more illegible and diffuse the captcha the greater the likelihood of conversion loss with potential customers going elsewhere to make a purchase. Interestingly, the captchas with the highest rejection rates are those connected with sound and video. That is not at all surprising especially with the the growing popularity of on-site media trends. The greatest click away rates are caused by those captchas that for potential customers waste the most time and  register the greatest disapproval. If they are not conversion killers and they are not obviously penalising your rankings in SERPS then use them in the more friendly ways we have mentioned.

Tecchies are continuing to look for more effective alternatives as spam blockers – it is a work in progress. In the meantime there are captcha variations you can deploy to minimise user turn-off

and site rejection. An alternative is to introduce a simple maths problem for the user to solve – much more friendly than the unreadable letters that hack people off. A definite replacement for a captcha is a customised spam blocking solution and there are many to choose from. Currently there are universal spam filters for sale that provide the type of protection sought by professional Websites.

From your perspective, the resolution of the dilemma – to use captchas or not – can only be based on your own personal experience. If you do not get a lot of spam and you find that captchas interfere with conversions then the obvious thing to do is get rid of them. However, adversely, if your site analysis indicates that captchas do not bother your visitors whilst you still receive a lot of spam – then it is probably better to retain the captcha.  

SEO Strategy

Can SEO benefit local businesses?

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Considering the international nature of the Internet, local business owners might well question the benefits of SEO for local enterprises. It is ineffective to focus on global outreach when the majority of your potential clients live in your town, city or locality. Steering resources towards wider reach is wasteful in this context and they would be better directed towards local publicity. The question is – how to implement effective SEO on a community level bearing in mind that Google does not distinguish sites according to their location?

There are ways of localising SEO to achieve maximum outreach to a targeted audience.

The most obvious and pertinent ploy is to include your location in your keywords. If you are a legal business in Belfast your main  keyphrase should be “legal services Belfast”. This keyphrase contains both your business and locale which will drive traffic looking for legal services in this location.

Optimising web content for “legal services” will not however boost your rankings in SERPs. It is advisable to include your location in the keywords that you use in the corps of your site which will have a greater impact when your site is being indexed by the web crawlers. Beware of the usual pitfalls such as word stuffing which Google can penalise.

Metatags are signally important for the search engines so it is essential to include your location in the metatags of your site pages. Balance the presence of your location in keywords throughout your site against their use in your metetags so there is consistency and conformity.

If you acknowledge Google Places and Yahoo local they will include you in their listings for a certain area.

Some keywords that include location may, unfortunately lose some standing and authenticity if they do not read naturally,for example: “legal services Belfast”. Remember that you will not be rewarded with organic links if the keyphrase is gramatically questionable. However you could reap benefits from your location inclusion in blogs by deploying it in the Name field. You will only profit from the blog however if it is “do follow” – a resulting backlink with anchor text will assist SEO.

Worth consideration are those directories that may seem outdated and not belonging to the digital era. Yellow pages is still the first point of reference for those seeking information on local businesses. It will do no harm to try them as a marketing tool to draw traffic to your business.

Marketing campaigns could be targeted towards local areas. Digital options that prove popular and effective are Pay Per Click Advertisements and classified ads. They are probably the most productive forms of digital advertising in driving traffic as far as Web developers are concerned.

Keeping tabs on present search volume of your keywords is imperative as search figures can change quite frequently. It is also very worthwhile to keep an eye on your competitors’ use of keywords and see which work and which do not. You can use these indicators to make more informed decisions about the more effective keywords and their positioning.

Social Media is definitely one local platform which can drive traffic to a Website – sometimes more than the search engines – as it enables you to target a specific demographic that is within a reachable radius and that connects to your website and business.

Inviting and encouraging clients to give you good reviews is always a fruitful way of promoting your business. An even better marketing coup for webmasters is to have testimonials published on specialist review sites which can drive impressed traffic to your enterprise. Besides international review sites, there are national and local review sites where you can publish positive client reviews that will reach a wider public and push your business to potential clients.

Finally, if your business is located in more than one location – for example Belfast and Dublin – you cannot optimise a single generic keyphrase like “legal services Belfast/ Dublin” for both. You will have to create separate webpages for each location.

This inventory will hopefully give you food for thought. You may feel that you can combine these suggestions with your own ideas on local SEO to optimise your site for local searches and to achieve optimal results in the rankings.

 

Web Analytics for web design and ecommerce

Making your site search engine algorithm change friendly

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Making your site Search Engine algorithm change friendly

Whilst web developers have no control over algorithm changes or updates, they can however make site amendments to offset any possible damaging effects and safeguard it against possible penalties and the ensuing  drop in the rankings. As an ethical principle they should always adopt white hat SEO processes to protect their site against Search Engine penalties. There are however other legitimate industry appropriate practices that you can follow and implement to make your site more adaptable to changes in the SE algorithm.

The following recommendations are intended to work alongside your white hat protocols as an extended front line defence against algorithm change vulnerability:

 Monitor Keyword significance

By keeping a constant check on results and by continual monitoring of keyword effectiveness you can make certain informed assumptions about keyword validity and value. It is not wise to assume however that traffic can be increased by ranking for more keywords. That premise could hold true if keywords are distinctly different but generally the assumption is questionable. Unfortunately, adopting new keywords can have the opposite of the desired effect by diluting and diminishing the potency of your current keywords. This could result in a loss of the traffic you already enjoy – so be ready to adapt to changes in traffic induced by targeting new keywords and be prepared to amend your keyword strategy accordingly. Remember that any drop in ranking in SERP would require you to take immediate remedial action to balance the keyword effectiveness equation and reinstate your superior rankings.

Optimise long-tailed keywords

Another keyword related issue is the indifference or oversight of the importance of long-tail keywords. Managing them more productively translates into creating better conversations with your customers who are already out there looking for goods and services to purchase. Though long-tail keywords do not generate as much traffic as their more profitable correlatives, they will    give you a proportionately greater return on investment by attracting the specific customers you are looking for, thanks to the precise client specific- nature of the three or four word search terms they generate. They are also very valuable for fulfilling the requirement of businesses and website owners to have their content rank in organic searches. Consequently it is very worthwhile optimising for these keywords as competition is less than with other keywords and traffic fluctuations tend to be less as well.

 Optimise value-added less competitive keywords

Something worthy of consideration is optimising or SEO for less competitive keywords. They are less susceptible to algorithm changes and updates. For example, if twelve sites are competing for a keyword the worst that can happen should Google rehash rankings due to an algorithm update, is a drop in rank order to twelfth position. That is much less damaging than being dropped to rank in the hundreds, which is possible with keywords that have many more sites competing for them.

Refresh content on a regular basis

It is taken as read that engaging, dynamic and authoritative content should be a key factor in your digital marketing strategy. That is only the beginning of the content narrative as gaps or time delays in posting new material can reflect negatively on your website and can actually consign it to obscurity for keywords that you used to rank well for. This can even happen without any algorithm changes at all. Though it takes new posts some time to perform well in the rankings, it is beneficial in general to introduce fresh relevant content to attract new traffic. Regular postings – on a weekly or monthly basis – are better at winning credibility and  trust than a batch of new content items all posted at once.

Increase traffic with PPC

The utopian dream of free search engine traffic is just that as in reality the concept is not reliable. No one is guaranteed complete immunity from algorithm changes, however great their site or whatever protective measures they have implemented. The obvious route to increased traffic is Pay Per Click which matters to big Brands and drives revenue. It also helps you control your marketing budget spend and unlike organic can show results very quickly. PPC impacts specific consumer targeting almost at once and is a great mechanism for informing other marketing channels.

 Look for superior backlinks

Google has become much more critical of ineffectual backlinks in recent times – a stand  prefacing their current prescriptive demand for backlinks to high ranking relevant sites only. Webmasters beware – any other irrelevant backlinks to bad sites can be both damaging and costly and they can inflict severe penalties on page rankings. A vote of confidence in your site by highly rated external or internal links is a valued indicator to Google in determining your site ranking in the SERP. The quality of your backlinks are paramount in complying with Google algorithm’s demands since superb backlinks are more inclined to sustain their high rankings enabling the sustained flow of link juice to your site. It is imperative you guard against links from bad or disreputable sites. There are tools to help you assess who is linking to you. Should you come across an unwanted offending link simply request the webmaster to remove it at once.                                                             

Manipulate Social Media

Whilst traffic from Search Engines is vitally important to websites in general, it is important to recognise the need to diversify your traffic genesis or source. Though the traffic from Social sites is not targeted and conversions might be relatively low, these sites constitute a feasible and valuable flipside that can generate traffic over a prolonged period with sustained interaction and at practically no cost.

In conclusion, counteracting algorithm changes is a many faceted process. Implementing the tactics and techniques indicated above should help overcome some of the deficit exhibited by your website and lay the basis for discovering other ways of keeping your site algorithm friendly.