Monday, 17 December 2012

What's new for SEO in 2013

If 2012 has been anything to go by then the next year promises to be an exciting one for all online marketing experts. If you think you can rest on your laurels then you've got another thing coming! If the algorithm updates of 2012 have reminded us of anything it is surely to not get stuck in a rut. SEO is modern day marketing and no marketing strategy that stands still will ever succeed. The way you market a business is the same whether you are writing an article, building backlinks or making a tv commercial - it is all about finding the unique selling point of that business and shouting about it to the right audience.  Sending out the same message time and time again is boring for that audience - be it human or search engine bot so the key to staying popular is diversification.

A solid SEO strategy will be built on a diverse link and anchor text portfolio with huge emphasis as always on keeping content unique and fresh both onsite and offsite. Nothing looks more stale to Google than a whole heap of poor quality backlinks with the same spammy anchor text that has no relevance to your on-page content.  Keeping it fresh and unique will be key in 2013.

Another huge factor will be social influence. Already in 2012 we have seen a correlation between good ranking positions and sites that send out social signals. Marketing at a social level gives businesses of all sizes the chance to interact with customers at grass roots level.  It is a great way to build brand awareness and develop a human side to the corporate name.  Whilst social marketing may currently be seen as a bolt-on service I predict that in 2013 many SEO companies will start including some social elements in their SEO packages as the two increasingly complement each other.

Changes will also be afoot in the world of website design and 2013 is sure to see a big rise in the demand for responsive websites as the growth of mobile search continues to increase.  Vertical scrolling may also become more popular as website users demand a more easily navigable site.

As usual, there is plenty that will change and plenty that will stay the same and as far as I'm concerned there is nothing wrong with embracing the good old fashioned rules of SEO whilst delving deep into the new technologies and strategies that will make a success of your website in 2013.

Posted by Frances Berry

Friday, 13 July 2012

What is SEO?

Now you have probably been asleep for the past few years if you haven't heard of SEO but hearing about something and knowing what it means are two different things!  So just what is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a technique that enables websites to be found when people type in certain keywords and phrases into the search box on a browser.  Say, for instance that you searched recently for restaurants in North London, those sites that came up on page one would most likely have had some SEO work to get them to the top positions and will continue to need SEO to help them to retain these rankings. An SEO company works to get their clients on to the top pages for the keywords that people will use to search for their products or services.

Search engines are not human - they are text driven.  They cannot be impressed by cool logos and impressive graphics they can only handle text - which is why the content on a website will always be the most important element.  They will need to crawl, index and process this text before they can deliver search results - effectively what you see on page when you search for something. 

The SEO process will involve the creation of backlinks - these are links pointing from elsewhere on the web to your domain.  The higher the variety of domains these are pointing from the better.  As time goes by in an SEO campaign the number of backlinks and referral URLs should increase steadily and it is this increasing number of backlinks that tells the search engines your site is popular and encourages them to rank your site more highly in the search engine results pages.

To find out more about how SEO works you can speak to your SEO company or visit SEO it Right at for more information.

Posted by Frances Berry

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Social Media Tips

We can't really talk about SEO without mentioning social media and the importance that social interaction has on ranking success.  It has been proven that sites which interact socially are more likely to attain higher ranking positions than those which are static and do not blog, tweet or like.

If you are finding social media marketing a bit of a minefield here a few simple social media tips to help you get started:

  1. Create an account with Twitter, Google + and Facebook.  You can't interact if you don't have the tools at your disposal so set up the accounts and familiarise yourself with the user interfaces
  2. Monitor what people are saying about your brand and who is saying it - that way you can determine who your target audience are
  3. Build up a relationship with your followers - follow them back, reply to their messages, comment on their posts and retweet their tweets
  4. Use this information to influence those who are following you - remember it's not just what you say but how you say it
  5. Keep up with the latest trends so you can make what you say relevant - e.g. if a football team has just won the championship and you sell football boots make sure you tweet about how good the match was and what you thought of the top players - remember the point of social media is not to blatantly advertise what you do but keep people informed and interested and then encourage them to keep up with your latest news.
And finally, you need to ensure that social media is a theme that is adopted by the entire organisation - everyone needs to get in the social mood for it to be successful.

Find out more about social media optimisation by clicking here.

Posted by Frances Berry

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Top 10 Reasons For SEO

1) If you don’t invest in SEO there is no point having a website. Nobody will be able to find the site unless it is indexed and ranking well for the keywords and phrases that relate to the products and services you are offering. 85% of people use the internet to search for the products and services they need and so it presents a huge potential market that any business cannot afford to ignore.

2) SEO can help you to reach your sales targets. By improving your online presence you can attract more visitors to your website and if the website is good enough and your product or service is competitive then there is no reason why you can’t convert a healthy percentage of these visitors.

3) SEO helps you to interact more effectively with your customers. By using social media to keep customers up to date on the latest news from within the business together with product launches and anything else they might find useful, businesses can interact with their client base and potential customers to gain a better understanding of what they are looking for.

4) SEO can help to build up brand awareness. Optimising your website and being active on social channels can help to increase awareness about your brand. As well as ranking for your company or brand name you can make people realise your business exists by appearing for lots of different search keywords and sending out regular posts and status updates on blogs and social networks.

5) SEO can give you valuable insight. By using statistics generated through analytics tools it is possible to see where traffic is coming from, what keywords are being used to find your site and what pages visitors are looking at. This data can then be manipulated to improve marketing campaigns and if necessary shift the marketing focus from one product or area to another.

6) SEO is a small price to pay. Compared to more traditional marketing methods such as advertising in a magazine, promoting a new product on a billboard or running a television advertisement, SEO represents a minimal cost and yet can return fantastic results to get websites ranking for not just local searches but UK wide and internationally if the product or service is to be sold overseas.

7) SEO presents a much more viable option when compared to paid search listings. Many businesses simply do not have the budget to spend several pounds per click to get people to visit their website and in any case it has been proven that around 90% of people click on natural listings compared to only 10% on paid listings.

8) SEO can help you stay ahead of the competition. Unless you work in a very specific market niche you will find that you have close competitors who also offer the same products or service as your business. If they are optimising their site for search and you aren’t you could quite simply get left behind.

9) SEO can add value to your business and in particular your online business. If you sell products or services online then the value of the traffic your site receives will in effect be an asset to your business.

10) With SEO the sky’s the limit – there is no limit the amount of traffic you can receive when implementing organic SEO. Unlike pay per click where the amount of visitors you can receive will be limited by your budget, with organic SEO there is no upper limit and over time you will see a positive return on investment.

Posted by Frances Berry

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Top Tips to Build Your Brand Socially

Social media is rapidly becoming one of the most important elements in online marketing.  In a whitepaper published recently by Search Metrics it was confirmed that social signals from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are now correlating strongly with good rankings in Google's index.  So how can businesses use this to their advantage and build their brand up using social channels?

Firstly, it is important not to shove your marketing message down the throat of your followers.  People do not use social media to be blatantly advertised to, so it is important to make them aware of your brand through posting interesting information and reacting quickly and positively to anyone who follows you rather than posting over and over again about how wonderful your brand is.

Secondly, you need to figure out how people can relate to you.  If you are using something like Pinterest then you can post images of the things you like and the things you think your customer demographic likes rather than just images of your own products (which again is too hardcore sell for social media).  If you are using Facebook or Google + try to talk around the topic and not just about what's going on in your business.

Thirdly you need to get creative!  Think outside the box and use images where you can to attract attention.  When using channels such as Twitter you don't get many characters so you need to choose your words wisely and think about your how you want your message to be received - remember that you are not trying to sell but build up brand awareness.

Fourthly - think about who you are trying to connect with - other businesses or potential customers?  The message will be different to each demographic and which one will ultimately listen?  Recent surveys have shown that women use social media more than men and that women are responsible for around 85% of purchases online - so tapping into this female audience could be an important part of your social media strategy.

Finally - there is no other way around social media other than to spend time on it.  You need to be active across as many networks as possible if you want to reap the rewards.  Blogging, tweeting, liking and +1ing may be time consuming but if you do it right you will get a positive return on your investment.

To find out more about social marketing campaigns you can visit the SEO it Right site.

Posted by Frances Berry

Friday, 1 June 2012

5 Things To Ask Your SEO Company

Any business owner, no matter what the size of their organisation, will want to know that they're getting value for money from the products and services they invest in. With SEO it seems there is such a variety in the prices SEO companies are charging and yet this doesn't necessarily correlate to the work they are doing. So what questions can businesses put to their SEO providers to make sure they are getting the best possible service or to help them make the decision of whether or not to sign up for their services?

  1. Is the SEO done in house?  Many providers will outsource work overseas where the quality of SEO content and backlinks may suffer
  2. Do they offer flexibility in keywords and packages - a static service simply won't fit the majority of companies, who themselves need to be flexible and adaptable to survive in the current economic climate
  3. Do they promise you will be on page 1?  It might sound like a good guarantee but basically there is none and as any professional SEO company will tell you there is no set in stone rule or guarantee that keywords will reach page one in a set period of time.  Their placings all depend upon keyword relevance and competition, the quality of the website and its content, social interaction, the age of the domain and the nature of the optimisation being carried out.
  4. Can they provide reports? There isn't much use in paying for a service when you cannot see any evidence of the work that has been done.  Most online marketing companies should at the bare minimum provide monthly ranking reports and many will also offer bespoke reports to demonstrate the nature of the optimisation carried out.
  5. Are they approachable?  If your company depends upon the internet to generate new business then it is important you can approach your SEO company to ask them questions if you are unsure about their services or are worried about Google algorithm updates or the impact of new competitors within your industry.
And perhaps I should have put a 6th one in - what prices do they charge and are there any hidden extras?  As with any service it is important to know up front what you are going to be paying in the long run - this helps businesses to budget more easily and keep track of expenditure.  Watch out for hidden costs and make sure you clarify from the beginning what is included in the price.

By keeping your wits about you and asking the right questions you can make a informed decision about which SEO company to choose and also gain a better understanding of what you are getting in return for your investment.

Posted by Frances Berry

Monday, 28 May 2012

Relationship between SEO and new businesses

For those who are thinking about starting up a new business venture there will be a lot of factors to consider if the venture is to be successful - choosing the right premises, budgeting for communications (telephone, mobiles and internet)and factoring in the cost of office equipment and any wages will be top priority - but businesses also need to think about marketing themselves from the word go if they want anyone to know they exist. SEO is a cost effective form of marketing and whilst it may not be top of the priority list for start up businesses there are plenty of reasons why it should be:
  • SEO is targeted - by determining a target market you can optimise for relevant local or generic keywords
  • SEO is cost effective - you can start ranking for keywords within a matter of months for relatively little outlay
  • SEO is flexible - you can change your strategy to adapt to market changes or the introduction of new products/services 
Learn more about SEO and start up businesses by reading this useful article on SEOMoz Posted by Frances Berry

Monday, 21 May 2012

Has Panda/Penguin affected the quality of search?

I don't know if you've searched for anything lately but if you have then you might have noticed that the quality of results being delivered is much poorer than it used to be.  Having looked over the weekend to find local retailers and events and searching last week for reviews on LED televisions prior to making a purchase I was pretty shocked to see the irrelevant and often poor quality information and websites that were being presented.

Google may be trying to penalise SEO companies and website providers for over optimisation, spamming and static back link building but I wonder if in the process of doing this they have actually harmed the most important person in the search equation?  The Consumer.

After all, it is the consumer who is using the internet to search for the products and services they need and if they can't find something relevant, useful and interesting in a short space of time they are going to get frustrated. So what does this mean for the future of search?

Will people start looking for new search engine alternatives that can offer them different results?  Will shopping around for a search engine just become part and parcel of the whole shopping around online process?  Or will people just ignore the sites that offer them nothing and keep on scrolling?

The latest Google algorithm updates have been focused on improving search but only time will tell who ultimately benefits from this.

Posted by Frances Berry

Monday, 14 May 2012

How to survive in a post-Penguin world

Penguin = cute aquatic bird ideally suited to cold temperatures; chocolate biscuit and staple of the 1980's kids lunchbox; Google algorithm update which is not at all cute or chocolatey.

Unless you have been living underneath a rock for the past few weeks you will have heard about, come across or quite literally been wiped out by the latest in Google's algorithm updates.  Panda 3.5 was rolled out a few weeks ago, followed hotly by another black and white creature the Penguin.  Between the two of them they have changed what you may now be seeing when you search online for anything from window blinds to festival tickets, so just how do you and your website survive and move forward with SEO in a post Penguin world?

Well to begin with let's just clear up the fact that we are not talking about one huge Penguin alone - rather this should be seen as the Emperor penguin having his say followed closely by a series of other smaller adult and young penguins all hell bent on having their little impact on SERPs.  And when these fluffy creatures have finished shaking up search you can bet that there will be more fiendish furries to cause further chaos.

SEO needs to evolve to meet the needs of the customer but more importantly to meet the demands of the Search Engines at the same time and in doing so I guess the end result ought to be better results for the online consumer?

There are certain things which have always been bad in terms of SEO (think keyword stuffing, spammy links and cloaking) and there are others which used to be good and are now sinful such as having a lot of backlinks or optimising static keywords to static pages.  In this post-penguin world we need to be a lot smarter if we are to survive.

Gone are the blog networks of yesteryear and moving back to the forefront is on page SEO.  I'm not just talking about meta data, though it is a good idea to keep this fresh, relevant and unique to each page, but also the onsite content.  Great wording, useful information, unique content - these are all things that could set your site apart today, plus not only are you playing into Google's lap but you are also giving your website visitors a better customer experience and that can only lead to improved sales in the long term.

One final point - penguins are the most social of all birds - perhaps this is a clue in itself to what Google is looking for in its latest algorithm shift.  Social media integration is not important now it is vital - so make sure you have your Google +, your likes, your tweets visible and integrated with your website.

So how do you survive Penguin? You think like a penguin :)

Posted by Frances Berry