Small Business SEO Advice

I recently contributed to a Business Essentials piece on the Guardian about advice on SEO for small businesses by Mark Smith, read the full article here.

Further to the comments by my industry colleagues, here is my more in-depth view with questions posed by Mark.

How would you characterise the changes to SEO, past, present and future?

SEO has changed a lot since I first entered the search marketing world in 2007, the past used to be more about a simple split of ensuring the site was optimised well from the on-page point of view and simply building links to the relevant pages to have a good impact, over time more factors have influenced SEO, algorithm changes have meant that we have had to adapt to what Google and other search engines see as the signals for improving rankings. Social media is playing a big part from around 2011 to present, not just for simple conversation but another tool on the marketing belt to help promote content as we entered into the content marketing world there are many factors to look at from now and in the future such as Content/Query Relationship, Off-Site (Backlinks), On-Site (Content Quality), Local Search, Secure / Non-Secure Sites, Mobile optimised / responsive sites.

Are business getting it wrong/right?

The majority of businesses that are working in-house or with agencies are being guided and are getting it right most of the time, I have experienced a number of employees attending training and taking advice from industry specialists, those that are getting it wrong seem to be ill-advised on the old school methods of SEO or simply haven’t evolved.

If they are getting it wrong, why is that?

Older SEO techniques are still being practised, examples of large-scale directory submissions, bulk article writing and paid for links are still very present and still being practised in the industry, this can lead to site problems with Google also a lack of current SEO knowledge can hinder, I mentioned not evolving and this is difficult if you have a small team that has other responsibilities other than working on the SEO of the site.

What are your personal experiences in relation to whether small businesses are struggling to keep apace of change?

Having worked within an agency for the past 7 years, small businesses can struggle to keep abreast of the ever-changing world of SEO as it’s hard enough to keep pace with algorithm changes, if the agency being used isn’t keeping up with what the industry is up to this will inevitably cause problems later down the line.

Is a lot of money/opportunity being missed?

Smaller businesses have a lot of opportunity to grow within specialist niches, the issue of if competing in a larger market, insurance is a big one as an example where high street brokers want to have an online presence, comparison engines dominate and brands with large budgets are competing also make it difficult. Looking at local based terms can help to drive business online where there is the opportunity to make more money online.

What can small business do to rectify this situation? Do they need a strategy? to employ their own staff to concentrate on content? Do they need to employ an agency? How do they discern between a good agency and a bad? Or are there any other measures they should be taking to ensure they don’t miss out on opportunities?

I believe there is a place for small businesses to compete in their own market, creating a strategy to grow with is important, things to consider like what is the business goal? How can they get there? also review the competition and look for the gaps in the market to compete. By having staff read and learn up to date information, attend training courses to improve knowledge will go a long way to help. Employing an agency will help depending on budgets, this can also help distinguish the good from the bad, what are you getting for your money is a big factor, small budgets can be used effectively other than just reporting or low-level link building.

30 Day Challenge – No Twitter just Google+

Never had a go at a 30 day challenge per se, did Dryathlon in January but technically that’s 31 days so doesn’t quite count.

I’m an active user on Twitter and mainly use it for industry insight and generally for my personal interests, so today Wednesday 29th October I decide for November I will use Google+ to see if I can get the same level of information served to me.

This will also be a test to whether G+ can be a serious platform for me in the future.

So next steps will be to get my circles organised and turn off Twitter on Friday.

I will report back in December with my findings.

TopSeos Banned by Google

A lot has been said about TopSeos.com both good and bad, it now appears that Google has hammered that last nail in the coffin and the site is now de-indexed :

topsesos-deindexed

Tip: Use the site: command to check if your site is indexed

This now compounds the site as they previously had a hit by Google in September as this chart shows and now with a zero score:

topseos-visibility

SearchMetrics last 6 months

SEMRush also shows how the site has deteriorated over time:

semrush last 6 months

semrush last 6 months

Not only have they been banned, the also appear to have left early from Pubcon:

There are many more posts available this is just a quick update from me.

Panda 4.0 Rolls Out

Matt Cutts tweeted confirmation of Google rolling out Panda 4.0 update. US based at present.

The Panda algorithm was released in February 2011 to target sites with low quality content and has been updated over time.

You can view the change history of Panda thanks to Moz.

What 4.0 will bring will be interesting to see. If you’re seeing any changes then add your comments for discussion.

Moving on from MEC to Vizeum

As of late it appears that a farewell blog post is written when changing jobs, so here is mine :)

It’s been 2 weeks since I left MEC Manchester, I joined this agency 3 years ago as an Account Director and I had a really enjoyable time and met some great colleagues and also friends.

The decision to leave was a difficult one but the opportunity to become the Head of Natural Search at Vizeum was too good an opportunity to turn down at this stage of my career in Search.

My first week in my new role as with most new jobs saw plenty of meetings as well as a pitch so to say I’ve been busy is an understatement!

Majestic SEO Site Comparator Tool – Updated

The Majestic SEO site comparator tool is very useful to identify the key link metrics of up to 5 domains so you can see the link data for your own site vs. another or for link prospecting and competitor research. The current report generates the data is as displayed in a simple data format: majestic-seo-site-comparator As a BETA tester, I have been privileged enough to see the forthcoming changes that Majestic  SEO are making. They have made the visual of the report stand out by adding bar charts for each metric that highlights the highest number of each link metric on display: majestic-seo-site-comparator-beta

Updated

The site comparator tool has now been revamped and live – View the blog post on the release .

Watch the Site Comparator Tool training video

Watch the training video to find out how to use the tool in more detail.

google-digg

Has Digg Dugg a Big Hole, banned by Google? No just a mistake by Google

Another post on the banning/de-indexing of Digg by Google, datadial popped up on an SEO group with the 1st instance of this news and many posts have followed, read my related posts for more opinions.

Update 1800 20th March 2013

Matt Cutts reveals Google inadvertently de indexed Digg whilst tackling a spammer.

So, let’s look at the scenario, Digg is no longer is indexed in Google:

 

 

Their robots.txt file didn’t exist earlier in the day, but no seems to have recovered so was this issue, not having a robots.txt or showing a 404 error for the file, Google may not index a site with an error of a robots file.

They have millions of links, 963,508,932 to be exact:, is it a link penalty, most unlikely:

(majesticseo.com)

Related Posts:

Google+ logo

Google+ Vanity URL’s Coming Soon

Google+ logoUpdate

Vanity URL’s are now being rolled out, have a look at the headline strap on your profile if you can claim your URL.

 

A recent post by Saurabh Sharma at Google gave examples of vanity URL’s becoming available for Google+ for profiles and pages, she cited examples of brands and celebrities.

Until now the only way to get past the ugly URL was to use gplus.to to create one, at present only the privileged have the new URL’s and Saurabh commented:

At first, we’re introducing custom URLs to a limited number of verified profiles and pages. But over time we plan to offer custom URLs to many more brands and individuals, so please stay tuned!

Here are a few so far:

So whats the big deal with vanity URL’s? they are easier to remember than the current, mine is currently https://plus.google.com/107389176055486775575/ no chance of remembering that.

As Google have said, stay tuned for updates, I will also be keeping an eye on vanity G+ URL’s and will update when I get mine!

Related Posts:

Another Box (Almost) Ticked: Vanity URLs in Google+

matt-cutts

Unnatural Link Warnings – Ignore them if you want?!?

Ok did you just get the dreaded Google unnatural links warning message in Webmaster Tools?

Matt Cutts Drawing

Oh no is my site to be penalised? Usually this would be the way, but no, even more confusion and panic after the latest spam messages received as Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts explained on G+:

If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole. Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While it’s possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons. For example, we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.

If we’ve taken more severe action on your site, you’ll likely notice a drop in search traffic, which you can see in the “Search queries” feature Webmaster Tools for example. As always, if you believe you have been affected by a manual spam action and your site no longer violates the Webmaster Guidelines, go ahead and file a reconsideration request. It’ll take some time for us to process the request, but you will receive a followup message confirming when we’ve processed it.

This to me speaks of a load of cobblers, so what do we do next? Ignore the message?

Trawl through the thousands of back links to your site to find the rogue link?

If you’ve had the message what have you done about it?

There has now been an update from Mr Cutts, presumably from all the feedback negative sentiment:

Update: Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on this change. An engineer worked over the weekend based on the suggestions here, and starting on Sunday we made two changes so you can tell the “individual links aren’t trusted” messages from the “our opinion of your entire site is affected” messages.

First off, we changed the messages themselves that we’ll send out to make it clear that for a specific incident “we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole.” So anyone that gets a message going forward can tell what type of action has occurred.

The second change is that these messages won’t show the yellow caution sign in our webmaster console at http://google.com/webmasters/ like our other webspam notifications. This reflects the fact that these actions are much more targeted and don’t always require action by the site owner.

Thanks again for the feedback, and we’ll continue to work on ways to provide more useful and actionable information for site owners.

Hat tip for the Matt Cutts graphic by SEOBook.com