All posts by Paul Delaney

Paul is Head of Natural Search for Vizeum. The thoughts are his own and not related to that of his employers.

SEO for SME's What You Need To Know

As a business owner with a website, one of the most important things to consider is visibility. SEO also known as search engine optimisation, is a daunting project if not approached correctly.

There are many ways to tackle SEO such as content creation, link building, keyword research and many more.

The danger of doing SEO without any prior knowledge can be detrimental to your website as many tactics that can be used may end up getting your site penalised.

Building Blocks

When beginning any search marketing campaign there are processes to address, firstly keyword research.

Without in depth keyword research a campaign can fall at the first step as identifying the correct keywords/phrases is vital to any success.

Once a defined list has been agreed the next phase is to then look at the website from an on-page and technical perspective.

This can identify any structural issues with the website as well identifying areas to improve.

Content is also a vital part of on page work to undertake, make sure your content is unique, not to keyword heavy, a reasonable amount of keywords to mention is perhaps 1-2 per 200 words, make the content useful for the user as conversion is the main goal for any website.

Patience

Once the website has then been ‘optimised’ for the SERPs (search engine results pages), patience is the next important part of SEO as it’s not a quick fix.

It can take the search engine’s time to re-crawl your updated site so a handy tip is submitting an updated sitemap.xml file to the Google Webmaster Tools console (account setup and verification needed). This can help inform Google of changes and new pages to crawl.

Now a little bit of time has passed and your newly optimise site is appearing for your researched terms in the SERP’s what next?

Links

Link building is an important part of SEO as links to your site count as a ‘vote’ but be careful when trying to attract links to your site as there are key factors involved to ensure a link to your site will be beneficial.

Relevancy is key, if your site is about and a site about laptops links to yours there is no relevancy between the 2 and therefore could be viewed as spamming which if this technique is adopted can lead to poor results.

Quality Over Quantity

Ensuring that the quality of a link is relevant to your site topic can lead to greater results 1 link from a highly related website will have more benefits than having 10’s to hundreds of unrelated links which could lead to a penalty.

End Results

SEO is a steady progression and making the wrong choices on a small budget can cost SME’s a lot more in terms of money if the wring strategy is adopted.

UPDATE

As SEO Account Director at MEC Manchester SEO Operations manager for Latitude Digital Marketing‘s I have seen businesses that use ‘black hat seo’ techniques as well as poorly planned strategies come a cropper compared to a professional and well planned campaign that reaps rewards.

g+1

Google +1, Yes Another Post!

Ok i’ll get straight to the point of my +1 post, i won’t bore you with will it kill SEO or how cool is it?

I have been playing around with this new social tool and spotted a couple of observations when a site has been +1’d:

When using the preview option for a +1 site, you get a little snippet from the site, in this example a description and contact details, quite handy if you want to contact a site without trawling through to find the information:

And without being a +1 site:

Ciao for now

Google Recipe Search – SEO for Foodies?

Google Recipe Search

Not sure what to make for your tea (dinner if not a mancunian)?

Google Recipe will make your life easier 😉

http://www.google.com/search?q=red+thai+curry&tbs=rcp%3A1

Only on google.com at present, also tells you calories where available.

You want a prawn curry (shrimp if you’re an American) not chicken I hear you ask? Simply select the recipe element you don’t want in your meal.

Google Red Thai Curry Recipe

Google Recipe Options

New Google Algo Update

Quick post, it has been announced that a Google algorithm update is to happen in the US only for now but the recent Chrome block sites extension has helped identify 84% of blocked sites match in the algo.

What does this mean?

Potentially for UK SERPS in the future sites that may be marked as link selling or spam sites may have their external links discounted further and pass no weight.

No indication of the release in UK yet but keep an eye on your site or clients rankings as if the drop a cleanse if backlinks will be required.

White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO

There are various methodologies used to describe the practices of search engine optimisation (SEO) and they generally are colour based, the main 2 are “White Hat” and “Black Hat” techniques.

Whilst believing that black hat SEO techniques might have some short term positive effect, the long term implications can be disastrous for your website and in turn your business.

Black hat SEO isn’t just about buying paid links as there are various techniques that can give a website a short term boost but as mentioned can have a detrimental effect on your website, such as ranking penalties, Page Rank penalties and being de-indexed altogether.

Let’s take a look at a few methods for both White and Black hat SEO in more detail:

BLACK HAT SEO TECHNIQUES

1. Bulk Link Purchasing/Link Farming

Buying a large volume of links in a short period of time will alert the search engine’s to unnatural linking behaviour and could see penalties imposed.

Known public networks are generally used to place links on a site within the network but generally placed in “bad neighbourhoods” i.e. a link for a keyword relating to a blue widget site being placed on a gambling site with a high page rank.

2. Keyword Stuffing

There are 2 meta tags that are used to inform search engines of content on the page, they are the description and keyword tags.

Meta Description is used to describe the page to a user and is usually a descriptive paragraph of 1-2 sentences.
A common black hat technique is to overload the description and keyword tags with just keywords that are being targeted for rankings.

3. Hidden Content

Hidden content comes in many guises but the basic principle is that content is “stuffed” with keywords within the code of a website site, this content will not be visible to the end user of the site but can still be read by the search engine’s when crawling the site. Examples of this as follows:

1. Comment Tags
2. The use of the tag
3. JavaScript

WHITE HAT SEO TECHNIQUES

1. Keyword Research

Research keywords and key phrases you think people might useful to find your site, multi-word phrases that are much more specific to your product/service and you’ll be targeting end users that are much more likely to want what you are offering.

Use the keywords and key phrases you’ve identified effectively throughout your website. Assign each page 2-3 of the keywords you’ve identified and use the keywords throughout all the important elements of the page. Those are:

• Title
• Meta Description
• Meta Keywords
• Heading Elements
• Text
• Alt Tag
• Links

2. Link Building – Quality vs. Quantity

It is important to look at the ways to link build in a natural way as to not just grow the back link count to help with rankings, A A good approach to link building for campaigns to look at quality, relevant links that will pass benefit to a keyword so rankings may improve for a keyword where just a small number of relevant, on-topic links will impact greater than bulk buying links on un-related websites. The amount of quality inbound links to your site therefore have some relevance on where in the search engine your site is placed.

3. Quality Website Content

There is nothing more valuable than to optimise your site for search engines by offering unique, well written content. A search engines aim is to provide what it believes to be the most appropriate website for any given search term to the end user.

4. Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Providing pages with proper titles and meta data is an essential part of on page optimisation. As discussed in the black hat SEO techniques section the meta description and keywords tags have been so misused in the past that search engines place less importance in using them in the algorithms for search rankings, but it’s still important to ensure that the information given is correct and used in an appropriate way.

5. Semantic HTML Structuring/Internal Linking

Structuring HTML mark in a semantic way helps search engines understand the content of your webpage. Make proper use of heading elements is essential because search engines give more weight to the content within the heading elements.

Using CSS to separate the design elements from the content makes for much leaner code and makes it easier for search engines to find what they’re looking for.

Creating an internal linking structure is essential to help both users and search engines traverse your website.

Why SME's Should Employ Agencies for SEO

As the Operations Manager for the SME division of one of the UK’s leading digital marketing agencies i thought i would share my thoughts of why outsourcing SEO as a small business is key.

You can find my blog post on small business seo over at the Latitude blog.

Key points I covered off include:

1 Price
2 Resource
3 Contracts
4 Specialist Teams
5 Accreditations
6 Tools

Hope you fond my info if use.

Ciao for now.

Google Mobile Goes Instant? Suggest More Like! – Updated

A recent post by bigmouthmedia here is saying Google Mobile Goes Instant, I quickly jumped onto my iPhone 4 to check and it seems that the suggest feature is what is showing not instant, as the background SERP’s don’t change upon searching:

I’ll keep my eyes peeled to see if instant is rolled out on iPhone mobile.

This is available on google.com as my default is .co.uk that’s why not seeing.

Ciao for now!

Manchester SEO SAScon Mini Conference – My Brief Summary

As per my previous post about the Manchester SEO SAScon Mini Conference, here is a brief overview of the conference with links to the slides to follow:

2:10 – 2:55 Nichola Stott – The Business of Search: An Insider Perspective on the Search Engine Business and How This Shapes Our Approach

Mainly talked about estimating RPM for Google, lot’s of calculations, the slides do all the talking as my brain got a bit fried, main takeaway point was Google are looking likely to break the $1 billion revenue figure from the UK.

3:00 – 3:45 Barry Adams – Optimising for Google News

Barry talked about how to optimise websites for placement in Google News. Place target keyphrases in the news story, headline so the story can appear in search results for up to three days in the news results on less competitive terms.

3:50 – 4:35 Kevin Newman – The psychology of successful link building

Applied mainly for industries that are thought leadership and information sharing led. E.g. get links for SEO related sites.

4:40 – 5:25 Neil Walker – Forecasting for SEO

Neil declared himself as a self-confessed Excel enthusiast, nice use of spreadsheets and pivot tables using client data, he explained for SEO forecasting that gives a general benchmark for forecasting client revenue, visits etc for a top 10 result in Google. There were themes that could be taken from the presentation that may help to improve SEO forecasting.

All in all a good conference with good point to take away from all talks.

Manchester SEO SAScon Mini Conference – Programme & Speakers

Currently on train back from London and wanted to share the programme and profiles of todays #mancseo mini conference at the Hive in Manchester.

1400 – Welcome to Manchester SEO by Pete Young
1410 – The Business of Search: An Insider Perspective on the Search – Nichola Stott
1500 – Optimising for Google News – Barry Adams
1550 – The Psychology of Successful Link Building – Kelvin Newman
1640 – Forecasting for SEO – Neil Walker

MANCSEO SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Nichola Stott: theMediaFlow

Nichola has over a decade of experience in online marketing and has worked for some of the worlds’ largest digital media and communications companies, including PR Newswire and most recently Yahoo! where she was head of commercial search partnerships (UK). Nichola left Yahoo! in 2009 to found theMediaFlow, a Hampshire based search and social media agency. Nichola is passionate about SEO and has a regular column at SearchEngineWatch, SEO-Chicks, State of Search and also contributes to Econsultancy blog.

Nichola’s Twitter: @NicholaStott

Barry Adams: Pierce Communications

Barry Adams is the Senior Internet Marketer for Search at Pierce Communications in Belfast, where he works for a wide range of clients including some of Northern Ireland’s biggest brands. Starting out his career in the mid-’90s in all things online as an intranet content manager, Barry has worked in a wide variety of positions, including corporate webmaster, in-house SEO specialist for a large regional newspaper, and web consultant for SMEs.

He is an avid blogger and regular contributor to leading search blogs State of Search and Search News Central, and in the past has written for Search Engine People, Searchcowboys, and the WordStream blog.

Barry’s Twitter: @badams

Kelvin Newman: SiteVisibility

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility, specialises in SEO research and development and producing link-worthy online content; working with a variety of brands including Gumtree, FindaProperty, Gala Casinos & uSwitch.

In addition to this experience and client work Kelvin, is a lead contributor to the UK’s most popular internet marketing podcast on iTunes (Which is #2 in the States) and has been published in number of widely read online marketing blogs.

Kelvin also regularly produces popular search and digital marketing strategy whitepapers for the Recruitment, eCommerce and Publishing sectors. He also delivered sessions at industry events including SMX London, the UKs leading search conference, arranges #brightonseo mini-conferences and is a regular contributor to Econsultancy and State of Search.

Before joining SV, Kelvin worked for Emap consumer media working across high profile magazine titles & websites including Zoo, Arena & Empire with a period spent blogging about gadgets & technology for Zoo. In the past, he has also written for a number of offline publications & websites including the NME.

Kelvin’s Twitter: @kelvinnewman

Neil Walker: SEO MAD

Neil joined Just Search when it was founded in 2003 and has seen the business grow from a team of five to its current size of 62. He began his career as an SEO manager and was responsible for a small team and positioning the Just Search website as number one under search engine optimisation (SEO) and search marketing related keywords. Successfully achieved, Neil was promoted to head of SEO in 2006 to oversee the whole search engine optimisation team and develop the implementation and deployment of Just Search’s technological offering. In this role, Neil was responsible for helping clients achieve top search engine results and positioning Just Search as a leader in the industry.

After just one year and great success in the role, Neil was promoted to chief technical officer, where he currently oversees SEO, pay-per-click (PPC), and research and development. A specialist in internet marketing strategies, Neil is responsible for a team of 26 technicians, content editors and link builders, to develop technologies and delivery of the company’s products.

Neil’s Twitter: @TheUKSEO

The event is being sponsored by Manual Link Building end The E Word