Tag Archives: google

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.

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+

Google to Encrypt Search Data – Killing off Organic Data

So it begins, Google to kill off organic data to webmasters for logged in users, I won’t re-hash and rant as there are plenty of useful posts out there.

I will provide a quick summary though, the data is still there but Google only offering aggregated data through Webmaster Tools but as mentioned by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Roundtable, it’s not that accurate. So begs the question is the data now being sent to webmasters useful?

So for more information on this topic here are a few useful posts:

 

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.

Google Advanced Search Querystrings

May not be teaching old dogs new tricks, but here is a quick post about utilising the querystring parameters in Google search. The Google search url is made up of a number of parameters, the & symbol is used to add parameters as shown in the following example: http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=football+world+cup&btnG=Search

  • hl=en – this defines the language. en is for English.
  • q=football+world+cup – this is the search query, the + is to replace spaces
  • btnG=Search – the ‘Google Search’ button was clicked to start the search

These are very basic parameter strings, now let’s take a look at how we can manipulate the result set coming back:

  • &num=100 – this will show the top 100 results instead of the default 10
  • &start=100 – this will allow the results to start from a particular position in the SERP’s

Now for a few advanced querystrings: as_qdr=x – Replace the x to one of the following to show when files had been first indexed:

  • d – last 24 hours
  • w – last 7 days
  • m – last month
  • y –  last year
  • m2 – last number of months. m2 wlast 2 months m3, m4 etc etc

So just a few ways to manipulate the results in the Google, for a full list visit the SEOmoz ultimate guide.

Google Webmaster Verification Now Made Easier!

Google have now made the Webmaster Verification process a lot simpler. If you own a site and want multiple people to be able to view the WMT information of your site, you would have had to add multiple html files or multiple meta tags which would make the process quite a lengthy one and also more difficult to manage.

Google are now sharing the verification love which allows Webmaster to simply add a user to the WMT account to view the profile, this has to be a Google account email addres.

Simply login to your webmaster tools account and select the verification details link.

Then click add user and enter the Google verified email address of who you wish to grant access to the WMT account for the domain:

The long and short of it means less hassle for Webmasters!

Google Product Search – Testing Links again?

Has anyone noticed that the product results in Google have been showing images and not directly linkg through to the site?

A post from the Head of SEO  at Latitude, Andy Heaps posted back in December about how Latitude joke about Google’s money making levers – “if profits are down or shareholders unhappy they pick a money generating lever and pull it” highlighted this, and now seems that the same is going on again.

Only today have Google displayed both links and none in their product listings here is the latest of my searches:

Google Products - No links

Google Products - No links

So does this mean that Google are “pulling the levers” again or trying to improve the users exprerience?

Canonical URL – A possible solution to duplicate content

Duplicate Content Issues

The 3 major search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, have just announced a new tag that can tell the search engines which URL it should have for the current page.

The issue websites have is duplicate content, the same content is indexed under different URL’s.  This is an issue SEO’s have been trying to solve for a long time.

New canonical URL tag

To help solve this problem, the 3 major engines have declared that it will recognise a new HTML tag, which, if inserted into your web page, will allow you to specify which URL you want to be the “official”, URL for the content.

The tag needs to be inserted into the HEAD section of your web page:

HTML:  <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.yourwebsite.co.uk/correct-page.html">

XHTML: <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.yourwebsite.co.uk/correct-page.html" />

This code needs to be placed in the HEAD section not in the BODY section.

Google will now count the links it has seen to that campaign tagged URL, towards the canonical URL, and not index the campaign tagged URL.

In summary, may be to early to tell if this will help webmasters as it was only announced on the 12th February 2009, but in my opinion this is handing back a little bit of control to the webmaster instead of letting the search engine’s figure out the correct URL.

Disclaimer:  The tag is aonly a suggestion to the search engine. It will probably be used 99% of the time, but they have the right to handle things their way.

Canonical URL plugin for WordPress users now available from Joost de Valk.