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Become an Authority and Increase your Search Rank


19. November 2009 11:44

Arrow pointing upwards

Authority in the business world is a powerful tool, it demands respect, trust and admiration.
Authority also plays a big part in online marketing since Google’s PageRank® algorithm determines websites’ authority and ranks them accordingly.

If people think your website is important enough to link to then so will search engines.  The more authority you gain from people linking to you from their website/blog/social bookmarking page etc the greater your rank will become in search engines such as Google.

In order to to become an authority that others link to online you need a website with indispensable content that demonstrates your expertise, rather than a website that simply claims expertise.

Become an authority by learning all you can about your niche and sharing your knowledge online.

Authority is all about perception, perceived authority can outrank actual authority because what other people say about you is more important than what you say about yourself.

Rules for Building Authority Online

  1. Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – what sets you apart from everyone else?
  2. Get a professional website design and branding
  3. Make friends with influential people in your industryuse social networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn as well as traditional networking events
  4. Don’t sell to people… Educate them and demonstrate your knowledge to build trust and authority
  5. Create indispensable content that other people will want to share with their peers
  6. Grab people’s attention - write killer headlines and stand-firsts
  7. Build a subscriber base – get people listening to what you have to say
  8. Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Picture used under Creative Commons from PaperThinSerge

Organic SEO Takes Time and Effort


9. August 2009 18:48

Like an old tree that takes time to mature, so does an SEO campaignIf you require your website to attract new customers from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing then read on.

Search Engine Optimisation is important and should play a key role in defining the content and structure of your website before you even consider hiring a web developer, but SEO doesn't stop when the website goes live, a search engine friendly website is only part of the optimisation process.

SEO is a continual process and can be broken up into two categories, off-page optimisation and on-page optimisation.  On-page optimisation ensures your website is search engine friendly and optimised for your target keywords and phrases, but a search engine friendly website alone is rarely enough to drive traffic to your site unless your business is a very niche market.  To improve your search engine ranking you will need to perform some off-page optimisation to establish your website's reputation and authority.

Off-page Optimisation

Off-page optimisation is the process of building reputation for your website content which in turn aims to increase your ranking in search engines for your target keywords and phrases.  Reputation on the web is measured in backlinks to your website.  Google calculates your website's reputation with its PageRank algorithm and the other main search engines use similar ranking methods.

Link Building

There are a number of methods and strategies involved in gaining reputation, but unfortunately most of them require time and effort to acquire.  These include:

  • Creating link bait with a blog (creating content other people want to link to)
  • Reciprocal linking (swapping links with other websites)
  • Purchasing links - buying links is a violation of Google's webmaster guidelines
  • Asking similar/complementary organisations for a link to your website
  • Promoting via social networking sites (e.g. social bookmarking sites like delicious.com, and social media sites like digg.com)
  • Forum posting
  • Press releases
  • Directory listings

Not all Backlinks are Equal

The best links you can get to your website are links from authority websites whose sector/business/topic closely relates to your website. If you are building links just to build PageRank you are going about the process in the wrong way, build links that ultimately help humans find your site from related websites.  If you do this you won't go too far wrong, just beware that Google does not like the link building process as it undermines the PageRank system.  So please read Google's Webmaster Guidelines and stick to them.

Aim for quality links over quantity, and remember SEO requires time and patience.  Don't expect miracles over night.  If you can't wait for the fruits of your SEO to take effect you should consider pay-per-click advertising as an interim solution.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Scudsone.

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Should I try a Free Website Builder or use a Professional Web Agency?


7. August 2009 21:57

There are a lot of free website builders cropping up on the internet lately, and during a recession it can be tempting for a small business or sole trader to use a free or cheap "pay monthly" website builder rather than forking out a lump sum to a professional web design agency.

A professionally designed site will almost always surpass a cheap or free out-of-the-box solution in almost everyway, but don't dismiss them straight outright.  A lot of the website builders have free trials that allow you to demo the websites to see what you get.

Get a Web Presence!

Studies show that half of the UKs small businesses don't have a website, and half of those businesses think that a website wouldn't deliver any real benefits.

These businesses might find that the low cost of an off the shelf website builder package could tempt them into creating their first website.  Chances are they won't regret the decision!

If you are one of the businesses without a web presence, you should read our post entitled why do I need a website for my business.

Upgrade to a Professional Website

After trialling an out-of-the-box website, the business owner will have a fairly good idea what the package can and can't do and be in a good position to create a list of requirements for a custom designed website.  These may include:

Paying for a Website

Like the majority of businesses web agencies are also being effected by the recession and as such many are prepared to go the extra mile to win new clients.  This can work to the advantage of a small business by being able to negotiate on price or get more website for the budget.
You may also find many agencies will also allow you to spread the cost of a website over a number of months to lessen the burden.

Contact us today to enquire about our competitive prices and monthly payment plans!

Understanding Search Engine Ranking


22. July 2009 21:48

Lots of website owners want to know how to increase their web site search engine ranking.  To help understand how you can improve your ranking in Google and the other major search engines, let me start off by asking a question.

What makes a good search engine? 

The answer is to do with relevancy. As a user, when you type a query into a search engine like Google or Bing.com you are hoping to see results that accurately match the type of website you are searching for.

So it is in the search engines best interests to make sure that the best web pages are ranked highest for any query a user may search for, otherwise you will start using a different search engine that gives you better results.  As such search engines spend a great deal of time improving how they rank websites, but unfortunately they never tell us exactly what we need to do to achieve better results.

Most search engine optimisation techniques therefore are based on experimentation and guess work, and the techniques frequently change.

What do I mean buy best web pages?

When I used the phrase "The best web pages" I meant the kind that you bookmark to refer to later, the kind that you read and send to your friends, the pages that you find some value in.

Understanding Page Rank

PageRankTM is a technique introduced by the Google search engine and was the key factor which catapulted Google to where it is today.  It can be best explained as a voting system designed to rank pages with the most votes highest. 

Each hyperlink on the internet (besides links from your own site) that point to a page on your website is classed as a vote.  Not every vote is equal though, links from highly ranked websites and sites relevant to your industry/profession or topic are worth more.  The theory behind this is simple.  If a website has taken the time and effort to link to one of your web pages then that particular page must have some value.  The more websites that link to a page on your website the greater the perceived value of your web page and the higher your page rank.

You can use this Google PageRank Checker to check your own PageRank.

Off-Site Search Engine Optimisation

Techniques aimed at increasing your page rank by gaining so-called "backlinks" to your website is called off-site SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).  Unfortunately it can be quite difficult to get people to link to business websites because more often than not a business website exists just to sell a product, service or provide corporate information rather than provide content that other people may find useful.

As I mentioned before it is important to get links from related sites, as links from websites that are "off-topic" are worth a lot less that a link from a high quality relevant website.

If you get the opportunity to specify how a website links to you, be sure to specify a short sentence or phrase describing your website to place in the anchor text rather than your business name or website address. For example:

A good backlink might look like this.

24 hour plumbers in the Kent area

And a not so optimised backlink containing your web address.

handyplumbers.co.uk

Avoid black hat SEO

Search engines are cracking down on dubious SEO techniques which attempt to increase their rank quickly by trying to manipulate page rank, so it is best to steer clear of these methods:

Search engines are constantly improving code which detects such behaviour and can negatively impact your website's ranking or even ban the site from its index if you are not careful!

There are lots of "SEO" companies that will use so called "black hat" techniques to help your website get quick results but these can backfire long after you have parted company with the SEO firm so beware!