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Meta Tags and Search Ranking


29. July 2009 18:46

There are a number of meta tags that can be used on web pages, this post focuses on the two most misunderstood meta tags: meta keywords and meta description.

The Meta Keywords Tag

A lot of newcomers to search engine optimisation (SEO) believe that optimising a website involves writing a long list of keywords that describe your business, products and services which are then added to the website's meta keywords tags.  This was indeed the original idea behind the meta keywords tag, but over time this system was abused by webmasters "stuffing" the meta keywords tag with as many keywords as possible in order to improve their search engine ranking.  This led a lot of search engines reducing the influence of meta keywords or ignoring them completely. 
John Mueller of Google Webmaster Central stated:

"we generally ignore the contents of the "keywords" meta tag. As with other possible meta tags, feel free to place it on your pages if you can use it for other purposes - it won't count against you."

The Meta Description Tag

This meta tag is used to describe or summarise the page contents, it generally doesn't influence a web page's search engine ranking, but Google for instance may use its contents to create the description displayed in the Google search results.  Google state:
"While the use of a description meta tag is optional and will have no effect on your rankings, a good description can result in a better snippet, which in turn can help to improve the quality and quantity of visitors from our search results."

Conclusion

Meta keywords and meta description tags are optional tags and have limited benefit especially in terms of SEO.  We recommend you don't spend too much time writing them, instead spend that time writing more content for your website or improving existing content.  If you do want to include them focus on the meta tags for the most important pages of your website.

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!

10 Reasons to Start a Business Blog


26. June 2009 15:08

If you are unsure whether your company should be blogging on your corporate website here are ten reasons why you should consider it.  You might also want to read our overview of blogging to understand what all the fuss is about.

  1. A blog is an inexpensive marketing tool.
  2. They allow you to talk to your customers in an informal way.
  3. A blog is a good way to inform and educate visitors about your products and services.
  4. A blog can make your company seem more approachable.
  5. Having a blog on your business website can help its search engine ranking overall.
  6. A blog can help you generate sales leads.
  7. You can start a two-way conversation with your customers and show that you listen to what your customers have to say.
  8. Your customers comments can help you develop products and services that better match their needs.
  9. A blog lets you communicate your company's expertise within your sector/industry.
  10. Positive comments left on your blog from happy customers act as recommendations for your product or service.

Side-Effects of Changing the Domain Name of an Existing Website


23. June 2009 15:06

If you already have a website and for whatever reason want to change the domain name of your site doing so may cause some unwanted side-effects that you may not be aware of.  However if the correct techniques are followed these can be minimised.

Here are a few reasons for changing your domain name:

  1. Your domain name no longer reflects your business/products or services.
  2. Your domain name expired and you cannot reacquire it.
  3. Your company has changed names or has been rebranded.
  4. You have since purchased a “better” domain name.
  5. You want to have a “.com” rather than a “.co.uk” domain etc.

Here are some of the unwanted side-effects caused by changing your domain name:

  1. Search engines will not update their index of your website straight away, so you will loose visitors for up to 6 weeks (approximately) unless you redirect each page to its new location.
  2. You will loose Google Page Rank (Your ranking in Google) temporarily until Google re-indexes your new domain name.
  3. You may even loose your Google Page Rank altogether if you do not put redirects from your old domain name to your new domain.  These redirects need to be the “301 Permanently moved” variety.
  4. Your domain name will need updating in online directories, business stationary, other websites, which can be a time consuming and potentially expensive process.

If you are one of our clients, you’ll be happy to know we will always make sure that we follow the correct procedures to make the process of changing domain names as smooth and painless as possible.

What is Web Analytics?


19. June 2009 15:05

Web analytics is a term used to describe the processes involved in recording and analysing how visitors use and discover your website.

Here is the official definition according to the Web Analytics Association:

“Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.”

What kind of statistics will web analytics show me?

  • Geographical location of visitors to the website
  • How they found the website
  • If they found the website from a search engine, what keywords they searched for
  • How the visitors navigate through the website
  • What the most popular pages on the website are
  • The average time a visitor spends on the website
  • The effectiveness of your marketing campaigns
  • How many pages the average visitor browses
  • and many more…

Google Analytics – web analytics from Google

There are numerous web analytics software vendors, however if you intend to use Google Adwords pay-per-click advertising, Google Analytics will draw information from your Google Adwords campaigns and let you analyse how well your visitors are converting, so it makes sense to use Google’s analytics offering.

Google Analytics is a free but powerful web analytics tool.  Google describes it as “Enterprise-class”, but don’t let that put you off.  Even though Google Analytics has a lot of advanced features, it’s quite easy to just stick to the basics and get just the information you need right at your finger tips.

Google Analytics Dashboard

You can even customise reports to show only the data you are interested in and have them emailed to you or a colleague on a regular basis!

What’s more our Search Engine Marketer has passed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification, so we are well placed to help you make the most of Google Analytics.