Tag Archives: SEO

The way search engines operate is a subject of constant debate. Nobody seem to agree on the intricacies but everybody agrees that search engine ranking factors are a soup of different algorithms working in tandem looking at different aspects of a website and how they are related to other sites .

Since recently, most minds in the trade are in agreement that social factors such as Twitter and Facebook (among other things) are impacting the way a site is being ranked by search engines. In particularly Google is looking at social factors for ranking in a big way. Unlike other times, this claim is not vehemently rejected or hotly debated since most people understand that Google has some sort of agenda with the newly introduced Google+ platform.

There are a couple of things that you have to keep in mind when you try to go down the road on using social signals for rankings. First, social signals are still used to measure the social impact of a given website or a webpage. Search engine algorithms still reign high. However, getting a couple of hundred ‘likes’ for your website is going to be considered as a clear enough signal for search engines to consider your website seriously for rankings. Same goes for tweets and social bookmarks.

The beauty of social signals is that it’s hard to fake a social signal unless you are an uber social media junkie. Also, faking social signals is easy to monitor so it doesn’t make much sense for a business to do it. If more social signals are generated from the same set of people, that can mean only a few things like the following:

  1. These people have very similar interests
  2. The social signal generated is valid for a small niche of social media consumers
  3. At least some of those social profiles are fake

So unlike most other ranking elements, social signals are a better signal for search engines. But there are some barriers which stop social signals from being used widely at the time of this writing. For example, Bing is the preferred search engine for Facebook. Also, with Microsoft owning 1.6% equity of Facebook valued at $1.36 billion, Google may find it difficult to get full access to social elements usable for search ranking any time soon.

On the other hand, Twitter lets search engines use its data. But consider this. Twitter users produce 200 million tweets per day. Considering an average tweet being 110 characters long and an average word being 4.5 characters long, Twitter publishes around 44 million words every 13 minutes which is equivalent to the word count of all the 32 volumes of ‘The Encyclopedia Britannica’! In any sense of imagination, search engines don’t have the capacity to crawl, index and rank most of the Twitter data at this point.

So do you have to worry about the social signals for search engine rankings? To be honest, it may be a good time to start considering the potential benefits. If you do not have a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account for your business, we would encourage you to start building your networks. Once you get into it, you’ll notice that it is quite fun and interesting connecting to customers in a new way.

With Google’s Matt Cutts admitting that Google is using website speed as a minor ranking factor, there had been quite some noise about page speed among the web design community. Now with the latest stats positively showing the page speed as not so significant as many believed it to be, can it actually affect a website negatively?

Not considering any SEO implications, page speed is an extremely important web usability element. Consider the following example originally published on Master New Media .

Gaze plots from two different users: The blue dots indicate where users looked (one fixation per dot).
  • Screen 1 – The first test participant in the top gaze plot fixated a few times within the big empty color block before the content downloaded, then spent the remaining time looking at the rest of the page. This user never looked at the big promotional space after it had rendered.
  • Screen 2- The second user (bottom gaze plot) happened to be looking away from the screen during the eight seconds when the promotional content downloaded. Thus, the first time he looked at the page he saw it as intended, complete with the entire promo.

The slideshow occupies 23% of the page and the user who had to endure the download delay spent only 1% of her total viewing time within this space.

In contrast, the user who in effect received instantaneous page rendering (because he didn’t look until it was done), spent 20% of his viewing time within the slideshow area.

So in essence if the page speed has been optimized, the marketing team would have seen some more traction with their well planned advertisement. But in this case, all that effort was spent in vain.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to website speed is “let the audience be in control”. Remember, it’s the audience who interact with the website and it’s them that matters to you or your client. Every second of delay in website speed is a negative impact on the audience and lead them to realize that they are no longer in control. In such case, you or your clients are going to lose credibility which is not helpful at all.

So it might be a good idea to start looking at page speed. There are many free tools to check speed. We use a Firefox plugin called ‘Yslow’. Google is going one step ahead and offering a Page Speed tool for free http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/

Check out this video from the Google dev team.

 

Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media tools. Loved by millions who use it for its simplicity and shortness, Twitter is a far more effective way to communicate with a peer group than Facebook or any other social media.

Twitter’s simplicity should not be underestimated, the real power is in harnessing ones followers. Hypothetically speaking, if Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) were to retweet one of your tweets about your product to his 6.5 million followers, chances are they in turn would retweet the same to their followers. Before you know it a tweet can go viral and be noticed by millions. If a company were to try to reach an audience say of 6 million TV viewers, they’d have to spend some real money. Twitter is free. Unlike many other social media, Twitter is always on the go, things are constantly changing by the second.

The good news is that it is easily accessible. It’s supported by almost all the smart phones and almost any internet device, so keeping your followers up-to-date is easy.

In some cases, Tweeps, as the Twitter users are known, tend to think out loud through their tweets. In fact there are many well documented instances where brands, famous people, journalists, sports personalities among others found themselves saying things that they shouldn’t be saying in the first place. Therefore it is a good idea to read up on twitter etiquette and establish a companywide protocol for tweeting.

So how can a small company find its way in this tweet-maze? It’s not difficult to start, start with meaningful tweets about your industry. No one is going to care if you just picked up Starbucks for the day, so keep the personal stuff away. First it would help to have a good idea what Twitter is and how to use its many unique features. For example, Twitter hash tags and lists are two of the most important weapons in a good tweep’s armory.

Let’s say that your company rents out party equipment. You could tweet about a new line of Gazebos that just came in and tag the tweet with a #gazebo hashtag. So let’s say a user in Miami is searching Twitter for a Gazebo rental in Miami. The tweet could be something like this: “Nice #party by the Virginia Key Beach #Miami under a nice blazing red #gazebo by www.sample.com”. The hashtag gives the user an opportunity to tap into more interesting tweet streams.

Start off by following people in your industry. Always try to keep the Followers and Following ratio close to each other. It is sometimes suspect if someone is following 5000 people but only has 2 followers. Keep posting meaningful content and you’ll see your follower count rising on its own. Share things about your area of expertise; answer general questions on your field; follow hash tags which have a good focused following; (This however does not necessarily include the trending topics!) and be a good tweep in general.

There are a few tools you can use to increase your presence in the Twittersphere. Start with the Twitter business section. It can give you really nice pointers on what you can do on Twitter to promote your business effectively on Twitter. Read this case study on moxsie available on twitter business section.

Take some time off to think through your twitter strategy. It can help you a lot with taking your brand to the next level of online visibility.

The internet has certainly made the world a smaller place but that does not mean that the world is becoming more homogenous. Quite the opposite is happening in fact, as the more people that go online the more the web becomes culturally mixed.

SEO for businesses today must consist of much more than using the latest design trends. Designers should also be designing sites that take the full range of people viewing the site into consideration. The largest and most successful companies know that they have to offer different versions of their web content so as to appeal to everyone who accesses their websites. Continue reading

There are so many ways to build a great website that it can be somewhat confusing knowing where to start. The very first thing that must be decided when building a site is, what is the primary purpose of the website? Will you provide content? Will you sell products/services or is it simply informational? These questions must be answered before starting to put your website together.

Once you have decided what type of website you wish to build, then you must choose the best resources to use. This will save you a lot of frustration when building your site and it is not even all that necessary that you understand HTML in order to build an effective site. Continue reading

One of the vital cogs in the online marketing mechanism is effective customer interaction.  With the number of commercial websites rising with unprecedented rapidity and market niches  diminishing into almost invisible blips, the key in effective online marketing lies in retaining the visitors and converting  them into customers as much as in attracting new visitors.

Retaining a customer is by far a more difficult job since the audience keeps comparing your site to that of your competitors. If their product or service offering is better than yours, chances are that your customer may get disenchanted and eventually seek a better option. Bleak stories aside, let us see what you can do to improve the customer interaction. Continue reading

One of the first question we get from new clients is “How quickly can I get my site on page 1 of Google?” Some clients think this can happen overnight but new websites setup on a new domain name have to build credibility (page rank) with sites like Google. Search engines want to make sure that your site is not the latest Big Foot scam site. While search engines take time to index sites there are some tips you can implement to speed up the process.

Tip # 1 – Target Relevant Keywords

Keywords are the descriptors of your content. Be selective in the keywords you choose and try to use them throughout your website, links, meta tags etc. Just don’t overdo it :) Here’s a good article on selecting keywords. Continue reading