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I believe in encouraging people to do things for themselves. SEO is a vital part of evolving a website yet many businesses struggle to understand what SEO means and how they can get to grips with it.

SEO is not a dark art, it is an incredibly intuitive process that encompasses many disciplines, from research to writing content and building social media presence. Nobody is a master of all of them but you can take control of key components of your SEO strategy, helping you focus spend on areas where you need the greatest help.

That's not to say that investing in the services of a dedicated SEO partner (freelance or agency) isn't a good thing - if you don't have the resource or inclination to do this properly, then paying a specialist can be a commercially sound decision. SEO is a long-term commitment, you can't treat it like a toy to be played with for a few months, then thrown to the back of the cupboard. 

This post outlines the top six things that you can do in-house to improve your website optimisation with links to free online tools to help you on your journey.

Set up Webmaster Tools

If you don't know what this is read the Wikipedia summary of Webmaster Tools. If you haven't got this set-up, do it immediately - all you need is a Google Account and to add a simple piece of verification code onto your website (either XHTML or HTML meta tag). You can follow the Google instructions.

Key features that Webmaster Tools gives you:

Webmaster Tools Dashboard

  • Ability to submit and verify sitemaps (html & XML).
  • Ability to run diagnostics such as identifying broken links.
  • Audit of crawl errors that you can address.
  • List of most popular search terms that are driving organic traffic.
  • List of the weighting of keywords on your website to help you see how your keyword optimisation is working.
  • List of other websites that link to yours - great when planning your linking strategy (see 6. below).

Webmaster Tools is free and by using it for 30 minutes to an hour per week so can start to make improvements to your site optimisation. A great example is having visibility of broken links so you can feed this back to developers to ensure your site is kept clean.

Develop a content strategy

You need a coherent content approach to ensure that whatever journey a customer takes, the information they find is consistent and helps them achieve their browsing goals. This involves mapping the different types and levels of content you need on your website to cater for the various customer groups and browsing needs. The richer the content, the greater its impact on your search engine visibility for relevant searches.

Start from the top by planning page content to cater for the most savvy web customer, those who are time conscious and just want to find something, take action and leave. Architect your site content to deliver them an intuitive customer journey, then ask yourself what additional content would help visitors who have more questions and want greater product/service detail.

Start to add this content around your core content, using on-page textual and image links. Don't kill pages with too much content scrolling, use tabs and overlays to manage the customer experience.

If you have a complex product/service and you envisage large amounts of additional information, it might add value to create a knowledge centre that can be accessed in your global navigation. You can then create links on relevant pages to the knowledge centre and integrate the content into site search results.

Below are a few pointers:

  • Define the voice and tone you wish to convey in your content.
  • Identify what different types of content you want to use - product, text, image, video, pdf etc.
  • Integrate all content into site search results.
  • Map your internal linking requirements - how each page links to other pages on your website - and optimise anchor text.
  • When displaying additional content on a page, use overlays to maintain the customer journey - this will help control bounce rate.
  • Use tools like social bookmarking to encourage content sharing.
  • Support user generated content such as customer reviews - use search friendly formats such as RDF to generate this content.

Whenever you are creating content and internal links, relate the copy back to your keyword research to ensure you are maximising your keyword density. However, bear in mind that any content visible to customers must be written to engage them, not just to serve your SEO program.

Keyword spamming will not only irritate customers but will risk the likes of Google thinking worse of your pages.

Carry out keyword research

To know which keyword phrases you need to optimise your site for, you need to understand current search trends.

You want your website to be visible in search results for relevant searches, so avoid using your brand and product expertise to choose the keywords - often this can lead to the selection of sub-optimal keywords.

Using a keyword planning tool you can identify which keyword combinations are attracting the greatest traffic globally and locally. The approach I would recommend is:

  • Take each page of your website sequentially starting with your homepage, then prioritising key product/service pages.
  • Enter keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to the content of the page you are optimising.
  • Evaluate keyword suggestions and look at the traffic volumes and level of competition.
  • Refine your keyword hitlist to two or three primary keyword combinations.
  • Run searches in Google for those combinations and learn from what other people are doing.
  • Ask yourself if these are the most relevant combinations based on what customers would expect to see when they search for those terms.
  • Keep refining your keyword targets until you are happy you have a relevant selection.
  • Maintain a master database of all the keyword combinations at page level.

Please be aware that keyword research is not a one-off activity. Search trends evolve continuously, so what customers search for now might change in six months time.

The challenge with SEO is to establish your pages in search engine results, then fine-tune your keyword strategy over time to maintain listings for relevant searches and increase conversion by improving your targeting. I would recommend you revisit key pages every three to six months to review and update your keyword strategy, depending on your product/service type.

There are a few useful free keyword planning tools:

Optimise your meta and page content

Meta content relates to the html tags that inform a search engine what a website page is about. They aren't visible to customers on-page but are important elements of SEO. See below for an html snapshot of a page using the "View source" command that highlights where the meta tags sit:

Meta tags in html

You should base your meta content on the keyword combinations you identified in the keyword research stage. Write your meta content page by page and make sure it is relevant to the purpose of the page in question - don't fall into the trap of producing a generic set of meta tags and applying them to every page on your site. All the search engines will see is identical content.

Some guidelines to follow:

  • Your meta title should be no more than 60 characters, 70 as an absolute max - you can enter more but the major search engines won't read the rest.
  • Your meta description should be between 150 and 250 characters - this description should contain your primary keyword combinations but be written with the customer in mind as it's this text that customers will read on the search engine results page (SERPs).
  • Meta keywords are not as important as they were a few years back but they still add value - use a maximum of 8 to 10 keyword combinations on a single page, don't try to cram in every possible keyword.

These guidelines are based on my latest understanding from respected SEOs and industry forums - if anyone has an update please drop by and add a comment - SEO is always changing, so happy to learn from others.

Generate sitemaps

The XML sitemap is the most important. Whilst html sitemaps are not as valuable as they once were in the eyes of search engines, they are still useful additions to your website; for the minimal effort involved, I think it is a worthwhile investment of time. Here's a good example of an html sitemap.

It is important that the sitemaps you create are dynamic such that they automatically update as and when your website changes i.e. deleted pages are removed and new pages are added. This is essential because the XML sitemap tells Google what pages are on your website, so if it contains obsolete links you'll be indexing non-existent pages and searches will return errors, not good for your SEO or brand presentation.

If you have an extensive product range and large number of website pages (thousands) then it is worth getting your developers to create the XML sitemap, provided they ensure it is dynamically generated to reduce admin cost. Get them to put it on the URL www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml. If you have a small product set and simple website structure, you can use one of the free online XML sitemap generators (just search "xml sitemap generator"), then download the file and add it to your site. However, make sure you regularly update the file and add the latest version to the site. Here's an example of a retailer's xml sitemap.

If you use Wordpress as your blog engine, it has neat sitemap extensions that you can plug-in to create both hmtl and XML sitemaps. Once you have created your sitemaps, make sure you register them in Webmaster Tools.

Start a link building program

Getting external links from websites with authority is vital to driving your SEO program and search engine visibility, arguably one of the most important elements. The challenge is to identify relevant 3rd party websites and build your links over time, making sure you focus on quality websites and not just volume.

If you get links from poor websites or turn to link farming (which, despite the many contrasting views in forums, is generally considered to be akin to link spamming unless professionally delivered), you could end up damaging your brand.

A few pointers when starting out:

  • Research online to find relevant 3rd party websites and industry voices, bloggers, PR peeps etc with whom you can build relationships.
  • Start joining in forums, discussions, contributing to blogs, submitting articles etc and ask website owners where possible for a link back to your website (note that many blogs use the "nofollow" rule for links which means you'll not get any SEO benefit other than increased exposure).
  • Optimise your link anchor text for relevant brand and generic keywords - try to vary the anchor text so you have links for a wide range of keywords to gain greater SEO benefit.
  • Audit the external links of your competitors - you can do this using the Yahoo search tool and type in "link:www.mysite.com" - this will show you links to that website - you can then click through and pick out relevant targets.
  • Don't be shy at contacting website owners, explaining why you would like to work with them and giving them a reason to link to you - think about how you can add value to their website, such as generating free content.

Hopefully that gives you a flavour for how you can make inroads into the wonderful world of SEO using nothing more than your own time and free online tools.

I personally think that companies should be closely involved in their website optimisation strategy, not just leave it to 3rd parties no matter how experienced they are. You need to understand what makes search engines and customers tick; digging into SEO is one way to achieve this. SEO also permeates into other areas of the business in relation to content strategy, PR, marketing etc so it really should be driven internally to ensure there is a coherent approach.

That said, if you need support and don't have the resource to do this properly, then there are many SEO specialists out there who are incredibly good at what they do and can add a lot of commercial value to your online business. Just make sure you know what you want and have clear goals before you jump into bed.

Recommended reading is Peter Cullen from Interleado's blog on tips for getting started with link building. 

I would love to read people's comments so please drop by and add to the discussion.

James Gurd

Published 15 April, 2010 by James Gurd

James Gurd is Owner of Digital Juggler, an ecommerce and digital marketing consultancy, and a contributor to Econsultancy.He can be found on on Twitter,  LinkedIn and Google+.

49 more posts from this author

Comments (52)

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Matt

Surely the elephant in the room here is: Create valuable, interesting and relevant content. I know you reference content strategies and such, but in house you don't surely need to even get that strategic, although you obviously can do. If you produce & display high quality content on your important pages that can be the most valuable bit of SEO you can do.

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Matt,

Thanks for dropping by with your thoughts. I can't find an elephant but you are right that content is hugely important. However, I still think a content strategy is required - what content do you want to produce, how will you use it, what other content does it link to? If you don't answer these questions you end up under utilising your content which is counter productive. 

I'm not talking dozens of consultants sitting on a mountain top re-inventing the world but a sensible process of mapping out what content means to your website and how content from all sources will be integrated and how it will be used across all your channels. SEO is more than just what sits on your website, it involves how you extend the reach of that content beyond your domain so that it creates additional SEO value via elements like link building, online PR and social media optimisation.

You also need guidelines for creating copy - not everyone can write good copy (i.e. it delights the customer) and not everyone knows how to optimise it from an SEO perspective via keyword inclusion, anchor text, tags etc.

It pains me to see great content wasted but adding fresh content and optimising the pages it sits on is at least a sensible starting point.

Thanks

james

over 6 years ago

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Hilary Lee

I'm wondering if you change copy (to tweak strategically) on dynamic product details pages, how does this affect SEO? Does google realize page copy have been changed - or do I have to 'submit' my sites pages? Thanks,

over 6 years ago

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kevin

What about the tactic of creating an invisible div on a page which has a whole bunch of keywords in it?

Many sites these days are cluttered with content and while this serves the purpose for say a news or general blog site, this is counter productive to the design strategy of a brand site.

How do you go about adding in lots of keywords to your content when you don't have a lot of room to actually place the text?!

over 6 years ago

Saurav Rimal

Saurav Rimal, SEO Engineer at FreshEgg

How about setting up Google Analytics, which gives an idea of how many visitors they are getting and from where. This sometimes gives an indication on which key phrases to target and which not to. GA will also determine the number of results coming through from different cities and if just put your business profile on local listing where you are getting the most traffic from. Some people might disagree but its certainly worth the try.

over 6 years ago

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Link Building Services

Excellent post concise and easy to understand I picked up a few new ideas from the post. Thanks!

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Morning all and thanks for the comments.

Hilary - changing page copy will not affect the relative value of your page but it may affect the search terms that it is associated with. The important thing is not to change the URL otherwise the search engines will not associate the old with the new page unless you use a search engine friendly redirect such as 301. This is where the xml sitemap comes in because as long as Google is indexing the right pages, it will pick up on your updates. If you're not submitting the sitemap, it will take a lot longer for your changes to be registered and feed through the SERPs because the search engines won't know about it until they next come and scrape your site. Please note that you need to ensure the sitemap is scheduled to submit regularly and not just static.

Kevin - I would advise against anything invisible that could be considered keyword spam (though would welcome the thoughts of the more technical SEOs out there). I also would not advise adding content for content's sake, you have to keep the customer in mind. I recommend adding relevant content and then linking it to the page using additional content pages and internal links or using overlays, tabs etc. The goal is not to get lots of keywords in your text but to ensure the most relevant keywords are being used effectively. Don't think of the page as a flat object - it is a landing page from which you can link to additional content and use accessible design to house it in a user-friendly way.

Saurav - yes GA is an incredibly useful tool and I would always recommend using it alongside your digital marketing if you don't already have an analytics tool. I didn't include it because I wanted to focus on pure SEO components and not the analytics side.

Keep the comments coming, thanks.

over 6 years ago

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watson

Was really easy to understand...and got idea how it works...

over 6 years ago

Saurav Rimal

Saurav Rimal, SEO Engineer at FreshEgg

Oh right good point James. How about Google Alerts - I know most people don't think this is a useful tool but I do. Lots of SEOs do article link building as it a simpler and easier way to get lots and lots of links from different IPS, but using Google Alerts and receiving the blogs and commenting on it is equal. Don't tell anyone I said this lol. This is a free tool too so might be a good tool to start with.

over 6 years ago

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Richard Powell

Kevin, you must be deliberately trolling with that post.

over 6 years ago

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Terry Allison

I was asked an SEO question I did not know the answer to. If you have a backlink on another company's website on a page that has low page rank (o, 1 or 2) but the website's home page ranks well say 4, 5 or 6, does the backlink get you any Google juice? Thanks for any thoughts.

over 6 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

Hi James

Fantastic article! Really useful. Thank you. 

Just one suggestion on the Link Building Program. I've always found making requests of other Webmasters laborious and time consuming. 

On one site I worked on, for every 10 link request emails we sent, we probably only ever had 3 replies and, probably, 1 link. Although, often, the link was promised and then never materialised. 

To improve the situation, we found that adding a link first from our site to the target site(s) improved our chances. The other webmasters appreciated that 'we'd gone first'. 

If they didn't link back we often kept the link anyway because we'd only target quality web resources. 

The other thing we did was to create a form where other site owners could easily ask us for links. We made this form easy to find and an attractive thing to do. 

We found that the number of mutual link requests to us went way up. And, in the end, so did the links we received. 

Of course, the most important way to enjoy a growth in the number of links you have is to keep on producing quality content!

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Afternoon all,

Trying to balance mowing my lawn with replying to comments and my multi-tasking is failing....

Andrew - thanks for sharing your experience. I think link building is an interesting challenge and everyone I know has a different approach, though the common factor is using online tools to research and find relevant websites. I like your idea of the form, not something I had considered but that sounds perfect for some testing. In my experience, it is small business owners who run their own websites who are most receptive to link requests, with larger websites you struggle to get a reply as you point out. Article websites are useful, Peter Cullen's blog contains some useful links.

Terry - my understanding is that the 'juice' is determined by several factors and the reputation of the website it comes from is one, though the page it sits on is the most relevant. If you have a link on a page that is not relevant to your destination URL, you won't get the love. However, if you are linking from a new page that hasn't yet got a high ranking but the link is relevant and has optimised anchor text, then you will benefit. Remember though that page rank is under the microscope and generally is perceived as less important than it used to be. The best option is to make sure you only link from reputable websites and on pages that are relevant. Hope that wasn't too waffly a reply. Happy to take advice from other SEOs who might know more on this particular subject.

Saurav - yes Google Alerts are useful but to generate an alert you have to produce content first. So for me Google Alerts come after the content. Unless I'm missing something?

Thanks

james

over 6 years ago

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Maciej @ SEO Noobie

The Google webmaster tools should always be used an analyzed on a regular basis. I think from a trust standpoint it really lets the search engine know that you have nothing to hide.

over 6 years ago

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Briana

This helps me out as an aspiring Social Media / SEO expert. Some of the things I already knew, like the content, keyword search, checking on your competitor, etc. I'm still really confused with meta tags though.

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Mary

You must have woken up angry....

Yes Google dominates UK search with around 80% of traffic but there are other search engines, even those beyond the Bing driven ones. Meta keywords are not as relevant as they once were (we've all read the Google Webmaster Central blog, that's old news) but they still have a place. Optimising website meta content and ignoring the keyword field just because Google tells you to is rather short sighted. "Search engines don't use meta tags anymore"....so please explain what that text is beneath the title in search engine results?

You seem to be considering SEO as simply a matter of pleasing the search engines. You need to consider the impact of relevant content in search engine results for the searchers as well. Meta description is important here. Click through and engagement are just two of the many factors that are included in the much vaunted Google algorithm.

In my post meta keywords takes up a small part of only 1 of the recommendations - I'm not advocating obsession with it. However, keyword research is critical - you can't optimise your pages without knowing what people are searching for. Is this the research you were encouraging me to do?

I don't claim to be an expert. I don't know what an expert is. What I can vouch for is that what I write is proven based on years of experience. That is 3 years as Head of eCommerce, 2 years agency side working across multiple retail Clients and now 1 year as a freelancer working with many Clients (who don't appear to have had a traumatic time, though some are still in therapy). I also read other blogs and industry comments but I choose to make up my own mind based on experience, not just what I am told.

There is so much more to SEO including Online PR and social media optimisation but you've got to get the basics addressed first.

You are right about the issues within the industry, I've suffered from bad SEO advice previously when managing websites. However, we should focus on being constructive not rude and judgemental.

I hope you feel better for getting this off your chest, you clearly have some stress you need to release.

thanks

james

over 6 years ago

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Anonymous

@mary - if your SEO copywriting skill is up to your flaming, I can see why the clients " i manage to convince im not FAKE" might be thin on the ground ;-)

over 6 years ago

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floro flores

keyword research is critical. Keywords metatag is useless. In google, yahoo!, bing, Yandex, Baidu...It s just a best practise to use this tag as a reference,

"The XML sitemap is the most important". Is it? I really don't think so. HTML sitemap is by far more important for both users and bot.

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Floro

Thanks for the comment - please could you elaborate on why the XML sitemap is less important? Everything I've read suggests the opposite and it's the XML sitemap that keeps Google updated with what's on your site. I've experienced it helping in reducing the number of error pages due to obsolete pages being returned in search results.

Happy to be pointed in the direction of new information.

Thanks

james

over 6 years ago

Ian Tester

Ian Tester, Senior Product Manager at brightsolid online publishing

Oh James, James,

You've just broken the first rule of internet marketing - never ever post about SEO cos everybody knows better than you do ;-)

SEO - where arguing about petty details never clouds the big picture.

i

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Ian,

That made me laugh. That is, ironically, why I love talking about SEO - it helps reduce the cynicism out there if people talk about it openly and honestly based on experience. I don't think I'm an expert but I do like to share what I have learned and then turn to others to share their wisdom. I've read so many contrasting views that I think you have to learn from experience (and also mistakes).

I agree that the bigger picture is often sadly missing which is why my post tried to provide practical advise and not aim to be a definitive list. The case with meta keywords is a great example - why get so worked up over something that is such a small part of an overall SEO strategy? What's to say the search engines won't change their minds and give it more weight in the future? So optimise them based on keyword research and you've ticked that box.

I'm intrigued by some of the comments. I'll go put myself in SEO hibernation until the dust has settled.....

Thanks

james

Floro - as a follow up, have you read the latest from Google on its video sitemap option? This uses the sitemap protocol and submits video content in XML format.

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=80472#2

over 6 years ago

Joris Peucheret

Joris Peucheret, Head of International Marketing at ACHICA

Hello everybody, 

Thanks James, for this post : useful, clear, direct people in the right direction (and yes , there are so many SEO avenues, that sadly only few"practitioners" would admit that there is not only one way to implement it- different type of websites, industry, markets, understanding the non understandable :).  

SEO is one of this thing where knowledge and practice makes a difference (marketer, copywriter and technical team, please work together).

GA is surely a great web analytic resource, but I often recommend to combine various tracking methods (for SEO and other digal marketing channel), today I would recommend to use Rank tracker (from SEO powersuite- help you see where your site ranks with various keywords, on various search engine and various languages).

I hope this helps

Thanks

Joris

over 6 years ago

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Paul

James, as Ian has already pointed out, everyone knows better than you.........or so we lead ourselves to believe!

Brave article though!

I wanted to comment on meta data. (Mary, please don’t shout at me!)

I have researched this and I believe the meta data help confirm ‘this page matches your search query’ and is part of a call to action.

Although it cannot harm inserting keywords in to meta tags, without strategic link building and relevant content (plus traffic to the site!) it doesn’t matter to Google.........

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Afternoon and thanks for the latest comments.

Joris thanks for the reference to Rank Tracker as not come across that before so will check it out.

Paul - sometimes it's good to open yourself up to professional slaughter...

I've experienced optimising meta data (titles & descriptions) having a positive impact, keywords less so. I would tend to agree that the description has the greatest impact on the searcher rather than search engine. As for meta keywords, maybe they are worthless, maybe they aren't - however, the keyword research must be done so why not spend those extra few seconds?

Thanks

james

over 6 years ago

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Paul

James

Yahoo has long been the only major search engine that supported the meta keywords tag. However, the search engine revealed that like the other majors, it no longer supports it. http://searchengineland.com/yahoo-search-no-longer-uses-meta-keywords-tag-27303

However, depending on your CMS, would still use meta keywords to give the editor focus for the page; what is this page about? What keywords do I want to discuss?

Who knows, all the SEs may look to use keyword tagging, such as is used by Wordpress.com......

over 6 years ago

Paul Bidder

Paul Bidder, Commercial Director at Red Ant

Can I just point out, for Mary here as well, that this is a blog to help people to help themselves and is the entry to the SEO world (James - correct me if I'm wrong).

Moving forward UGC and other social factors may also continue to have a great deal of weighting to your natural ranking.  Another tip is to create internal linking within your site, make it relevant and around specific key terms/words and this almost creates a mini-web which you then share to the social world (digg, delicious, twitter, FB, etc...).

P.S> Is Mary an ex???

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Paul,

Yes you are right - this blog is aimed at people who aren't experienced in SEO and don't know what they can/can't do themselves. I find a lot of SMBs don't invest in SEO because they don't understand/believe in it and can't grasp the investment model. PPC wins because it's seen as an immediate return. If you can encourage them to do the basics in-house and experience an improvement in organic traffic and sales, you start to increase their engagement with SEO.

At that point, an experienced and dedicated SEO is worth their weight in gold, using their expertise to enhance the SEO program and add-in the extras such as the ones you refer to.

As far as I know I have no personal connection to Mary other than receiving her heart felt endorsement of my industry leading SEO knowledge......

Thanks for the comment.

james

ps My book on "Meta keywords: Why these are more important than link building - Part 1" is out soon:)

over 6 years ago

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Stephanie Wass

Hi James,

We chat again, first linked in and now here..people will talk! I found the posts interesting and lol at the breaking of rules with who knows best in SEO.. I have this argument on a daily basis. I truly believe that content is king with the key lying with the current search trends..see easy really..

regards,

Steph Wass

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Steph

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I think we're officially in cyber stalking territory:)

I agree that content is hugely important. Then you need to use that content intelligently and there are so many elements to this which are part of SEO, including link building, social media optimisation, Online PR etc.

Thanks

james

over 6 years ago

Geoff Andrews

Geoff Andrews, Lead Generation Manager at Kumon Educational UK

Great post James,

Thanks for taking the time to contribute. As far as I can see the majority of the tactics above will improve the chances of getting visitors to your website.

For example, we can argue about blog comments being no-follow and therefore not passing any link juice. SEO is not everything. As long as you have contributed to the conversation you will get traffic - people will want to go to your website. And that's the whole point of SEO, engaging in Social Media and display advertising - to get traffic (hopefully traffic inclined to convert).

One thing I would add is: be careful who you link to as you have no control over the content of that site. It is very hard for Adult sites to get links and it is not un-heard of for an Adult link building to create a "normal" site, get some links to it then 301 the lot to their Adult site.

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Geoff,

Amen to your words "SEO is not everything" - I think you hit the nail on the head with the end goal being qualified traffic and what you do to get that traffic being more than just SEO juice. I think many people overlook the importance of the human element in SEO - doesn't matter how technically optimised your site is, if the content is irrelevant and site not catering for visitors, what you see is big bounce rates and the likes of Google thinking you're not the best result for that search term. I know that's a simplistic summary but being simple is what I do well:)

Good point about link building - it's not foolproof but you need to monitor your links and check out any sites you think might be damaging your brand.

Thanks for the comment.

james

over 6 years ago

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Emmeline Faust, Director/Owner at Jack Media London

Hi James interesting article thanks for sharing (and I've enjoyed reading the comments too!). I am just wondering why people that link to you from their site/ blog use no follow - I was under the impression that Google did still follow these links (or it is believed that they might and this is what we even talked about on my SEO course) and hence it was pretty pointless using the no follow. That is what I have been told by some SEO 'experts' and I have to say that it might seem that a no follow link does still pass on some of the juice if my personal blog is anything to go by

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Emmeline,

My understanding is as follows, based on what I've read and seen.

When a website owner sets the 'no follow' rule on links, it stops SEO juice being passed directly down to the destination page that is linked to. A good summary can be found on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow

It is often used as a means of stopping spamming, to avoid lazy marketing where people add comments just to get link juice from a reputable website.

However, even if a link has the 'no follow' tag, you can still generate good traffic from the link. If you are getting lots of good traffic and people are then spending time on your site, that will be of benefit to you from an SEO perspective even if the link does not pass on direct Page Rank benefit. No follow doesn't mean search engines won't see/follow the link, it just means they don't pass SEO juice on from the source page to affect the destination page ranking. Hope that makes sense.

If you think you have a valuable contribution to a website and wish to get SEO benefit when 'no follow' is the norm, I would recommend contacting the web owner and discussing how you could contribute to their website and get a relevant link back to your website.

I would welcome clarification for specialist SEOs out there.

thanks

james

over 6 years ago

Geoff Andrews

Geoff Andrews, Lead Generation Manager at Kumon Educational UK

As James says "No Follow" links were originally constructed to stop spam. People carpet bombing blogs to get the links etc.

Some SEOs also started to use "No Follow" links on their own site to manipulate where the link juice goes on the site. This is a practice know as "PageRank sculpting". Although Google has said that PageRank will evaporate when it hits a "No Follow" link some people may still be using / testing this technique which could be another reason a No Follow is being used.

With regards to Google following No Follow links, I believe they do follow them but not attribute link juice. Having said this I think No Follow's attributes are ignored from Social Media Power Users. For example if my social media account has enough weight (in terms of followers, Retweets over time or whatever), it is thought that Google passes the juice.

This is a relatively hot topic with some feeling that some attributes such as additional domain link etc. are still passed in No Follow links even if the "PageRank" isn't.

This is a topic I am very interested in so if anyone can provide some more input or clarification, it'd be great.

over 6 years ago

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Amanda Hepburn

Well . . . what can I say? There I was, reading this really handy post . . . and then I looked up and thought to myself, well if it isn't me old mucker Mr G! A pleasure as always. :-) Will be back to read more pearls of wisdom for sure.

over 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hey Amanda

Long time no speak. Hope you are well and enjoying life.

Always happy to share my pearls (of wisdom that is).

thanks

james

over 6 years ago

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Nina Greaves

James - re: Google Alerts Create alerts for your clients competitors so that's how you can find good ways of linkbuilding - as you correctly said only when links appear does the alert come up. I use Google Alerts to demonstrate to the Directors that I'm carrying out my linkbuilding strategy, whilst at the same time keeping an eye out on what the competitors are doing on the internet and what links they are generatin ::)

over 6 years ago

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Faye

Hello James

I'm a little late to this exciting discussion but wanted you to know how helpful your post, and the following comments (heated and otherwise), have been.  

I'm a PR professional with excellent copy writing skills and general marketing experience, but while I consider myself an expert in print and broadcast media and a good story finder/teller with a great understanding of trends and cultural reference, I'm ashamed to admit that the world of on-line promotion has previously taken a back seat.  Of course now it is suddenly of great importance to my career (I can see you all with your wry smiles)!  I'm still struggling with technical terms and often feel overwhelmed at where to start but posts like yours are so very helpful.

Thanks to you I'm rather chuffed with my little self at trusting my intuition and updating the copy on our website to be more engaging before we launch our new site and before starting a PR & marketing campaign to drive new customers to us.  The relief I feel today at the fact I'm (slowly) going in the right direction is palpable. And the sun is shining too! Hoorah!

Now I just need to get my head around this darn Google Analytics! (I find myself staring at graphs and bounce rates with a rather gormless look on my face...)

Thank you all - I shall keep dropping in. 

about 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Faye,

Never too late to get stuck in to the discussion. Thanks for the feedback and glad it was useful.

Tip on GA - don't look at any reports until you know what you want to find out. Set out goals such as "I want to know which pages have the worst engagement" then work out which reports give you the data to analyse. Bounce rate will tell you which pages have the biggest drop out issue as it shows the % of total visitors to that page who then leave your site without taking further action. 

However, word of caution. You need to think about the purpose of that page before thinking it is poor performing because it has a high bounce rate (anything over 30% isn't generally good). For example, if the page is store locator page you would expect a high bounce rate as people find the store info, then leave your site to visit the store. A simplified explanation but hopefully it illustrates the importance of context.

If you drill into the older blog posts on here and do some google searching, you'll find some excellent articles giving tips on using GA.

Good luck conquering the online world and if you ever want some quick GA tips, contact me via Twitter @jamesgurd - also take a peek @feiner (very switched on analytics chap). Another great person to follow is Avinash Kaushik - his blog is at http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/

Thanks

james

about 6 years ago

Geoff Andrews

Geoff Andrews, Lead Generation Manager at Kumon Educational UK

@faye with your PR skills you should be great at promoting your site.

Analytics offers you site averages for all metrics. If you work to reduce these averages then you are doing a good job.

For example, if your site average bounce rate is 60%. Look at the data, see which sources have a bounce rate higher than 60% and then try to work on a solution to reduce the bounce rates from those sources.

Many would recommend using Google Website Optimiser to improve your onpage to reduce the bounce rate - i.e. to work out what messages people from those sources want.

I hope this helps - best of luck with the link building.

about 6 years ago

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Jay Mahal

You cannot go wrong when it comes to Google Analytics. Not only does it give you information regarding how many visitors are coming through, but an insight into what keywords are being used (both from organic and adword paid lisitings). Use this to your advantage.

about 6 years ago

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seo partner

That is true not many people know what seo is. I did not even know what it was a few months ago. I think people with businesses that they want to be successful should have an seo partner because they will guide you through the whole process or even do it for you it is great.

about 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Oh please SEO Partner please stop wasting our time. Your website link is selling SEO software, so it's amazing that you've gone from not knowing what SEO is to selling SEO software in a matter of months. That sort of learning curve is quite impressive....

Lazy lazy plug.

about 6 years ago

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muqeett

give some new tips .... there all are  very old please don't waste our time

over 5 years ago

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Brett Widmann

This has been very helpful. I'm always looking for new ways to improve my SEO. Thanks for sharing.

over 5 years ago

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PC Pandora


It helped me big time. over-delivered, full-packed with valuable resources and seasoned/timeless information as well.

over 5 years ago

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Lisa Blackler

What fascinates me is the balance between keyword researched copy and natural copy. How far from the core topic can you stray and still make it work? If a visitor comes to a site from a search and does not find what they expect when they arrive, what a waste of time that is! Supposing I have a business selling budget cars and I capture searches for luxury vehicles...yes, I get visits, but what is the point? And yet I see this type of thing proposed frequently.

over 5 years ago

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Randolph Carter

Always looking for new tips and ideas. A few of these are already known, but thanks for the others.

over 5 years ago

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Robert Bloch

Thanks for all the great ideas for this newbie to use. I enjoyed reading all the posts as well as the article.

over 5 years ago

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karen

so good

over 5 years ago

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XML sitemap generator fan

I agree with some others that this is was a very easy to read post and helped give me some ideas. I don't blame you for trying to tackle your lawn and reply at the same time. I'm trying to mow my own grandpas lawn and help friends that are trying to increase traffic to their site.

over 5 years ago

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Daryl Tavernor, Digital at Netinspire

Still a great read!

about 1 year ago

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