Posted by simarp in : Search Engines, SEO, websites ,
Posted by simarprit in : Internet, Search Engines, SEO, websites ,
Do SEO lessons from over 2 decades of its history still hold ground? Does it make any sense to invest in doing static content? If it is photograph you wish to get popular, go to Instagram, right? Videos and YouTube are synonyms, right? All of the above questions have same answer Yes and No. Let us look at them one by one.
Do SEO lessons from over 2 decades of its history still hold ground? Some do, most don’t. Fundamental question which needs to be answered while doing SEO remains – What unique problem are you solving? If you can do an elevator pitch sort of answer to this question, SEO would work for you. If your answer goes like “Yes, but, but I still think…” Just drop it, SEO is not going to help. For example if your content says “There are numerous reasons why India is not growing by 10% and above….” you are not solving a problem, SEO won’t work. If your content reads “Primary reason why India is not growing by 10% and above is its very high level of corruption, other reasons are…” you are solving a problem, your SEO is done. Lessons which don’t hold good are:
Gaming Google – Doesn’t work, today’s Google is very smart, not yet foolproof but almost there. it is very focused and very mean, it is under pressure too. So, if you are gaming Google, you are ensuring that Google’s fails in front of its users, which Google just can’t afford today. So no gaming Google.
Stuff basic information – Who, When, Where, Why, How – and you are done. This no longer works. Google is ensuring that for every Who, When, Where, Why, How – which hits big number, Google embeds solution on SERP itself at number one position. You are gone. Google fulfills that need and closes the chapter. Adding flight schedules, addresses, zip-codes, weather are all pass. Google embeds almost 20% results of total queries in its SERP now.
Image Size Manipulation – No. Google’s image recognition system today is empowered, it identifies size manipulation and treats it as spam. -30, -50 – whatever follows.
Does it make any sense to invest in doing static content? Yes, it does and No it doesn’t. Why Yes? If your content caters to an emerging segment and what all to see and in that segment you have a first mover advantage and your content has citation about authenticity, you are home. Writing about – Where is Taj Mahal? How to reach? What to see? No, it is not going to work. Google has trusted providers which have been verified by users, that already solve a problem to Google’s satisfaction, so please don’t waste time.
If it is photograph you wish to get popular, go to Instagram, right? Yes, but you just can’t ignore Google. Google’s updated search relevancy to image search mapping is very powerful. Almost 30% generic searches show up an image. On around 5% searches images come in 3 rows and all content is pushed down. Image optimization ensures traffic.
Videos and YouTube are synonyms, right? Google runs Search, Google owns YouTube, all the more reason to ensure your YouTube videos are optimized on Google. Not that people would come looking for videos, but because google shows up videos where it thinks the query actually needs a video result. If search term is Elephant Safari, Google goes to YouTube to look for an Elephant Safari video and show it to you. If your videos is Google optimized, you get to be picked up. Works.
SEO remains a powerful economical traffic generation tool, now it even comes with many “How to use Google” third-party manuals. Read them all. No harm.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization Basics
- What is SEO? – To make your website cut through the clutter and deliver business is SEO.
- What is this clutter all about? - Everyday hundreds of thousands of web-pages are born, each with an expectation to deliver results and be on the top. This is the clutter. Fifty five million pages on Google respond to the words – What is SEO and over 136,000 pages are working precisely to be on the phrase “What is SEO?”. This page, once posted would add yet one more page to this clutter.
- How does a website deliver business? - If you know your business, half the job is done. Congratulations! Now for the other half, you need to cut through some jargon’s and face several challenges. SEO is one of the many challenges and definitely not the only challenge. SEO only helps you to get the eyeballs to move to your website, for your website to deliver business, you would have to attend to those eyeballs to convince the rest of the body to do business at your website. You would also need to get the RIGHT EYEBALLS and not yet any eyeballs. Landing Page is the page where your SEOed eyeballs land. SEO job ends and the landing page’s job begins. Many SEOs (the individuals who do the SEO) consider Landing Page as a different subject, however, no SEO strategy can succeed without a functional landing page. Landing Page is a marriage between the two half’s of online business – your business knowledge and your website’s effectiveness, it is the place where the SEO meets business and each order is an offspring of this marriage.
- So who should do the landing page? - The landing page should always be done by the business, it should have inputs from sales, marketing, production, dispatch, finance and every-other department which keeps your business running. The business should ask the SEO company or the inhouse SEO professionals - zillions of questions and incorporate SEO essentials to the landing page. An SEO firm doesn’t know your business, so take their inputs, look at the landing pages of your competitors and write down your essentials for the landing page. You may also study specific challenges on Landing Page Optimization.
- What do we mean when we say Organic Search Results? - Let us step back and understand the origin of this phrase. As per Wikipedia – “Organic farmingis a form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests, excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms”. Now let us check what Wikipedia has to say about Organic Search – “Organic search results refers to those listings in search engine results pages that appear by dint of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being adverts”. I would phrase it very differently: Organic Search Resultsare the snippet listings from those webpages which are most likely to focus on the searched term, the order of organic search results is reflected by the user friendly projection of the relevance of the webpage to the various automated programs (robots/spiders etc) which visit the page periodically, organic search results explicitly exclude cloaking (projecting what you are not to the robots/ spiders), paid link building and Black Hat (Illegitimate means of projecting your page) SEO techniques. So what do we call those results which show up in Organic Search results using Cloaking, Black Hat and Paid Linking – They are fakes.
- How important are Keywords to SEO? – To understand SEO Basics well, it is important to understand and underline the difference between Keywords and Key-phrases. Keywords are essentially the words on which you would like your site to come-up on SERPs (Search engine Result Pages), for instance if your business is all about selling birthday favors, your keywords would be, amongst others, birthday and favors. However your key-phrase would be “birthday favors.” Coming on Birthday favors as a phrase should be everything to you, as it is 100% business relevance. All the leads which this key-phrase would get you would be a potential sale. So Keywords are important but in many cases the key rests with the key-phrases. Literally.
- What is Keyword Stuffing, and does it hurt? -The act of populating disproportionately your content or meta tags with one particular or few keywords or key-phrases is referred to as Keyword Stuffing. Keyword stuffing is gross, it is bad for your site, bad for your business, bad for your client/ surfer, bad for the search engines and bad for the internet on the whole. It is a malpractice. As it hurts all concerned, it hurts you too, directly and indirectly. Directly it hurts as search engines are becoming smarter to identify keyword spammers, surfers report keyword stuffing more often, Indirectly as the surfer who lands on your website, discovers that you indulge in malpractices may decide not to do business on your website.
- Do you SEO a site, or you SEO individual pages? – You SEO individual pages, and if you SEO all pages on your website, your whole site is done. Having said that, you do SEO your website. You define the focus of your website and ensure that every page contributes and reflects that focus. Let us say, you have a hotel website which covers all the 50 states of the United States of America and over 600 cities, it would help you to use your anchor words and phrases on every page when you are optimizing them. If you come on say “Hotels in San Jose”, “Hotels in San Francisco”, “Hotels in Sacramento”, “Hotels in Los Angeles” there is a good opportunity to come on “Hotels in California”. Similarly if your site comes on “Hotels in Texas”, “Hotels in California”, “Hotels in New York”, “Hotels in Washington” and “Hotels in Florida”, it would be easier to make it perform on “Hotels in the US”, “Hotels in the USA”, “Hotels in the United States of America”, and on “Hotels” itself. So, work multi-stage – Stage I: Focus “Hotels in San Jose”- Stage II “Hotels in California” – Stage III “Hotels in the US” – Stage IV “Hotels” – Where Stage I is your web page focus and stage IV is your website focus.
- Is SEO genetically modular, or is SEO genetically absolute? – SEO is anything but an absolute exercise, it is totally modular in nature. You can work on Optimizing your site part by part.
Much More coming…
Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites ,
Which hat do you wear, Black, White, Grey, Red or None?
The question should rather be:
Which kind of head do you carry over your shoulder – Black, White, Grey or Red?
It looks like everyone has been changing/ exchanging hats. If it is the color of head we talk about, it would be more exciting and entertaining
Continuing with my series on SES 2008, San Jose, this post incorporates the Gyan acquired during the session – Black Hat, White Hat: Playing Dirty with SEO
Let us define:
Black Hat: You do whatever it takes to be on top of SERPs. Good. Bad. Ugly. Whatever. Period.
White Hat: You do whatever search engine (read Google) guidelines for webmasters tell you to, you don’t try to outsmart search engines.
Grey Hat: You are the border guy, you know the stretch, and you think you know what you would getaway with, you live white, but you know black and you use it on the side.
Red Hat: You know what it takes to hurt your competitor and you know how to getaway with it.
No Hat: If you don’t wear any and you are still an SEO, maybe you an incompetent SEO. Don’t worry, you are not alone 95% of the SEOs within the industry are plain incompetent.
The session was to debate Black Hat vs. White Hat, but the debate didn’t happen. it looked like the whole panel was wearing Grey Hat and tended to remain on the border and just didn’t want to be drawn to the controversy. Important observation were made:
- Established sites have much more restrictions, they can’t risk exclusion from SERPs.
- Just made for adsense is crap. Content needs to be good. Nobody wants trash, and for sure not the search engines.
- Searcher needs good results and most of the top results very close to each other, if Search Engines intermix the top 5 results, it wouldn’t;t matter to the surfer.
- Buying excessive links can hurt, it is Red Hat.
- Good SEO to me is Knowledge about Search engines and the subject.
- Meta Keyword stuffing hurts.
- Everything in the title hurts too.
- Hidden content is black.
- Short and focused titles are good.
- Paid unrealted blogging can hurts.
- Vague and self promoting descriptions with repeat words hurts
- Paid link buying from link farms hurts badly.
- Search engines hate doorway or gatway pages, they hate being misled
- Serach engines hate carse optimization: They are bound to hate something like this – www.example.com/HOTEL/hotel/googleCityNameHotel.html - Which may go with the title <title>CityName Hotels | Hotels in CityName |Budget CityName Hotels| Luxury CityName Hotel| Cheap CityName Hotel| Discount CityName Hotels</title> This is a live example of carse black hat, “We will do anything even put Google’s name in our URLs, hundreds of them but we need to get on the top, we don’t care what happens to our site if Google doesn’t like it.” I picked up this example as it was succeeding in ranking high up. I have kept the URL intact except removing the site name and substituting it with example.com and substituting the actual city name with CityName.
- Great generic domain name helps
More to come…
Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Content, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, Spamming, Uncategorized, websites ,
Content Duplication Issues and SEO Best Practices
Continuing on my series on SES 2008 San Jose, this White paper is again a hybrid of what was shared and what I have learnt over a decade on search engines.
If I give you 10 pages to read, you would scan through, start reading and if what you are reading is “new to you” may be you would read all ten of them at one go.
Now, if I give you 10 pages to read and when you scan through you find that “you’ve read it before” or “only one page is unique”, you may not even read my one unique page and trash all, worse, you would remember me as guy who tricked you by giving 10 pages to read when he had just information for one page. You would make a note “not so nice man to know.”
To me this is content duplication and so it is to search engines, so here we go.
- Search engines job is to satisfy the searcher, they want to grow and be seen as credible.
- Search engines have no favorites.
- They trust you unless you betray them, they work with a basic premise that what you are feeding them is your own and unique.
- So when you feed search engines anything they “Scan”, if you are “New” they may read whole of it.
- If you are not “New” they’ll trash you and “remember” you as “not a good site to know”.
So what are your choices, simple choice is to always provide “New content”, but this choice is expensive and restrictive to many, so what do these many do:
- Put same content on many pages on the same site as it is.
- Put same content on many pages of the same site with minor modifications, disguising it as new content.
- Put same content on many different sites under the same ownership.
- Put same content on many different sites with minor modifications but the sites are under the same ownership.
- Put same content on many different sites under many different ownerships, in many different servers, in many different data centers with or without minor modifications.
They all presume that they would be able to manipulate their way around, some do succeed, but issue is how hard are you working to do something which is wrong anyway. Search engines are becoming smarter by every passing day, they are scanning better, they are storing better and they are recalling better. The best case scenario is don’t duplicate your content and don’t manipulate content of others and put the same on your site, remember sooner or later you would be caught and become “Not a Good Site to Know”, and search engines would drop you out, as we all do.
This leaves us with the issue of what if someone does this to me. Yes, this is the issue!
So if you are original source of the content, your worry is – How does search engine know that I am the original? Search engines are working very hard to reach the original, in case they don;t make them aware.
Do what you will do with your assets: Protect them, be vigilant and act if someone breaches your copyrights. A related issue is when you syndicate your original content, I will cover this subsequently.
Some common inadvertent content duplication mistakes and issues:
- When spiders read your content four times: http://example.com, http://www.example.com, http://www.example.com/index.html or http://example.com/index.html. Most of the spiders know how to circumvent it, but it will help to put 301 re-directions in place and route everything to www.example.com
- When you change platform
- When you change URL structures, remove the old one and deploy 301 redirects
- When you create test folders, remove your test folders
- When you shift to a sub domain, clear the content permanently from your servers
- Disclaimers and privacy policies running across sites and copyright statements running across site. put non-crawlable JS functions or connect them centrally.
- Check your landing pages, if you have multiple landing pages make them unique
- Check your meta titles, and meta descriptions, they need to be unique
- Be careful on mirrored sites
- Content in multiple languages with common attributes or language strings is a no no
- Use exclude protocol in robots.txt where-ever you need to share the same content, within the same site or at different domains
- Check out and remove any hidden link.
- Use password protection where you need to carry duplicate content
- Permanent deletion of duplicate content is better than redirection
The above can form some of the best practices SEO’s can follow.
more to come…
Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites ,
Continuing with my executive summaries on SES 2008, San Jose – Here is my take on Meta Description Tags:
Lot of King Size SEOs scream on top of their voices “Who cares for Meta Description Tags”, I whisper “The searcher cares and I care. Period.”
Why does the surfer care:
- Knows the animal called SEO, and is scared of it.
- Is not a novice, she knows that first couple of results are best optimized but may not be the best results.
- She needs a 20 second elevator pitch.
- She falls in her self esteem if she hits a trash.
- She likes manicured hands, Your title is your head and your description is your hands.
I can go on and on…
But Why do I care?
- Makes me look serious and business like, at all time
- Gets me the right traffic
- Good Description sticks
- She enters my site knowing precisely what she needs and I have it, no surprise, she hates them
- “Copyright 2001-2008″, we all have seen all kinds of information filling up in search engines when meta Description Tag is not there or not used properly. it saves me from showing my dirty linen or any unwanted information.
- A good Meta Description Tag Page gives me higher number of Clicks at number 5 than a no Meta Description tag page gets me at Number 2.
The correct syntax for the Meta Description Tag in HTML is;
<meta name= description content= “Your 20 second Elevator picth works here.”>
<META NAME= “Description” CONTENT=”Your 20 second Elevator Pitch works here.”>
More SEO tips shall follow, these Tips are my own assessment of what works for me, they maynot be totaly in line with what has been preached at SES 2008, San Jose.
Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites ,
So what is a website clinic? As per Search Engine Strategies 2008, San Jose organizers, a website clinic is a one to tow hour session where a panel of “Website Gurus” evaluate your site publicly.
They allow you to explain what your site does briefly. Each site review takes about 15 minutes, I attended three sessions on this subject today:
My random thoughts:
- Try to stick to one coder or a style of coding
- Ensure your site supports the resolution your customer group generally work on
- Maybe it is a good idea to give relative links from your homepage to internal server
- Seeing what you are looking for in the URL makes sense
- Dynamic Menus can create a problem, they may confuse the spider, robots and whatever
- JS is best avoided in all sorts of navigation.
- JS also adds to overheads
- It may be good idea to tackle multiple coder issue by rewriting the code for your top pages (top pages and not all pages) in one style from time to time.
- Hyphens are better than underscores in the path and on the page.
- Wisely use SEO products and be open to adopting them.
- All upper case usage is not good
- Ensure your sitemap is there and update it regularly
- Define your 20 second elevator pitch and put it prominently
- 404 hurts, avoid Not Found Errors
- Avoid denial of service errors, they hurt
- Bring up Page 2 and Page 3 words
- Try MSN funnel tool
- Use KML
- Provide data dircetly to search engines
- Try layering image over text, but don’t go overboard
More to come..
Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, SES 2008, websites ,
SEO Through Blogs and Feeds
Continuing on my blogging the SES 2008 at San Jose I must admit I am not the fastest blogger and neither do I do “Live Blogging”, my blogs are aimed to be educative executive summaries for myself and for all those who care. They are focused session on what all I have attended and express my opinion alongside those who are the knowledge givers.
Rebecca Lieb did a good job of moderating the session, her knowledge about the subject and her apt comments made the session lively, Chris Boggs, Lee Odden, Amanda Watlington and Daron Babin formed the speakers panel.
It is important to self qualify your blog and understand your objectives of blogging. The qualifications you must answer be:
- Is your blog official or personal?
- Is your blog residing on a sub-domain or is it a separate domain in itself?
- Does your blog carry your corporate signatures or it has a personal touch about it?
- Are you the lone blogger or there are are multiple bloggers who would work working on the blog?
Choosing your platform is very important. WordPress looked like the preferred platform for most around.
Some quick takeaways (includes my own interpretations and learning)
- When writing a blog remember Steven Covey, begin with the end in mind.
- You should know precisely what you want to write on and what you want to gain by that writing.
- You should make a note of the keywords you want that post/blog to cover and ensure that they find a place in your title.
- The panel also recommended that you should do some research on the tags you would like your post to be covered under.
- Socializing and creating community around the log helps
- Customize and optimize your blog and feeds
- Use blog widgets or bligets wisely, don’t be obsessed
- Acknowledge and link to others liberally, develop credibility for your blog
- Links are currency, work towards them
- Try to become a top referrer on the topic of your choice
- Twitter, Flickr, Stumbleupon you need all of them at some stage or another
- Goals should drive your content on the blog
- Refine your blog
- Use Auto Discovery Tag of blog feeds
- Use trust rank inside your blog to increase credibility
More to come
Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Internet, Search Engines, SEO, websites ,
The most important takeaway for me from the SES 2008, San Jose is that I have come to accept SEO as an integral part of doing business on the net. I must put a quick rejoinder, Ethical SEO is good and it must center around the concept that Search Engines need you more than you eed the search engines. Search engines main stay is good content and high degree of relevant top quality results.
This post is going to be an ever evolving post on SEO Best Practices, this would be an extension of my own own learning and growth as an SEO practitioner.
Search Engine Optimization is good and is here to stay, it all depends on you as an SEO practitioner on how strongly you define your best practices and how religiously you follow them and live the guidelines.
So what is the rule of thumb, and the most critical best practice:
Make your site in a form that it enhances the search engines usage experience. In other words, Search Engines should need you at the least as much as you need them, preferably they should need you more than you need them.
Much more to come, it has just begun…
Posted by simarprit in : Uncategorized ,
What makes a great homepage?
A homepage which ensures that everyone who lands on it moves on to internal pages. The Homepage must have 100% click through rate. Anything below 90% is failure, absolute failure.
We had a business challenge to create a new homepage for one of our projects – http://www.mapsofworld.com- Maps of World is now the 5th largest Mapping site by most parameters and the Homepage must strengthen the same and make ground for the site to be seen as one of the finest mapping sites.
Here is the approach we followed to get there….
- Studied all Great Homepages, irrespective of the industry they belonged.
- We made Color Preference parameters
- We made gender specific layout choices
- We did a detailed user preference analysis
- Worked on what we want to show and what the surfer wants to see
- Worked on the assumption that things can stretch
- Had two parallel, independent teams working on the concept
- First set of all 10 designs bombed
- No team changes were made
- More close detailing of what is required was done
- A beautiful face with a great mind was the desired homepage
- We have to be the best in the trade was the dream
- Homepage was broken down as two homepages – Above the fold and below the fold
- Above the fold homepage was planned for visual impact
- Below the fold was planned for search engine friendliness
- Number of links were restricted to 60
- We limited the colors which can come on the website
- White had to be 40% – on the site, which meant 40% of White Space must hit the surfer
- Clutter was avoided
- Great Icons and thumbnails were planned
- Objective was also to scare the competition
- World Map Store links were integrated
- English was checked thrice over
- Beta version was floated around
- Close choice on exact color was done
- We told ourselves Google, Yahoo and Live must love us, Googlebot must love us too
- Prioritizing, Surfer comes first, search engines come second and we are third, user experience counts
- Kill surprises was essential
- Duplicate links were avoided
- Tags within pages were used
This was started by me few months back, On August 23, 2008 I have added more to it and would like this article to become a Homepage Design reference for SEO Best Practices. I may have done enough mistakes, please do comment and point it out.
There’s more to come….