Archive for 'report'

by Roger Bauer
Posted: 11/20/2006

Designing a website can be a daunting task if you’re new to the game and have little time to research the proper ways to develop a site that is both user and search engine friendly. After-all, what good is a website if no one can find you? Below are some things to avoid if search engine traffic is a priority.

Frames are pages within a page. Search engine crawlers, spiders, or bots (small pieces of code the engines send out to inventory websites) read a frameset as one page with very little content. Just because you can’t see the frames distinctly when viewing a page online doesn’t mean the search spider sees the site as a human does. If you want to see the site as a crawler does, right click on the main area of the page in question and view the source code of that page. Avoid frames especially for main/home pages of a site.

Flash is a very cool and hip way to do a page as it can incorporate interactivity and entertainment into a site or page, but it has little value to a search crawler. The fact is a search crawler cannot read a Flash page or component so all of that content and interlinking you worked so hard to develop earns you nothing in terms of search value. Your viewers may love your site, but you’re unlikely to attract new viewers without the help of the search engines. One caveat: it’s okay to mix in some Flash, but stay way from pure Flash for your website if your goal is to attract the masses.

Java-script Navigation
Search crawlers can’t execute lines of code therefore they won’t be able to navigate your site if you implement a lot of Java-script to guide users. The purpose of a crawler is to inventory a website to report back to the engine what it found. Once the search engine has a pretty good inventory of a site, it can mix that site in with the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a given keyword phrase. Try to make the crawler’s job as easy as possible by limiting the amount of scripting navigation per page. If you insist on using scripting for navigation, make sure you have some form of HTML navigation visible as well. At worst, have an HTML link on each page to an accurate site map for your site.

Dynamic URLs
Most search engines will not list dynamic URLs in their results pages. Dynamic URLs are typically used for database driven sites or script based sites. The above paragraph outlines the reasoning behind avoiding scripts, and dynamic URLs are no different. If you must use dynamic URLs, try to have a main page that doesn’t so that the search engines can find you.

Image Map Navigation
Search crawlers frequently get stuck within image maps and can’t accurately inventory your site. Stick with standard HTML navigation schemes if at all possible.

When designing your site, keep in mind that it needs to be easy to navigate for users and search engine crawlers alike. A slick site is of little use if no one can find you especially a search engine crawler.

I received an e-mail today from Business First stating they may publish a couple of my articles. This is big news for me and my firm as I’ve been trying to get published in print for a little while now in order to market the consultancy to a broader, yet localized, audience.

One of the things I try to weave into website owners’ heads is offline marketing is still important when it comes to your business. We’re still a society that reads print publications even though the subscriber numbers are coming down for almost all print media. That doesn’t mean it’s not a viable medium for marketing a business especially if you can get something published for free like an article. Technically, the article isn’t free as time is money, but your time is hopefully rewarded with an increase in business. Even if you only capture “bathroom impressions” from print media, those are still valuable hits you wouldn’t get otherwise.

It’s still more cost effective to market online since you can reach a seemingly endless prospect base, it’s real time, and you can achieve a quantifiable ROI from online marketing unlike that of television or print. Who is to say that your television commercial or print ad gets viewed as often as suggested? Since the marketing firms are against Nielsen releasing television commercial statistics (I’d love to see those numbers!), it’ll be awhile until we can put a definitive number on viewership, but we can regularly get that data online. Same with print media–how can one be sure if their article or ad receives the “impressions” or “eyeballs” the publisher suggests? It’s hard to accurately quantify those numbers, but I will gladly take the exposure print media can provide.

I’ll report back once one of my articles gets published and share the online traffic numbers after publication. It should produce a noticable spike, but there’s no way to tell until it actually happens. We’ll monitor this “campaign” just like we would an online effort.

Google Stomps On!

October 19, 2006—Wow!!! First Google reports another blowout quarter. Earlier the same day, Nielsen publishes search results for September 2006, and Google put the hammer to the competition there also. They garnered 50% search share which equates to 24% growth year over year (YOY). Talk about impressive numbers—the Google train obviously isn’t slowing! How does this impact the major search game?

Does this sound the warning siren to Microsoft that maybe they ought to reconsider buying out Yahoo? It makes perfect sense given the fact that Microsoft’s search results continue to fall (-12% YOY to a 9.23% share), and Yahoo isn’t keeping Google within an eyeshot either although they still maintain a nice share of the search market (23.4%; up 12% YOY). The two of them combined would give Google a little competition, and we, the consumer, would benefit from greater services and advancements in software along with online options as the companies battle it out in the marketplace. If not, Google is going to run off and hide.

Perhaps Yahoo (with a lot of cash to spare) will buy some smaller niche companies to make themselves even more attractive to Microsoft, but I don’t believe Microsoft will sit by idly while Yahoo postulates what to do next. It’s Microsoft’s move to make, and the time to act is now; not a year from now when their collective search share is even lower. Google is a formidable threat to Microsoft, and they aren’t going to take a breather just because they’ve hung up yet another blow out quarter financially and in search.

Yahoo has shown they can’t keep pace on their own so they’re going to need some help if they have any intention of ever catching Google. Google smells blood, and that signals the time to push harder; not back away. YouTube is likely just the beginning of an intriguing acquisition spree for the gang in Mountain View.

Microsoft would be wise to snatch up Yahoo right now after Yahoo posted a rather blah quarter earlier in the week which will shrink their market capitalization a little where Mr. Softy could acquire Yahoo at a “discount.” They didn’t like the idea of buying Yahoo at $29/share a couple months ago, but they should probably like it at $25.

Yahoo isn’t “dead.” It’s not like they’re stinking up the joint (they are still growing albeit much slower), and they do understand the search game which Microsoft hasn’t quite yet figured out. It seems to make a logical marriage at this stage of the game.

Bottom line: this is shaping up rather nicely as a good ole fashion duel that may take some time to determine the ultimate winner, but we’ll be anxiously monitoring the three “big dogs” as they ponder their next move in this high stakes search engine chess match. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

The Basics of SEO

What is SEO anyway?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is a highly involved, somewhat lengthy, process designed to elevate an internet website’s major search engine ranking and/or positioning. The major search engines (Google, Microsoft Network (MSN), and Yahoo) make up greater than 70% of search traffic on the internet. This is a common way for people to find others, information, companies, potential business partners, etc. by entering a “keyword” or search term. Typically, the searcher will seek information on their keyword or search term and click on the top results. Thus the higher a site ranks for a given keyword or search term, the better its chances of attracting more visitors to its site.

Why Should I Care about SEO?
If you run a business and have a web presence, don’t you want the most people possible knowing about that business? Wouldn’t it benefit you if your website was able to bring you new leads or develop new customers every day, 24 hours per day? Research has shown that nearly 95% of all search engine users rarely read past the first page of search results. Because of that, it behooves you to have your website on the first page of search results for specific keywords and terms.

Can’t I just Pay for a High Ranking?
No! Organic (or “free”) search listing rankings cannot be purchased. These are “earned” over time via links, content, keyword relevance, page and site descriptions, titles of pages, etc. You can pay for clicks to your website based on specific terms or keywords however these are separate results from the free results people commonly click.

What is Pay-Per-Click?
Pay-per-click is a form of internet advertising where you pay a certain amount for each “click” or “hit” to your website as a result of a person searching for a certain keyword or phrase.

What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud occurs when a person or automated computer script imitates a legitimate search for a keyword or phrase yet clicks on the pay-per-click result for the sole purpose of generating revenue for the search engine or affiliate.

What is a Linking Partner?
A linking partner is a website which provides a link to your site. Some will require a link on your site to theirs in return (a reciprocal link) while others will want to have a link on a third party’s site in exchange for the link to yours. Reciprocal links aren’t as valuable as unique one way links but the more links you have pointing to your site (link popularity), the more “important” the search engines will consider your site.

What is Page Rank?
Page Rank is Google’s proprietary algorithm for determining a site’s importance. It’s expressed as a value from 1-10 with 10 being the most important and most desirable. The algorithm was designed by Larry Page, Google’s co-founder. Page Rank is affected by things such as the number of links pointing to your website, and the amount of unique and relevant content on your website.

What is a Keyword?
A keyword is a typical word or phrase you’d expect people to use when searching for your site. That’s about as simple as we can explain it.

What is Keyword Density?
The number of keywords you use on a particular page in relation to the number of total words on that page. The more keywords you have peppered throughout the page and site, the better your site may rank for that particular term. You must be careful not to load a page with too many keywords, however—that is considered keyword “stuffing” or spamming and is frowned upon by the search engines.

What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is basically an inventory listing of all of the pages on your site. It tells the search engines how to get around your site and also how many pages there are on your site. It can be made visible to your visitors, but it doesn’t have to be. Uploading an XML file directly to the search engines is a generally accepted best practice for optimizing your search engine rankings.

What is a Spider?
Search engines utilize small programs to surf and inventory sites all over the internet. These are called spiders, and they follow links from site to site to gather their inventory to report back to the search engine. They are also referred to as crawlers or bots from time to time.

What is a Meta Tag?
A meta tag is an HTML piece of code which provides information about that particular page or document. These don’t provide formatting information or any actionable code—they are there for the search engines to catalog your site and the pages contained on your site.

What is a Blog?
A blog (short for weblog) is a news or journal type of site which is frequently used more for opinionated type of entries and is typically updated frequently. It is intended for general consumption but has become a valuable tool for all types of users to spread information and awareness of their websites.

Why Should I Write Articles for my Website?
Articles are a great way to increase the amount of unique content on your site as it pertains to the keywords you desire to rank well. There are numerous websites that publish articles, and it is common practice for the authors to include a link in their by-line back to their website. This creates an inbound link to the author’s website which in turn increases its popularity. It’s also a good way to increase awareness aside from the linking benefits.

What are Directories?
Directories are databases containing listings to websites based on categories and sub-categories. Many of the search engines access directories to crawl their links to learn of new sites. Directories are an invaluable resource for search engines and can often serve to improve a site’s ranking depending upon how important the search engine weighs the directory in question. Directories may provide a link to your site often without requiring a return or reciprocal link on your site.

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