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SEO: GOOGLE PERSPECTIVE [Part II]

My previous article involved the discussion of certain basic aspects that need to be kept in mind while you are optimizing your website to be ranked higher in the Google search pages. I discussed about title tags, description meta tags and proper framing of the URLs. So, in this post, I will continue from where I had left off and will discuss few more points in this regard.

Content should be proper and of high quality: Websites having good quality content in it will definitely attract more users. Among all the points I discussed till now, I think, this is THE most important factor that helps in optimizing websites. Users can very well differentiate between good, mediocre and bad content. In order to make your content better, make sure its free from any grammatical, spelling or some other errors. Try to incorporate words or phrases in the content, which you think, users will mostly use as keywords while searching for a particular topic.

Anchor text should be given equal importance: Those who do not have an idea about what exactly anchor text is, let me throw some light on this. Anchor text is clickable texts you see as link, in a page. Many of you might take this point as “not so important” one. However, if anyone asks me, I will surely say that it holds equal importance, as the anchor texts help users and Google to know about the page it is directing to. You can have an internal link on your page, which is directed to some other page of your own site, or you might have an external link as well, which is directed to a page of some other website. Whatever may be the case, your anchor text should be such, that the users, as well as Google, can easily follow it, in order to have an idea about the page it is linking to. It is always good to use a bit descriptive, creative anchor texts of two-three words, or a phrase, rather than using some common words or text as “click here”.

Use of heading tags properly: What a heading tag typically does is to highlight the  content of a web page. As known by all, heading tags appear to be bigger in size than the normal text and this helps the users to locate the important components of a page very easily. However, one should know about the definite ways of using these heading tags. One can use multiple heading tags in a single page, and if they are used in a proper way, it gives the page a hierarchical framing, which in turn, helps the users to go through the contents with ease.  At the same time, use of too many headings unnecessarily not only makes it unprofessional, but at the same time, it makes Google and users confused as to where the content started and where it ended.

However, this is not all. There are few more important aspects, which I think are equally important that requires further discussion. So, do check out my next post.  I am not done yet!

The Complete Guide To Google’s Website Optimizer

Why is it that some web sites are golden, compelling visitors to buy while similar web sites, perhaps even offering the same products at similar prices, fail to make the grade? It may be dumb luck on the owner’s part, but a more likely explanation is that the golden site is the result of careful design, testing, tweaking and testing yet again. Testing has grown into a core search marketing activity, but strangely, it’s also an activity that many search marketers either choose to avoid or don’t even consider at all.

And that’s a mistake. Good testing can not only help you get rid of stinker ads and landing pages, it can also help you optimize winning campaigns, improving their conversion rates and making them even more profitable. And testing needn’t be difficult or time-consuming, especially if you have the right tools. One of the best tools for helping you test and refine your search marketing campaigns is Google’s Website Optimizer. Even better, Website Optimizer is a free service.

Google deliberately designed Website Optimizer to be easy to use, even though the tool allows you to run complex, multivariate tests. At its most basic level, the tool lets you test different pages or combinations of elements on a single page to see how well they perform against a “conversion outcome” that you define. Google even claims that “you can launch a simple test in five minutes” in the video tour of Website Optimizer.

The problem is that to be effective, tests should be carefully planned to measure your desired outcomes. Another problem is that the results of your testing need to be interpreted properly so that you can be sure that any implementation based on the results will perform as expected. Testing is as much art as science, and it shouldn’t be done in an offhand or cavalier fashion.

Not sure where or how to start? Try Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer, by Bryan Eisenberg & John Quarto-vonTivadar with Lisa T. Davis. It’s a comprehensive guide to Google’s free testing tool, written for search marketers who are more interested in enhancing the performance of their search marketing campaign than in the analytic joys of multivariate testing. The authors don’t shy away from technical explanations when necessary, but the focus is always on the “whys” of testing even when looking closely at the “hows.”

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is a general overview of website testing and tuning using Google’s Website Optimizer. The first few chapters focus on the tool itself, but after that the focus changes to case studies drawn from the authors’ own search marketing campaigns. These are valuable not only as examples of how to test, but because the authors also share the processes and best practices they have developed to maximize the impact of the testing process.

Part two “What You Should Test” looks at more than 30 key factors that can impact conversion rates. These factors differ based on how conversion is defined, which also differs for publishers, retailers and lead generation web sites. Most of the chapters in this part follow a similar format, with sections on “questions to ask,” an exercise, “what to test” and “apply this to your site” tips. This is one of the best—and most thorough—guides to the overall website testing and optimization process I’ve read.

Part three, “Diving Deep For the Technically Challenged” goes into even more detail about the testing process, how things work, behind the scenes details of how Website Optimizer works and more. Meaty stuff for the more advanced search marketer who wants to know everything to gain a competitive edge.

The nice thing about Google’s Website Optimizer, apart from being free, is that it can be used to test campaigns running on Google or any other search engine. And the general practices discussed in the book can be applied to any testing tool, not just Website Optimizer.

Always Be Testing is an excellent book that tackles one of the most important aspects of successful search marketing. If you aren’t currently testing and want to know how to start, buy the book. Even if you are already testing and tuning your sites as part of your search marketing efforts, the case studies and best practices discussed in this book make it worth far more than the cover price when you apply the principles to your own campaigns.

SEO: GOOGLE PERSPECTIVE – Part I

A few days back, I came across a blog post in a particular site, which had a poll comparison between the top three search engines. And guess what! Google was rated as the “most frequently used” search engine and the most popular one among the others. That was an easy guess as it is true that there is a bit of Google within all of us. The way in which Google has dominated the “search engine” scenario of the web, it is quite evident that, most of the website owners would want to have their site ranked the highest, on the Google search pages.

All search engines have their own parameters and ways to rate a site higher in the order of rank, in their respective search results. Google has it too. Most of you might know about the factors which would ultimately help a site to achieve that apex position, but you may fail to make the most out of these.

  1. Page title should be accurate and unique: When a site is displayed in the search results, its title appears in the first line. Therefore, the title should be such that, it can be easily recognized by the user and Google search engine and should clearly state the name of the site/company or the type of products/services it provides. The basic formation of the title tags should clearly reflect the entire content of that particular page. Moreover, your website can have N number of pages, but each page should have a unique title tag, so that, it becomes easier for Google to differentiate among all the pages of that site. Another important thing to keep in mind about title tag, it should be short and enlightening, because in case of long titles, Google only shows a small portion of the title.
  2. Try to add “Description” meta tag: Like title tags, description meta tags are equally important as Google uses them as a clip in the search results. The description can be of one or two sentences, or even a small paragraph. Each an every page of the site should have a suitable description meta tags. These descriptions (or clips) help the users to identify easily whether the content of that particular page is exactly what he/she is actually looking for.
  3. The URLs should be proper: It is always very important to have proper framing of the URLs. The pages should have URLs with words that are easily understandable to both the users and the search engines. URL of a particular page, in the search results, is placed just below the description or the clip. Therefore, if it is framed properly, it helps to know about what the page actually contains.

These are some of the important things to keep in mind when you want to optimize your website for Google search engine. However, as I mentioned it before, it’s not that easy. There are a lot more in this regard, that I shall continue in my next post. So, do keep checking this blog for the next part of this post. Thus, the best way to end is by saying…To be continued…

SEO: TRICKS OF THE TRADE

To start with, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is nothing but the betterment of rank and placement of a site in the search engine pages. This concept has become a very important part of E-marketing. When we enter a keyword or keywords in sentential form and submit to a search engine, it ends up in showing a list of sites, which are relevant to the keywords entered. This process might seem to be a simple one, but it is definitely a bit tricky! SEO experts say that one needs to follow some tactics in order to succeed in a better page ranking in search engines. However, remarkably, you do not need to be sound enough, technically, in order to learn these tactics.

The traffic in search engines like Google, Yahoo or MSN is massive. You will have to go that extra mile in order to break through this traffic, and make your passage smooth. I will now discuss some of the points in brief that you should keep in mind when you plan to optimize your website for search engines.

With the increase of web traffic in large amounts on the information superhighway, listing of your webpage with a higher rank on any search engine involves a lot of research and to some extent, expertise. So make sure that apart from this post, you look around some other, similar posts so that you are very well acquainted with the process of SEO. I would advise you to get suggestions from an expert if your website involves a niche list of viewers and you are very particular to move up the ladder faster.

While optimizing your website for search engines, most often you tend to snazz it up with a lot of graphics and flashy animations. What you forget in the process is that your website will take more time to load compared to others. This may lurk off visitors from your site. Avoid the use of images and graphics that take time to load. Have an easy to load design for your website to increase the hits for your site.

Another important thing is that; make sure you study the existing competition. First, make a list of keywords that defines your product (or service) the most. Additionally, come up with as many keyword combinations as possible. Think from a viewer’s perspective. Think about the process in which viewers will use keywords to gain information about a particular product or a service from a search engine. After you have prepared an exhaustive list, use them in different meaningful combinations and search those words using the most popular search engines like Yahoo, Google and so on. See the number of matches you get for the keywords you are interested in to judge the competition. Always keep in mind that your website must have content which matches the keywords, because ultimate content of your website is what the search engines give priority to.

So, is there anyone who wants to optimize his or her own website for the search engines? Well, do not waste any more time and start with your SEO plans immediately, as, the higher the ranking of your website in the search engine pages, the better the prospects you will see in your business!

The Power of SEO Friendly Titles

The value of a great title for SEO purposes is invaluable. The title is the first thing a search engine sees to determine (what is this page about) and how does it relate to the sites theme and the keywords contained within the page.

Be Specific

A diffused title does not provide clarity for the reader or a search engine spider, so as far as first impressions are concerned, this is crucial to set the stage for short-term and long-term rankings.

The title should be short, informative. focused and concise. Each time you add another key phrase or keyword you can either diffuse or reinforce the title. However, if you add too many words, search engines will only get confused about the true topic of the page.

Creating Topical Relevance:

As far as pure ranking potential, a new post has more of an exact match connotations. Exact match in this connotation implies that if you type 2 to 3 words in the exact format they appear in the title, chances are you will find the page in a search engine (as the competition for that spelling, rhyme and meter of keywords combines is significantly less than just a keyword alone).

Eventually, each word in a title can act much like a net and get latched onto from search engines in broad match form when search engines troll the web using LSI (latent semantic indexing) looking for a suitable page to pull from the lottery of pages that have been earmarked as potential matches for that query.

Time and trust are the final ingredient if supported by the appropriate factors. Like a wave, a newly indexed page shoots out of the gate hot, hits a spike in the search engine result pages then after a week or so, starts to edge its way back to give way to new entrants who may or may not have more detailed information on the topic.

If your website has enough authority on the topic, the hang-time in search engines is longer. If your competition challenges you however, you must fortify your websites relationship to your coveted keyword with additional internal links, additional content, or allow the aging process to provide authority.

SEO Friendly Titles Must have Click-Appeal:

Writing a great title not only places your page higher up on the list, but it also serves to enhance click through traffic on the SERP (search engine result page) level from incorporating curb appeal as well as information.

Going back to a previous statement, in some instances a long title may be more suitable, depending on the competition for the keywords (we do not advocate stuffing titles with spam laden keywords). When a topic is very specific and you wanted to attract visitors from overlapping keywords, particularly if the keywords has low competition, then you could opt for a longer 7=12 word title.

Not that we are going backwards to simple algorithms such as keyword density (much like a bean counter approach to SEO). Not that keyword density has completely been expunged from the algorithm, it is safe to say it has been built on and improved (granted that on page and off page factors are supporting the reputation the page).

Though dated, keyword density was founded on a good premise, such as, if you replicate a word enough times, in key segments on the page, then you will rank for that term. Instead try creating multiple pages based around a theme (with SEO Friendly titles) and the overflow of continuity will leave an imprint in the index. More pages on a topic with the right metrics makes your website an authority on a topic.

SEO friendly titles should be 5-7 words, contain the keyword closer to the beginning that further away and have a benefit based action word incorporated.

The Relationship of Components:

SEO Friendly page incorporate the following elements.

  • The keyword in the title
  • The appearance of the keyword in the header tag (H1,H2,H3)
  • The frequency and proximity of the keyword in each paragraph (how often used and how many times) leave an impression
  • If the keywords are being used as anchor text (links) or how many inbound links the page is receiving (from within and outside of the site) sculpt each pages reputation

Search Engines Assess More than Titles to Discover Relevance:

Another metric at your fingertips is collective keyword focus. Just think of collective keyword focus like the equivalent of the refined version of a page that has sufficient internal linking, the right on page factors and enough support from other sites to say it is in fact what it is).

You create this by (a) writing about topics in detail (b) using keyword-rich anchor text to connect the pages and (c) using continuity between the titles. This premise of diversification, not relying excessively on any one page to produce relevance, allows you to refine or spread your spectrum of keywords attract more traffic from search engines.

For more information on this topic, here is another post about SEO friendly naming conventions that provides more specific detail on the subject.

Unique Search – Targeting Semantic Root Phrases and Keywords

There is a saying we throw around the office, target the root and devour the low hanging fruit. Simply put, low hanging fruit (keywords with high conversion and low competition) are one of the best kept secrets of SEO.

There are more keywords under the surface than their are keywords revealed. Leave it to most businesses to always want to go bigger, better and over the top in an attempt to conquer the most powerful or most searched keywords in a niche or take on the major players for vanity plate keywords.

Not to say that the competitive nature in most of us doesn’t get the best of us, who doesn’t want to rank higher in Google, Yahoo, MSN or Ask? The key is asking yourself about time to market, topical continuity, relevance and conversion and if you would rather keep your eggs in one basket or spread around the risk to offset the odds.

Does a visitor care how many competing page there are for the query they execute (such as 1 of 10 of 100,000 results or 1 of 10 of 100,000,000?), hardly, but does an SEO or a business targeting that keyword, you bet they do, since they have to climb that mountain to reach the top 10.

Going back to behavior, is the need to necessitate a keyword victory over a competitor really matter if the keyword performs poorly? I can assure you, not every keyword is laced in gold. The idea that as soon as you get that one magic phrase, your business is in the clear is a reality that can change.

The premise of search behavior shifting can leave a 6 month exodus of trying to achieve one specific keyword or phrase flat if people simply stop searching for that exact phrase, which leads to my conclusion.

Don’t Assume, You Either Know or You Don’t Know:

Hedging your SEO efforts, such as tackling 50 keywords vs. 5 is one way eliminate the dependency on any one keyword or another to save the day. Just create focused content with a clearly delineated objective, since there is no limit to how thorough your content can be [think wikipedia but on a smaller scale].

The assumption in the heading suggests:

1) You never know exactly how search engine algorithms are going to slice and dice your pages or how many or few keywords each page can rank for. We can speculate, but organic SEO can really deliver traffic.

This means that relevance for a query can align from a keyword from the title, another keyword from the URL string, another keyword gets latched on from a description tag and yet another portion of the keyword in the body copy of the document. Even though the snippets returned in the search result is what is above the surface, you never know how deep a search query can go into your site, one page or all of your pages to assess relevance.

The point being, unless you have a crystal ball or write the algorithm (which I doubt) then such things are constantly being tweaked and adjusted to return more relevant results. So, the more narrow your keyword focus, the more of the market you potentially miss.

2) If site architecture, content and linking are implemented properly (optimized) then each page can rank specifically for numerous “exact match” and “broad match” (general) keywords and phrases with the same effort of just a few keywords. The key is each page owns a focus or range or phrases it targets, then you coordinate the pages to work as a collective masterpiece.

The takeaway is, the web is a work in progress so don’t obsess and just target 10 phrases, with a bit more energy and effort you can target 100 long-tail phrases that may collectively deliver 10 times the traffic daily than a vanity plate (common sense keyword) based on (partial) keyword research.

The way you find gems like that are (1) check your bounce rates and look for semantic similarities to base your next batch of posts or articles (if you have a blog). The search algorithm sees your pages differently than you do, however the idea is to work with it, not against it.

Keyword tools can only call it as they see it, but since the majority of searches are based on the subjective mindset and search behavior of millions of unique minds, the common threads are not as common as we surmise.

For every common sense keyword or root phrase based on captured data, there are 100 more long-tail equivalents you could rank for as well with a few slight tweaks to titles, links and layout. So, does tunnel vision on the top 2 or number 1 keyword in your market have you obsessed?

If so, then it may be time to step back, reassess your ranking objectives and implement a long-tail SEO campaign to get you over the hump until your major keywords take the stage in the top 10.

CLOUD COMPUTING: The Next Big Thing

Cloud computing or computing in the cloud is now one of the latest happening trends in the business world and the “next big thing” after Web 2.0. According to a 2008 paper published by IEEE Internet Computing “Cloud Computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the Internet and cached temporarily on clients that include desktops, entertainment centers, table computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, sensors, monitors, etc.” In other words, we can say that this is about increasing an organization’s or user’s capability by using different applications from some external servers without investing much on its own infrastructure and maintenance of local servers. Rather the organization/user pays for raw computing power. Here the word “cloud” is used as a metaphor for internet.

The basic architecture of this cloud computing is a massive network of interconnected servers where the web applications reside. The user accessing these applications need not be aware of the physical location of the application’s computer. This not only reduces the cost of installing licensed software at the end user’s computer but also saves the cost associated with deploying, maintaining and upgrading of different business technologies.

I guess by now you have been able to understand what Cloud Computing is all about and would like to know how one can access such services. There are a number of companies who offer such services. Prominent among them are Amazon with their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Google with their Google App Engine. There are also many internet service provider companies who rent space and time on these servers. The amount they charge for this is based on processing time or disk storage. Microsoft has also launched its own recently called AZURE. Azure offers service platforms for web developers, corporate developers, ISVs, system integrators and business. Though it is still not clear about how you need to pay for it but is believed that it will be based on pay by use on processing time, disk storage and bandwidth.

Cloud Computing is a relatively new concept promising the most optimal utilization of computing resources. However we are waiting in baited breadth to see the silver lining on it!