2012 Has Proved to be an Interesting Year

Back in 2011 Google hit us with the Panda updates, then early in 2012 came the Penguin (April the 24th if I remember rightly) and since them there have been literally hundreds of changes and tweaks to how they are ranking pages, this in turn has been reflected in peoples websites jumping up and down the ranks like a mad thing all summer.

I have a personal website too, that site does compete for some pretty uncompetitive terms to be fair, but for a few weeks it held positions 1 through to 8 on page one then the entire of page 2 and 3 for several terms. While I was quite happy with this level of exposure, I could see it was never going to last, it doesn’t really give someone a choice when a single site dominates the ranks in this way.

There was another example of this happening with a clients site too, unfortunately it wasn’t his site which dominated, but the main vendor who he buys from. They had the first 8 spots on page one while he held position 9 and 10. His sales didn’t drop off though despite having been pushed so far down the page, as the vendor were significantly more expensive than him, so although they had to scroll further to find an alternative, the other resellers had all been pushed back to page 2, so it was just him and the vendor left on page one.

All that was great for a short time, but Google obviously needed to address this, which they did around a month later, but I do wonder how many seo companies lost clients when their ranks came tumbling down. Only to find a new company and see them rise straight back up again.

It’s becoming Like a Zoo!

You are probably already aware of the Google Panda updates which were introduced around a year ago and have had numerous updates since, if not see this post about the Panda update. However, did you know that they have since added the Penguin update?

In April 2012 Google introduced a new element of their search engine algorithm, which has caused quite a stir amongst a lot of SEO’s and website owners alike, particularly those who have been using the latest trends of link building to help push their site to the top of Google.

This latest update is their attempt to rid their search results of spam and doorway type pages and although it seems to predominantly revolve around penalising sites with a high proportion of trashy links pointing to them, it appears that it could also be targeting those who use over optimisation on their pages, such as excessive keyword repeats and possibly also duplicate content or spun content.

It’s the links though which seem to have caused most problems for people. It seems that low quality backlinks with exact match keywords to the sites optimised terms are getting pages knocked right out of search. I’m sure as time moves on there will become some much more rigid theories on exactly what type of links they are and how to either avoid them in the first place or at least counter the ones which you have built historically, keep your eye on this blog for more updates.

So What was Panda all about in 2011?

Unless you have been hiding under the proverbial SEO rock for the last year, you couldn’t have failed to have heard about the Panda updates. These were essentially designed to remove duplicate content from Googles index, and by all accounts they did a pretty good job of it, although as would be expected there were some companies sites which were possibly unfairly affected, particularly with the first update right back at the start of the year, although this seemed to have been fixed to a large extent by the update which followed shortly after.

There probably isn’t an seo blog around who hasn’t written something about it, so I thought perhaps it was time to give it a little mention myself, although I am proud to say that my sites were not impacted at all.

Some of the other headlines read:

  • How Google’s ‘Panda’ update put some websites on endangered species list
  • Google Panda Update: Antitrust Connections Being Tossed Around
  • Google Panda update survival guide
  • How Google’s Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever
  • 10 Tips to recover from Googles Pana update
  • Beating Google’s Panda Update

What you will notice from this is that it has been significant, and had an impact on may businesses, be it seo companies and the way they operate, or those who were following somewhat suspect practices and got caught out (and not before time in my personal opinion)

SEO Basics

Get the basics of seo right

Quite a few people have been doing SEO for many years now, however for those new to it, there is information overload and a lot of that info’ is actually either old and outdated or just downright wrong! I’m going to touch on a few of the basics here:

Whilst gaining back links is absolutely essential for every website (unless that is, you have found a niche with no competition whatsoever), I still believe that the title tag is probably the single most important signal to Google, regarding what the page is about, this is confirmed by Eco SEO on their blog too. Try to get your main keyword right at the start of the title tag and your company name at the end (it’s shown again in the url anyway in listings so doesn’t need to take up the best spot) also use it in the URL and again in the h1, then just a couple of times on the page itself, but of course we are going to be using synonyms and other related terms on the page too, aren’t we?

Of course, before you can even attempt to create a page you need to know what it’s going to be about, so it’s wise to do keyword research first. I just use the Adwords Keyword tool as it’s free and relatively easy to use, just remember to sort by your region and tick the exact match and un-check broad match or you will see wildly misleading results for this purpose.

You must also get a rough idea of where your/your clients website stands in comparison to the competition, this can be measured in a number of ways, however I just use the SeoMoz tool-bar, it’s free and has a handy graphic bar so you can see both the page and domains authority at a glance.  Authority doesn’t appear to simply be about how many links you have, although I suspect who links to you is a factor. It’s likely that how many pages of unique content they have is also a factor, this can be checked easily with bings link command.

Of course all this may be too much work if you are already running your own business, so you could find a good seo company, UK based if you are over this side of the pond too, even better if you can find a seo company who are close by, you can then meet them face to face either before or during the work.

How to Promote Your Band on the Web

Promoting a band is a lot like promoting any other kind of enterprise.  It is a mistake to think that just because you are good at what you do, you will automatically develop a following or be heard by people who can help you advance.  Yes, you need to sound great and bring something interesting to the table for sure, but all that counts for nothing if nobody knows about it.  The more socially orientated “Web 2.0” world gives you plenty of opportunities to share your songs and connect with people who’ve enjoyed your gigs, and is a cheap (mostly free) way to get the message out about what you are doing. Here are some tips:

Create a Facebook Fan Page

Facebook fan pages are pretty much essential for bands now.  Free, and quick to set up, all you need are some pictures and some profile blurb to create your page.  Get people to “Like” it by first spreading the word to all of your own friends to get a decent base of followers (so it doesn’t look too lonely when your new fans start to show up), and then promote on any posters, flyers or promotional merchandise you give out at gigs.

Use your page wisely – keep a decent repository of links to anywhere people can hear your music or watch videos of your performances (such as any YouTube clips) and to reviews in local press, as well as posting messages on the page (which your fans will see in their news feeds) about upcoming dates or anything else you want to share.

There is no harm in being personal, posting jokes and links to other things you think are cool and related to the band, that aren’t directly relating to your own activities – this can make your page more fun and useful to your fans – but don’t overdo it.  Most social media marketing consultants recommend to businesses that you should post no more than three times a day on Facebook to avoid looking annoying or “spammy” – this is a good rule of thumb for bands too.

Use Twitter

As well as Facebook, give your fans a chance to follow you on Twitter, too.  Unlike Facebook, there isn’t really a limit to how many tweets per day are acceptable, and it is a great way to get people to interact with you and tell you what they thought of your last gig or whether they like your new idea.  It can also be used to start networking with people who can help you – other bands in cities you’d like to play in, venues, promoters – anybody you would benefit from getting in with in fact.  By following them and replying to their tweets, you can build up a rapport and develop that into a useful relationship.

YouTube

YouTube is a great place to keep any footage of your performances or any other promo videos you have, so create a channel for your band and make sure you promote it and any new videos as you add them on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  If you see someone filming you at one of your gigs on their phone or camera, try and catch up with them later and ask if they’d mind posting it on YouTube and sending you a link, so you can also get some actual fan generated video content out there too.

There are many good groups I’ve seen, including wedding bands and party bands playing all around Hampshire, Somerset, Dorset and Oxfordshire, so go check them out.

A Few Techniques to Avoid

It used to be that you could build a website, fill it up with keywords, hide them in alt text and in meta descriptions and the search engines would love your website and catapult you up to the heady heights of page one, lets just be clear on this, it just doesn’t work any more, the search engines have become much more intelligent than you or I could ever be, so if you hear that a technique is obsolete, pay it some heed.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t test it for yourself, but just be aware that many old techniques can now carry a penalty, do do it with extreme caution.

below I have listed a few examples of very old techniques, which if applied to a website nowadays, is much more likely to cause you long term issues, than it is to help you edge your way up the rankings.

The oldest trick in the book is hiding elements of the page, it’s well documented, and don’t believe that just because you found some “guru” preaching the benefits of these techniques that it wont cause you problems. The most typical examples being:

The same colour text as the background, it doesn’t matter if it’s red on red, or indigo on indigo, the search engines can see it.  Don’t believe me? Try it, then hilight the entire contents of the web page and you will spot it clear as day, if I can find it that easily, you can be sure that Google, MSN and all the others can just as easily.

Tiny text, again, this did work many moons ago and I remember using it in point 1 size and using it to underline the visible text on a page, but that was a very long time ago, and no before you even give it any thought, point 0 doesn’t work either lol.

creating links which can’t easily be seen, an example being using a decimal point or other character on a page to link out somewhere else. To see just how easy it is to identify, look at the source code of any web page which contains some outbound links on it, you will easily see where it links to, this is more akin to what a search engine sees than the nice glossy webpage which we all look at b(seo’s and designers excepted of course), so it’s incredibly easy to identify.

This really is the tip of the iceberg, so if you are unsure about anything at all, find a professional seo company and even if you don’t employ them to run a campaign for you, pay for a couple of hours of their time, then follow the advice you receive.

Forums

This is just a quick update today, or possibly a rant! Can anyone tell me what is going on with the quality of the seo forums these days?  The quality of posts has been steadily getting worse and worse over the last couple of years, to the point now where I have stopped visiting several of them, the prime culprit being digital point.  When I first started going there over 5 years back, there were sensible questions and only a limited number of duplicate posts, but these days it seems that every post is a duplicate, sometimes of over 100 times, it’s then followed by a mass of replies, often giving inaccurate information.

Whilst a lot of this issue is due to the forum moderators not being strict enough with the noobs, it’s more the fault of the noobs, posting a complete load of rubbish so they can increase post count to the point where they can add a signature, this is simply because they think it’s going to give them a related, keyword rich link back to their site, wrong! The links from forums, even if they don’t include the no follow attribute, are almost worthless anyway, I just wish people would learn this!

That actually brings me nicely on to the next issue, the number of people with seo in their name and url in the signature, who have no idea what they are talking about.  They seem to think that spamming blogs and submitting their site to directories is going to make them rich, and every reply they send is recommending that people use this approach.

It’s driving me mad! Although there are a few exceptions to this, the ones which spring to mind are V7N and Cre8asite, both of these are well moderated and really do have seo professionals on there, not just a bunch of kids who want to get rich quick by ripping people off.

About On Page SEO

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about what does and does not work when optimising the factors on a web page, just to be totally clear about this, when we refer to on-page optimisation we are talking about changing the code on a page, usually aspects which are not seen by the average site visitor, but they help the search engines determine what a page is about.

Probably the single most important factor is the title tag, it’s essential that this has your keyword at the start, it’s a common mistake to put the company name first, however the first words carry more weight, so save the company name for the end of the tag (if at all), unless that is what you are optimising for.

Don’t fill the page with keywords, use your keywords by all means, but whatever you do, don’t use them every second word, it will look bad to the visitors and the search engines will just ignore it anyway.  If you need some ideas for alternative words which would sit well on the pages have a look at the Google wonderwheel it will give you alternative, but related terms you can use on the page.

The keywords tag is virtually useless, although it’s a good place to put them, so you can easily remember which terms you are optimising a page for, I also tend to chuck in a few regional terms too, something like Swindon, Wiltshire, UK, I’m not sure why I bother, probably just force of habit I suppose.

Same with the description tag, although this can be used to encourage more clicks, as although it has no SEO benefit, it does get used for your listing on Google, so a well written description can help indirectly by increasing click throughs.

Bold an italics used to help, but I’ve not recently seen any difference in using them or not, so just use them to lay your pages out well instead and actually higlight anything which does not fit in your header tags.

Of course there are options available if you aren’t comfortable doing this type of work yourself, you can either just hire a local company, or read the blogs from the experts such as Googles matt cutts, although if you are a beginner, you may well find his posts a bit technical.

Professional Web Design & SEO

As an end to end website design agency, we provide customer specific designing services, delivered on time and on budget.

From the largest of organisations through to smaller start up businesses Techno Creative can help you achieve your online goals. If you just need to provide information about products and services which can be set up quickly and easily, we would usually configure a CMS or Content Management System, this would also enable you to add and update content quickly and easily yourself.

If you need to sell products over the web, we can design, install and configure a complete e-commerce system, designed to your specification from scratch, or integrated with an existing website if you have one.

Once the site is live, work need not stop, we can monitor your site visitors, which pages they find your site from, which they land on and where they go next, this information helps us to refine the site and help channel visitors to the pages you want them on, such as an enquiry form or a page with a buy now option on it.

Of course just having a website is not usually enough on it’s own, as unless you advertise your URL through traditional methods, such as print and networking, you will likely need the site optimised, so it can be found in the search engines. We have a small team who specialise in exactly this, they can work on various aspects of your pages and build links back to the site to help people to find your site instead of your competitions.

We work with eco-seo.com for SEO based projects, so if you need a local seo company to help you build and design your website, then make it friendly for Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask, please contact us to see how our services could help you develop your companies online presence.

If you are very local, we can come out to visit you to discuss the project, be it designing or optimising existing pages, we can be found on the internet by simply looking for terns like seo consultants based in wiltshire on the major UK engines. The aspects we consider are initial research around your and your customers keywords, LSI, then on and off page fractors.

If you are ready to discuss your new website design and or a search engine optimisation campaign, please either browse the information available though this site or get in touch, we would be more than happy to discuss the options which are available to you.