A little SEO to start your day

Kellee Gabel

Kellee Gabel
President, The Web Professional, Inc.

Yesterday a client who likes to do a lot of his own webmastering asked me how to improve his search engine placement.  Up until now, having a lot of great, on-topic content has served him well.

Of course, as with most people, this customer is primarily concerned with Google, and Google over the past few years has changed a lot of their rules – think Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.

I slept over gobs of ideas before writing a very long e-mail explaining some of the top things I would consider changing about his six (yes 6) websites.

Here’s what I said:

There’s a lot that’s changed over the past 2 years for search engine rules, (especially Google, and who cares about anyone else, right?).  But some things basic rules have remained the same and are easy to follow.

These first two items have always been important.

First…

The title tags at the top of each page should be no more than 70 characters.  These titles should be worded specifically to identify the page topic (so, never the same from page to page).

Example:

<title>Amelia Earhart | female pioneer in aviation lost in the Pacific</title>

This title would be very specific to helping someone researching Amelia Earhart.

Page titles are one of the most important things you can do right and receive good benefit from any search engine.  (By the way, it’s also how page bookmarks get titled, what appears in the title of search engine results, and what is shown in the browser tab.)

Second…

Also, just below the <title> tag should be the following tag:

<meta name=”description” content=”type your description of the page’s content here” />

Some SEO experts may tell you to insert a similar line for keywords
<meta name=”keywords” content=”keywords or phrases separated by commas here” />.

Don’t bother.  The search engines don’t look at the keyword tag.  They’re mainly interested in the first 300 words, or so, on your page for relevancy to Title and Description you gave them at the start of your page.

For best bang for the buck, if you were targeting a particular keyword or key phrase, it should appear in your title, description and in the content of your page.

Next…

Outbound hyperlinks from your site.

You can literally hurt your site and the site you’re linking to, if you haven’t added this code to the link:  rel=”nofollow”

Generally what search engines are trying to avoid is having websites pass the benefit of their high rank to another site through links (intentionally or not).  So this code shows the search engine that you are not trying to pass page rank on to the site receiving the link from you.

When to use it?  According to searchengineland.com, the following circumstances:

  • Paid Links – If someone has paid for the link, use the rel=”nofollow” to avoid being penalized
  • Comments – Unmoderated commenting, say on your blog, should be set to nofollow
  • User-generated content – like comments, if you allow someone to contribute content to your site without moderation, no follow will keep your site as being seen as “vouching” for links to bad sites
  • Widgets or Infographics – if you don’t want to be seen as endorsing the product/service or content.
  • Anytime – you don’t wish to be seen as endorsing a site.

At one time it was good to build sites that linked to each other, particularly with the goal of passing traffic back and forth.  And, if another site that was a highly-ranked authority on a topic related to your topic linked out to you, that was once beneficial and may still be (see circumstances above).  So although, you can link to others from your site, and it certainly benefits the recipient to have visitors come to their site from yours, you should consider whether it makes sense to “appear” to endorse a page.  Without the rel=”nofollow” in the link code, you may actually being doing more harm than good.

Now, I know you will next ask, how does this rel=”nofollow” get into my link code?  Here is what a link should look like if it is to show it.

<a href=”http://thewebprofessional.com” rel=”nofollow” />The Web Professional, Inc.</a>

Bear in mind, this is only relevant to outbound links (to other sites, not internal links to pages within your own site).  In the case of an outbound link, it may show target=”_blank” (and I hope it does, because that opens the link in a new window and keeps your web page open too).

So, what does it look like?

<a href=”http://thewebprofessional.com” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” />The Web Professional, Inc.</a>

I’ll just bet if you read this closely you might be wondering, did she use rel=”nofollow” on her link to SearchEngineLand.com?  Well, first I do highly endorse them.  There’s some great stuff there, but just to be safe, yes, I did “nofollow” that link.

Until next time… questions?

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Can automated systems do it all?

Kellee Gabel

Kellee Gabel
President, The Web Professional, Inc.

We’ve recently been working on a system, that will allow us to accept support tickets, track time, log work activities, and generally provide us a one-stop place for information about the work in progress and work completed.

This is a simple SAP, but not quite a CRM that will keep our team and our customers in the know and centralize communications.  And, it will have a few other bells and whistles to make bookkeeping easier for billing and payroll. It’s customized to our internal needs and also for how we work with our clients.

So why do I hear a needle being dragged across a record, as in STOP THE PRESSES?

We’ve always used such systems, but until now they were spread across a number platforms, which made connecting all the dots a bit of work.  This new system has been a long-time coming and a task right in our wheelhouse.

But we know, that no matter how good it is, it is not a complete solution.

Such a solution will only be complete when human interaction ensures our customers know we understand their needs and that they are being taken care of.

We recognize that not all clients will want to log in somewhere to request support.  And we always want our customers to feel comfortable picking up the phone to call us or in sending an email, knowing we’ll respond.

Ideally in our world, centralizing communications in one place is the cat’s meow of systematizing and increasing productivity.  But when a square peg is being pushed into a round hole, we know we must provide flexibility.

There will always be square pegs and round holes, that is the reality of the world.

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Who is contacting me

I’m often asked by clients and friends to comment on the validity of a service provider, usually because they’ve received an e-mail from a complete stranger making promises to deliver high quality services and results. Unfortunately, my knowledge, while relatively robust, covers only a small percentage of the many, many companies out there related to computers, websites, social media, SEO and other related online services.   If I have direct knowledge of them, I will give my best and most objective opinion, or make an alternate recommendation to use someone I feel comfortable recommending. If it’s a service we provide, I’ll share more on that.

I too receive these types of promotional e-mails, and I can tell you there are a few smell tests I apply, when deciding whether to read on.

Some bad signs…

  • The sending party does not seem to have a last name. This makes me question, why is this person unwilling to tell me who they are?
  • Why doesn’t the sending party have an e-mail address based on their company name — as in, myname@mycompanyname.com vs. an address like x743zy2 ending in @gmail.com or @yahoo.com?  If the latter, I might reasonably question whether this is a legitimate business inquiry or an individual winging it in hopes of making a quick buck.
  • The e-mail message contains promises of getting my website top Search Engine Rankings within a very short time for a small amount of $$$. Also a bad sign, since it is an unreasonable promise.

Considering the reverse of everything above is true, add in these “Good Signs” and there may be something worthwhile to consider:

  • The e-mail contains links to example work I’m able to click and view.
  • The e-mail contains a link to the company’s website.
  • The e-mail contains the full name and phone number of the sending party.

No matter what service you’re considering, I encourage you to seek past and current customer references. Also consider resources close to home, which may come through references from trusted associates, and carry the ever weighty and meaningful customer references.

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Understanding Bounce Rate

– if you’re using a website statistical tracking system, such as Google’s Analytics, you may already have heard the term Bounce Rate. Bounce Rate is not simply defined, but a surface explanation is that a visitor arrived on a website page and never went beyond that page. The bounce rate equation goes like this: Bounce Rate = Total number of visits viewing one page only divided by total entries to the page.

Therefore, it’s important to review not only the aggregate bounce rate for your site, but which pages are receiving the highest bounce rate to determine how the problem may be resolved or at least improved upon.

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Inbound Links

According to Website Magazine, “The number and quality of links pointing to your website is indisputably the single greatest influencing factor in achieving high placement on the search engine results pages (SERPs).”   A very good article on what makes a good inbound link may be found at: SearchRank.com  http://www.searchrank.com/blog/2009/09/value-of-inbound-link-factors.html

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