What is SEO? SEO defined

February 10, 2011 by  

questions about SEOIn Google there are 101 million results for “what is SEO.” It stands for search engine optimization. You might also hear people referred to as “an SEO” meaning they optimize websites for search engines.

SEOmoz, a leading SEO industry website, has a good definition:

SEO is the active practice of optimizing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines.

Wikipedia defines SEO as:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

Search Engine Land defines SEO as:

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines.

I think these are pretty good definitions, so here’s my SEO definition:

Search engine optimization is the process of modifying website characteristics and obtaining links pointing to your website in order to improve a website’s ranking in search engines and to increase natural or unpaid traffic from them.

Those are the definitions, but what’s it all about? Fundamentally, SEO is a subset of marketing.  It’s a specialized subset that focuses on how search engines see your website.

SEO is about making your website relevant to a particular keyword search term someone enters into a search engine. That’s the goal of Google in its Webmaster Guidelines and it really should be yours too.

You might be able to increase your website visitors, but if you’re getting people coming to your site and finding it’s not relevant to them, what’s the point? You want visitors coming to your site that are going to find it useful and relevant. Those are the people that have the potential to be your customers or take actions on your site that you find desirable.

Do you have a different definition of SEO? Any questions about SEO?

10 Signs new Twitter followers won’t be around long

January 15, 2011 by  

Sign of a spammer?

I’ve been on Twitter for nearly three years now. I guess that sort of makes me an “old timer” on it. I have had a lot of interesting discussions and have seen many interesting things on Twitter.

Lately it seems like half  the people who follow me are the “get rich quick” types and I know they won’t be around for long. I don’t bother banning them, but I certainly don’t follow them back.

Once you’ve been Twitter spammed for a while, you begin to see the same, curious signs. Here are some I’ve noticed:

  1. Their twitter name is X and four digits. ex. @michelle3845
  2. Their profile picture is the default egg.
  3. They’re tweeting the same link, over, and over, and over again.
  4. They’re following 2,000 people, have a few followers and no tweets.
  5. It’s obvious they’ve just joined Twitter yet profess themselves to be “Internet marketing experts.”
  6. They are just on Twitter to help YOU get rich (probably via MLM).
  7. Profile picture is of a semi-nude woman.
  8. Their profile information is not completed.
  9. The link in their profile is to a sales letter webpage.
  10. Their tweets consist of trending topics and a link.

Any signs you’ve seen that you might find curious? I would love to know about them!

Oh, and if you’re new to Twitter, you can interpret the signs I’ve indicated as a list of things not to do on Twitter.

Follow my personal Twitter account: @alainsaffel

Follow my business Twitter account: @pageoneseo

Myspace isn’t dead yet

January 14, 2011 by  

Myspace social media companyThe decline of Myspace is sad but not unexpected and now its parent company, News Corp, is rumored to be wanting to pawn it off on some unsuspecting, deep pocketed company out in cyberspace.

I’ve never been that big of a fan of it and don’t really know anyone using it. It seems like it’s mainly dedicated to kids.

So, News Corp is trying to sell it, but who might be interested?

I can see two companies that could have a legitimate reason for looking at it: Google and Apple.

Google has been eager to get into the social networking business and, thus far, their efforts have been rather pathetic. While buying something like Myspace, a failing social network, might be viewed as idiocy, Google could pick it up cheap and have the opportunity to turn it around.

Apple would make more sense to me. Steve Jobs certainly has the track record of being able to turn around failing companies. Myspace used to be cool, has a younger demographic and was/is known for being a place to discover new music.

It would make a lot of sense for Apple to pick up Myspace as its social media property. I believe Apple could definitely turn it around and bring back the cool factor it once had. It also makes a lot of sense from Apple’s perspective and its most successful products: iTunes, iPods and iPhones, not to mention the iPad.

It’s a great fit for Apple and a perfect opportunity to market its products even further; like they need the help.

The real question is will News Corp be asking too much for the failing social network? Probably. They could unload the problem company or let it fail completely. It’s a shame to let 22 million users go find some other place to be social.

Google seems to have lost its cool factor with the failure of Google Wave and the tepid public response to Google Buzz. I am not so sure that Google could bring back the cool factor Myspace desperately needs. Apple could.

Google Instant not worth your 2 to 5 seconds

September 30, 2010 by  

Google Instant.  You’ve probably heard all about how you’re going to save a load of time with it so you’ll have more time to, oh, I don’t know, use Facebook or Twitter.

Google Instant is now available for Canadians, but only if you have a Google account. So, if you want to check it out, you need to sign up. I’m not sure if that will change or not.

There’s been a barrage of hype surrounding its launch. Is the hype deserved?

Is Google Instant worth a look?

In one word: no. In fact, having a look at Google Instant reminded me that I should always have my Google accounts off when doing searches. I had made sure Google didn’t collect my search history even when I wasn’t logged in, but it seems you don’t have that option now.

I had a look and there was a partial list of my searches for the past month. Hey, nothing sinister, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t want my searches tied to my account in any way.

If you are worried about your privacy, you’re really not going to like Google Instant because right now you’re forced to have a Google account to even use it in Canada.

It seems that  you can pause your search history in your account, but I just don’t trust Google not to collect that information in the background. With the USA PATRIOT Act, all your electronic information is considered fair game to the US government and you won’t ever know.

Google Instant is annoying

Having worked in SEO and in social media for a while now, I’m used to the hype. Oh, I remember when Google Wave came out. Yes, it was going to revolutionize the world. Invites were coveted and if you had one, your other geek friends marvelled at how connected you were. Yawn. If you were in PR and not on Twitter, you were nowhere. Yawn.

Aren’t marketing people annoying sometimes? Unfortunately this kind of hype tends to cause a lot of anxiety for people whose level of Internet knowledge is lagging or non-existent. No worries. If you aren’t on Twitter, didn’t use Wave and don’t like Instant, you’re not going to be relegated to eating with your fingers, using stone clubs and picking nits out of your partner’s hair.

Google Instant will not revolutionize search. It will annoy the hell out of searchers, should they choose to use it, to the point they are going to seek other alternative search engines like Blekko or Bing. My prediction is that Google Instant will be lucky to last as long as Wave, which Google killed.

The only relatively useful part of Instant is the predictive search, which has been around with Google in another form for a while. Where’s the time I’m going to save if I have to scan the results as I type? Every letter could totally change the results. No, I’m going to continue typing my query until it’s done and then look.

Effect on SEO and PPC

To anyone running a website or optimizing them, the key question is “will Google Instant affect my SEO or PPC campaign?”

It seems that the thought that Google Instant would destroy long tail keywords (search queries of three or more words) hasn’t happened; in fact, there have, according to some research, been slight increases in long tail keyword phrases searched with Google Instant. In other words: no effect. Whether or not things continue that way remains to be seen.

Conductor did some good research and, I thought this was interesting, commented that many users find Google Instant distracting and are turning off Google Instant.

In looking at Google’s Instant video one has to wonder if images and videos are going to begin to get more clicks as they’re more easily visible as one types through a query. If you’ve got a bit of expertise, doing more video might not be a bad addition to your SEO campaign.

Google Instant and Adwords PPC

While the effects on organic SEO may be minimal, it may be more important to look at pay per click Adwords campaigns.

There seems to be a bit of a trend in thinking that Google Instant will increase impressions with a resultant decrease in clickthrough rate (CTR). This naturally would lead to a lowering of quality score and an increase in average cost per click.

This is a concern I have had since I heard about Google Instant. There’s another interesting thing I hadn’t considered and that is how people may change how they type a search query. At Practical Ecommerce they suggested that people may begin to add keyword modifiers to the end of the search query such as “shoes brown” instead of “brown shoes” because typing the modifiers first brings up mostly irrelevant searches.

It’s an interesting idea, and while Google says search results will be the same, if searchers begin to enter their queries differently, naturally the search results will be different. The differences in organic search results are often subtle, but they are there when you reorder the same keywords in a search query.

Kind of gets away from Google’s preference for natural language in content.


It’s probably a little too early to tell what is really going to happen with Google Instant. It’s certainly not going to be the death of SEO. If your content isn’t optimized, searchers still are going to have difficulty finding you unless you’re one of the big brands.

My main concern is for pay per click advertising in Google. It very well could increase ad costs for advertisers with no apparent benefit. I will be watching the Adwords campaigns I manage much more closely now.

Ultimately the important question is: are searchers going to like Google Instant and keep using it? If their reaction is anything like mine, I hated it. I have turned it off. I will ensure I either don’t have my Google accounts open or have another browser open to do my searches. As far as I’m concerned, from a personal search perspective, Google Instant is dead to me. My hope is that it will go the way of Google Wave but I’ll keep an eye on it to see where it goes and how it could affect my clients

What do you think? Have you used Google Instant? Like it? Hate it? Concerns? Raves?

Blekko search engine beta

September 16, 2010 by  

Recently I’ve been exploring Blekko, a new search engine in beta testing now. It’s a search engine that promises to ‘slash through spam’ by allowing users to categorize sites with slashtags and to designate sites as spam, effectively eliminating spam from your search results. It used what they call “/slashtags” to assist in search and eliminate spam. So, what is a slashtag?

Everyday, SEO-friendly search engine

All search engine results are starting to look the same, whether we’re talking Google, Yahoo!, Bing or anything else. Blekko’s search results page gives you the usual Title, Snippet/Description and URL, but also adds a line just under the Title where you’ll typically see: tags, SEO, links, cache, IP, spam.

For most searchers, the only two parts of this line that will matter are tags and spam. Tags allows you to /slashtag a search result. There’s also an option on the page to /slashtag the entire search result.

Spam allows you to designate a site as spam with one click, saying it’s now ‘dead to you.’ I think someone at Blekko is a Sopranos fan.

SEO, links, cache and IP will be of more interest to those in the SEO field or small business sites doing some of their own marketing.

SEO benefits

This search engine will be particularly interesting for anyone working in search engine optimization, as there are slashtags such as /rank, /seo, /domain and more, allowing users to delve into the finer details of why their site ranks as it does. This is quite unlike Google, which is basically a black box in terms of information about how websites rank, aside from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

I like the fact that it also allows you to compare the rankings for four sites at once, giving you a quick idea what those sites are doing and not doing well.

SEO practitioners will also like the /inbound slashtag which allows you to view the inbound links to the website you’re examining. It ranks them according to the value of the link, so finding your most valuable links, and those of your competitors, is pretty easy with Blekko.


Blekko does a good job at representing your SEO data visually; in this case, a graph of anchor text ratios of a particular site.

When I’m looking at new SEO tools, I always have a look at my own sites and client sites to see them in a different way.  It became obvious that the index Blekko is working with is a little dated and not complete. I don’t consider this a major issue due to their beta status and it’s something I’m sure they will correct once they’re out of beta. I am sure it’s easier to work with a smaller data set.

They do have a few APIs, so there are current results from Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, etc.

I can’t really think of too much bad to say about Blekko. It’s in beta, so I don’t expect it to be perfect. It could be better documented to explain its composite measurements such as rank, and to define some of the items you see, but I’m sure that will happen as Blekko moves toward an official launch.

I think it’s an interesting concept to be quite open about SEO, as Blekko is. As an SEO guy, I know the things I need to do to get a site to rank well. Google guards its algorithm so nobody really knows for sure what Google takes into consideration in determining how a site will rank in search results. Blekko gives us much of that information. I’m not sure if it will extend to the point of making their algorithm available, and I wouldn’t expect it.

Google killer?

Blekko’s CEO bristles at being called a Google killer and has a pretty good explanation of why he rejects that title. That being said, I’m sure there are many in the SEO field and regular web surfers who are interested in using some credible alternatives to the now ubiquitous Google.

I’ve been eager to find an alternative to Google, and I’m cheering for Blekko. I like what I’ve seen so far and I can see it forming a regular part of my day. I have been tinkering with it every day since I got my beta invite.

As an aside, I’ve been concerned about how many different facets of my life that Google touches. Google has a great ability to connect the dots and, while I’m not up to anything worrisome, there are good reasons to worry about Google’s reach into our lives.

Google has experienced a couple major problems lately with Google employees spying on users. Another thing that should concern anyone using Google products is the USA PATRIOT Act that gives the US government carte blanche to find out what anyone has been up to.


As a search engine, Blekko shows a lot of promise and I support what they’re doing. With a couple of former Google engineers on board and what appears to be a pretty solid team, they seem to be headed in the right direction. SEO practitioners will love the data they can glean from Blekko. Great job so far!

Mashable article on Blekko – good read

Social media: is Foursquare worth looking at?

July 14, 2010 by  

A while back I decided to give Foursquare a try. It’s a recent addition to the social media world, and I was quite skeptical about its usefulness when I first heard about it. My skepticism is still there, but as I have tried out the service, I can see how it might be useful, particularly from an advertiser’s perspective.

Foursquare is a mobile social media app that gets users to check in to indicate their location. So, if you’re out for coffee at Starbucks, check in with Foursquare. If you check in at this location more than other users, you could become mayor of that location.

As users check in at different places, they can earn badges. Earning badges is a feature of a couple social media platforms I’m aware of, and give users an incentive to take actions to achieve them.

Some of the badges include things like the Barista badge, where you have to check in at five different Starbucks locations (got that one). There’s the Local badge, where you need to check in at a location three times in a week.

There seems to be a wide variety of badges available and once you’ve added a bunch of friends, you can check out their badges to see the ones you might try for.

That’s really about it for Foursquare. I’m using the Blackberry app, and there is an iPhone app. If you check out Foursquare’s app section, you’ll likely find one for your phone if it’s not an iPhone or Blackberry.

How useful is Foursquare?

Ah, the key question. Really, how useful is a lot of social media? I wondered just how useful Foursquare really would be. Fundamentally it’s a game, but it depends on how you use it. The key will be how Foursquare develops.

It’s probably most important to look at it from the perspective of a check-in location, or potential advertiser. I think these organizations are the linchpin in terms of any value derived from Foursquare and this is primarily why I decided to try it out.

I noticed that Starbucks had offers of price reductions on its drinks if you were the mayor of a Starbucks location. It offers people some incentive to try and become mayor and get the price reduction, but if it’s just a dollar off, it’s not much incentive.

If that dollar off were to be offered to each person who checked in, there’d be more incentive for others to come to that location.

I can see a huge amount of potential for some businesses to offer promotions through Foursquare and they could, naturally, promote it through Twitter. There’s definitely some incentive for Foursquare to increase its user base. I’m not sure how many Foursquare users there are in Edmonton, but there seems to be a fair amount.

Advertisers could offer a limited number of larger gift certificates, say ten $25 gift certificates for the first ten people who come in and say they saw it on Foursquare.

Edmonton locations I’ve checked in at & am mayor of.

Or an advertiser could draw for a much larger item after a month, offering it only to Foursquare users. Imagine the attention an organization like Future Shop could get if it was offering a draw for a new laptop exclusively to Edmonton Foursquare users who had checked in at a Future Shop.

Perhaps they could make it so they actually had to enter the store and get a daily code word from a manager. Foursquare could modify its apps so that visitors could enter the code word and it wouldn’t be visible to other users.

As if Apple needed the help, they could do a couple things: run contests to get people into their stores, or use products like the iPhone 4 or iPad as prizes through other advertisers. Everyone’s so gaga over the iPhone and iPad that I’m sure Foursquare users would be breaking down the door to get one as a prize.

It almost goes without saying that these types of contests would be promoted through other social media such as Twitter and Facebook, but if you’re doing traditional media such as radio, TV or newspaper advertising, why not include it, or make it the primary focus of those ads?

City of Edmonton event & destination marketing

Cities could really use something like Foursquare to their advantage if they worked in conjunction with events, festivals and destination attractions to promote them online.

My son has been bored already this summer and looking for things to do. I found a good list of things to do in Edmonton and a light bulb went off. Why doesn’t the City of Edmonton use Foursquare to promote events such those in the list I mentioned and use Foursquare as a type of online passport? Edmonton could use help in the branding and promotions department apparently.

Once Foursquare users had checked in at the appropriate venues, they could get a special t-shirt and be entered into a draw for some cool prizes. The city has some great events coming up like the Grey Cup, the Honda Indy and Taylor Hall playing for the Oilers. Why not offer some of those tickets as prizes? How about a grand prize of a $5,000 shopping spree at West Edmonton Mall (or a mall willing to sponsor it)? I’ve talked about the inadequacies of an Edmonton mall promotion before.

It doesn’t have to cost the city much to do it either. It can use social media to promote it throughout Alberta and Western Canada. It could even supplement it with a bit of traditional advertising.

I could go on all day about the different kinds of promotions that are possible and I’m sure there are even more creative people out there who’ll come up with better ones.

Foursquare growth & users

There are a variety of badges & incentives for Foursquare users.

You may have heard of some of the downsides of Foursquare, such as giving stalkers a roadmap of your activities, or potential thieves an indication that you’re not at home. This is a decision we each have to make. If you’re not comfortable with publicizing your location, don’t bother using Foursquare.

I can say that it’s fun checking in at places around Edmonton and seeing what other users are doing or have to say about the places they check in at. A good feature of Foursquare is the ability to post tips about the places they visit.

If Foursquare is to grow, they need to “show me the money.” Sorry, I know it’s a worn out phrase, but it fits. Foursquare will benefit by growing its user base and in doing that, its attractiveness to advertisers. With advertisers on board and good offers to users, more users will be drawn in.

The advertiser offers have to be something that doesn’t require a ridiculous amount of work or cost, are fun and are really worth doing a bit of work for. People today are busy and quickly decide whether something’s worth the effort or not.

I don’t know how much of a budget Foursquare has for promotions, but using some older sales techniques probably wouldn’t hurt. Would it make sense for Foursquare to have a marketing and promotions rep on the ground in a place like Edmonton for six months to a year so they can reach out to local businesses and help them get some innovative promotions off the ground? I think so. Perhaps they could use a few cities around North America as a test case to see how that might work.

You can always wait for these things to happen, or you can short circuit the process and make it happen.

It’ll be interesting to see how Foursquare develops over time and whether it goes in some of the directions I’ve speculated about. There’s nothing saying that potential advertisers out there now can’t use Foursquare as I’ve shown. I certainly haven’t cornered the market on the creative possibilities!

Edmonton has a strong social media community that is eager to participate in innovative products and promotions. I suppose it’s really up to innovative Edmonton marketing companies to get out there and show those potential advertisers the possibilities. I’d say that Foursquare is worth a look from the perspective of users and advertisers, but its value comes from how you use it. Seems to be the same for all social media.

Pay per click advertising & click fraud

June 14, 2010 by  

dollar sign, mouse pointer, pay per click marketingI’ve been managing several Edmonton pay per click advertising campaigns and it’s something I really enjoy.

Managing a pay per click marketing (PPC) campaign is a little different than an SEO campaign in that they typically change on a daily basis and have to be managed more actively

A good example of that was something I ran into this morning. One of the pay per click marketing campaigns I manage really spiked in clicks yesterday. It’s not unusual, as this is their busy season.

What was unusual was the fact that there were a huge amount of clicks in an ad group that doesn’t normally get a large amount of clicks, try 50 times as many.

After a little investigation I’ve asked Google to have a look and issue a credit. I haven’t seen click fraud in any of the other campaigns I manage. Normally there are a certain number of invalid clicks from people double clicking an ad and that type of thing, but it never really amounts to much.

Competitors clicking your ads

One of the more common types of click fraud that occurs is where one of your competitors clicks on your ad in an effort to inflate your ad costs and hopefully eat up your pay per click advertising budget until your ads no longer show.

In this case, I suspect that is likely what is going on, but one can never be 100 per cent sure.

Your competitors really would be better off improving their Internet marketing campaigns than spending time wasting your money (and theirs) but that’s a topic for another blog post.

Active PPC ad campaign management

This points to the benefit of having someone actively managing your campaigns. I am a bit of a report and statistics junkie (a result of my days working as an accountant, no doubt) and I regularly run through a variety of traffic reports, statistics, keywords and more. If you’re an information junkie, Google Analytics and Google Adwords could feed that addiction!

When I worked as an accountant I typically would give financial statements the “eyeball test” just to see if anything looked out of place. It served me well and I caught a few things in that manner. Most of the time it could just be a natural variation in earnings or expenses, but sometimes it was a data entry error or a miscategorized item.

It pays to actively manage your pay per click campaign to ensure you aren’t the victim of click fraud, which is uncommon, but also to weed out non-performing ads, keywords and to increase your ad click through rate. Improving your landing page quality can help your ads climb higher on the list and lower your cost per click too.

I really enjoy the challenge of creating a fresh campaign, writing the pay per click ad copy, the keyword research and determining which market segments to target. It really brings together all my SEO (landing page optimization), writing and marketing skills to bear on a PPC marketing project.

Alain Saffel is the owner of Page One SEO, an Edmonton SEO company. Page One SEO’s services include organic search engine optimization, pay per click advertising campaign setup and management, public relations and copywriting.

Protecting your Facebook privacy

December 10, 2009 by  

Read Facebook's new privacy settings carefully

Read Facebook’s new privacy settings carefully

Social media can be a great way to promote yourself online as well as your business but when it comes to privacy, you really need to be careful, especially with Facebook.

Case in point: the new Facebook privacy settings. (Facebook forced to improve its privacy by the Canadian privacy commissioner.)

I’m going out on a limb, but I would say that most people are using Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family. This post applies mainly to those people.

If you’re using your personal Facebook profile for business or your profile is totally open, this may not apply.

While Facebook is improving its privacy, I was a little surprised to login and see the changes yesterday. It’s good that they’re changing but they are, in my opinion, being rather sneaky. When I logged in, every one of my settings you see in the screen shot was on “old settings” except for one: “posts I create.”

The “posts I create” checkbox was set to “everyone” but for each of those items, I had it set to “friends” except for photos which is on “friends of friends.” If I had just clicked “save settings” without even looking, I would have opened key aspects of my Facebook profile to the world. I consider status updates, photos and videos as key things I don’t want going on Google. It’s none of their business.

Phone numbers, emails and addresses are also key pieces of data that should stay within Facebook, but they didn’t even have the option of opening that up on this screen. That’s good.

facebook-privacy-settingsIf you haven’t logged in to Facebook recently, be very careful when you do. Make sure to read and understand exactly what will be visible to the world.

Where Facebook was being sneaky, underhanded, devious or whatever word you might choose, was the fact that they had tried to slip the “posts I create” by me and try to change it to “everyone.” Why didn’t they keep it on my “old settings”?

It’s the “posts I create” that are of real value to them. This is the steady flow of information they’re trying to monetize by sending it out to the rest of the Internet, notably search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. I’m not opposed to making a buck, but not off my personal information.

Do you have a personal social media strategy?

On that note, you really should think about your own personal social media strategy. Evaluate all of your social media profiles to ensure that you’re protecting your personal privacy to a level you’re comfortable with.

I think you should have a personal social media strategy whether you’re in business or not. It pays to think about the image you portray online, whether or not you intend to try to leverage your presence online for some benefit now or later.

More and more employers are checking online profiles to see what you say and post. Would you say that what you post online really gives an accurate picture of you? Are there photos and posts you would rather not have a potential employer see? How about parents and other relatives?

Or, maybe right now you don’t care what you post online and in social media. You might want to think about the future and decide if what you’re posting now might come back to bite you in the future. If that is the case, it may be wise to clean things up and consider posting in places that aren’t so subject to public scrutiny.

Shrinking PPC & SEO budgets?

December 1, 2009 by  


How Agencies View Client Search Marketing Budgets

It’s no surprise that with the recession, marketing budgets have shrunk. It’s affecting people with big pay per click marketing budgets and small ones.

I’ve seen it happen with some of my clients and I have talked to many others who have seen the same shrinking online marketing budgets. That’s why I thought Marketing Sherpa’s chart about how agencies view client search marketing budgets was interesting.

There aren’t many agencies out there with clients who have too large of a budget. There’s been an increase since 2008, according to online marketing agencies, of clients whose search marketing budgets for pay per click marketing are too small. I’ve also experienced it on the SEO side where ongoing SEO has been scaled back from planned levels.

It is frustrating because while the initial SEO phase is very important, the ongoing SEO linkbuilding phase is equally as important. Of course I’m not the one at the accounting controls, but the end goal of an SEO campaign is to increase traffic and click through to a client website. Once those visitors are on site, they can become customers.

It’s not a quick and easy process and I think that’s where educating clients is important. There will be ups and downs along the way, but it’s worth the effort in the end. It is an investment and not just a cost.

Recession: time to invest in SEO & website

With this recession, I see it as a great time for companies to invest in their website, making it more responsive to visitor needs and, in so doing, to get those visitors as your clients. Depending on what point those visitors are in their buying cycle, they may not become clients immediately, but may when their situation improves or once they’ve moved through their decision process.

Here in Alberta, with its recently overheated economy, we have swung from some companies saying ‘too busy to do it’ to ‘we don’t want to spend anything.’ It’s funny in a way, but disappointing because they’re missing out on a perfect opportunity to focus on the long-term marketing of their company. I’ve talked with people in a variety of IT sectors that have said the same thing about their segments of the market.

I’m not worried though. The outlook for the economy is improving, and from a search engine optimization perspective, every time I search in Google, I see websites that need to be optimized. Is yours performing as well as you’d like?

Page One SEO is an Edmonton SEO company specializing in organic search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. If you’d like to increase your online visibility, traffic and move your site up in organic search results, contact us for a free online marketing consultation.

Social media and SEO

November 30, 2009 by  

Social media and SEO. You hear about them everywhere these days. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Oh, they’re all great ways to promote your business and you’ll make millions, or so the story goes.

What’s the reality? Social media can be a great tool to promote your business, if it’s done properly. It’s also a great way to connect with your customers and clients. SEO is critical if you want to have your website ranking well in search engines.

If you’re wondering about how to get started in social media, I found a few excellent social media tips to help you get started. What they all boil down to is having conversations with people and you should also realize that social media isn’t going to replace all of your other marketing activities.

I use social media as a marketing tool, but I don’t rely entirely on it. I see social media as an extension of the way business has been done for as long as there’s been business: personal connections. All social media does is make it easier for you to make connections and communicate with them.

I work with a number of clients doing search engine optimization and other services. Social media has been quite beneficial to my business.

SEO benefits

Obviously, traffic doesn’t benefit your SEO directly, but indirectly it can. With consistent writing of great blog posts or articles, traffic will keep coming back to your site (a little promotion doesn’t hurt) and those links will also increase.

Traffic – So, you just wrote a great blog post, titled “Top ten online marketing tips for…” Great. If you’ve got a blog with loads of traffic, people will see it quickly. Maybe you don’t have a lot of traffic, but it really is a great post. Why not promote it on Twitter or LinkedIn? Of course it should be a topic that potentially appeals to your audience. Social media is a great way to pull traffic in to have a look at something you’re promoting. With people potentially retweeting and hopefully linking to your great article or blog post, it helps to raise the profile of your site.

Links – As anyone familiar with search engine optimization knows, inlinks are one of the SEO elements that are helpful in increasing your search engine rank for desired keyword phrases and building your Page Rank. If your post really is a good one, there is the potential for those viewing your article deciding they like it enough to link to it from their website or blog.

Articles written with the goal of gathering as many links as possible are often known as “linkbait.” In the eyes of search engines, more links means more authority. More authority means higher search engine rankings.

In the articles I have listed at the bottom of the page there are good discussions about the value of links from within social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. There are some benefits from these links, but they’re limited.

I’m not sure I’d really rely on links coming directly from Twitter results. First, I just don’t see that many search results from Twitter when I’m searching in Google. Second, those results don’t stick around for that long even when you do see them.

There’s always a bit of a honeymoon effect for Twitter results. They may rise quickly, but then disappear almost as quickly. Not only that, but I believe that Twitter’s database may only go back a few months. Apparently Twitter management has indicated they’re saving your Tweets, but they don’t seem to be accessible for a great length of time in search engines.

Social media: not hard to use

Social media can be a great for promotion, conversations and brand building, as well as SEO. I’ve found myself recommending it more and more to clients as a way of promoting their businesses as well. It’s not hard to use social media, but you definitely have to be aware of some of the pitfalls in using social media tools for promotion.

If you’re considering getting into social media and aren’t familiar with it, do some reading. It may be worth getting some social media coaching to help with your social media strategy. Like any kind of marketing activity, it certainly pays to get it right. It can hurt to get it wrong.

More reading on SEO and social media:

Can’t separate social media and SEO

Where social media fits into the SEO equation

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