Is it a good idea?
I remember the days, albeit close to ten years ago now, when you could submit a website to a load of general directories and rank a website, it really was that easy. Back then the search engines didn’t really seem to care about where the links came from, it was a simple case of more is better, but if you don’t read any more of this post than here, just be aware that things have now changed quite dramatically.
A few years ago, the search engines started to lower the authority of directories and in many cases the trashy free ones were wiped out of the index completely, leaving them with no authority or “link juice” to pass on. Not a bad thing at all in my personal view, because they were essentially worthless, the only people who went on them were those wanting to submit their sites, in many cases they were automatically approved so the directory became worthless as soon as it became populated.
Fast forward to today and things are very different, even DMOZ doesn’t seem to have the authority that it once did and adding your site to it has become a matter of process at best, the reason being that although it’s huge (and I mean, absolutely massive) and human edited, it tries to be all things to all men (and women). It’s a high PR directory, but as PR is not what it used to be either (that’s another story altogether), that’s not really a good reason to submit any more.
So what are the good ones? I hear you cry!
Well, think relevance, I don’t mean just in the context of your details, but the whole thing! An example being regional ones, such as Wiltshire Local yes it covers a wide range of topics, but it’s focused on a specific, fairly small region, Wiltshire. The search engines seem to like these type of directories because they are a genuine resource available to people in that particular county. So search your local area, there are usually a few focusing on both the towns or cities and counties in a given region.
The other ones which are of use are the industry specific ones, while they may not exist for every profession or trade out there, there are a plethora of directories dedicated to the building trades, accountancy, solicitors and retail to name a few. Again with these you are associating yourself with other businesses in the same vertical market, and because they have to be categorised another way too (or you would just have one huge long page of listings), they are likely to be split out into sectors within that specific one, or possibly also by region.
Make sure you write a good unique description of your business so it’s approved and you will probably find your listing showing up as a link in the future. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not the best type of link to have, but it’s a relevant one and may just help you appear for local searches if it’s regional.
Just a very quick update today. I was browsing around YouTube as you do and wasting lots of time watching things completely unrelated to work, when I found this video, so thought I would post it up. It’s just a few of the basics which everyone should be adhering to for optimisation now and moving forward into 2013.
So watch and enjoy!
I’m quite an active member of a few of the bigger seo forums and as such the same old questions tend to come around time and time again, “when is the next pr update?”, “why has my website vanished from google?”, or the one this post is about, “what is the next big thing” or “what are the new seo sectets for 2012?”, well if you can’t be bothered to read any further, and you likely can’t if you are expecting someone like me to tell you how to find that magic wand which will accelerate you to top place in Google, thousands of daily visitors and untold riches.
Why would you know anyway?
Well, while I’m not an old original SEO’er from the early 90′s, I have been around for a while, tested a few things and paid a lot of attention to some of the experts over the last 10 years. This, it seems is enough for me to know a lot more than the vast majority of people who seem to think they can set up an seo business just because they have heard of Google and read a couple of articles.
So what is the next big thing though?
The fact is that there isn’t one, I’ve seen and on a couple of occasions inherited customers who have tried all the tricks in the book (and there have been a lot over the last few years), and while some of them have gained the occasional positions up the SERP’s, most have quickly lost them again and a few have been banned completely.
SEO is quite simple really, just follow good practice and do it well.
The Most Important Rules of Website Design
When creating a website, you only have one chance to keep your visitors from clicking on the back button on their internet web browser. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling a product or a service, your site represents your company, and you want to make sure that you are putting your most professional foot forward. After all you certainly don’t want to spend money on designing and having SEO done on your site, just to loose visitors. Just like a work interview, you have approximately ten seconds in which to make your best first impression. This first impression can mean the difference between a paying customer and simply a visitor that has found your site.
Here are 5 Easy Rules to Bear in Mind when Designing your Site:
First of all, either limit the use of or completely do away with the usage of banners and advertisements. There is a time and place for these, but not on your homepage. The only exception to this rule is that a customer would be coming to you to see banners or advertisements, such as if you are a marketing company offering web advertising, the visitor will want to know what he or she is paying for.
Next, be sure you design your site with simple navigation in your mind, this is also an important SEO factor. Look at the site as if you are your own visitor. If it’s hard for you to navigate it will likely be hard for the visitor in order to navigate. Visitors should possess a clear sign of where they’re at on your website and how you can navigate around your website.
It pays to include an “about us” page along with a “contact page” for the visitor to obtain some understanding of who your company is, what your company is regarding, and how you can contact a person for more information.
The color of the website is an essential part of the website style. Colors which are too vibrant or dark might be hard upon some site visitors’ eyes. It may actually trigger some in order to strain to see your info.
Excessive utilization of font colors could be annoying as well, to these potential customers. Try to remain with a maximum of three font colors throughout your site. For instance: If your site is aimed toward older clientele you might want to use enjoyable colors. It’s not a secret once we grow old our vision becomes sub-standard. Think of the audience as well and gear the actual colors utilized on your website towards the audience you’re catering to and wish to attract. Font colors and web site colors ought to be one consideration when making your web site.
When doing web design, you should seriously consider the loading time. The time it requires your webpages to load is crucial. You may reduce launching time through reducing images on every page. A great website style should take under 5 seconds to load. The longer it requires the webpages to load the more frustrating it may be to the web visitor and search engines, as the load time of a page is important to how Google ranks your site too, if in doubt you should find a professional seo services company and take their advice. People want to buy yesterday, not really today, and not at all tomorrow, because of the nature that people have become accustomed to of getting what they want, when they want it.
Use the font dimension and style that’s common to any or all web site browsers and readable. You have to consider your marketplace. If you’re selling a service or product that can be used by older individuals you might want to increase the actual font.
Someone sent me this picture recently and I’ve been trying to think of a story which is related to online marketing or at least websites and seo in some way but I just can’t find a connection, so decided to just add it anyway, after all, it’s good practice to keep adding content regularly and I’ve just realised it was about a month ago that I last added something! I’m not sure if very little text and a great big image counts, but I guess we will see if this post get’s indexed and cached, although I wouldn’t expect it to rank anywhere.
You gotta admit it’s a great picture, I guess this will become a more common scene in the UK, if this recession doesn’t start to give way soon, although this does possibly take the self sufficiency thing a bit far!
I’m pretty sure I already know the answer to this one, as a quick Google search for any common term (or an uncommon one for that matter) will return several results with all or at least one of the keywords from the web users search string in the url, or failing that, at least in the folder or file extension.
I guess the real question is why would the search engines, and Google in particular give this metric such an emphasis for SEO purposes? It’s incredibly easy to manipulate so therefore is, very often, but why would Google in particular let companies and organisations get away with it? After all, if your company is called ABC Taxi Co you have a good keyword rich domain available to you (provided it’s available at all), but if your company was called AB Price Ltd, there is no prominent keyword in the likely domain name, yet your business could be bigger, longer established and more profitable than the taxi firm.
The only thing I can think is that they know that in time the domain names which are registered will become so numerous that everyone will have their own small bite of the cherry, or perhaps as many bites as they have the time to set up multiple sites! Take a couple of websites in my area of expertise, first you have SEO Company UK this is a brand new website, but the company name itself is specifically targeted at the keyword search for which they wish to appear. Because it is brand new, I will be watching it carefully as I want to see just how easily and how long it takes then to reach page one (if at all of course).
Then we have the big boys such as SEOMoz they are completely the other end of the scale, a long established business who have been offering SEO services for many years and now only to other companies in the industry, no longer to the end user company. They have SEO in their name too, so I assume it worked back then too.
So it would appear that having keywords in a domain name does help, even a folder or file path seems to have some small effect too, how much longer this will apply is anyone’s guess though.
While I wouldn’t call myself an seo expert, well, not yet anyway, but I’m working on it, I probably know a bit more than most it would appear, I don’t mean to brag, but I can achieve good ranks for my customers while I see many many companies who can’t. So it got me thinking about why that might be and it seems to come down to two main factors.
The first is the old thing about getting your keyword research right, I’m a huge advocate of spending a significant amount of time working on keyword research. I don’t just mean running a few terms through the Google Adwords tool and being done with it, although this does have it’s place before developing a brand new website, albeit along with a few other techniques. But I mean the type of research which can only be done by having Analytics installed on a site and spending some time to dig deep enough into that data to make it really start working for you.
I also suggest you completely ignore all those posts and articles out there on the internet who suggest that you copy your competitors keyword research, OK it’s very easy to do, just have a look at what’s in their keywords meta tag and focus on those, but wait a sec! How do you know they got their research right in the first place? What makes you think that they are better at it than you?
So the other point which I believe makes me a little different from 99% of companies out there is that I try to only work with companies in a market I already either understand, or have other customers who are in it already, why? It’s simple, if I have a customer in the travel industry, lets say they are a travel agent and I’m developing content for them, it’s just as easy to develop content for another one. Then that stems out to other related industries, ticket sales, car hire, holiday packages etc, so soon I am seen as an expert in tourism SEO so that’s a good thing, as now every time I find a good site to drop a link on for one client, I can do it for several, I may find a business directory which has a good section on travel and tourism, or even better is a niche industry directory, so I can add all my customers to it. This means that I am working faster and smarter, so my customers get better value from the work I do for them.
Well, I thought I’d pop along to the SES conference yesterday, it was up in London at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, and when I say pop, what I actually mean is drive to my local train station, find a space, walk down and get on the train, sit on that for an hour and a half to Paddington Station , then spend about 20 minutes on the tube and another 5 minutes walk at the other end.
I must have only been there for under an hour, I got there too late to go into the session in the morning, so wandered around the stalls for a little while, got chatting to the software vendors (is it just me, or do all the software products just seem to be aggregating other peoples data for reporting purposes these days?) then had a bit to eat, stood around for a bit, then decided to see what the afternoon session was. It turned out to be about the Bing and Yahoo merger, which to be perfectly honest doesn’t really interest me, as unless they start gaining some search engine market share, I will continue to ignore them and their results anyway.
So all in all a bit of a waste of time, although I guess when you are a Swindon seo, who lives out of town, you have to come to expect longer journeys, although I was back early enough to walk the dogs in the daylight, so they were happy at least.
Unless you’ve been asleep for the last few months, you will probably have started to see googles local or places results appearing in the search engine results. These are the listings with a red icon next to them with an A, B, C etc inside and a map off to the side with corresponding icons pinned to a Google map. So what are they and why are they now appearing?
Firstly just to be clear, these are called google places listings now but are just the newer version of what was previously called google local listings, they can be added by anyone who has a website, all you need to do is visit the google local pages and list your website, fill in as much detail as you can, including a description, opening hours, pictures and of course make sure you have that little pin in the right spot on the map.
So how do you go about getting listed? That’s the easy part, you just log in to your google account and add the listing, then leave it for a few weeks and if you are lucky, or in a small town or uncompetitive niche, you may find that you start to appear straight away. If not you just need to keep going back in and adapting the ad, make sure you adhere to the guidelines though, breaking those may mean you get a penalty of some sort and then find it even harder to start appearing in the future.
I must admit that I am still trying to work out exactly when and why the local listings are displayed for a given search term, you can click here for a site with more regular updates as this does not seem to follow any specific logic in the same way that traditional seo does. For example if I search builders with a UK town name, I always seem to get local listings, this makes sense seeing as most builders do work within a set geographic region, due to time and cost implications. However, if I search for pizza without a town name I still get localised listings, obviously this is due to my browser being set with a region and therefore the results are being set accordingly. Other times though I can search for a term and I see no local listings at all, just the normal SERP’s and Adwords. Then again, sometimes I get about 8 listings and sometimes just three, sometimes the map is in the main page, and sometimes it’s in the side bar. I’m not sure if it is still settling in, or if there is some kind of logic behind this, so I will keep an eye and report back further if I find the answers.
Of course, if you are unsure about doing this, you can always find a professional SEO company to add it for you. If you do use a company, you may be best finding someone local to you, as they will most likely have done it for other companies in your local area, so if you are in Wiltshire find a wiltshire company, or even better if you can find someone in your local town, so if you are in swindon and can find a swindon seo all the better.
So you may be wondering why I am writing about Sage 50 Accounts software on what is generally speaking, a blog about seo and web design. Well I have recently bought a copy so thought I would add a little write up about why I bought it.
My first consideration was that my accounts product comes from a well established vendor, Sage are the largest in the UK, but there are a few others out there such as QuickBooks, Pegasus and Microsoft Dynamix, although the las two were very quickly taken out of my list of potential suppliers due to pricing, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they are great if you are a mulkti million turnover company, dealing with worldwide suppliers and customers, but I’m not.
The next consideration was about the pricing, I always like to feel like I’m getting a bit of a bargain, so the Sage 50 Accounts Professional software was already a firm favourite, as it can be bought online with some pretty hefty discounts.
Of course, the most important aspect was to have the features I needed, it goes without saying that any accounting software will have it’s nominal ledger, bank reconciliation and VAT return functionality, however Accounts Professional also has a little project costing module built in, this has already proven to be a handy little gizmo, as my seo projects accumulate costs, I can add them straight in and see what costs have been incurred for each of my SEO customers each month.
It also has purchase orders and sales orders, to be fair I haven’t used either of these yet, although I do plan to and I’m hoping that PO’s will show up as a committed cost in my project costing module, although I can’t say for sure yet.
So all in all Sage has proven to be a pretty good choice as far as I’m concerned. Oh, it also came with 45 days free technical support, which I certainly got my moneys worth from, being new to doing accounts for myself.
These products used to be called Sage Line 50 in the past, so if you are reading this and know the old name structures this is what was previously called Sage Line 50 Financial Controller. The version numbering has also changed so the one I have is version 2011, which did strike me as a bit odd seeing as I bought it in November of 2010. Never mind though, I don’t really care what it’s called, just that it does my accounts and I can send the backup to my accountant at the end of each financial year.