Articles written in October, 2008

October 29 2008

Online Presence for the Small Business


The best part about internet marketing is that anyone can participate.   There is a low cost of entry, regardless of whether you are a large corporation or a small business owner.   However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both the small business and the large corporation when it comes to having a presence online.

To begin with, those who manage the website for a small business are often stretched thin.   They are likely wearing many hats throughout the company and the website does not always fall at the top of the priority list. At large corporations, there are often entire teams that manage the website.   One person may be responsible for the website’s content, another individual may handle the programming, and another may be solely dedicated to writing on the company’s blog. Small businesses don’t usually have the luxury of having an entire website team.

On the flip side, an advantage of being a small business is that change comes a bit easier. If you want to try something new such as participating in an emerging social media channel or building a new pay per click campaign, the decision can be made quickly. You can also be more creative at times and be an early adopter of new ideas. Larger companies can have internal procedures that can make even small content changes to the website a time consuming process.

Even though small businesses typically have a smaller budget to spend toward their marketing efforts, ensuring that the company has a presence online is essential. Below are a few inexpensive tips to help boost the visibility of your small business.

1. Add a blog to your site.   Blogs are great for many reasons.   They allow you to connect with your customers through posting new content and they provide you with the perfect opportunity to establish yourself as an authoritative source of information.   Another great thing about blogs is that you can add an RSS feed, which will give visitors the ability to subscribe to any new information and will encourage them to come back to the site.

2. Participate in local search and other local directories.   (Additional information on local search tips can be found in one of our SEO team member’s previous blog entries.)

3. Leverage sites where customers post reviews such as the sites listed below. Encourage customers to rate your company after they do business with you. Reviews by customers add creditability.   Don’t be afraid of the possibility of negative reviews. Instead, use them as an opportunity to listen to your customers and fix any issues that need fixing.

4. Communicate with your potential customers.   If your product or service is targeted towards a defined audience, find groups or networks where those people are and participate in their discussions. Add value to the conversation and remember to include a link back to your site where appropriate, even a link in your signature will do.  

5. Track results using an analytics program.   If you are putting time, effort, and money into your internet marketing, then you will want to have a way of tracking the results. Fortunately, internet marketing is highly measurable, unlike many other forms of marketing. How else will you know if your efforts are actually working? For additional information about analytics, visit our Analytics Blog.

October 28 2008

The Importance Of Anchor Text


So, what do we know about this part of search engine optimization?
We know that including keywords in you anchor text (the visible link text on a page) is important for increasing the relevance of a page that you are targeting, enhancing the relevance of a page the anchor text is appearing on and, among other things, getting on the good side of those search algorithms (search engine algorithms really like good anchor text). For instance, the link “click here” doesn’t pass as much relevance to an internal or external page as “Click Here For Facts About Product XYZ”.

Once someone has made every effort that is possible to get their site optimized (good meta tags, content etc.), anchor text can sometimes be forgotten. It is intelligent to cover your bases so to speak and take advantage of every potential area that you can place good keywords. It is also wise to make sure that your “title” contains all the pertinent keywords that you want to be included in external links pointing to your site. This is the text which is usually included in the anchor text pointing to your site.   The more relevant the text is there, the more your site will gain relevance for that keyword and your site may get a good ranking boost. After all, isn’t that what good SEO is all about? So, don’t leave anything to chance. When requesting a website to link to you, tell them what specific keywords to use in the anchor text. You could even provide them with an HTML code to copy and paste to streamline the process. Remember, quality backlinks are one of the most important things to consider in SEO, so make sure relevant links from relevant sites have the correct anchor text.

It’s been rumored that Google has “devalued” the importance of anchor text and that some sites have lost considerable rankings because of that. We don’t know that for sure as algorithms are changing all the time and it does little good to always focus on what some forum posts are pontificating. What we do know is that devalued or not, anchor text is a great way to add good keyword rich text to your site and have legitimate links pointing to it. It is also evident that the major search engines look at the text surrounding the anchor text. This may be a way for them to combat unnatural, random links placed on a page. So, just keep in mind that anchor text is not just helpful for rankings; it is also good for user experience. Generic, bland links to internal or external pages aren’t beneficial to anybody.

October 23 2008

Google Webmaster Live Chat: Answers to all Your SEO Questions


This Wednesday, Google hosted another Google Live Chat to reach out to webmasters and answer some of our most pressing questions. Many Googlers including Adam Lasnik, Matt Cutts, and others got together and addressed questions that were submitted by webmasters from all over the world.

One question that particularly interested me was whether or not Google was planning on devaluing links from directories. Recently, they removed the suggestion that webmasters submit their sites to directories which led to some speculation in the SEO community that this would happen. Matt Cutts assured us that Google has no immediate plans to devalue links from directories. However, he did suggest that not all directories are created equal and that links from article sites or directories that are purely designed to add link value to your site would have less value for helping pages of your site rank better.

However, my favorite question was: “What do I do if my boss is obsessed about Page Rank even though traffic to our site is increasing?”. All the Googlers really liked that question and their response was to laugh uproariously and say: “Send him on a long vacation without computers”. But seriously, as the Googlers went on to point out, Page Rank is just one of over 200 factors and if a PageRank 5 page is more relevant to a query than a PageRank 7 page, the PageRank 5 page will be positioned higher. They pointed out that traffic and conversions are what matter and if your site is successful at that, it’s a success.

This was just a small sample of the kind of insight that was passed on to a very curious audience and we all enjoyed it very much. I keep in touch by monitoring Google’s Webmaster Central blog where these events are publicized but if you missed this Live Chat, it’s ok. They will be publishing the list of questions and answers in the next few days. This is my third Google Webmaster Live Chat and I heartily recommend that anyone interested in knowing more about how Google works tune in to any of Google’s Webmaster Central live chats.

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