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Article Archive by Darren Franks


May 20 2011

Bing V. Google Part II: Local Search Results

by Darren Franks

A common SEO question seems to be, “How do I optimize for both Bing and Google local search?” The simple answer is that by following certain “Best Practices” for search engine optimization and doing your due diligence with things like effective keyword research and applying proper link building etc, you should get the desired results from both search engines.

There are also some nifty tools out there which let you view search results “side by side”: http://www.bingle.nu. For instance, a search for “car parts” returns these results from both search engines:

Bing V. Google Part II: Local Search Results

Both Bing and Google return many localized results via “Google Places” for Google:

Bing V. Google Part II: Local Search Results  

Bing V. Google Part II: Local Search Results

and the Bing Business Portal for Bing:

Bing V. Google Part II: Local Search Results  

Google places (formerly Google Local Business Center) is where you can tell Google directly about your business. Bing offers the same service: http://www.bing.com/businessportal/. Of course, for both engines, it is still wise to ensure that you have included localized onsite content like your address and related keywords, included your address and keywords listed in local directories, reviews of your business and maybe localized keyword elements in the domain name.
 
For a business with multiple locations or, for instance, law firms or banks with multiple branches, create separate pages for each on the site and include the address and any pertinent contact information, such as phone numbers and email addresses. Obviously, ensure that each store or branch is easily found via navigation and/or an HTML sitemap page.

May 10 2011

Make Your Site Crawlable – Somewhere!

by Darren Franks

Navigational elements on your website can be created in many ways, but the only “true” SEO-friendly way to construct any links on your website is to use plain text links formatted with CSS — plain and simple! CSS formatting allows you to render plain, text links more appealing to the user.

However, if you are a web designer that can not envision creating links in this way and you have to use JavaScript, images or image maps, make sure you have these contingencies in place:

1) Ensure there is an Internal HTML sitemap on the site that provides alternate, text based navigation.

2) Link to important pages in your Footer Navigation:

Crawlable links in footer navigation

3) Keep your XML Sitemap up-to-date to help the search engines spiders properly index pages on your site.

4) Use optimal text in your Alt tags. While certain images are “crawlable”, they are not necessarily “optimal”. Adding keyword rich text to Alt tags tells the search engines the theme of the linked page:

Keyword rich text in Alt tags

So, how crawlable is your website? If you are not the person who designed the site and are unsure, simply mouse over a link or button on a page and see if the URL for the link appears in the bottom of your browser window. If it does, there’s a good chance you have an SEO friendly, crawlable link. You can also view crawlable links in a “text only mode” for your site by typing in “cache:www.mywebsite.com” into Google and clicking on the link that says “Text-only version” in the dialogue box at the top of the page when it loads. If the link appears on this text only version of the webpage, you’re most likely in good shape.

To determine if the link is anchored with an image, merely right click the link and see if you have the option to “view image” or “save image as” etc in the pop-up menu.   If you use a browser such as Firefox, you will also be able to tell if the image has associated Alt text by looking at the “Associated Text” section under “View Image Info” in the pop-up menu:

View Alt Text in Pop-Up Window

For Internet Explorer, perform a search in the source code for the term “Alt” to locate any Alt tags associated with any images on the page:

Alt tags associated with images

April 27 2011

Latest Google Algorithm Update – Now People Panic!

by Darren Franks

The age old axiom of, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” has had so much meaning for me over the last few weeks with the latest “algorithm update”. In actuality, Google makes so many updates a year, that this isn’t really an “update”, just a reinforcement of SEO philosophies that I and other SEOs have been preaching for years: “low quality websites will be penalized in the long-run!” Don’t believe me? Read this blog post by SISTRIX: http://www.sistrix.com/blog/985-google-farmer-update-quest-for-quality.html.

Data aside, while I do feel a little sorry for some webmasters, I can see Google’s point of view. Google is a search engine that wants to serve pages in their results that are relevant and provide a favorable user experience. Good user experience can mean a multitude of things: interesting and relevant content, fast page load times etc. For Google to stay the number one search engine in the world, they need to ensure that their search results are the best search results you can find, anywhere. While other search engines like Bing and Ask may be a little less stringent in their webmaster guidelines, their algorithms just aren’t as sophisticated as Google’s in that they can be a little “naïve” with the results they serve.

Google’s algorithm was built on the foundation that the amount and quality of the inbound links pointing to a web document should be a major signal when ranking pages. Google also want to present the most relevant, topical (if need be) and compelling data that they can. With the plethora of Google algorithmic updates per year, it’s possible that Bing may fall by the wayside. The only real way to detect any obvious differences between the algorithms of both search engines is to simply compare search results for the same keyphrase.

With that being said, it’s safe to say that all search engines are always looking to serve pages in their SERPs that adhere to all of the same basic SEO best practice doctrines: well structured websites with good content, created for users and not just for the search engines, will always garner better rankings than ones that don’t.

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