Articles in The 'SERPS' Tag

January 31 2011

Want Good SEO Results? Patience is a Requirement

by Marni Weinberg

Wouldn’t it be totally amazing IF…you optimized your website to be perfectly aligned with everything that the search engines (namely Google) wanted? Then, almost like magic, your efforts were instantaneously rewarded with top positions on every keyword that mattered to you? Amazing – yes. Realistic – hardly. Rome was not built in a day and neither is top organic placement. This is one of the most challenging things to explain to a client who wants results yesterday and quite frankly, who doesn’t? We’ve all become so used to instant gratification that we don’t find it acceptable to have to wait for anything, especially when it comes to the free positions in Google. Although, I always try to set the right expectation, patience is not one of my best attributes and I feel their pain when clients expect to see northward shifts in positions immediately, but don’t.

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to “speed up the process” and the way in which Google determines positions (aka their algorithm) can shift and change. As a result, your website should not remain stagnant and will never be 100% optimized, but more like a work in progress, with ongoing tweaks along the way. It would behoove you to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible with respect to what Google is currently (currently being the important word here) looking for when determining rank, as well as identify how Search Engine Friendly your website is. This exercise is one of the first steps our SEO Engineers take when a new client comes through the door for SEO. Commonly referred to as “the cornerstone of our Natural Search Program”, our Website Optimization Review is — for lack of better words — a report card on your website from an organic perspective. In addition to multiple other factors, it will address these four primary areas of optimization: Technical, Design, Content and Marketing. After providing a score of how your site ranks (per the current standards of Google) a priority list rounds out the Review, which pinpoints where your efforts should be placed in prioritized order.

When it comes to SEO, no matter what your path, it is advisable to gain a clear understanding of what Google is looking for and where your site is lacking before trying to optimize it, as you could do more harm than good. One example that comes to mind is Domain Trust. Often, clients will want to change their domain name to make it “sound better” or “be catchier”. This would not be a recommended practice if you’ve had the domain for 5+ years, as it’s likely to be considered a trusted domain by the major search engines. Trusted domains typically rank higher in the SERPS so you might want to think twice before changing it.

Everyone wants prominent placement in Google for their core keywords and everyone seems to want it to happen overnight. Invest the time in your website and be patient; the fruits of your labor will pay off over time.

August 6 2010

The Anatomy of a Search Result

by Emily Creech

Meta data is a critical component of SEO. Meta data consists of primarily the title tag, the description tag and the keyowrd tag of a page.   This information, when properly used for SEO, can help to tell the search engine spiders and the searcher a bit more about what they will find on the page.

Let’s start by breaking down a listing in a search engine results page.

The clickable, blue link in Google’s search engine results pages is the title tag.   This is usually the actual title tag of your page, which is also visible when viewing the page (shown in the top of your browser).   As you can imagine, since this is the clickable link, it’s important to make sure that it includes keywords.   This can help with rankings and it can also encourage someone to click through to the page of your site listed.

The snippet of text just below the title is displayed to show a bit more information about the page to the searcher. This text can be pulled from a few places.   If Google’s spiders are not able to crawl the page or if they are not finding text that they think will be valuable to the searcher, they may rely on the Open Directory Project for this information.   Other times they may use the description tag that you assign to the page.   Lastly, Google may pull this text from a place within the page’s content.   For instance, if the specific search query is most related to a piece of the content located at the bottom of the page, Google may display content from the bottom of the page as the search snippet.

One bit of confusion is that Google will not always display the description tag that you have assigned to the page.   As mentioned earlier, if a piece of content on the page is more relevant to the search query, the search engine may choose to display that instead of your description tag.   This does not mean you should ignore the description tag by any means.   It can still add weight to your page. As Google is trying to create the best experience for the searcher, there are some elements such as the descriptive snippet, that they will tweak in order to create what they believe makes best search experience.   The next question that usually arises is: can I tell Google to only use my description tag?   Since it’s an algorithm that determines this, you can’t. However, if the text pulled is from the Open Directory Project, you can use the META NODP tag, which essentially lets you opt out of the Open Directory Project title and description.

Other elements of a snippet that are within the search engine results page are the URL and sometimes site links. The URL is pretty self explanatory — it is the destination URL of the page listed in the search engine results page. The site links are additional non-paid links into a few other pages on your site that Google feels is relevant for searchers.

Review your website’s meta data and be sure that the content on your page and meta data are in sync.   Even conduct searches for your keywords and see what displays in the search results. This can help you to find out what Google is telling searchers about your pages.

May 10 2010

I Want To Be #1 in Google (organically)

by Marni Weinberg

So you want to be #1 in Google, huh? Of course you do and you’re not alone, so does everybody else!

Unfortunately, ranking #1 organically (let alone in the top 10) in any search engine is not an easy task to accomplish, though not impossible either. You will need a solid action plan, a knowledgeable and reputable team well versed in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and an enormous amount of patience. Unlike paid search efforts, where you can receive almost instant gratification (barring the nuances of quality scores, expensive bid prices, etc.) from “buying” real estate in the sponsored results section, organic results do not occur overnight. It is best to be seen in both the organic results, as well as the paid.

See example of Nike in AdWords screenshot below. Notice that is appearing #1 organically, as well as paying to be in the sponsored section. This reinforces their brand and provides the opportunity to take up more real estate on the page. Surprisingly many searchers do not understand or recognize the difference between a paid listing and an organic one. Nike is very smart to cover all the bases by ensuring that they are being seen in both places.

Nike in AdWords

Sure, there is methodology that can be utilized to “trick” or “fool” Google into thinking that your site should rank higher than it actually should. In addition, there are a slew of non reputable companies that will offer empty promises and make all sorts of guarantees that sound way too good to be true. At the risk of sounding cliché, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We strongly advise against employing any black hat tactics; you run the high risk of getting penalized or ultimately having your site completely banned from the SERPS.

Don’t take shortcuts, no matter how appealing they may seem. If you take the time to optimize your site the right way, you will reap the benefits over time. There are a myriad of elements that must be factored into an effective, long term SEO Strategy. Employ a credible and reputable SEO firm that will hold your hand and expertly guide you on your journey through the ever-changing algorithms set forth by the search engines.

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