ABC of SEO

A

ALT Tag

Often overlooked but incredibly important, the ALT tag helps tell search engines and visually impaired users the purpose of an image. It’s a great chance to add some important keywords to your code, but keep it sensible. Remember the golden rule of SEO; never make a website for a search engine, make it for your users. Spammed out alt tags will only harm your optimisation, keep it below 4 words and make sure it makes logical sense.

alt=”” src=”../images/logo.gif” />alt=”Something Logical” />

B

Bold Tag?

Never B always STRONG

and (bold and italics) are used purely for visual effect and mean nothing to search engines, where as and are semantics to add emphasis. Google will see something in a tag as more important than something in a tag. However, like everything in SEO it has to be used within reason, making your entire content bold will not help your rankings. The less times you use the tag on a page the more importance the one or two keywords wrapped in a strong tag will have.

C

Cache

This refers to a copy of a website stored on a search engine. Google as well as other search engines will let you view their current cache of a website via a link in their listings. It is important to stay on top of when your site was last cached, changes you make to your site will not get picked up on until the search engine includes them in their cache index.

D

Demographics

“Lenin said that people vote with their feet. Well, that’s what’s happening. They either go, or they don’t go. It’s all politics. It’s all demographics.” – Warren Beatty

Demographics is crucial in any form of marketing, understanding your potential market, their ages, sex, race, income, location etc will help you lead a successful marketing campaign and will result in a higher conversion rate. AdWords and Adcenter, allow you to target PPC ads at searchers who fit amongst a specific demographic, doing this correctly can make the difference between a good PPC campaign and a highly profitable PPC campaign.

E

Everflux

Major search engine indexes are continually updating and refreshing, Google coined this process ‘everflux’. Previous to this Google would update their index roughly one a month and this was referred to as a ‘Google Dance’.

F

Fresh Content

Some SEO firms see adding fresh content as simply updating a page once and again, if your a webmaster and you really want to rank highly in the search engines you will need a consistent flow of original high quality content. Firstly it builds the size of your site and secondly it shows the search engines your content is fresh and that people will want to read it. Low quality, short and unoriginal content will not help and will only jeopardise your rankings.

G

Google

Google truly is the key player in the search engine world, it has revolutionised the internet and how people use it. Google started as a brainchild of two Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998.

Now it has ventured into marketing, the browser wars, phones and online software development.

H

Headings

Where’s your heading at? Use headings accurately to structure your content, improve readability and transmit your site’s message. Make sure you get your important phrases in, but don’t start cramming. Analyse the importance of each phrase and fit with the appropriate heading,

H1 being the most important and H6 being the least. You don’t need to use all 6 on one page, just as many as you wish, also try and keep them in order so H1 first and H2 second. Using more than one H1 will take away from the importance of the tag, so only use it once or twice and make sure it is well written. I

Internal Linking

This refers to the process of linking to other pages on the same site, it can help users navigate the site and enable search engines to quickly find and crawl pages, which may otherwise not be linked in the navigation or footer. However, this is commonly misunderstood and a lot of SEO companies see the need to link each of their keywords, this isn’t necessary and it will only water down the importance of other links on the page and confuse your users.

J

Javascript

Javascript is a client side scripting language, which is embedded into HTML to add more dynamic features to a website. Although Javascript itself isn’t indexed by search engines the HTML it controls is. So with the rise of javascript libraries including jQuery and Mootools, web developers are now able to add more interactivity and animation to their sites without using Flash.

K

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

* Why have you chosen them?

* Are they relevant?

* How many people are competing for them?

* How many people are searching for them?

* How much is your competition spending on them?

Just a few questions you really need to be asking yourself at the start of your optimisation campaign. We have attached a few helpful links below to help you on your way to prosperous keyword research.

L

Link Building

Link building, when performed correctly is the process of gathering high quality links from around the web, which in hand show to the search engines that the site being optimised is authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy.

A few tips to get you on your way..

* Build high quality content, get high quality links.

* Be creative with your link building, think of new ways to gain high quality links, competitions, social bookmarking, april fools etc.

* More links doesn’t mean better links; it’s all about quality, not quantity!

* This is especially true for a new site, you need to ensure your first set of links are from high quality sites, if you plan on getting to page one anytime soon.

* Dmoz, although this has became a highly debatable subject in SEO over the last 6 months, Dmoz is still very much link worthy and authoritative.

* Never, ever, EVER use directory submission software or companies.

There are many more examples and we aim to cover this subject in much more detail in a new post during our SEO season. M

Meta Tags

Meta tags appear in the section of an html document and were a way of helping search engines analyse the content of your site.

Some of the Meta Tags include:

* Meta Description

* Meta Keywords

* Meta Distribution

* Meta Author

* Meta Language

All but the first (meta description) are not worth the time they take to implement into a site. Meta tags are no longer seen as a worthwhile SEO technique and will make no difference to your rankings. We have a slightly controversial view on these, however from experience we can honestly say that only the Meta description tag can help an optimisation campaign. And that is purely to do with the fact that it appears in your listing under your title in the major search engines. Use it to gain searcher’s attention and give them a reason to click through, mention your special offers, pricing, services etc.

N

NoFollow

Nofollow is a link attribute used to prevent a link from passing any link authority (PageRank, age etc) and is commonly used on user generated sites, such as blogs and forums. It was introduced by Google as a way to cut down on blog comment spamming. However, some blogs chose to remove this attribute and chose to reward their reader with a link back if they take the time to comment, this referred to a ‘DoFollow’.

The nofollow link attribute looks like this:

rel=”nofollow”

O

Organic Search Results

Most major search engine listings comprise of paid ads and unpaid listings. The unpaid listings are formed using the search engine’s algorithm and are called the organic search results. The organic search listings are selected by relevancy, link data, domain name and arguably age. Typically these are more popular than paid ads, hence why they appear on the left hand side and have more space compared to the paid adverts. Users also tend to see them as a more reliable and relevant source, meaning they have a higher click through rate. However, to appear on page one in the organic search results you will either need a high understanding SEO or a reliable firm.

P

PageRank

PageRank is Google’s attempted scale at measuring a web documents importance based on its link capital.

Google describing PageRank

“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important’.”

The PageRank formula is:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))

* PR= PageRank

* d= dampening factor (~0.85)

* c = number of links on the page

PR(T1)/C(T1) = PageRank of page 1 divided by the total number of links on page 1, (transferred PageRank) For any given page A the PageRank PR(A) is equal to the sum of the parsed partial PageRank given from each page pointing at it times by the dampening factor plus one minus the dampening factor.

A variation of Google’s PageRank appears in their toolbar, this is often referred to as ‘Toolbar PageRank’ and ranges from 1 to 10 (10 being the best), Google has yet to disclose any kind of precise info of how they determine a Toolbar PageRank value, it also updates periodically, on average once every 3 months.

Q

Quality Links

These are the links you need to be aiming to achieve to start ranking in the search engines.

A trusted link can be broken down into the following categories.

* Relevance – The more relevant the link the more power it has, if you were optimising a veterinary website, links from internet marketing sites wouldn’t carry as much strength as links from somewhere like the RSPCA or another veterinary clinic.

* Trusted source – Authoritative links are the best kind of links. If you can build links from government or educational site you will have your foot in the door. However, this is no easy task, the best way to gain these kind of links is to be creative and think on your feet. See if your local council has any kind of local business directory.

* Age – Search engines tend to trust links from well-established sites over new websites.

* Amount of Links – The harder it is to gain a link the more value that link will carry and the less likely that your competitors will be able to get a link off of the same site. Take into account the amount of external links on that page, that’s one of the best ways to judge the strength of a link.

R

Reciprocal Links

This is where websites agree to trade links with one another to try and build a false authority. They made also use 3 way linking or other low quality link building schemes to try and trick the search engines. Overall this kind of link building is not recommended especially if the site you are trading links with isn’t relevant to your industry. Google will pick up on the fact that it is reciprocal and mark the link as a low quality link. However, It is worth considering developing a resources page where you can list useful websites and in case an opportunity comes along to trade with an authoritative and relevant website, you will have somewhere to place their link without spamming your homepage or any other important pages.

S

SERP

This is one of the SEO top buzzwords, SERP simply means Search Engine Ranking Position and refers to where your site is currently positioned in a search engine. You will hear this thrown around a lot in the SEO playground and you don’t want to look like the dumb kid, pretending to know what it means. It can be used in the following contexts.

“I’m not sure what happened to my SERP’s after I used that directory submission service, I have fallen 10 pages.”

T

Title Tag

Experts agree, us included, that this is the most heavily weighed piece of on-site optimisation.

Here are some points to help you on the way to writing a search engine and user friendly title for each page.

* Uniqueness – Each page title needs to unique for that page, do not have the same title for any two pages.

* Length – Try to keep it below 70 characters, anything over that will not only look messy but it will also get ignored by the search engines.

* Logical and Descriptive – Sum up your site and try to get your most important keywords in, however DO NOT spam this, it appears in the search engine listings and something like ‘web design, website design, web optimisation, search engine optimisation, SJL’ will not only get ranked lowly by Google it will also lower your click-through rate. We would recommend something along the lines of ‘Web Design & Search Engine Optimisation Specialists | SJL Web Design’.

U Usability

You may think usability and SEO are two completely different things, but getting visitors to your sites is only half the battle, the other half is getting those conversions. If your site is complicated and your users can’t find their way around, the whole point of optimising will become useless, because they will just leave and you will have a rocket high bounce rate.

So take into account the usability of your site, ask people who have never used it before just to browse it in front of you, watch them carefully, but try not to put them off. See if they become confused and take notes on where they experience problems and what could be done to improve them. If they can’t find things like a link to your contact page in less than 10 seconds your site may be losing you potential enquiries.

V

Viral Marketing

Apart from sounding like some kind of allergic reaction to a bad marketing campaign, viral marketing is an effective way of promoting your brand identity and increasing visitors to your website. Channels for viral marketing include emails, YouTube and simply enough word of mouth.

W

WordPress

WordPress is a popular blogging platform created by Matt Mullenweg in 2003. Installing and maintaining a blog is great way to build a transparency for your business and forms a basis for trust between client and company. It also helps by adding a source of fresh content, which will help your site improve in the search engines. WordPress is easy to manage and with the abundant amount plugins and templates available it is highly recommended by us at SJL.

X

XHTML (Extensible HyperText Markup Language)

XHTML is a markup language that has the same depth of expression as HTML, but also conforms to the XML syntax. XHTML along with CSS has dramatically changed the way we build websites, if you are serious about appearing high in the search engines it is worth taking the time to get the coding right, even if it means hiring someone to do it for you. It may be tempting just to drop into tables or even just use the slice tool on photoshop or fireworks, however this is becoming increasingly outdated and you will have to do twice the work to get anywhere in the search engines.

Y

Yahoo!

We saw yahoo rise to fame during the dot-com bubble of the early 00’s. It was formed by Jerry Yang and David Filo in 1994, who were also Stanford University students like Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. During the last 7 years we have seen Yahoo fall behind Google as the world’s most favorite search engine. Nowadays, Yahoo is heavily in the shadows of Google and its fate has been hanging in the balance throughout 2008, with multiple failed acquisition attempts by Microsoft.

Z

Zeitgeist

Well sorry, I guess. This is the best we could come up with; Z isn’t one of the easiest letters to put SEO terms to. If you can think of anything better please drop us a comment below and we will consider adding it.

Anyway, Zeitgeist is one of Google’s tools for analysing search trends over time, split by country. It is describe by Google as providing ‘search patterns, trends, and surprises’. It can be a good tool for extensive keyword research and we applaud for being with the letter Z.

It is pronounced ‘tsIt-“gIst, ‘zIt’ if that helps and it means ‘the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.’

Article Written by Sam Logan, Senior Designer and SEO Consultant at SJL Web Design.

Comparison Among Drupal, Joomla And WordPress

If building a website for your business is on the horizon, you may be speculating which content management system (CMS) is the best choice for you. Here’s a look at three of the most widely-used ones. All three are open source software, each developed and maintained by thousands of communities. Not only are all three free to download and use, but the open-source format means that the platform is continuously being enhanced to sustain new Internet technologies. With all of these systems, vital functions can be enhanced with an ever-expanding range of add-ons, contributed from their individual communities.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here; it depends on your goals, budget, technical expertise and what you want your site to do. For a brochure-type site or a simple blog, WordPress could be the best choice (while very friendly for non-developers, it’s a flexible platform also able for very complex sites). For a complex, highly customized site needing scalability and complex content organization, Drupal might be the best option. For something in between that has a simpler learning curve, Joomla may be the answer.

When you have queries or need assistance, will you be able to find it easily? With all of these systems, the answer is yes. Each has dedicated, passionate developer and user communities, making it easy to find free support directly through their websites or through online forums or even books. Besides, paid support is easily obtainable from third-party sources, such as developers, consultants and designers. Each of these systems shows long-term sustainability and long life; support for them will go on to be readily available for the foreseeable future. The more time and effort you are willing and able to put in to a learning system, the more it will be able to do for you.

Drupal CMS
Drupal is a potent, developer-friendly tool for building complex sites. Like most powerful tools, it requires some proficiency and knowledge to operate.
Example Sites: Community Portal: Fast Company, Team Sugar
Installation: Drupal Installation Forum
Ease of Use: Drupal requires the most technical know-how of the three CMSs. However, it is also competent of producing the most advanced sites. With each release, it is becoming easier to use. If you’re incapable to commit to learning the software or can’t hire someone who knows it, it may not be the best choice.
Features: Known for its potent taxonomy and ability to tag, categorize and organize complex content.
Caching Plug-ins: Press flow – This is a downloadable version of Drupal that comes bundled with popular improvements in key areas, including performance and scalability.
Best Use Cases: For complex, superior and flexible sites; for sites that need complex data organization; for community platform sites with several users; for online stores

Joomla CMS
Joomla gives middle ground between the developer-oriented, extensive capabilities of Drupal and user-friendly but more complex site development options than WordPress offers.
Example Sites:
• Social Networking: MTV Networks Quizilla,
• Education: Harvard University,
• Restaurant: IHOP
Installation: Joomla Installation Forum
Ease of Use: Less complex than Drupal, more complex than WordPress. Relatively simple installation and setup. With a moderately small investment of effort into understanding Joomla structure and terminology, you have the ability to create fairly complex sites.
Features: Intended to perform as a community platform, with strong social networking features.
Caching Plug-ins: Jot Cache gives page caching in the Joomla 1.5 search framework, resulting in fast page downloads. Also offers control over what content is cached and what is not. Additionally, page caching is supported by the System Cache Plug-in that comes with Joomla.
Best Use Cases: Joomla enables you to create a site with more content and structure flexibility than WordPress, but still with fairly easy, intuitive usage. Supports eCommerce, social networking and more.

WordPress CMS
WordPress began as an innovative, user-friendly blogging platform. With an ever-increasing range of themes, plugins and widgets, this CMS is broadly used for other website formats also.
Example Sites:
• Social Networking: PlayStation Blog
• News Publishing: CNN Political Ticker
• Education/Research: NASA Ames Research Center
• News Publishing: The New York Observer
Installation: WordPress Installation Forum
Ease of Use: Technical experience is not necessary; it’s intuitive and simple to get a simple site set up quickly. It’s easy to paste text from a Microsoft Word document into a WordPress site, but not into Joomla and Drupal sites.

Features: Ease of use is a key advantage for experts and novices alike. It’s potent enough for web developers or designers to proficiently build sites for clients; then, with minimal instruction, clients can take over the site management. Known for an extensive selection of themes. Very user-friendly with great support and tutorials, making it great for non-technical users to quickly organize fairly simple sites.

Caching Plug-ins: WP-Super Cache: The Super Cache plug-in optimizes performance by generating static html files from database-driven content for faster load times.
Best Use Cases: Perfect for fairly simple web sites, such as everyday blogging and news sites; and anyone looking for an easy-to-manage site. Add-ons make it easy to expand the functionality of the site.

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Discovering Georgia Geocaching As a RV Adventure

If you loved adventure books and spent your days locating “buried treasure” as a child, go grab the keys to your RV. There’s a new sport on the horizon for Georgia recreational vehicle enthusiasts called geocaching.

Geocaching is an adventure game that relies on a GPS unit and the Internet to help travellers track down caches (the treasures) that others have set up and shared locations for. There are hundreds of cache sites listed on the Internet right now, and your Georgia RV dealer can probably recommend a website to help you get started.

Setting out well armed with a list of GPS coordinates that you’ll visit can be a great way to help pass the time on the road. Kids will be thrilled to track down each cache, and it will certainly help keep them busy until you reach your destination. Some caches are more easily found than others. A scuba enthusiast may have left a cache under water, for example, which would certainly qualify as a very difficult find! You’ll find plenty of caches located on hiking trails, in parks and at beaches, in fairly accessible spots. Caches will never be buried, placed in a way that disturbs the environment or located too close to a railroad track or roadway.

Treasure in a Cache:

What might you find in a cache? The sky’s the limit! Caches might be as simple as a guest book where you can see the names and hometowns of everyone who visited it before you, or as elaborate as a holiday themed box filled with small toys or ornaments. For example, a 4th of July themed cache might include small flags or red, white and blue tennis balls and frisbees, or a Christmas themed cache might be filled with tree ornaments.

Rules of Geocaching:

One of the few rules of the game is that if you take something, you must leave something in its place, ensuring that the cache is never empty for the next treasure-seeker. This applies even to the simple log book only caches; if you enjoy reading what others have written, be sure to leave a tip of your own! Advice about local attractions and restaurants is always appreciated by fellow geocachers.

Getting Started:

So, what do you need to get started? While RV dealers frequently recommend this game to those frequent travelers who are RV or Georgia travel trailer owners, it can be a fun game for anyone who travels. It is necessary to have a GPS system installed in your vehicle, since that’s how you’ll locate the coordinates of each cache. The Georgia RV dealer that sold you your RV should be able to help you pick the right GPS system for you. Other than a sense of adventure and some small trinkets to leave at cache sites, you don’t need any other equipment.

As you begin searching out caches, you might start to notice some that aren’t as typical as a simple “treasure chest.” Some Georgia RV dealerships have begun collecting lists of the most exciting caches their customers find. Multi-cache locations actually send you along on a scavenger hunt to find the next clue, which will eventually lead you to the final cache. In some areas, a multi-cache can help give you a tour of unique or interesting features of the location. If you have children, don’t be surprised to hear your GA RV dealer recommend you search out Earth-caches. In these, you’ll find educational information related to geology or earth sciences. Several other types of caches exist out there- part of the fun is finding a new one on your own!

SEO Sitemap

This week’s quick fire SEO tips session covers how to link your website internally to make sure your high page rank pages let the page rank flow through to your deep pages through the use of sitemaps. That’s right people; sitemaps is a plural which means more than one! You wouldn’t believe the number of new websites that are out there without both an XML and HTML sitemap. If you pick 10 websites at random you are almost guaranteed to find at least 50% of these sites have only one version of the sitemap (believe me I have done this).

Why are Sitemaps Important?
For those who need reminding or educating here is why sitemaps are important. When a new website is launched there will be a point in time when a search engine will visit your website for the very first time. Wherever the search engine spider lands is irrelevant, (homepage, contact page, it doesn’t matter) the spider will move on throughout your site via the HTML links that are available on that page.

Here is where the problem lies. If you look at your website files as a directory structure, your homepage and other main pages will be the top level folders which are all accessible via the main navigation of the website. Most websites will have a sub navigation of pages which are only accessible through links on a main page, e.g. subcategories list on a category page. There is also a scenario where there maybe another level of pages (sub sub) that are again only accessible from links found on its respective father page.

This means if a spider lands on one of the main category pages it can take a very long time for a spider to eventually work its way down to the lowest level of pages, by caching the page at hand, leaving, revisiting the cached page and moving onto one of the links found on the cached page.

In real terms this means that some pages are never found by search engine spiders and never cached to be available in the search engine results. This could be for many number reasons; the anchor text for the page is very vague and therefore is never followed, the page is buried so deep in a website etc. This is why the sitemap is so important – it contains all links to your pages in one place for the search engine spiders to find.

HTML Sitemaps
Now you may ask “what happens if the spider never finds my sitemap?” well this is why it has become almost a web and web user standard for the sitemap to be present on the footer of every page. This means that every page your website visits it has the ability to follow your sitemap link. It can also be speculated that search engine spiders will purposefully follow any sitemap link they find as they know that they will find a rich index of the website.

XML Sitemaps
There is also a XML sitemap to talk about. XML sitemaps are made so that they can be submitted to search engines such as Google directly, thus cutting out the middle man, the search spider. This is a very useful tool and should always be checked frequently to make sure that it is up to date and no errors exist (a common problem as most XML sitemaps are auto generated).

To submit your sitemap to Google all you need to do is log into your webmaster tools account and go to the sitemap link, following the instructions on the screen.