Tag Archives: seo

google-analytics

Google Analytics

Having used a large number of web site visitor trackers over the years, I first approached Google Analytics some time ago, with the somewhat jaded attitude of someone who’s ‘seen it all’ or at least ‘seen most of it’. What could possibly make this particular utility stand out in such a large crowd of competitors?

But first… What is Google Analytics?

Analytics is Google’s very own visitor tracking utility, allowing webmasters to keep tabs on traffic to their site, including visitor numbers, traffic sources, visitor behaviour & trends, times spent on the site and a host of other information gathered via two pieces of JavaScript embedded in the source-code.

Unlike other free visitor trackers, which insist on displaying annoying and often amateurish badges or buttons when they are being used, Google Analytics simply runs quietly in the background, gathering the necessary information without any visible signs of its presence.

Which brings me quite neatly to Analytics’ first major plus-point; the price. What webmasters are effectively getting, is a fully fledged visitor tracking utility without all the irritations and limitations normally associated with free products of this type.

Ok, so its free, but is it any good?

Simply put: Analytics is sweet!.

The sheer depth of information gathered, really leaves very little to be desired. From search engine analysis to page views, bounce-rates and more, the available data is presented so as to give users an easy overview of the most essential elements, with the ability to ‘drill down’ to less commonly accessed or more in-depth statistics and figures.

Additionally, on the 18th of July 2007, the Google Analytics old user interface was discontinued, making way for a newer, more ergonomic look which makes reports more accessible and the interface itself more intuitive for the user.

The new Dashboard provides ‘at a glance’ visitor statistics for the previous month, as well as a graphical breakdown of your visitor’s geographical locations in the form of a world map. A pie chart clearly shows what proportion of visitors reached the site through search engines, by referral or through direct access, whereas the ‘Content Overview’ provides a list of the most commonly accessed pages.

Google Analytics, Key Features

Although Analytics boasts all the features and statistical data to be expected from a top-class keyword analysis and statistics tracker, it also features a number of additional tools which put it ahead of the most of the pack where ease-of-use and depth-of-information is concerned.

The Map Overlay

Essentially, this feature brings up a map of the world, highlighting the countries a site’s visitors stem from. Clicking on a country produces a close-up view, along with a geographical breakdown according to the region and/or city from which visitors accessed the site. This tool in itself is invaluable for all those webmasters with geo-specific sites, concentrating on a particular catchment area.

The Site Overlay

This is conceivably Google Analytics’ single most important feature from a webmaster’s or online business owner’s perspective, as it provides a hands-on view of visitor behaviour. When clicked, ‘Site Overlay’ opens the tracked web site in a new window and, after a moment’s loading time, overlays each link on the screen with a bar, containing information about clicks to the target page and goal values reached [more about goal values in a moment]. Since it allows the webmaster or site owner to navigate his or her site and see exactly how visitors flow through it, it is difficult to imagine a more effective tool than this as far as raising a site’s conversion rates is concerned.

Goals and Funnels

Unless the site being tracked is an information site which does not rely on generating sales or enquiries, conversion rates are as important as sheer visitor numbers. The ‘Goals & Funnels’ feature allows users to set up specific goals for their site, such as tracking a visitor to the ‘Thank you for your enquiry’ page for instance. It also allows the user to set up specific monetary values for each goal, and thus track the site’s financial performance and profitability during any given period of time.

The term ‘Funnels’ refers to the specific path a visitor takes to reach the goal’s target page. Since most web sites sell a number of different product ranges or feature a number of ways to enquire, all of which lead to a single ‘Thank You’ page, the funnel allows for the tracking of each individual path with a minimum of fuss.

Graphical Representations

A great many visitor trackers out there will present the collected information in a certain way, be it a list, graph, pie chart, flow-chart or whatever. Whilst all these methods of presentation are of course valid, it is nevertheless a fact that most users are different, and a pie-chart is not necessarily ideal for those users preferring to work with graphs or vice versa. Google Analytics however, allows users to choose between views on many of its reports. Although this may seem like a relatively minor point, it nevertheless makes things easier, as it allows the user to work with the view he or she is most comfortable with.

In Conclusion:

Google Analytics provides website owners and online marketers with a very effective tool for tracking website visitors and analysing taffic petterns. A great tool, period. It is in our opinion the most efficient Free website tracking solution on the market, and is definately up to par with most paid services.

Enough promotion, we like the service and find it to be an integral part of our SEO arsenal, but don’t take our word for it, try it out for yourself. Click here to sign up to Google Analytics.

 

seo-guidelines

SEO Guidelines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guidelines are the rules used by major search engines like GOOGLE, Yahoo!, and MSN / Bing, etc. to judge where to place a website in their search results. Though it may be hard to believe to some, having your website included in the Google index is a privilege, and not a right. These are just some Search Engine Optimization guidelines that can impact which web sites are included and those excluded from search results.

Content is king, so make sure you write your pages for people and not for search engines. Though it seems obvious, we have all browsed web pages with completely irrelevant content, written to deceive search engines for top placement. Once discovered (and they will be discovered), these offending web sites can be penilized.

Standard SEO guidelines also prohibit offering different content to search engines than to the visitors. This Black Hat technique is called “cloaking”, it is severely frowned upon and should be avoided. Instead, focus on providing the useful content that your visitors are seeking.

You may find all sorts of articles and tutorials on how to “cheat” search engines, some may get you a higher placement or increase traffic, but at the end of the day you are “cheating” and will end up paying the price. It’s imperative to be aware that once banned from Google your site will not appear in GOOGLE results or partner sites.

Most Common Violations of SEO Guidelines:

Some common search engine optimization methods to avoid when attempting to SEO your website. These are unethical techniques that may lead to having your web sites removed from the Google index, or worse. be weary of any SEO company or consultant that will recommend any of the following techniques in order to improve your search engine friendliness.

Hidden Text

This fairly common technique is used to add excessive keyword rich text to web pages, by either making it completely invisible or hidden to the user. There are various ways to achieve this; some as simple as setting the same color to the text as the background. The idea behind this technique is that the search engines will read the text in the code and give the page more importance because of it, while maintaining a more “user friendly” look on the page. This method is often used as a shortcut to avoid redesigning a website, but, search engines are becoming increasingly capable of detecting this sort of disguise and will penalize you for it.

Keyword Stuffing

Similar to hidden text, keyword stuffing attempts to increase the frequency of keywords and phrases by inserting it in any place that it can go. Most commonly found in the ALT tags of images. Search Engines look for proper use of code, and such tags should be used only for their proper purposes; the alt tag is meant to be used as a text description of the image, and to improve making the browsing experience of users.

This technique is sometimes used with the the no-script tag. The purpose of this tag is supposed to be used to show a version of the content that would normally be seen via javascript when a browser has javascript turned off.

Duplicating/ Copying Content

Once a website is complete, it’s fairly simple to purchase another domain name and duplicate the content onto the new domain. Sometimes this is done with completely different addresses and sometimes with different suffixes of the same domain – so you may have mysite.com,mysite.ca, mysite.net etc. The concept behind this harmful technique is to have multiple sites dominate the search results, making little to no room for competition

The fact is that by now search engines have become fully aware of this and will automatically remove the duplicate pages from the index, at times they may exile the original source, if it appears to have been an intentional attempt to cheat.

But the most common use of duplicate content remains stealing someone else’s. This unethical method involves checking the ranking of high ranking site and literally copy pasting their content, meta data, keywords etc. This practice is not only unethical and severely frowned upon by search engines it’s also a direct violation of copyright laws and can easily escalate to a legal matter

Link Farming

SEO guidelines make a point to ban link farms that provide multiple links to a site in order to raise the page rank. Eventually the offending site will be penalized for breaking this sacred SEO guideline. Avoid links to and from known spammers, and don’t use any web sites or applications that will automatically submit pages to search engines.

Our SEO Consultants are dedicated to ethical SEO practices, and do not employ any of the above mentioned techniques. There is no magic shortcut to search engine optimization, it’s a matter of proper research and following guidelines.

If you suspect that your current SEO strategy is in violation of standard SEO guidelines, correct it immediately.

Backlinks – the currency of SEO

This article mentions the words authority, credibility,confidence, reputation, etc. I may be inconsistent with my use, but they all refer to the same thing – this abstract currency that flows among sites that link to each other.

When webpage X links to webpage Y, page X gives page Y a fraction of its authority. If page X has too many outgoing links, it will end up with little authority. Similarly, if page Y has few links but receives many links, it will end up with a great deal of authority. Keep this concept in mind when reading this article.

Backlinks are incoming links to a website or web page. Inbound links were originally important (prior to the emergence of search engines) as a primary means of web navigation; today their significance lies in search engine optimization (SEO). The number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (for example, this is used by Google to determine the PageRank of a webpage). Outside of SEO, the backlinks of a webpage may be of significant personal, cultural or semantic interest: they indicate who is paying attention to that page. In basic link terminology, a backlink is any link received by a web node (web page, directory, website, or top level domain) from another web node.[1] Backlinks are also known as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks, and inward links. – Wikipedia

Incoming Links

The value of an incoming link depends on:

  • The content immediately around the link
  • The number of links on the page
  • The content of the linking page
  • The link text or better known as the anchor text
  • The position of the link within the content (header, footer, main body?)
  • How well the content of the linking page compares to that of the target website

If for some reason you are considering paying for incoming links, I strongly recommend you consider all the points above before reaching for your wallet.

Incoming links generally cannot damage your rankings. Search Engines understand you can’t control who links to your website so you will not be penalized if you receive links from bad neighborhoods. They will simply be of no benefit to you. The only problem is when you decide to link to a bad neighborhood.

External Links

External links are an important aspect of quality content. It’s always good to offer a few links to related quality content. But beware of whom you link to. Incoming links cannot damage your reputation, but an outbound link to a bad neighbourhood can very much do so.

A link is a ‘vote of confidence’ to the page you’re linking to and you definitely do not want to give your precious votes to poor quality websites – quite simply – it makes you look bad.

Reciprocal Links

I am very sceptical when it comes to reciprocal links. One true, sincere incoming link is much more valuable than a thousand reciprocal links. If you read the “Incoming Links” section above you’ll understand, but here’s why:

Reciprocal links

  • Link is usually on a page with poor or no content
  • Links are normally considered poor quality because the content surrounding the link is unrelated
  • Content of linking page is almost always unrelated
  • Linking pages normally have dozens if not hundreds of external links
  • Link pages normally have low PR because of the number of outgoing links

So basically, reciprocal links give you a tiny share of something that isn’t worth much in the first place. One-Way links on the other hand…

One – Way Links

  • Link is on a page of quality content
  • Content is related to the link
  • Content of linking page is related to your website
  • Linking page with have a minimal amount of outgoing links, usually just yours.
  • Article pages can only improve their PRs because they get traffic, they get bookmarked and linked to by people (used as reference).

So basically, you get a big share of something that’s very valuable will only get better! It doesn’t take a seasoned SEO to identify which is a better choice.

Quality one-way links are a win-win situation.