One of the best ways to improve search ranking is to create great content. Great content that other websites will want to link to. It is especially good if the search engines consider these websites to be authorities on a topic you are targeting.
Recently the Blender website experienced just such a lift. Popular lifestyle blog Life Hacker linked to a tool hosted in the Blender website that calculated costs for a cloud storage service. Of course visitor traffic went through the roof increasing by several orders of magnitude when their post went live. More interestingly, search traffic both in the form of impressions (searchers seeing the Blender webpage in their search results) and visits nearly doubled. The content of my website hadn’t changed, but Blender looks a little better now. (more…)
Today on Google’s Webmaster Central blog they announced more search engine support for business / organization logos. Specifically they mentioned displaying suitable logos in search results. Having your logo included in a search engine results page (SERP) is a huge competitive advantage – or disadvantage if you don’t follow their suggestion!
You can read more about Rich Snippets and Schema.org as they relate to organization addresses in my previous blog post local SEO: first steps to better Vancouver results.
Image optimization is an SEO factor. Google has stated in their Webmaster Guidelines that websites should be optimized to load quickly:
Monitor your site’s performance and optimize load times. Google’s goal is to give users with the most relevant results and a great user experience. Fast sites increase user satisfaction and improve the overall quality of the web (especially for those users with slow Internet connections), and we hope that as webmasters improve their sites, the overall speed of the web will improve.
Shrink-O-Matic is a free (donation) tool that can help with image optimization. This is a very handy tool for resizing images in bulk. As part of this process it strips out unnecessary information resulting in ‘lighter’ file sizes. The images aren’t as light as possible, but generally much improved. The ease of use of this tool makes it ideal for bulk image optimizing. Add resizing, renaming, and watermarking to the mix and you have a winner.
Shrink-O-Matic as an Adobe Air application so it should work on all platforms, as long as you have Air installed. If you find it useful I encourage you to make a donation to support author Quentin Thiaucourt’s work.
Google regularly updates how they arrive at the search results provided to users. The process is part of the ever changing search landscape; SEOs tweak for best Google positioning and Google tweaks for best search results. You can view a list of Google’s algorithm updates at SEOMoz, a SEO tools provider. Two recent Google algorithm updates have had a particularly significant effect: code named Panda and Penguin.
For Google’s search results to be relevant it has to correctly identify the best answers to user searches. Google works hard in this regard, sometimes with transparency and sometimes not. To it’s credit Google has published Google Webmaster Guidelines for designers and SEOs outlining best practices. To quote Google (emphasis mine):
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
Avoid the following techniques: Automatically generated content, Participating in link schemes, Cloaking, Sneaky redirects, Hidden text or links, Doorway pages, Scraped content, Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value, Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
All of the techniques Google mentions have at one time or another been common practice to either promote websites or create website content. (more…)
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to search optimization with a regional focus, for instance targeting a city such as Vancouver. An example of local search engine optimization would be my website, Blender Design, targeting searches originating in the Vancouver metropolitan area. For a local business this means focusing SEO efforts to compete for the searches that matter most – potential local clients.
I’m sure you’ve already noticed that search results are tailored to the searcher. If a search engine, and by search engine I really mean Google, believes local search results would better answer a query, then local results will be prioritized. For instance, if you do a Google search for “best restaurant” you will likely see a couple of websites followed by a list of local restaurants. For many obvious local searches Google takes this a step further and includes an area map of results. (more…)
When longtime Vancouver client Lori Miles of Sweet Pea Photography called Blender to ask for some updates to her website, to bring it up-to-date and give her website a little facelift, it was probably overdue. Lori takes amazing photos and gets some high profile clients and media exposure, which needed to be showcased. From a potential clients standpoint it is important to show them what you are up to and where your work is going. From an SEO standpoint you want your website to be viewed as current and deserving of good results placement.
As for the facelift Lori asked to change the website from it’s existing elegant black to a crisp white. Not as simple as it sounds, but what a difference!
Sweet Pea Photography is due from some other needed updates like transitioning away from Flash, but that doesn’t feel as urgent with it’s fresh new look.
It’s important to keep a website up to date, both the content and the construction. After adding some more photos and a few new pages it was time to bring Vancouver’s The Emerald Coast up to date with regards to web standards.
Emerald’s website was originally based on a website template that featured a Flash banner at the time. Common practice at the time to incorporate some animation and give websites a little punch, Flash now was a useability and SEO hindrance. IPads/IPhones don’t display flash items, and the content is often ignored or poorly interpreted by search engines.
Emerald liked the look so Blender extracted the good and reworked using modern HTML design. Next some jQuery animations to get back that punch and we’ll leave alone for another few years…
New client Squeeze Vancouver had a website already, but it’s search engine traffic was very disappointing. Blender was hired to optimize the website to better compete with other local chair massage businesses. We quickly identified some structural problems with the website, worked with the client to create some new content, and developed an SEO plan.
UPDATE: Blender is happy to report that Squeeze has received it’s first clients from organic search! After a little over a month clicks through Google are up 87%. Most importantly we are seeing our targeted search phrases starting to appear on the first page in some searches.
Another assignment for Creating Excellence, small business marketing specialist. Corner Equipment needed a website that visitors could navigate quickly, that was easy to maintain, and that search engines would pick up and list. Because of the client’s experience with WordPress there was no question it would be our platform of choice. Wordpress is the most straightforward CMS (Content Management System) available, and because it is enjoying recent popularity there is no shortage of extensions and support.
Blender created a custom theme based on Creating Excellence’s design. Careful attention was taken to ensure the website generated would be friendly to search engines. An SEO strategy was part of the early design process.
One interesting feature of the Corner Equipment website is the processing of images attached to items in the inventory. Pictures are uploaded by the site owner and automatically resized for different purposes, little or no outside preprocessing required.
Visit Corner Equipment
Properly dealing with expired content is important. I have a few clients who regularly update their website and remove content that is dated or obsolete. Usually I notice the content is missing and send them an email along the lines of “never remove content!” along with some explanation. But is just keeps happening, and it is hurting their visitors experience and their website’s search engine ranking.
The concern with removing expired content, or not removing it, is that visitors will continue to come to your website, directed by search engines and outside links, and will not find what they are looking for. Either what they wanted is missing, or it is old and out of date. You have just made a bad impression. Further, search engines are in the business of directing visitors to useful content. If they detect that sending visitors your way isn’t helpful they will rank you lower in their search results. Search engines want the pages and content they think you have to be stable and reliable. So what to do? (more…)