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Author - Sarah Gemmell
Category - Facebook, SEO
Posted - 06/06/2011
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Why Facebook will dominate Google eventually - And what this means for your small biz
I read an interesting editorial last week by Ben Elowitz, co-founder and CEO of Wetpaint, an online publisher with an audience of 10 million monthly uniques. Elowitz comes to the conclusion that Facebook has the ability to dominate Google. When I put on my small business thinking cap I realized his theory (if true) also proves to be quite a persuasive argument as to why your small business should be on Facebook. Here's a brief synopsis of his article and what it means for you.
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Elowitz starts out mentioning former Google CEO Eric Schmidt's public statement about "lost opportunities and missed chances to catch Facebook the other day."

After putting some serious thought into Schmidt's -- at first, unbelievable -- statement, Elowitz realizes:
…Despite the fact that Google goes to great lengths to keep its index fresh by indexing pages that often change every hour, or even every few minutes, and despite its efforts at realtime search (including searching the Twitter firehose), its dominant dataset is dead, while the Web is—each day more so than the last—vibrantly and energetically alive.

This whole argument continues kind of ironically: Facebook was created to connect people on the web, not to scrape and index the web like a search engine. Yet, as days go by we're seeing more and more integrations between the social web and search engines, and more algorithmic changes to the way search engines behave.

So what does this mean for your small business? Well, it means that if you've been skeptical about getting your business on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, now is the time to do so!

As people get more accustomed to finding the information they want now, basing their decisions on reviews by friends (and strangers), and updating their acquaintances with important information such as "Eating a bagel," they'll be more driven to the social web and less to search engine results -- or as Elowitz call them, "fossils—in the form of pages and links."


People and businesses already on social media already have an upper hand: their relevant blog posts and tweets are now appearing in Google search results. So not only is Facebook a "search medium of the future," but it has proven SEO benefits.

Anyways, I highly recommend reading the whole editorial. And tell us what you think below!

Sidenote: If the thought of setting up your business on Facebook, Twitter etc. sounds like a huge undertaking, simply contact us and we'll take care of it for you.


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Author - Sarah Gemmell
Category - SEO, Tools
Posted - 03/28/2011
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SEO Series, Part 3: Our favorite free online SEO tools
This is the third post in our SEO Series. Check out past posts in this series:
As with most things you encounter on the internet (music downloads, videos, stock photos) that charge a fee for their usage, there is almost always a way to get it for free elsewhere.

Same goes for SEO tools. There are some great SEO tools out there that function as "one-stop shops" for your SEO needs and charge a monthly usage fee. For simplicity's sake, these tools are  great for professional SEOs and agencies that offers SEO services (like us)-- but if you're a small business that'll probably only be doing SEO research once in a while, why not opt for the free versions?
free seo tool-google-insights_1.png
Google Insights - Search for "real estate"

Here are 5 free SEO tools that we've used and recommend:
  • Google Keywords Tool : This helps you come up with keywords & variations on your keywords, shows how many people search for your keywords per month and how competitive those keywords are in Google AdWords.
  • Google Insights : A very cool tool, Google Insights shows you where your keywords are most popular, trends in keyword usage and suggestions for related keywords that are rising in popularity. Watch out, this one can be addictive!
  • free_seo_tool_keywordspy.pngKeyword Spy : This is a sneaky tool that allows you to spy on your competitors. Just enter their URL and you'll be able to see which Google AdWords they're bidding on and what their ads say. Best part - the free trial never expires!
  • Link Diagnosis : After downloading this tool, you can examine who's linking to your website and the status of those links (how many are good, how many missing). You can also spy on competitors and see, for instance, which news publications have linked to them - and reach out to those publications yourself.
  • Xml-Sitemaps : Newsflash! Google loves sitemaps. It's best to have both an html and xml version on your site, and Xml-Sitemaps can create both of those for you, for free. All you have to do is enter your URL, download the sitemaps and post them on your site.


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Author - Sarah Gemmell
Category - SEO
Posted - 03/03/2011
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SEO Series, Part 2: SEO tips for beginners
This is the second post in our SEO Series. Check out past posts in this series:

First of all, SEO = Search Engine Optimization. Search engine optimization is the practice of designing and filling your website with content so that search engines and people can easily understand what it's about and how valuable it is.
Search engines determine how "valuable" a website is through an extremely complicated algorithm that involves a variety of factors. But, not to fear! There are a few proven practices one can take to get their website on the road to SEF (Search Engine Friendly).
SEO_sushi_screenshot.png

The title tag
Estimates vary, but some say that a web page's title tag accounts for 50% of its SEO. So its best to spend a bit of time perfecting it. Your title tag should be:
  • Different on every page on your website.
  • Concise and keyword-rich. In the image, you'll notice long title tags get cut off (see the "..."), so keeps yours 7-10 words and 80 characters max. Make sure it's keyword-rich (more on this next) and -- if you're a local small business -- includes your location or service areas.  
  • Example: In the photo above, the words circled in orange = words that match the search query = relevance. So if your title tag contains keywords that match the user's search query, chances are it will come up on the search results page.

Keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases that best describe your website and business. They're also the words your optimal customers would use to describe & search for you. Your keywords should be:
  • Accurate, specific and actual terms that people search for. You can use the Google Keywords Tool to figure this out.
  • Limited. It's best to decide on two or three keyword phrases to optimize your website for 2-8% of your body text. Keyword density is highly debated, but even so, it's common sense that your keywords should appear every so often so that search engines can pick up on your keyword themes.
  • Example: If you’re a sushi restaurant aimed at sushi “beginners,” your keywords might be sushi, California rolls, and teriyaki chicken rolls. But if you’re a fancy, authentic sushi restaurant, your keywords might be sashimi, sea urchin, and authentic sushi.

Sushi_computer.jpgThe meta description

The meta description for your website doesn't actually appear on your website anywhere, but as the page’s description in search results. Thus, it kind of serves as your free ad on the search results page. Your meta description should be:
  • Keyword-rich. Search engines examine your meta description to see if it matches the search query, so it should accurately describe what your website is about.
  • Catchy so that the user who sees your meta description will want to click through to your website.
  • 150 characters or less. Anything longer than 150 characters will be cut off on the search results page.

H1 Tags
H1 tags are an HTML tag that your website coder/builder uses to tell Google what the main topics of your website are. Think of them as the headers of an outline. H1 tags are kind of old school and lots of people don’t use them these days, but they should! They are still used in the Google algorithm to determine a site’s relevance in the search results page. H1 tags should be:
  • Actual headers on your web page that serve to break up content. Search engines don't like sneaky, hidden H1 tags.
  • Ideally containing some of your keywords.
  • Example: For an educational website about sushi, your H1 tags might be:
    <h1>About Sashimi<h1>
    <h1>About Japanese sushi<h1>
    <h1>About American sushi<h1>
    <h1>Find sushi near you<h1>
Note-- If you want to further break down your website “outline,” you can label sub-topics with H2 tags, H3 tags and so on.

Page Rank

Google also determines a site’s value by it’s Page Rank (PR) score. A score of 0-10, Page Rank tells Google how many other quality websites have linked to your website.
  • Example: Let's say your sushi restaurant has FoodNetwork.com (PR=7) linking to it. Since FoodNetwork.com is a high-quality site, that’ll raise your Page Rank. Conversely, if your restaurant has seven tiny food blogs with Page Rank 1 linking to it, Google isn’t impressed. That said, a few unimpressive links are better than none, so the best strategy is to reach out to sites with low PR scores and work your way up.
'Til next week!


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Author - Sarah Gemmell
Category - SEO
Posted - 02/24/2011
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SEO Series, Part 1: You can't handle the truth about SEO!
This will be the first post in a series about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Next week we'll go more in-depth on how to search engine optimize your website, but today I just want to touch on a few truths about SEO that aren't often discussed.

SEO takes time.


All across the web, you see articles that say "Do A, B and C to search engine optimize your site." What you don't see are articles that let you know SEO takes a while. If your website is new, it can take up to 8 weeks to be listed in search engines like Google and Bing. If your website isn't new, the SEO changes you've made to your site can still take weeks to be acknowledged by search engines, and even longer for your website to start ranking better.

SEO_algorithim_cartoon.jpg

SEO is ALWAYS changing.


Have you heard the recent buzz about how Google's search results have gotten more social? Now, people and business's activity on Flickr, Twitter, Quora and others (except Facebook) will be a lot more visible on the Google search results page. So, having a social media presence has just become a lot more important than it used to be for your business's search engine optimization. And that's just one example of how SEO has changed lately.

SEO is ALWAYS debated.


The algorithm that Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines use to decide which website matches a search query the best is -- as stated -- always changing. Some of these changes are huge and are highly publicized, like the example of Google's search becoming more social. But others are minuscule and are purposefully kept secret and un-publicized. That's because people often try to "game" the system, by stuffing web pages full of keywords, buying links from link farms, and so on. So, search engines must adapt and come up with other ways to determine a website's relevance that these scammers don't know about.

Thus, as with anything that we only have a 50% grasp on, SEO is constantly being debated. For example, some schools of SEO thought believe <h1> tags are still used by Google to crawl web pages, some believe they're completely obsolete, and still others believe it's good to have one <h1> tag on a page, but no more.

SEO is an art as much as it is a science. Some SEO articles or blogs you may visit will claim to have end-all solutions for the best way to search engine optimize your website.

As a marketing and website design agency, one of Addwater's main goals is to make sure your small business is easy-to-locate online and shows up well in local search results. We only use the most widely accepted and confirmed-to-be-true (by Google, Bing and Yahoo) SEO tactics. No keyword stuffing or shady link-building tactics here!

'Til next week...



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