Tag Archive: SEO

Google is on a mission to revolutionize the internet. They also believe in collecting data – and lots of it. They provide so many high quality free services (Gmail, Buzz, iGoogle, Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, to name a few), that some of us have completely sold out. Sure, we might be somewhat creeped out by the fact that Google’s virtually looking over our shoulder when we’re online. But with all the conveniences they offer, and the way the services are integrated, we can’t help ourselves – it’s worth it!

In the interest of “having a clue about what’s going on”, I’m posting to share some things I’ve learned recently about Google personalized search. Get ready to be creeped out – or sold out.

In about 2005, Google started experimenting with ways to use your Web History to influence your search results.

What’s that? You don’t know about Web History? You’ll be amazed. If you’re signed into Gmail (or any other Google account),  and you use Google as your search engine, check this : https://www.google.com/history/ (NOTE: This works if the Web History service is enabled in yourGoogle Account Settings. Mine was enabled, though I don’t recall doing it).

Big Bro Google is watching you.

Anyway, this evolved into Personalized Search.  Personalized Search uses Web History, geographic location and browser search preferences, among other things, to filter your search results.  If you didn’t know it was working, that just goes to show how well it was working, doesn’t it?

So, what if you want to see the exact same search results everybody else sees?  Well, you just make sure you’re not signed into any Google accounts.  Right?  RIGHT?!   Well, see, that’s what I just learned.  Apparently it’s not enough that you don’t have – or aren’t signed into – a Google account.  As of December 2009,  they’re doing Personalized Search  for everyone who uses Google, whether you’re signed in or not.  Wow.  This is very bad.  And very good.

As you can tell, I’m a bit conflicted about most everything Google.  But for the reader’s sake, I’ll keep the love-hate details to myself.

OK, but what if you really really want to see the  same search results everybody else sees? For instance, what if you did some SEO on your website, and you want to see what users see when they’re looking for you?  Or how you’re doing in a search using a specific keyword?  Well, here’s what I found out:

Google lets you  disable the cookie that’s used for Personalized Search.  While signed out of your Google account, click the Web History link at the top of any Google search engine results page.  You should see this option/link: Disable customizations based on search activity.  This will disable the feature until you go back and enable it, OR until you sign into a Google account.

Your browser may give you another way to accomplish the same thing:

  • Firefox lets you use  “Private Browsing”
  • Chrome lets you search “Incognito”
  • IE8 gives you “InPrivate” mode

And here’s how to remove Web History altogether:

  • Log into your Google account
  • Go to www.google.com
  • Under Search Settings (top right), select Google Account Settings
  • Next to My Products, click Edit
  • Click Remove Web History permanently.

On the web, as in other facets of life, there’s always been a trade-off between privacy and convenience.  No matter where you stand  on the issue,I hope this info is helpful.

Who’s Linked to My Web Site?

Bet you don’t know how easy it is to find out who links to your web site.

“Why is that important?” you ask.  Well, most search engines favor sites with quality inbound links.  The term’s called Link Popularity. So it’s a good idea to see who has linked to your site.

And it’s a great idea to promote quality inbound links.  “What’s a quality inbound link”?  It’s a link from a good web site in a business that’s related to yours.  Think of it like a referral, or a testimonial.  You want links from people you trust, whose association with you is relevant to your business.

Here’s how you ask Google search engine to check for inbound links.  Just go to the Google search box and type link:www.mysite.com

Or, check out this free tool that lets you do the same for three major search engines:

Get your Business Listed with Google Local

by Suzi Beaumont,  BeauCreations Web Design

Did you know that you can get in the Google Local business listings for free?  This is a must If you have a business with a street address.  Anyone searching Google Maps for your address OR your company name will not only see your location but also your profile, which could include a photograph or a link to your web site.  In addition to being easily found, you’ll also have one more chance to get your name and logo in front of potential customers.

Just go to  http://www.google.com/local/add.  You’ll need to create a free account and a business profile.  If you have trouble with the above URL, go to http://maps.google.com/maps and click the link to “put your business on Google Maps”.

Meta Tag and Keyword Recommendations

by Suzi Beaumont,  BeauCreations Web Design – revised 5/10

There is plenty of discussion on this topic, but I thought I’d share a very simple set of recommendations that seems to work for my clients.  This is just the basics.

Meta tags are part of the code that belongs in the “head” section of the HTML documents that comprise your web site.  Their function is to identify the file (and the web site) to the browser and the search engines.  The user at their computer doesn’t see them (except the title tag), but the search engines do.

Normally, you’d have to know something about HTML and modifying web files to insert meta tags, but many web sites and web hosts are making this easy for you, allowing you to do it with a web-based user interface.  I’m not going to go into the nuts and bolts of HTML here – I’m confining my discussion  to what to put in the tags.

KEYWORDS: You’ve probably heard that search engines have reduced the use of the keyword tag due to fraud. And it’s true.  But don’t get confused: Keywords themselves are important! You should identify your keywords on a page by page basis, then use them throughout the text in your pages.

But what about the keyword meta tag? Well, I wouldn’t spend much time on it! Despite strong evidence that search engines practically ignore it, most SEO experts still use it –  just in case. I put my best keywords first and make sure they are used in the copy of the page I’m working on. I use no more than 200 characters.  Keywords are not case sensitive but they are sensitive to singular v plural.

Here are some keywords currently used on my web site:

Atlanta websites
Suzi Beaumont
Marietta web design
website designer
internet marketing
Web page design
affordable websites
creative web sites
Atlanta Georgia

TITLE: This is currently THE most important tag from the standpoint of search engine optimization.  It is used to display the page title that appears in the top-most bar in the browser. As such, it often starts with a word or phrase that describes each particular page (IE About US). Since the title tag is used by search engines to index your web site, it should contain your most important keywords (probably not more than six).

Here is the title text for my About Us page.

About Us | BeauCreations Web Design | Custom Websites | Marietta Georgia

In fact, some people actually omit the  title of the page or the website to put more keywords in this tag. So, it might look like this:

Marietta Web Design |  Custom Websites | Affordable Web Services | Atlanta Georgia

DESCRIPTION: This will be used by search engines to describe your web site to users doing a search, and also to test relevance (IE Is your site’s content really about what you say it’s about). It should be loaded with keywords / phrases (shown here in red, bold), but also succinct and free of “hype”.

BeauCreations Web Design is a Marietta Georgia based web design company specializing in creative, affordable custom websites for small businesses and organizations.

If you do only one thing to optimize your website, makE sure the meta tags are done correctly!  This alone can make a noticeable difference in your search engine rankings!

Tips for Increasing Traffic to Your Web Site

Today I was advising a client on some relatively painless ways to generate more traffic to his web site.  This list isn’t comprehensive, of course, but it may be helpful, (if only to remind you of things you already know! )

My client is a small business owner in the adventure travel industry.  While he does sell trips on his web site,  the primary “call to action” for a web user would be to email or call about a trip.  Relationship building is important here;  These trips aren’t for everyone, but those do end up going usually love it.  If you’ve ever been sea kayaking in Alaska, you know what I mean.  Many of his clients become repeats — again and again and again. 

My goals for the web site: 

  • Improve search engine rankings on pertinent keywords
  • Freshen up the content, and create a means to update more often
  • Add more free, useful information to the web site

 Here’s what we talked about

1.  Review / replace meta tags (keywords, descriptions, page titles).   This is crucial if it hasn’t been done before, or has been done poorly.

2.  Add a Blog.  This is a commitment to write something regularly on topics that may interest your users – that’s why it’s intimidating!  But if you do the writing, it creates new content on your site, which is great for search engines  — and people!  An added benefit is that, with most blogs, users will be able to subscribe to the RSS feed and be notified (sort of) each time you post new material — great especially if your fans are hanging on your every word!
3.  Do a Link “Campaign”:  First, see who links to your site.  Go to a Yahoo! search box and key in this:  link:www.beaucreations.biz  (replace my URL with yours).  You’ll see a list of most of the web sites that link to yours.  Hopefully some of them will look familiar, as they’ll be friends, business associates, etc. 

It’s no secret that inbound links generate traffic and help your search engine rankings.  BUT they should be quality links.  That means they should ideally be pertinent links from reputable sources.  Consider putting a  Links page on your web site, so you can refer people to vendors, recommend  services, etc.  Then you can promote link exchanges to your contacts in related (but not competitive) businesses as a way to increase traffic for both of you.

4.  Create an Article Archive.  Do you teach, write articles, or otherwise share your expertise?  Why not share them on your website?  Find every pertinent article, guideline, checklist, recipe, etc. you’ve ever written, and put them on your website. THEN you can mention these things in your blog and newsletter entries (you DO have a newsletter, don’t you!?), and  link to the articles.  You bring traffic to the web site, and your web site is more informative (free information – everybody loves that!). 

5.  Consider Google AdWords.   This is pay per click advertising.  While the actual workings are complicated, Google (and others) make it as simple as possible for you to get started.  You create an account, set a monthly ad budget, and Google commits not to exceed it.  You choose your keywords, write a small ad, and off you go.  You can tell Google to target only local business if you like.

For example, I spend $140 / month and I  get around 3 calls / month, which amounts to around 1 new client each 2-3 months, which is about all I need right now — I’m pretty good at keeping clients once I get them!  This is the only advertising I spend money on.  I can track how each keyword is doing, and how many times someone clicks on my ad, but it’s not as easy to see whether there’s a connection between clicking (which you pay for, that’s why it’s called pay per click) and conversion (actually making a contact or purchase).  There are ways to track these things, but it’s a bit more in depth – not in the “QuickStart”  menu!
These are just a few possibilities, which I hope are helpful.  You can spend as much or as little time on these things as you like.  Remember, a great web site has informative content, not just widgets for sale!