The Power of Title Tags – Onsite SEO Tips

Bart Simpson Learns About Title Tags

In this new and exciting series of onsite SEO tips we are going to educate wannabe SEO rock stars on how Google weigh the various onsite ranking factors in a short and easy to digest manner.

If you are an intermediate SEO specialist don’t worry, we will be providing you with hints and tips on the more technical side of SEO at a later date set in the not too distant future. For now we are going to focus on helping the new generation.

Why Google?

The reason we are focusing on Google and not Bing and Yahoo is simple, Google control the lion’s search market share in all English speaking countries, until that changes any search engine marketer worth their salt will be focusing on ranking websites in Google.

Ranking Signals

It’s well documented in the industry Google have over 200 ranking signals in their algorithm. In my opinion it must be climbing closer to the 300 mark as Google add more weight to social signals and schema formats. Anyhow, that hypothesis can wait for another day.

The Title Tag

Title tags are one of the 200+ ranking signals in Google’s algorithm and is the single most important piece of ‘on page’ information on a page, providing all the other elements are in place.

What the title tag does and should do

Your title tag will define to users, and search engines, what the page will talk about. It provides the link within search engines to pages. As such it must relate to the appropriate keywords and also help to inform readers of what the page contains.

Title tag length

Google displays title tags in their search engine results pages and should be formatted to fit. If your title tag is too long Google will truncate it. Google determines the length of title tags by pixels but you don’t need to worry about that, as a rule of thumb keep your title tags under 70 characters and you should be fine.

Keywords in title tags

Search engines also consider the title tag element to be the most important place to identify keywords. Rankings are heavily influenced by keyword usage in the title tag.

Google also passes more weight to keywords placed at the beginning of title tags. Best practice is to place one or two generic keyword phrases followed by your brand or website name.

Google best handles segmenting keyword phrases present in title tags by use of a pipe or a hyphen between keywords.

How a title tag should look

Good title tag example
As you can see the title tag above is short sweet and handsome and gives a clear indication to Google and users what the content will be about should they decide to click through to the page via search results.

How a title tag should not looktitle tag note

Poor title tag example
The example above amuses me. The chap who wrote the article titled ‘Title Tag Best Practices‘ fails to optimise his own title tag. He even mentions in his article:

Length: Title tags should be a maximum of 70 characters long, including spaces.

Yet his own title tag is 140 characters in length???

This is definitely a good example of what not to do.

Keynotes

  • Keep tag under 70 characters in length
  • Place important traffic driving keywords to beginning of tag
  • Keep keyword usage to two keyword phrases
  • Place brand or website name to the end of title tag
  • Segment keyword phrases by pipe or hyphen

So that’s it ladies, gentleman and future SEO rock stars. Keep your title tags short, crisp and lean and your title tags will be picked up with enthusiasm by the Google gods.

Should you need further assistance in optimisation title tags or have questions don’t hesitate to get in touch or leave a comment below.

How To Stay On Top Of Social Media – Part 2

Twitter

We have covered how you can use Facebook to your advantage and we can now have a look at another huge social media platform that has over 500 million registered users, Twitter.

With many celebrity users utilising this platform it gives you the opportunity to post up to 140 characters in short messages know as Tweets. Sharing pictures and links is also possible and it has been used as a successful marketing tool as well as a great way of interacting with customers.

The most popular users have a staggering following with Justin Bieber currently being the most followed with well over 39 million, closely followed by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. You might be thinking that Twitter is just a domain for Pop stars and their fans looking at this but both Barack Obama (30+ million) and The Pope (2.5+ million) hold official accounts that have regular posts on their behalf.

Many businesses are now realising the potential of this and the likes of McDonalds and Nike have over 1 million followers on their main pages with several other pages falling under their umbrella too. Companies such as O2 now even offer customer service and advice over twitter.

We are going to look at how Twitter can benefit you and your business and the key points to ensure you maximise the impact of your Tweets.

In order to reach as much of your potential audience as possible timing your Tweets is essential. There are several tools available for you to look over the analytics and reaction to your Tweets. From this you can see the patterns of your followers and plan a schedule. Again, there are many tools at your disposal to help with this. You can set up programmes to post on your behalf so you know the messages you want to send will get out at the right times regardless of how busy you are or if you have access to a computer at these times.

Producing good and interesting content that appeals to your market will make followers more likely to ‘Retweet’ your post. This then allows everyone following them to see your original post, a great way of spreading your message and attracting new followers.

As always with any form of social media, interaction is key to your success. If people have taken the time to get in contact with you or respond to your post, replying is not only polite but will make them feel engaged and have a closer identity with your brand.

Having links to your social media accounts on your website is a great way of showing that you are well connected and open to interaction. Making good use of these platforms will help you establish your brand and become more identifiable in the market place so taking the time to do it right can be extremely beneficial.

 

International Longtail Multilanguage Optimisation for the Hotel Industry

Most Hotel groups and owners around the world are most likely sitting back accepting that the search engine marketing that has been done up until now is the best they are going to get.
Most swap digital marketing agencies every 18 months only to hear the same strategy, which this time round brings a slight increase in traffic, but nothing new, nothing that makes the Hotel a game changer in the industry, nothing that changes the way the Hotel, as business, starts to think different as a business.

With a little research we found out that 3 of the most competitive key phrases in the Hotel industry are open for optimisation. If you operated a hotel in London, New York or Barcelona and your SEO agency indicated that you could achieve first place in Google.co.uk for these terms you’d get excited, however truth is, this is a massive task.

The keyphrase’s we are looking at are:

Cheap Hotel London
Cheap Hotel New York
Cheap Hotel Barcelona

These 3 keywords in the UK in English are searched 130,000 times per month, that’s a lot of business, however it’s a very competitive market. With most sites on the first results page of Google for these terms having link profiles on average of over 3,000 links this is a hard market to break in to and will take years rather than months to achieve.

What if you could get your business placed in a market which is one third the size of the UK market without the competitiveness?
That would make sense, what if there were 8 markets that totalled 110,000 searched per month for the same terms, that would make even more sense and you’d be thinking why you haven’t already done this.

The 8 markets that provide over 110,000 searches for these 3 keywords are:

France
Spain
Germany
Sweden
Denmark
Portugal
Austria
Belgium

As an example the 3 keywords converted into French would provide 35,000 searches per month with a very low competitiveness with most sites on the first results page of Google having links profiles with less than 200 links.

So by looking at long tail marketing, mixed with Multilanguage SEO there are lots of untapped opportunities for Hotels companies around the world.

The BoydDigital Blog is now available in 20 Languages

On my last blog post I briefly tested if a blog could be automatically converted into another language and after some trial and error I’m now happy to say that the BoydDigital blog is now on offer in 20 languages.

Why not use the Google Translate plugin?

The easiest option for offering your blog in another language was to install the Google Translate plugin which lets users convert the content once they have arrived at your website, what this doesn’t do is pre-convert your content into the other language so that will be available to be indexed in native language versions of Google.  By converting the BoydDigital blog into actual native language blog posts it allows Google to index the pre-translated content, this then makes the BoydDigital blog accessible in over 60 countries and will also allow the blog to be indexed in different country based search engines such as Chinese Baidu, Naver in South Korea and Yandex in Russia to mention a few.

BoydDigital-Korean2

Benefits of Foreign Language Internet Marketing

With Google and other search engines now looking for good content that benefits the user the opportunity to expand to new countries and penetrate further into markets that are already partially open to English seem an obvious point.

While the English language is the single most used language on-line it is still only representing over 25% of the total usage. Research studies have shown that multilingual users trust websites more that offer the content in their native language, especially in the on-line travel and e-commerce industries.

If you want to know more about what BoydDigital can do to expand your online business into other languages, why not give me a phone on +44 (0) 141 427 9337.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Converting Blog Posts to other Languages Automatically

So, I’m testing automatic blog translate which, if works, will allow you to offer your blog in 71 different languages.

So how am I doing this, we’ll I’m starting with Yahoo Pipes, I’ll feed the Boyd Digital feed in to Yahoo Pipes and then add a translate service, the hope is that the output is in French, this feed could then be added to wordpress.com or tumblr or similar, we could even create a fr.boyddigital.co.uk blog and then use geo locator plugin to send users with French IP address’s to the correct blog.

The other option is to add the google translate plugin to the blog, however the downside is that those pages won;t be indexed in Google.fr

So this was a little test email that I’m using for the RSS feed.

UPDATE!

Well are a bit of messing about I managed to get it to work http://boydtest.tumblr.com/

I used the Boyd Digital feed and the Hiconsumption Feed. I re-translated the the post back to English and it was readable to say the least

Tesco Rank No1 in Google For Interflora

tesco online marketing

The cheeky wee monkey’s (Tesco) look to be coining it in by inserting Interflora into their title tag. They now rank No1 in Google for the search term “Interflora UK” and No2 for generic brand term “Interflora”.

Now, we have no idea when this was inserted into the title tag but after looking at the Wayback Machine (page last crawled 16th Jan) we can see previous title tag was “Tesco Flowers Delivered to Your Door”.

Now it reads “Tesco Flowers From Interflora Delivered To Your Door”

Tesco certainly did stop and smell the roses!

Interflora Penalised by Google

How to Stay On Top Of Social Media – Part 1

Facebook Move Goal PostsI am sure we have all heard the panic about having to pay for all your Facebook followers to see your posts, this does feel a bit like the goal posts have been shifted.

The more astute online marketers had long taken advantage of this way to communicate to people who had actively sought them out but now that ability has been cut to reach just a small percentage.

Of course you can always pay to get sponsored posts on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter but there is a general feeling from users that these are the junk mail of social media, clogging up posts.

They are effective to some degree in promoting a message but getting natural posts to go viral and create a buzz is a much better way to engage people.

How then can we make full use from social media? The simplest way for me is this, Interaction. Interacting with users is a great way of spreading brand awareness through people mentioning your brand as well as reposting, sharing, re-tweeting.

By interacting with followers it also makes them feel more involved and, in turn, more likely to interact with your posts.  This interaction on their part helps to publicise your page.

On Facebook for example commenting on or liking a post comes up on your friend’s timeline, “Hector likes Boyd Digitals photo”. If Hector has 1000 friends they will then see this. Creating good content that invites people to interact will then become a catalyst to your profile becoming visible on thousands of pages. Content such as good photos, polls and promotions can entice people to like, comment and share.

Creating a good balance is equally important because posting too often can frustrate people and lead to you clogging up news feeds the way that people tend to deal with that is to block or unlike the page.

Not posting enough or lack of interaction can also mean that people lose interest; it can also mean that you drop out of people’s news feeds. Another change that Facebook made was making pages invisible unless you interact or click on ‘Show in newsfeed’ which many people do not.

It goes without saying that this only really scratches the surface of good techniques to deal with your companies social media but it is good practice and can get good results.

Common SEO Mistakes & Crawling Issues

Dont get cought with pants down with SEO mistakesDon’t get caught with your pants down with the most common SEO mistakes!

On the back of Matt Cutts releasing a new webmaster video listing the top 5 SEO mistakes webmasters make, I thought I would elaborate on the first point Matt talks about in his video.

The first mistake Matt talks about is probably the biggest and most common SEO mistake out there, making a website un-crawlable to search engines.

We at Boyd Digital have come across a lot of websites in our time that for one reason or another could not be crawled by search engine bots.

The most common mistakes are relatively easy for the experienced search engine optmiser to spot however, we understand these common mistakes can easily slip through the net for webmasters and developers who specialise in management and development, and not SEO.

That’s why we are always glad to help webmasters identify the problems when their traffic volumes plummet.

Below are the most recent scenarios we have come across in the wonderful world of SEO.

Blocked by robots.txt File

Search engines blocked by robots.txt file. This is probably the most common issue in regards to search engines being blocked from crawling websites.

This usually happens when a new website goes live. When developers are in the process of building a new website they intentionally block all bots from crawling the test website (new website before it goes live).

When the new website gets launched without an SEO consultant or SEO expert directly involved in the migration and launch, more often than not the robots.txt file stays the same, blocking search bots from crawling the website.

What the robots.txt file looks like when it is set up to block all bots

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

 

What the file looks like when it allows all bots to crawl all sections of a website

User-agent: *
Disallow:

 

Blocked by Canonical Tags

Search engines blocked from crawling deep pages of a website due to incorrect use of canonical tags.

Canonical tags are mainly used to eradicate duplicate content issues on websites.

If Google finds pages with identical content they may only index and display one version in search results.

Their algorithms select the page they think best answers the user’s query. This does not always result in the most appropriate page being selected by Google hence the use of canonical tags.

Webmasters can specify a canonical page to search engines by adding a <link> element with the attribute rel=”canonical”.

This basically informs Google there may be duplicate versions of the page in question and Google has to ignore all subpages containing the tag and focus on indexing and ranking the parent page the canonical tag points to.

For example, many websites we come across have four versions of the homepage.

Root domain:

www.example.com

Duplicate versions

example.com

www.example.com/home

example.com/home

Google sees each of the pages above as individual pages. By inserting the canonical tag in the head section of the root domain:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com”/>

Informs Google to ignore the duplicate versions and focus on indexing and ranking the root domain page in Google.

The same rules apply to the deep pages of websites.

Canonical tags are great in eradicating duplicate content issues however, improper use of canonical tags can seriously harm a websites visibility in Google.

In this instance we identified incorrect use of canonical tags. A developer mistakenly inserted a canonical tag pointing back to the root domain URL in the footer area of the website.

By placing this information in the footer area of the website resulted in the code being present on all pages of the website. This instructed Google to ignore all deep pages. As a result all deep pages vanished from Google SERPS, hundreds of generic keyword rankings were lost as were thousands of visitors per day.

Unfortunately, the client waited three months before outsourcing the investigation work to Boyd Digital. Within 15 minutes of us taking on the work the issue was identified and rectified.

Blocked by 302 Redirects

This issue is a first for me and one of the most unusual instances I have come across in regards to search engines being blocked by search engines.

The site in question operates in the UK alcohol industry and operates the ineffective age verification process required not by law, but by the voluntary industry body called the European Forum for Responsible Drinking.

How the age verification page works

  1. Enter any page on a participating website
  2. An age verification slash page / pop up box will appear
  3. Type in your date of birth
  4. If you are of drinking age bobs your uncle
  5. You may now enter the alcohol website

In this instance, instead of adding a pop up function like most alcohol websites, a 302 temporary redirect was placed on each page of the website. The redirect took all visitors to the age verification page. Once users credentials were entered they would then be allowed access to the website.

This works well from a user perspective, catastrophic from an SEO perspective. Each time a search bot tries to enter any given page on the website it is redirected to the age verification page.

Search bots are very clever but they are not human savvy. In the eyes of search bots the only page that existed on the website was the age verification page.

When we came across the redirect issue and informed the client they were none the wiser. The website had been like that for years resulting in untold amounts of paying clients being unable to find the website.

Conclusion

The web crawling issues we came across can be embarrassing for people involved in developing or managing websites.

We have come across serious players in the industry who have failed to spot the school boy errors mentioned above and what’s even more worrying, it took weeks, months and even years for the crawling issues above to be identified and rectified.

This never goes down well with clients who invest tens of thousands of pounds on new and improved cash cows, only for traffic and cash flows to fall through the floor while people scratch their heads wondering what’s happened.

Our advice to webmasters and agencies involved in managing websites or launching new websites is to hire an experienced SEO company or SEO consultant to help manage the SEO aspects of existing websites, or to help manage the migration process from mold to new websites.

Don’t get caught with your pants down!

How to Avoid a Political Uprising using Social Media?

Social Media Political Uprising

So, apparently Ed Miliband thinks the world can be fixed with social media. And while we’re not 100% sure that world peace can be achieved through Facebook and Twitter, we can see where a government could help smooth out some highly unpopular issues before they spiral into a global outcry.

Let’s face it, if you are running a country there is nothing quite as embarrassing as a political uprising. When whispers about your ‘daring’ choice of headwear and ‘stern’ treatment of opposition supporters are making their rounds at diplomatic dinners things are bad enough, but when you have a full on political uprising hitting international headlines, it’s nothing short of humiliating.

Like most problems of this scale it is best to avert disaster, and you can often stop a slow burning situation from turning in to a major problem with social media.  Now we’re not suggesting that any facebook savvy dictators take tips on how to rule their land through this, but any powerful body that needs public support can improve relations with the people who matter by investing in social media. And this could be a government, corporation, new business or even your local council.

So, here is our a tongue-in-cheek -guide to using social media to prevent a political uprising…..or just some useful tips on how to use social media to improve public relations –

  1. Monitor – A clever mix of automated and manual social media monitoring is required.  Knowledge is power, what are people talking about?  What topics are trending?  What is the general sentiment towards current political issues?   The identification of hot topics can be used to define policies that will please the people.  The identification of unpopular issues can be used as a basis for corrective action.
  1. Map – Mapping the social media landscape and its key players is vital if the social media and real world is to be better understood.  Identification of key influencers with large followings, high authority, and high interactions would allow better management of difficult political situations.  Often political and social problems exist for a long time and it is only when a small handful of influencers take up the cause does an unpopular change gather momentum and becomes a big issue.  By keeping track of the overall social media landscape and developing a thorough understanding of the people or organisations that influence or control different areas, paves the way for stage three.
  1. Interact – This is perhaps the most valuable and most difficult stage of the process.  It involves using the historical and real time data to form offline and online strategy, while taking immediate action on social media platforms.  For example, if a region of a country is voicing concern or anger over a particular issue, the problem can be met head on at various levels.  At an offline level, resources could be diverted from a more content region to improve conditions and support in the unhappy region.  On a positive social media level an alternative side of the story can be put across, by effectively engaging the key influencers, rather than a low level scatter gun approach.  Strictly for arguments sake influencers could be persuaded to change their views.

This three step process barely scratches the surface on what would be a vastly complex and time consuming enterprise.  It is vital to remember that social media is an uncontrollable freedom of speech monster.

While it can be monitored, mapped and guided through interactions, it can easily backfire, as any community can act in unpredictable ways.  There is also a large moral question attached to monitoring any group in such a way.  What one person considers to be listening to the voice of the people in a bid to make a better world could be view by another as Orwellian engineering.  None the less, there lies a great opportunity for governments or companies alike to find out what its people want or need, sometimes before they even know.  Political or consumer un-rest can be avoided by engaging with the affected people in the problem areas online and meeting their needs in the real world.

On a political (or corporate) level an advanced social media monitoring campaign could be a powerful tool in the correct hands.  Even just at an information gathering level the potential benefits are plentiful.  The big question that must be asked of any government or company aiming to attempt this is: do they have the understanding of such a modern and fluid technology and the restraint to use it wisely?