When it comes to SEO tactics it’s usually a case of simple is best. Partly because simple is – by definition – easy to implement. Partly because – despite appearances to the contrary – the search engines are prefer things to be fairly simple because they can grade them better. And partly because you’re a lot more likely to do a few simple things rather than some complicated ones, so your SEO tactics will get done which in turn will get you results and encourage you to do more.

1. Titles are everything

Page titles are far and away the most important SEO tactic that you can use.

You won’t really see them when you’re looking at your site in your browser unless you glance up to the blue bar right at the top of it. But that’s not where their importance lies.

Page titles are important because they count even before people visit your site.

They’re the blue underlined links that you see when you search for something.

And if they look poor, people won’t click on them. They’ll choose a different result instead. Which is bad in the short term because they won’t visit your site. It’s even worse in the medium to long term because Google measures and records how many times people click on each search result. If your site is unpopular, it will get pushed further down the search results.

2. Page descriptions are next

You won’t see the page description in your web browser unless you’re like me and nerdy enough to select the “view source” option. And even I don’t do that very often!

But they appear in the search results unless your web designer hasn’t remembered to include them or unless Google thinks that your description is so poor that its computers can do a better job.

Most people searching don’t read the page description in full unless they think that they can get an answer to their search without making the effort of clicking an extra mouse button.

But that doesn’t lessen their importance.

Google bolds all the words that you’ve searched for in their search results. Wherever they appear – in the page title, in the page description and even in the URL that’s displayed.

So one of your SEO tactics needs to be making sure that your page descriptions really are descriptive and that they include enough of your keywords (without being silly about it) to allow your page to stand out in the search results.

3. How long do people stay on your site?

This is kind of the elephant in the room.

As well as measuring how many people click onto your site and tracking that depending on how far up you are in the search results, Google also track how long people stay on your site.

They then compare that time with other comparable sites.

If, on average, people stay on your site longer than they stay when they click through to one of your competitors, you’ll get what are effectively bonus points on your SEO score for that.

If, on average, people leave your site faster than they do your competitors then you’re likely to be deemed less useful.

Of course, that varies by search. So – being overly simplistic – if someone was looking for the answer to 2 + 2 then you’d almost certainly score higher if they clicked their back button fast. But most of the time people are looking for answers to more complicated questions which means that the longer they hang around your site the better.

In turn, this means that you need good content on your site to keep people looking around it and then hopefully contacting you to use your services.

If you’ve ever wondered how to get your website showing up better in the search results then chances are that you’ve at least heard about SEO page algorithms. But what does that term actually mean?

An algorithm is defined as “a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps”.

As far as the search engines are concerned, that problem is to give you a useful set of pages to look at that answer whatever question it was you were asking.

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Internet marketing for restaurants is different from marketing other businesses on the web. People choose restaurants for a variety of reasons and you need to make sure that yours is on the shortlist when they get peckish for a meal out.

Internet marketing for restaurants imageI’m assuming that you’ve got at least a base level of trade for your restaurant. If not, watch a few back episodes of the various Gordon Ramsay television shows and use things like sampling and leaflet drops to get trade through your door fast.

The trick with marketing your restaurant on the internet is to capture the interest of people who already visit your establishment and encourage them to return more often, ideally at quiet times when you’ve got spare capacity. This could be early in the week or it could be lunchtimes or early evening. You’ll know when by looking at your figures.

Some of the best ways to use internet marketing for your restaurant are:

  • A Facebook page. Encourage customers to join your page and offer them incentives to like it. Your regular updates will appear on their Facebook page when they log in.
  • Text messaging. Unlike emails, SMS text messages get opened and read. Usually almost instantly. They’re cheap to send out and once you’ve built up a large list of mobile numbers you can send out messages to just a subsection of your list so that you don’t have people queueing out of the door when you send out an offer.
  • Make sure you get reviews on places like TripAdvisor. People trust reviews on these kind of sites and if they’ve not been to your restaurant before then they’ll probably check you out before phoning you for a booking.
  • Claim your Google Places page. These are the lettered results that come up in the search results with a link to a map. You can check whether or not you’ve verified your listing by clicking on it – you’ll be told on-screen whether or not this has happened. Make sure to claim your listing and then make sure that you follow the instructional video to complete your listing but keep it in an editorial style as though you are a journalist reviewing your restaurant. Make sure to fill out the online voucher option.

Get more help with your internet marketing: contact Trevor on 07967 478272 now!

Internet marketing covers a multitude of different meanings but typically it’s to do with how you promote your business on the internet. As a specialist internet marketing firm in Cheltenham we can help you to get the best value from the time and money you spend marketing your company on the internet.

Internet marketing Cheltenham imageNowadays, internet marketing covers a lot of different skill sets and areas of the internet:

  • Search engine optimisation – probably the longest standing form of promoting your company on the web. This starts with making your website friendly to both search engines and humans, even before your potential customers even reach your website. You can do a quick check in Google to see how your site is represented by using site: followed immediately by your domain name (no spaces) as your search. This will show you the all-important page titles that are the first part of your internet marketing campaign. If these don’t attract people to click, they’ll never see your site.
  • Social media – nowadays, this is getting more and more important. Tweets seem to be everywhere and if you have the time and patience to regularly post updates to Twitter then you can build up a loyal following of people who will buy into your brand and offers. Facebook works very well if your internet marketing is aimed at consumers rather than other businesses. Again, you need to make sure that you keep your Facebook page regularly updated. For business-to-business internet marketing then Linkedin is your best friend. Make sure that your profile is completed and that you regularly engage in any groups you’ve joined.
  • Videos – an up and coming tool in your internet marketing armoury. They don’t have to be Hollywood production quality but there are a number of rules that you need to follow to get the best from your videos, starting with ensuring that the file you upload has your targeted keywords in the filename and moving on from there. You also need to remember that Google & YouTube can cope with the written word much better than they can cope with working out moving images. This means that your video description should be long (if you’ve ever wondered why songs with lyrics tend to show up higher, that’s your clue) and your tags should be relevant. You should also amend the automatically generated captions so that they reflect what you actually said.
  • Backlinks to your site. Getting good quality backlinks is a never ending task in your internet marketing. Sites come and go, links can be dropped in redesigns, competitors can go hell for leather in getting more backlinks than you, etc. The emphasis is moving to quality over quantity – the days of millions of spammy backlinks are fortunately close to being over – but it’s worth your time to continually seek out new places to get links pointing back to your site.
  • Web 2.0 presence. It’s not really a second internet but it refers to all sorts of sites that allow you to piggy-back on their domain and put up one or more pages on their site. This can range from sites like Squidoo through to newer sites like Pinterest. Increasing your Web 2.0 presence is a good way to diversify your backlinks and increase your internet marketing efforts.

If you’d like help with your internet marketing in Cheltenham or would like a free, no obligation, chat then contact Trevor on 07967 478272.

You can also get useful tips to help your internet marketing here.

Yes, you read the title correctly. Most websites are shy and they show it. We often let our websites get away with things that we wouldn’t do in person. Here are my top tips to build your website’s confidence – in the eyes of the search engines and your visitors.

Website design imageIf your site is just a brochure, it’s time for a redesign

Unless the sole purpose of your site is to save you a few pence on printing costs, it needs to be much more than just an electronic brochure.

Site visitors are used to things like videos so if your business lends itself to a video, use one. It doesn’t have to be a full-on BBC style production. A talking head filmed on your digital camera works. So does a PowerPoint style slide show with a voiceover. They’re both easy to do and will lift your site.

Give your site a personality

Sure, some people won’t like it. But you can’t be all things to all men.

You’ve got a personality in real life. Let it shine through on your website. You’ll alienate some people but that will be more than made up by the number of people who – by the time they’ve finished reading your site – think they actually know you and are happy to call you to do business with them.

If that’s a step too far, get a personal blog and show your personality there, linking back to your website at appropriate times.

Engage with your visitors

A lot of sites offer an email newsletter of some sort. If you don’t do this, it’s a good way to keep in touch with people without forever pestering them.

The trouble with email newsletters is that we get so many of them (some of which we’ve even asked for) that you need to find a way to break through the white noise that passes for your email inbox. Think personality as well.

It’s also well worth giving people a reason to hand over their email address to you. Simply saying “give me your email address” doesn’t cut it nowadays. A free report or a discount voucher is more likely to grab their attention.

Or you could get them to like your Facebook and stay in touch that way.

Don’t waffle but don’t sell yourself short

Google thrives on words. It’s what it does best. So if your idea of a long website page is one that’s more than two or three sentences, think again.

Put a call to action “above the fold” (near the top of the page) but then write engagingly about your subject.

Use a good design so it doesn’t look daunting.

Use short paragraphs.

And bullet points.

And images.

So that your long web pages don’t look like a wall of text that has to be climbed.

If you’re no good at stringing words together, find someone who is. Or talk your page and let your computer type it for you – you can do this with Windows Vista and Windows 7, it’s built in but hidden until you activate it.

Follow these simple ideas and you’ll find that your website starts to brim over with confidence. And that will translate to more visitors and more business.

Click here for more help to get your website getting more business for you.

Organic search engine marketing is the art (or science depending on your point of view) of getting listed in the regular “organic” results of the search engines. These are the listings that are outside the lightly shaded “ads” or “sponsored results” section of the particular search engine you’re using. These organic search results have the major advantage that you don’t pay Google or anyone else every time someone clicks through to your site. It stands to reason that these results can’t be “bought” whereas the ad results are based on a combination.of your advert, the page it is leading to, how high your click rate is and the amount you’re prepared to pay.

Because each extra click they generate is essentially free, coming high up in the organic search results is the holy grail for many companies. Like everything else in life worth having, it takes time but the results are worth it. Here’s a quick overview of how they work.

Google, Bing, etc start off by sending their robot – often called a spider – around your site. They take a snapshot of your page at that time and store it for processing before it gets placed in the search results.

Whilst the exact algorithm – or scoring system – is a trade secret, there is enough evidence to know the kind of things that are being analysed to decide where to place your site in the search results.

Page Title

This is probably the most critical part of the equation.

Your page title is displayed as a blue underlined link in the search results. Because of this, it’s the thing that most potential visitors to your website will read before they even click through to your site.

If it’s dull and boring – and a lot of page titles are – then there’s a good chance that the searcher will skip your site in the results and will choose someone else’s site to visit.

You’ve got about 65 characters, including punctuation and space, to play with. You can use more but the search engines will cut you off at around about that figure. So you need to make the words you place in your title count.

They should appeal to both search engines and users. Personally, I go with the emphasis on users as the search engines take into account things like click through rates and length of time spent on site when they’re deciding where to place you in the organic search results.

Meta description

After the page title, this is the other critical part of the equation.

If you miss this out, Google will pick some text that it thinks is relevant, which may or may not be the case.

If your site uses a WordPress blog, this description will likely include the date of the post unless you use a plugin such as WordPress SEO to suppress this. Unless the information on your page is date sensitive, I’d strongly suggest removing the date so you have more characters to play with.

The meta description should be about 160 characters long. Like the title, it can be longer but will get cut off at around this length.

Make the description as enticing as possible, backup any statements you’ve made in your title and generally encourage people to click through to your site.

There are lots of other elements involved in organic search engine marketing but they will all be in vain if you don’t get the above two items right. You could be number one in the organic search results but with a boring page title and a useless description, people still wouldn’t click through to your site.

Click here for our affordable organic search engine packages.

Inbound links are something you hear about a lot if you read almost anything about search engine optimisation. Everyone assumes that you know what they’re talking about when they mention inbound links but what if that’s not the case for you? Just what are inbound links? How can you get more of the things? And are all inbound links equal or are some of them more equal than others?

An inbound link is any link that is pointing towards a page your website from a different page. Sometimes they are also called backlinks, inlinks or inward links.

Checking inbound links

Inbound links imageThe main search engines will let you check your backlinks to an extent:

  • Google simply don’t report all the backlinks they know about.
  • Yahoo report a decent quantity of inlinks but won’t show you all the ones they’re aware of. Their Site Explorer tool will only show you the first thousand links.
  • Bing will let you search in much the same way as Google do.

The ways of keeping track of your inbound links aren’t not particularly accurate for a number of reasons:

  • As mentioned earlier, Google deliberately under-report the number of backlinks.
  • Yahoo and Bing (obviously) aren’t Google, so you can’t be positive that the results they show are the same ones that their major competitor is aware of.
  • It takes time to track down and process links so there’s always a time lag between a backlink being created and it being found and acted on by the different search engines.

There are all sorts of opinions flying around about the importance of inbound links but the general rule is that they count towards the importance of your web pages.

Which brings us on to whether all links are created equal.

The general consensus is that this isn’t the case. But that’s where the consensus stops.

Some people will tell you that they think links from educational (.edu) and government (.gov) sites are more important than common-or-garden sites such as .com.

Others will tell you that isn’t the case.

Without access to the inner workings of the search algorithms, it’s speculation as to which view is correct. But this brings us on to the next part of the equation:

The importance of the home page of the site the link comes from.

Google gives every page a “score”, some of which is based on inbound links. There is a very rough – and very out of date – approximation of this on their tool bar, called Page Rank.

Some webmasters obsess about this figure but, truth be told, the publicly available figure is very close to sticking your finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.

That said, it’s as good an approximation as we’re going to get.

The page rank (the real one, not the fiction shown in the toolbar) of a page affects the power of the links it points to. Each link passes on some of this “link juice” to the recipient site.

If you were lucky enough to get a link from the main page of the BBC or CNN, this would be a lot more powerful for your site than a link from your aunt’s blog with photos of your childhood holidays.

The importance, or otherwise, of each of the pages on your website is judged at least in part by the company of the sites that link to it.

Getting more inbound links is one of those internet things that needs constant attention.

You may be lucky enough to get links just by asking for them but it’s more likely that you’ll have to give something in return: an article, a video, etc.

You have to keep on top of these links, always creating more, as they disappear over time. Whether that’s with site redesigns, domains not being renewed or regular computer glitches.

Get more inbound links with our SEO packages.

How to do keyword research on Google is a hot topic. It’s all very well getting found high up in the search results but you need people searching for you. That may sound obvious but a lot of people get preyed on by firms promising to get them to the first page of Google – which sounds cool and sexy – but neglect to ask what keyword phrases they’ll reach the first page for.

What to use for keyword research

Whilst there are a number of paid-for keyword tools, most of these just put a fancy looking wrapper around the results that you can get for free using the Google keyword tool.

This tool was designed to help people who are advertising with the Google Adwords program find profitable words to get their adverts placed for. But it works equally well for the rest of us – we’re just limited to 100 results per search, which is not a major issue, and have to fill out one of those annoying Captchas every now and then, which isn’t a deal breaker either.

Once you type in a word or phrase, you’ll get a screen like this:

how to do keyword research

When you first log into the Google keyword tool it will present results by what it calls “broad match”. This means it will include all sorts of things that are vaguely related to the search term and whilst it’s good for encouraging people to place adverts, it’s not much good for meaningful keyword research.

Fortunately there are two other options that you can choose – they’re in a tick box list on the left of the screen and ticking or unticking them will update the results.

The two options are:

  • Exact match – this will give you numbers for just that phrase, no other words.
  • Phrase match – this will give results where the phrase was included. So “keyword research” would include numbers for “online keyword research”, “how to do keyword research”, etc.

Which of these you choose is up to you. I tend to prefer the phrase search but occasionally use exact match for my keyword research.

To the right of each keyword phrase you’ll be given a bar chart for advertiser competition. This is a good reality check – if there’s competition for advertising there’s probably money being spent for that phrase.

Next are figures for Global monthly searches and Local monthly searches.

Local defaults to the country you’re in – United Kingdom for me as you can see from the screenshot.

If you’re targeting a worldwide market then use the global figures. If you’re only aiming at your own country then the local figures are a better guide.

One important thing to remember with this keyword research is that the search figures are only approximate.

They are historic – Google can’t predict the future – and they are definitely approximate. But they’re better than nothing.

Another thing to remember is that even if you’re in the first position on the page, you won’t get all those searches. The exact proportion will vary according to lots of different things but a good rule of thumb is to expect no more than half if everything else is in your favour and you’re at the top of the results. Lower positions can expect lower results.

Once you’ve done your keyword research you’ll have a shortlist of keyword phrases that you want to target.

Generally the bigger the number of searches the more competition you’ll have. But that’s not fixed in tablets of stone and you can often come up high in the search results for a highly competitive phrase, albeit only in your local area.

Experiment with your keyword research and you’ll get a feel for how it works in your area in your industry.

Or get our experts to help with your keyword research.

There are times when you need to think about moving your website to a new host. Sometimes this is because you’ve outgrown your current website host but more often than not it’s because you’re not satisfied with them. Maybe they’re charging too much, maybe their customer support is less responsive than you’d like it to be, maybe your site is too slow through no fault of your own.

Whatever the reason, you’ve come to the conclusion that moving your website to a new host is the only answer.

Sometimes this needs to happen in a hurry but more often than not you will have the luxury of planning your move.

Steps to follow for moving your website to a new host

Start by deciding who your new website host will be.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds as most reviews online aren’t exactly unbiased. There’s a decent amount of commission flying around and this tends to bias people’s views.

If possible, get an unbiased third party recommendation. If not, this hosting company are usually a good choice.

Then set up the new website hosting account. Sometimes this happens immediately, other times it can take a number of hours. That depends on the individual hosting company.

Next, copy all your files to your new host. If you’re using a system such as WordPress, check with your technical person to make sure you get everything right.

You’ll be given a temporary “url” with your new website hosting – use that to test and check that everything is working as expected. Pay special attention to images and any links.

You will also need to set up your email forwarding when moving your website to a new host. This is usually straightforward enough but you need to remember to do it!

Once you’re happy that everything is working as expected, it’s time to change the domain name servers (DNS) to point to the new website. These are the internet’s equivalent of the phone book and they tell the computers that work behind the scenes where to find your website.

The DNS takes time to “propogate” (work its way around the world) so there will probably be instances where your website is in limbo and you’re not quite sure whether it’s being sent from your old website host or your new one. That’s normal.

One other possible complication is if you bought your domain name from your old web host. You have the option to leave it there or move it. Personally I prefer to use a completely different company for my domain names.

If in doubt, it pays to consult a specialist company to make sure that moving your website to a new host is as painless as possible.

We can help with the process of moving your website to a new host – just contact us here.

How do people find your website?” – that’s such an innocent-sounding question!

It’s a shame there isn’t a simple answer to it.

Because people find your website in a wide variety of different ways…

Take a look at your log files – whether they’re the files your web host provides or something like Stat Counter or Google Analytics. That will start to fill you in on how people come to your website. But it’s by no means the complete picture.

Let’s say that you give out business cards with your name and website address on them.

how do people find your websiteSome people will squirrel these away in a nice neat file and go back through that when they want to find you. In that case, they’ll probably type in the website address so your logfiles won’t know where they came from.

Other people will remember your name and will type that into a search engine in the hope that they’ll find your profile and – from that – that they will be led to your website. If you’ve got an “about me” page on your own site you should work on the on-site optimisation so that you come up high for that result. Remember to include a picture of you on that page and to use an “alt” tag to help the search engines recognise who you are.

Yet others will “kind of” remember your company name and will expect it to come up in the search results if they type it in, maybe with the town they remember – or think they remember – you came from.

Then there’s links pointing to your site:

Business directories sometimes provide traffic direct to your site. Other times they help the search engines to find you more easily. Either way, add as much information as you can within the constraints of the directory site to help people to find you.

Other sites may also link to you. Maybe because you asked them to. Maybe because you wrote an article and they reprinted it. Or maybe because your profile on that site included a link back to your site.

Checking through your log file analysis will give you a lot of clues as to how people really are finding your website.

It may also tell you which page they “land” on first when they visit your site. The bigger your site, the less likely this is to be your main (index) page. So pay attention to all those pages that you think don’t really count. There’s a very good chance those are the first impression someone has of your site.

So, the answer to how do people find your website is a long and complicated one. So make sure that you pay attention to your whole site, not just the main page that you hope will be the one that your visitors land on first.