Why Bother With Web Page Titles?

The simple answer to the question “Why Bother With Web Page Titles?” is because they are probably the single most important element on your pages if you want to get traffic from the search engines.

Web page titlesTake a look at the image on the right – which page title would you click on? Which one is most likely to give you help with your web page titles?

My guess is that you chose one of the first two links. The third one looks a bit techy but would probably also do the job. As for the 4th and 5th ones, I’m pretty sure you’d scroll right past them.

Your web page titles are your headlines

As far as the search results go, that’s true.

Google will bold the keywords you searched for so that you’ve got an “at a glance” affirmation that they delivered the results you were looking for.

After that, it’s your choice which web page title you’ll click on first.

If Google and the site owner have done their job well, it’s the first title. If it’s not that (and assuming you’re not clicking on the sponsored results) then one of the next couple will likely do the job.

So you need to pay attention to your web page titles.

And, since – short of banning the search engines from your site – you can’t control which page(s) from your site show up in the search results, this applies to every single page on your website that isn’t specifically blocked in your robots.txt file.

Treat every single one of your web page titles as special. Because they have the potential of being found in the search results. Maybe not for a keyword phrase you’re specifically targeting but they could appear on someone’s search results.

And when that happens, you want your web page titles to have maximum impact so you increase their chance of getting clicked on.

You’ve got approximately 65 characters to play with.

Any more than that and the search engines will cut your title off at the nearest word less than that number of characters and put in an ellipsis (these three full stops …) to show what’s happened.

It follows that if your web page titles are likely to end up longer than 65 characters for whatever reason, your most important keywords should be in that first section.

Because computers know that in the Western world we read from left to right, they’ve also been taught that words closer to the start of your web page titles are more important than ones found later on.

So keep that in mind when you’re crafting your web page titles!


Developing a search engine optimisation strategy

In order to stay on top of the search results, you need to develop a search engine optimisation strategy. It’s a bit like having a business plan – it provides a road map for what you want to achieve and pointers for how you are going to achieve it.

The first part of any search engine optimisation strategy should be to optimise the on-page elements of your website. These are under your control and you can find out more on our optimising your website page.

Once you’ve got that done, remember to check it when you add a new page to your website but it’s then on to developing your SEO strategy.

Search engine optimisation strategy tips

search engine optimisation strategyConsistency is good. Going out, getting lots of links to your site in a few days and then forgetting about getting backlinks for the next few months or years isn’t a good idea.

Whilst Google won’t find all the backlinks to your site immediately, it will find the more popular links you create fairly fast. Its algorithm takes notice of the speed that backlinks are added to sites – this is often called link velocity – and takes this into account when it works out where to place you in the search results.

This means that consistency needs to be a part of your overall search engine optimisation strategy. Whether that’s adding a couple of articles a month or a couple of articles a day or whatever other tactics you use to get backlinks to your site, do your best to keep it reasonably consistent.

Next up it’s worth making sure that your SEO strategy includes a variety of links.

If all the backlinks coming to your site are from the same – or similar – sources then that’s not as good as if you have a variety of sources.

As a minimum, I’d suggest including article submissions, press releases, local directories and – if your site lends itself to it – videos.

If you can also extend that to things such guest blogging, where you write content specifically for other people’s sites, then that helps as well.

Above all though, keep doing the various things in your search engine optimisation strategy so that you keep the backlink momentum going.

What Is Natural Search Engine Optimisation?

Quite simply, natural search engine optimisation is the process of getting your website shown in the regular search engine results rather than the sponsored links sections. Years ago this used to be just a matter of publishing your web page but with the masses of competition we face nowadays, it’s not quite that simple.

Natural search engine optimisationHow to go about natural search engine optimisation

For the most part, natural search engine optimisation is a matter of following a few simple rules. Following these rules will increase the chance of Google understanding what the pages on your site are about and, in turn, featuring those pages nicely in the search results.

If you’d like some free tips to help you with your natural search engine optimisation then just put your email addres in the box towards the top right of this page and I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, make sure that your website pages are optimised for search engines as well as real users.

Search engines are essentially just computer programs that process an unimaginably large amount of data in crazily short periods of time.

So they have to make a snap decision about your website pages before showing them in the results.

You can see just how much guesswork is involved by searching for something fairly obscure and then trying to go to the last page in the results. Often the original figure shown for the number of results will be cut down as the search algorithm re-thinks it’s answer. Almost as though it phoned a friend to check whether its original idea was correct.

Natural search engine optimisation means you need to give the search engine as many clues as possible about the subject matter of each page.

Home in on a keyword phrase (several words relating to the topic of the page) and make sure that phrase appears in the title (the clickable part shown in the search engine listings), a headline, ideally as the alt text for an image on your page and sprinkled throughout the actual words on your page.

The main words on your page should be designed for human readers first and foremost, search engines second. Partly because computers can’t read in the same way as humans can, partly because search engines take into account a number of factors about a page and that includes whether or not your site visitors are interested enough in what you’re saying to hang around and read it.

The helpful Google Toolbar you installed gives them information about this. So does Google Analytics. They also try to measure how long it takes a site visitor to click back to the search results (this isn’t necessarily precise for a number of reasons). Plus they take notice of whether a site visitor likes or dislikes your page via some of the extra options that often appear on the search results.

On top of that, natural search engine optimisation also involves getting links pointing back to your site pages – a bit like a more sophisticated version of being friends with people on Facebook as the search engines take into account how popular your website’s friends are.

Natural search engine optimisation is a lot to concentrate on but is well worth doing to keep your pages high in the search results.

Local Search Engine Marketing

At its most basic level, local search engine marketing works much the same way as any other form of search engine marketing. You optimise your site for the search terms you’re trying to get website visitors for and you promote your site with the aim of getting backlinks pointing to it.

The difference is that there’s usually (but not always) less competition with local search engine marketing.

local search engine marketingIdeas for local search engine marketing

As always with search engine optimisation, do your keyword research first. This means working out what real people are searching for in real life. Not what other people in your industry are searching for – they’ll almost certainly use industry specific jargon that real humans won’t have a clue about.

There are a number of places you can do keyword research for your local search engine marketing. Start with the log fies for your own site – most website hosts will give you access to these in a fairly friendly “wrapper” such as AWStats or Webalizer. You’ll be able to dig through these stats and see what search terms are currently being used to find your website. Google Analytics will do a similar job, so choose the option you’re most comfortable with.

Then put one of your more popular keyword phrases into Google. Towards the left of the screen are a pile of links you’ve probably ignored. One of these may say “Wonder Wheel” or it may say something like “more search tools”. Either way, dig around until you get to the Wonder Wheel.

This will show you related phrases that Google thinks are relevant to your initial keyword. It’s only a computer program, so it’s not always right, but often you’ll get a number of other potential keywords that are related to your local search engine marketing. Write a blog article on any that take your fancy.

Posting new content on your site on a reasonably regular basis may be almost all you need to rank well in local search engine marketing.

Unless you’re in a market where suppliers don’t actually need to be located in your town, in which case you’re probably going to be up against some stiffer competition.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to get some decent quality inbound links pointing to your website to round off your local search engine marketing.

Directories are a good place to start doing this: sites like HotFrog (weird name), Yelp, Touch Local and lots of others will give you a free link back to your website. Often in the hope of selling you more services.

Make it a habit to add some fresh content to your website on a regular basis and to seek out some backlinks as well and you’ll be well on your way to beating your local competitors and dominating local search engine marketing for your town.

SEO Link Building Tips

If doesn’t matter whether you are about to use a search engine optimisation company or if you decide to take a do-it-yourself method of SEO, you should take a look at these link building tips to ensure that your link building helps rather than hinders your website.

Link building tips5 Link Building Tips

Tip #1: Use a diversity of links

Link building is at the heart of search engine optimisation, thanks to Google and their Page Rank algorithm.

But, like most things in life, there can be too much of a good thing and that applies to the links you build as well.

Generally speaking, there is a law of diminishing returns for the links you get from any website. No-one outside Google knows the exact formula but it’s better to be safe than sorry and use a mixture of different websites for your links.

Getting technical, you should also try to make sure these are from different blocks of IP addresses as well. But if you use a mix of sites that you don’t own and host yourself, that should happen near enough automatically.

Another reason for using a diverse range of inbound links is that you never know when another site is going to fall out of Google’s favour or just cease to exist.

Tip #2. Link to various URLs on your site

Don’t just point all your inbound links to your home page. That just looks wrong to a computer algorithm. Mix in links to other pages on your website to give a bit of variety to your inbound links.

Your “internal” pages should link back to your main index page anyway, so there’s no need to worry about the links not counting as much. Specialist pages on your website (much like our SEO packages page) will benefit greatly from doing this.

Tip #3. Don’t obsess over follow links

A while ago, Google started to recognise “no follow” as an attribute of links. Tests have proven that this doesn’t mean that these links aren’t followed and therefore indexed, so the term is a misnomer but it stuck.

What it really means is “don’t pass across any link juice for this link”. But no follow is shorter to type.

Whatever the underlying meaning, some webmasters obsess about only getting “follow” links. Which is unnatural, so don’t do it.

Get a mix of inbound links and live with the fact that not all of them will be “follow” links.

Tip #4. Use a mixture of sites and Page Ranks

This is very much like tip 3, except it involves the publicly stated Page Rank of sites and pages linking back to you.

There are far more “lowly” sites with a Page Rank of 0, 1 or 2 than there are sites with Page Ranks of 3 and upwards.

Yet some webmasters think that most of their inbound links should be from Page Rank 3 and above.

Basically that’s nonsense. It’s not natural and the search engines will know for certain that you’re trying to distort your search engine placement.

Tip #5. Use a variety of “anchor” text words

Again, it’s only natural.

Different people will use different words when they link to your site. They may be like a lot of the links pointing to Adobe that just say something about you followed by “click here” or they could be typos or they may use your URL rather than words.

Your link building efforts should replicate this and include a mix of different anchor texts so that your inbound links look as natural as possible.

When you follow these easy link building tips you’ll find your website starts to be farther ahead than most of your competitors.

Website Optimisation: It’s Not Just SEO

Website optimisation is a description that encompasses a lot of different areas on your website. It isn’t only the search engine optimisation side of your web design. Here are some website optimisation ideas for you to look at.

Website optimisationWebsite optimisation ideas

You need to use images – and maybe also videos – on your  website. As much as anything, this helps keep visitors interested.

The images you use on your site need to be optimised for search engines and humans.

Start by giving your images meaningful names so that the various image searches can have a good idea of the content of the image.

There are also image tags for title (the hover-over text that sometimes appears when you move your mouse over an image) and also an “alt” tag which tells people with images switched off what your image is about.

Humans like nice looking images but they also like the file size of those images to be small enough to download fast. This goes even in these days of fast broadband internet access, maybe even more so as people expect sites to load almost instantly and gigantic images won’t do that.

Page load times are a factor in website optimisation. Which means big images won’t help your website optimisation efforts.

You should also make sure that all your images have their height and width declared. This allows web browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox to leave the correct space for the image if it doesn’t download immediately. Otherwise your page design will shift all over the place until the images download fully.

CSS files have come into their own in recent years. They help you separate the content of your website from the presentation of that content (how it looks).

But you also need to go through them if you’re serious about website optimisation.

A lot of website developers make their CSS names meaningful. Which is good if you’re coding a page but means that there’s a lot of extra characters on the page, potentially adding to the page load time.

Your main CSS file almost certainly has extra white space in that could be trimmed. Remember that your CSS file is loaded every time your website is reached so cutting its size will help with your website optimisation.

Carriage returns on your web pages also take up space. Sure, they help your HTML to be human readable, so there’s maybe a trade off there, but all those extra characters affect your website optimisation. Just be careful that removing them doesn’t break your layout in some of the earlier, less standard compliant, versions of the web browsers. Testing is called for (sorry!)

Just for fun, view the source of Google’s home page. It’s a pretty extreme example of how to cut down page size and Google are forever trying to deliver everything ultra fast, so their own website optimisation is another part of that equation.

When you’ve got your file sizes trimmed as much as possible, the next part of your website optimisation is to take a look at what your visitors experience when they reach your site.

Your website should be simple to use and pleasant to look at (or at least not downright ugly).

Any menus on your site should have obvious names rather than industry jargon.

Your menus should also work regardless of whether people are using a mouse, a touch pad or a finger to browse your site. Yup, a finger – just watch any iPhone user!

And if you’re getting a lot of visitors using mobile phones, make sure that you deliver them content that is optimised to be seen well on these small devices. Your technical person can advise on doing that side of your website optimisation.

Affordable Search Engine Optimisation

Most of use are looking for things like affordable search engine optimisation, partly because SEO so often seems to be a case of how much the search engine optimisation company thinks you can afford to pay. But also because you need to get a return on your SEO investment.

Affordable search engine optimisationSo, how can you go about getting affordable search engine optimisation?

It’s worth doing your homework before you even approach an SEO company. You’ll have an idea of how competitive your industry is, whether that’s on a local basis or national. Much will depend on how far people will travel for the services you offer. Regular purchases tend to be a lot more local than irregular ones – it’s unlikely you’ll travel 100 miles just to get your hair cut, for instance.

Generally, local search engine optimisation is a lot easier than national or international SEO, so it follows that you should be charged less for a local SEO campaign than one that targets the whole country.

Of course, like everything to do with search engine optimisation, there are exceptions to that rule.

Any industry that has services that can be delivered to you by a firm elsewhere in the country is open for competition on at least a national scale. House insurance is a good example of this – the recent mushroom-like growth of price comparison sites means that local insurance brokers are having to compete with companies that have national buying power.

So you may be forced into an area of more competition, which will affect the price of any affordable search engine optimisation you decide to go for.

Another thing to remember when you’re looking for affordable search engine optimisation is that SEO isn’t a one off payment.

It works best when you spend money on a regular basis, whether that’s a low budget or a higher one.

Trying to do your search engine optimisation in fits and starts doesn’t work as well as being more consistent. It’s the modern day equivalent of the tortoise and the hare: racing ahead and then taking a break may give you a short term advantage but is a lot less likely to benefit you in the long term.

Doing your SEO in short bursts is likely flag your site in Google as a short term news event. Prior to the volcanic gas problem in Iceland recently, next to no-one was searching for that term. Then the activity happened both in the air and online, so Google’s algorithm is trained to take account of that pattern and boost any news accordingly. Once the searches drop back to normal levels, the sites that were pushed just because of the volcano news drop back in the search results, leaving the usual suspects – Wikipedia, etc – at or near the top.

If you do your SEO work sporadically, you run a very real risk of that happening to your site.

Which means that your search for affordable search engine optimisation needs to take account of your likely budget both now and in the forseeable future. It’s far better to spend a consistent amount on your SEO month in, month out, than to do a burst of SEO work for a month and then leave everything to gather digital dust for a year. All that does is reward your competitors and leaves you having to spend more next time round just to catch up.

Check out our affordable search engine optimisation packages here.

Cheltenham Marketing: Search Engine Marketing Cheltenham

If you’re using any form of Cheltenham marketing then search engine marketing needs to be part of your mix. Leaflet drops, local advertising magazines, print ads in the Echo, radio adverts on Star all have their place but it’s often best to direct those to your website so that you can give people more information and maybe even get their email address.

Naturally, your website needs to look professional. Even if someone has taken your information from an advert, if the website they arrive at looks like it was made by your trainee in their dinner hour then that won’t help your Cheltenham marketing efforts. Take a look at your website with a critical “outsiders” eye and check that it’s easy to use and doesn’t take forever to load. If you need to, don’t be afraid to ask an outsider for their views.

Cheltenham Marketing Ideas

Cheltenham marketingGetting your website noticed using various marketing methods needs to include search engine marketing.

Your potential customer may have seen or heard your advert but that doesn’t mean that they memorised your website address, even if you used it regularly in your advert.

Chances are, they will use Google to search for your website. You need to check that you come up first in the search results for your name. Because Google remember your previous searches, you need to either use a different browser or check that Google isn’t remembering your search history (there’s a small link towards the top right of the screen where you can do this). Otherwise the results you get will be skewed.

The next part of your web based Cheltenham marketing is to check that you come up high in the search results for terms your customers are likely to use. Whilst it may be industry standard to use acronyms or other weird phrases, most customers won’t search for things like PI (unless they’re a mathematician) or odd phrases like whole of market, which sounds like you’re entering a middle East bazaar.

Again, an outside look will often help you to identify search engine phrases that are used by your customers but are being missed by you.

Search engine marketing is something you need to watch on a regular basis. New competition arrives on a regular basis, whether it’s other firms or just someone putting up a website with the intention of getting advertising revenue. This happens regularly and it’s very common for revenue based sites to sneak up the search results without you noticing.

Keeping your Cheltenham marketing top of mind with a combination of local adverts and search engine optimisation is a good strategy to keep your business noticed.

Search Engine Optimisers: Business Necessity or Snake Oil Salesmen?

A lot of companies claim to be search engine optimisers but can you believe their claims? Or are they just the modern day equivalent of snake oil salesmen?

Well, of course, I’d argue that search engine optimisers are a business necessity. Someone, somewhere needs to be optimising your website for the search engines as well as for human visitors, otherwise you’ll get lost in the wilderness.

Search engine optimisersFinding reliable search engine optimisers

The best way to find someone who is likely to be good at optimising your website is through word of mouth. Talk to other people locally – in your industry or outside it – who are coming up high in the search results for their website and find out who their search engine optimisers are.

Some will have done their search engine optimisation themselves. This is quite common and if you’re not in a particularly competitive industry it can work out OK, at least until someone more internet savvy comes onto the scene.

Others will have used a local college student to perform their search engine optimisation. Again, this can work out OK but you need to be careful that they are using current techniques – the market changes on a regular basis and some things that were current a few years ago are no longer likely to work in your favour – and that they’re not likely to do anything unproven that could hurt your search engine rankings in the longer term.

And a few will have used a firm of search engine optimisers who are local to you.

These are the ones to seek out.

They have a reputation to uphold locally, so they’re likely to stay with ethical search engine optimisation methods that will work for you in the short, medium and long term.

Quiz them to find out the SEO techniques they use:

  • Reciprocal links used to work but are pretty much discounted nowadays.
  • Paid for links need to be clearly flagged as such and should only be considered for the visitors they send you, not for any search engine benefit.
  • Spammy things like mass commenting on other people’s blogs should be avoided.

The search engine optimisers to avoid are the ones who won’t give you straight answers to these kind of questions.

Any reputable firm will take the time to discuss their methods and make sure that you are perfectly happy with them before you make them your chosen search engine optimisers.

Choosing a Search Engine Optimisation Provider

Choosing a search engine optimisation provider can seem daunting at first. There are so many claims that it’s difficult to know where to start and what to believe. Here are some tips to help you choose:

search engine optimisation providerThings to look for when choosing a search engine optimisation provider

1. Do they use ethical SEO?

Ethical SEO is making sure that all the methods used you your potential search engine optimisation provider are within the current search engine guidelines. A good litmus test for whether something is ethical SEO or not is if you’d be proud to tell your mother (or even your grandmother) about it. If you’d blush or rather not mention what you’re doing, there’s a good chance it’s not an ethical SEO method.

2. Do they buy links?

Google and the other search engines are reasonably happy for you to buy links for the purpose of gaining traffic to your web site but they don’t like you buying links with the aim of distorting the search results. If your potential search engine optimisation provider buys links, double check that these will be flagged as “no follow” so that they don’t come back to haunt you if they’re spotted by the search engines. Go to a few of the sites that your SEO provider is using – if they look awkward or contrived to you, there’s a good chance the links are being bought. Check in the view source option on your browser that they are flagged as no follow.

3. Does your search engine optimisation provider provide a realistic time frame?

Any SEO provider who claims they will provide near-instant results is not telling you the whole truth. Results take time to achieve – the sheer size of Google’s index dictates that – so any search engine optimisation provider promising results within days is unlikely to be telling you the truth. But equally if they tell you it will take a year or more before you start noticing any results then – unless you’re in a very competitive industry – you should be wary.

As an ethical search engine optimisation provider, we offer a range of SEO packages to help you get the most from your internet presence.