Entries tagged with “Web page”.


Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Do your keywords support your site? Unfortunately, the answer is no for many people choosing keywords for search engine optimization purposes. According to Mike Murray of Fathom SEO, people depend too much on tools such as Keyword Discovery, Google Keyword Tool, and SpyFu. These tools can be helpful, but there is also a great amount of research on your part that needs to be done.

There must be a web page to support every keyword. Similar words do not count; they must be exact. Make sure your keywords are a good investment. If you choose the wrong keywords, you’re going to lose money and waste time.

Mike refers to people who do this as “people with their heads in the clouds.” He says people who dream up keywords are not going to have success in their efforts and need to come back to earth and be practical.

Mike suggests looking at the following factors when selecting a keyword list:

-    Keywords in domain name
-    Website analytics
-    Competitors’ rankings
-    Inbound links
-    Where you ranked today, which page ranked, and on what search engine

Also, look for value in your PPC campaign. If someone is paying for a keyword, then it should be taken under consideration for your SEO program as well. It is possible that the same keywords could work for both programs.

Lastly, don’t look at who is ranking number 1 or 2. Look where websites are ranking that are similar to your site. You could be comparing your website, which is operated by 3 people, to a website that is run by a large corporation. Mike recommends first looking at the website’s age, size, and other factors before taking action. You may need to address other issues on your website to compete effectively.

SEO is a long process and the investment into keywords should not be taken lightly. After looking at the above factors, let’s again ask the question: Do your keywords support your website?

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A typical search engine results page
Image via Wikipedia

Alright, we know that Google has already been experimenting and implemented the personalized search results. So what does it mean to SEO ? Now that every individual gets tailor made search results based on their past use history and even preferences (SearchWiki), what happens to the natural organic results ?

Well, according to Google,

Personalized Search is an improvement to Google search that orders your search results based on what you’ve searched for before. Learning from your history of searches and search results you’ve clicked on, Personalized Search brings certain results closer to the top when it’s clear they’re most relevant to you.

Google’s idea is to,give you the best relevant results based on who you are and what you’ve been interested in.

Personalized-search

So that means, if I searched for “Chip” and clicked on the third result which is on “Children’s Medical Aid”, the next time I search for “Chip”, I might get the once third result, Childrens Medical Aid on the first place. And I think that’s a fair game.

And now SearchWiki. According to Google,

It’s a way to customize your search results with your rankings, deletions, and notes — plus, see how other people using Google have tailored their searches”. You can promote or demote search results, add new web pages to your search results, post comments and read other people’s comments.

We’ve all been using SearchWiki lately and it’s quite interesting. I can make the 22nd results the first and even tell others why they should try it.

But I’ve not seen any clues so far that tells me that my preferences are shared with others. The wiki is probably only my own. For everyone else, the 22nd result that I pushed up is still the 22nd result.

Google says,

It’s not clear whether user votes influence the overall ranking algorithm, but it’s likely that this is not the case.

Yea I get it. So we have a wiki for our own help. That’s fair again. But the comments on search results are supposed to be shared with others, and I haven’t seen any reports yet that confirms this. In fact, I get to see only my comments now. May be it’s not yet active on my account ?

Anyways, these two features from Google give me the idea that somehow, someday the concept of organic search results is going to be more complicated, while being more custom made for each user.

So does that mean that SEO has lesser influence on the search results ?

Even when we are inclined to think so, that might not just be the case. This is how I see it.

- SEO is definitely going to remain significant and Google algorithms will heavily rely on backlinks to determine SERPs.

- I can see a focus shift to “traffic” as one of the crucial factors (among lot others) that determines why a website is more relevant than other. (It’s not a single stand alone concept but an addition to the existing SEO metrics)

- User preferences are only going to be an addition to the organic results. After all you need to have the best 10 results anyway, to mix and match them according to your preferences.

So essentially, SEO is going to be the backbone that decides the SERPs, like it’s always been. But user preferences will make it possible for us to see the best results for us. SEO will still remain significant, or so do I prefer to believe. :)


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Google’s personalized search results and Search Wiki means no SEO ?

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eBC Guide to Improving Usability

Writing good copy for your web pages is extremely important not only for users but also for search engines. Fortunately for us there is no conflict in writing for users or search engines and if your copy provides the information needed by users then it will also provide the information needed by the search engines.

The practical aspects of good copy are well known thanks to many usability studies, and if you pay attention to the following for all your pages you will be doing better than 99% of websites.

1. Length
There is no fixed requirement for the amount of text on a page. Some pages may require only 150 words others may require 800 or more. Be succinct and use as few words as possible, at least half of what you would use for conventional writing.

2. Keywords
Include your keywords of course but do not worry about the number of times they appear on the page (see Keyword Density). Just write naturally and your keywords will occur in the right places and at the right frequency.

3. Grammar
Good grammar is important. Write in the active voice not the passive. If you are not sure of the difference between the active and passive voice there is a good explanation here at the Purdue University Online Writing Lab.

4. Spelling
Users who are poor spellers may not notice bad spelling but users who are good spellers will. Search engines are good spellers.

5. Headings
All usability studies show that users scan web pages ( http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html ), they do not read them word for word. You should make liberal use of headings and sub-headings (h1, h2, and h3) so that the users’ attention can be drawn towards those elements of the text that is of interest to them. Also make sure that they are meaningful and not ‘clever’ like some newspaper headlines.

6. Highlighting
Use text highlighting such as bold, italic or color to assist the user in scanning the page.

7. Bulleted lists
An excellent method for capturing the users’ attention and getting across information in a concise manner.

8. Paragraphs
One idea, one paragraph. Usability studies show that if users are not ‘captured’ by the first few words of a paragraph they will move to the next (or hit the back button of course). One idea per paragraph ensures that users will not miss an idea by skipping paragraphs as they scan the page.

9. Sentences
Keep your sentences short.

10. Links
Embed outbound text links in your copy to improve your credibility.

11. Market Speak
All usability studies show that users hate the promotional writing style with boastful claims often used by the marketing profession. Web users want to read the straight facts and credibility goes out the window when they see marketing hype.

12. Vocabulary
Familiar words and not jargon.

13. Acronyms
If you have to use an acronym or abbreviation make sure it is understood by every user and define it on the page.

If you are not an English major (like most of us!) then the Guide to Grammar and Style ( http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/contents.html ) or the Economist Style Guide ( http://www.economist.com/research/styleGuide/ ) can be extremely useful.

Additionally, Usability guru Jakob Nielsen has some useful advice on Writing for the Web ( http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/ ) and using ‘old’ words ( http://www.useit.com/alertbox/search-keywords.html ).

Reprinted ( http://www.seo-blog.com/text.php ) with permission by SEO Expert Michael Duz ( http://www.seo-blog.com ). Michael Duz is a researcher in the field of e-marketing and search engine optimization whose organization has many well known corporate clients.

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