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7 ways to optimise your blog for search engines

August 4th, 2011

If you write a blog, you’re probably aware that one of the benefits is better search engine rankings but are you doing everything you can to get the best results in Google, Yahoo and Bing?

Here are 7 tips on how to optimise your blog plus a link to a fantastic graphic explaining the key elements of a well designed blog.

1. Are you targeting specific keywords? If you haven’t checked the keywords that your target market uses, have a look at the Google keywords tool. It’s not the definitive guide but it’s a great tool and free to use. You just prompt it with your guess as to what your target keywords should be and it generates a list with associated traffic levels.

2. Have you invested  in a decent design? Beauty may be screen deep but a decent layout will create an immediate impression of professionalism and encourage readers to delve further into your content.

3.  Set a blogging schedule so that you don’t keep putting your blog to the back of the ‘to do’ list.

4. Encourage feedback but watch out for link spam. It’s virtually unavoidable. Discussions are to be welcomed and they provide a source of free, keyword rich content.

5. Make sure that you write meta title and description tags for each post. Wordpress provides  an SEO plugin that prompts you to do this. These serve two purposes - they tell Google what the post is about and they appear in the search results pages so write them in a way that’s most likely to attract a click.

6. Enable people to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and Google+. You can add bookmarking links too for sites like Stumbleupon.

7. If you can, add some visual content from time to time. It helps to add interest. Make sure you add an alt tag for each image.

And now, have a look at this graphic which explains everything visually.

You might also like to read my blog post about Google’s guide to basic search engine optimisation.

Pay-per-call for all numbers in Google Adwords

August 3rd, 2011

Google is to go one step further with its pay-per-call facility. Until now, if Adwords advertisers included a telephone number in their Google adverts, it had to be ‘clickable’ which meant setting up what’s known as ‘call extensions’ in their Adwords account.

From last Friday Google started rolling out the automation of that facility - in other words, any phone number appearing in a Google Adwords ad will be clickable. Don’t get too excited if you’re a Gloucestershire or even UK advertiser, as it’s on a roll out.

If you’re wondering how this works in practice, the answer is via mobile phones. Accessing the web via smartphones is where the growth is and this gives Google another way of extracting more cash from advertisers. Er, sorry, it’s another Google innovation to enable advertisers to increase response and hence return on investment.

Putting our world weary cynicism to one side for just a moment, for local businesses this should be a good thing. It makes sense that having found what you want via Google, the next step would be call and reserve a table, book a cinema seat or just to shout at a hapless customer service expert straight out of nappies (that’s ‘diapers’ to our US readers).

So what’s the damage? A click on your phone number will cost the same as a click on your ad and the caller will get charged too.

Definitely worth testing  but make sure you’ve got your website ready for mobile browsing first and that you’ve got call handling people in place for when the ads appear - preferably men in long trousers (pants to you US types) or women of a certain age.

Google updates Places pages for local search

August 2nd, 2011

Local Gloucestershire businesses take note. Google is placing more emphasis on reviews from Google users when ranking Places pages for local search. It’s highlighting the call to action ‘Write a review’ not once but twice and delivering personalised recommendations when users are logged into their Google account.

Based on what Google euphemistically calls ‘careful thought’ and ‘feedback’ (aka analysis of spammy recommendations), it’s removing citations from other websites too. Instead it will provide links to sites such as Trip Advisor where you can read reviews and take them at whatever value you choose - in other words, Google doesn’t want so called SEO experts writing spammy reviews on other sites and linking to Places pages to boost their rankings.

This is good news for businesses capable of eliciting genuinely favourable testimonials. For spamming chancers it stinks. So long suckers.

More changes are afoot so don’t go away folks.

To read what the Google droids said about this, have a butchers, bakers and candlestick makers at this.

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