Posts Tagged ‘Search Engine Optimisation’

SEO copywriting vs. other styles of writing

Friday, November 18th, 2011

What is online or SEO copywriting? Well, SEO is the acronym for the phrase “search engine optimisation.” Search engine optimisation is all about doing specific things to your website to drive more traffic to it with the aim of getting a certain reaction from the people visiting your site. Whether it’s to get them to purchase something online or simply get them to enquire about your company’s product or service, their experience on you site needs to be interesting and helpful.

What are some of these things?

There are a few but here we will discuss how SEO copywriting as a style of writing achieves those results. SEO copywriting is unique from other forms of writing such as magazine writing or a newspaper writing. SEO writing focuses on specific “key words or phrases” that make your website or specific web page on your site emerge on the first page of a search list – which is essentially where you want to be. However this is only possible provided the writer has adhered to specific SEO protocol which includes:

  • Finding the correct search term or phrase for your product or service (there are a few online tools which online Copywriters use for this)
  • Using the search term or phrase only a certain amount of times without over using or misusing it
  • Avoiding very long words (words with multiple syllables)
  • Not writing very long sentences
  • Having an appropriate and appealing topic if writing an online article
  • SEO copywriting must still be readable and persuasive like any other style of writing

Styles of SEO writing

Online writers write articles, press releases and “optimise” existing web content. The copywriter must keep in mind all the above mentioned SEO “rules” when writing articles. Press releases are similar but cover more than just one topic. Optimising web content is simply increasing the use of a specific key term or phrase on a particular page of a website with the hope of making that page rank higher during a search.

Writing for magazines, news papers, pamphlets or even bill boards, the Copywriter writes easy to read, enjoyable and compelling copy with the aim of persuading you into taking a certain action. Whilst SEO copywriting is steered in the same direction, the online Copywriter has a goal of making a company’s website or specific web page on the site rank highly in a search.

The foremost goal of SEO copywriting is to produce succinct, effectively persuasive text for a well-written web page and to make it rank highly during a search.

Search Engine trio introduce, schema.org

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The three top search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing have collaborated in the hope to improve search engine results. Schema.org will assist webmasters who are looking to add markup to their pages and will create a better understanding of websites for the search engines.

logos of the top 3 search engines, yahoo, google and bing

A variety of schemas such as html tags can be used by webmasters so that pages will be distinguished by the search engines. This in- turn will make it easier for searchers to find the accordant web pages.

A number of websites are generated from assembled data which is generally stored in data bases and is formatted in html, making it difficult to recover original data. Search engines and various other applications will benefit from having access to this data directly.

Mark- ups allow search engines to understand the data and information on these website pages and then provide richer and improved results for search purposes, This valuable addition to search engines will certainly make web browsing more useful. Get started here.

What will Schema.org do for your website? Schema.org will assist website owners and improve on where they

rank on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Google has certainly been providing useful additions over the years, Rich Snippets (2009,) Expanded on Rich Snippets and a collaboration in 2006; Common standards for Sitemaps. However schema.org seems to offer more relevancies to the webmaster.

  • New markup types (over 100 new types have been added. Popular markups include: Recipe, Movie, Book, TV Series)
  • Use of microdata (primary focus to improve simplicity and consistency across search engines)
  • Support of existing rich snippets (Webmasters that have already done markup on the pages will still be supported)
  • Testing web pages’ markup (Test website pages with markup. Use rich snippet testing tool)

Webmasters are encouraged to start marking up web pages as soon as possible. Currently the schema.org website as well as the rich snippets testing tool are all in English however rich snippets are displayed in Google results around the world.

Schema.org has been launched with hope to extend and improve search engine results and ultimately grow the tool.

schema from yahoo, google and bing!

Social Media Strategy Info-graphic

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

As Social Media becomes more and more entrenched in marketing strategies around the world; we need to be sure that we know how to use it. This is a short info-graphic which touches on the 3 main social media networks that businesses are using in their social media strategies.

An info graphic showing social media usage

Twitter

Twitter is a social network with a business edge, that is used to share and push information across to a select group of followers. Followers on Twitter are those people who have committed to receiving communication from you on a regular basis in the form of a tweet (140 characters of information) which needs to be compelling enough to entice the reader to click on a link within the tweet and engage further. There are currently over 55 000 registered South African Twitter users with over 1.5 million tweets a month. There is no opportunity to advertise on Twitter at the moment.

Facebook

Facebook is a social network that is primarily used for exactly that, staying in contact with your friends and their daily activities. Facebook however does allow for businesses to have a Page which people can like of become friends of. These pages get a fair amount of traffic, but it is very important to ensure that your business is right for Facebook as very often a business might not have its primary audience on a platform such as Facebook nor will its ideal clientele want their friends to know that they are making use of its services (ie – private investigators, debt councilors). Facebook does allow businesses to advertise their products or services and these adverts can then click through to either the businesses Facebook page or a specific landing page on their website. There are currently over 3.76 million South African users on Facebook with the greatest percentage of them being between 18 and 30 years of age.

LinkedIn

Linked in is a decidedly business orientated social network. There is little social interaction between users even though you can integrate it with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, being social for socials sake is not its primary focus. LinkedIn is for keeping in touch with business professionals who can either be potential or current clients. There are currently over 1.1 million LinkedIn users in South Africa and this makes it the largest network focused on professional individuals with the largest demographic being users between 25 to 35 years of age. LinkedIn allows businesses to showcase their products and services and have these recommended by their customers. Advertising is also available and users can then click through to a specific page determined by the advertiser. LinkedIn can be an excellent platform to contact potential customers as a platform to initiate communuication.

When looking at which networks to use from a business point of view; a combination is definitely the approach, rather than a mere single focus option. Each network has their own nuances and intrinsic benefits and each should be explored in turn.

Social Business – The Focus of NetProphet 2011

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

So what is Social Business, who’s doing it, and why is it so important?

NetProphetNet Prophet 2011 opened up with yet another bang this year, with Rob Gilmour covering the overall history and success of NetProphet to date. This year being no different, but with attendance exceeding the 1000 people mark.

The general theme of the event was that of Social Business, and why we should all be thinking about getting involved. Although the concept is a rather fresh one, it’s something that many businesses, to a large extent are already very actively involved in. The sad fact however, is that most businesses haven’t even considered the idea.

So what is Social Business?

Social Business ThinkingImagine if you will the impact of businesses working together not only for profit, but, in the process, creating a business model that adds immense value to the broader community that surrounds it. How many times have you found yourself frustrated by a number of things that just don’t work? How many times have you thought to yourself, if I had the means, I could fix this, and make it better?

Now take this example to the next level. Imagine, you were able to conceptualise the solution, get the right team of people together, employ a vast number of free technologies to support it, raise some funding along the way, and in the process, not only fix the initial problem, but make life better for all those impacted by the same problem, and while you’re at it, make a profit from your initiative.

This is Social Business.

Social business is not about running a charity, or a non-profit organization. It’s not even about doing things for free. On the contrary, social businesses make good profits, and all the while, they are aiding a greater cause, eliminating a problem, or just simply making life easier for all those around them.

While this might sound somewhat utopian, social businesses are already a reality in most parts of the world, delivering much needed relief from a wide variety of global challenges.

Two examples of such social businesses are:

Young Africa Live, a mobile-based community portal developed by the praekeltfoundation, where young people can openly discuss critical issues such as love, sex and relationships with each other, and mPedigree, a mobile service in Ghana and Nigeria that verifies via SMS the authenticity of medication prior to being taken. Saving millions of lives and recouping lost revenue to pharmaceutical companies.

Social businesses are sustainable, they deliver true value to their community, they build trust and most importantly, lasting customer relationships, and loyalty. Another great thing about social business is that, if set up correctly, they are a great source of ever increasing annuity revenue for the founding businesses.

Technology and Social Business

With the level of technology at our fingertips today, the possibility of social business also becomes that much more of a reality. The misconception of limited Internet access in places like Africa is now superseded by present day mobile phone penetration, allowing us to reach a much wider audience immediately. Social Media allows us to share and consume content and media much faster, while also collaborating on multiple projects in real time. And finally, the Internet provides the power of research right on our doorstep.

So, the next time you are faced with a situation that you find somewhat frustrating, chances are, you are not alone. The difference however is that you might be in a unique enough position to bring about a change that has a long-term benefit to your community, while making you a handsome profit in the process.

A basic guide for how to build a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) friendly website

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Points to remember for developers and designers

I would like to start with the very basics of SEO.  What is SEO first of all?

SEO is a process and often a guarded method of listing/improving the visibility and ranking of a website in search engines (such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and many others) and in-turn attracting more visitors. SEO can also be described as the activity of optimizing a website to make it more search engine friendly, and getting higher positions in search results.

Now that we have a better understanding of what SEO is I will continue with the first basic SEO methods and tips for when you are building a website.

Basic SEO steps to remember when you build a website:

<HEAD> section:

  • Add a <title> tag in your header section. Make sure that the title tag contains your most dense keywords from the particular page that you are working on.  Do not make the title too long. Eg: <title>Pet Zone | dogs | cats | pet food | pet shop</title> Do not use more that 3 or 4 keywords. You don’t count the main name as a keyword in this case Pet Zone. However the name can be used in the title tag. Do not use any punctuation such as apostrophes. Each page should have a unique name and title. The length of the title tag should not be more than 66 characters.
  • Add a Meta Description in the header with a brief description about that particular page. This should not be more than 160 characters
  • · Add a Meta Robots tag (<meta content="index, follow">) “index” is telling Google that it is allowed to index this page and “follow” is telling Google to follow all links on this page. This is the standard. This is automatically created in CMS systems.
  • Add a Meta Content-type tag (<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=UTF-8″ />) which informs Google of the specific character encoding you will be using on the page. UTF-8 is the generally accepted content-type for SEO. This is automatically created in CMS systems.

<BODY> section:

  • Keep the copy (content) on the page between 300 and 500 words.
  • Ensure you use the keywords you are trying to emphasis throughout the copy and in some instances make use of the bold and underline attributes for those keywords.
  • Keep your title tag (<title>), page name (URI) and your header 1 (<h1>) the same – this gives Google a clear understanding of what you are trying to promote on the page.
    Eg: If the file name is “food-for-pets.html” then your header tag as well as the title tag should be “Food for pets”. This is the general rule, slight variations are accepted.
  • Along with the previous point, you should name your images in-line with the topic of the page.
    Eg: Image name “food-for-pets.jpg” (Do not use any uppercase text in your title).
  • Include at least one image on each page that will be used on the website that you are building and always make sure that the alt tag and a title tag for the image has a short description of the image (1 – 3 words). Also include the image dimensions in the image tag.
  • Use footer navigation.  Add a link to each of your main pages in your footer.

General SEO steps to remember when you build a website

  • Add bread crumbs to each page.
    Eg. Pet food – dog food – dry dog food (create a hyperlink to each relevant page).
  • Create social media links. Eg: Links to Facebook, Twitter or any other social media accounts.
  • Make internal links. If you make reference to information that is elsewhere on your site, make a link to that information.
  • Make sure your HTML and CSS code validates! Use http://validator.w3.org/ for this.

Tips for Developers

  • When possible (and only in HTML built websites (not CMS)) make sure you include all header tag data in one PHP include file. This makes SEO maintenance and future changes simple and efficient. The same can be done with many other elements of the site such as the footer section. This keeps all the data in a central location and makes life easier for everyone.
  • Make sure your CSS code is in a CSS file and not coded into your page directly.
  • Avoid building or using frames as search engines do not pick up frames.
  • Do not be shy to use Header tags (h1 to h3) h1 being your most important heading.
  • Always make sure you added a very short description to alt tags (Images and Links)
  • Make sure your internal and external links are working.
  • If the site is for a service or company, add the company location on Google Maps.
  • Try keeping all JavaScript code and files (.js) in ONE file. This drastically improves page load speed therefore increasing the SEO health of the website.
  • Try keeping all CSS in one file for the same reason mentioned above.

Tips for Designers

  • Although Google is attempting to read flash files, avoid using flash menu’s if possible. (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/06/improved-flash-indexing.html)
  • Make sure there is always at least one Call-to-action on the page.
  • Images for the website needs to be a small and compressed as possible without the loss of quality.
  • Anchor text: Please do not use “click here” or anything similar as links on the page. This emphasizes that the words “click here” are words we would like to rank for. Make sure you use descriptive links throughout the design.
  • The logo of the website needs to be a link that points back to the home page. This is a generally understood standard.

Landing Page Optimisation (LPO) for Beginners

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Landing Page Optimisation

One of the most critical factors in determining how many of your visitors will convert into sales or leads depends on the design and layout of your page and site as a whole. Without a well planned and thought out structure, you may as well throw your money down the drain. Landing Page Optimisation or LPO is a procedure within Search Engine Optimisation that aims at increasing conversions by analysing  and modifying existing key pages.

Relevant Content

Make sure that the link that the user clicked to get to the page is directly relevant to the content that is on the landing page. In other words, if your link is “Mozambique Honeymoon Specials”, make sure that you have got Mozambique Honeymoon specials on that page. Try keep word count on the page below to below three hundred as you don’t want the user to worry about what he/she is missing if they are going to skip reading the content.

Highlight important phrases and words

As many of the users will only scan the content on the page you need to make sure that certain keywords and phrases stand out from the rest of the words.

“Call to actions”

Once your user lands on the page, your goal is to convert the user into a potential sale or lead. By adding “call to actions” you are allowing the user to accomplish this. Make sure your call to actions stand out from everything else. Ensure using bright colours and enticing copy to attract the user to fill out the form or click the link.

Keep it simple

You want your user to instinctively know what to do next on the page. Keeping everything simple and minimalistic is the best way to avoid making the visitor think about what to do next.  Removing the navigation links (except the home link) will ensure you stop the user from wandering off. Make sure you remove other advertisements, distracting images and irrelevant text from the landing page.

Test, test and test again.

Create different versions of your landing page (eg. product.html, product1.html, product2.html) and run these through Google’s Website Optimizer. This will enable you to further optimize your landing pages by identifying which version of the page is converting more visitors. Once you have identified a version that is performing the best, start the whole process again. Landing page optimisation is all about experimenting with and analysing how users interact with your landing pages.