Saturday, 4 December 2010

Google Instant Preview Changes How Search Results are Viewed

By Peter Bowen SEO Expert at First One On

Google Instant Preview is a new feature following the September roll out of Google Instant which completes searches while they're being typed into Google's search field, with the goal of significantly reducing time spent searching.

But is the new feature really going to speed up the searcher's experience, or is it yet another complicated layer on what was once a simple and easy-to-understand search interface? Google's own research revealed that on average searchers using Google Instant Preview are 5% more likely to be satisfied with the search results they click after seeing a visual preview next to the organic listing.

Google Instant Preview essentially gives users the ability to see a website before they visit it. Google accomplishes this by taking a screenshot of every webpage in its index and giving users access to it via a magnifying glass icon that sits to the right of every search result.

When a user clicks on the magnifying glass icon, a screenshot of the webpage in question will appear to the right of the search result listing. It’s an at-a-glance view of the website page without actually having to visit the webpage.

One of the key elements to Instant Previews though is that Google sometimes highlights a section of the page where the page description occurs. Where this becomes a useful feature is if you’re trying to find information on a specific person on a page that lists dozens or hundreds of people. Instead of having to scroll through the entire page to find the person, you can just look at the Instant Preview and see where they are on the page.

"We realized early on that this kind of experience would only make sense if it was lightning fast. Not long ago simply downloading an image could take 20 or 30 seconds, and even today many websites take four or five seconds to load," Raj Krishnan, Product Manager wrote in the Google Blog. "With Google Instant Preview, we match a search query with an index of the entire web, identify the relevant parts of each webpage, stitch them together and serve the resulting preview completely customised to your search--usually in under one-tenth of a second."

SEO expert Peter Bowen at First One On says "while Google Instant Preview is designed to speed up the searching process what it actually does is to speed up the decision-making process of choosing whether or not to click on the link by previewing the visual screenshot of the resulting webpage".

"Google currently provides a lot of more data to help the searcher. At one time search engines just displayed the first two lines from a webpage under a search result, but now they include information like site links, date, cached content, jump to links and even Google Places".

Instant Previews can be helpful for many kinds of tasks. For example, say you looked at a page before and need to find it again—with a preview, you can tell if any of the results look familiar. Or perhaps you’re looking for an official website—looking for a logo and formal style and you’ll probably be able to identify it. Or maybe you’re looking for a how-to guide—it’s easy to spot a page with clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions.

From an SEO perspective the big question is how will Google Instant Preview affect our understanding of traditional SEO?, and what changes should we consider making to webpages so that they can be easily previewed in a tiny screenshot?

When a searcher performs a search and sees the search results page displayed, they do have a choice of whether or not to activate the Google Instant Preview feature by clicking on the magnifying glass icon.

“However, clicking on the magnifying glass icon is less of a commitment than clicking on a link, and you still need to convince the searcher that it is worth their time to preview a website” says Peter Bowen. “Therefore it becomes more important than ever to have a well defined and well written description of what the website page is about and it has to fit within the 150 character limit. So the Meta content description is what you will have to change and be aware of here”.

As we already know, Flash is not SEO friendly because it cannot be read by search engines and is even worse for Instant Preview as it shows as a black rectangle and cannot be rendered. The same is true for video files that also display a black rectangle in the preview, so consideration of this is important too.

It should be pointed out that because the image size of the screenshot is so small, unless the text in headings is large enough, it will be impossible to read.

So what does all this mean, well, we have to start thinking about the overall page layout and does it look god at postage stamp size or is it just a blur of text with no images to make it look appealing. This means creating pages that pay more attention to navigation, titles and headers, spacing, colours and objects, such as call-to-action buttons. Having a good looking page with relevant titles now may count as much as the content on the page itself.

It is likely that we will begin to see a lot more webpages with well defined graphics and other visual aids designed to get a searcher's attention. This makes SEO even more important than ever, make sure that your images are named with keywords and their filenames and alt text are descriptive and accurate.

Google Instant Preview is here to stay and designed to make the search selection process easier and according to Google, faster, but in the end, good SEO practices are what is going make the difference of whether or not you get discovered on the search engine results pages.
Peter Bowen is a seasoned SEO Marketing specialist who has been involved with the internet since 1994 when he won the Entrepreneur of the Year award for developing an online internet shopping mall. He has developed software for learning and now concentrates his efforts on helping others to understand and market their products and services through effective search marketing strategies. First One On helps clients through the maze of SEO to get top rankings for their clients.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Digital Marketing Seminar Delivers Results

Busines by word of mouth (mouse) in a world where Google, Twitter and Facebook write the rules was presented yesterday 30 November by SEO expert Peter Bowen, Managing Director of First One On and Social Media evangelist Paul Clegg, Executive Director of BNI (Business Networking International).

The weather was not the best and the roads were icy but delegates arrived from far and wide battling through adverse winter driving conditions to attend this morning event. The room quickly filled even before the 9am registration and the prime seats taken.

Paul Clegg presented an in depth look at how social networking is having a profound effect on the business of marketing products and services and how decisions are being made to buy services. He noted in his address the power of Twitter and how Facebook is being used by all types of businesses to reach consumers.

With barely a moment to refill cups at the 5 minute refreshment break, delegates were then treated to an overall presentation by Peter Bowen about how to get a websites' content pages to the top of Google and why most business fails to embrace the basic steps to achieve domination for primary keywords.

Changes to the way Google presents search results was discussed and examples shown for Google Places search - emphasising the need for even greater optimisation of page content to beat out competitors for top placement.

In a followup questionnaire, delegates agreed that further hands-on seminars would be of great value in the future - stay tuned for announcements from the Bowen Clegg team of a followup day long session in February 2011.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Google Place Search changes how local searches are displayed

Google local and map have become a big influence on how people search and get results. We can demonstrate this by searching for 'accountant' and the search result returns a broad list of 'accountants' but perhaps too broad so we tend to search again by narrowing the result - adding a location to the search - 'accountant in city' and the results we see are now closer to home.

So its no surprise that Google should be taking a closer look at how we search and attempt to refine the process and provide a more meaningful search result by changing the Google Local search algorithm to make it easier for us to find what or who we are searching for locally.

Today, 8.11.2010 we see searches that reference local business and all the relevant places in that location in a new clustered visual display located in the upper right corner of a search result page. The now familiar map displays each business with red lettered pins, and links to each business. And as you scroll down the page the Google Places Map will scroll with the page so that it is always visible.

In addition to the way we see businesses displayed on Google Places a new product is being launched - Google Boost.

Google Boost is a Google AdWords product that allows local businesses to feature more prominently in local searches. It allows small to medium size businesses the ability to feature more highly in searches, and concentrates much more on the relevance and location of that business than ever before. Now searchers will see sponsored location searches appear on the Google Places map as blue lettered pins and in search results with the blue marker pin next to the content description.

Search results for the 'accountant in city' will now appear first below sponsored listings and above organic listings. What this now means is that results for a business in a location will now appear grouped with the other search results, making it much easier for searchers to find what they are looking for in a local area.

Google reports that Place Search results will begin appearing automatically when Google determines that you are looking for a 'business in location' search result.

Google also says "We’ve made results like this possible by developing technology to better understand places. With Google Place Search, we’re dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations. We automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don’t provide addresses and use different names.”

Google Places is being rolled out across the world and will be available everywhere, in 40 languages once complete. Google are hoping to provide a better, local search to users, while exploiting a different revenue stream. It’s also competing with Facebook Places which was launched a while ago. Facebook was able to use very targeted advertising to provide a similar service to its users.

Google should have the advantage here though, as most Facebook advertising is passive, appearing alongside the primary content. Google’s Place Search is active and should have the advantage when it comes to conversion.

Location-based services are seen as a growing market, with Facebook Places and location aware services like Foursquare enjoying significant growth since their inception. Placing Google Place Search alongside search results, Google can hedge its bets while not detracting from its standard offering.

From an SEO perspective Peter Bowen at First One On says, "One of the downsides to this new display of results is how it will affect businesses that previously enjoyed number one placements for 'business in location' or featured well alongside the old Google Map".

"Now with the introduction of Google Place Search in results it is quite possible that businesses that had worked hard to get top placements on page one now find themselves listed on page two! Other businesses that did not even have a listing on the old Google Map are now being brought to the top of the search results based on the location of their business and business listing in Google Places".

What this means is that in the long run it will be more difficult for businesses to rank at the top of a local search unless they realise that they will have to spend much more time and effort on local search engine optimization. Businesses that had previously enjoyed a prominent position on the old Google Map without a website, which was possible before, will now find it almost impossible to maintain a listing without a well developed and locally optimised website.

Businesses will now have to have a visible and physical location if they want to be listed in a local search, in the past businesses could hide their physical location and yet still be found locally through their websites, but now consumers searching for a business in a location will be able to determine if they contact that business or not based on their location. So as Google exposes competitors in searches it is now revealing where those businesses are located – hopefully providing the consumer with more information before making a purchase decision in the long run.

First One On has been advising clients and optimising websites for some time that include not only business name in location but also business service in location.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Writing Articles that Boost Website Traffic

Articles must contain searchable keywords

When you invest time writing articles to gain traffic to your web site they must appeal to both the search engines and your potential readers. Careful consideration must be given to the article structure and content, follow these steps to write effective articles that will boost website traffic.

Step 1. Choose a topic

Your goal is to write on a topic where you solve a problem i.e.
-7 reasons to use articles to market your web site
-How to write an effective article
-How to market your articles to boost your web traffic
Sometimes it's difficult to come up with a topic that you feel inspired to write about. An easy method is to write about a problem that you have come across while working. You will have an in-depth knowledge of finite details. Then after having solved this problem you should feel comfortable writing about it knowing that this article will then help others that may have struggled with the same problem.

Step 2. Keyword research

The primary goal of article writing is to make your article as search engine friendly as possible. Within the article include searchable keywords that search engines will spider. Therefore researching appropriate keywords before weaving them into your article is crucial.

Use the keyword research tool to find which words or phrases are searched on most often. It will display up to 100 top results depending on the data available for that keyword.

Make a list of the top researched keywords and write them into your article being careful not to repeat them too often so that it won't read smoothly. You want to your article to appeal to your readers also.

Step 3. Create an outline for your article

Your article should include a headline, an introduction, the content body, a conclusion, a list of resources and a bio.

Headline - make this as catchy as possible because your reader will read this first then decide if he or she will continue reading the rest of the article. i.e.
"Writing Articles that Boost Website Traffic"

Introduction - introduce the problem you will be discussing in your article or write a short story of your experience with the problem.

Body - discuss all the solutions to the problem you outlined in the introduction. Break up each point into separate paragraphs and keep them to about 5 lines. You may want to create a sub-heading for each point. This makes it easier to read as most people will scan your article when reading it online.

Conclusion - this should include a brief summary of your article and a call for the reader to take action.

Resources – This can be a synopsis of the article with some keywords.

Bio - this is the place where you can safely include a bio about yourself and your business plus provide a link to your web site or blog. This provides an opportunity for readers to visit your website and learn more about your product or services.

Step 4. Article length

Begin writing out your article without worrying too much about the length. It's more important to let all your ideas flow out of your mind first. If you think it's getting too long split it up into two or more articles. It's often easier to write a short article of 500 words than one of 1000 words.

Most article publishers prefer articles between 500 to 800 words and will not accept articles any longer than that.

Step 5. Take a break

After you have written the article, come back to it after several hours, a day or several days. This will enable you to take a fresh look at it, find new mistakes or even want to rewrite a paragraph or two to make it flow better.

Step 6. Check your article

After writing your article, run it through a spell checker first, then read it through a few times to check for spelling mistakes the spell checker may have missed and to correct the grammar and punctuation. Make sure it flows well by clearly identifying the problem, providing a solution and concluding with an action step or steps. Get someone else to read it over. Often they will find the mistakes that you missed.

Step 7. Format your article

You will need to format your sentence length at 60-65 words per line before submitting it for publication. This will enable people to read it in their email software. If the sentence length is longer than this the article may break up making it impossible to read.

Step 8. Conclusion

If you consistently write an article every other week and submit it for publication you will soon generate a steady stream of traffic to your web site for years to come.

Please let us know if you found this article on Writing Articles that Boost Website Traffic of interest by contacting First One On

Friday, 25 June 2010

Meta Title Tags are Gold

How to write compelling page titles

From an SEO perspective, the title of the webpage is very important, these are the words that describe what your page is about and it is the first words that a search engine sees when it crawls your webpage looking for content to add to its index.

The page title is also what the searcher sees in a search result -so the page title is very important in describing what the page is about and if the title meets the searchers criteria, then it is more likely to be clicked on and your page will open.

It is safe to assume that the majority of searchers these days will be tempted to either click or ignore based on the content of the title. This is like your ad in the natural search section of the search engine results page.

Now that the impact of the title of the webpage is obvious, let us explain how to write an effective and powerful title.

First the basics! The webpage title aka the title tag is the synopsis of the content of the web page. So, as no two pages on your website are the same, hence why should their title tags be? Therefore, as a general rule, title tags for each page on your website should be unique. This is an added bonus from an SEO perspective, because now you can target many more keywords and hence spread your reach across search engine indexes.

The second thing to consider is whether you want to add your company name in the title tag? The answer is that it depends on your branding strategy. If your company name is a known brand, or if you want to promote your firm name as a brand or if your company name consists of keyword(s) that you want to target such as ABC Family Solicitors targeting the keyword "Family Solicitors", then by all means add your company name in the title tag. If not, then use the limited but valuable space to add your targeted keywords. If you do decide to add your company name, make sure that it is at the end of the title. This is because you want search engines and your visitors to first read the targeted keyword(s) for that page and then the company name.

It is important to remember that as the title tag is the synopsis of the content of the web page, we need to make sure that the title tag is relevant. For example, the title tag for an about us page is "About Website Design Company - ECommerce Partners". Hence, the title tag does its job of informing what the page is about. Now, you might have noticed that instead of "About Us - ECommerce Partners", we added "About Website Design Company - ECommerce Partners".

The reason is because "Website Design Company" is one of the key phrases we want to target and so, we replaced "About Us" with "About Website Design Company". This brings out an important point. We need to do a keyword analysis before we write an effective and powerful title tag.

Keyword mining and analysis is a very important part of writing compelling page titles and is a part of the Search Engine Optimization service that First One On provides to our clients.

The next step after keyword analysis will be to write down title tags for each and every web page on your website.

Please be careful when writing title tags and never, never over stuff keywords in the title. Doing so will undermine the power of title tag and defeat the purpose of better ranking in the search engines. The title tag is the title of your web page and so it must be relevant and meaningful. Remember, this is the title in your AD in the natural search listings of the search engine.

General Suggestion: you cannot promote all of the keywords in one page, normally, you should promote 3 to 5 keyword phrases per page. The 'Title tag' should contain up to 3 important keywords that match to the body of the page contents. If the keyword you are trying to promote is highly competitive, you can consider repeating the important keyword twice in the first 100 words of the page content.

Limit the length of the title keywords to 65 characters including spaces or less. There's no reason to cut off the last word and have it replaced with a "..." Note that the search engines have fluctuated recently and Google, in particular, is now supporting up to 70 characters.

Use a divider when splitting up the keywords, we generally recommend the use the "|" symbol aka the pipe bar. Others choose the arrow ">" or hyphen "-" and both work well.

Re-using the title tag of each page as the H1 heading tag can be valuable from both a SEO keyword targeting standpoint and a user experience improvement. Users who go to the page from the search result listing will have the expectation of finding the title they clicked on. Users will be more likely to stay on a page they're reasonably certain fits their intended search query.

Please let us know if you found this article on Meta Title Tags of interest by contacting First One On

Friday, 18 June 2010

Top Ten Tips for Powerful Email Marketing Campaigns

Email Marketing with Newsletters

Building strong customer relationships with email marketing newsletters that deliver results is key in today’s business environment. Creating the communication and following these top 10 tips for successful email newsletters will help you to build and develop strong relationships with existing customers and market your services more cost effectively.

Email newsletters offer the ability to track on an individual level who opened your emails, who clicked on what link and what content they read, not only allowing you to measure the level of interest readers have in the content you are sending them, but also how readers are responding to it.

So here are the First One On top ten tips for successful email newsletter marketing:

1. Professional Looking Template – Instead of sending out a generic email, take time to customize your template to reflect the colours, fonts and other branding elements of your business and website. Using the same email template for your messages will help the recipient recognize your firm and generate feelings of trust.

2. Personalise the Email – Use the recipient’s name in your message whenever possible. Something as simple as customising the email in this way can make the recipient more likely to read through and act on your message.

3. Compelling Subject Line – The two second rule applies here – the recipient will scan the subject of the email and decide whether or not to open and read the communication. Therefore make the subject line as compelling as possible.

4. Email from a Person – Make sure that the email is from a person or firm name and not from an email address, this adds to the personalisation aspect of the communication and adds to the likelihood that the email will be opened and read.

5. Wite Engaging Content – Ensure that the content provides a value proposition or presents a current issue and asks the recipient a question where a response is expected to generate involvement.

6. Click throughs to your Website – Wherever possible the ability to drive recipients back into your website from a link for more information, or to engage the recipient is the major benefit of using an email communication.

7. Call to Action – Each email you send should spell out exactly what you want the recipient to do. Make links obvious and call attention to any special directions you are providing. And it’s okay to be repetitive when it comes to the call to action – include it toward the top of the message and mention it again at the end.

8. Sign your Email – Always include a signature at the bottom of your emails, as it’s one of the easiest ways to attract more traffic to your website. This signature should include your personal details, your company details, and an unsubscribe link. You can use your signature to link back to your website, and even to other services.

9. Regular Send and Despatch – When sending an email to your subscribers, always make sure that it’s sent on the same day, at the same time. For example, every Wednesday at 3pm. Your subscribers will come to “expect” your email to arrive in their inbox on the same day at the same time, meaning that they want to read your content and are generally more receptive to any special offers or promotions you may include.

10. Measure Results – You must be able to track who has opened your email communication, and better still to know who has clicked through on one of the links that direct the visitor to your website for more information or to complete a call to action form. Measuring which news items generated the most interest will help you to refine future communications.

Benefits of Email Marketing

The key benefit here is that any newsletter or email communication that you send will be an effective marketing tool for your firm. It should, of course, keep clients up to date with key information, promoting your firm as knowledgeable and strong on client relationships.

EmailMarketing builds Customer loyalty

Building continued loyalty of existing clients cannot be taken for granted, particularly as your competitors become more aggressive in their marketing techniques. The newsletter is a way of retaining an existing client during times when that client is not using your service.

Please let us know if you found this article on Email Marketing of interest by contacting First One On

Friday, 11 June 2010

Do You Need More Website Visitors?

I want more website visitors who will buy from me

OK so you have a website and you have spent good money on making it look attractive and it has good design features and funky stuff...! but you don't seem to be getting any visitors knocking your door down to get your products or services - what is wrong?

You now have to think about how search engines work - they index your website content into a huge data base of information and when someone types in a search term the results that are displayed are relevant to the search term, so if you are selling yellow tennis balls then you would expect to see your website pages listed in a search result - but only if you have followed a few simple rules that define how pages get listed at all.

If you do not follow these simple steps then your page will not get listed and no one will ever be able to find your pages - OK so here's what you need to do:

1) Find keywords
Pick a list of words relevant to your business. Sort the list down to the most likely word or phrase that a visitor might use to find what you want them to find. Then pick one word or phrase to use on one page of your site. Contact First One On for more detailed information on keyword mining.

2) Put keywords in Page Title
The Page Title at the very top of the screen is one of the most important things that Google and other search engines look at to determine what is on a web page. Contact First One On for more detailed how to information.

3) Put keywords in Page URL
Google and other search engines also look at the text of the URL page name, the name of the folder or directory holding the page to determine the content of the web page. Contact First One On for more detailed how to information.

4) Put page keywords in Meta Data
The page meta data (the code behind the page) is very important in describing the page content to a search engine. Don't forget, search engines cannot see graphics, they only read text data. Put a short list of 3 or 4 primary keywords in the meta data keywords. Contact First One On for more detailed how to information.

5) Put description in Meta data
The description of what the page is about should be readable by a person and make sense and include the keyword. Contact First One On for more detailed SEO Strategy information.

6) Put keywords in the H1 text
The H1 heading tag in the code of the page usually contains the title of an article at the top of your content description. Google and other search engines can see this and they put extra importance on the words in the H1 text. Make sure your keyword or phrase is included in the H1 heading tag. Contact First One On for more detailed how to information on optimising pages on your website.

7) Use keywords in the page content
Putting the keyword in the page content also tells the search engines that the page is actually about the keyword. In general the keyword should appear at least once in the first 50 words and two or three times in the next 100 words on the page. Contact First One On for more detailed page optimisation information.

8) Measure your search ranking
After changes have been made and pages uploaded it is important to measure your search ranking. Tweaking and fine tuning pages may be necessary. Contact First One On for more detailed how to information on website analytics.

Please let us know if you found this article on search marketing of interest by contacting First One On