Monday 28 October 2013

8 SEO do's and don'ts when building your new website

These past two weeks we’ve been updating our website. It’s been a very exciting process, we had a first peak at the new design last week. 

We started with a long list of SEO basics, we’d like to share 8 of them with you here.

These little nuggets of advice are for anyone who owns, wants to own, or is about to own a website, to help you make your website search engine friendly.

1. Don’t use images as buttons in your menu/navigation bar. Always use text in your menu as it will give the search engines an indication of what the pages they’re linking to are all about.

2. Don’t use flash and JavaScript. Stay away from flash and JavaScript in menus or anywhere as information presented this way is not easily understandable to search engines. Making use of CSS3 is a better option. This has the advantages of not only being search engine friendly but features build in CSS3 will be compatible with all browsers.

3. Do optimise your images. Image optimisation is often overlooked when building websites. Images should be compressed for fast page load times whilst keeping the quality. The naming of images is also important, especially for e-commerce websites with lots of products. Alt tags should be used to present the search engines with something different to read in addition to the image name.

4. Do get your SEO agency involved from the start. SEO considerations should be made at the design stage of a new website so involve your SEO agency right from the start to ensure the design and structure are search engine friendly.

5. Do tell Google you’re moving house. If you’re having your website upgraded, redesigned or rebuilt don’t forget to redirect the old pages to the new pages to avoid losing any existing search engine positioning that you may have.

6. Do create an html sitemap. Sitemaps help Google easily ‘crawl’ (or read) every page of your website.

7. Don’t duplicate content. Google doesn’t like duplicate content so avoid it. This means ensuring that your design company either removes any development version of your website or blocks Google from crawling it. There should never be 2 versions of your website online anywhere.

8. Do put the user first. When creating a new website, you must focus on the user experience. This is becoming increasingly more important to Google when deciding where to rank a website in its search engine results. If your bounce rate is high, Google won’t rank your website very high. In addition to creating an engaging user experience you must also build brand trust with your visitors.

If your web people acknowledge these 8 SEO do’s and don’ts it will really help Google to understand what your websites is all about.

And that’s exactly what you want.
Because if Google understands the ‘thing’ you’re all about it will position you at the top of its search results for that ‘thing'.

Friday 4 October 2013

What you need to know about the Google Hummingbird Update

What was the Hummingbird update?

Google recently rewrote the very long and complex code it uses to index the web and provide search results, calling this change the Hummingbird update. 

Hummingbird differs to previous Penguin and Panda Google updates in that it is a complete rewrite. Think of Google Panda and Penguin as new cogs in an old engine – well, Hummingbird is a new engine with some of the old cogs.

Hummingbird is a huge change to the way Google ‘reads’ the internet. Now Google better understands the meaning of words and how certain search phrases are related

Google no longer looks for websites with the best matching keywords. Google is looking for websites with the right answers to the meaning behind a search.

Why has there been less up roar about Hummingbird in comparison to Penguin?

You might find it surprising that the Hummingbird update affected 90% of searches, whereas Google Penguin affected only 3% of searches, even though the Penguin Update seemed to have a much larger impact with many websites losing positioning.

This is because the aim of Hummingbird was not to root out poor search results like Penguin and Panda but to enable Google to better read and index the web, in order to provide better answers to more complicated queries.

Websites and SEO companies that have been sticking to Google’s guidelines will have seen no impact on their search result positioning as Google has not changed what they want. They've always wanted to provide searchers with better answers. Hummingbird is just a different method for Google to get these answers. If your website is still providing the answer, your positioning will only get better.

Why was Hummingbird needed?

How people are searching the internet is changing, there is a move towards mobile, spoken searches and longer search phrases.

When Apple first released Siri, its voice search was powered by Yelp and WolframAlpha because Google’s understanding of language was lagging behind. Hummingbird is Google catching up with this area of artificial intelligence, getting computers to understand spoken searches.

Hummingbird will have a marked impact on mobile and spoken searches.

For example, words like ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ indicate the kind of answer a user is looking for therefore understanding of these non-keyword search terms is key.

How does this benefit us?

One of the benefits of the Hummingbird update will be more success for niche websites as users become more and more specific in what they are looking for. People use the internet more and more to look for answers to their questions.

The ball is in our court as SEO companies can use Hummingbird to our advantage. This is because a better understanding of searchers’ intentions, needs and problems enables us to better position websites as the answer.