Link Analysis Using Competitors Websites

On 3 occasions last month our SEO Liverpool blog was asked how to obtain quality links.

This is an interesting question, what is a quality link? We think the evaluation of potential links and finding those that are causing harm, are the most important factors when understanding which links can provide value.

We all know the Panda and Penguin updates have focused link-builders on link quality, this means we should really be evaluating all potential links!

I thought I’d post a little on how and which links you should evaluate from your competitors websites, so you better understand strategy and improve your link profile.

Choose your competitors

It’s probably the hardest start to make, all you know so far is that a particular competitor pops up in your space. This can either be in terms of products and services or keywords. I usually choose 5 competitors based on keywords and 5 on comparative services.

Find your link analysis tool of choice.

I’m a fan of the Open Site Explorer, but it can be a bit costly! I have been known to use software such as link-assist.  The standard wisdom states that you should look at your competitors results for followed links and 301 redirects. Obviously, these are great, but I like to download every links and evaluate them.

You can get a better feel for the strategy they use to generate links, or they may have lots of websites that you can easily post on too.

Check The Status Codes

You want the best links and at the very least to replicate those of your competitors. Adopt and adapt is the best policy, but for now we’re concerned with not getting the same rubbish links that all websites can accumulate.  Eliminate from your list all those links that are corrupt, 404, 302 or any other you think are suspicious. I have used screaming frog for this in the past, but their are plenty of other ways to this simply and manually.

Another review

Cross off the links you’ve found that already link to you. So you should only now have good links, that are functioning and are followed

Establish a base

Set a benchmark of those links that are a) very valuable b) could be difficult to achieve c) bread and butter. What I mean by this is have an overall score e.g for Page Authority, Google Cache frequency or at the least PageRank use a tool that evaluates the page in SEO terms.

Now rank them in order of importance and attainability.

Manually review

For each link, give the PageRank score, detail the type of site, links out and domain age.

Go Get Them then rinse and repeat with other competitors

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SEO Consultants Should Understand Conversions

This topic is in response to a question from an SEO Liverpool client who wants to know about Conversions.

It’s very important as an SEO consultant that you understand the final part of the optimisation puzzle. If you’re working towards the goal of just driving traffic to a website, then you’re not all the way their. The goal is to turn that traffic into conversions.

What is a conversion?A proportion of visitors to a website, take action to go beyond a casual content view or website visit, as a result of subtle or direct requests from marketers, advertisers, and content creators.

This meansThe person who lands on the website takes a desired action… or follows a set route you want them to travel.

Examples of Conversions

  • The analytics shows the user has travel a desired route, and looked at the information you wanted to show them
  • The user has phoned a number, or sent an email
  • The user has filled out a desired form
  • The user has downloaded a document
  • The user has watched a video
  • The user has bought a product or service

Why aren’t conversions all about getting work?Actually they are, but not all work arrives immediately or directly from a glance at a website.

Example…

I’m looking to build an extension onto my house. I know what I want, I’ve stumbled onto an appropriate website…

Firstly everybody is different… I might want to call you up and get a quote – I’ve immediately seen the phone number in the header – Job done.

I may wish to email you (also in the header) the project details… so you have a feel for the project and then you can call me (at a convenient time for me) to discuss once you’ve more of an understanding of my needs.

I may just want to make sure your business is the real deal… you could be anyone. Subconsciously I’m looking for trust… maybe accreditation’s or visuals that imply trust.

I want to know you’re not going to run off with my money and I want to see samples of your work… I find the case studies pages.

What do your clients say about you… I find a video testimonial.

Conclusions

These are all either conversion points or major factors that relate to conversions. If your website doesn’t have them, then SEO will never be complete. How can you offer SEO to a website that will not convert? It’s like directing everybody to a closed shop.

The goal of running an SEO agency or being a consultant, isn’t to be consistently finding new clients. The goal is to establish long-term relationships, get recommendations from your existing clients to other potentials. Anybody who doesn’t understand the power of this type of referral should get reading. The most difficult and arguably time consuming aspect of this type of work is when you need to justify the reasons why they need SEO and its benefits.  Why should anybody trust that you can deliver a project? Get your clients to do that for you!

How can you justify ROI if their is no ROI. Without proof of conversions, you’ll just make every potential client doubt the validity of your data sets and tarnish your reputation.

 

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Keyword Research For Existing Sites Part 1

In response to a recent enquiry we had through our SEO Liverpool blog, today we’re looking at keyword research for existing websites.

Keyword research is arguably the most appropriate starting point for any search engine marketing consultant. We know that our Keywords direct the searcher to the website, therefore our primary aim is to create a list of keywords that a searcher would desire.

So how should we start to generate the list…

Identify The Websites Key-pages

We need to find the appropriate pages that a searcher would need to make a conversion or buy a product or service. Obviously the home page should always be treated as a key-page. I would always choose individual product pages and probably add a ‘convincer’ to that list e.g. testimonials, case-study or accreditation page.

Rough Keyword List

For each page, you should write a quick list of potential keywords. It’s always good practice to ask potential or existing customers, especially those with different persona’s. Remember it’s just a rough list based around the products or services and possibly locations so you may need to be clear on Geo-specifics e.g. SEO Liverpool, Search Engine Optimisation Manchester.

Different persona’s look like this e.g. If I was to buy a camera, I’d know the brand name and some basic features, a professional or hobbyist would know more technical information such as model numbers.

Quick tip -  As a starting point find a competitors website, that ranks number well for your product or service. View their page source from your browser tab. Look for the keyword meta tag, as this should give you ideas relating to your keywords. As in the previous post, the title tag will have the most sought after keywords (shown at the top of the browser once you’ve opened the website).

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Sony Camera, Sony 4567×4, professional Sony camera cheap” />

Check Keyword Popularity

For this you’ll need either your own keyword software such as ‘Wordtracker’ or use the ‘free Adwords keyword tool’ (just type this into Google)

For the purpose of this post we’ll look at the free Adwords Tool.

  1. Insert your draft keywords into the ‘Word or Phrase’ box
  2. Un-check the following boxes, ‘Only show idea’s closely related to my search terms’ (This will generate other keywords that will be useful)
  3. Un-check ‘Broad’ under the ‘Match Types’ on the left hand side column (Otherwise you’ll include keywords, in any order and with extras – this is a problem)
  4. Check the ‘Exact’ box (Only shows the exact keywords in that order)
  5. Click the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab

You’ll then generate a list by selecting each keyword, which you can download.

Notes. high search volume and low competition is good, high search and high competition not so good. Keyword volumes under the ‘Local Monthly Search’ look at Google UK, but if you enter a Geo-specific, you’re laser targeting.

From this list we can generate suggestions and you’ll have the ability to drill down to find a lot more keywords around your products and services.

Export the results, arrange them in priority for each specific key-page. You’ll then have a solid draft list.

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SEO Basics – Meta Tags

The importance of the Title tag.

Meta data is probably the first port of call for most new SEO’s. If you get it right, then you can see a large gain as far as your optimisation efforts are concerned. I’m sure everybody understands what a title tag is, but lets make sure.

Lets examine them in more detail…

Title Tag = <title>This is what it looks like</title>

So as we’ve already stated the tag is a very effective tool for SEO. Almost every Search Engine Optimisation Consultant will have a slightly different way of using it. So how can we see it? Well, it is usually visible at the top of each browser once a website is open.

The established Rules

1) 70 Characters – This is the generally accepted wisdom, the title tag should be no longer than 70 characters. Any longer can be detrimental

2) Important Keywords  – The first keyword you place in this tag will be considered most important – If you write any content, own a website or pick up a product off the shelf. The first word/s will generally set the tone. e.g. If the most important content of a website is written at the bottom, then it’s obviously not the most important, think headline! A search engine generally uses this as a rule with all content.

3) What It Should Say – Every single page of your website should have a different title tag and this should reflect the content within that specific page. So if you’ll probably want the name of page, business name and a keyword. As above place the keyword first, page second and the business name third.

e.g. The Main Keyword Here | The Page Contact Us | Business Name Goes Here

On a side note, the piping (|) is used so we don’t waste characters… unless the keyword/phrase you’ve previously researched calls for it.

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Lets Talk About Microsites

Microsites, What Are They Good For?

SEO Liverpool have had a fair few meetings in recent weeks relating to this subject. Clients want to know why microsites or mini-sites have been used for different SEM (search engine marketing) strategies. Let’s examine the possible reasons to create a microsite.

1) You’ve a new product/offer you’d like to promote.

  • You’ve a new product or offer you’d like to promote. You don’t want to change your website just yet, and you may feel that this offer or product is outside your normal remit of business.
  • Changing a website and moving elements around can be difficult.  Maintaining a cohesive structure alongside your user experience design principals could mean you’ll potentially harm sales.
  • You may be forced to tuck away valuable information as adding new content requires a massive investment to recreate the site with the new product/s in the appropriate placements.
  • Sometimes, with the amount of internal teams having a vested intest in a large website e.g. webdesign, web-development, SEO and marketing, creating a microsite is often a quick and easy short-term solution.
  • The offer might be a limited addition, or may only be available or tailored to another market/country.

2) You’ve a new product/offer and you don’t wish to cannablise your own market

  • If you’ve an updated version of a product that could decimate your current market. E.g. Gillet are the masters of upgrading their razors and blades… whilst still selling older versions of their products.
  • You may want to create an offer in a different market and therefore wouldn’t want to upset your current customer base. Special introductory offer microsites are becoming ever more popular.

3) To maximize your PPC revenue in relation to quality score.

  • The most common reason for a microsite that we happen upon. If you want to reduce your PPC costs, quality score is key. Creating a microsite that displays all the relevant information and has the appropriate conversion points are key.
  • Measurement and multi-varient testing can also be much easier using a microsite. You can change and update pages and gather strong data about how customers interact with the brand in relation to keywords and information they want.

Hope this information is useful, as we’ve a lot of clients that either set them up for the wrong reasons, or don’t understand why you would ever need a microsite. If you want to discuss microsites with our SEO agency Liverpool, drop us an email.

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Links And Big Brands

In my mind, one of the most rewarding parts of being a search engine optimisation consultant here at SEO Liverpool, is the reverse engineering of websites. Any SEO consultant worth his or her salt analyses a site in an attempt to discover why they rank so well.

We’ve always found link building a little different!

The small businesses wonder how the bigger brands succeed with their link building efforts. In a big corporation, it would take jumping through a lot of hoops to get the correct managers to sign off on link building approval, especially as they may want to verify that every site that they link build upon is desirable.

Do big brands really do link building? I think not so much. They are already pretty well known and established so well within the sphere, that their links usually come naturally. However, if they really wanted to engage in building other links, it’s suggested that they participate in some viral marketing campaigns and linkbait.

Once you’re so a big company, you may not have to worry about “link building,” perse, but other strategies

I suppose you could say that past a certain point its more a matter of being aware of links, how they work & the value they do or do not bring. When opportunities come up, maximise them.

 

 

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Google Sitemap

As a Liverpool based SEO company, sometimes you need to get a little bit of perspective in regards to tried and tested techniques.

This week I’ve been talking to my friends over at SEO Manchester about Google Sitemaps. Is there still a value in submitting a Sitemap to Google?  In our opinion, if a site has very poor navigation and on-page SEO, submitting a Sitemap might be your only alternative. But for well optimised sites, is there a benefit in submitting a Sitemap file to Google?

Here are some important points

  • The Last modification date field in the sitemap file can aid Google in quickly locating the actual change in the page. John at Google explained that Google might not have time to crawl all the pages you said changed, so if you specify the actual change in the Sitemap file, it will be easier for Google to pick up on those changes.
  • The Priority, Change frequency is a lot like the last mod date. If you give Google data that “makes sense”, i.e. don’t list 100% of your pages as the most important page on your site, then it can be useful to Google.

Googles Advice States;

   * Yes, please send us Sitemap files, preferably sitemap.org XML files!
   * Work on good URLs & use them to double-check your site's navigation
   * Optional: Date or change frequency? depends on how you work.
   * Also optional: Priority

In conclusion, if you have good solid navigation, you may not need them. But why take the risk! Webmaster tools is an incredibly valuable tool that enables you to check any issues with each indexed page.

 

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Old School SEO… The Sacrificial Website

At SEO Liverpool we try to look over old techniques for driving traffic to particular digital assets. Last week we started talking about the sacrificial site.

You’ve all seen full page adverts in magazines, at certain points it can be beneficial to move this offline advertising strategy to online.  Internet marketing and leveraging websites can help replicate this strategy for your business. A lifestyle magazine will generate ad revenue for a client in an almost totally unrelated field, just through sheer value of people using that site.

So if you’re looking to generate sales, either via affiliate links or to a product, then create two sites. One for the product and one for ads.

Important Point – The first point is ad sites are penalised depending on the amount and position of the adverts. We’ve found this particularly with Ad Sense.

Important Point  – The second point, it will be beneficial to host your domains on unique IPs, which can result in a big advantage for you in terms of search engine rankings and to help stop getting penalised.

How The Sacrificial Site Works

Let me explain… A good example would be a website in a competitive category, such as Travel . Advertise your digital camera site on it. The two are related as complimentary sites but one generates income for the other. You own both, and one site will advertise on the other.

E.g.

Jokes and funny t-shirts. The joke site itself, has very few jokes on it. It acts more like a directory leading to other joke sites. There are a total of 10 internal pages with different categories of jokes. On each category page, You would list 5-10 joke websites, with a quick two sentence review, taken from the headline of each destination site.

So what’s the purpose of my jokes site? It’s to sell or generate traffic referrals to t-shirt sites. To the visitor, it looks like a directory of the top 50 joke sites, with ads strategically placed on it. It’s really just a way to leverage the entire jokes site to advertise another product. If you find a popular category, you will make sales due to the amount of traffic you can generate. You’ll also generate a varied link profile as you leverage one web property to advertise another.

Evaluation

It can be a lot of work. It will cost you to set up. It will be a disater if not implemented correctly.  But… I do think in some situations it’s a valid strategy, and it is proven to generate income for certain businesses. Affiliate links will probably get the most value but those sites with affilate links to Amazon can generate serious revenues.

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How Many Links Would be Too Many?

When I’m reading over notes for SEO Liverpool and Summit Online Marketing, I feel it’s quite important to revisit important information, especially if I’m receiving questions around the subject.

I received an enquiry about a website that had lots of links and believe they’re getting penalised for it. The copy seemed succinct, keyword rich and the meta data looked good.

A few years ago I remember reading that over 100 links on a page can be considered a link farm.

My quick bit of advice revolved around PageRank sculpting to enhance search engine ranking. The classic way to negotiate lots of links is in changing them to no-follow links. This is a quick and easy way of not passing on your hard earned ‘juice’ to unnecessary third parties.

Although how much juice still gets through is debatable.

On closer inspection they had gone with the classic ‘ball’ linking structure (Every page links to every other page). It’s not very effective at conserving and spreading the link juice (PageRank, link reputation and link popularity).

I wasn’t saying this was a bad thing, but with SEO, testing is key. I advised changing the structure to what is known as a ‘pyramid’ linking structure.

A pyramid linking structure

Typically all the links leaving the home page are no-followed, except the one leading to the sitemap. The sitemap has normal links to everything, except the home page. With internal pages, everything is no-follow except the link back to the home page. It creates a feedback loop, concentrating all the link love back to the home page. This could mean you’ll be getting a lot of traffic from your internal pages… depending on your content!

Food for thought.

 

 

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Should We Optimise Phone Numbers

Firstly SEO Liverpool would like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year.

Lets get to the first question of the year. Phone numbers, is there an advantage to having them on your search engine placement.

Would displaying a phone number in your title tag increase your click-through-rate for your search listing. Is the searcher actually searching for your phone number? We’re talking about the actual phone number not the phrase ‘phone number’…. depending on the business, maybe.

You could conceivably take away traffic from Yell, or other sites that list your business’s phone number.

The only interesting point for me would be optimising for competitors phone number, to draw in a click. You may possibly steal some traffic, but not a very nice tactic.

Personally, I think that meta data is to important to waste on phone numbers, use the local business listings for that type of optimisation

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