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

Did you like this? Share it:

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.

 

Did you like this? Share it:

Spam Emails And Mass SEO Marketing

This is a subject I like to revisit from time to time.  I received this email and I’m sure it went out to thousands of businesses.

At SEO Liverpool we’re sick to death of this type of lame marketing exercise. This is potentially the most harmful type of spam, as it can destabilise new campaigns and usually results in lots of phone calls from clients.

Let me know your thoughts.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Hello,

I hope you’re doing well!

I was surfing through your site where I saw that your site was not ranking on any search engines.

If you are interested we want to increase the number of visitors to your website, it is important that you have a top search engine position.

Our search engine optimization experts will run a ranking report showing you exactly where your website currently stands in all the major search engines. Then we will email you our analysis report along with the recommendations of how we can increase your rankings, and improve your websites traffic dramatically!

We strictly work on performance basis and can assure you of getting quality links with a proper reporting format for your site as well.

We wish you the best of luck and looking forward to a long and healthy business relationship with you and your company.

Please do let me know if you have any questions.

Kind Regards,

****

Post:- Online Marketing Manager

Reply me:- 

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

The main issue I have with this type of email, is that it reinforces a certain stereotype. The stereotype that people working within our industry are opportunists, willing to take on any work, and we’ll scare you into it. If you speak with web designers, developers and many other associated industries, they’ll tell you that search engine optimisation SEO has a poor reputation.

Sadly the companies that operate in this manner will promise the earth and very rarely deliver.

The reasons why I feel this type of email is harmful

  1. It isn’t addressed to anyone (this gives you a clue that they have just spammed an entire network)
  2. How can they possibly investigate your website and the potential keywords. Especially as we’ve worked out that this email has been sent to thousands of people.
  3. Good SEO/SEM firms do not advertise in this way and here is why…
  • It’s simply not ethical for an SEO company to work with more than one client in a specific industry.
  • It’s simply not possible to scale a business to deal with that many prospects and effectively evaluate opportunities.

No Two SEO Strategies Are The Same

Once a business approaches an SEO company, a review (almost a due diligence project) needs to take place for the following reasons…

  1.  Can you work in this area? Do you have the expertise? Is it ethical? Do you already have a client in this space?
  2.  You need to establish a base level of current activities.
  3.  Is it possible with a reasonable budget to get those identified positions

A responsible SEO company will evaluate…

  • Competitiveness of keywords.
  • Other competing companies.
  • A basic breakdown of what need to change or adapt.
  • Internal resource and departments involved in the web property.
  • Is their potential for a good ROI (return on investment)?

Return on investment is key when dealing with clients

If the level of investment in SEO, website changes and social strategies isn’t proportional to estimated traffic, conversions, profit margins and eventually scale-ability…  then it’s a no go!

e.g. The simple economic formula

If you make money by selling in volume ‘stack high and keep it cheap’ and search volumes are low, then it may not make business sense.

Acceptable Prospect

  • High Value Product/Service
  • Proportionally Good Search Volumes
  • Low Or Medium Keyword Competition

Difficult Proposition

  • Low Value Product/Service or Poor Margins
  • Low Search Volumes
  • Medium To High Competition

Most sites fall in-between and therefore a robust research piece should be your first port of call.

Conclusion

The inadequacies in such a poorly researched email wouldn’t fool anyone in the industry. On closer inspection this company hasn’t got a website that relates to the email address sent. Therefore, anybody who conducts a little research won’t be drawn in.

Unfortunately some SME’S will be fooled! Either way, the SEO industries credibility is under-threat as these type of emails are becoming more common.

 

 

 

Did you like this? Share it:

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.

Did you like this? Share it:

Update Negative SEO Is Possible

At SEO Liverpool we’re always testing, reading blogs and talking with others inside our industry about current optimisation issues. In previous posts we’ve discussed negative SEO. To clarify what we mean by negative SEO, it isn’t devaluing your own site through black and grey hat techniques that end up with small penalties, which may affect your rankings. We’re discussing factors outside of your control that could get you de-listed.

Many years ago, I was made aware of certain techniques that a skilled SEO could use to actually ‘burn’ another site. It was possible to go against influence Google’s search algorithm by pretending to be part of a particular site and through various, difficult and laborious techniques actually get a site delisted from Google. This would take a very long-time and was extremely difficult, more so to hid your tracks. We would never do this and just to be really clear we’ve have never heard of anyone actually trying it.

Google has pretty much always denied this is a possibility and has stuck to the belief that search engine factors that are outside the website owners control, can’t harm you.

The recent update to webmaster tools with their link disavow tool suggests their stance has changed!

How about a theoretical example.

We have a webpage that competes pretty well on page one for a particular key-phrase lets say ‘Halloween Masks’

They’ve a good content strategy, and link building is continuing at a steady pace. They’ve a good mix of both semantically linked websites and personal blogs with low PageRank.

It seems to me, that if Google have created a tool where you can disavow any link, then some links are deemed to be detrimental to website health. Therefore, if a competitor contacts a disreputable link-building agency and asked to place a few thousand links from a disreputable sites, link-farms and porn-sites, using our desired keyword, then the site in question will be penalised. Eventually and with continual bad link partners this particular site would not only be penalised but also eventually be removed from the Google index.

This would happen quickly and without the knowledge of the website owner, particularly if they haven’t yet signed up to a webmaster tools account.

You will get a warnings for inappropriate links, but thousands pointing at your site, from poor value web properties and link-farms will surly harm you.

There you have it. As an SEO in Liverpool, we’re convinced that negative SEO through no action of your own is now possible.

Did you like this? Share it:

Google Updates & Help

Anybody involved in the SEO industry will know that the recent ever-present updates to the Google Algorithm have been thrown at us with ever increasing regularity.

Today we’re going to discuss two updates that I feel small white hat SEO’s may have had some trouble with.

We’re not taking about the very recent Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012 or the Panda #20 — September 27, 2012. We feel these have been sufficiently covered by the majority of blogs.

Today at SEO Liverpool we’re discussing;

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012

Officially this relates to ‘a change in the way it was handling exact-match domains (EMDs). This led to large-scale devaluation, reducing the presence of EMDs by over 10%. Official word is that this change impacted 0.6% of queries (by volume)‘.

So if you’re domain name is the same as the major keywords you’ve been trying to rank for.

e.g. if your domain is ‘www.low-cost-insurance.com‘ and you wish to rank for ‘low cost insurance’… then you’ll lose some value. Not a huge amount but enough to lose a position or two dependent on the keywords competition.

Should I panic

Absolutely not, all these algorithm changes are not set in stone, quite often Google tweaks the algorithm or even totally reverses it. So please don’t try and change your domain name. You’ll lose the value of domain age and possibly the value of incoming links if not properly managed.

I’ve seen this happen!

What Should I Do

The answer is nothing. Any attempt to change will, without doubt cause you more harm than good. It’s swings and roundabouts with updates. The next could catapult you back to your previous positions. The best course of action is to concentrate on the fundamentals – More unique content, more links (Good Value) and Social. Think of the Google Algorithm as a score next to each individual aspect related to a webpage. That devaluation will, more often than not be pushed to another aspect or shared out amongst a group of others.

If you concentrate you’re efforts in content, social and links, then you’ll claw it back. If you choose these particular aspects then it is unlikely you’ll receive any penalties or devaluation in the near future. As I’ve stated above, this change could be reversed and then your hard work will certainly pay off.

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012

If you have been penalised with this one then you’re in trouble… ‘Google announced an update to its original page layout algorithm change back in January, which targeted pages with too many ads above the fold. It’s unclear whether this was an algorithm change or a Panda-style data refresh.’

If you understand the implications then it’s easy to understand the solution.

Why Have I Been Penalised?

Google generates the majority of its revenue in search via Pay-Per-Click. In order to generate PPC monies it’s search needs to be trusted. If organically your website ranks high and doesn’t show a good amount of useful content above the fold or a even small area e.g. http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/ then you’re not that useful. This is irrespective of what your site is about. Importantly if any website has sponsored links or even worse Ad-sense all over the valuable real-estate above the fold on the website… from the search engines perspective, you’re not useful.

What Can I Do

Personally, and I can only answer this personally, you need a website update. Get rid of ad-sense… I mean unless you’ve got a serious amount of traffic you can only be making pennies! Reorganise the site so you’ve good content in the key areas and look sensibly from a UX point of view at your offer. You can still keep them but place them down the page or on separate pages.

I don’t think Google will reverse this one, so make the changes quickly. 100% of nothing is still nothing, so if you reduce your advertising by 50% and get those top positions back you’ll still generate revenue.

Hope this helps

Did you like this? Share it:

Even More Quick Hits

SEO Liverpool have been asked these particular questions many times in recent weeks.

‘If i could do one thing, what would it be to get my website ranked higher within the search engines’.

This is easy… Content. It’s king don’t you know!

If you want to let the search engines know you’re alive and kicking, then show them. The fresh content part of the algorithm is still very powerful.

If you regularly put fresh content on your key pages, you’ll encourage the search engines to index you and hopefully generate some links.

‘I get lots of emails where people would like a link from me’.

This is a standard SEO practice. Remember not all links are equal and some people will try to deceive you.  The best possible advice is to get them to link to you. Then evaluate the link using either firebug or the simple PageRank icon on the Google toolbar. If it’s good, then it may be worth following them. Any business that wishes a link from you should be willing to give one back.

A good link will have good page rank, it’s from a complimentary business or even from a business in your particular field. Make sure the link isn’t a ‘No follow’ (a way to try and devalue the link back to you).

‘How can i get more links’?

It’s like I told you, good content is an easy win. Create a widget or a plugin for websites with a link back to your site. Info-graphics, Tweet’s, Facebook and YouTube are also good ways to generate links.

‘How come SEO costs so much’?

Well, this is a difficult one. There are only 10 organic listings per page (although talk is this may shrink). Competitiveness of keywords, level of competition and the actual current state of the website are determining factors. Do you want to compete locally, nationally or globally?

Anybody that solicits to you is generally not going to be that good. Anybody who asks you to pay a small monthly fee, won’t give you the attention your site deserves. Any company that doesn’t care to know about each aspect of your business and your current internal resources won’t generally be good either.

SEO is complicated, constantly evolving and fairly costly. If a company can demonstrate a return on investment then they’ll usually be worth it.

Thanks for questions guys

 

Did you like this? Share it:

Get Your SEO Involved Early On

Here at SEO Liverpool we recently had a call from a business trying to engage us for search engine optimisation. They had spoken to a few other companies before us and decided he knew what he wanted and more importantly, he knew what he wanted to pay.

The Situation

He had his website built based on his own webdesign ideas and from the look of the website had not employed anybody who understood UX (User Experience) design. If fact for our perspective, he’s missed this step and employed a firm of developers from India to build to his personal specifications.

Secondly, he had then decided to employ an SEO specialist to simply gain the page one, number one listing!

Finally, the potential client had decided what he’d like to pay, he knew the amount of clients he could potentially reach and that almost all would want his service.

His Offer

A small SEO fee on retainer then a profit share based on sales.

The reality of the situation

Unfortunately, even the most insular webdesign and development teams understand the nature of UX particularly in relation to conversion. Navigation isn’t simply decided, it’s researched using a number of techniques and systems such as ‘card sorting’ and ‘user journey analysis’. The message on the home pages should be succinct and broken down to manageable chunks. Removal of any psychological barriers should be a priority, otherwise you can derail customers from going on the user journeys you’ve planned and ultimately driving them to some sort of agreed conversion or at the very least data harvesting.

This website shown looked very pretty, didn’t fulfill any of the requirements for SEO. Content was mixed and design was unclear with conflicted messages.

If in the research piece keyword volumes for the particular services and ROI for such services were worthwhile, the current design would have already put us quite far back. A redesign would have almost certainly have been needed.

The client wasn’t prepared to do that!

The client wanted the majority of this SEO company UK contract to be funded by the percentage of sales. Unfortunately, if it was possible to get to number one, the conversions through the site would have been very, very low. It wasn’t until I had a chat with the business, that I understood the services, therefore it would be a difficult proposition to any site visitor.

Finally, the search volumes are low, the price of the service is low, and the profitability needed to cover costs wasn’t viable.

Needless to say, we aren’t working on the project.

Did you like this? Share it:

Getting SEO Support In House Part 1

Here at SEO Liverpool, we provide SEO training to small and medium sized company’s with the resources in-house to implement a home grown SEO campaign.

If you’ve started, or considering the same…

You’ve decided, quite sensibly to start your in-house SEO programme. It was probably a very tough sell to convince the directors, line managers and other associated company directors to take on board your idea. Firstly, they probably didn’t understand the requirements first time round. You’ve been asked to provide your projected return on investment, which as every full time SEO understands, is very difficult. Factors outside of your control, such as algorithmic updates and other companies that already have a robust SEO strategy and varying budgets, dictate that you can’t stress any rewards against definitive time scales. You may have only been given a meeting or even a couple of slides to really engage the teams. Everybody was probably really shocked when you spoke in terms of years instead of months, regarding investment.

… It was a very tough sell—but you did it!

You’re project gets the green light and you’ve been busy stressing the benefits and long-term returns. It’s consumed you since you came up with your SEO plans. You’re basically a 24/7 SEO strategist, you live the successes and bang your head against the wall when you hit the barriers. But you’ve done it, it’s up and running, people in the company no longer thinks SEO is a fallacy, and things are going well.

Or are they?

In recent months you’ve been feeling that things aren’t moving. Your bosses are inevitably looking for results, even more so since the substantial investment of time and money you’ve put in. You’ve hit a serious bump in the road, but with your superiors and department heads making the right noises you convince yourself you’re past the worst.

Now you’re seeing the reality of the situation, the support is nice, but those who implement your suggestions are slow to respond. The planned work, the prioritisation based on the projected R.O.I is not making it into the work flow. You hear that everybody wants to do the work but it’s a matter of resources.

What Do You Do?

Did you like this? Share it:

How To Keep Up With SEO Changes

As we discussed in the previous posts, search engine optimisation is in a constant state of change. As the search engines evolve, so does the web landscape and therefore SEO.

We have no classrooms, universities and no single website, conference or book that 100% keeps you ahead of the SEO curve.

Reading blogs, press releases and various other sources of information can help provide some insights about SEO changes.

Here at SEO Liverpool we feel that forums, conferences and social networks help filter out the rubbish, collective testing and best practice sharing are the only sure fire way of ensuring a technique is viable. It’s not easy and sometimes you’ll be taken in by the nonsense. It’s not easy to distinguish between good advice and less reputable companies that just want to sell a product or service. Our advice is simple…

READ, READ, READ… TEST, TEST AND THEN TEST SOME MORE.

If you’re a a little more advanced we’d recommend patent filing blogs. These detail recent patents by the search engines on how the may handle data and can therefore be of benefit. Although this may be considered a little advanced even for established SEO companies

Did you like this? Share it: