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How to give Feedback to a Website Designer

Often clients are unsure how to respond to a website designer's work product. One of worst things they can say is:

"I just don’t like it."

Why? Because they're not explaining WHY they don't like it. Perhaps because they don't want to hurt the designer's feelings.

However designers are professionals and used to receiving feedback, and if doing a revision then they need detailed feedback. This means the client needs to talk about specific parts of the design.
  • color scheme
  • layout
  • fonts
  • images/graphics
  • copy
  • special capabilities/integrations
It is a case wherein designers might even have to send a happiness survey to clients in an effort to find out what aspects of the design they don't like, and to remind the client it is okay to dislike elements of the website in the initial rounds of design. But the designer needs the feedback if they are to build the website the client wants.

Sometimes what the client really wants is a website that looks more professional, but for some reason they insist on having a cheesy looking duck on the page. The duck isn't helping, but efforts should be make to make the duck look chic and classy as opposed to lame and silly.

"Oh and can you make the colours of the website match the duck?"

No. No. That is just wrong.

Top 10 Tips for Ranking your local business in Toronto

No matter the size of any business, it can always benefit from utilizing the power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That said, geo-specific optimization can add even further benefit. A small investment will pay huge dividends down the line.

For example, “banquet halls in Toronto” or “iron works in Toronto” will be much less competitive than “banquet halls” or “iron works.” Therefore, by allowing customers to see that you provide services to specific area, you increase your number of clients significantly by making yourself stand out. This is where geo-specific optimization comes into play. Here are 10 tips for doing so:

1) Don’t Alienate Customers across Canada

Although some business are certainly focused locally, some of these same businesses to think nationally as well. If you find yourself in this position with your business, then make sure that you also highlight that you offer services on a national level. This is a simple way to get your name out there and make more customers aware of your business.

2) Give Prominence to Your Contact Details on your Website

It is very important to give great prominence to any terms you wish to be ranked. If you are looking to rank high for a certain service in a very specific area, then it is prudent to make your address stand out on your website. Be sure to mention your location a few times through your website’s copy so that search engines can associate your business with a specific area.

3) Go Beyond Google Search

While Google certainly has a stranglehold on much of the market, Yelp.com is also a great resource for getting people to see your business. Just like Google Places, people can create reviews.

4) Consider Using More than One Domain Name

If ranking high in local searches is of great importance, then using multiple domains might be a good investment. Google, as well as the other search engines, will look at your business’s top level domain in order to see if your website is relevant to a specific country. That said, if you are using a regular domain, like .com, for example, then you can establish your geo-targeting with Google’s webmaster console.

5) Use Incentives for Positive Reviews

Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews when using Google Places so that they can outweigh any potential unsatisfied customers.

6) Use Other Search Engines

Again, while Google definitely has a stranglehold on the search engine market, some people do use other services. Make sure you dedicate time to using Yahoo Local and Bing Maps, as well.

7) Get Involved in Your Offline Community

Perhaps your business can support local charities or participate in community campaigns. This will increase the likelihood of your business getting local press coverage.

8) Update Your WHOIS Information

Make sure your domain name is registered with your current business address for best results when being searched for. Some people believe Google takes this information into account when deciding how to rank certain websites.

9) Use Google Places

Google Places is free for business so it is thus immediately practical. Google Places lets people searching with either Google or Google Maps find your business. Make your information as accurate possible and invite satisfied customers to add reviews to your listing.

10) Get Involved in Your Online Community
Use local websites and forums to advertise your business.

If you have any comments or questions, please let us know.

How to create a Google Analytics Account

Google Analytics is an incredibly useful tool for a business. By creating an account, you can accurately see detailed statistics of your website’s visitors: who is coming to your site, how long they are staying on it, their demographics, how they get to your site, and where they live.

What Google Analytics therefore does for you is give you the best possible chance to analyze all of your website data. With this data, you can improve your site content, you can write more specific, targeted ads, and you can strengthen your marketing. Obviously, Google Analytics is incredibly useful for a business, and quite necessary nowadays.

The first thing to do is to set up a Google account, if you do not have one already. Simply go to http://www.google.com and you can have one in seconds. They will send you a confirmation email; click the link and your account will be officially activated.

The next step involves the actual Google Analytics account. Go to google.com/analytics/ and click on “Access Analytics.” It is a big blue button in the upper right part of the page. Then, log in with your Google account. When setting up the account, Google will ask for your website’s URL, its country and time zone. Once these are entered, Google will automatically create an account for you based on your inputted data. Click the “Continue” button.

You will then be asked to enter your name, phone number and the country in which you live (if different from that of your website). Click the “Continue” button once again.

On the next page, you must agree to the Google Analytics Terms of Service. You really do not need to read this, but you can if you’d like. The only thing to pay attention to is the Data Sharing Settings at the bottom. By default, Google uses your analytics data for benchmarking. If you’d like to compare your traffic to similar websites, then you will need to keep these settings as is.

Google says that the data it collects is not shared and is held in the strictest confidence. If, however, you are not comfortable with this agreement, you can change your Data Sharing settings. If you do this, though, bear in mind that you will not be able to compare your sites with others.

Once done, agree to the terms with the check box and click the “Create New Account” button.

You will now be taken to get your tracking code. You are offered “new” and “legacy.” You are advised to simply take “new,” so copy the text under “New Tracking Code.” This code will go on the bottom of every page you want to track. Put it right before the head or body tag.

Google takes roughly 24 hours or so for you to start seeing activity on your account. That’s it! Look at your data and make the appropriate changes to your website and your marketing strategies.

If you have any comments or questions, please let us know.

How to setup a Facebook Business Page

With Facebook being one of—if not the—most popular websites on the internet right now, more and more businesses are starting to use the site as a means to advertise and inform the public about their product. What you can do is create a dedicated page on Facebook for your business, product, brand, etc. The whole process is very simple and only takes a few steps.

The first thing you need to do is create a personal Facebook account before you can set up a business page. You will then be able to access, modify and update your business page through your personal page. So simply head over to facebook.com and create your own personal page. All you need is an email address.

You can, however, create a business page without a personal page, but you’ll end up going through more steps. Either way, Facebook is going to want personal information, so it is best to create the personal page before the business page.

Facebook will ask you for some typical information on your business: its name, where you’re located, what you do, what your mission is, what your products are, when it was founded, etc. You can input as much or as little information as you would like. That said, it is best to obviously give the public as much information as possible, so you should try be fairly detailed and accurate when creating the business page.

What Facebook offers is a focused ad campaign within their website for businesses. So once you create your business page, you can create a campaign that uses only certain demographic data to target specific viewers. For example, you might want single men who are between 18 and 24 and like to drink beer. Facebook will pick up on those keywords from users’ personal pages and only show them your ads. Your ads will not be wasted on people who do not care about your business or products. Facebook will always calculate for your approximately how many people will be seeing your ads.

You can always change the information you want Facebook to use at any time. Simply modify certain variables and Facebook will automatically recalculate your expected number of viewers. Your new ad will then go only to these specific users.

The final step is to set up your daily budget—how much money you are willing to give to Facebook to advertise your ads. To do this, you tell Facebook how much you’d like to spend for every ad that is clicked on. The higher you “bid,” the better exposure you get. You will have to tinker with this until you find the perfect number for you and your business.

If you have any comments or questions, please let us know.

SEO Test Results from RankBuilder

For fun I took the SEO Test on RankBuilder... here is my results:

The SEO Matrix Specialist

The SEO Matrix Specialist is an SEOer who has generally been in the game for a while (at least a year) and you know your stuff. You’re one of the few who were able to cut straight most of the BS about SEO and just go with what works. Your rise to the level you’re at now was likely quick although it could be a result of years of hard work put in.

You’re the type of SEOer who has pretty much perfected the formulas that work for you – and most importantly that you read and acknowledge SEO “gurus” in general but you don’t hang on their every word. In fact, you’re probably a lot better in practical, results-based SEO than most of them.

What sticks out about you most though is your uncanny ability to get consistent and proven results. If you want to rank for a specific keyword – you likely can do it and you likely know how much of an investment it will be in time and money to do so. You are generally ready to attack anywhere sufficient opportunity shows itself.

But you’re not sporadic or jumpy about it. No, the things you do are pure formula – things that you’ve been doing for a while now and you’ve got your own “special sauce” when it comes to the way you do SEO.

When it comes to things like Blackhat, you don’t specifically subscribe to these methods as some would label it.

The bottom line is that you have your way of doing SEO and you simply define it as such. You like to go against the grain because that’s what works for you and you’ll go with flow when it’s most appropriate.

You are an SEO specialist in your own right, although you may not be recognized as such. You’d be the type more likely to have 4 or 5 out of the top 10 spots in Google and no one even knows they’re all the same person’s sites.

Cons: It can be a struggle sometimes keeping up with the game and finding new and exciting ways to add that needed juiced to your formula.

Pros: You’re that rare breed which usually gets what you want when you go after it. You can be a beast of a competitor if you put all your efforts into any one campaign and will likely continue to be so.

artificialintelligenceseo.com = SCAM!

Just a warning for people out there thinking about hiring the company known as AI SEO...

AI SEO is running a PayPal scam designed to bill your credit card $3,588 one month later. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR IT. If you ask the guy to provide a list of past clients he always refuses. He has no past clients. He just rips people off.

Also the guy is a complete amateur. His website only has a PageRank of 2. He knows very little about actual SEO (and what little SEO he does know is probably Black Hat and he will eventually get banned by Google).


Writing Good Copy, Why Good Content Drives SEO

By Toronto Copywriter

Writing good copy is about using language that is concise and to the point. You want to grab your readers' attention within the first paragraph. Choosing your words carefully is the key to success.Engaging content serves to sell you as an idea, a brand or a commodity.Your piece must include words like professional, business,service and so on.

One of the main reasons why good content drives SEO is that people tend to search for exactly what they need. So say they're looking for a house cleaning business, they will put in words like cleaning, home cleaning etc... It's these key words will draw your readers in and help lead them directly to your business or website.

People enjoy reading articles that are of interest to them or that they can relate to. Writing with your reader in mind is important when it comes to good content and optimizing your search engine.

See Also
Personality Sells, Toronto Copywriter
Writing Compelling Copy
Toronto Business Writing

The Importance of Google Plus on your Website

Watch the video below and see why you NEED to have Google+ on your website. You should have it. You want to have it. You must have it.

If you want to be promoting your website on social media, then Google Plus is pretty much mandatory.

New Canadian rules for Domain Name Disputes

Domain name disputes emerged as one of the first Internet legal issues in the mid-1990s as speculators recognized the value of domain names and the potential to resell them to the highest bidder. The growth of “cybersquatting” led to several unsuccessful attempts to establish a dispute resolution system. Finally, in 1999, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the agency responsible for administering the domain name system, created the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which has since resolved tens of thousands of disputed domains.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), which manages the dot-ca domain, adopted its own dispute resolution policy, the CIRA Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (CDRP) in 2002. Using the UDRP as a model, CIRA developed a Canadian version that borrows much of its structure and content from the international approach, yet reflects Canadian law and policy.

The Canadian policy calls for quick adjudication of all disputes in a cost-effective manner and ensures that either party may still launch a court action if they are left unsatisfied.

Trademark holders who believe a dot-ca domain name registration involves cybersquatting may file a claim supported by evidence of their rights to the trademark, bad faith by the domain name registrant, and the fact that the registrant has no legitimate interest in the name. The domain name registrant is then provided with an opportunity to rebut the claim. Expert panellists adjudicate the cases with written decisions delivered within a few months.

The CDRP has dealt with many well-known trademarks over the years. Recent cases include the transfer of ultimatefightingchampionship.ca, ufc.ca, jockey.ca, mentos.ca, and americanidol.ca to trademark holders.

The organization recently announced a series of reforms set to take effect later this month that, once implemented, could lead to an increase in complaints.

The most important change involves an expanded definition of what constitutes “bad faith” under the policy. Both the ICANN and CIRA dispute models are intended to be limited to clear cases of cybersquatting and the bad faith definition establishes the boundaries of potential claims.

The CDRP initially included an exhaustive list of bad faith characteristics including registering a domain name with the intent to sell it to the trademark holder or registering multiple domain names that correspond to trademarks (a practice known as warehousing domains).

The exhaustive list was intended to guard against the ICANN experience where dispute panellists ventured well beyond clear cases of cybersquatting by creating their own categories of bad faith. Under the new CIRA policy, the bad faith list is now non-exhaustive, opening the door to more domain name dispute claims and increasing the risk of inconsistent decisions.

The new policy does, however, provide greater protection for registrants of generic domain names. These include generic words that may correspond to a trademark, but are widely used for many other purposes. Registrants will no longer be required to marshal evidence they have used the generic domain in order to claim a legitimate interest.

Other changes include shortening the implementation period to allow for faster domain name transfers after a decision is released and allowing for domain names to change hands during the dispute process should the parties settle the case.

5 SEO Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur

Mistake # 1 – Trying to trick the search engines

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a woman who has an online editing business, and the topic of search engine optimization came up. “Oh, I know all about that,” she said. “I put certain words all over my website in white font so that you can’t see them, but Google will pick them up.”

No, no, no, no, no. This woman is risking getting her site banned by Google.

Search engines base their business on delivering relevant and useful search results. In order to do this, search engines use keywords on a Web page to figure out what the page is about.

There are a number of ways that people try to manipulate search engine results, such as including hidden text and links or cramming pages full of irrelevant keywords. These so-called “black hat” SEO techniques have the effect of making search engine results less useful to searchers, not more so.

And the search engines are getting better and better at filtering out – and even penalizing – such manipulation.

If you’re tempted to try something sneaky, ask yourself this: do you really think you can outsmart Google?

Mistake # 2 – Choosing useless keywords

I run a document translation company, and a couple of years ago, we relaunched the company’s website. At the time, I didn’t know much about search engine optimization, but since the company specializes in providing translation services to the market research sector, I decided to optimize the new website for the search term “market research translations.”

A short time afterward, I did a Google search for “market research translations” and was delighted to see our website come up in the top results. It worked! Great, right?

No, not so great.

As it turns out, ranking highly for the search term “market research translations” is pretty much useless because no one searches Google for that term.

With the proper research, I could have figured this out in advance and optimized for keywords that our potential clients actually use when searching.

If you’re looking for a way to research keyword demand, you might start with GoogleAdwords keyword tool and WordTracker. You’d be surprised at what you might discover.

Mistake # 3 – Choosing keywords you can’t win

Let’s say you’re a copywriter specialized in travel brochures. You’ve done some keyword research and found that no one is searching for “hotel brochure copywriting,” but lots of people are searching for the word “copywriting.”

Why not optimize your site for that word? The more popular the word, the better — right?

Here’s the problem with that strategy. Optimizing for a word is not enough. You have to “win” that word on Google by becoming one of the top results when people search for that word. If your site is number 200 in the results list, no one will find it there.

If you optimize for the word “copywriting,” you’ll be competing with a huge number of websites for the top few Google results. For a new website on a small budget, this word will be nearly impossible to win.

Optimizing for such a common term as “copywriting” is not totally useless, though, since your website might come up when people search for that term in combination with others (for example, if your website mentions a trade fair in Nashville, and someone searches on Google for “Nashville copywriting services.”)

But your SEO strategy should not focus on the word “copywriting” alone. Look for terms that have high enough search volume to be worth the effort, but which have a manageable level of competition.

Mistake # 4 – Ignoring off-page factors

You’ve chosen ideal keywords and integrated them into your website in an ideal way. But on-page factors are not the only criteria that search engines consider.

What you need now is links. You need links to your website from other related websites — real links from real websites, not links from spammy directories or links that you buy. You need these links in order to improve the search engine performance of your site. Google gives better ranking to sites that have other sites linking to them.

Some ways to get links include guest posting on blogs, writing for article directories, and sending out press releases.

Getting links can be time-consuming, and you may not feel like putting in the effort. After all, the idea of SEO is that the customers come to you. If you have to do marketing and write press releases, then why do SEO at all?

You do SEO for the future. If you market your site with press releases but don’t optimize it for search engines, then you’ll have to keep writing press releases indefinitely. When the press releases stop, your website traffic is likely to stop as well.

Put in the work now, and reap the benefits later.

Mistake # 5 – Short-term thinking

If you optimize your site today, you won’t see the results of your work tomorrow. You might not see the results even after a couple of months. Search engine optimization, like building a business, takes time to pay off.

Give up too soon, and you’re likely to fail. Instead, try to focus on your long-term goals. Be patient, and keep working away at it. Eventually, your SEO efforts can turn into a steady flow of free qualified traffic to your website — potential customers coming to you.

That’s a result worth waiting for.

5 Reasons why you should Twitter for your Business

See Also: The Future of Facebook Online Marketing

It seems everyone is twittering these days and you are wondering if you should be using Twitter for your business also. You’re already active on Facebook, why bother with Twitter? You’re limited in what you can say (140 character posts), they use all those weird symbols and heck, even the name sounds stupid. But if you aren’t doing it for those reasons, then you risk not tapping into this great marketing strategy. Here are 5 great reasons why you should consider twitter for business:

Generate more traffic to your website

Twitter is another wonderful way to get traffic to your websites. As of April 2010, the last statistics I could find, Twitter has 105,000,000+ registered users averaging 300,000 new users sign up per day. What is also exciting is that they get around 190 million visitors per month.

Since Twitter posts are in real-time, it has become a place where people go to to find the latest information on topics. Do a keyword search in Twitter’s search tool and you’ll find up-to-date and targeted resources you can’t get with Google (at least not yet or as easily that I’ve found).

But why is that important? Well, if someone is searching on a specific topic and you’re tweeting about it and have a link to your site for more information, they can click right on through. Also for your followers, if you’re tweeting about items of interest, they will want to know what you’re all about and can click onto your site from your profile.

But the traffic generating power of Twitter doesn’t stop there. What can happen, and what you want to happen, is for your followers to “re-tweet” your post, which is basically sharing your tweet to their list of followers. That’s what the mysterious RT means, by the way. Being re-tweeted gets you exposed to more people than just those that follow you. So the potential to have your posts go viral is a marketing dream.

Read the latest news and discover excellent resources

I’m amazed at how much valuable news, information and resources I am referred to by the people I follow on Twitter. In fact, I have to limit myself (I’m on Twitter only about 15 minutes a day) or I’d just be reading all day and not working. You can also subscribe to Twitter feeds for specific websites/conferences, which allows you to receive and view content quickly. This is very useful for active social news participants.

Networking

You can use Twitter to interact with other like-minded people, those in your industry or in related industries. I’m amazed at the people I have gotten to know just by actively communicating with them via the reply function (that’s what the @ symbol means next to the person’s Twitter name). We’ve even been asked to do joint partnerships with some of the respected people in our industry because of all my tweeting from my home computer! Now that’s exciting since that has the potential to really increase our business exponentially and take us on new and exciting endeavors. Imagine how that would help your business.

Find prospects and customers

Twitter is also good for finding potential customers or clients. You can do a search for keywords related to your product on Twitter Search and then follow those users who are posting about it. Most people who you follow will return the favor and follow you back. Then when you tweet about topics relating to your products, you increase the likelihood that they will see what you have to say as well. They can then communicate with you.

You do have to do this with discretion, however. The point is not to try to sell to them right away; the point is to let them know you are a resource for them for the future. If you are consistently posting about issues and topics important to them, then they’ll get to know you and may likely turn into a loyal customer one day.

Improve your copywriting

At first I hated being restricted to 140 characters but see it as an advantage the more I tweet. I found that I now have to not only send eye-catching posts, I also need to be brief. If you’ve ever met me, you know how hard that is for me! But now it’s a fun challenge to say something interesting in as few and as powerful words as I can. I’ve become so much better at copywriting in all of my marketing material as a result.

So if you haven’t started using Twitter for your business, now you have 5 solid reasons to begin. I’ll be covering more reasons it’s such a great marketing strategy as well as tools as to how to do it effectively in later blog posts. But in the meantime, I invite you to follow me on Twitter. I post links that don’t make it on this blog to articles about video, internet marketing, special interest video business and boosting marketing success, among other things.

Link Building & SEO Tips

Enhancing the link popularity of an web-site to increase natural search-engine rankings is a methodology used by lots of search-engine Optimization, or SEO, pros and site owners known as link building.

The six most used search engines are Google, MSN, and Yahoo. Each of these search engines determines the rating position for a website's keywords by thinking about the link popularity of an web-site in combination with its link quality. PageRank is the methodology used by Google's algorithm to determine the worthiness of an web-site. According to Google, PageRank is a reflection of their views on the importance of web pages by utilizing over 2 billion terms and 500 million variables to determine the rating of a web page. Those that are deemed to be more important according to these variables are most likely to appear at the top of the list of search results.

Link Popularity is not Determined By All Inbound Links

The importance of every page that casts a vote is also thought about by PageRank, as votes from sure pages have greater value than others, leading to the linked page having greater value. Google believes their expertise utilizes the collective intelligence of the world wide web in determining the general importance of a web page. we reckon that their methods generate useful products and improve search quality by applying a practical approach. The growth rate of inbound links, quality of inbound links, and volume of inbound links are all considerations of PageRank and link popularity used by Google.

1. No-Follow

Link popularity standards are such that search engines may only recognize a portion of the inbound links that are pointed to an web-site. There are sure link types that won't pass link popularity standards:

As a deterrent to spam, Google created the rel=nofollow link attribute. While this attribute was originally created to get rid of spam on blogs, it's also served major sites such as Yahoo Answers and Wikipedia. it is not unusual for numerous inbound links to have rel=nofollow embedded in the link code. All links with this attribute will be disregarded by MSN, Yahoo, and Google.

2. Tracking Codes

3. No-index, Robots.txt, and Indexing

To permit advertisement publishers to keep track of the number of times an advertisement is clicked and the number of impressions of an advertisement, all but around 1 percent of contextual ads and banners use a tracking code. Outbound clicks are tracked by tracking technologies using redirects. it is these redirects that strip the link popularity prior to it reaching the location URL.

there are a selection of reasons why there are lots of pages on the world wide web that are not indexed by the top search engines. It could be because the page has basically not yet been discovered by what's known as a "search engine spider". It may even be that the webmaster my not require the page to be indexed, which can be done by including a No-Index META tag. It could even be because the page is included as an exclusion within the robots.txt file, or the page could be banned from the search index. Any link that is included on a page that meets any of these criteria won't be conducive to link popularity.

Inbound Links Should Have A Natural Look

Sophisticated radar systems have been developed by major search engines to be sure that properly created sites will be rewarded. These sites will typically demonstrate the proper mix of inbound links. This mix includes six important parts, which are:

1. Landing Pages

2. Link Growth


it is a common occurrence that inbound links will only point to the home page or index of an web-site. it is important, however, when developing web-site authority to point links to various pages of the world wide web-site by using relevant anchor text from incoming sources.

Link growth is a substantial part in the trust algorithm of search engines. Any web-site that naturally receives giant spikes in inbound links will normally continue receiving inbound link growth consistently. Not adding new links consistently can set off an alarm in the event a bunch of inbound links are built quickly. Planning a proper link growth strategy is essential to seeing lovely results and SEO.

3. Anchor Text Diversity

A backlink is another term for an inbound link. lots of high rating sites show diversity in their backlink portfolio. all of all backlinks should be branded. In other words, the anchor text should include your brand name than a specific keyword. Remaining anchors should be focused on keywords, although it is important not to target a specific keyword often in the anchor text as the backlink structure won't look natural.

Hiring a SEO Consultant

Learn precious tips and tricks of SEO presented by an experienced SEO Expert

The SEO consultant can help your business capitalize on the ever-growing shift toward online research & promotion. Recently, The National Association of Realtors (NAR), the country largest trade organization, released a document indicating that that over 70% of homebuyers first became aware of the home they finally bought through online research.

Meanwhile statistics recommend that 92% of shoppers either purchase or research products online. The fact is that the use of an SEO professional can boost your site's visibility, productivity, sales & bottom line. Irrespective of your company's product or service, businesses that rely on an online presence & that do not use an SEO consultant will learn the hard way that a comparatively reasonable upfront investment can yield huge dividends down the road.

Launching a web-site without the advice of an experienced SEO is akin to casting an un-baited fishing line in to the ocean in the hopes of landing a trophy fish. SEO specialists provide a variety of services including training, monitoring, recommendations & analysis.


Duties and Qualities of SEO Consultant

The services provided by the SEO consultant have depth and range and can be carefully coordinated to compliment the company's promotion strategy. As a necessary part of that strategy, some SEO consultant recommendations may be used to generate consistency throughout the total promotion plan. Seamless promotion must always be the aim. With increased exposure to consumers and with ever-changing online research trends, the SEO consultant will diligently keep the client advised of industry trends. These trends can usually be basically expanded in to new online venues. The recent splurge in social media is a ideal example of the necessity to stay atop of the way consumers perform research.

There are six main reasons to acquire an SEO Consultant help:

* Learn effective SEO techniques and their implementation
* Boost the company's online presence
* Increase the site's search engine ranking
* Attract targeted consumers
* Increase sales
* Protect the company's online reputation

Decisive points to be taken into the account

Whether your site is dormant or active, an SEO will be able to provide considerable analysis and discover new areas and means to boost activity. Again, there are six central areas in which the professional SEO can buoy your site.

* Analyze your Search Engine Optimization techniques
* Improve your SEO website design
* Optimize keyword usage
* Improve your SEO copywriting
* Build effective links
* Setup and expand website analytics

The SEO expert can either work with existing staff or perform the services directly on an ongoing basis.

Search Engine Optimization specifications constantly change. The giant search engines, Google, Yahoo & Bing have sophisticated algorithms. The changes present constant challenges to sustaining high SEO rankings. When adding the significant gains in social media venues like Face book, Linked in, Twitter & Digg, the necessity for the SEO consultant becomes even more necessary.

Improving your SEO has a high return on investment. To increase the exposure & increase the bottom line, the SEO professional provides significant value. Think about that un-baited fishing line, think about what your optimized site can mean to your company & think about retaining a professional SEO to boost productivity & sales.

Facts and Functions of SEO

How do we define a SEO Advisor?

The advent of net know-how has been generating exceptional alterations to personal & business life of an individual.

Its growth is soaring that it is now massively in utility to connect people irrespective of distance, geographical location, race, language & culture. However, along with the changes come various practices & criteria. The net at present has become the primary venue where businesses & transactions arise, & these are the reasons attributing the existence of modern expert practitioners dubbed as SEO consultants. Now, let us learn what SEO consultant is, & what are their contributions to company's objectives.

Facts about SEO

SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization, which is a system used by web developers & owners in order to increase their websites' presence & visibility with regards to search engine result pages in an absence of paid processes. The major objective is to make the world wide web page ranks higher than competitors do. One time the site bears the high rank in result page, the tendency is for the site to acquire huge numbers of visitors. Moreover, when the site gets frequent visitors, this means increase in popularity & sales.

What SEO Advisor has to do with these?

The liquid atmosphere that the net offers makes it harder to guess the outcomes. What a person must do to ascertain that the impacts of their presence in the cyberspace are positive for their interest is to maneuver the ideas to increase such possibility. However, the issue lies on tracking, performing, monitoring & evaluating performances.

These need full time efforts at project's period. These also demand particular knowledge & skills, which the company's net site owner must possess. This is now the reasons why companies hire SEO Consultant & analyst, as either part time or full time.

SEO Advisor's Functions

SEO Consultant has various roles. Some of them are the following:

* To make evaluation on the client's current marketing scheme and execute easy website diagnostic on its performance.
* Elaborate the website owner's aims and identify the relevance of existing processes if they still serve for purpose.
* Support provision about recommendations given by representatives of the company that are in task for sales, marketing and human resource.
* Learn and assess the plight of competitors when it comes to analogous undertakings in marketing practices. Identify the grounds and practices that makes high ranking for such competitor.
* Explore about the most accepted and effectual keywords, as well as key phrases, according to the needs of the client.
* Delve into the best keywords, the Meta tags, and long tails that can come into use. Execute campaigns for such.
* Submit to the client reports, recommendations, plus the targeted results for appraisal and approval.
* Devise great tactics for execution of back links. He also submits links to content directories and supply viral articles to other online sites for links to the client's site.

What is with the Good SEO Advisor?

The best SEO Consultant is somebody who possesses the robust comprehension on SEO attitude, knowledge & skills. They keeps himself always updated on the modern flairs when it comes to online concerns. Apart from that, they also bears appropriate understanding on client's needs. It does not necessitate that the SEO Advisor has sure college degree in business, communications & promotion. What ripens a lovely SEO advisor is his experience in the field of search engine optimization.

Quality Link Building Tips For SEO

The success of an internet promotion campaign depends on lots of things. of these is the building of quality links. The page rank is heavily influenced by the links pointing to your net site. This means that the link building will play a vital role in your search engine campaign & hence in your net promotion campaign.

Every business needs targeted traffic. The building of links can help you to get targeted traffic in the event you are using the right strategy. You need to make positive that you are linking to the relevant sites. You will also must make positive that the sites that you are linking do nice business themselves. Also make positive to link to various kinds of net sites in your niche. Like do not only link to the vendors or knowledge based sites. Link to all the relevant sites. Link to blogs containing knowledge about your relevant products or business & link to stores selling such products.

Also make positive that you have your domain registered with the niche directories. You can do this by going to the sites of these directories & submitting the net site by hand. This will help you a lot.

Look for natural links. Natural link means a link which has been requested by another webmaster because your net site is nice. If your net site contains distinctive content then you will automatically get lots of natural links.

This is a great opportunity & you ought to not miss on the natural links.

Articles are a great way to build links free. The articles are read by lots of people. They are short & are to the point. The reader gets the desired knowledge in a short time. This makes the articles famous. Do not miss the chance to publish as lots of quality articles as lots of you can. There's various free publishing sites. They will charge you nothing to publish the articles.

Reciprocal links used to be great when it came to link building. Now its a banned tactic which can HURT your SEO. It used to be a handy way of getting nice links. If your website had quality content on board, you would talk to the other site owners whom you desired to link to you & asked them for reciprocal links. Usually they agreed, you would link to them & in return, they would link to you. This was chiefly a useful process to building quality links. These reciprocal links however are now considered a bad tactic and Google has all but banned the practice. Google now lowers the ranking of anyone using link exchanges so its unwise to use that tactic these days. Even three-way link exchanges will hurt your SEO because Google will notice it.

The websites you are getting links on ought to be relevant to your net site & ought to contain distinctive content themselves. Also, these sites ought to place your links with proper text & on proper place.

Nowadays the focus is more on blogging/article links and social media buzz (free links from people who like your website).

How to boost visitors to your site

How to boost of traffic for my site? Get some tips for Increase your site visitor.

A detailed study on some tips to help us, the quickest and cheapest way to drive traffic to the site.

Join online forums - is one of the most effective tips that can help generate traffic. By joining forums, which are related to the niche site you can promote your products or services easily. After joining the forums to try to spend some time in online discussions. Do not post your comments on the posts of other members and not to fix your link in the signature line, because it generates a negative effect.

Article Marketing - Article marketing is most important for link building & generate visitor. If you are a writer or a passion for writing then this method for you. After writing articles, you can submit to free article directories that help drive more traffic to the site. You must provide unique content that is informative and in conjunction with the company you want to advertise to write with your site. You must also include the URL of your site at the bottom of the article when you publish.

Blogging - This is a trick to generate huge traffic, which benefits many ISPs in the world a. You must not contain links that provide information about products or services from your website. Theme and content of the blog are the company you are promoting and content, it must also have a clear idea of ??the reader about the purpose of this blog are linked. At the end of all entries in your blog, add a link to your website, simply directs the reader to your website.

DO NOT TRADE LINKS WITH OTHER WEBSITES! Reciprocal link trading (aka link exchanges) actually gives your website a bad reputation. Incoming links = Good, Outgoing links to the same websites linking to you = Very Bad!

See The Importance of Non Reciprocal Links.

The Need To Use Search Engine Marketing

Internet Marketing is all about getting traffic to your website, and then converting it into dollars. Without the first part there is never any chance of the second, so generating traffic is a vital part of online marketing. Converting that traffic into profits is the real clincher so your product needs to be able to sell itself and your website should be in tip-top performance both in terms of design and being able to convert visitors into customers.

One of the most discussed methods of doing this is through Search Engine marketing. Search Engines play a huge and vital role in distributing traffic around the internet, and can make the difference between a site becoming outrageously popular, or dying a traffic free death. In recent studies it was shown that at least 80% of first time visitors to most websites are directed there through a Search Engine.

The obvious importance of Search Engines has spawned a massive demand for Search Engine Optimization and a number of Toronto firms have sprung up to cater to that demand. It is vital to new Toronto websites and established sites alike to be indexed with the big search engines.

Search Engines are the place that people begin their search for new information online. The search engines in turn gain their credibility through providing the most relevant search to the terms entered. The user is looking for the best answer to the question they have, and Search Engines are the most efficient way of finding that. Thus the search engines have to be very clever in establishing which sites are the most accurate match for the users query.

Webmasters agonize over finding the method which will put their site in the highest favor of the search engines. The answer given by almost all search engines is the same. The sites which provide the most current and meaningful information are the ones which will be listed the highest. Thus for the webmaster the first step to high search engine rankings is to provide meaningful content to surfers. Webmasters should always remember that regardless of the niche their website is designed for, the service that Search Engines provide is relevant content.

Search Engine Marketing needs to be taken very seriously by any webmaster who values traffic to their site(and that should be every webmaster). No webmasters work is done merely because they have finished constructing a website, no matter how wonderful the website itself is. In fact the website being built is merely the first step. Each page needs to contain relevant Meta Tags to start the search engine optimization process. Search Engines were once almost exclusively reliant on Meta Tags, but this quickly became inefficient as a means of determining the content as a page as webmasters would ‘spam’ their meta tags with a huge list of keywords to hijack traffic away from more quality content sites. Search Engines have wised up to this tactic, and they now not only recognize this process as legitimate, but will actively punish those indulging in it.

Along with Meta Tags, Search Engine Spiders are also able to browse site content and establish themes between Content, Meta Tags, Meta Descriptions and even anchor text on links(both internal and external). Search Engine formulas are designed to be increasingly hard to trick, and are now provide more and more accurate results. However due to the nature of internet spiders on websites, sites that use flash and images to provide content do rely heavily on the information in their Meta Tags and Descriptions.

Alongside Meta tags, Optimization is a highly important step in Search Engine Marketing. The process describes the process of designing a website specifically with getting a high Search Engine Ranking in mind. There are numerous Search Engine Optimization organizations around, and the ideal situation would be to employ the services of the better amongst these firms. Results can differ from absolutely nothing from a poor SEO provider, to dramatic floods of traffic from a successful Search Engine Optimization campaign. A good Search Engine Optimization firm will have their finger firmly on the pulse of what is happening in the Search Engine world, as this changes very quickly, and the changes can often have dramatic repercussions for the ranking of your website. Likewise changes you make should always be run past your Optimization specialists, as even a small and seemingly insignificant change can undo months of Optimization work.

A good SEO firm will also know its very important to base your product locally if you're promoting a business with an actual store front. ie. A Toronto restaurant or selling Toronto real estate. You want the locals to be able to find you so everything they do in terms of SEO should have the word Toronto in it (and possibly other keywords so you can pinpoint the location even more).

When you get the right combination of SEM and SEO, your site can soar to the top of the Search Engine rankings and your business can thrive. Needless to say getting it wrong can have the opposite effect, so it’s vital to make Search Engine Marketing a cornerstone of your online strategy.

NOTE: SEM really only works for certain types of products. Its best to start off with a small budget to determine whether your product is worthy of using Pay-Per-Click advertising. Otherwise you are better off sticking to traditional SEO.

E-commerce and the SEO Checklist

E-commerce web hosting is the modern day equivalent of building a better mousetrap. A well-run, well-maintained, secure e-commerce web presence is part of the key to a company’s success. The other part of the equation is attracting customers to your site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a proven, effective tool to help build that mousetrap. SEO tools make your site more visible to the various search engines used by customers to look for products like yours. The SEO Checklist will increase the power of your Toronto e-commerce website. The following list borrows from just part of the much larger SEO Checklist.

• Keywords – These are words that appear in the content of your site. Brainstorm a list of words that you would search if looking for your product. Use the keywords often in the text of your site, but do not obviously overuse them, or the search engine will ignore them as spam.

• Research – Though not a tool in and of itself, research will tell you if you are on the correct path. Once you determine your keywords, run a search for each word or phrase to see if the content of the pages generated matches the content of your page. If not, try new keywords until you are confident that consumers searching
for your product will find your Toronto e-commerce website.

• Code to Text Ratio – Search engines calculate the percentage of text that appears on a page in order to determine whether or not that page is relevant to the requested search. A higher text ratio places a page higher in rank. Search engines prefer text to images, and prefer HTML to other formats.

• Titles – Title each page descriptively as this title will appear as the link when the search engine returns its results to the consumer. Keep your title interesting, keep it to the point of your site, and keep it brief – no more than five to eight words.

Do not use words such as “Title” or “Introduction” or “Main Page” as titles. SUCH WORDS ARE THE PLAGUE! Title each document on the site appropriately so that they will be searchable by keywords pertaining to the content of the site.

• Document Properties (Meta Tags) – Most programs automatically complete some of the information listed in the document’s properties. Manual completion of the fields results in greater document searchability. Fields may include subject matter, category, and keyphrases specific to your business and Toronto. While some search engines now ignore keyword meta tags, many use the description meta tag to elaborate on the title.

• Image Tags – Use “ALT IMAGE” tags to specify an alternate text for an image. This tag will be read as text (increasing your code to text ratio), and should contain your keywords.

• Linking – Link the pages within your site using keywords and phrases. Such links will increase the natural usage of the keywords on your site, and generate more interest in your site.

• Site Maps – Site maps were originally used to enable customers to navigate a site with ease. Now they also increase the crawl-ability of the website. The site map should be simple, in text format, use keywords, and link to every page within the site.

• Frames – This tool is actually a “don’t”. Do not use frames on your site if you can help it. The search engine may see the frame only and ignore any of the text contained within the frame.

While no list can completely guarantee a perfect mousetrap, using these simple SEO tips will increase a site’s ranking, generate interest, and guide customers to their end goal of buying your product. The most important tool of all, though, is “repeat”. Constantly test and re-test the site and don’t be afraid to make changes as needed to keep up with consumer trends and increased technology.

Changing SEO Responsibilities


Big Business Blogging, The Toronto Way

At Intel’s first Social Media Conference in Portland this week, 100+ Intel social media practitioners from all over the world came together with about 20 industry subject matter experts to share and engage social media best practices.

One of those speakers was Lionel Menchaca, the Chief Blogger at Dell and a real pioneer in the world of blogging and social media for the enterprise. Lionel told the story of Dell’s initial blogging efforts that turned the tide of Dell Hell as well as other practical insights.

Here is what we've garnered from his wisdom and applied it to Toronto SEO.

1. Write about topics that matter to your customers (in our case, Toronto customers), especially the tough ones. Dell has a social media command center to track topics and inspire ideas, issues to deal with.

2. Provide context for a range of customers / Torontonians and people living in the GTA. Be thoughtful about the interests for specific segments of customers. Find a balance that allows you to appeal content to a range of customers. To do that effectively, you must listen online and understand the convergence of issues that you can address with content though the blog.

3. Write to educate and serve. If you’re doing your job correctly you’re doing both. Informing customers about more than products, including Toronto-based industry news and trends as it relates to your customer’s perspective builds trust and makes your corporate blog a source of information that’s meaningful towards what customers care about.

4. Be authentic, be human, be a nice Torontonian (they're hard to find, but they exist). If you can look back and see what established a blogger as a personality that audiences engage with, that’s what’s important. Write from a personal perspective, not from a “brand messaging” perspective.

5. Let your passion and personality show through. There will be points that the brand wants to make, but it’s important that the blogger’s personality show through. When tapping Subject Matter Experts for contributed blog posts, coach them on writing from a personal perspective vs. just providing the facts. [This reminds me of the Facts Tell, Stories Tell adage.]

6. Provide an inside look. Content should complement, but also offer a different view than corporate website content, press releases, and other brand communications. Examples: Video interviews with internal subject matter experts about product features and what they personally like about them.

7. Don’t be afraid to disagree, if you can back it up. Dell uses Radian6 as a listening tool to monitor for discussions. Techmeme is also a useful site for tracking stories that drive discussion in the tech space. Show that you’re there to be part of the conversation when you find dissent, vs. trying to steamroll it.

While blogging within Toronto businesses has been around for a very long time, I think a it’s important for Toronto companies to take a second look at how their communicating through blogging platforms. Far too many Toronto business blogs are lacking in reach, readership and engagement because of approaching business blogging solely as a distribution channel vs. a platform for engagement. It’s by finding that right mix of personality and brand representation.

Toronto Search Engine Optimization

designSEO.ca provides expert search engine optimization services for Google, Yahoo and MSN search engines. Making sure your site is well ranked in the top three search engines is critical for any company seeking an online presence.

With over 10 years experience, we know what works and what doesn't. In today's search engines there are two major elements required to achieve top rankings.

1.) Links - link building campaigns - Offsite optimization based in Toronto

Since the number of links pointing to your site is the most important factor in how search engines like Google determine your site's importance, your going to need links from TORONTO WEBSITES. When combined with onsite optimization services, our link building campaigns will take your site to the top for your target keywords regardless of how competitive they are and optimize it so you are getting local Toronto people finding your business.

2.) An optimized website - Onsite optimization

Having lots of content and links won't do you much good if your Toronto website is a mess. One of your first steps should be to ensure your website has been thoroughly and properly optimized. This should include the following:

Meta, title and description tags that are topic specific and location specific

Internal navigation structure

Internal linking structure

Directory and file name design

Headers, keyword density

Title/Alt tags for images

Image filenames

robots.txt file

Clean HTML coding

Sitemap page

XML sitemaps exports (large e-commerce sites)

Unique copy through out (non-duplicated pages)

2A.) Content - copy optimization

You can't expect to rank well if your Toronto website doesn't have content about the products being searched for, and duplicate content copied from other sources doesn't count. Original structured and useful content about your product or service is required, and more is always better. There's no such thing as too much unique content. We can create copy for your site, or re-work and optimize your existing content.

What about Link Building Services

Search Engine Optimization starts with links. Your back link profile is the most important factor in top search engine rankings.

Think of the web as a giant popularity contest, the more links that are pointing to your site, the more popular your site must be and the better you'll rank.

Links are the core element in all search engine ranking algorithms. We provide quality link campaigns that are guaranteed to take you to the top 5 of Google regardless of how competitive your keywords are - you just need the budget, we'll do the rest.

Check your back link profile by using the "link:" operator in Google, or for a more accurate link count - use Yahoo's site explorer tool (Google likes to hide true link counts). Compare your website to the sites currently ranking on the first page for an idea on where you'll need to take your back link profile.

Read our SEO blog and learn more about link building and other Search Engine Optimization basics.


Types of Links

Now that you have some concept of your link count and how many links you'll need to be competitive, how do you get them? Two ways - naturally, or by buying them.

Natural links

The main problem with natural links is that you have no control over how and where other sites link to you. It also takes a long time to build up the number of links - as in years. And be prepared to spend a lot of money on web development as you'll truly need to set yourself apart from other sites in your space in order for other sites to want to link to you. At the end of the day, nothing guarantees you'll get the links you need and you have zero control over the anchor text used for the links. Most natural links wind up being your domain name, which isn't as effective as keyword based links.

First off - let's clear up any misconceptions you may have about paid links.

Google (and Yahoo/Bing), do not have any mechanisms in place that automatically detect paid links, nor will they ever. If they did, all you'd need to do to get your competitor banned is buy a bunch of links and presto, their site would disappear. Clearly search engines would never let this happen, otherwise competitive sabotage would run rampant and they'd wind up spending all their time cleaning up the mess this would create. Although it is in their best interest for webmasters to believe this...propaganda anyone?

Second - paid links work - even in ultra competitive categories. Trust us - we've been using paid links since G rolled out PR as a method of ranking websites - and it works. Last, but certainly not least - provided you have the budget, there are no search terms we can't nail for you. None, period.

Types of link buys

There are two primary types of paid links - static site links and blog links.

1.) Static site links are typically found on the homepage of a site, as part of the main navigation in a prominent location and are designed to provide both traffic and link power.

2.) Blog links are posts on various related blogs that are designed for traffic and link power. We employ our own team of veteran bloggers who's posts will be written in a neutral manner (non promotional & news oriented perspective), so there aren't any issues with the posts being viewed as sponsored or as endorsements for products or services. This will keep your brand police happy. The best thing about sponsored links is that you can control the anchor text to focus on your target keywords and you also control the growth rate. The biggest difference between the two types of links is that you have to pay for static links every month and the minute you stop paying, the link comes down. Blog links on the other hand remain active for the life of the post, and you only pay once. This helps grow the total link count over time. We recommend a mix of both link types for maximum results.

Other important details on links

Anchor text. This is the actual word(s) used in the link itself. This needs to be the same, or related, to the term you're looking to rank for. For example - if we're trying to rank you for garden sheds then we'll set your anchor text to terms such as garden sheds, sheds, storage sheds, etc... And while its true that any link is better than no link, having the anchor text set as www.sitename.com won't produce anywhere as near the same impact as having the text targeted.

Landing page(s). We'll make sure that you're mixing it up a little, but place most of the weight towards the page that's best related to the term you're targeting. Typically a 70% weight towards the targeted page, 15% to the homepage, and the remaining 15% to other pages that make sense. Too many links pointing at just one page can trip alarms with the search engines so we'll be careful not to over do it.

Growth rate. For existing websites, the growth at which you introduce new links to your site needs to be carefully monitored. We'll make sure that there is a slow but steady ramp up in the links so the growth pattern doesn't look out of place.

Time requirements. Once we've rolled things out completely, you can expect to see ranking improvements with the terms we've targeted within 2-6 weeks. We provide historical ranking reports every month for all your targeted terms so you have an easy to read graph showing the effectiveness of the links.

Once we've achieved the desired rankings, we can change up the terms we're working with, rotating with a new set. The number of terms you can work with is largely dictated by your budget. Our link campaigns have proven their worth time and time again - across many different categories for both brand new, as well as established sites. Coupled with onsite optimization, our link campaigns have taken search terms that previously weren't in the top 100, and within a couple months, have driven them to number 1. And not obscure long tail phrases, but for single phrase, ultra competitive terms dominated by big players. When it comes to Toronto SEO it pays to hire a pro!

Content and Search Engine Optimization

It all starts with content. Your whole website design is based on it.

If you sell Toronto widgets, you’ll be talking about Toronto widgets. There are a few basic, common sense rules with respect to content.

1. Use unique content about Toronto widgets – don’t be lazy and scrape content from other Toronto websites. It’s not helping anyone – you, your customers and the search engines. Provide unique content and you’ll be rewarded all around.

2. Content quantity – I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve been asked to look at that have had 5-10 pages of content – and their owners were wondering why they aren’t ranking well. Unless you’re running a business card style website (and you don’t need to rank in Google), be an information source for your products and services. Provide as many details on your widgets as possible. Provide history, bio’s, background and anything else related to your topic. The more information you provide, the less likely it’ll be that your visitors will need to go anywhere else for information – and the search engines will reward you with more pages in their index.

3. Keyword use – it might surprise you, but I’ve seen hundreds of sites about Toronto widgets and the webmaster hasn’t even put the actual phrase “Toronto widgets” in the content. Graphic text doesn’t count as Google can’t see them. Make sure you use the keyword in the copy, and use it as many times as possible – without going over the top.

4. In copy links – link to other pages within the copy itself. Search engines often ignore navigation links, plus it works the same way as building links – use keywords as your anchor text for maximum Toronto SEO impact.

Onsite Search Engine Optimization

Onsite search engine optimization refers to all the elements on your site that can be optimized for the search engines using nothing more than Search Engine Friendly Website Design. This includes:

Main keyword list

* You need to create and prioritize your keywords – this list will then be used in the below.

Meta titles

* Main keywords and related terms relevant to the copy and theme of the page in questions.

Meta descriptions

* The same process as the title tag – repeat main keywords and craft it for your customers as it’s going to be what’s shown in the SERPs and greatly impacts your click through rates.

Content

* Make sure you’re continually adding and improving content on your site. Be the expert in your industry. Provide rating and reviews, video, specifications and anything else you can think of.
* There’s no such thing as too much content – just keep it organized so search engines and users can actually find it.

Internal linking structure

* Search engines often ignore navigation links as they are repeated on every page of the site – so make sure that you’re linking to other pages of your site from within your cleverly crafted content.
* And use keyword anchor text for these links – don’t use click here or other generic terms as they don’t help.

H1, H2 Usage

* Old school, but still has a place in helping search engines determine the theme of the page in question. Headers should contain keywords of course.

Directory/Navigation structure

* This is always easier to address when you’re building the site as opposed to coming in after the site’s been running for several years. None the less, it’s one of the most important onsite issues you’ll need to deal with.
* Here are a couple examples of bad directory structures:
* This was browsing through to their electronics section, and looking at clocks. Not that you’ve ever be able to tell that from this ugly looking URL:

o http://www1.macyss.com/shop/for-the-home/more-for-the-home/electronics?id=23480&edge=hybrid#!fn=ELECTRONICS_TYPE%3DClock%26sortBy%3DORIGINAL%26productsPerPage%3D40&!qvp=iqvp

* This is how I’d have their IT re-write this URL:

o http://www.macyss.com/shop/electronics/clocks/

o Wow, what a difference – the user knows where they are and Google would too.

* This URL, while short, gives no insight as to what product or category we’re dealing with. It’s for dinnerware, solid colors.

o http://www.pier11.com/catalog/browse/493.885.solids

* Here’s how it should look:

o http://www.pier11.com/catalog/dinnerware/solid-colors

* Our last example is from the juggernaut Walmart.com. This was browsing through to DSLR Cameras. While they’ve at least got the first part of the URL right – they’ve added a massive string of tracking parameters that makes it a mess. They also left out the most important keyword – DSLR.

o http://www.walmartt.com/browse/Cameras-Camcorders/Digital-Cameras/All-Cameras/_/N-58czZ1yzp1qeZaq90Zaqce/Ne-aq8n?browsein=true&search_sort=5&ic=48_0&ref=125875.244115+500567.4292587526&fromPageCatId=133277&catNavId=133277

* Here’s our version:

o http://www.walmartt.com/browse/Cameras-Camcorders/Digital-Cameras/DLSR

File naming conventions

* This goes hand in hand with Directory/Navigation structures. Name your pages using keywords, not numbers or some other completely unrelated convention. It’s going to help the search engines figure out what your page is about, and it helps users too.

Domain name

* While not always an option for brand name companies to change, if you do have the flexibility to integrate a main keyword into your domain name, do it. If not, you can address this by crafting a smart directory structure that incorporates keywords.

Multiple language handling

* The old EN/FR issue always seems to cause headaches. Short of the amount of resources it can require, I’m not sure why, as it’s not rocket science.
* Here’s a couple common examples of how sites deal with EN and FR content:
* EN: http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/home.aspx
* FR: http://www.bestbuy.ca/fr-CA/home.aspx
* So far this makes sense…until you go one click deeper that is. Then what you get is an English site translated to French.
* Just about every FR site I’ve ever seen is translated, as opposed to being written for the intended audience. Some don’t even take the time to translate the URL, so they’ll change the language parameter but leave the product/category in English – that’s just lazy. J
* Another area to watch for is if you’re using a content management solution. Be sure to check your code with a Googlebot crawl tester – I’ve seen many sites that are showing FR tags on the EN version, and vice versa. It’s important that you verify the code when using dynamic content management software as they are normally built with very little thought into SEO.

Sitemap Page

* This one’s a no-brainer. If your site has over 20 pages, make sure you always have a sitemap page listed predominantly in your main navigation. This page helps search engines crawl and index all your pages.

XML Sitemaps

* This is debatable if XML sitemaps actually do anything for rankings. First off, if your website is built and optimized properly Google shouldn’t have any trouble crawling and finding all your content, however for sites with fast and frequent changes to pages it can help Google stay on top of what’s what.
* Automate the creation and sharing with search engines so it doesn’t require manual intervention, other then periodic testing and verification.

These items are where your onsite Search Engine Optimization process should begin. Why? Because it won’t matter if you have a million links if you’ve got fundamental site problems. You need to make sure your basic site functionality works first.

Make sure your site functions and include all the SEO best practices. When in doubt use The SEO Checklist.

Search Engine Optimization Basics

When it comes to SEO, there are two primary search engine optimization areas: Onsite & Offsite.

Typical Onsite Optimization:

* Meta tags – title & description tags – yes, they are still very important – it’s normally what you see when your viewing results in any search engine. If your site’s been submitted to DMOZ (see below) then add a NO ODP tag so Google doesn’t end up showing some title that an overzealous DMOZ editor decided to edit.

* Content – creating unique, useful content for your visitors and search engines. Don’t be lazy and scrape content from other sites no matter how big your site is and how much work you have to do. If you can’t write it from scratch, modify it to make it unique – make sure to inject keywords and links to your other pages as well. Don’t duplicate pages for any reason – fix your directory structure instead.

* Internal linking structure – use links within your copy to other pages on your site. It helps to tell search engines more about your site – plus they tend to ignore main navigation(s) as they are repeated on every page (looks like duplicate content).

* Directory structure, file names and navigation – keep things clean, if dynamic URLs are used, create mod-re-writes to produce clean search engine friendly URLs. Be sure to 301 redirect the old pages if the site’s been around for awhile and the old pages are in the Google index. Page names should be optimized based on the topic of the page – keep it logical and user friendly. Use bread crumb trails when possible.

* Code bloat – stay away from MS based server environments and web products. They are notoriously bad at keeping code clean and error free. Use Linux based server environments – they’re faster and free. Run your templates through a HTML error checker and make sure there aren’t any major malfunctions – small errors are usually fine, but try to keep it to the absolute minimum.

* Table & Cell Usage – try to keep the website design/layout simple, don’t nest tables within tables within tables – use CSS to keep the overall design clean from a code perspective – it makes it easier for search engines to crawl your content.

Typical Offsite Optimization:

* Link building – Simply put linking is the core of how Google’s search algorithm works. It’s like a giant popularity contest. They call it PageRank, but really what it means is that the more sites you get to link to your site, the more popular Google will think your site is which will produce better rankings. The text used in links is called Anchor Text – and it’s vital that the anchor text be keyword driven. Don’t get someone to link to your site using www.yourtorontosite.com, get them to link using your most important keywords. Read more about linking on our link building page. How do you get links? Well that’s a closely guarded secret – but for the most part, companies that have the dollars buy them. It’s the only way to really control things. Yes you can try requesting links, link exchanges, directory submissions, and other techniques from 8 years ago, but you’ll soon realize that to nail competitive terms you have to buy links, simple as that.

* Social Marketing – well the jury is still out on this one, but we do it more because it’s what you should be doing versus there being a direct coloration to social marketing helping your search rankings. It’s also a little tricky to even get your corporate Facebook or Twitter account pages ranking for your brand name. Do a few searches for some well known big brands and you’ll quickly get the picture. Bottom line is Social can’t hurt your rankings, and these days it is a great way to connect and communicate with your customers – so do it – just don’t look to it to increase your search rankings.

* Article Submissions/Press Releases – provided this isn’t going to take away resources from content writing and other SEO efforts, article submissions and press releases can help with traffic and search rankings – but in terms of priorities – I’d recommend this be kept low, or better yet contracted out so it doesn’t require or divert any attention away from the real drivers.

That’s SEO in a nutshell. For more details see the SEO Checklist.

Link Building

Link Building is the core of how search engines rank websites, it creates order out of the ciaos that is the web.

How? All search engines use the number & quality of links pointing to a particular website as part of their algorithm to rank websites in their search results.

Search engines then further refine this portion of the algorithm by looking at the following:

* The text used in the link itself – called “Anchor Text”
* The quality or reputation of the site that’s doing the linking – done by looking at how many links the site has
* The topic of both sites to determine if the two sites share topics
* How many other links are present on the page that’s doing the linking – the more links the page has, the less important the link to your site is
* The content on the page that contains the link

More on Anchor text

When you’re building links you don’t want to be used link text like “click here” or “www.mytorontowebsite.com”. You want to use your keywords. The text used has much to do with what you wind up ranking for. You can have 100 generic non-keyword links and 10 blue widget links, and the later will provide the biggest impact every time. So make sure your optimizing your anchor text for all inbound links.

Quantity or Quality?

First we should qualify Quality. Quality links mean they come from “trusted” sites with healthy and established link profiles of their own. Take a site like CNN.com versus Torontonewsonline.com. CNN will have a massive back link profile (over 13,000,000 to be exact), because people link to it all the time – Torontonewsonline on the other hand will have a fraction of the link count. This means that a link from CNN will carry more weight then a link from Torontonewsonline, making it a “quality” link.

My personal experience is that you have no choice but to have a mix of both. Why? Because there are only so many related sites that you’ll be able to obtain links from.

If you sell computers you’ll want links from technology related sites, but in the natural world of links, you’ll also wind up with links from completely unrelated sites. Unrelated links still help your rankings, albeit you’ll need more of them.

So how many back links do you have?

Use Yahoo’s site explorer to see how many in bound links your site has, then check out the top sites in Google for a desirable search term and see how many links they have. This will show you how much link building you’ll need to do in order to rank in the top 3 for a given keyword.

So where do you get links from?

You can get links two ways – naturally or buying them.

Natural links happen when people visit your site, find it useful and share it on their site or in a blog or forum. You can’t control natural links (think anchor text), you’ll need an absolute killer site to give people a reason to want to link to you on their own, and they take years to happen. Because of these factors, natural links don’t tend to play a large role in SEO.

The other option is to buy links. There are three primary types of paid links:

1.) Text links

AKA sponsored links – these typically appear in the commonly found main navigation areas. Top right, right, or bottom of the page. They are easy to spot as being “paid” links.

2.) Blog/social links

These are my favorite as they really look natural – provided they are written in a way that doesn’t look like self promotion of course, and the anchor text used is focused on your keywords. Blog links are found in posts on a wide variety of sites. Typically they don’t carry the same impact as the above text links as text links tend to be on the homepage, where blog links are usually on a sub-page within the site. The best thing about blog links is that you pay once for it and it’s there for months and months. Text links on the other hand are charged on a monthly basis.

3.) In-Content/article links

These are a blending of text links with healthy amounts of related content. They provide good performance because of this content surrounding the link. Unlike text link ads, or blog links, there is either no content immediately surrounding the link, or it’s unrelated. The content helps search engines know what the link is about.

Link Building Costs

Link building isn’t cheap – expect to spend at least $500/month for non-competitive categories and upwards of $30,000/month for competitive categories. While this may seem crazy, it’s not as your Analytics will attest to – search engines will always be the top performing campaign for any industry. Why? Because people always start the buying process at the search bar.

Summary & other tidbits

Build your links carefully and slowly. Don’t go from no links to hundreds and hundreds in one month – spread it out over 3-6 months so it’s natural looking. Make sure the sites being used are all unique and aren’t all part of the same network (IP classes/ranges should always be unique).

Stay away from crappy directories and dodgy cross linking schemes. If you have a network of your own sites, resist the urge to cross link them all – you’ll wind up getting them all tossed out of the index.

Remember, link building is the most important factors in ranking well so make sure you’re spend an appropriate amount of time and resources on it. You’re rankings will reward you!

Toronto Website Design + SEO

Check out the following article:

The Importance of Local Website Design & SEO in Toronto

Patrick the DIY SEO Vs Vanessa the SEO Expert

What’s your SEO approach?

Are you a do-it-yourself SEO or did you hire an SEO consultant?

DIY SEO can be great because it is a whole lot cheaper than hiring an SEO professional. And even better, since you are your own SEO expert, you are in control of everything. On the flip side, DIY SEO can also be very time consuming and it can lead you down a dark path of destruction without you ever even knowing. It can also give you a false sense of security and make you believe you know enough to be effective, when in reality you know enough to be dangerous.

The Case of Patrick, the DIY SEO
Over the last week I’ve been talking with a guy named Patrick about his blog and upcoming website launch. Patrick was connected with me via a mutual acquaintance, so I’ve been reviewing Patrick’s activities and giving him free advice. This is something I typically do not do, but I like our mutual business partner and I believe in Patrick’s project.

Patrick has an ultra secret website project and he has been blogging in an attempt to drive initial traffic and drive interest in the big reveal. Patrick knows his competition and he has an idea what he’d search for if he were a potential visitor to his future website. Patrick even put those words into Google to figure out the highest volumes.

Patrick, like many others I speak with, thinks he is fairly well prepared. After all, he has his 80 or so keywords in hand, he’s blogging regularly, and he is considering keyword density within his posts. Heck he’s even content tagging and sharing his posts via Facebook and Twitter. He is making progress with inbound traffic, yet none of it is actually coming through his blog posts. By why would this be the case you ask? He’s doing everything right isn’t he? No, not really.

Patrick’s intentions are excellent. And as a person, I think Patrick is pretty darn cool. He is trying really hard to read up and SEO topics and learn from SEO experts. Patrick is the average wannabe SEO expert. Although in Patrick’s case, he is actually spending a significant amount of time trying to learn SEO and he has picked up a lot of information on SEO basics.

But that is the dangerous part. Patrick cannot tell good SEO from bad SEO. He can’t tell real SEO advice from regurgitated old SEO advice. He doesn’t know an H1 tag from a meta description or an alt tag from cornerstone content. He doesn’t know about keyword mapping or XML sitemaps. Patrick knows how to blog and blog very well.

His intentions are good and he is putting in a lot of sweat and tears into the process, but he is trying to catch up and compete with SEO consultants (or entire in house teams) who have a decade or so of SEO experience. He is also trying to compete with heavy hitting websites.

I looked up the competitors Patrick gave me and they’re heavy hitters. I mean they have huge traffic volumes, thousands or inbound links, and in some case millions of indexed pages in Google. Patrick has a huge uphill battle. He is not only competing against an experienced SEO consultant and his in house teams of minions, his competitors already have a ton of inbound links, indexed pages, and web traffic.

So can he compete? Yes he can. He has a different value proposition, he is unique, and he has a business plan. The problem is he does not have an SEO plan. He has a list of highly sought after keywords and that just isn’t the same thing as an SEO plan. It isn’t a strategic, methodical plan to compete keyword to keyword with the big boys. It is a valiant effort, but at this point it is an effort in futility.

The Case of Vanessa, the SEO Consultant
I’ve been doing SEO and website design for about eight years. In the earlier years I made a lot of mistakes. Thankfully my industry was as new to SEO as I was and my competition was still trying to figure out SEO just like I was at the time. I muddled through, read a lot, and performed a whole lot of trial and error stuff on my own website. Then I read more, talked to some experts, and worked on some more websites.

Then shazam! I finally felt like I had it together. I didn’t just know some stuff about SEO, I actually had a very detailed project plan for building SEO friendly websites and performing ongoing search engine optimization. I really knew my SEO and better yet, I knew my SEO stuff worked. I had gone against the big boys and I had won. I had bruises and war wounds to prove it. I also had Google Analytics data to prove that I knew what I was talking about. I went to battle and I came out alive and stronger than when I went in.

Remember – my battle and my SEO journey was eight years in the making. And remember, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. While I’m confident now, I wasn’t eight, five, or even three years ago. I wasn’t until I started looking at the SEO of other SEO consultants. And then I knew I had it and I wasn’t just claiming to have SEO knowledge. I started to see SEO everywhere I went on the internet.

But What About Patrick and His SEO Efforts?
I’ve tried to get Patrick to take a step back. I’ve tried to teach Patrick some best practices over the last week. Unfortunately, I just can’t cram eight years of SEO experience into a few emails over the course of a week. Patrick, smart as he is, can only digest so much. And I, giving free advice to a peep, can only allocate so much time.

I don’t know what the future holds for Patrick and his website. I know his project has some fabulous potential, but I’m currently not involved in his website project. It has been in the works for a while and I just met Patrick a week or so ago. It is hard to take my 90+ step website development plan and force it on Patrick and his team midstream. I would personally suggest the entire group take a time out and sit down so they can reflect and consider the ultimate goal. That goal is to go head to head with the big daddy of their industry and make an impact.

So how does Patrick make an impact? To do that, they need a thorough, well crafted, and completely integrated website design, SEO, and social media plan. SEO doesn’t come before or after design, it is part of the entire process from initial thought straight through to the website’s end. It is a living and breathing plan that matures with the website, the website visitors, and the industry in which is competes.

SEO is a journey and not a destination. I’ve chosen to take this journey and dedicate my professional life to it. I believe in SEO and I truly believe with all my heart that SEO is a journey worth taking.
If you need SEO, SEM or SMO help in Toronto then you need to contact designSEO.ca
Get started by emailing contactus@designseo.ca.
Consultations are $30 per hour.