Posts Tagged SEO

SEO : the biggest con of the 21st Century?

It seems like an age now since Eoghan McCabe of Contrast wrote his controversial “SEO is Bullshit” blog article back in 2008. That article was followed up a few weeks late with an article titled “SEO is Still Bullshit” which included discussions and comments from some of Ireland’s most respected SEO experts.

At the time, Eoghan’s article and subsequent comments irked me quite a lot. He, like every other SEO sceptic totally ignored the value and definite “need” element of SEO and focused purely on the usability issues that were generated by poor techniques used by most SEOs in order to get websites ranked in the Google search results.

In hindsight and after many more years in this business, seeing the rise (and fall) of (too) many so called SEO expert individuals and companies; I’ve finally woken up to the fact that SEO is in fact total bullshit.

Yes that may sound quite alarming coming from someone who has sold the importance of Search Engine Optimisation for over a decade. But the simple fact is that SEO has probably one of the biggest cons of the 21st Century.

I say this with complete sincerity and assure you that this is definitely not an article designed to create linkbait as was suggested at Eoghan’s reasons for his original article.

Let’s look at the very basic facts surrounding SEO.

  1. Ranking a website is easy!
    Yes believe it or not it’s quite easy to get your website ranked on Google or any other search engine. Granted, the more competitive the key phrase wish to rank for, the harder it is to rank.

  2. Google wants to find Good websites with relevant content
    A very simple fact of the matter is that Google wants to rank websites that are relevant to the search being performed. Searching on Google would be a waste of time if the sites it ranked in the top results were not relevant to what you were searching for. A simple rule of thumb is to build a website that a user likes to visit and is easy for a search engine to find relevant content. That’s not rocket science is it?

  3. SEO is not Rocket Science
    I’m sure you’ve been there before, discussing search engine optimisation with a so called expert and he/she talks in riddles and makes SEO seem extremely complex. Well it’s not – there can be quite a lot to it if you are targeting a competitive key phrase, but in most cases it’s pretty straight forward.

  4. SEO only drives traffic!
    One major misconception I come across with people who know a little about SEO is that they sell SEO as a way to drive business through your company. Well the fact is that all is SEO does is drive traffic. Of course with more traffic, it should in turn produce more sales – putting more effort into focusing on building a website site that will convert as many visitors to your website as possible will in the long run be more useful than having a website that only a search engine can understand.

  5. SEO does not Educate!
    A lot of SEO’s sell SEO as the holy grail in terms of marketing your business. The fact is that SEO only targets people who already know about a service or product you provide. If you have a brand new concept or product that n0-one knows about – SEO will not help you get in front of the people that are likely to buy your product or service.

  6. SEO is just Good Web Design
    Every website we build now includes FREE on-site search engine optimisation – we just call it building search engine friendly websites. A lot of SEOs like to class themselves as elite God like beings that are more important than Web Designers themselves. But they’re not and the reality is that you should be thinking about making your website search engine friendly from the time you start building your website. I used to be shocked at how little HTML knowledge a lot of SEO experts actually have. Iif you don’t understand how a website is built under-the-hood, how the hell can you really understand SEO??

  7. SEO Forums / Blogs aren’t always right and are often taken out of context!
    One of my pet hates is discussing SEO with someone who has read up a little about SEO and automatically assumes that the information they have read is the Bible truth. If you happen to be reading an SEO article online, please check the date the article was published. Chances are the information you have is incorrect or well out of date.Also, please ensure you are taking everything in context and not just jumping at conclusions without testing. SEO is all about trial and error – NEVER assume anything!!

    For a classic example of how unconfirmed theories send shockwaves through a whole industry, read this article – a prime example of an out there theory… http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7594-is-email-reputation-now-a-google-ranking-factor

  8. Matt Cutts is not an SEO
    Yes I’m sorry Matt lovers, but have you ever seen any websites that Matt himself has personally performed a search engine optimisation job on? Well I haven’t, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t of course! 

    Yes, one thing he has got over us all is that he has inside information. How much is questionable as he rarely seems to throw out anything more than the obvious.

    He’s constantly being taken out of context, with a lot of people taking what he says as “fact”, without reading into the actual meaning of his comments in the overall picture of things.

SEO? The bottom is that anyone can can do it. That sole reason is why we now have a market saturated with SEOs that claim to be God’s gift to Number 1 rankings on Google.

The SEO industry has become one that preys on vulnerable companies who will never truly understood how the web nor search engines work, but believe the hype that is discussed at length at nearly every business seminar across the country.

There’s no doubt SEO is important, but its value in most cases has been greatly over exaggerated. For any website to be a success, you must create a search engine friendly website at the very least – whether you should go further depends very much on the competition in your field.

SEO is in the gutter as far as I’m concerned – from the companies that offer you “guaranteed No. 1 spots on Google” to companies who offer “link building services” from websites with little or no value. And of course we have the SEOs who think 301 redirects are the solution to all your problems, it just gets more ridiculous as time passes.

Maybe Eoghan saw all this long before the rest of us, one things for sure… he certainly seen it before me.

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Getting your website listed on Google

Another common question we are asked on a regular basis is, “How do I get my website listed on Google??

Getting your website listed on Google, is probably one of the easiest things to do when it comes to marketing your website online. It takes only one of a few small steps to make Google’s search bots aware of your website. But just how quickly these search bots come crawling your website to include your website in their search results page depends on which route you take to try get it listed.

When you do eventually get your website listed on Google, remember that this is only half the battle. If you haven’t taken other steps to optimise your website, the likelyhood is that that your website will only be found if someone is looking for your brand or company name.

When 75-80% of people looking for a product or service they require, you can quickly establish that being found only for your business or brand isn’t going to be enough to get the kind of traffic you want.

Here are 4 simple ways of getting your website listed on Google:

  1. Use the Google Add URL page
    Google allows you to add your website address to Google using the following page http://www.google.com/addurl/. This is probably one of the slowest methods of achieving a listing on Google but it works none-the-less.

  2. Get links from other websites
    This method is by far the best way in which you can use to get listed on Google. Links from third party websites are the cornerstone of search engine optimisation, so if you have another website or know someone else who has one, ask them to put a link on their most popular page back to your website.

    It’s not enough to get a link from a page hidden deep down in someone else’s website. The trick is to find a page with a high Google PageRank*. Pages with a higer PageRank are generally crawled by Search Engines more regaularly than those with lower PageRank.

    *The PAGE (and not website) that you receive the link from should ideally have a Google PageRank of 4 or more. You can check a web pages Google PageRank, by downloading and installing the Google Toolbar (www.google.com/toolbar). You will need to edit the settings in order to turn it on.

  3. Socialise
    What I mean by this is that you should start letting people know about your website. Whether that be through posting your link on Twitter, Facebook or even commenting on your favourite blog or discussion forum it all helps to generate links back to your website.

    What I don’t mean is that you should go spamming the world with links back to your website. Using Twitter for example, you post a link to your website and ask your followers to the visit the website. Or when commenting on a blog article, include your website address as part of the posting process.

  4. Add your site to Search Directories
    If all else fails and you are finding it hard to get links back to your website, you can always look at getting links from web directories. There are thousands of search directories that allow you to add your link for free. The same methodology for getting links from other websites applies, look for PAGES with a PageRank of 4 or more.

    Here are a few Irish directories you could add your website to:
    www.search.ie
    www.armchair.ie
    www.browseireland.com

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Bing takes a larger bite of the Search Market

REDMOND, WA - JULY 29: The Microsoft name is d...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Since it’s relaunch in June of last year, Bing has been well received by a lot of people inside and outside the search industry. This has been mainly due to added functionality and some improved usability features. On its launch, Bing took a small gain of market share in the search world, mainly at the expense of smaller, lesser know search engines. But now all their hard work seems to be paying off.

Yes it’s true, they are still a long way off the massive market share that Google owns, but this time they have managed to take a slice of Google’s share rather than the smaller search engines. This can only be seen as a great achievement by Bing, as much as we hate saying it – Microsft have done well to grab a little of Google’s dominant share.

According to comScore – Bing’s US search market share grew 88% in the past year. They know command a respectable 9.85% of the search market. This compares well with Google who have seen a fourth consective month drop in market share to 62.6%.

Another interesting report by comScore shows that Bings ad impressions and clickthroughs have also experienced a rise. On the other hand, Google and Yahoo‘s ad impressions and clickthroughs have either been flat or on the downward spiral.

For more on this report visit : http://econsultancy.com/blog/6240-comscore-bing-is-gaining-on-google#blog_comment_33174

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Advertising? Just Google ‘Advertising’

You gotta love the way some companies advertise their business online. I love seeing a quirky ad that urges people to visit a website that promotes a brand or product. But there is one thing that we’d always recommend steering clear of when promoting a business online, that is relying on search results. Whether it’s the organic search results or even paid listings, basing an advertising campaign on the search results is such a bad idea.

Not so long ago I wrote about how Imagine were playing a dangerous and costly game with their ad ” WiMax, Google It”. The fact that Google Adwords is a pay per click system, means that you are ultimately paying for traffic that is pretty much useless. I guess you could easily say the same about TV adverts, but this is the web and one of the major benefits of it is that it’s quantifiable.

On my way home in the car this evening, I heard another advert that uses the Google verb. Yes, a company called “First Advertising” are running adverts on TodayFM and Newstalk in which the great employee suggests his boss should Google ‘Advertising’ and choose the first company that appears on the list.

Now for me, that is just suicidal! Nevermind that fact that no-one is in control of the search results other than Google, if I were in direct competition with First Advertising, I could easily turn on a Google Advertisement and be number 1 within minutes.

The other obvious scenario that they have clearly overlooked is the fact that if you do perform a search in Google (.ie) – it is Wikipedia that is actually the first result, in fact it’s not even in second place. Not until you choose “pages from Ireland” on the left hand side of the screen (which is harder to see with the new Google layout) do you actually see this company’s listing. Worse still, if you search on Google.com, they don’t appear on the first page at all!

On their website they state they are running these ads to celebrate their “clear dominance” of the Google search results. Dominance in a search results page that has no more than 2 other real competitors (pages from Ireland search).

I’m sure First Advertising are a great company, but they are just leaving so much open to chance that for me it’s a complete waste of money.  I wish them great success with the campaign and I really can’t wait to see how many of the top SEOs will try knock them from their perch!

Oh and of course…. If you want someone to look after your Google Advertising campaign, you could always contact me! 😛

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Web design search volume in decline


As the recession hit, most web design companies were busier than they had ever been before. There seemed to be a sudden rush of businesses trying to get online. In the majority of cases it was a knee-jerk reaction to prop up their falling incomes. During the latter half of 2009, this sudden rush seemed to have abated. There are many stories flying around that some of the major web design companies in Ireland are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and offering well below cost websites in order to generate some sort of cash flow.

Although they say that 99% of all statistics are made up, it’s still worth looking at some… :)

Google Trends is a great tool for researching keyphrase search popularity over a number of years of traffic on Google. So I used this tool to run a few searches on terms relating to web design to see if it could paint any sort of picture of what the state of the web design is in.

Web Design Search Stats - Google Trends

As you can see from above graph, the search term “web design” has been on a massive decline since the recording of the statistics began. Interestingly, if you take a close look at the latter quarter of 2009, you can also see a steady decline in searches for “web design”.

December is generally a slow time for new business in web design terms, so there are no surprises when you see the massive dips in searches across all years. Also quite interesting, is the steady performance of the term “website design”. In fact, there’s possibly a slight growth in searches for this term throughout 2009.

Does this mean that the web design industry has finally entered the recession with everyone else?

Only time will tell I guess…

Looking at the other side of our business; online marketing, it appears to be performing quite well. There is an obvious increase in searches for “SEO” – everyone seems to know what it is now or at least know someone that fancies themselves as one. There is a decline in searches for “Internet Marketing” though, maybe a phrase that has been lost to the popularity of “SEO”.

Although it’s hard to see from this graph, there has been a surge in searches for “Social Media Marketing“, which started showing up on the radar in 2007. No surprises there, since it’s the latest and greatest buzz word on the planet!

Online Marketing Search Trends

We’ll never get a true picture of the web design or online marketing industry from statistics like this. For example, the searches for “SEO” are being diluted by people trying to figure out how to market their own websites rather than actually looking for those services. None-the-less it’s interesting reading for anyone in or trying to get into this industry.

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