Yesterday we held our very first Question & Answer session on our Facebook page, the subject was Search Engine Optimisation. We fielded some very good questions and thought it would be a good idea to have a round up here on the blog so we could spread the information but also so that we could go into our answers with a little more depth and provide some interesting links for people.
We would like to thank those who took part in the session and hope that the answers you received shed some light on areas you weren’t sure on. We will definitely be doing another session in the near future, maybe on a different subject to SEO, and we may test it out on a different Social Network such as Google+. Join our mailing list and/or Like our Facebook page to keep yourself in the loop.
So, getting to the point, lets have a look at the questions that were asked and expand on the answers we gave.
Are Meta Keywords and Meta Description Tags Dead?
When it comes to ranking factors, particularly in Google, then these two tags are pretty much dead yes. However, that does not mean that you should forget about them altogether.
The Meta Description tag below (click the image for a larger view) is from a blog post on this website about Local SEO for accountants.
Now take a look at how Google displays that blog post in the Search Engine Results, notice the text snippet under the link is identical to the Meta Description we specified?
This gives you an opportunity to effect the text that Google shows about your page and the text a potential visitor will see. This could be the factor that convinces them to choose your page instead of a competitors so put some time and thought into it. I have seen a website’s Click Through Rate (CTR) shoot up after tweaking a Meta Description.
If you don’t specify a Meta Description then Google will take a snippet from your website to use instead. When setting up your Description try to stick to 150-160 characters in length otherwise it may get shortened/truncated.
With regards to the Meta Keywords tag it doesn’t, and hasn’t for a long time, had any effect on search engine rankings. Back in the day, when they did effect rankings, people would just spam the hell out of them with every conceivable keyword they could think of so Google stopped using it. One other thing if you are religiously listing every keyword that your site is targeting into your Meta Keywords tag then you have just done the keyword research for your competitors and handed it over an a silver platter (anyone can see them and copy them).
How important is it to have your page in loads of directories?
When we answered this on the Facebook page we said “not important to be in loads, important to be in good ones” (essentially what we said, not word for word). I’d like to clarify that a little further. There are thousands of web directories out there and the vast majority of them are a complete waste of your time, they are all set up with the same software, most of them on shared hosting with hundreds of other directories and a high percentage of them have zero quality control. If someone offers you 10000 directory submissions for £50 tell them to go away.
There are a number of important directories that it is important to get listed in, especially from a Local SEO viewpoint. These would include the major sites like Google+ Local (not technically a directory but never-mind), Yell, Yelp and Qype (just bought out by Yelp). Then you would have location specific directories, you know the type, those centered around a specific locale. Then you have the industry specific directories, so for accountants you have the IzzBox directory.
A word of warning some of these sites, in my experience Yell and Qype in particular, can be quite aggressive in telemarketing to you once you sign up.
How often would you recommend adding new content?
Fresh content is important, it keeps the search engine crawlers coming back to index your site and it gives your website the opportunity to target more keywords/keyphrases. If you are publishing blog posts around services that you want to rank for then you are increasing your chances of pulling in long-tail traffic. We all have the main keywords that we would want to rank for but by generating fresh content on a regular basis we get the opportunity to rank for search terms we never even thought of. Think on this, direct from Google:
15% of the searches we see everyday we’ve never seen before.
Google handles over 3 billion search queries PER DAY and 15% of those are completely unique! There is no way you can sit and target your site for those, your best bet of pulling in long-tail traffic like this is to have a lot of fresh, on-topic, keyword rich content.
Obviously there is only so many hours in the day and the majority of those are taken up with running your business so how often you post comes down to how much free time you get or whether you are prepared to outsource the work. The are plenty of people who will regularly update a blog for you for a monthly fee, obviously they wouldn’t have the same level of industry expertise as yourself. For me, quality wins out over quantity, you are much better served writing one piece of content that people will find interesting/informative/helpful than writing 5 pieces of content that are pretty much copy/pasted from elsewhere.
One way I find it easier to manage is to set aside some time on a weekend to write some content, get 3 or 4 good quality posts written and then schedule them to go out over the coming weeks. This is easily achieved in WordPress, so you can just schedule them and not worry about content for a while.
What 5 things would you do to push a site up the rankings?
As mentioned on the Facebook page this one is a little difficult to answer without seeing the website, looking at what keywords are targeted and analysing the competition but there are a few key things that need doing:
- Make sure the site has been designed and coded with SEO in mind. If the code is a load of “tag soup”, as you get from a lot of the free/cheap website providers (1&1, Vistaprint, Yell etc.) then it is going to make things harder. When a search engine crawler views your site it is looking at the source code, not the actual site that humans look at, so if the code is a mess it is going to have a negative effect.
- Strong internal linking. Are you linking to other pages on your site using keywords in anchor text rather than “click here”?
- Optimised Title Tags. These are what show up in the search engines as the link test, also what display in the browser window/tab. It is important to have these optimised for your keywords and to make sure they are unique for every page.
- Optimised Headers. Have your main keyword phrase in a <H1> tag to emphasise it’s importance. Only one <H1> tag per page.
- If you have images on your page make sure you have your keyword in the image filename and also optimise the Alt tag.
- Plenty of unique, keyword rich content on the site.
Once you have optimised your on-site you need to set about getting backlinks. I would recommend blog commenting on relevant blogs, guest posting on relevant blogs, forum profiles and signitures (I doon’t mean sign up for a load of unrelated forums and spam them with links, rather find forums that are a good fit for your niche and actively participate) etc.
How important is social media in SEO?
Social signals such as Tweets, Likes, Google +1’s, etc. – carry weight in Google’s ranking algorithm, but as yet it’s hard to establish more than a guess on the impact. Search is becoming increasingly more social, particularlay since Google launched their Google+ platform so I think it is safe to assume that social media is only going to get more important.
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We hope you found the information above to be useful and would ask that you join us on Facebook to ensure you get a chance to fire questions at us during the next session.
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About the Author – IzzBox
IzzBox is a premier business directory for accountants and bookkeepers in the UK. Get your accountancy firm listed today and begin connecting with customers in your local area.