Category Archives: Search Engine Marketing

Top 5 SEO Tips for 2011

Here are my top 5 SEO tips for 2011.

  1. Get a Clear Picture: The very first thing anyone performing SEO should do is get a clear picture of the current situation. The best way to do this is by installing Google Analytics.  After running Analytics for a month you will see some patterns emerging and you can determine how much traffic is coming from search engines.
  2. Filter out seasonal trends: There’s no way you can identify gains and losses unless you figure out the seasonal trends.  You can use a tool such as google trends to do this if you do not have your own data.
  3. Find Opportunities: As with any marketing exercise you need to determine if there is a market.  You need to identify the key phrases that people will use to find your site, but there’s no point in doing this if there is huge competition.  Find the best keyphrase volume you can that has poor returns on the search results page and target that.
  4. Apply Research Effectively: Once you have the keyphrases identified using tip 3, apply the keyphrase to your site naturally in key areas such as titles, headings, links and body text. Don’t over do it. Find out how many times your competitors use it. As always it is no harm to build links to pages.
  5. Measure Results: Using analytics, measure how many hits these keyphrases are generating for you as a percentage against your search engine results position. Tweak your page slightly each month to see if it positively or negatively affects your position. Link building may also affect your position positive and should be an ongoing task.

That’s it.  The basics are simple enough, do them right and you can’t go too far wrong.  It’s that final 20% that’s the most painstaking and most difficult.  Keep at it and you will get ahead of most of your competitors within a realistic time frame.

Why should I set up a Blog?

There are various reasons why you should set up a blog, maybe you have thoughts in your head that you just want to share with the world, maybe you  are the public relations officer for a group and you want to disseminate information, maybe you are a story teller or an amateur reporter who wants to comment on topics relevant to the world today.  These are all valid reasons for setting up a blog but the no 1 reason people should set up blogs in the business community is to help them generate revenue, be it directly through advertising products on the blog itself or by indirectly advertising their own products or services through friendly advice. For example this blog, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that this blog was set up to help me promote my business.

So how can blogs help you earn money?

A regularly updated, well constructed blog will be monitored by Google and other search engines, therefore every blog entry you write has the opportunity to capture more visitors to your site. It is therefore important that the title of your blog and the content in the first paragraph and throughout the entry targets the keyphrase that you know users are searching for.  For example this particular blog entry is called “Why should I set up a blog?” If we look at the Google Keyword tool, 18,100 people each month search for “set up a blog” which is contained within the title of this blog.  This means that if someone types in “Set up a blog” into google it could potentially match this page.  Of course other factors such as page popularity, region etc. come into play but the potential is there.

The great thing about blogs is that you can endlessly post pages to your site, unlike on your business website, which displays your products and services.  There’s no way that you can cover every topic that someone might type in to search for your products and services on your business website, it would just get too messy and customers would not enjoy the experience.  Your company site is about converting traffic into business. Your blog on the other hand and delve down into very specific issues and can have a personal touch.  People reading blogs are looking for the solution to a problem or a author’s opinion on something so when you are constructing your blog think firstly, what would a user search for and then solve or comment on that problem. You should look at the Google Keyword tool to help you make that judgement.  Once you have your topic and the correct keywords write your blog naturally and just make sure you mention your key phrase once or twice throughout. Your new blog entry then essentially becomes a lead for your business.

What you are trying to achieve is to get new visitors to your site based on long tail key phrases.  These are key phrases that consist of several words that further qualify a key phrase e.g. “Cars in Waterford” could be a considered a relatively generic search term, whereas “Honda Civic Cars Waterford” is much more specific or long tail.  Long tail phrases may get you less traffic on their own but combined over time they will lead to significant, and more importantly, more focused traffic to your site. In other words, if a potential lead is typing in a very specific search phrase and their search turns up your site, they are likely to have found what they are looking for. It’s about casting your fishing net further, wider and more accurately than your company website ever can.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia regarding long tail keywords:

” These phrases individually are unlikely to account for a great deal of searches, but when taken as a whole, can provide significant traffic. The long-tail is unlikely ever to exceed searches for a brand name if the brand name is reasonably well established, but the volume of converting traffic these terms can generate by nature of their specificity and relevance is worth investigating.

“Comprehensive long-tail keyword research can be a highly effective strategy, since people making long-tail searches are arguably further along in the buying cycle, so conversion rates can be higher. Recent long-tail keyword research has found that long-tail searches often exhibit a higher conversion rate by up to 200% compared to short-tail keywords, and can be extremely profitable for search engine marketers in terms of a lower cost per action and higher return on investment.”

If a blog entry is good it may be linked to or tracked by the blog community or commented on which is the ideal situation (this means it is being read).  Sometimes you will hit the jackpot and get tonnes of visits, other times you will see nothing but tumbleweed blow across the screen.  Over time if you consistently blog, it will average out as more visits to your site each month so once you start blogging, make sure you keep blogging!!!

How do I set up a blog?

There are a number of ways of doing this. You can host the blog on your own server or you can use an online blog service.  WordPress is probably the best known blog software in the world and you have both options here.  You can set up a blog on their server and you might get a domain such as or you can download wordpress from and install it on your own server (you might need a web developer/designer to help you with this).  There are other online blog solutions such as blogger and livejournal. One advantage of using a hosted service is that you get a free link back to your main domain which will help your SEO.

So that’s pretty much it really, set up that business blog and start telling your customers what they want to hear through sensible advice and providing potential solutions to problems they might have. Oh and at the bottom of each blog entry you could also end with a gentle ad for your business.

E.g. for more information on setting up blogs or if you need a blog set up and managed for you please contact


Should I use Multivariate testing?

Short answer is yes!

Google provides the facility to test the conversion rates of more than one version of a homepage, however I needed something more specific for a particular client.

Basically the site was getting a large amount of relevant traffic through organic search and google adwords but the coversion rate could be higher. The site has a predominantly red design and we had the apply button in the same colour which meant that it did not stand out as much as it should. However it was very prominent so we didn’t think it the colour would have much impact.

We were very wrong.

What we did was created a simple cookie system generating a random number for individual visits to the site.  The system generats a number between 1 and 6 and assigns it to a visitor.  The system then selects a variant of the button based on this number.  We chose 6 very different colours that contrasted with the overall red colour of the site and also left the existing button in place as 1 of the 6 random numbers.

After a few hours there were around 100 instances of each random number recorded and there were no conversions on the existing red button.  However, there were 10 conversions on a yellow version of the button.  This is a truly staggering increase and shows the value of trying out various options on a site in a controlled way.

I look forward to seeing a larger sample set over the coming weeks so that we can extrapolate further findings and further increase the conversion rate.

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

Often there is confusion between these two terms but the difference is stark and actually very simple.

SEM or Search Engine Marketing is any means by which a website is promoted through search engines including paid ad programmes or Pay Per Click (PPC) programmes such as Google Adwords, Map Results such as Google Local Business Centre (now Google Places) or SEO techniques.

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is about the techniques used to improve a page’s position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).  Techniques used here consist of improving content on a page to better match what customers are searching for, and building up the popularity/importance of a site through link building.

Comments welcome.