Key Take Aways From SMX London

This post is somewhat delayed but I wanted to share with everyone some of the key things I learnt from the SMX which took place Tuesday the 15th of May and Wednesday the 16th of May.

I was fortunate to be a blogging partner for SMX London.  The event was really well organised by Jackie Bliss and her team, the food was fantastic and it was in an excellent venue – Stamford Bridge – home to Chelsea Football Club.

Chelsea Football Stadium | SMX London | SEO Jo Blogs

The hot topic over the two days was Penguin which was understandable as many people had seen their site drop in rankings since the update.  In my last post about Penguin I wrote about the fact that it is the little brother of Panda and is a way for Google to eradicate spam on the internet, although I still see a lot of it.

Here are just a few areas you need to address if your site has been affected:

1) Use Rel=Author

Google is trying to get rid of a faceless web which is why it is so important to use rel=author tags.  There is still a lot of articles being written about this topic, Econsultancy just wrote one about how to set up rel=author on Friday. If you have delayed doing this, this week is when you need to ensure you have your rel=author tags correctly set up.

2) Anaylse your backlinks

It is really important to check who is linking to you. If your site has many links from a spam site, this will affect your rankings Use link development tools such as <a href=”http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/”>open site explorer from SEOmoz </a>to analyse your backlinks to you.  If you can see the spam sites or those sites you feel are practicing black hat and therefore affecting your own rankings, you need to contact them and ask them to remove the link.  Unfortunately this is a manual process and can take some time.  If have a couple of email exchanges, they have not removed the link to your site,  contact Google.

3) Analyse your anchor text

Sites that have unnatural links would be penalised by the Panda update.  What does “unnatural mean”? It means having “exact match” for anchor text on key terms for all your backlinks.  Most of this applies to those people who have bought “exact match” anchor text.  It is important to focus on the long tail search as well as brand plus your key terms.

4) Use white hat link building

Links still play a key role in SEO, but now it will be on quality over quantity.  If your client continues to ask for the number of links built each month, try and get them to think about where they are coming from which is more important.  If you have been contacting just a couple of bloggers a month, increase this to at least 4 or 5 (depending on the budget).  Find out what content people want on their site before you write the article.  If you write a post which people are interested in, it is more likely to be shared by others.

If you are working with an seo agency for link building, make sure they are writing quality content for the user and only for the user (not just to get a link).  This will naturally build backlinks, because if people like what they read, they are more likely to share it. Although Google were unable to confirm this at SMX, some of the other studies carried out and presented at the Expo showed that there was a correlation between the location of a site in the SERPs and its social profile.  It was more likely to rank higher if it had more social shares.


Part II: The Cookie Law In The UK – What Does It Mean For Your Website?

A Quick Review Of The Law

  • The law was amended 26th May 2011, before users had to ‘opt out’ of having cookies dropped; they now have to ‘opt in’.
  • As of 26th May 2012, the yearlong grace period that UK websites were granted to bring their activities in line with the law ends. UK websites now need to obtain the consent of users before placing cookies onto their browsers or devices.
  • Websites need to be transparent about the cookies they use, be clear about what data the cookie contains and how they are going to use that data.
  • Users need to be told about any cookie that may build a profile about them. The information needs to be made apparent to them so they are able to make an informed decision.

Cookie Monster | EU Cookie Law | SEO Jo Blogs

Why Is This Law Significant?

Cookies are needed by some websites just to operate properly (like remembering users preferences like font size). These types of cookies are deemed as ‘unintrusive’ and are necessary for functionality.

Cookies are used to gain valuable insights into user behavior through analytic cookies. Under the black and white of the law, only users who have opted in for analytic cookies can be tracked.

Digital advertising relies on cookies to measure performance and effectiveness of campaigns. These activities generate high revenues for online businesses and full compliance with the law could mean that these businesses lose revenue. 

What can you as a website owners do?

Most websites by now have begun to take steps to becoming more compliant with the law and we are beginning to see real life examples of how these websites are going about asking for consent. If you as a website owner haven’t yet thought about this, then you might want to think about doing the following:

  • Undertake an audit of the cookies you use

Before you can tell users what cookies you are using, you need to be clear of that yourself. Analysing what cookies you use and what information do they store is the best place to start. There are browser add-ons that you can use to count cookies. The easiest way is to install one, and then explore your site like a user would.

  • Analyse those cookies and decide which are necessary

Once you have the knowledge of what cookies your site uses, analyse them, identify ones that you might want to stop using. This is your opportunity to ‘clean up’ those cookies.

  • Update your privacy policy.

Be as transparent as possible so that users are clear on what cookies you are using and what they do.

Asking For Consent

  • Pop Ups

Pop ups are the most unpopular option as they disrupt the user experience. Using pop ups to ask for user permission is likely to result in higher bounce rates or worse send the traffic into the hands of your competitors. BT has opted for this route and they have placed the pop up in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

  • Lock the site until you get consent

Locking you site until you get consent seems like a risky option. Using consent as an entry barrier is something that the Financial Times has trialed. Their message alerts users to their amended policy however there is no button to opt out. The user is given no choice. Once the user clicks close, the organization is assuming consent. This may work for them as they have great brand strength and a unique brand offering, however not all brands will be able to use this option.

  • Ask for permission in a header or footer banner

This is more discreet than a pop up yet if it’s not done well it’s possible that users may not notice it. By ignoring it and continuing through the site, it could be argued that users consent is implied.  The legislation aims for websites to educate and allow the user to make an informed active decision. Fortune Cookie has created a (downloadable) widget for the footer of their site.

  • Obtain consent when users sign up for your services

If you chose to tie the cookie consent request to a sign up process on your site, it’s important that this is clear to the users in your terms and conditions. You are effectively marrying the consent process with your marketing activities and the user should know this. It is also important that you contact your existing users to notify them of the update and request their permission also.

  • Make the link to your cookie information page more prominent

A rather incompetent approach to add a link about cookies in the top right corner of the page and it would appear that this is a route that websites are taking. This approach does not actively seek the users’ permission and therefore does not fully comply with the law.

Should the ICO contact you about your website, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have taken action. Be ready to show them your audit and the actions you have taken and plan to take.

 

Gillian Cook is a search executive at SEOptimise, a search agency based in London and Oxford. While this post has been written to inform web owners of the changes in the law, Gillian is not a lawyer. If you want more information about the law in the UK you can read the full legislation here: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/1208/contents/made


The Cookie Law In The UK – Part I

The ongoing debate about Internet privacy and protection, promoted EU policy makers to introduce a law last year (May 26th 2011) governing the use of Internet cookies. The EU Cookie Directive is amended legislation, which requires that websites obtain consent from users before using or placing cookies on that user’s computer or device. While the law aims to protect users by allowing them to make an informed decision about the data that is gathered by cookies from websites they visit, it has wide reaching implications for webmasters and internet marketers.

EU Cookie Law | SEO Jo Blogs

In the UK, the governing body responsible for the enforcement of this law, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), granted UK websites a yearlong grace period before the law would fully come into effect.

Continue reading

Facebook IPO – Happy Friday For Many

After years of saying they were not going to sell, the Facebook IPO is happening today.

According to the Times “Facebook will make one of the most ambitious stockmarket debuts in history today after valuing the networking site at over $100 billion”.   It certainly is a happy Friday for many as Mark Zuckerberg will become a multibillionaire and 1,000 employees (past and present) will be millionaires once the launch takes place on the NY Nasdaq at lunch time.  Mr Zuckerberg will become the 23rd richest person in the world – quite impressive for a Harvard drop out.

Facebook IPO - Happy Friday

Last night the Facebook share price was set at $38 USD valuing the company at $104 billion. But is the company really worth this much? Will Facebook continue to grow as fast it has done over the past 5 years?  Facebook made $3.7 billion in revenue last year and $1 billion in profit. But will the advertising revenue increase or have we seen a peak of the activity.  Is there a Facebook bubble and will it burst like FriendsReunited?

The IPO will affect users, there will be even more changes to personal profiles, (I just got an update today), privacy settings will be changed and potentially the way Facebook is being used will alter in the future.  The social networking site already acts like a business tool, delivering targeted adverts to its users (who often are not interested). The cash raised from the IPO will be used to buy rival companies and build new products.

It will be interesting to see how the future of Future of Facebook pans out from today, it is history in the making.

How To Get Your First Job Out Of Uni

The middle of May every year signals the end of the University term and for those students at Uni , it means their time as a student is up and they need to start of looking for a job.

It is hard to find the perfect job, even harder to find it in a field you have studied in. I studied International Management and Business Administration with French and it was very difficult to find a job in this field.  I really wanted to work in Marketing and even though there was no financial crisis, it was nearly impossible.  I am now in the field that I want to work in, but I had to go through a lot of different jobs to get there.  Here are some tips:

Work Experience

Yes it is a bit tiring and can be annoying working for free, but it is important for the CV.  I did try and get work experience while I was at Uni and unfortunately as I did not have a degree, I could not get work experience.  Do not want until after you graduate otherwise you will be in the vicious circle of “if you not have experience, you cannot work at a company”.  Get your foot in the door before you finish Uni. The National Council For Work Experience has a list of useful sites for students.

Graduate Roles

Scour the internet for graduate roles .  They are few and far between but if you are lucky enough to get one, they fantastic jobs as you can training and development and such a young age.  When I worked at MEC, I met a graduate who set up her own blog recording her life as a grad at MEC.  It is a fantastic blog, all her posts are very detailed about her life at MEC.

Expand Your Skills

I wanted to go into marketing and then was attracted to online, now I do SEO and set up the website SEO Jo Blogs. I have worked with graphic designers who studied only offline print design working in brochure design but they could not get enough work in this field.  Therefore they branched out to online (with little experience, just what they read in books) and are now web designers as well as the ability to work offline. Print design and web design are not the same thing and from experience it is important to know both, especially if you want to increase your chances of getting a job. There are many print

Don’t Give Up

Most important part of this post.  Do not become despondent or depressed, you will get a job.  If you cannot find a job in the field you want to go in, try going it alone.  For example, if you want to get work as a web designer, why not design your own webiste.  You have time and can do this for little cost.  I wanted to work in SEO but it was very competitive and therefore I set up my own site. If you want to get into fashion, making the lastest collections, start making clothese for yourself and wear them to Uni or out and about.

Penguin and 52 Updates Later

This past week, everyone has been talking about the 52 Updates from Google.  Late last Friday, after I had just updated my blog about the Google Algorithm update, Matt Cutts wrote his latest post on inside search blog.

Penguin and 52 Updates

Penguin was officially released on April 24th, (again the day after I published a blog post on seojoblogs.com).  People saw their rankings drop when Panda was realeased, some saw their rankings increase (but you don’t get to hear about these ones). Now everyone is talking about Penguin, but what is it?  Well some people have said it is an update of Panda while others are calling it a separate name, Penguin.  The  name not is as important as the actual update which focuses on 2 areas of a site: keyword stuffing and unnatural linking.

Some people have been using copyspinning tools to produce poor quality content such as this example. (taken from the Google blog)

Example of Content Affected By Penguin

 

You can blatantly see the links for loans have nothing to do with getting fit, and for a long time this has been a black hat technique.  Those sites that practice the above techniques which includes keyword stuffing and unnatural linking (and spammy links like exact match anchor text and guest posts on bad sites) will lose rankings.  So it is important when you are doing blogger outreach to target high quality blogs, no spam otherwise you will be affected.

What are the 52 updates?

There were 52 updates in April and  some of the other most important changes included Penguin.  There was also an update regarding more authorative results, no freshness boost for low quality sites, sub-sitelinks in expanded sitelinks and smoother ranking, for fresh results.  Content is king, and as Google loves fresh content, your site will have a higher chance of ranking if you update it regularly than if you do not.  Matt Cutts has said that if you feel your site has been unfairly targetted, to contact Google.

Google vs Spam

Google are constantly fighting spam, as there is apparently still a lot on the internet which is the complete opposite of a what the cofounder of Google, Sergey Brin said in 1999. I saw the quote from Danny Sullivan’s post on <a href=http://marketingland.com/is-googles-over-optimization-penalty-its-jump-the-shark-moment-in-web-search-8633″> “Google’s Over Optimisation Penalty”</a> where he refers to the fact that Sergey Brin, said there is no spam and that they never ban anyone.  I am sure he didn’t know at the time how many updates they would carry out (it is up to 500 a year), but surely there has to be a time when Google says stop and appreciates the work the SEO world has been doing.

We seem to be bound by what Google say.  Yes they are the dominating search engine and I do use many Google products myself, but it just seems like they have become too big and we have no choice but to follow their rules. This update will just be one of many to come in the future.  I do not like seeing spam in the search results and am happy a search engine is trying to eradicate it, but as an SEO person, I would like to be certain that if I do work for a client which is white hat. This surely leads onto us having to justify SEO even more.

So what should we do as SEOs?

Well I think first thing is first, do not get your clients to focus on rankings.  Move away from this. Use this update as another opportunity (as I am sure you have tried this before) to show why looking at other SEO factors are important. Get your clients to look at natural search traffic and social signals.  If you have not been using a social media strategy before, this is even more reason to start.

(image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/antarcticabound/5220534077/)

Search Down Under

I went to Australia last December to visit my sister who had recently moved to Aussieland  and I also wanted to check out the search market. I had been working in London for 6 years and therefore wanted to see what search was like on the other side of the globe.

Search Down Under | Perth WA | SEO Jo Blogs

Western Australia

I spent most of my time on the west coast, in Western Australia, the biggest state in Australia.  There were quite a few perth seo  agencies I came across while I was in Perth.  Most are boutique and specialised, there are no multinational agencies yet on the west coast.  However, this can be an advantage to those looking for an agency as you will get more personalised services.  No disrespect to some of the bigger agencies but they have a lot of clients on their books and they might not be able to deal with smaller and more specific client enquiries.  But of course, it really depends on the project.

Growth

Perth has gone through a huge growth recently, partly due to the mining boom and search engine marketing in Perth is no exception. A lot of the agencies work with local businesses and are keen to drive through a clear ROI. This is even more important in an industry that is not well known. I think PPC is easier to understand as people can relate that back to display and also other forms of traditional advertising.  However seo does struggle to show a clear ROI for the work as it is more about having a good partnership with an agency.

Opportunity

I run Search London in the UK and have been to many events such as Brighton SEO, SES and SMX.  In Australia, there are not as many search marketing events as in the UK or US, but that is looking to change.  Until recently there was no SMX in Australia, but now it is in Sydney and Melbourne every May. There is a big opportunity in Australia to host more search marketing events.  It has grown phenomenally in the UK and I am sure Australia will see the same pattern of growth over the next couple of years.

Search is an area that is constantly developing.  I was not in the industry when it first developed in the UK more than 10 years ago, but I can witness and be part of the growth in Australia.

Google Algorithm Update

Google are constantly updating their algorithm, so we have to jump on the Google bandwagon if we want to rank high in the search engine giant.

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about authorship  and the actions we should take from it.  The following day, April 24th, Google updated their blog with a post about rewarding high quality sites. They said that over the next few days that they will be launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam.  It is now the 3rd of May and their blog post has not yet been updated on the change, but I am sure it will soon.

Google Algorithm Update | seojoblogs.com

This is just the latest in a long list of updates they have introduced over the past 12 months.  Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be an end.  It is good they want to get rid of spam sites and I agree with that completely. But Google can sometimes penalise sites as was the case with the Panda update.

Google have said that they can’t give much away what they will introduce over the next few weeks but as always they give out the advice to website owners to create high quality sites which create a good user experience and only use white hat techniques. At Brighton SEO Pierre Far mentioned the same thing which also featured in the “Ask The Engine” debate.

The Panda update affected 12% of queries and this algorithm may affect about 3.1% of queries in English. I am actually quite interested to see how this will affect those in SEO and also the impact it may have on our clients.

 

Link Building – How to Find Good Blogs

Link building has come a long way since link directory submissions. More and more people are engaging in blogger outreach, but how can you be sure you are contacting the good blogs?

Link Building - Paddy MooganI met Paddy Moogan from Distilled at the LinkLove Conference earlier this year where he gave some tips on how to identify the good blogs from the bad ones. Paddy  has a wealth of SEO experience and has worked with a range of different clients across the UK and US. I therefore invited him to talk at the next Search London event.  Link Building Through Blogger Outreach – How To Find Good Blogs

Date: Tuesday, May 29th

Time: From 7:00pm

Location: The Green Man, 383 Euston Road, NW1 3AU

Paddy wil be able to show you how to engage in blogger outreach and ensure your content will be hosted on good quality blog sites not ones which will see your site be penalised.

If you are working in link building are not sure which blogs to approach or how to approach them, RSVP to reserve your place  on www.meetup.com/search-london

 

New Design For SEO Jo Blogs

I wrote a post a few days ago that I was going to redesign my website.  This past week, there have been a few final tweaks and now I am pleased to say it is “officially” live.

Welcome to the new SEO Jo Blogs site.  There are a few areas on the site that have been amended with this redesign:

1) The Name – from seojoblogs to SEO Jo Blogs

It was always SEO Jo Blogs and it will always be, but as people had been reading it as seo job logs, I decided to separate out the SEO from Jo and Blogs more clearly. Now it reads as it should = SEO Jo Blogs.

2) Sharing – Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin

The redesigned site has more sharing plugins.  You can also contact me through the email function.  I have set up a new Facebook page to coincide with the new site.  I am still working on the vanity URL, please click on the Facebook button at the top of the site or click on the SEO Jo Blogs Facebook page link.

3) Logo

You will see there is now a dedicated logo on the SEO JO Blogs website which is very similar to the one on my business card. I just never had a proper logo for the website. Thank you to  Said Bhugeloo from Buttons Aren’t Toys for designing the logo and the website. I really liked the logo from my business card  and therefore based on this, Said created a brand new logo for the website. The new theme for the website which Said worked on ties in with the business cards and the modern look of SEO Jo Blogs I wanted the site to have.

The Old SEO Jo Blogs

 

I hope you like the new website, it would be great to hear your thoughts on the redesign.  Look forward to seeing you all at the next Search London, date to be announced this week.