Lots of questions stock piled, so I will attempt to answer as many as I can over the next few weeks and months. I can't promise they will all be answered but I will do my best. Details on where to send your questions are below this post. Question 1 : Mark, Birmingham
Having read a fair few SEO Blogs there are now a few I rely on for decent information. But one of these blogs called my judgement into question as they <blog name removed>, spoke of how websites should consider using more heading tags (h1, h2 etc), bold and italics around keywords, both within the main content and elsewhere. Surely this is bad practice? Can you shed any light on the reasoning behind the this post? Answer 1 :
Mark, I've taken a look at the post you are referring to and to say I was shocked is an understatement. The company whom the blog belongs to I have known of for years and like you would rely on them from time to time, though I don't currently.
However to your question. The reasoning behind the blog is fairly simple, emphasising keywords is to an extent how search engines rank your site. So basically to rank higher for a keyword or key-phrase you need to make it clear that is the prominent word or phrase of a given page. In the not to distant past, a few years, the techniques above were used to make it clear these were the "vital aspects" of a website, as were the meta-tag keywords. Swing forward to the modern day and much has changed, these techniques are used by the ... desperate seo's to try and grab that last bit of ground, but search engines know this and will pretty much ignore such nuances. These techniques aren't black-hat but they aren't favoured either.
So with the reasoning behind us let me explain a little of what you should be doing in regards to emphasis of key-phrases within a web page. Key-phrases are the one or two terms on a page you wish to really rank for, product name and maybe your company name or something like that. You should relate to them in your URL (if possible), your page title, your H1, H2 tags (for e-commerce these are normally the product name and your company name), in alt-text for product images and in your main content (this isn't to say write the words 5 million times, you should write naturally about a product, there will always be a natural skew to your keywords - hopefully). And finally of course don't forget to use your key-phrases on your anchor text for both internal and external linking.
Question 2 : Sally, New York & (similar question) Neil, Torquay
I am a member of a local business network and there is a web guy there who keeps going on about how Local SEO is vitally important and over the next year anyone without it would suffer somewhat. What is Local SEO and will we really suffer without it?
Answer 2 :
What a loaded question from both of you, sorry I put you together but you both want to know what Local SEO is and why it is important. The reason it is loaded is because I've worked with and still consult with a large number of Locally based businesses and no two businesses are the same, and the results for the same actions are not equal. They all gain but to what extent varies.
Local SEO (since you ask) is about being found by those consumers close to you. You will have noticed that if you search for say "piano lessons in manchester" (service in areaname) you will get a little map on the right of google and place listings (either at the top or halfway down) - this is local search, on Google you can get this listing from the Local Business Centre. Local SEO also includes the likes of facebook places and foursquare - these are generally for mobile applications and people "check-in" when they do they can see what stores are around them and also sometimes what special deals you have... basically you can entice them in to your store.
Now will you suffer without it? The answer is mixed as I have mentioned above, basically it depends on your business type, business area and what you intend to get from "going local". For example if you are a bog standard retail store wanting to get some extra customers by offering 10% off for people checking in with foursquare, you may well see a boost in sales (checking in with facebook or foursquare is normally public and so can be good for your company image). If you are say a piano teacher in manchester, you are ultra-local really and would stand to gain more from using Google Places instead of facebook places ... you want people to find you from near you but not necessarily passing traffic, your not a shop you are a service. So basically if you are retail go to foursquare and facebook (also register with google) but if you are simply a service maybe just Google concentration would be better. - have a play and let me know how you get on. ahem yes that was a shameless plug for a client up there!
Question 3 : Emma, Manchester
Do I need to hire an SEO (company) or can I do it myself? I would like to really improve my rankings and get lots more traffic to my website. Can I really do this myself?
Answer 3 :
Now, as the is a business you'd expect me to just say yes (and hire me) ... erm well no I won't ever say that. There are a few reasons that you should be cautious in regards to this. Firstly, not all SEO Companies are transparent, they will promise the undeliverable and lie to get your money. Secondly, lots of SEO Companies cold-call any company that does this to me isn't worth the money you may spend on them (even just a penny), so if you get a call say no or ask them to send info via snail mail - if they are willing to snail mail they maybe worth their weight in gold - only maybe though! Thirdly, lots of seo companies will do the menial tasks such as link building, article writing and what not... problem is what they do can be a little rubbishy - no body knows your business like you do. Fourthly, a lot of the work although it takes effort can be done by yourself, or anyone who knows the internet fairly well (ask a relative who is 14 or 15 to help out).
So it looks like it's a big no from me? well mmm not really, SEO is something that takes time and a lot of effort, outsourcing this can really help, but I urge you not to outsource everything. When I take on clients I tell them that I wont do it all, I need them to do certain things and trust me to do other things. I will yes go out and build links and get traffic but I also warn that traffic is useless unless you have a website worth the visit. Quality websites aren't easy to find and you will have done it yourself visited a site (added a hit to the site) and ran away realising it looks like junk - its the same with everything ... so don't concentrate on just traffic concentrate on quality over traffic. Make your website work and users will come - give a great customer experience and people will naturally talk about you (on facebook or twitter or on a review website) naturally increasing your SEO ... today seo is less about article writing and more about quality. never forget that.
Question 4 : Steve, Germany (tell me your city next time :P)
What unique tip(s) do you have for creating noise around a website within a local community, eg my city?
Answer 4 :
Well Steve, I presume you aren't meaning that you want to know how to put 500 media players on a web page? No ... good because I'd stop answering now! So unqiue tips, I am sure they aren't unique but they are rarely talked about or taken for granted - I like to think of them as "ohh yeah, duhh!" ideas ... aka why didn't I think of that.
Building links: Ask your friends and family to add a link to your website (or a product) saying how good it was, on social media platforms - basically this (presuming your family and friends are local) will expand your potential audience as their followers/friends will also be local for the most part.
Being Personal: businesses (regardless of the type) can be seen as hard faced if they don't have a human aspect. For example think IBM you think machine and business, Microsoft you think computer and big corporation, think Barclays and well lets not go there! Basically none of them have a human face really, But now think Apple ... steve jobs is likely first followed by iPhone ... they are putting a person first. Think about the name of this site SEOAndy ... its clearly about SEO and Andy is the guy behind it. So instead of being all businesses with responses to emails or your tweets etc, be personal take time to reply to people and create a community around your accounts. A brilliant example of this personal approach is the twitter of Virgin Trains @VirginTrains where just a few words saying thanks or heres more advice can really calm frustrated customers. try it.
Be Different: Don't copy your competitors, don't copy amazon or ebay, they are one off's just as your website is. be unique for your market. Take the best of all worlds but don't "photocopy" a website.
Ok, thats all for today. I've so many questions to get through over the next few weeks (3 more arrived as I wrote this). I would apologise for paraphrasing questions or putting similar questions together, but I would rather you all had good answers than me repeat myself to the annoyance of other readers.
If you've any questions email them to admin*at*andykinsey.co.uk tweet to @andykinsey or leave them in the AK Designs facebook group.