Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

SEO

11 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 19-20, 2010)

Free SEO Copywriting Report

Related to my SEO Checklist/SEO Guidelines for content writers Brian Clark has covered similar ground and gives some good advice in his PDF. (although ultimately it’s an advert for their automated product – Scribe)

Blog Title Optimization: 6 Simple Steps for SEO Copywriters

More SEO writing tips, this time Dan Zambonini gives some blog post title tips. No reason why his advice should be limited to blogs, although he’s missed the chance to optimise the <title> seperately – giving the chance to hit a bit of a balance between humans (readability) and machines (findability)

Why use a hierarchical, hyphenated URL structure?

Another good, educational article in LBI’s “FAQ” series. They are good to have in stock to share when someone comes with a “why?”. Full marks this time for the use of cheese in the example.

Google Experts Answer your SEO Questions

A gang of 5 Google experts do some straight talking and provide a few to-the-point answers for web managers.

Intranet content manifesto – 2nd draft

An updated Intranet content manifesto. Nice idea – not guidelines or rules, but a manifesto. It’s been increasingly popular to produce such “manifestos” for varies topics. It’s a good way to build up some common ground and a feeling of inclusion

The Generation Gap in Your Office

The Rise of Gen Y (Millenniums) in the Workplace – Your Company’s Communication is About to Change.. An American infographic; but the pattern is the same in the UK/Sweden (and many other countries)

A Case Study on Enterprise Microblogging (PDF)

A write-up of the launch of enterprise “microblogging” (ie Status updates) within a 150 employee company in September 2008 (the study itself covers a period of March 2008-March 2009”.

Safe landing – a review of the direct deposit banking experience

In-depth article about direct banking, usability & eye tracking. James Breeze takes a look at landing pages & form completion.

7 ways to improve your call to action

We’re seeing time and time again in eye tracking studies just how little time people spend on landing pages before making a decision. This Conversion Room blog post from Google gives a whole load of tips and further reading.

What iPads and Tablets Mean for Web Analytics

Death of the dashboard & the age of segmentation? We interact with the Internet differently though mobile devices and tablets than we do through “traditional” computers – This makes understanding visitor behaviour and statistics a whole lot more complicated. Throw in that people “jump” between devices and we’re doomed!

Google Font API & Interview

At I/O one of the things Google launched was Google Font Directory… It’s Basically @font-face using Google’s resources; it’s nothing revolutionary, but it will be useful from a speed viewpoint.

SEO guidelines for content writers

Last week I published an SEO checklist for content writers. Here is some additional, practical, information and tips that expands upon that SEO checklist. Just like the checklist, I’m not claiming this is a definitive guide, but sharing these guidelines with your content writers will help you go a long way in joining some of the dots of website management.

Title

Detail of title from fishbang page

The <title> tag is one of the most important elements of the page in determining the subject matter of the page. The title must be unique within the entire website – and unique means unique! Absolutely no two pages should have the same title. This is the title that appears as the link in search results. It should be maximum 65 characters 57 characters (including spaces). Note that Google generally displays the first 6-7 words of your page title in search results, so your most important keywords or phrase that describes the content should be here, and preferably the first word or words.

URL

Detail of URL from fishbang page

The URL, or web address, should contain your main keywords and keyword phrase, and preferably as soon as possible in the URL. This is also often displayed in SERPS.

Heading (H1)

Detail of H1 heading from fishbang page

This should be the main heading on the page. This heading should include your main keyword phrase. This is likely to be the first content a visitor reads on the page (but not content that is usually displayed in search engine results). There should only be one H1 heading on your page.

Description

Detail of Google search result snippet

The meta description is often used by search engines as a “snippet” to describe the content of your page in search engine results. It should be a maximum of 150 characters and not shorter than 50 (including spaces). It doesn’t help the page’s ranking, but it does help the visitor decide whether to click on your link or not. Try to describe your page’s content clearly and not to repeat information that is already visible in the title.

Introduction text

Detail of introduction text from fishbang page

The textual content that appears higher up on a page is generally regarded as (more) important in deciding the relevance of the page. Your opening paragraph should include your keyword/phrase or synonyms.

Sub-headings (H2)

Detail of a sub-heading from fishbang page

Both search engines and people like sub-headings to break up the content. It allows people to scan the page quicker, as well as giving search engines some more keywords to use in their calculations. Sub-headings, by their very nature, carry less weight than the main (H1) heading. Use subheadings naturally and regularly throughout the content. It’s perfectly OK to have multiple H2 headings.

Page length

Word count of fishbang page

The total size of the page (in words) doesn’t directly affect the rank of a page in search engine results, but long pages are read less often. Better to keep your content shorter and divide it into separate (optimised) topics if necessary. Aim to keep articles to between 300-400 words. Making it too short and you may struggle to naturally include all your keywords in all the places needed. You won’t generally be punished by the search engines for longer articles, but it’s more likely you will lose the attention of the reader. Never go beyond 800 words unless it’s an in-depth blog post.

Internal Linking

Detail of links from fishbang page

Link words and keywords in your text that other pages on your site are optimised for to those pages. Only link once to a specific internal page from the page in question. This helps the ranking of the linked-to page. Link only to relevant related pages. The quality of linked-to pages helps authenticate the relevance of the linked-from page.

External linking

Linking to external pages not only helps the ranking of the linked-to page, but also the quality of linked-to pages and anchor text helps authenticate the relevance of the linked-from page. Don’t be scared to link to other sites. Link where you think it’s relevant and helpful to the visitor. Remember to consider linking to sister-sites, regional sites, or other content that you have published on other sites.

Images

Detail of an image from fishbang page

When illustrative images are included, write a short description of the picture/illustration that also includes appropriate keywords. This text can form the basis for your <alt> text and <title> text. Likewise, any caption that is associated with the image should be written with keywords in mind. The filename of the image (and therefore it’s URL) should also include relevant keywords and descriptive metadata.

Everything else

The list could go on; after all Google itself has over 200 different criteria that it uses to calculate the results it displays. But with the above tips and this SEO checklist for content writers and the fishbang example it should be more than possible to lift your writers to the next level.

Remember that you are writing first and foremost for people; the machines are an important target audience, but their importance is in bringing visitors to your content – they are not a final destination of their own.

SEO checklist for content writers

A situation that repeats itself again and again is that those asigned the task of writing content for websites are, well, writers of course. They aren’t webmasters or SEO experts. They are people who are good at gathering information and facts and producing great articles and content aimed at a specific audience.

At the same time, companies and organisations are expecting their websites to appear very high up in search engine result pages for various keyword phrases – often paying regular amounts of money to search engine optimisers who come in and tweak sites and pages, putting all the focus on the machine and less on the reader.

Practical help for writers

With just a little bit of practical help, writers can do a huge amount to help their websites, the search engines, and ultimately their readers. So here is that little bit of practical help for your content writers. This isn’t a definitive guide to SEO. I’m not going to claim it will put all your pages in the top three search results. What I will claim is that this guide and checklist will allow you to put a process in place for getting your talented writers to produce content that is much more search engine friendly.

The Checklist

Embedded below is an easy to follow check-list to give share with your content writers. You can also reach it directly via this link to Scribd: SEO Checklist for Content Writers Beantin April 2010

Example page

To help visualise the checklist, I’ve created fishbang, an example page that follows my checklist. The content is nonsense, it’s probably even a bit spammy for it’s optimised keywords “fishbang” and “bangfish” and the phrase “fishbang bangish” – but the oddness and low competitiveness of the those keywords and phrases means you can easily check where abouts it appears in search results.

Fishbang bangfish screenshot seo content writers

Publishing

Producing search engine friendly content is an important part of the jigsaw, but as you can’t expect content writers to be webmasters and SEO experts, you need to remember that good texts still need to be published with care and attention to detail. Without that icing on your content cake, your investment in quality texts could be wasted by poor quality web publishing.

5 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 17, 2010)

Twitteranvändning i Sverige

There has been constant speculation about how many active Twitter users there are here in Sweden. This article (in Swedish) makes public some research that Microsoft has commissioned. That survey states that 8% of Swedes have used Twitter. 5% use twitter monthly, 3% user it Weekly. Clearly being 35-44 and a daily user makes me quite special!

Why We Share Information

We are more willing to share with people with trust, especially mutually. Repeated communication helps build up that trust (doesn’t need to be very frequent or even face to face).

How to Break the Tyranny of E-mail

Oscar Berg writes about how to beat email as the tool of choice within the enterprise organisation. Summarising his post to it’s simplest possible – email is incredibly easy to use and flexible; your collaborative alternatives need to be equally as easy to use, and you need to train and coach people effectively.

Why I don’t like Facebook ‘Likes’

Facebook is a company that needs to make money, and it’s going to do that via fantastic amount of data it has about it’s 400 million users. It’s a marketeer’s wet dream. Biggest risk with Open Graph and “likes” on web pages is that it could tip the balance just a little too far. Remember that social networks always die in the end, just a matter of when.

Six things you can do in-house to improve your SEO

Not necessarily a list of the simplest and easiest things you could do in-house, but it’s a worthwhile read and not at all wrong.

Why changing Twitter name is a 404 nightmare

In February this year Swedish Social media facilitator Anders Sporring decided for personal branding reasons to change his Twitter profile name from @CityRat59 to @AndersSporring

I’m going to side-step the debate of whether this is a good or bad thing to do from a branding perspective, but instead use it as an example of what impact it has on your web presence.

404 nightmare

Anders was sensible enough to create another twitter account which he used to grab his original name of CityRat59 as soon as he changed the name to AndersSporring – but, this process creates an awful lot of 404s. In fact, it creates a “page not found” for all the URLs to every single tweet you’ve tweeted until the moment you changed name. In Anders’s case, this was thousands.

Twitter basically switches your usename in the URL, with makes no attempt to redirect any of the old URLs with a 301.

Twitter status

Twitter phishing!

All old replies still contain the original profile name, and the original profile name is still linked. So if Anders hadn’t grabbed his old account name and let someone else grab it, suddenly all his old statuses would be linking to someone else – Twitter phishing! Your original name would be hijacked, including any link-juice that the old profile may have had.

The replies are relinked to the new profile; which maintains the thread from a twitter perspective, albeit a little confusing due to the mix of old profile name and new.

Broken lists and favourites

It’s not only old tweets that give “page not found”. All your lists and favourites will also change URL with no redirect. Take Anders’s “Social media club Sweden” list. It’s original URL is still indexed by Google (at the tme of writing), but of course gives a 404. Google hasn’t been told that the list has a new URL.

Like changing domain

The conclusion? Changing twitter name is very similar to changing domain name; but without any control over redirects. If you have an established Twitter account with a long history of tweets (and perhaps a large number of followers) then you will end up with thousands of broken links and related content that has been indexed by search engines and various twitter-related sites.

My advice would be to think carefully about what Twitter name to adopt when you first join, and then think even more carefully before changing it at any point – Changing Twitter name has a wider reaching impact than you may have initially realised.

Update 20140924

It would appear that Twitter have sorted out most of the redirect problems that used to exist when changing Twitter name. Niklas Wikman changed Twitter name recently and wrote up his experience (in Swedish). Conversions are maintained (the threading changes name, but the username contained within the actual tweet remains the same) and Twitter is creating redirects for all of your old tweets. Changing Twitter name doesn’t seem to be at all the nightmare it once was.

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