27 October 2009

The Basics Of Search Engine Optimisation

Firstly, there are literally hundreds of points that affect your sites search engine ranking, today I am going to give you the ones that you should look at when you're building or getting your site built by someone else, they are essential in starting a good platform for your sites road to gaining excellent organic listing position.

Make sure you understand what SEO is all about before you read this. I am using Google as an example but the principal is the same across all search engines with the same type of algorithm.
  • Build your site with the latest languages available, I.e PHP5.  Why? Because Google looks at how technologically advanced your site is and whether it complies with theirs and W3C standards.
  • Create Meta tags, but think about them thoroughly, make page specific tags so that Google can index specific pages for specific searches.
  • Create ALT tags for all of your images.
  • Have content that is relevant to a specific page, and make sure you do not overdo your keyword repetition because you will be penalized by Google.
  • Create both human and XML sitemaps for your site and submit them via all the major search engines webmaster tools.
  • Link your site properly, not only links out of your site, but also the structure of your site itself and how your site flows for your user. Please also be careful of who links to your site, they might not be relevant and have a very bad effect on your organic ranking.

23 October 2009

Who's on top in the online ads game?

Google tops or just better at monetising...

Using this reasoning, I want to predict that Google will also win the battle to build the biggest, strongest ad exchange-- because it will be better at monetising display ad inventory. This is not simply a reckless prediction; it is based on the underlying economics of ad exchanges and the careful choices Google is making in building out its exchange business. Some background
Ad exchanges have been around for a number of years now, with Yahoo's RightMedia being the largest and most successful exchange to date. DoubleClick launched its ad exchange shortly before being acquired by Google, but since the acquisition have not promoted it heavily, and put it on idle while rethinking and rebuilding the tool..

At a recent roundtable event, Google outlined their next generation ad exchange to be launched in the autumn of this year. The way they've tweaked the model is simple, yet fundamental. Here are the most significant changes and how it will impact publishers and advertisers alike:

1. Adwords becomes the buying platform

One of the biggest barriers to purchasing from ad exchanges is that they are separate platforms with their own workflow, billing and legal requirements. In short, it is hard for buyers to start trading with them.But from autumn, all agencies and advertisers will be able to buy ad exchange ad inventory through the AdWords UI.This means that all of Google's existing paid search advertisers will have instant access to all ad exchange inventory, producing a massive increase in liquidity, better workflow and fewer barriers to trade. For AdWords customers that are already buying 'content' as part of their paid search buys, the change will be almost unnoticeable.

It also makes the ad exchange that much more appealing to publishers looking to increase their yield and sell-through rates. The more advertisers, the greater the chances of getting a good price for hard-to-sell blocks of inventory (like long-tail international inventory) or of getting a match for user list targeted impressions in a remarketing campaign. A classic positive network effect.

2. Guaranteed publishers payments on 30 days

Yes, this is not a typo! No sequential liability, no waiting for payment. Google is guaranteeing 100 per cent of revenues for publishers on 30 days, regardless of whether they have been paid by the advertiser. Of course, everyone pays Google on time, so this is probably not a major risk for them, but for most publishers (even large enterprise publishers) invoicing correctly and getting paid on time is a major headache and a major inefficiency in their businesses. A sales channel that guarantees payment on 30 days therefore becomes incredibly appealing.

3.Dynamic allocation for all

Dynamic allocation refers to the ability of an ad server to automatically select the highest yielding ad for a particular publisher impression, without the publisher having to make a hard allocation of that impression for a particular campaign or sales channel. The concept is fundamental to publishers that want to maximise yield across multiple sales channels (direct, sales houses, multiple ad networks etc). In the first version of DoubleClick's ad exchange, dynamic allocation was only possible if you ran DoubleClick's DART for Publishers as your ad serving tool. The new Google ad exchange will make dynamic allocation available to all publishers via an open API. This means that any publisher -- regardless of what ad serving platform they use -- will be able to include the Google ad exchange in their sales channel mix. This will massively increase the available set of publishers who can sell inventory through the exchange.

The bottom line

The above issues might seem slightly obscure or theoretical to some of you, and their impact will probably not be visible in the marketplace until well into next year, but the result is inevitable. Google will win the ad exchange battle. Integration with AdWords, guaranteed payment and the opportunity for more publishers to get involved, all equates to a stronger network and better potential to monetise.

As a publisher, you should seriously consider integrating Google's ad exchange as part of your sales channel mix..We at H2L are Google pro account holders, and will ensure that you maximise your full earning potential, or if its advertising on Google you're after, we will ensure you have the highest possible click-through and lowest cost per click.

Fundamentals of Website Redesign

About 9,999 times out of 10,000, companies that begin a redesign of their Website do so with the following reasons in mind:

1. "We want to freshen the look/feel."
2. "We need to update our content, to be more relevant for where we are today."
3. "We have too much information on our Web site...we need to clean house and provide a slimmed down version."

It's rare, even in 2009, that companies will speak to things that also matter a great deal: usability and SEO.

Usability and SEO go hand-in-hand. Search engines want to rank Web sites that provide a quality user experience for the searcher. How that's defined can be somewhat subjective (every Web site is unique and its target audience will also be unique).

So, rather than speak to usability, let's look at common mistakes that can happen when you're redesigning your Web site.

Keyword Research

If you're building a Web site to do well in SEO, you must begin with quality keyword research and competitive analysis. Many tools are available for keyword research, including Google's AdWords Tool, Wordtracker, and Keyword Discovery.

Another great source for keyword research is your existing paid search campaigns. After all, you can see actual impressions and historical data on how these words have performed in terms of CTR, time on site, pages visited, and -- most importantly -- conversion rate.

OK, so the keyword research is done, but we're not quite ready for the graphic designer yet.

Competitive Analysis

Once you know which keywords you want to target, you need to determine what it will take to compete (or if it's even feasible to try). If you determine that "travel" would be a great keyword, make sure have loads of content and links already, or have the patience to ride out the long process of building up this kind of authority. You may want to re-think this keyword, unless your brand is already a household name.

A quick and easy way to check the competitive landscape is to do a Google search for your targeted keyword(s). Find the top 10 ranking Web sites, then do a "site:www.example.com" search on Yahoo and see how many pages (and backlinks) are indexed for these Web sites. From there, you can also see how these other Web sites have built their information architecture and structured their content.

Information Architecture

Your goal should absolutely be to have a Web site that looks good, is search engine friendly, and provides a quality user experience. This stage of the game is very important. You don't want to just throw together a bunch of pages with little meaning or pages that don't add to the user experience.

That said, there are ways to generate quality, useful content that is good for SEO and adds to the user experience.

Review Analytics

The expression, "you don't know what you've got until it's gone," is so true for many redesign projects. There's such a rush to get the new look/feel live that you fail to review your analytics to see where you've been getting your traffic.

Perhaps you'd want to run a ranking report, as well? Perhaps you had rankings and traffic for a page that was about to disappear from your Web site, with the new launch? Maybe you want to reconsider dumping that page? Perhaps you could, at a minimum, 301 redirect that page somewhere else, so that you have a chance of maintaining that ranking or at least keeping the links that were pointing to that page from now pointing to a 404 page?


If there's one piece of headache-saving advice I can give you, it's this: make sure you 301 redirect every page of the old site to the new URL structure. If you can remember nothing else from this column, remember this.

If you can keep your URL structure the same during the re-launch, that's ideal. If you're like most, your URL structure will change. Remember that even a small change in the URL is a change and will require a redirect.


I've seen Web sites that were built out on a staging environment by their design agency, but lacked password protection. These development versions of sites were indexed by Google and, once launched, didn't do well at all because their content on the new site was a duplicate of the staging site.

The search engines didn't know they were the same company. Once this is live, it's very hard to correct. The design firm would have to 301 redirect every URL on the staging site to the new site's URLs.

Hopefully, these tips help spare many of you from the pains that often go along with a redesign and, more importantly, save you time and money.