28 April 2011

Google Places - Free Ads if done right!

Google Places - Every business should take the opportunity to register for this free advert. But like every search based service offered on the internet, there are certain factors that decide how each of the local listings rank. In short, you can optimise your Google Places entry to maximise its impact.
There are a lot of people talking about just which of these factors have the most impact? What we have decided to do is to create a simple set of tips so that people can get the biggest bang-for-their-buck without diving into the technicalities.
One point to keep in mind is that you don’t actually need a website to rank in local listings – some industry watchers seem to be of the opinion that site-based changes have only limited effect on local listings. Though making changes to your site to increase its relevance to your operating area is a positive move irrespective of its eventual effect on local listings.

Some of you may be thinking: “I’m not sure all of these techniques apply to me”, well you know your business better than anyone. I would just suggest that you do as much as you can!
So let’s dive in…

Age Of Listing

OK, it may seem strange to start with something that you can’t actually optimise, but think of it as something to spur you into action if you don’t currently have a Google Places listing. It seems the longer the listing has been in place the more weight it carries. So register your Places listing today!


This is a big one. You can select up to 5 categories for your listing and its worth spending a little time thinking about the best choices for this section. You may have a mobile car washing firm that keeps your customers’ cars looking sparkling, but putting your listing as ‘sparkling cars’ is probably not a great choice! What do you expect your customers to type? That is a good place to start.
For people who already have an SEO campaign it is also worth looking at the keywords for which you are currently optimising.

Claimed Listing

So what is a claimed listing? A claimed listing are listings that have been verified by the company themselves (which can be done by phone / SMS / mail). Greater weight is placed on listings that have been authenticated, so be sure to claim your listing.


Citations are basically references to your company being located in a particular area. These can be achieved by submitting your site to directories (especially local ones) and by setting your location to the specified area.

Distance to Centroid

This is the distance of your address to what Google sees as the centre of the specified location: e.g. if someone searches for ‘London Bakery’ and your address is in outer London then this will hurt your rankings. Obviously this a little difficult to optimise. Some people have talked about setting up a post box in a central location, however I’m a bit wary of this. Especially as…

Match your Contact page address with Google Places address

Simply keep your address standard across where you use it. This strengthens your claim to be located in that area.

Include References to Region in Page Title + Description

This is a fairly easy on-page change that anyone can make to their site, just include references to your particular location in the meta title and meta description tags for the pages on your site. I know that sometimes it feels like there is a lot of information to pack into these restricted spaces, but with some clever writing it is almost always possible. This is one site-based change I would recommend performing.


Yes, actually getting some decent pictures taken of your business. If you aren’t a shop location then still get some decent pictures of the van or transport you use. This not only adds more weight to your Places listing but serves to reassure potential customers that you are a legitimate business.


Similar to Photos, upload a video to YouTube to advertise your business. Not sure what your video should be of? It can be anything, an interview with yourself or others in the company, shots of people working, maybe even a little humour if applicable.


Your Google Places listing has the facility to offer coupons for prospective customers to redeem at your store. This is good for attracting customers but there seems to be a spread of opinion whether this actually increases the strength of your Places Listing.

Local Phone Number

This may seem a little obscure, but if you are offering a localised service then using a phone number with a local area code can be an advantage. After all, a rival with a 0800 number could be anywhere, a local number ties you to that area.


HCards are basically a way of including contact information in existing files such as HTML pages. Google has been looking at this data for a while now: for example they made reference to these ‘microformats’ when they introduced their Rich Snippets for some search results.

Customer Reviews

Positive customer reviews are your friend here, and although generating these is not always the easiest thing in the world. Their existence can not only help your word-of-mouth traffic and Google Places listing but can even help with your online advertising. Finding ways to incentivise happy customers to write online reviews is definitely time well spent.

Negative Google Places Ranking Factors

Using Keywords Name + Description

I’ve mentioned this negative factor as it seems like something of a contentious issue. For many it’s a great way to boost the relevance of your listing for a particular keyphrase, for others it’s a good way to get your listing penalised.
Some suggest just adding words to the business title if they seem applicable – e.g. ‘Mc Millans’ might enter ‘Mc Millans Bakery’ – but Google’s guidelines specifically rule this tactic out.
“Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.”
This is not a complete list of factors but an amalgam of the cacophony of opinions available on the web. Keep an eye on the Google Places guidelines to make sure you aren’t being pulled astray, but know that time spent making the most of your Places listing is a great free way to boost your Google Profile.

Too much info? Contact Scream Media today and let us do the hard work.

27 April 2011

Google's new +1 Button and how it will effect SEO

Do people care about search like they care about friends?

Last month Google unveiled its new +1 button, which the company came right out and said would contribute as a ranking signal for its search engine. While it has yet to roll out to everyone (you can opt-in for it), the button has the potential to either be a huge win for Google (and search in general) or a huge bust.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the button, and the impact it will actually have.

Do you think the Google +1 Button will succeed or will it be another flop?

1. Will publishers adopt the button?

One of the reasons Facebook's "like" button is so popular is because publishers all over the web post it on all of their content. It helps drive engagement among readers, and potential traffic as users share that content with their friends.

Google already offers the Buzz button, and it does appear on many content sites. It stands to reason that any site currently using the Buzz button will adopt the +1 button, as it should do essentially the same thing, while also contributing to search rankings. Why not use it? that leads us to the second question, but before we get to that, it's also worth noting that the Buzz button is not nearly as omnipresent as the Facebook Like button. Again, the search implications may still encourage sites like these to adopt the +1 button.

The +1 button is shorthand for "this is pretty cool" or "you should check this out."
Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1's can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.

23 April 2011

Tiny URLs - are they killing your SEO?

With Google looking more at social media these days, in terms of ranking signals, a lot of webmasters continue to wonder how Google treats URL-shorteners in terms of SEO.
Which URL-shorteners do you use to promote your content? Let us know.
This isn’t completely new information, but it still seems to be a topic that continues to come up fairly regularly. Google’s Matt Cutts addressed the issue in a video posted to Google’s Webmaster Help YouTube channel.
“Custom URL shorteners are essentially just like any other redirects,” he explains. “If we try to crawl a page, and we see a 301 or permanent redirect, which pretty much all well-behaved URL shorteners (like bit.ly or goo.gl) will do, if we see that 301 then that will pass PageRank to the final destination.”
“So in general, there really shouldn’t be any harm to using custom URL shorteners in your SEO,” he continues. “The PageRank will flow through. The anchor text will flow through, and so I wouldn’t necessarily worry about that at all.”
“Now, just to let you know, if you look at, for example, Twitter’s web pages, many of those links have a nofollow link,” he adds. “So those links that are on the webpage, may not necessarily flow PageRank, but we might be able to find out about those links through some other way – maybe a data feed or something like that. But just URL shorteners, as far as how they relate to SEO, are not necessarily a problem at all.”
When we spoke with Gil Reich of Answers.com at SMX Advanced last summer, he suggested using shorteners that let you get keywords in the URLs.

16 April 2011

Googles "Kung Fu" Panda puts the squeeze on Microsoft

However, the update benefited many other media sites including Tech Radar rival Tech Crunch, owned by AOL, which saw visibility increase by 41%. Mirror.co.uk, ITV.com and Metro.co.uk all saw visibility boosted by about 20%.

The search visibility data was compiled by Berlin-based search analytics company Search Metrics that looked at how sites’ visibility fared before and after Google’s Panda update against popular keywords.

SearchMetrics CTO Marcus Tober says the brands affected by the Panda update can still turnaround their search visibility.

He says: “One of the important things to remember is that you must make your site useful to your visitors first - by putting information up there that is truly valuable and different.”

Tober adds that it is likely Google will fine tune its algorithm update in the coming weeks so that some sites will not take such a “painful hit”.

Top 20 ’losers’ from Google’s Panda UK update (Source: Search Metrics)

Domain    New visbility    Old visibility    Change    %

moneypage.com        25    39231    -39206    -99.94
pricedash.com        127    55141    -55014    -99.77
njobs.org.uk        92    30693    -30601    -99.7
voucherstar.co.uk    126    38748    -38622    -99.67
osoyou.com        96    26668    -26572    -99.64
zath.co.uk        161    39768    -39607    -99.6
shoppingvouchers.co.uk    134    30056    -29922    -99.55
discountshoppinguk.co.uk491    66270    -65779    -99.26
just-food.com        293    39282    -38989    -99.25
webdevelopersnotes.com    583    54948    -54365    -98.94
netvouchercodes.co.uk    1935    152376    -150441    -98.73
pocket-lint.com    2128    165956    -163828    -98.72
killerstartups.com    869    52717    -51848    -98.35
wakoopa.com    1334    71525    -70191    -98.13
aceshowbiz.com    907    46188    -45281    -98.04
everydaysale.co.uk    3822    175800    -171978    -97.83
hotfrog.co.uk    1124    44863    -43739    -97.49
phonesreview.co.uk    864    33418    -32554    -97.41
electricpig.co.uk    1678    60882    -59204    -97.24
kgbanswers.co.uk    1009    31427    -30418    -96.79

Top 20 Winners from Google’s ’Panda’ UK update (Source: Search Metrics)
Domain    New visibility     Old visibility     Change    %

ebay.co.uk        1469346    1034302    435044    42.1
techcrunch.com        174797    124220    50577    40.7
national-lottery.co.uk    292053    209357    82696    39.5
econsultancy.com    186175    135804    50371    37.1
thisismoney.co.uk    234717    180377    54340    30.1
siteslike.com        175869    140279    35590    25.4
mirror.co.uk        275876    220937    54939    24.9
blogspot.com        1006719    819832    186887    22.8
mashable.com        295137    240714    54423    22.6
itv.com            345470    282300    63170    22.4
metro.co.uk        181507    149271    32236    21.6
independent.co.uk    471896    388280    83616    21.5
mozilla.org        146282    122471    23811    19.4
youtube.com        8856696    7446902    1409794    18.9
vimeo.com        168979    142182    26797    18.9
wordpress.com        331836    279738    52098    18.6
laterooms.com        150533    127297    23236    18.3
dailymotion.com        577590    490328    87262    17.8
soundcloud.com        150998    128569    22429    17.5

08 April 2011

Quick fix for SEO

Just as fixing technical issues at your website is an important part of search engine optimization, so, too is optimizing your site's overall structure.

Site structure helps search engines understand your site's "topic" and more easily find and index relevant content. "By creating a good structure, you can use the content you've written that has attracted links from others, and ... spread some of that 'linkjuice' to the other pages on your site,"

Visualize the overall map. Using tools like Visio or Excel, map all the pages and sections in your site as a tree. Make your site structure look like a reasonably balanced pyramid, with 2-7 main sections, No section should be more than twice as large as any other section.

Name your sections with targeted keywords. Use Google Trends, the Google AdWords Keyword tool, and Microsoft's Keyword Group Detection to make sure your section names include the keywords for which people are most likely searching.

Connect the sections of your site. Increase your site's rank-ability by building a fluid internal link structure. Keep links between pages relevant to each page.

Create URLs from your new site structure. Each URL should describe the content of that page, yet it should be as short as possible. Always include the most important keywords in your URLs.
Well-defined categories, balanced content development, internal links between relevant pages, and URLs that make sense for your site are the secrets to search-optimized site structure

06 April 2011

Getting the right Website Design

Keeping clients beats acquiring new ones, that’s what many companies believe in. There’s nothing wrong with enlarging your market and extending to new clients, but because companies depend on the patronage of their customers, they make it a point not to lose any of them. In online business, this is also correct. Getting new visitors to your website is good; it means they have acknowledged that you exist. However, you will also keep on dropping them if you don’t have anything absorbing to offer them. Make your website design fascinating enough to get them to come back.

Although visual design has a huge role in the web industry, an effective website design is much more than stunning pictures and appealing hues. There must be substance as well. Give your site with fitting content and update it on a regular basis. So if there’s a web surfer who stumbled upon your site when he’s looking for particular data, he will keep on repaying to you if there’s something different you can provide on your website.
Keep your website design current and absorbing to make one-time surfers frequent clients. Even if you are selling the same old service, keep the pictures up to date, give more details, and present new information on how they can aid readers.
Maintaining your website regularly can also help remove obsolete texts and dead links, which frustrate visitors and discourage them from even trying to browse the rest of your web pages anymore. Clean those out by altering the content and design of your website frequently.
Still, website design does little effect to the traffic of your website if it isn’t supported with a good SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Simply adding fresh content and layout won’t rank high on search engines, like Google and Yahoo. So before you can have visitors come back again and again to your site, you have to stay visible on the first pages of search engines to let them know that they can surf your website.
In today’s really aggressive online market, merely setting up a site doesn’t help you get customers. The keys to staying on top are continuous website design upkeep and great SEO.