I’ve written before about how web designers don’t know how to do search engine optimization and why bringing an SEO company into your project as early as possible is a good idea.
This last week I saw one of the worst uses of meta tags on a new client’s site. The company that set up the WordPress blog for my client coded in a meta tag that tells the search engine spiders to ignore every page and link on the site.
The worst thing is every method I tried to change that code failed. However, I know a work around for everything. Since I couldn’t change the meta tag, I added a robots.txt file. Spiders look at two things when they visit a site, the meta tags and the robots.txt file. On my client’s site the meta tags said “go away” but the robots file says index my entire site.
It’s entirely likely that a robot might find the same links on some other page without a NOFOLLOW (perhaps on some other site), and so still arrives at your undesired page.
The other thing I did to fix the situation was submit the URL to Google for indexing and created a directory listing for the site at Merchant Circle. Tomorrow a press release hits that also contains links, so I know we’ll be getting a lot of quality inbound links for my client in a very short time.
In the mean time, I’ll still be figuring out how to move that irresponsible meta tag. The reason the tag exists is to avoid the so called “duplicate content penalty.” However the penalty no longer exists.
There is one reason and one reason alone to ever use the noindex, nofollow meta tag. It’s when you’re running a paid search campaign to a specific landing page and you don’t want organic traffic to skew your numbers. That’s it!
Where do you place the robots.txt file?
It goes in the root directory like this – http://www.seobyswaby.com/robots.txt. It’s just like a page except it’s in basic text instead of .html.
What’s in a robots.txt file?
Very simple commands for the spider. Here’s what my client’s file looks like.
If you’re doing a site redesign or having a site made for the first time, be sure to get someone who understands SEO involved early because you will save money and possibly avoid having your site tagged to be ignored by Google.
Last week I had a meeting with John over at inQuo, a computer support company. He suggested I write an article about why SEO must be ongoing and not a one shot deal.
That is a very good idea because many people think we SEO guys just sprinkle a little magic dust and presto websites are appearing on the front page of Google.
While I could go into detail about specific steps that need to be taken each month, the bigger reason ongoing SEO needs to occur is more conceptual.
Three major reasons you need ongoing SEO services:
1. Google loves fresh content and rewards it with high results. If you don’t have someone to update your content or site on a regular basis, any upfront, on page SEO will eventually lose its value. It may not happen right away, but it will happen.
2. Tracking. Businesses and people for that matter tend to perform better when there’s a number to beat. If you don’t measure performance, you’ll never know how to improve it. Any SEO service should involve monthly reporting. For certain types of PPC, these reports should be weekly.
3. Expertise. While having tracking in place is part of the battle, knowing how to read those numbers is the other part. For this site, I’ve found Friday’s are my slowest day of the week. I’ve tried additional marketing on Twitter and making sure to post new content to help drive traffic on that day, but it still tends to be my slowest day. Other sites I’ve managed have other “slow” days. It’s my experience that tells me whether to be concerned or to recognize that it’s a normal traffic trend.
The same applies to spikes in traffic. If you get one you want to know why, whether that traffic is effective and whether to try and duplicate it. Again, it’s experience that matters.
Some people think SEO is a waste of time and money. Some SEO companies will waste your time and money. I don’t think a properly executed campaign is. I’ve seen amazing results in the past and now from being on top of the search engines both in traffic and income. I know proper SEO works and I know it needs to be ongoing. There is no magic dust. There are no instant results.
I felt that because I had done a lot of research on my real estate blog, I didn’t need to do it on this one. I knew I wanted a key phrase like “salt lake city seo” to test my skills and my success with that term certainly makes a great point in my sales presentation.
When I targeted that term I knew “utah seo” would be the one that would drive more traffic, but I knew it would be harder to get. What I didn’t know was “salt lake city seo” is searched less than 30 times a month on all the major search engines combined.
Had I invested a little time at the beginning, that mistake wouldn’t have happened. Fortunately my success with that key phrase displays my SEO skills and I’ve been able to use those results constructively.
When I started doing some keyword research last week for some new clients who are geographically targeting traffic, I discovered only a few industries in Salt Lake are searched for with a location included. The are dentists, lawyers, HVAC contractors, plumbers, general contractors and real estate agents.
Every other industry in Salt Lake is searched for less than 30 times a month according to the numbers. I believe the reason is pay-per-click advertising is so well filtered for delivering geographic results, web searchers tend not to include a geographic location. Someone is more inclined to search for “SEO consultant” than “Utah SEO consultant” because the PPC result will include the information they want.
This is further evidence multi-pronged Internet marketing is necessary. The medium I’m most interested in is Twitter since it’s so easy to tag and search keywords there. There is also evidence PPC can be effective for driving traffic as well.
The bottom line is, you can’t ignore the keyword research no matter how well you think you know an industry. For my clients the first task is keyword research. I don’t write titles, metatags, copy or press releases until I know which words to use. Unfortunately in the SEO industry, this important step is often ignored or glossed over.
Keyword research is glossed over because it’s boring and tedious. Nobody likes to do it. Why research keywords when you can be doing exciting things like recording podcasts or videos and tweeting? Because those podcasts and videos have descriptions that require keywords to be found! Tweets are searchable. Why not use the keywords that are being searched? You can’t if you don’t know.
If you’re thinking of hiring an SEO company, ask them what the first step is. If it isn’t keyword research, you’re going to be wasting a lot of money.