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Archive: March 2009

How to land on the first page of a Google search


31 March 2009

By:  Michael Sebastian (this article comes from PR Daily.com.  Read more about daily PR tips and what's new at www.prdaily.com)

An expert on search engine optimization details how you can boost your site's prominence

Your company or client should appear on the first page of a Google search.

If so, you'll get a majority of the traffic, said John Spagnuolo, president of the New Media Institute. If you appear in the second page or third page, good luck, only the people with patience will get to you.

The interplay between two factors, content and credibility, is both simple and complex. It helps determine where your Web site lands on a Google search.

Content is fairly easy to understand; it's what's on your Web site. Credibility is the labyrinth of other sites linking to yours and the credibility of the sites linking, in turn, to those sites. Part of what induces other sites to link to yours is, of course, the quality of your content.

Spagnuolo recently outlined these terms and their importance at Ragan's Communications in a Web 2.0 World conference. He is a leading expert on search engine optimization (SEO), the tactics a site employs to improving its prominence on search engines such as Google. SEO applies to organic (unpaid) searches, not paid advertisements.

How do you determine your site's credibility? Type link:yourdomain.com into Google. For instance, to check the links to Ragan type link:ragan.com.  This search reveals the sites linking to you.

This is what matters to Google, Spagnuolo said. Yahoo offers a similar search.

Spagnuolo suggested downloading the Google tool bar. The Google page rank of each site you visit is on the tool bar. The higher the page rank, the greater a site's credibility.

Remember, the credibility of sites linking to you also matters to search engines. One link from The New York Times Web site, which has countless sites linking to it, is more valuable than 100 links from different MySpace pages.

How do you build credibility? Get people to link to you, Spagnuolo said. One way is to call or e-mail people and simply ask.

How do you build credibility and links without calling people one by one? Issue a press release, Spagnuolo said. Wire services feed your press release to Web sites. If a link to your Web site is on the press release, and other sites post it, then Google recognizes the sites as linking to you.

I don't care if a journalist reads it, Spagnuolo said. Google sees it. 

If you don't have a wire service, send a press release over PR Web, he noted. It feeds your release to numerous Web sites for a fee.

How do you hurt your credibility? You dilute it. For instance, companies will often launch a communications campaign that features an all new Web site.

Here's the problem. If the campaign builds buzz, people are linking to the new site and not to your primary site, Spagnuolo said. Search engines don't recognize the difference, and you're stealing credibility from your main site.

Avoid link farms. They are where credibility goes to die. When people learn that links build credibility they often purchase SEO submission software. A lot of them aren't very good, Spagnuolo said. Often this software feeds your site to link farms�the sites people land on accidentally that are packed with links. Google recognizes link farms, Spagnuolo said. Chances are, those links do not count toward credibility. 

Upload all of your videos to YouTube and link to them. If your videos appear on YouTube, more people will view them and then possibly link to your site.

Content is king. So your page rank is high, but your site still appears low on search engines. What's the deal? Something is amiss with your content.

Search engines send Web robots, called bots, to crawl over sites and catalogue key words. When someone plugs a word into a search engine, the Web sites that appear contain the words the bots found and catalogued. If the bot can't recognize a site's text, then it can't collect keywords from it and the site's search-engine position suffers.

Here's what you can do to attract the bots.

Start by determining your keywords. What will your customers search? Find out and begin incorporating them into the text of your Web site.
 
Choose a domain name with care. Include a keyword or words in the domain name. If you're selling pens, make sure pens is part of the your site's domain name, Spagnuolo said. Keep the domain name as short as possible, avoiding hyphens, he added.

Create a site map. Search engines check site maps to learn where to look for content, Spagnuolo said. Make sure the site map is available from the homepage. It should be text-based and kept up to date.

Learn how to add content to your site. The ability to add content to your site gives you an opportunity to make tweaks, including adding keywords. If you're relying on a Web or IT team to make updates, chances are your updates will lag. In order to stay competitive online you need to have control of your content, Spagnuolo said.

Add alt tags to pictures. Drag your cursor over an image on a Web site. An alt tag is the text that appears next to your cursor. It typically describes the picture. Search engines read alt tags. If a picture lacks an alt tag, a search engine sees a picture file, not text. 

Make sure your titles are consistent. A title is the name of a Web page that appears at the top of Internet Explorer when you visit a Web site. Add keywords to the titles and make sure they are consistent, Spagnuolo said.

Check the length of your Web address. Long URLs are a waste, Spagnuolo said. (Here's a place where Ragan.com can improve; look at your Web browser's address bar right now.) Add keywords to the Web addresses of different pages within your site. Don't let your Web team deter you, Spagnuolo added. It is possible, he stressed. Don't let Web content managers say it's impossible.

Avoid flash design�or else make sure your Web designer understands flash. If a designer fails to incorporate text into your site's flash elements, search engines see only a jumble of code, not keywords.

Gauge your traffic. Visit www.google.com/analytics to sign up for Google analytics. Then track how many people visit your site and which pages they frequent most. Expand the portion of your site that receives the most traffic, Spagnuolo said. It will help attract even more attention to your site.

FASHIONWEEK's 5th Birthday a Stylish Success!


23 March 2009

West Coast Cooler FASHIONWEEK's Spring/Summer event is over for another year, and what an incredible event it was!

Opening with an extremely popular, open to the public show in Victoria Square, the gorgeous guys and gals on the catwalk drew strong crowds as Alan Simpson compered and brought fantastic entertainment to the day. Clothes from La Senza, French Connection, Pepe Jeans and many more were paraded during a busy Saturday afternoon in The Square.

Next up, our FASHIONWEEK management team did their bit for charity on the Sunday morning and ran the Between the Bridges run for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice, then it was off to Cayenne for the stunning Style Sunday event. Hosted by Emma Louise Johnston and Peter Gilroy, diners were treated to style advice from designer extraordinaire, Una Rodden, hair maestro Paul Stafford and his team created some of the hottest spring/summer looks and the Lanc�me team showcased their colour palettes for spring. The day was a sell out success, and all guests enjoyed a mouth-watering three course meal, courtesy of Paul Rankin.

Monday 09 March was the time for the catwalk shows to begin, and FASHIONWEEK kicked off with an exclusive Victoria Square show with luxurious retailers such as Hugo Boss, Cruise, House of Fraser, Hobbs, Tommy Hilfiger, LK Bennett and many more. Tuesday night was the turn of the students from the Creative Youth Partnership and students from Belfast Metropolitan College who dazzled with their creations, drawing inspiration from this season's trends including neon and the 1980's. The evening also included an exclusive bridal showcase from Alison Jayne Couture, which topped off the ultimate original design evening.

Belfast's 'Style Mile', the Lisburn Road, was next up including boutiques, Jourdan, Fran and Jane, Benetton, Harrison, Optique Sight, Madison Rose, Déj� vu, Roxbury & McQueen, Eden Park and Blush all partaking in the evening. It was glitz and glamour all round with beautiful floor length dresses, summer colour and exclusive labels.

Closing the runway shows on Thursday night was an eclectic mix of the best of Belfast, including hot high street from French Connection and Oasis, vintage charm from Oxfam Vintage and quirky designs from Liberty Blue, amongst luxury labels Hugo Boss and Cruise, delectable designers Mary Rose McGrath and Una Rodden and sweetheart range, Avoca. Thrown in for good measure was a delicious splash of men who wore dashing Remus Uomo.

The Belfast City Council Master Classes featuring Irish designer, Paul Costelloe; Illustrator and Designer, Daisy de Villeneuve; Head of School at London College of Fashion, Frances Corner; Head of E-commerce at Harvey Nichols, Rob Jones; Fresh from the catwalks of Milan and Paris, Roma Vacarro; Hairdressing entrepreneur, Paul Stafford and Head of Retail at University of Ulster; Donald McFetridge spoke to an audience ranging from fashion students to boutique owners and imparted their wisdom of what they had learnt along their way to success.

Wrapping up the whole event at QFT was a fabulously fashionable evening of West Coast Cooler cocktails, an electrifying hair and make up show by Michael Quinn, Paddy McGurgan and their teams and a screening of the fashionista's favourite - The Devil Wears Prada.

Throughout the week guests were treated to glamorous goodie bags, brimming with gifts from Lancome, Rituals, Appletiser, He-Shi Tan, D'Lites, Shwarzkopf, Optique Sight and many more of our fantastic sponsors.

Thanks to all who made the fifth year of FASHIONWEEK so successful - we'll be back soon to give you all the details for AW09 and we have many tricks up our sleeves�

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