Achieve high site rank with these essential
SEO tips and tricks.

What is
SEO and SEM?

search engine optimization seo

SEO (Earning web traffic through unpaid or free listings)

Whenever you enter a query in a search engine, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, and hit 'enter' you get a list of web results that contain that query term. Users normally tend to visit websites that are at the top of this list as they perceive those to be more relevant to the query. If you have ever wondered why some of these websites rank better than the others then you must know that it is because of a powerful web marketing technique called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO is a technique which helps search engines find and rank your site higher than the millions of other sites in response to a search query. SEO thus helps you get free and relevant traffic from search engines.

Search engines crawl the Web, looking at particular site items (mainly text) to get an idea what a site is about. This is a five step process including crawling, indexing, processing, calculating relevancy, and retrieving.

First, search engines crawl the Web to see what is there. This task is performed by a piece of software, called a crawler or a spider (or Googlebot, as is the case with Google). Spiders follow links from one page to another and index everything they find on their way. Having in mind the number of pages on the Web (over 20 billion), it is impossible for a spider to visit a site daily just to see if a new page has appeared or if an existing page has been modified, sometimes crawlers may not end up visiting your site for a month or two.

After a page is crawled, the next step is to index its content. The indexed page is stored in a giant database, from where it can later be retrieved. Essentially, the process of indexing is identifying the words and expressions that best describe the page and assigning the page to particular keywords. Sometimes they might not get the meaning of a page right but if you help them by optimizing it, it will be easier for them to classify your pages correctly and for you – to get higher rankings.

When a search request comes, the search engine processes it – i.e. it compares the search string in the search request with the indexed pages in the database. Since it is likely that more than one page (practically it is millions of pages) contains the search string, the search engine starts calculating the relevancy of each of the pages in its index with the search string.

There are various algorithms to calculate relevancy. Each of these algorithms has different relative weights for common factors like keyword density, links, or metatags. That is why different search engines give different search results pages for the same search string. What is more, it is a known fact that all major search engines, like Yahoo!, Google, Bing, etc. periodically change their algorithms and if you want to keep at the top, you also need to adapt your pages to the latest changes. This is one reason (the other is your competitors) to devote permanent efforts to SEO, if you'd like to be at the top.

The last step in search engines' activity is retrieving the results. Basically, it is nothing more than simply displaying them in the browser – i.e. the endless pages of search results that are sorted from the most relevant to the least relevant sites.


SEM (Buying traffic through paid search listings)

SEM is an acronym for the phrase “Search Engine Marketing”. Also known as “paid search,” it’s the strategic process of purchasing ads on search engines like Google to drive highly targeted traffic to a specific website or online digital property.

As of 2014 almost half of all digital marketing spend was allocated to digital search with 31% being spent on paid search. In the same year it was projected that there would be a growth of 16% per year in total online advertising spend. What that means for small, medium or enterprise sized businesses is that paid search is becoming an essential marketing strategy as the digital landscape evolves. 85% of retailers understand that paid search and SEO strategies are the most effective ways to acquire customers. Furthermore SEM is now the most used marketing tactic with 66% of B2B marketers reporting that it’s part of their marketing strategies.

SEM Glossary

CTR: Refers to the the term “click through rate.” Represented as a percentage, it’s the rate at which a target audience engages with an ad by clicking on it. This metric is important because it helps PPC campaign managers and businesses measure the success of an ad.

CPA: Is an acronym for the term “cost per action.” It means advertisers pay for a desired action from an online advertisement. Some examples of desired actions are:

  • Filling out a landing page or contact form
  • Newsletter registration
  • Website registration
  • A purchase
  • A click to your website

PPC: Means Pay Per Click (also known and CPC or Cost Per Click). This is the amount the advertiser pays whenever a consumer clicks on one of its ads.

CPM: Refers to Cost Per Thousand. This SEM billing model charges an advertiser every time one of its ads is displayed to a target audience regardless of whether or not the person click on it. The billing rate is usually billed for every 1000 times an ad is displayed.

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Top 10
SEO Strategies

Implementing these SEO strategies are certain to increase your site rank and visibility.

  1. Find the Best Keywords
  2. Discover What Your Competitors are Doing
  3. Write Very Linkable & Shareable Content
  4. Optimize Your Title and Meta Tags
  5. Optimizing Your Headings and Subheadings
  6. Use Title and ALT Attributes
  7. Optimizing File Nomenclatures
  8. Tell the Search Engines What to Index
  9. Feed Search Engines Static and XML Site Maps
  10. Use Checklists and Validators
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SEO and SEM Services

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Should I Advertise in the
YellowPages ?

3 Reasons Why Online Yellow Pages Ads May be a Waste of Online Marketing Budgets

1. Google Reportedly Slapped them with a Recent Penalty

Need a good reason to draw the conclusion that something negative is amiss with the performance of the online Yellow Pages? How about this report that they took a 20% hit in traffic due to the recent Google Panda 4.0 algorithm update that targeted websites violating terms dictated by their Webspam team? Yellow Pages has not made a public facing statement on the matter but when the Panda algorithm slaps websites it doesn’t take a genius or an SEO (often mutually exclusive) to figure out what’s going on. Do you want to spend money for online advertising on a site that has taken such a big reported hit to their traffic and on one that may or may not have been playing by the “rules”?

2. It Creates More Work for Searchers

So what’s the end game here? To create more work for consumers to find you online? Of course not. But when you invest in online advertising with directories instead of allocating funds towards boosting the rank for your own website that is exactly what you are doing – keeping your customer at an arm’s length from your website. For example, you may have bought space within the Yellow Pages to be included within their premium listings for “Ontario interior designers” because they sold you on the fact that they are ranking well on Google for that search term. Sounds great, but did you notice how I italicized “they”? So what if they are ranking well for that term? It doesn’t help you as much as the alternative of investing in your own website’s SEO would. To see a return on your investment you first have to anticipate that Yellow Pages will maintain their rank for the keyword that you want to be found for. Then you hold onto the hope that searchers will opt to click on the Yellow Pages result as opposed to the businesses that ranked on Page One with them. And then you keep your fingers crossed that amidst all of the carbon copy listings and paid ads of competitors within the long directory that the consumers choose you. That’s a lot to ask of your prospective customers. Wouldn’t you rather invest a mere fraction of that budget into getting your own website up there on Google Page One?

3. Consumers Don’t Trust Paid Directories as Much as Organic Results

When users search for a business on Google they are looking for a direct answer to their query and they trust that Google will deliver them with the best options. They look at organic search results as an aggregate of public opinion. In a roundabout way they know that Google delivers these organic results based upon favorable online consumer behavior. Users then scan through the results and do their own due diligence based upon what they find within each website.

However when a Yellow Pages directory is placed in front of them on a search engine results page searchers are not only asked to look at yet another list of options, they know that list also consists of many paid advertisers. The unpaid listings on YP don’t offer the same level of insight into the business in the same manner as an organic search result on Google does. Their “free” listings are almost useless to anyone looking for more than an address and phone number. To optimize your presence as a business in the Yellow Pages you must pay for an ad. Consumers simply don’t trust paid ads in the same way that they do organic search results and thus if you are spending money to boost your presence in the Yellow Pages you are putting yourself in that group. Yes, you can argue that Google ads do this too, but on the very same search engine results page users are given far more in the way of organic search results, each of them potentially delivered in a manner unique to the website (via optimized title tags, meta-descriptions, rich snippets, and more). Your resources (time and/or budget) should be allocated towards those results.

I’m not suggesting that you should avoid Yellow Pages altogether. By all means enjoy inclusion on their free local directory. But in my opinion when it comes to spending your hard earned online marketing dollars you can get far greater results for your website by investing in in-house or outside services for local search engine optimization.

Yellow Pages Cons:

  • Big up-front and yearly investment with no guarantees.
  • Once you stop paying results disappear.
  • You're not just competing on the first page of Google, you're also competing against hundreds of other business listings within Yellow Pages.
  • You've got limited space and media to convey your benefits.
  • You're predominantly competing on price.
  • You're attracting bargain hunters and price shoppers.
  • You can't take advantage of other traffic strategies (eg. retargeting or list building) to get the most ROI.

And finally, have a look at the Google Trend Analysis of visitors to the YellowPages online, a picture is worth a thousand words.

SEO and YellowPages

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