Search Engine Optimization :: Lyndsay Walker :: Toronto, Ontario

Keeping a Consistent Social Profile

Whether you’re representing your company or yourself, it’s important to be easily recognized by a photo or image.

Think about big brand campaigns… whatever they do, their colours, fonts and graphics are the same throughout. How many times have you glanced at a billboard, web banner ad or commercial and immediately know the company because the name even appears?

Across the web when we’re Tweeting, liking things on Facebook and commenting on blogs, there are many opportunities to attach an avatar or profile picture. There are two important things to remember on this:

1) Don’t change your avatar frequently
2) Keep your avatar the same across all sites

I’m not going to address the first topic at this time, but I will say that constantly changing your avatar or profile pic is almost like wiping the slate clean – people glancing at it won’t know automatically that it’s you. Make it easy for people to recognize you and you’ll have a better time keeping their attention.

Keeping your avatar the same across all sites is trickier. It can require signing up on every site, editing your profile, uploading the photo, etc. But there’s a tool that can make this easier.

Hello Gravatar! Gravatar is an online service that allows users to associate a photo with an email address, or even many email addresses. When you use this email address to comment on blogs, sign up for social networks, etc., your profile picture will automatically show up.

Of course, the site you’re signing up for or commenting on must have Gravatar enabled, but more and more sites are on board with this. I can’t speak for all popular CMS and blogging applications, but WordPress uses Gravatar by default for blog comments.

Head one over to Gravatar and get yourself set up. Trust me, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches.

More reasons to start taking Bing seriously

It’s been over a year since the Bing search engine launched. It’s done fairly well, often beating Yahoo! in terms of market share; not surprisingly, though, it doesn’t come close to Google. However, lots of people are considering Bing to be a positive alternative to Google.

Including Facebook. Facebook may not be the first place you’d go to do a search, but if you’re looking for something on Facebook, whether or not Facebook itself has results, it offers web results served by Bing. See the screencap below.

Another area of massive potential is through Apple’s iPhone. As recent as a month ago, rumors were still swirling that Bing would become the default, but at the WWDC in June, Steve Jobs announced that Bing would simply become another choice for the default search engine.

You can choose Bing as your default search engine by going into your Settings, then choosing Safari and Search Engine.

Whether or not you personally prefer Bing over another search engine, we cannot ignore that more and more big companies are looking to Bing for their search results instead of automatically going to the giant Google.

If you haven’t given Bing a shot yet, I definitely suggest trying it and seeing how your searching experience changes from one search engine to another.

Contextual Advertising and Facebook

I just love Facebook advertising.

Contextual advertising has become more and more specific as the web grows and evolves. Thanks to Facebook, it’s gotten more detailed than ever. Facebook profiles contain TONS of information about a user. Age, sex, marital status, education level, job title, interests, activities – you name it, you tell tell Facebook all about it. And this has become an advertisers dream.

If you haven’t ever created an ad for Facebook, I highly suggest you jump on and start the process – you don’t need to pay anything. Take a look at just how specific you can get:

With all these choices for targeting your ads, you can make multiple ads and campaigns that target all sorts of different demographics and groups. There are endless testing and optimization opportunities and Facebook’s reporting isn’t half bad either.

You do need to have a Facebook profile, but I’m pretty sure almost everyone does anyway. So log in and start playing around. And if you’re not sure, give us a call and we’ll help you put together an awesome Facebook Advertising strategy.

The online world moves fast! How you can keep up.

In February, I spoke at a luncheon for the Advertising Association of Winnipeg. Today, I spoke at a luncheon for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. I had decided to use the same presentation with some tweaks, knowing the attendees would be very different (they were). I figure, an hour two should get this presentation where it needs to be. WRONG! So many changes have occurred in the past 3 months, I spent several hours updating copy and screencaps to reflect the very latest.

And that’s the way it is with online marketing. It moves fast and often quietly. It’s almost a full-time job to keep up with what’s going on day-to-day with Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the other sites that pop up. It can be incredibly intimidating for business owners to try and keep up.

There’s where the Web Shop, our blog and Twitter account specifically, come in. Our team specializes in lots of different areas in regards to the web and we want to make sure that our followers and subscribers are up to date on what’s happening.

I peruse about 30 blogs and 600 followers on Twitter every day to make sure I’m picking up the tidbits that are flying across the screen. Not only does this keep me well informed and therefore able to strategize with clients effectively, but I’m also able to share with my own subscribers and followers.

If you’ve gotten lost amongst all the recent changes with Google’s user interface, Facebook’s privacy settings and terminology, you’re not alone. Remember, we’re here to help!

Facebook and Google change their terminology

Facebook and Google have been making a lot of changes in the past few weeks, and some of their changes have included terminology.

Facebook Pages – Becoming a “fan” of a Facebook page is gone, you now “like” a page. Therefore, they aren’t called “Facebook Fan Pages” anymore.

Google Places – This used to be your Google Local listing. Now you have a Google Places page.

Make sure you update your marketing materials – nothing screams “I’m not up on the latest social media” like having outdated terminology in your advertising.

(Did you hear that Future Shop? By the way it’s NEVER been “follow me on Facebook”. Hello, marketing fail! Fix it, you look really ignorant.)

Flash and SEO – The debate that never rests

Flash is a very misunderstood and misrepresented part of SEO. Designers and even developers tend to love it and SEOs try to avoid it like the plague. I tend to fall into the latter side of things (no big shocker since I’m an SEO) but I do believe that Flash can be utilized in a way that will have your entire web team singing Kumbaya in no time.

Like any conflict, it all comes down to compromise. Finding the happy medium.

First things first, you need to look at the web site as your primary marketing tool. And just like you’d do with all your other marketing tools, you need to determine a few things – target demographics, goals and purpose of the site, etc. Deciding these things will help you to determine what amount of Flash is necessary.

Why do these things matter? Because sites with Flash, especially sites that are all Flash, have a “je ne sais quoi” – a certain something that’s usually attributed to a site that’s main purpose is to be visually motivating. Therefore, it is more appropriate on some sites than it is on others.

Also consider how Flash is used – sites that are 100% entirely Flash based rarely NEED to be that way. 99 times out of 100, the site would look just as code using HTML and CSS and flash components. And as long as those flash components don’t contain useful content and navigation, you’re not going to get hit with nearly as much a deficit in the rankings.

Please, please consider SEO when a designer is trying to sell you a Flash site. After all, what good is that beautiful Flash site if no one can find it?

Analytics Terminology – Sound Smart! (and stop using the term “hits”)

For those of us that have been around for a while, there are certain terms and references that make us cringe. This is especially true when talking about web site stats and analytics. So, I’m going to break down some of the terms that are commonly found and referred to when looking at site stats.

My number one recommendation/pet peeve…

Stop using the term “hits”.

It’s hard to say how people were using the term “hits”. Sometimes it sounded like they meant page view, sometimes like visit, and sometimes like visitor. All three very different things. Hey, what’s the difference between those three anyway?

Page View – A page view occurs whenever a single page is loaded. This is most commonly where people use the word “hits”.

Visit – A visit is made up of one or more page view in a single session.

Session – A session is the time and actions of a visit that begins as soon as a person gets to a web site and ends when that person either leaves the site or is idle for a certain amount of time (usually 30 minutes).

Visitor – A visitor is a single person/computer. One visitor can have several visits over a certain period of time.

Now, when you’re talking about your analytics or if you’re even just trying to make sense of some of the different terms, you have a bit more knowledge to sound and think smart about your site’s analytics.

Canada’s Web Shop Named the Seventh Fastest Growing Company in Manitoba

40 Fastest Growing Companies in ManitobaWe’re thrilled to announce that we made Manitoba Business Magazine’s list of the 40 Fastest Growing Companies in Manitoba 2010. This year, we were named the seventh fastest! This is our second consecutive year on the prestigious list. In 2009, we were 13th.

To celebrate the achievements of all 40 Manitoba businesses, the magazine held a gala on March 18, 2010 at the Marlborough Hotel in Downtown Winnipeg. John McDonald, Justin Nedecky and myself (Lyndsay Walker) were on hand to accept the award.

We look forward to continued growth in 2010 with exciting new projects, a growing staff, and a cutting-edge, evolving suite of online marketing services.

Justin Nedecky, Lyndsay Walker and John McDonald accept the award for the seventh fastest growing company in Manitoba.

Page loading time now a Google ranking factor

Last year there was a lot of confirmed talk from Google that in the new year, page loading speed would become a ranking factor. This is something already taken into consideration on the PPC side (quality score is affected by landing page load times) so it’s not surprising to see that it’s coming on the organic side too.

Earlier this week, it was announced – it’s here. In fact, on some data centers, the new ranking factor has been in place for several weeks. Now it’s across the board. So if you’re seeing your rankings slip, it may be time to take a good hard look at your site and see where it’s slow.

Don’t forget that Google Webmaster Tools has a feature that will tell you how fast your pages are loading and where there is room for improvement. Don’t ignore this – when Google itself tells you where your pages can be improved, Google itself is telling you how YOU can rank better.

Google’s Gone Social with Google Buzz

It’s been speculated for sometime that Google will do SOMETHING to compete with the massive social networks like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. After some attempts like Friend Feed and Wave, Google’s attempting it again with their new product – Buzz.

Buzz is actually pretty invasive and is causing serious concerns about privacy. It is a part of Gmail, a link below your Inbox on the left-hand side. It is updated with status updates (done manually), RSS entries, shared RSS posts, Tweets and more from your friends.

So, by default, you get a huge load of information from pretty much anyone you’ve ever connected with using a Google or Gmail account. See the privacy concern yet? Okay, let’s flip it around. You may not realize this, but everyone YOU’VE ever connected with using your Google or Gmail account is now watching your every move. What you’re looking at and sharing in Google reading. Any updates from social networks you have listed in your Google profile.

Like many Google products, they’re using all this data they’ve been collecting and putting it into something that is to “enhance the user experience” but can get scary and dangerous really fast if you’re not paying attention to what’s happening with your account.

You can absolutely deactivate this feature. There is a teeny tiny link at the bottom of Gmail that says “Turn of Buzz”. If you don’t want to turn it off, you can limit what information you’re sharing by controlling your Google Profile and Buzz settings. But there’s not a lot of flexibility with choosing who sees what. In the week that it’s been live, Google has already had to tweak it several times based on user feedback.

Me personally? I turned it off. It was just too much. Most of what was in my Buzz stream was info I was already getting from Twitter and Facebook on their own. I don’t need an aggregate from Google that I can’t control.

I don’t anticipate that Buzz will be any more successful than Google’s earlier attempts at becoming a social media giant. Sometimes I wish they’d stick with what they’re good at – search