The SES (Search Engine Strategies) Conference in February was massive. Almost 1000 companies from all over the world were in London to hear assorted luminaries from the top companies speak – from Matt Cutts the Google celebrity ‘engineer’ (how many engineers do you know worth over £100m?) to executives from major search companies.

Here are a few impressions/facts I can away with you may find interesting:-

Google has become dominant – you probably knew that, may be what you didnt know is that they now have over 70% market share in the UK, BUT Yahoo have grow faster in the last year (by about 15% but still only around a 10% market share). MSN continues to slide and ASK is now up to a 5% market share. Surely when thinking of optimising our sites we dont need to think much outside of these stars?

Major companies are increasing their spend in SEO – sometimes spending 100’s of thousands per annum on getting top rankings. The good news for small businesses is that there are not too many big ones to dominate the page one spots (did you know over 90% of UK companies have less than 10 employees?). The other good news for small businesses is that 95% of your competitors dont do SEO (worse still they assume their website designer has done it for them!)

More free tools for SEO are available – even some I didnt know – Have a look at this

Every free tool you can think of from from keyword analysis, to backink checkers to sitemap generators and ranking checkers. Including spider simulators (to see what bits of your site spiders can see) to metatag generators – and more – and all for free!

Talking about tools – here’s a special one – Google Webmaster Central -one which has recently become available and provides all you need to improve your google position

Search Engine Spiders are getting cleverer – for example it used to be that ‘keyword density’ was a major factor – nowadays the spiders are into ‘Latent Semantic Indexing’ (LSI) meaning that, for example, a page containing ‘romance’, ‘love’, ‘heart’ and ‘valentines day’ is more likely to be about valentines day that a page stuffed with many repetitions of ‘valentines day’.

The experts dont like the Google ‘Page Rank’ indicator anymore – You know the little green indicator telling you how much google likes your page. In fact one MD said that downloading from was a sackable offence in his search marketing company and referred to it as ‘little green fairy dust’.
My own feeling is that its still a reasonable indicator of ranking – we just have to remember it is a function of the number of inbound links mainly and doesn’t take account the ‘contextual relevance’ of the link (you know, if an incoming link to a page on ‘wedding rings’ is from a wedding related website and is surrounded by text about best places to buy wedding rings – that is contextual relevance – and its increasingly important for google’s ranking)
Neither does it take into account ‘anchor text’ – in the above example the anchor text (or link text) would be ‘wedding rings’.

Social networking sites are important for SEO – The likes of MySpace, Bebo etc where you can communicate with like minded dickheads – as one speaker delicately put it, and 100 million knobheads a day cant all be wrong (I think this was from the same speaker – a guy from IBM I think).
The point here is you can legitimately leave links from these sites but in terms of relevant traffic its only going to attract a very specific (and probably non business) demographic.

Backlink quality is more important than ever – in fact a new area of specialism has developed called link baiting. Essentially its a simple as saying if you have good quality content and can get the message out there people will link to you automatically. Blogs seem to be the favoured way of facilitating this. Also RSS is increasingly used as away of distributing your links automatically. There are some good postings on this subject at SEOMOZ (see, thats how it works!)

Pay per Click – is getting more expensive by the month , and even prohibitive in some sectors like finance, telecoms and gambling. So you really have no alternative but to embrace SEO for long term sustainable search success!

Finally though (and reassuringly!) some things never change – providing you do the following you are well on your way to out competing the masses:-

-Ensure you have well written, keyword rich (but not stuffed – see LSI above) content on very page – say 250 nicely formatted, and well laid out, words.

-Ensure your title tag includes 1-3 of the phrases you want to capture (which also of course appears on the page)

– Ensure these title tags are different on each page as are the other metatags – particularly the keyword and description tags.

-Make sure the keyword tag ONLY includes words that are on the page.

-Make sure the description tag includes the keyphrases in question a couple of times and is a bit salesy (this tag will get listed in the rankings list so will have an input on whether people click through or not )

– Make sure you have good navigation between pages – eg a list of links at the bottom of each page pointing to every other optimised page; a google sitemap is also a good idea especially if you have a database driven site. If there are links from within each page to other pages (with the relevenat link/anchor text) so much the better

Build quality backlinks – easy to say, difficult to do, but definitely worth it in the long run – cos this is your route to free advertsing on google, so what if it does take twelve months, you’re in business for ever arent you?

All this explained in a structured way in the rest of this blog and in my webinar. Also don’t hesitate to call if you need any help – I’m always happy to hear from you. (Jan Klin – 01928 788100)