Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

I'd just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope you have a great 2007!

Google Myths.

Google Myths

I came across this interesting article on Google the other day and I have to admit that I also believed at least some of these myths to be true. Particulary myths 1 and 2, which is the main reason that I do not use Google Desktop Search. I should perhaps rethink that now. It's amazing how these kind of myths start and are spread very quickly as fact.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

How well is your site doing?

You have your site up and running, you've done all the SEO, or had someone else do it for you, and now you're sat back waiting for the hits to come in. Except that they don't, or perhaps not as many as you'd hoped and you're not sure why. What can you do to check on things?

Well, below are some simple tips on discovering how well your site is being ranked in the search engines.

Are the search engines actually finding your site at all?

A simple way to check to see whether your site has been picked up by a particular search engine is, quite simply, to search for it, i.e. just type the name of your site (Horizon Web Development) into the search box. However this doesn't always work so well if you have quite a common business or site name or if you haven't got top ranking for that name. You could well end up trawling through hundreds of pages trying to find your site.

A simpler way would just be to search for the website address itself into the search engine, i.e. www.horizonweb.co.uk, and if your site has been picked up by that particular search engine, it should appear.

A more effective way, that only works using Google, is to type cache:www.yoursitename.co.uk into the search box. If your site has been indexed by Google you will then see a white box filled with text and your website underneath. This box displays information about when your website was last accessed by Google. If you notice that the date that your site was last accessed by Google is several months old, you know you have a problem.


Links

Assuming that you have found your site within the search engines, you will probably now want to know how many sites link to your own. Linking is how most search engines determine how important your site is, the more sites that link to a site, the more important it is and the higher they will rank it.

Thankfully it is very easy to find out, just type link:http://www.yoursitename.co.uk into the search box for MSN and Google and you will be presented with a list of all the sites that link to you. For Yahoo type linkdomain:www.yoursitename.co.uk to get the same information.

This isn't an exhaustive list of all the sites that link to your site, some won't appear such as websites that aren't in the search engine themselves .

Keyword Standing

Checking your keyword rankings in the search engines can be pretty time consuming, you'd have to enter the keyword or phrase into each engine one at a time and then look through the results to find your site. There are, thankfully, quicker ways. This site, GoogleRankings.com for example offers a quick easy way to find where your site ranks for particular keywords and phrases. You just have to enter the search term you'd like to check for and the name of your site so it can look for it in the results and press search.

For example for the keywords, web design, Nottingham, Gedling, Horizon, the Horizon Web Development site ranks No.1 in Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Not only is this website extremely useful for pinning down what keywords and search terms you need to work on, but it can also be used to check up on the competition and see where they rank!



Thursday, December 07, 2006

Find your site’s ranking

We have been offering a free Search Engine Readiness Report here at Horizon Web Development since mid-August and although it has proven quite popular we were getting a lot of feedback about the results being confusing. So it was decided that the Search Engine Readiness Report was unnecessarily complicated for the average site owner who just wanted a simple explanation of where their site was ranked, and so something else was needed in its place.

The Search Engine Ranking Report was born! Although it sounds similar to the Search Engine Readiness Report its actually a simpler version, without the detailed information on site layout, code structure and so on, which many people found confusing. The Ranking Report is simply an investigation into how your site is ranked for several search items, which is then presented in table form within an email.

It would perhaps be better to give an example of how it works. Let's take the BBC site as an example, assuming someone wanted to know where the site ranked for particular search terms, they would need to fill a small form here. The form asks for three primary keywords or phrases that you consider the site would be well ranked for. In this example I will look for the keywords news, sport and the phrase local weather.

Once the form is submitted you just sit back and wait for the results, which will take around 24 hours.

The results email will look something like this:-

Keyword: news

Ranked

Out Of

Page No.

Google

1st

129,000,000

1

MSN

1st

517,154,712

1

Yahoo

4th

-

1


Keyword: sport

Ranked

Out Of

Page No.

Google

1st

59,000,000

1

MSN

1st

140,000,000

1

Yahoo

1st

774,000,000

1


Keyword: local weather

Ranked

Out Of

Page No.

Google

1st

102,000,000

1

MSN

3rd

21,000,000

1

Yahoo

58th

254,000,000

6


Google PageRank: 9/10

Pretty impressive results for the BBC, it also highlights areas for improvement, especially regarding Yahoo and the search term local weather, (most likely do to test being conduced using being yahoo.com, the BBC are ranked sixth on yahoo.co.uk).

So if you're looking to see just how well your site is ranked give our new free service a try.



Monday, December 04, 2006

Choosing a domain name

Another key step to setting up your own website is the domain name. The domain name is not only how people find your site but also how they identify it, e.g. Amazon.com, and is another vital step in promoting your site so you must ensure it's the right one.

The most obvious domain name to go for would be the name of your company, but there are at least a couple of potential problems with this. Firstly, as with Horizon Web Development your company, or even your own name for a personal site, could be a little too long and hard to remember. Another problem is that the name may have already been taken by someone else.

Both problems have similar solutions, you should think about shortening the name, perhaps using an abbreviation or even a company slogan, whatever it is it has to be short and catchy, something that people will remember.

Whatever name you choose it should be related to your business, if possible try and put your product name in your domain name as having keywords in your domain name can help with your search engine rankings.

Another consideration would be how to break up the name, for instance Mike's DVDs could be mikesdvds.com or mikes-dvds.com. This is another problem that was encountered with Horizon Web Development, where there were two real possibilities, horizon-web.co.uk and horizonweb.co.uk. After much research and debate it was discovered that although Search Engines prefer hyphens to break up the words, and so you are likely to get a better ranking, most people tend to take it as one long word when remembered back from flyers and business cards. So we decided to go with horizonweb.co.uk. Again it comes down to how easy is it to remember, are people likely to remember your site name as Mike's hyphen DVDs, or Mike's DVDs?

The final consideration is what is known and the top level domain which is few letters that come after your domain name, there are plenty to choose from such as .com, .biz, .net, .org and .co.uk to name but a few. I'd suggest that if you can get the name you want as a .com to do so but as they tend to mostly go to US companies it is unlikely that it will be available. If not you should perhaps go for a .net or .org and failing that your country specific top level domain, such as .co.uk. I would also suggest that you go for as many of the domain names as possible, just to ensure that a mistyped name doesn't take a potential client to a competitor, which is perfectly possible with some domains, such as dvds.com and dvds.co.uk.

At the very least you should try to get your country specific domain as well as any of the main ones such as .net, .com and .org, which if you're in the UK is .co.uk.