Entries Tagged 'search engine optimisation' ↓

Is Your Google Search Local or National?

Have you noticed a recent change to your search results?National Google search

OK, daft question considering the onslaught of small birds and animals that have been trundling through Google’s algorithms lately – namely Panda and Penguin.

But joking aside, you may have spotted that your search results are focused on your local area rather than nationally.

If you’re looking for a local company then this has to be a good thing, but if you want to widen your choice of potential service providers because their location isn’t an issue (especially for larger companies looking for quality and value over proximity) it does narrow your options somewhat.

Widening the net

To make sure you’re getting the best choice of service provider possible all you have to do is amend your search location.

Simply go to the Google home page, click ‘settings’ (at the bottom of the screen), go to ‘location’ and enter UK (or whichever country or region you want). Now your search results will return a far more comprehensive list of possibilities.

Businesses and rankings

These changes are really annoying when you’re an online business, especially when you’ve always played by Google’s rules.

All those hours you have spent link building and generating great content can go down the tubes in a flash with changes like these.

For many businesses online, a national presence is need, so with a change to local search results as opposed to countrywide ones can have a real impact on your bottom line.

What can be done about?

Not a lot really other than creating location-specific landing pages. But you can and should be hitting the social world hard. Being active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ will help your visibility and get your name out into the wider world.

The face of search is changing and becoming far more social than ever before.

So our advice is, if you want to continue to be seen in the search results, generate great content and be socially active.


Sally Ormond is MD and copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd. A keen cyclist, she took on and tamed the Welsh Dragon Ride.

Why SEO is Like Riding a Bike

The curse of the Google update

I set up my business, Briar Copywriting in 2007 and have always done my own search engine optimisation.frustration at Google update

Despite a few hiccups along the way, I have managed to maintain great rankings for my chosen keywords. But then Penguin came along, closely followed by Penguin 2.0.

This latest change was meant to weed out those sites with slightly dodgy links. As I have always done my own link building and have been very careful about it, it’s incredibly frustrating when I get hit despite not bending the rules. So I’m now left having to look through all my inbound links to see what’s causing the problem.

But that’s beside the point.

Why is search engine optimisation like riding a bike?

Well, I am currently training for an epic charity endurance bike ride – the RideUK24 Newcastle to London challenge that’s taking place this August (300 miles in 24 hours).

Over the weekend I cycled from Suffolk to Bedfordshire and back (stopping over night), which is total of 160 miles (carrying a rucksack – not advisable when cycling long distances).

Whatever happened I knew I had to keep going. If I didn’t:

  1. My training schedule would go out of the window
  2. I would have fallen off my bike as my shoes clip to the peddles

And search engine optimisation is the same. As soon as you stop promoting and link building, your website will start to plummet.

But as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, Google has the power to make or break a business over night (even those who have always abided by the rules – sorry, I’ll stop ranting and get on with the meat of this post) simply by tweaking its algorithms.

That’s great to get rid of the spammy sites so the results you see are the most relevant, but not so great when you’ve done nothing wrong and you still get hit (sorry, got back on the soap box again briefly).

So how can you make sure your site stays in favour with Google?

Well, up to last week I would have said link build naturally and carefully, never pay for links and if you exchange links, be very careful whom you do it for.

But then, I’ve always built links naturally and never bought or exchange links – so what’s the answer?

Perhaps Google can answer that one?

Over to you Google

I’d love to get a definitive answer to this one.

So if anyone at Google happens to stumble across this post, perhaps you’d be good enough to explain?

What about you reader? How have you coped with the algorithm changes? Have you had to recover from the updates? If so, how did you do it?

Leave a comment below and let’s find out what the effect of these algorithm changes really mean to business.

How to Find the Right Keywords

What is it about the word ‘keywords’ that gets people so wound up?Keywords

Some go into a frenzy, others look blankly at you or there are those who try to devise cunning ways to cram as many of said words into everything they write.

This blog is going to look at what they are, how you work out good ones for you and what you should do with them.

What is a keyword?

The first thing to remember is that a keyword isn’t necessarily a word; it can also be a phrase.

In a nutshell, it is a word or phrase people use to search for a product, service or piece of information.

So if you sold designer leather dog collars, your keywords would be things like:

  • Dog collars
  • Leather dog collars
  • Designer dog collars
  • Leather designer dog collars

The other thing to remember is that every business will have more than one keyword. Which is just as well, because every page of your website should be optimised for a different keyword.

Your keywords can also include your geographical location to give your local search engine optimisation a boost.

The value of a good keyword

Before deciding on the keywords you want to use, it’s important you check out their competitiveness and impression frequency.

It is pointless going after keywords if they are:

  1. Hugely competitive with everyone chasing after them
  2. No competition because no one uses that term to search for things

You can use Google’s keyword tool to find out the number of searches (globally and locally) and whether the competition is high or low.

Long tail keywords (such as ‘leather designer dog collars’) will draw a lower search volume, but because it’s more targeted they are likely to bring in buying customers.

Single keywords, for example ‘copywriter’ are incredibly competitive and will take a very long time to rank well for, but if you opt for something such as ‘email copywriter’ or ‘copywriting services’ you’ll stand a better chance of getting quicker results.

How to decide on keywords

The best way to come up with a list of keywords is to write down everything that relates to your business, including technical and non-technical terms (your customers are more likely to use the latter).

Then use tools such as Google’s keyword tool and Wordtracker to help work our which ones are the best to go for. You can also use Google Trends to see how certain keywords are performing.

Using your keywords

I mentioned earlier that every page of your website should be optimised for a different keyword, but that doesn’t mean cramming every inch of the page with it.

Firstly, work out which words are to be included on which page and create your navigation bar (each page should have its keyword in its title).

Then create a keyword rich title tag (that actually makes sense) to show Google what your page is about.

When it comes to your content, make sure your keyword is in your H1 heading (main heading) and any other subheadings you use and then write naturally. You will find that your keywords will appear without you having to shoe horn them in.

That last point is vital – write naturally. Your website is there to attract people not search engine spiders because it’s the people who’ll be buying from you.

That’s basically all you need to know about keywords. If you have any questions leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


Sally Ormond, copywriter, blogger, tweeter, cyclist and lover of Aspalls cider.

Old Hat SEO That Should be kicked into Touch

Search engine optimisation is one of those marketing techniques that changes more often than a teenage girl trying to work out what to wear on a night out.Old SEO techniques

You’re told one thing, then Google adjusts its algorithms and then you have to do something else.

Because of that SEO marketers tend to fall into one of two categories: those who continue to do what they’ve always done and begin to see their website’s fall, and those who embrace new techniques and flourish.

This post is aimed at the die-hards who believe that the old techniques are the best even if they are no longer working.

Here are 4 old techniques that should be shown the door. So if you’re still doing any of these, stop right now.

1. Keyword density

Wash your mouth out with soap.

All your content should be written naturally and with the reader in mind – not the search engines.

It’s hard to believe that there are still people out there fixated by the number of times a word or phrase should be repeated within their content. If you’re writing about a specific subject, the keyword (i.e. the topic) will be naturally introduced into your writing without you being obsessed by inserting it into every nook and cranny you can find.

As soon as you start to think about search engines you lose the ability to write naturally so cast them from your mind and forget about keyword density.

2. Press releases

Another firm favourite is writing press releases for absolutely everything and blasting them out to umpteen online outlets.

On the face of it you may think that’s fine, as it will generate loads of backlinks for you. But the problem is that the press releases aren’t newsworthy and can damage your reputation just as a poorly written piece of content can.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t write press releases, just make sure you only issue them for a real news story.

3. Spinning

Once upon a time, marketers thought it a great idea to write one article and then stick it through some spinning software to generate umpteen versions of it that were then blasted across numerous article sites.

The result was a lot of very bad articles.

Although that type of article marketing is a no-no, you can still write great, unique content and publish it to grow your reputation as an expert in your field.

4. Meta Tags

In this instance I’m talking about keyword Meta tags. They are meaningless and about as much use as a chocolate teapot, so don’t use them.

If you are using any of these ‘techniques’ stop right now.


Sally Ormond, copywriter, tweeter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd.

The Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring an SEO Agency

You already know that search engine optimisation is one of the best and most effective long-term marketing strategies for any business that markets itself online.Finding an seo agency

But you also know that one wrong move and Google will be down on you like a tonne of bricks, so if you decide to outsource your SEO work, how can you be sure you find an agency that actually knows what its doing?

A lot of agencies will try to blind you with science and then take short cuts that, although may produce immediate results, could harm you in the long-term. Or you could end up with an agency that has no idea what it’s doing and simply won’t deliver the return you want.

So how can you be sure you find a good agency that actually knows what it’s doing?

Here are a few questions you should be asking when meeting with potential agencies.

1. Algorithm updates

What do you know about the latest Google updates?

Any agency worth its salt will be up to date with all of Google’s latest algorithm updates. You’ve probably heard about Penguin and Panda, but a good agency will not only have heard about them, it should also be able to explain to you what they mean.

2. Penalties

Can you tell me why I have been hit with a Google penalty?

If you fall foul of Google’s rules you will be slapped with a penalty, but in order to make good the situation it’s essential you know why you got the penalty in the first place.

3. Expertise

Now this one covers a lot.

You need to be sure of the agency’s technical experience and knowledge and that of their content writers.

There are loads of companies out there that can produce shed loads of content for not a lot of money, but if it’s not high quality you’re going to do a lot of damage.

On top of that, as social media is a huge part of SEO these days, the agency also needs to demonstrate it has a working and in depth knowledge of how to use social media to build influential relationships, promote your content, encourage sharing and generate customers.

4. Link building

What link building strategies do you use?

Link building, if done incorrectly, will damage your website. Avoid any agency that answers this question with things like, submitting your website to directories, placing articles on article directories, buying links, automated link building etc.

Instead you should be looking for ideas such as guest blogging on influential sites, increasing exposure on social networks and forums and other creative ideas.

5. Tools

What tools do you use?

There are certain tools that the agency should be using and some it shouldn’t. If they say they do everything manually, you’ll end up paying far more than you need to.

However, if you hear things like they use tools for link building, content production, social media etc., run for the hills as fast as you can.

But, you do want to hear they use tools for measuring their effectiveness, potential link opportunities, tracking your ROI and for the discovery of influencers etc.

6. Guaranteed results

Do you guarantee results?

If they say “yes” run away.

The true answer is “no” – no one can guarantee results when it comes to SEO.

Other things to ask

You should also be asking:

  • Who else they work for – can you speak to their clients?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What happens if they fail to provide results within the give time frame?
  • How will they report progress?

There are a lot of elements to your marketing strategy – finding the right professional copywriter to work with, the right design company, the right email marketing software etc.

But finding the right SEO agency is one of the most important aspects of getting your online strategy off the ground.