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Firstfound Manchester Search Engine Optimisation

Top 5 SEO Misconceptions

Top 5 SEO Misconceptions

With any cutting edge or continually changing industry, there’s always going to be a gap between what the professionals and the clients know. When that industry’s in constant flux, the knowledge gap can suddenly become a yawning chasm of misunderstandings and misconceptions. Therefore, it’ll probably come as no surprise to a great number of people that sometimes people just don’t get SEO. It’s this lack of understanding that lets people call us “Snake Oil” salesmen, and to disparage the hard work that we do. But before we tackle these misconceptions, we need to identify them.

1) Meta Keywords are the Holy Grail. Any of you with even a basic understanding of SEO are about to type something along the lines of “1995 called – they want their search algorithms back.” The sad fact of the matter is that some clients have still told us that their last SEO company just filled their meta tags full of spam and pocketed the fee. The more people that understand the much-maligned meta keywords tag, the less opportunity there’ll be for unscrupulous and uninformed types to take them for a ride.

2) SEO companies have access to a Search Engine Hotline. “Can’t you just call Google and get them to index my site today?” As ludicrous as this question seems, it actually makes some sense. Do any other complimentary industries have the same lack of direct communication that Search Engines and SEOs have? Explaining that we can’t call Yahoo head office is an important part of managing client expectations – especially when it comes to the next misconception.

3) Results are instant. We’ve optimised the content, sourced some quality links and made sure the site’s as accessible as possible – “so why haven’t my listings changed? It’s been a week!” In a world of instant communication, instant gratification and instant coffee, it’s hard to explain to a client that the Search Engines might not even index the site for up to a month. Making sure everyone knows the timescales involved in SEO is key to avoiding disappointment.

4) Being a market leader automatically entitles you to the top spot. “I’m a 5* hotel, they’re a pokey b&b – so why are they top and I’m on page three?” Explaining that your word of mouth reputation isn’t automatically linked to your online reputation is crucial to helping newcomers to SEO understand how the process works. By showing them that time, effort and patience can get the underdog to top spot, you’re showing them the power of SEO and managing their expectations.

5) There’s a magic “Top of the SERPs” code. The number of people that think they can hit the top of the SERPs without making changes to their website is staggering. It’s enticing to believe that there’s some magic button that can be pushed so they can reap rewards with minimal effort, but it’s important to let them know that there’s no cheat code. Even though it is tempting to tell them that if they put into the code, their competition will be Doomed.

As SEO professionals, it’s our job to educate and inform our clients about how what we do works. If we’re open and transparent about our efforts, and tackle these misunderstandings head on, then the industry as a whole can benefit. Can’t it?

Online shoppers could save your business!

The latest figures show that UK retailers will be hit the hardest in the run up to Christmas. Christmas sales volumes have fallen for the seventh month in a row in October. Customers are tightening their belts and it is predicted that this knock on affect is going to get worse in the coming months.

There is one saving grace however. It is forecast that UK online shoppers will spend £13.16 billion in the final quarter of 2008. This is a 15% increase on the same period a year ago. Retailers and suppliers are under extreme pressure to keep their prices competitive. Researchers have suggested that the majority of online shopping will take place outside traditional shopping hours, either before 9am or after 6pm.

It was said that “British shoppers will beat the crunch with Internet prices this Christmas, spending more than a billion pounds each week in the run-up”

Chrome – Google’s new web browser. Worth It ?

Google’s assault onto the web browser scene

With the recent release of Firefox 3.0 and the forthcoming arrival of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8, Google has made an entry into the web browser landscape.

Entitled ‘Chrome’, the beta version will be launched today for use on Windows 2000/XP/Vista operating systems in 100 countries with Mac and Linux versions to follow. The new browser aims to be lightweight and more memory efficient than any previous browsers.

The new browser uses the open source ‘WebKit’ rendering engine, as used by the Safari and Konqueror web browsers. With the new browser being open source, this will enable developers to further enhance the browser like the successful Mozilla Project behind Firefox.

The browser is also designed to work better with multimedia applications, offers a ‘private browsing’ mode and improved security. In the fight against malware and phishing, Chrome will download lists of harmful sites. As with all modern day web browsers, there will tabbed browsing – albeit at the top of the browser rather than the browser window.

One main part of Google Chrome is ‘V8’, which is a JavaScript Virtual Machine. This will in some way reduce the memory bloat taken up by browsers as well as speed up JavaScript performance.

In a blog post by a Google representative, it is claimed that they “needed to completely rethink the browser”. There has been mixed opinions with some circles claiming that Google’s entry into the browser landscape is unnecessary due to the multiplicity of other browsers being available.

As soon as we download a copy, expect to see a review on the Search Engine Consultants’ blog, same Bat time same Bat channel.

Other Search Engines Are Available: More Google Alternatives

In our previous post, this blog looked at the high profile launch of Cuil, the latest search engine to compete with Google. Despite an aesthetically pleasing interface, it received a less than lukewarm reception on Search Engine Consultants’ Weblog and national publications such as Micro Mart. Within this entry, Stuart Vallantine looks at 10 other English language search engines, lesser known than Google.

Though the vox populi associate the internet with Microsoft and Google, there was a time before Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s wunderkind ruled the roost. Yahoo! and Alta Vista was King, the average modem dialled up at 14.4k baud, plus amateur web designers were in thrall of animated email icons and flashing text. We also thought it was a good idea to build splash pages.

Instead of the red giants and blue super giants, we are focusing on the search engine equivalent of the white dwarf stars in this universe known as cyberspace.

A voyage into uncharted waters

Unlike Google and Yahoo which use their own search results, some search engines cluster their results from other search engine directories. For instance, Dogpile sources the pick of its results from the main search engines. This list of 10 search engines will include those within the latter category as well as the former. To ensure a fair test I chose to search for one keyword phrase only which is the U2 album from 1987 (The Joshua Tree).

  1. Wikia Search;
  2. Fazzle;
  3. Gigablast;
  4. Guruji;
  5. Clusty;
  6. Kartoo;
  7. Turbo 10;
  8. Mahalo;
  9. Hakia;
  10. Blinkx;

First up is Wikia Search which is part of Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia Foundation. This search engine is open source and its users are free to edit some part of the results. Looking for the U2 album, the highest placed entry was a Wikipedia account. Top of the tree was a U2 tribute act. Its users can delete any entries deemed inappropriate, or highlight and label favoured sites. Left of each entry is the site’s ‘favourites’ icon.

Fazzle is a meta crawler search engine which sources its results from the leading search engines. The best pick is the one which is deemed of most relevance. For me this wasn’t so, and my favoured entry was 10th (U2’s official website). The Joshua Tree National Park came top, with sponsored Yahoo! links occupying 2nd and 4th places. It does have some neat features like being able to preview each entry. Despite a number of relevant results, some (irrelevant to the search) sponsored links placed within the same results as the rest of the entries is not a good idea.

Gigablast has its own search engine spider like Google and Yahoo and styles itself on offering its users relevant results at the highest speed possible, even on dial-up connections. Gigablast stuck to its remit by returning me two Wikipedia entries on U2’s album and its accompanying tour. Above the main results section in a rounded box are links to related results, such as ‘Bono’, ‘Palm Springs’ and ‘Joshua Tree National Park’.

Aimed at the Indian market, Guruji’s design has a familiar air to it: the front end and inner pages are similar to that well known behemoth’s search engine in Stanford. The first entry is an article of the future of Joshua trees, with the U2 album in 3rd place. Guruji is also available for use in Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati.

Owned by Vivisimo, Clusty is similar to Fazzle and Gigablast in the sense it clusters its results. This function is more detailed, in that clusters are available for subject area, the number of search engines each entry is found in, and by domain. Though the national park came top of the results, U2’s album (and the tribute band) was well represented in the results. Unlike Fazzle there are no sponsored links. On the whole, Clusty is well designed and uncluttered. There is also an option to reduce or increase the font size.

For a different experience, Kartoo is a visual search engine with results displayed in non linear form. This uses Adobe Flash technology, though a traditional HTML version is available. The latter version has the same set of results as the Flash version. This too is a meta crawler search engine like Clusty. Results are patchy with all but one on the first page being shopping sites. The one exception is the Wikipedia entry. Sadly, Kartoo is only good as a toy rather than a serious search engine. Sorry.

Aiming to find sites which over search engines cannot reach, Turbo 10 works on similar lines to Clusty. Graphically attractive (if somewhat dated), it enables you categories sites by topic clusters or search engines, with each entry accompanied with a thumbnail screenshot. In terms of relevant results, Turbo 10 enabled to find what I was looking for with good coverage of the U2 album. The only downside of this site is the top result being a sponsored link. B+ for good effort.

Mahalo takes the meta crawling search engine into the Web 2.0 era with a combination of listings sourced by the main search engines and related Mahalo pages. Unlike traditional search engines, it is wholly human powered. User can also create ‘Mahalo pages’ on their favoured subject area like Squidoo (registration required). Search engine results are placed after Mahalo’s links. A choice of popular search engines is available to view separately within a frame.

Using semantic search, Hakia defines its results on three criteria: credible sources, currency and relevance. With the Joshua tree being more than just a U2 album, the tree itself is denoted as the top result. The Wikipedia article on the album is not in the Top 20 results.

For the final search engine, I have plumped for Blinkx, a search engine which has over 26 million hours of video. This time, the album is well represented with video clips from YouTube and other video sharing sites including Vimeo and ITN’s own sources. The aesthetics are very well polished and easy on the eye (except for the first page video wall). Within the results page, a preview of each video is played in the top left. It’s a great source for viewing pop videos, including those other than U2’s.


I hope this little article proves that other search engines are available. We may have heard of the likes of YouTube, Google and Yahoo!, but less of these alternatives. Sometimes, I feel it is always worth comparing the results of our favoured search engine with another one. With tabbed browsing common on modern day web browsers, there’s no excuse.

If anybody asks me if I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, I can tell you that in 9 out of 10 pages I actually did, contrary to Bono’s protestations.

Stuart Vallantine, Thursday 21 August 2008