White Hat or Black Hat Marketing

The term white hat, black hat or grey hat can be use synonymously within the IT industry. It can mean methods used to hack while also denote Search Engine Opimisation methods that help you gain a better overall ranking in the search engine ranking page(SERPS). However, today we will be talking about what white hat or black hat marketing is in the website optimisation realm.

What are white Hats or black hat techniques?

Black hat marketing or white hat marketing refers to techniques and tools utilized by different websites to give them an edge in the search engine rankings. This can be in a form of software to help automatic difficult and arduous tasks. The term “black hat” refers to techniques used to manipulate existing search engine algorithms to give your website an edge. While they can give a substantial boost, it can be easily patched by the search engines, making you lose your overall rankings or even get blacklisted. White hat SEO on the other hand refers to legitimate methods recommended according to Google web guidelines to optimise your website. To find out more about exist white hat and black hat methods, read on.

black hat or white hat marketing

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO is notorious for giving undeserving websites with good ranking because of methods they used to manipulate the search engine algorithms. in the early 2000s till about 2010, this was extremely rampant due to the many loopholes in the system. This included methods such as keyword stuffing at the footer of websites in order to rank for that particular keyword or to adding spam links from websites. Below are more of such examples:

  • article spinning
  • link farms
  • keyword stuffing
  • hidden links
  • content automation
  • cloaking
  • link purchase

Why You Should Avoid Black Hat Techniques

Although black hat techniques can often be extremely effective in a short term, there are usually not long lasting and tends to give you negative results in a long run. Google has been efficient in patching these loopholes up with updates with code names such as Panda, Penguin, hummingbird to penalise such websites.

If you are building your corporate site or intend to monetize your website, black hat should be avoided at all costs.

White Hat SEO

White hat on the other hand refers to following Google’s web guidelines when optimising your website. White hat techniques hopes to promote better engagement with visitors and improve their browsing experience. Its the best long term approach and definitely can be used on all types of websites. By following such techniques, you will reap good ranking results without free of being penalised whenever there is an algorithm update.

Some of the techniques though not conclusive includes the following:

  • Speed optimisation across your website
  • clean site architechture
  • building relevant and helpful content
  • social media influences
    • facebook pages, instagram posts and twitter updates to name a few
  • proper meta tags
    • page title, description tags
    • proper Alt title for pictures

Ending Note

Although the list of recommendations is not exhaustive, it is important to implement as many as possible. If you are not confident of making such changes to your website, hiring someone to do your search engine optimisation may be the best option for you. To find out more, do click here.

Roles of a Search Engine Marketer

As a Search engine agency, we have seen far too many customers getting burnt by “industry experts” who claim to know how to rank in the search engines. Our clients then pay thousands of dollars, not knowing what to expect and just relying too much on these “expert”.  This should not be the steps taken for any company and in this post, we hope to explain the roles of a search engine marketer.

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing comes in a form of either search engine optimisation or through pay per click (PPC) means. If you are looking for an instant result, PPC should always be the primary method but overall, the best still comes from good SEO. However, search engine optimisation should always be an extension of your business and not the primary means. You should already have a decent website that can function well for both mobile and desktop users and work as flawlessly as possible.

Understand Your Needs

A SEO should always understand your business goals and your needs. Always conduct a one to one interview and ensure that they are genuinely interested in helping your business grow. NEVER trust anyone who does not take interest in doing so. Search engine optimization is all about learning how your business works; how you obtain your clients, how you close the sales and how you proceed with your post sales. An SEO should also be cognizant of the competitors that are in the industry.

During your first interview, your SEO should be discussing the following with you:

  • Current processes of your business
  • what are the keyterms most likely to be searched by a visitor to find you
  • website overview
  • how the SEO intends to achieve the result
    • Their references should always be in line with Google’s Webmaster guidelines
  • In-depth analysis of website
  • Past experiences and projects

Search engine optimisation is a delicate and technical approach to rank better on the search engine ranking page after and they should always follow Google’s guideline to avoid penalties which can bring down your overall standing.

After your first meeting with your SEO, you should have a good gauge of whether he is in it for the long term and whether he is reliable.

Internal Site Audit

The first two months should always be spent on the internal workings of your website. Linking your website to Google analytics and Google Webmaster should always be the first step. Next, going through page by page and ensuring that proper meta data is filled out. Next, making sure your site architecture is properly laid out and easily navigable.

Your website content should always be visitor centric. Ensuring that all is done to help your visitor get the best experience from visiting your site. Make sure that all your articles and pages have useful and readable text that visitors will be able to understand. I have seen far too many websites with horrible sentence structure that looks like it was done by a 12 year old. Your articles should also be substantial in detail and contain sufficient information for visitors to trust your website enough to purchase it from the first visit.

Lastly, speed optimisation. I cannot emphasis more on the importance of this. Site speed is becoming a bigger factor when Google ranks websites and should be your priority. Google states thatbeyond 3 seconds, websites stand to lose 10% of potential visitors. If you want to avoid this, ensure that your website looks clean without too much clutter and plugins. Simplicity is often the best solution for any website.

External linking

external linking as described from MOZ

Despite how Google wants natural linking to occur and not link building, it is still the best way to rank any website in the quickest time. That said, backlinking should always be done the whitehat approach. Ensure that your SEO provides you with this approach at all times. The last thing you want is for your website to be penalised for using unauthorized blackhat which usually comes in a form of spam and poor backlinking habits.

Tracking and reports

With all the different work done, the last step is to receive tracking and reports from your SEO. Optimisation can take anywhere from 6-12 months in general for a medium competitive industry and you should have a monthly record of what your SEO is doing in the background. Always insist of getting monthly reports from him so you understand what has been done. This will prevent any misunderstandings and also you can point out anything that you do not feel comfortable with. You should get your SEO to provide with you a goal for certain keywords. This will allow you to maintain a smart goal.

Conclusion

By now you will have a better understanding of why website optimisation is so complicated and why you should hire someone to handle SEO this for you. Pricing for SEO services usually cost between $800- $2000++ depending on your industry and competition. Hopefully through this post, you have a better picture of what to expect from your SEO and also how to manage your website’s progress.

Find out more about our Search Engine Optimisation Services and how it can help grow your business exponentially today. Our rates are affordable and we always strive to achieve success together with you. We believe that we bring you success, you’ll stick with us and help us gain success too!

 

 

 

Search Engine Marketing

TV and Print Advertisements are Dead

Businesses in Singapore has traditionally relied on marketing methods from print media and advertisements on national TV. It boasts the widest coverage, reaching over 3 million citizens nation wide. Print and TV advertisements are so effective in Singapore compared to other countries because there is a monopoly within the companies who does this. Mainly Mediacorp, the public transport for print advertisements and Straits Times and its related press publications. However, in the 21st century, people are starting to realise that TV and print advertisements are dead.

Advertising on these platforms can mean tens of thousands of dollars a month for prime timings and placements. Although the reach is massive, it can be difficult for advertisers and businesses to calculate their Return in investment.

Return in investment is calculated by:

revenue / cost of investment

Because it is almost impossible to track how these traditional means of advertisements, you do not really know much more business you are receiving from such avenues. In addition, there is a high percentage of viewers and reader who are simply not interested in your advertisement.

In a post by theguardian in 2010, 90% of respondants commented that they would skip their adverts on their screen and switch to their mobile devices. With majority of Singaporeans owning a mobile device, it is more likely for this trend to increase.

What Alternatives are there?

Marketing is the core of any business no matter how small or large you are. If you are looking for more targeted marketing, the best is probably through online outlets such as search engine marketing, search engine optimisation or social media marketing. Do click on them to find out more vital information.

The key success factor for these forms of advertisement is targeted user acquisition, 24 hour availability and the ability to track the campaigns you are running.

Search Engine Marketing

Targeted User Acquisition

Ask any business and they’ll tell you that meeting the right people is the first step to converting leads into customers.

Online search marketing answers all that. The first reaction most people have when they need a service or a product is to search online through Google and if you are in that first page, chances are you’ll be able to convert that visitor into a client.

This works the same way as social media marketing. You are given the tools to segment the market you want based on various metrics such as demographics, geographical location and even their interest.

24 Hour Availability

One of the best assets  you can have is a 24 hour sales associate present when your client requires and a website handles that perfectly for you. A well executed website can present information needed by your client and also assist in giving additional help as and when required. In fact, research has also shown most people look for products and services they need during working hours. If you have a website and is present online, the higher the chance of your website serving your potential clients.

Tracking Your Campaigns

Google Analytics

Being promised 3 million viewership without any ability to track your Return of Investments (ROI) is like shooting a million bullets but not being able to tell how many hit the target. Online marketing allows you to track real time performance and historical data to ensure your website is working the way it should. Through these tracking such as Google Analytics and Webmaster, you can pin point the exact point your visitors enters and leave your website and optimise your website accordingly.

Low Cost

With all the benefits mentioned, the biggest benefit is the cost. Most online campaigns only charge you for what resources were used. For example, Google charges people through it’s Pay-Per-Click (PPC), meaning if no one clicks on your ad you won’t get charged even though is visible. The low cost overall combined with the high return rates makes online marketing the best there is. Find out how Google can be the solution for your businesss.

Website Branding is more Important than Keywords

Google has come a long way from ranking stuffed keywords and putting emphasis on the domain name. While there are still some merits to keyword rich domain names, it should only be done if the domain name is available. Otherwise, it is generally better to brand a website.

branding is better than keyword based businesses

Branding is the key aspect of any business and something that most customers associate you with. When coming up with a brand name, you should take these factors into account.

  • Easy to remember
  • professional
  • somewhat associated to the industry
  • short and simple

Limiting your website

In most cases, using a keyword for a domain can be limit the scope of your website. For instance, if you are making a blog or website about losing weight and your domain name is www.losingweight.com, it might be inappropriate to create a category about gaining healthy weight. Whereas if you brand a website, healthguru. You can associate your products or articles to anything health related.

Less importance in keyword domains

In the early 2000s, Google’s althorithm of ranking websites were based on the presence of keywords. This led to keyword stuffing on many websites. In addition, Google’s althorithm also gave large points to domain names which had the keyword within the domain. After multiple althorithm changes such as penguin and panda, such websites were penalised and the emphasis on keyword rich domains are placed on lesser importance.

So What Works

Posting like a Blog

One way you can associate your blog/website with a certain industry is by posting articles or posts about the industry. By posting important articles, people visiting your website are more likely to link to your website and bring more referral views. Posting articles will also help search engines place value on your brand name in relation to the keywords, thus ranking your website in that industry

Search Engine Optimisation

If you already own a website and a domain name, you should be putting more effort into your search engine optimisation. You can find out more information about SEO here. SEO in short is about how you can provide the search engine with signals that your website is an appropriate match towards the keyword. Websites that has incorporated this into the website will bring in the visitors which will then associate your brand name for that industry.

If you are not sure of whether you should do your own SEO, this article will aid you in your decision making.

Social Media Marketing

social media is an important tool for marketing

Social media marketing is the next best thing for human engagement Research has shown that an active social media presence can bring more than 50% new customers per month. This means regular posting, promotions and encourage posting by customers. Incorporating SEO and SMM together solidifies your position in the industry as well, and having both tools in a long run will benefit the business.

 

 

Why Google Is Important For Your Website Success

Google has been the forefront of online searches since its presence in the early 20th century. Google’s core business is still searches and the release of tools available to aid your website is evident of that. If you already have a website and intend to rank your website on Google, using the following tools is paramount for your success. These tools range from analytics to track how your visitor enter your site and where they exit to webmaster tools to ensure Google has all your pages on its search engines.

Google Analytics

Google analytics

 

Simply put, Google analytics is one of the core tools you need for your business no matter if you just started out or have been in the business a long time. As the name states, it handles the analytics of your website and whatever pages you have on it. Once you put the coding into your website, you can churn out information such as the amount of visitors and real time visitors that has been to your site. See their demographics if they are logged into Google or even see what countries they are coming from. You can also determine which page did they enter your website, how long they are spending on your website and which page do they exit.

analytics tracking

Goals

One of the most useful tool i use in Google analytics is the goals, Goals are basically specific terms you can set to determine if your website has completed the objectives. For example, a goal is completed if someone completes an inquiry form or if someone checks out an item in your e-commerce store.  With this tool, you can determine how many percent of your visitors are actually converting into customers and you can tailor your website to convert more. This can mean by improving a certain page with more visitors to convert them.

Google Webmaster

As smart as Google is, Google cannot find your website at its creation. It needs to receive hints or information from other websites that your website exists, once it receives “news” it will send it’s robots to crawl through your website to gather more information about your website. Google Webmaster is a tool which you can use to speed up that process. Webmaster is also an invaluable tool for diagnostics for viruses or malware lurking in your site.

Tracking your websites on search terms your website is ranking for will also help you get a good idea of your website standings in the SERPS and your SEO efforts. With Google’s new markup on information displayed via structured data, you can also measure how your website is doing.

Speed Test

Website speed is one of the biggest factors the search engine giant uses to determine for the search page rankings. Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool you can use to test your website for both mobile and desktop versions. They will also tell you tips to speed up your website to better serve your visitors. As a general rule, your website should load within 3 seconds. Go above that timing and based on Google’s historical data you lose about 20% of potential visitors per second.

Guides

If you still can’t wrap around the different terms on how to improve your site speed, there are also guides available to help you out. Better yet, you can also look for our services to help improve your site speed or even SEO/SEM Services.

Google Business

google business

 

If you don’t even have a website but still want to list your business on Google, you can do so via Google Business. Google Business is a neat tool which allows you to put your company on the local maps. Adding a business has never been any easier. Once you have applied for this service, Google sends you a confirmation mail and once you’ve verified your business, your listing is automatically placed on Google maps. You can then receive reviews from your customers or place important information on Google maps such as contact details, opening hour or even picture associated to your business.

In addition, Google businesses tends to show up first on many search results which can be a great way to convert new visitors.

Why Hiring someone to do your SEO is better than Doing it Yourself

If you already have a website and aren’t getting any visitors, chances are you haven’t conducted any Search Engine Optimisation on your site. SEO is basically tangible steps you take internally and externally to make your website rank in the search engines for certain related keywords. It is important because without any optimisation, it is unlikely you will get any substantial visitors from the search engines.

While there are many companies and businesses that choose to conduct SEO in house, it is actually more feasible to hire a specialist to do this for you. In this post, we will talk about the 5 reasons why you should hire someone to improve your website.

Learning Curve

Learning about websites, hosting, domains, SEO and tracking through analytics is a steep learning curve. Many of these skills require some kind of background in IT and if you are starting fresh, it can be difficult to understand what is the right technique and what works. How an IT professional will help you is identifying what works for your industry and also provide you with suitable solutions for your business. This can mean Search Engine Marketing through adwords or even social media marketing.

Expensive Tools

While there are many SEO tools on the internet that can help you optimise and create your website, many of these tools are basic in nature and might not have the tools to speed up the process. Most experts have a myriad of softwares to help them to speed up their process and these tools can cost anywhere from $20 to $200 a month. They are able to afford such tools because they have can achieve economies of scale by having multiple clients at a single time.

Time Consuming

Search Engine Optimisation is a ongoing process which will require about 3-4 hours of your time daily. This will come in a form of building links, improving your website by posting new content, optimisation of your website, tracking the flow of your visitors and demographics and analytics on the previous week or month. Unless you have the amount of time on your hands, it can be difficult to achieve the results you want quickly.

Professionals have a commitment to you

Most SEO agencies are very competitive by nature because it is a result driven industry. The results in the search engine ranking pages are indicative of their prowess and most businesses will offer you some sort of guarantee for the work they provide for you. After all, SEO services are not cheap at all and can cost thousands a month with a minimum contract of usually 1 year. With this kind of cost, it is better to leave it to the professionals. However, it is essential to keep a watchful eye over the work they do and also insist on a monthly report so you know what they are doing and how they are improving your site.

Focus

The key to success in any business is having focus. As a business owner, it can be difficult to dive into another industry altogether. For example, a manufacturing company trying to do SEO on their own. Businesses should focus on their key function in order to achieve economies of scale. In addition, you will have lesser things on your mind because you can focus on the processes which drives the business.

I

More than 50% of visitors from mobile

Research has now shown than more than 50% of visitors come from mobile. This is to be expected especially when we heard last year from several Google workers that mobile has already taken over desktop searches in 2015.  With such a trend and probably more to come in the upcoming decade, it is all the more important to pay attention to your mobile friendly website.

The misconception of a mobile friendly website is common and people have the impression that as long as their website can be view online, it is automatically called a mobile friendly version. This can be further from the truth.

There are 4 key features of a mobile friendly website:

Visible and touch friendly call to actions

visible call to actions is definitely needed for mobile-friendly sites in order to convert. Where a desktop will excel in precise clicking and can easily navigate through a page, mobile devices are tiny and in comparison, require a visible button or call to action in order to convert sales.

Call functionality

statistics have proven that conversions occur within 3 minutes of navigating of a site and also that visitors often at times are just looking for a number to call easier to make the purchase. It is essential that your number is thus visible throughout the website and has the code to automatically bring the visitor to the dialer at a single tap.

Simple Navigation

Navigation can be really tricky if your website is not mobile friendly. The need to scroll to the left or right in order to reach a page is frustrating. Websites should have simple navigations with a large font which makes it touch friendly. Structuring your website to allow visitors to reach where they want to within 3 clicks is also a huge bonus

Scale according to size

If the war between Android and Apple is anything, you’ll know that screen sizes vary greatly within different brands. mobile websites should be able to scale perfectly according to any size you throw at the visitor be it tablets or mobile phone. Your pictures and navigation should also scale accordingly to give visitors a unified look throughout the board.

Conclusion

With the uprising of mobile searches, mobile sites are a definite must for any website to succeed. In addition, speed is also a key factor especially when your mobile device has significantly slower internet speeds than your wired or home connection. It is also important to conduct separate tracking for both your website and mobile view so that you can determine what works for your website. Check out this article if you would like to find out how to make your website load faster.

How to Decrease Your Website’s Load Time by 50%

Through Google’s constant improvement over the decades, they have placed more emphasis on speed load timing and it is not without reason. One of the biggest contribution to bounce rates are slow loading speed. Research has shown that people are only willing to wait for a maximum of 3 seconds before determining that the website is not working. This is all the more prominent for mobile users who will have slower access speed. From this article you will learn the 5 key ways on how to decrease your website’s load time.

Google’s guru, Matt Cutts also announced at SMX advanced that Google is also looking to roll out a version of site speed ranking factor for mobile sites. In other words, the faster your website, the chances of it appearing in page 1 serps is higher.

So with all these talk about site speed, how do you really test your site speed or improve the loading time?

Testing your sites.

Testing with Pingdom Tool

change what is good and improve the bad

One of the easiest free tool available out there is Pingdom tool. by just inputting your website URL into the tool box, it’ll tell you what CSS code or image is taking up the most of the loading speed and also tell you a myriad of information. Follow those tips and you’ll definitely reduce the size and improve the loading speed significantly.

PageSpeed Tools

you can test both mobile and desktop versions

This particular tool is by google and is definitely one of the best if you are into deep analysis and know what you are doing.

It’ll rate your website and tell you the possible optimisations needed to improve your website. If you’re thinking of ranking on Google. Chances are you have to use this tool to great lengths in order to make the search engine gods happy.

Picture Size

Chances are if you have the latest phone or DSLR, you’ll be tempted to put the full size photos on your website to look its best. Refrain from doing this at all cost. These photographs usually are in excess of 4mb and if you have multiple pictures, chances are your website will take really long to load. Pictures on website can look as good as its 4mb pictures as long as you compress your photos correctly.a 300 x 300 for example should be less than 30kb in general and a slider picture in excess of 1000×1000 can be less than 200kb.

 

Total Page Size

Most people have the impression that having more information is better than minimal information. That is totally correct IF your content is not large in terms of file size. Many people make the wrong mistake of adding too many pictures and other content to make their website content rich without having a second thought for the page size. Your page size should be less than 1mb unless you are hosting a myriad of photos on a single page or post.

 

Caching

Caching is probably one of the missed things on most people’s website. Caching is  basically storing data in a temporary area. This means the website stores frequently used data for easy and fast loading. If you are using wordpress, there are many caching plugins available or you can request this from your developer. However, remember that this should only be done with someone with experience as meddling with caching options can mess up your website.

 

Content Delivery Network

example of such a service: cloudflare

If all else fails, a content delivery network is probably the last solutions you should use. A content delivery network or also known as CDN uses servers to deliver the pages and content to a vistor. The key goal of a CDN is to deliver information to you the fastest manner possible. With all these benefits, of course CDN is not free. It can cost anywhere from 5 dollars to 50 dollars a month depending on the size of your website.

 

There are still many little ways you can tweak your website to bring the fastest speed possible but these are the 5 main ways you can DIY to bring about a faster website.

 

Title and Description Tags are Important

Meta Data is usually invisible to visitors unless you hit the F12 button and inspect individual elements in Google Chrome. And surprising to many, most Singapore websites are missing these key components. Website designers have one goal in mind; to design a website that looks aesthetically pleasing and to give visitors an enjoyable visit throughout the website. But, did you know that there is deeper information that you can utilise to convert visitors to customers by just changing a few meta data.

meta data is information that provides more information. Meta data is usually read by search engines provide different information to its users searching for items. So why does this matter?

Google uses these information to rank your website

Google uses multiple facades of algorithms to rank your website and your data is one of the essential ones. Meta data such as the title tells Google what the page is about and the description also provides Google with some keywords they can gather to categorise you into the correct keyword group.

What can I do?

Make sure that the content on the specific page has a suitable title. The title tag and description should not be too far off from the content of the page.

Adding meta tags and data is visitor centric

ever searched for a keyword on Google and found total rubbish on various search results? While it is difficult to find because Google places a large emphasis on getting people what they search for. You easily find traces of these at the back of the pages of your search result. See the below pictures as example. The first picture shows page 1 of a Google search while the second shows page 10.

Page 1 of search: things to do in Singapore

Page 10 of search: things to do in Singapore

Although the content is fairly similar, you can tell which is the more attractive title tag. For most of the descriptions in the first picture, the descriptions are also specially placed by the web administrator unlike page 10 where you can tell most of the descriptions are pulled out from existing content from the website.

So what are the best practices?

Unique Title tags

There is nothing more confusing than multiple entries of title tags on more than 1 page of your website. This will also confuse search engine robots scanning your site and the page which you want to be ranked might be ignored as a duplicate.

Limit the length of title and description tags

There is a limit to how many characters a title tag can hold, the default is usually 70 characters includes spaces while descriptions are limited to 160. Exceed this amount and you’ll see “…” at the end of your title tag and descriptions. Trust me, it does not look professional.

Reflect the purpose of the article/page

The words you use for the title should reflect the purpose of the article or post, it should not contain stop words such as “and” “is” “then” and other more.

 

In conclusion, title tags and descriptions are one of the most effective ways to show the search engines that your website is done professionally and also to convert visitors into customers. Spending a little time before publishing your page will go a long way.