Is SEO dead for companies in Pakistan

Some years back (2005 to be exact) I joined a UK based web design agency and got my first hand experience of seeing websites optimized for keywords requested by clients and those keywords then achieving page 1 positions on Google and other search engines. I was quite fascinated by this as must be the clients paying for the optimization of their websites.

The modus operandi was that clients would send an enquiry or contact our office and request that their website be reviewed for SEO. We requested clients to provide us a list of 10-20 keywords which they wanted to target to improve their rankings on Google. Our SEO team would then review the client’s website and compile an Excel sheet outlining the current rankings of the client’s website on those keywords. They would also check if the client’s website was optimized for on-page SEO such as option to add/edit meta tags and search engine friendly URLs. If the keywords provided by the client were too generic or too competitive our SEO team would provide alternative keywords which they believed had a better chance to succeed. The client then selected the final 10-20 keywords for his website and our company would start work on them.

If the website needed some on-page optimizations such as adding and editing meta tags, URL rewriting and option of providing H1, H2 headings the work would come to my development department and we would add those features as requested by our SEO team and hand it back to them. Our work was usually finished in a couple of days.

Our SEO team then started the on-page SEO of the website and it usually took them 7 to 10 days of the first month to complete the process. During this process they would use the keywords from the approved keyword list provided by the client and embed them in the meta titles, headings, content and page URLs of the website. They created an account on Google Analytics if the client had not created one and generated the sitemap XML and submitted to Google Webmaster Tools. They checked for any 404 pages (broken URLs) in GWT and have them resolved by us if they existed.

The next step was to build back links to the website to increase the importance of the website in Google’s eyes (Remember PageRank :)). This was the time of link directories and link exchange programs. The client’s website link was submitted on high page rank link directories. The anchor text contained the actual keyword from the client’s approved list. Emails were exchanged with other website owners to place our client’s link on their website and in return our SEO team would place their link on the client’s website.

This process went for another month and a half and if all went well the rankings started to improve from the 3rd month onwards. Most of the times the client himself would contact us and express his gratitude on improving his website rankings. Some of them would be so happy that they would extend their contract for another 6 months to 1 year. Our SEO team was the darling of the company and at one time they were managing more than 30 projects which earned big moolah for the company.

I was just as much fascinated by their success but sometimes I felt that if this process was so easy then any Tom and Harry could get their websites optimized using these techniques and Google always prided itself on providing quality search results for its visitors.

Well it looked like Google was not happy that people were taking it for a ride. When Google introduced Panda and Penguin algorithms to fight web spam nearly all our client websites took a hit. Our clients started complaining of loss in traffic and that their website was nowhere to be found. Even though our SEO team made quickfire changes to offset the damage caused they were not able to recover the pre-Panda and pre-Penguin rankings of our clients and gradually our clients started to bid adieu and look elsewhere for a solution. Some were understanding and continued with the company but they had to start investing in Google Adwords to receive traffic and customers and that took a big hit on their profit margins.

The company eventually moved total SEO and internet marketing from Pakistan to the UK and the SEO department was eventually closed by the end of 2012.

This was not the story of one company but a lot of companies have closed down their SEO departments totally or scaled down operations to the bare minimum over the past couple of years. SEO related jobs have nearly stopped coming up on job portals and newspapers. Companies no longer see profit in SEO as people cannot get you results like they used to some 4-5 years back. As one senior SEO from a Dubai based media and SEO agency says

Managing a team of SEO’s to achieve organic results is much expensive than running PPC and Ad campaigns on Google and elsewhere

If you are a SEO or want to optimize your website then do read the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Word of advice:

  1. Improve user experience on your website
  2. Stop keyword stuffing
  3. Start your own website blog
  4. Improve your social profile on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
  5. Do not buy or exchange links from anyone. Encourage natural back links

301 redirect folder url to root url using htaccess

Our SEO department recently tweaked the URLs of a client website in order to improve the search engine rankings. The change was minor and they just removed a category path from the URL which shortened the actual length of the URL. There was one problem. The website was already indexed in Google and even though the change was minimal the effect was on hundreds of URLs. When any one clicked on the old URL indexed in Google the 404 page showed up which was a Big NO NO if you are some one managing a website having more than 50,000 GBP of sales.

The solution was an addition of one line in the .htaccess file which would automatically redirect the visitor from the old URL to the new URL.

I added the following line which resolved the problem.

RedirectMatch webman/(.*)$ http://www.adeelsarfaraz.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Please note that the above is an example. You can replace the webman to your path name and the domain name to the relevant domain name.

Comments?

My blog number 1 on Yahoo and Bing for Pakistan Web Development Consultant

I just checked results for Pakistan Web Development Consultant on Yahoo and Bing and my blog was ranked at top position on both search engines. It has some way to go on Google but I think I will be achieve it in a few days.

Please see the results on Bing

Pakistan Web Development Consultant on Bing

Please see the results on Yahoo

Pakistan Web Development Consultant on Yahoo

How the Accordion effect helps to optimize your website?

We all know that content is king when we talk of websites trying to achieve high rankings on Google. To achieve this effect website owners employ content writers to write keyword rich content for their websites. Sometimes they go overboard with keyword stuffing but most of the time these things pay off and they reap huge dividends when their website starts receiving traffic on targeted keywords.

However while all the above is true there are some things which you cannot control and those are client requirements. Clients don’t want to change the look and feel of the website by much (most of the time) and you have limited space to manoeuvre. The reason is that they don’t want the website revenue function to be hampered in any way while at the same time they want their SEO team to provide them the results they are paying them for.

Well the Accordion effect has brought about a much needed solution in this regard. The Accordion effect allows you to update content on the webpage though initially hidden from the visitor. If the visitor clicks on the title of the article then the content is shown otherwise it’s hidden. This effect allows you to optimize the content for the search engine as well as the customer without the danger of Google penalizing your website for hidden content. Accordion has become a very important tool for a SEO as it provides solution in the fast moving and changing environment we live.

If you would like to see the Accordion effect in action on a website then you can browse this page and see how it uses this effect to optimize itself.

Hope the above helped.

Add WordPress blog to your website in a day

Most of the time I see postings from clients where they require a blog to be added to their websites so they can update latest news regarding their website on it and keep the website “fresh” for search engines and visitors alike. We all know that if a website does not update its content regularly visitors tend to get bored and stop visiting altogether which is a loss of traffic. Same is the case with search engine crawlers and bots.

After some analysis I have found that this requirement usually comes from clients who are running static websites (HTML) or dynamic websites (PHP) without the feature of blog in them. Static website owners cannot update their website content as they are not that skillful in HTML. If they need to add some content they will need to pay someone to update their website content in HTML. Dynamic website owners have the benefit of updating their existing pages through a database but they too are unable to add new pages and articles.

Seeing how WordPress has become popular due to its search engine friendly features, the demand for having a blog on a website becomes more necessary than ever. So it’s better to ask some one to install and customize the WordPress blog on your website and the best part is that is costs less as well. Depending on the template you wish to replicate on your blog it will cost anywhere between $30 to $150 and that’s money well spent considering the benefits one gets afterwards.

If you need my help or you need examples of websites where I have added WordPress in the same theme and style then drop me a line.

Importance of optimizing your website for region based results

In this day and age where there are over 8 billion websites operating all around the world the competition has gone up tremendously. Today if you search for a product or service you will have a search count going over a million at the very least. This is a big number and with new websites coming up each day the chances of everyone gaining a good profit remains dim except for those listed in the first 3 organic result pages of leading search engines.

So, intelligent website owners have now started to optimize their websites for location based results or in other words focusing on local results.

Suppose you are based in New York and want to install a T1 connection at your home. Now go to Google.com and do a search for T1 costs. The following results are for March 5 2010.

You will get over 4.43 million results for T1 costs.

Now do a search for T1 costs New York you will get over 3.3 million results for T1 costs.

If you take a look at the results of the two results on Google you would find 2 things

1. The search results are quite different for both phrases. (Obvious but not always true)
2. The search results for the second phrase are offering the same service but their pages are optimized for a particular region.

Those who have optimized their websites for specific locations have an advantage over those who have optimized their website for the base phrase. They have

1. Lesser competition.
2. More visibility on search engine listings.
3. Increased traffic.

Moreover, if you think logically for just a second, a person sitting in New York is more likely to order the service from websites which are coming on top with T1 costs New York as he may think that they are offering the service from his city even though in all actuality the company he selects may well be on the East Coast.

So keep that in mind the next time you are optimizing your website.

How to specify canonical page for Google

If your website has some pages which have highly similar content then that may prove detrimental to your SEO efforts. How you may ask?

Take for example the following 3 URLs

http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1
http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1&arg2=val2
http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1&arg2=val2&arg3=val3

As you may notice the page is the same in all 3 examples. Assume that the main function of the page is to display listing of products and the querystring parametres just change the order of listing of those products and Google indexes all 3 variations in its search engine.

With 3 variations of the same page indexed i.e. the main content of the pages being the same the said page will not rank high on Google as it may see that the page has nothing new to offer to the visitor. Even when things have changed now and Google says that its algorithm will display the correct page with respect to the search terms its better to play safe.

Google gives you the option of defining your canonical page. A canonical page is the preferred version of a set of pages with highly similar content.

If you take the above example of http://www.example.com you can define the first page as the canonical page. To define it as such, open the page and go to the <head> section. Please the following line in the <head>

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1"/>

Now, Google will know which page to treat as the canonical page i.e. the page to consider in its search results.

To read more you can view the following page on Google regarding canonical

Hope the above helped.

How can I quicken my link submission to directories

If you have submitted your website link to directories on the web you will have come across the following steps.

1. Finding a directory or directory category which fits your website theme.
2. Checking the PR level of the directory. This step may be overlooked sometimes.
3. Submitting your website detail to that website directory.

Now if you follow the above steps for 50 to 100 websites you will find that its very time consuming and frustrating if you are operating more than one website.

What SubmitEaze provides you is the following

1. Large list of quality directories and their relevant Google PR.
2. Prioritize link submission accordingly.
3. Use the Auto-Fill button to fill all your details with the click of a button. You don’t need to retype the same information over and over again.

Just by looking at the steps above you will see that you save a lot of time and effort by using the SubmitEaze software to do all your link submission.

I use SubmitEaze on a regular basis. Download your copy today