Thursday, 31 January 2008

Google Sitemaps - The Benefits & How to set up

What are XML sitemaps

XML Sitemaps are the best format to use to record and montior pages on your site, benefits include:

* Supported by Google, Yahoo & MSN see:

* Up-gradable (can add extra info at later dates)

* Can separate website blogs into separate site maps or jumble together

* Where have more than one domain, make it possible to tell the search engine the preferred URL.

* Search Engines will use the sitemaps to enhance their crawl and discovery process, it does not however guarantee that those pages/URLs will get indexed.

* See:

NB: There is a limit of 50K pages, although nested sitemaps can be submitted to get around this.

Why Submit

Submitting a Google sitemap – lets Google know about the URLS on your site.

It is also helpful tool to make sure that some of your pages are not easily discovered by the spiders for example, pages that are only accessible via a form.

From a web design perspective Google sitemaps can identify potential crawling problems, broken links, robots.txt or crawling problems arising from the CMS.

From SEO perspective Google sitemaps also give indication on the top performing phrases by country and identify trends. This information is available elsewhere however useful to have link information and keywords in one place.

Reason to set up

Along with providing information to Search Engines, so that they can better understand the site, making sure they know about the URLS.

Another reason for setting up a sitemap in Google (Webmaster tools) is that you can capture statistics such as how many of your URLS are indexed.

Which is really useful on launch of a new site, new category/section.

No guarantees

Google do not guarantee that having a site map will increase your rankings, however it does increase your chances of getting crawled, as using site maps we can let them know about new URLS, and help them prioritize them, ie: know where to start the crawl.

Having a Google site map can however lead to increased visibility in the search engine result pages.

Understanding about setting priorities in the sitemap

Google state: "priority only indicates the importance of a particular URL relative to other URLs on your site, and doesn't impact the ranking of your pages in search results."

Adding priority 1 or another level to all of our pages, does not mean that they will rank any higher or be crawled faster than another site who has all their pages set at priority 0.7 for example.

Also by only indicating that all of your pages have the same priority is the same as not providing any priority information at all.

The default priority is 0.5 and many web masters make the decision to leave it on the default. See evidence at the Sitemap help forum.

Google mention ‘relative to other URLs’, so should priorities be set then
it may provide them with indication on how to crawl your site, ie: start at home / about us, then dig deeper into categories, subcategories and products.

In effect the priority order can only provide hints to Google about the importance of the pages. There is also an area to state how often page is updated, similar to the Robots revisit rule, which is known not to have an impact. Due to this I see no pressing need to update this area. Spiders will revisit regardless of updates.

It is however believed that by giving hints on updates, will be of benefit when a new section of site, or new site is launched.

Adding meta data to Sitemap

If all the meta data is 100% the same, then there is no pressing need to include the tag in the sitemap.

The reason for the meta data is to Google can distinguish the difference between each URL.

Where should a sitemap be placed

With sitemap cross submission, you can place it just about anywhere as long as the sites are verified in your Webmaster Tools account.:
Steps in Setting up Sitemaps – from Dave Chaffey – E-Marketing Guru

1. Go to personal Sitemaps page at Google Webmaster Tools requires Gmail login.

2. Create Sitemap format in correct format: See

It is limited to 50K URLs, but for larger sites you can create a sitemap index file that references more than one sitemap file.

1. Verify site - there are two methods - see I don't see any particular merit in either approach - use that which is most convenient, but remember the security implications of publishing your sitemaps.

2. To create site maps you could use the Google sitemap Generator or hidden on the site are these third party tools

I have personally found the free downloadable tool which crawls a site automatically on this list best for creating mine:,

Remember that Yahoo! have now launched an equivalent in Yahoo! Site Explorer

More answers can be found at: Sitemaps Help Group

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Google Analytics

Understanding Google Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to identify, measure and compare the performance of search engines, campaigns and mediums. It allows you to determine how profitable your keywords are across different search engines and to review performance of your online campaigns.

Online campaigns may include: email newsletter, affiliate network campaigns, referral sites, as well as paid for keywords and those found in natural search. Suprisingly Google Analytics will also let you track conversions from third party sites including Yahoo Stores and Ebay (see the Google Adwords conversion tracking guide).

Along with measuring the performance of your customers online journey, you can also identify where your best online customers come from and which target audiences are the most profitable.

Value of conversions

If you understand what value a conversion is to your business, and the percentage of pay per click customers who do convert (conversion ratio) this makes it easy to calculate your return on investment (ROI) for your Google Adwords campaigns.

For a positive ROI you are looking at the following equation:

Conversion amount * Conversion Ratio > than Average CPC

£10 * 3% = 0.30

If average CPC is 0.20 then this is a positive CPC.

Implementing Google Conversion tracking

Google supply a special tracking code that can be added to the result pages on your site.

To enable Conversion Tracking for your website, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Google AdWords account.
  2. Click the link that says Conversion Tracking
  3. On the page that follows, click the button that says Start Tracking Conversions.
  4. Once Conversion Tracking is setup, you have to get the code to insert into your site.

How it works in Adwords

When a potential customer clicks on one of your Adwords ads, Google then places a cookie on their computer to track there customer journey.

When this potential customer arrives at a conversion page decided by you (ie: order confirmation) then a conversion is recorded and reported within Adwords.

As part of the tracking: Google notifies users that they are being tracked, this notification is supplied by the Google code you enter at the results page. The tracked user then sees a message titled Google Site Stats with a “send feedback” link when the results page is opened. This allows users to find out more about Google’s Privacy Policy. At this stage users can reject the Google tracking cookie if they wish (meaning you loose that conversion data).

Cross channel conversion tracking

As well as measuring success from Google, the cross channel conversion tracking feature within Analytics allows you to see conversion traffic coming into your web properties from other advertising networks ie: Yahoo, MSN.

As well as tracking conversion to campaigns & keywords you can also get loyalty and engagement metrics. You can also determine which pages, categories on your website where you are loosing the most of your online customers – this feature is called Funnel Visualisation which tracks a users journey to the conversion page. This is useful feature in deciding whether improvements are needed to your site navigation.

For more information on Google Analytics:

Points to note


If inaccuracies do occur in tracking conversation via backend systems and analytics, it could be due to one of the below:

Obvious one: Tracking code is at the bottom of page, user gets bored clicks on another page and tracking code isn’t’ logged (as page not fully loaded)

There has been a restructure of the site navigation and conversion funnels not been updated (conversion tracking is broken in Analytics)

If "No Referrers" appears in the conversion/order confirmation page? This may be because people are book-marking the site from that page or they are using their History file which may show that as the most recent, so every-time they visit the page it is throwing off conversion data.

outine quality checks

It is always worthwhile to conduct a few days' worth of extensive tests to ensure tracking properly installed.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Optimising Press Releases

How to write a press release

Along with formulating a writing style to your press release which will resonate with your brand, you can also SEO optimise your press releases to increase presence of your company in the Search Engine Result Pages.

Word of caution though is to avoid keyword stuffing press releases, as not surprisingly this will reduce the credibility of your news to the readers. A good SEO copywriter will be able to incorporate the keywords into a press release at the same time satisfying any creative requirements for a compelling read.

Writing a press release for SEO is the same as writing a web page for SEO, looking for relevant links and relevant content on subject matter with keyword density of around 3% - 7%.

For step by step guide on considerations when writing a press release see the criteria at

More information on writing Press Releases can be found at the BBC and WikiHow:

Where to distribute

For maximum impact, where to distribute your press release is also an important consideration. Dependent on your industry and importance of the news story will decipher whether you pay or opt for a free press release service.

Remember that wire press release services will send out your press releases to a number of mail boxes, in effect Spamming mail boxes, thus you need to consider whether you want your company associated with that practice.

List of Press Release Distribution Services

The number of press release distribution services are growing, however at this current date, these are the ones I recommend:

Press Coverage free:

Press Coverage cost: Members news releases will be found on Google News, Google Search, Yahoo!, MSN, News, My favourite is PRweb.

RSS Feeds

Another strategy on getting press coverage on your news story is to pull journalists to you by making sure you have good visibility on places where they will be looking ie: RSS feeds in search results.

Make sure that the news is available to this network of readers ie: every article or press release distributed is available as part of a RSS feed. Should news stories be updated daily or weekly on your site then you could be eligible to qualify for Google News. Other criteria for Google News include: editorial needs to be written by more than one person, regular news stories on the site and these can’t be a duplicate of a news story found elsewhere on the site.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Optimising for You Tube

Optimising for You Tube

By making the most out of You Tube you will be able to:
· Promote videos
· Promote business
· Increase traffic to site
· Target niche groups related to company

Information on building & optimising your own YouTube Presence

1. Create your own channel (Creating on sign up to YouTube account)
2. Create your own profile and link back to your website URL
3. Create your own How to guides – more people likely to subscribe.
4. Join a group, create a new one (public or invitation only)


Review customised options in your channel settings:

Thoughtfully select 9 videos to appear on your channel profile page. Make sure you target your content by choosing the most appropriate account type

Info on account type: Account type is found within the channel info page, in here you will asked if this is Standard account, Director etc…in general most people will choose standard….so as you are experts in your field choose Guru. The Guru/expert account type lets you choose a custom logo and allows you to link to other websites within your profile page. Also people can search by account type.

Choose appropriate video length:

You have more chance of your videos being highly viewed if length is no more than 5 minutes. Bear this point in mind when choosing videos to appear on your profile page. It is also good to stay in the file size limit of 100Mb. Should you have longer videos you could create play-lists – allow viewers to decide whether they wish to watch at later time (when have more time).

Choose the right category:

Make sure you choosing the right category and tags for video. Do not rush this. Check popular videos in your niche, view how these have been tagged and placed in categories.
If you are uncertain of the category, run a keyword search for similar content and take note which category they belong too. Also look at less popular categories, as this will reduce competition and place you as most popular video with a specific category.

Tag it right:

Add as many keywords / tags that you can think off as tags allow your video to be tagged alongside other YouTube Channels, as a relevant video and this will increase awareness of your Channel and your profile and most importantly your site.

Create niche targeted play-lists:

Gather individual videos into niche groups, so that viewers can find related content more easily.

Don’t forget that YouTube is a social community:

There are options to email other YouTube users, promote your channel, comment on others videos. Make sure when contacting that user is in your target market. Also take advantage of Bulletins (short messages) on your profile and on others. Bulletins are a way to leave messages for users on their profile pages, increase your audience. Promote new videos or simply news about company. If they like your videos then they may even subscribe, also Bulletins lets visitors know you are active YouTuber. As mentioned earlier it is important to make sure you target the right audience correctly.

Join or create a group:

This is a great way of reaching out to your target audience. To monitor responses you can choose whether posts/messages, can be posted freely or whether they need approval. If objective of your group is to generate awareness then remember to open it to the public, another option is invitation only. Main aims of group set up though are too share videos.

Extra way to increase awareness

You can turn on (newish feature) ‘Active sharing’…which allows you to drive traffic to your profile. How ? This service is aimed for those who which to form opinions on subject matter, or for those interested in video trends. Basically, if you turn on ‘Active sharing’ then your YouTube name will appear under the video, people watching the video maybe interested to click on your name and see what else you have been watching. This is within your profile, where link to your site sits.