Internet Marketing: 11 things to think about when redesigning your website

In the course of my work as an internet marketing consultant I often get asked for my advice on how best to approach a web redesign project. It is really important to protect the performance of a successful website that just requires a new look!

  • Keep Your Current URL Structure

Where possible keep your current URL structure.  This means that if the contact us page of the website current exists at don’t change it to

If your widgets are currently to be found at don’t move them to

Make a list of all your current website pages to make sure this doesn’t happen. A Sitemap generator such as is a useful free tool for getting this information. You should not need to change URL’s at all if your website only needs a ‘Facelift’ in terms of graphic design and you are not adding or removing products or services.

  • Map old pages to a relevant section of the redesigned website using a permanent 301 redirect.

If you are getting rid of old services or downgrading their importance and absolutely need to move or remove the URL, decide where you want to send visitors and search engines that are looking for the old page.  Prepare a document  of all your old/defunct URLs and specify what the new URL will be or where you want to re-direct people who have book-marked the old page or search engine spider that are trying to crawl it.

  • Make sure each page has a purpose

This is fundamental to a successful website and to the implementation of an effective internet marketing strategy. If you are adding new pages to the website make sure they have a purpose. What content will you be adding to the page and what is the purpose of that content? Will visitors find it useful?  Unless it is a form of some type the content on a page should exceed 75 words. If you don’t have more than that to say you possibly don’t need the page.

  • Prepare a Tender Document for your Web designer

Prepare a document for your website designer that includes all of the expectations and requirements that you have in relation to the website, such as the points above and how you need the website to perform for you – i.e. that the goal of the website is.

  • Copyright

Include in the tender document that once the website is paid for that it becomes your property. Make sure the domain name is also registered in the name of the company and not the developer. This is hardly ever an issue anymore but better safe than sorry.

  • Google Analytics Tracking

Don’t forget to include your current Google Analytics code in the new website. Don’t create a new one –you don’t want to start from scratch. Make sure the company owns and has access to the Google Analytics account. I had a client who told me they had previously lost 5 years’ worth of analytics data when the google account was closed by a disgruntled employee of the website developer.

  • Check for broken links

You should do this regularly anyway but specially after going through a redesign.  Use W3 Schools link checker.

  • Don’t move server

This one is fairly self-explanatory. Don’t move server at the same time as making other major changes to your website.

  • Link Canonicalization

Ensure correct link canonicalization is in place. E.g. &

  • Responsive Design

More and more people are accessing the internet on mobile devices and tablets. Make sure that your website design is responsive. Find out more in this blog article on responsive website design.

  • XML Sitemap

Create and submit a new XML Sitemap to tell search engine crawlers what pages are contained in your website. Use the link above to create it. Find out how you can submit it to Google here

Internet Marketing Blogs – Top 5 to Watch in 2014

Uncover the best internet marketing blogs. There is a lot of great content to be found on the web, in fact there is so much that it can seem overwhelming. Time is precious and it can be difficult to know what blogs you should follow to keep up to date.  Here are my top 5 favourite blogs, covering various important elements of interent marketing.

  1.  Website Usability

This is fundamentally important and often overlooked, which is why it is top of my list. Businesses often focus so much on how they want their website to look, that they forget to take into account how it should function. Website usability is fundamental to the success of any website. Find out how the design, layout and content of a website affects it usability and ultimately its success.

  1. Google Analytics

This is my favourite and a no brainer as far as I am concerned. Analysis how customers interact with your website is crucial to its success. Keep on top of new tips, tricks and functionality by following Google’s own blog.

  1. Search Engine Optimisation

The internet is alight with search engine optimisation blogs but my favourite is the SeoMoz blog. Now known as, I find it helps to keep up with what is going on, best practise and changes to the Google search algorithm that significantly impact ranking. It’s also ‘white hat’ oriented so it will keep you and your websites out of trouble. Some of the articles are opinion pieces and not all the ‘experts’ agree with each other, so bear that in mind before taking any content that you read here as gospel.

  1. Facebook Marketing

I love the Agora Weekly Pulse, a weekly roundup of the best Facebook marketing and advertising blogs each week with their key points in bullet form. An excellent resource to stay on top of what the Facebook Marketing experts are saying each week, without having to follow each individual blog.

  1. E-Commerce and Inbound Marketing

I wanted to include blogs in these areas, but to be honest all the bloggers that I follow occasionally, such as Shopify and HubSpot include a hard sell with their content that I dislike, this is not to say that the content is not worthwhile. The result being a name-check but no link :-)

I hope this has proved useful and that you will learn loads to help you in your internet marketing efforts in 2014.

What is responsive web design and why do I need it?

Web design that adapts content layout in response to the device that it is being viewed on is the essence of responsive web design.  Web designers and developers have had to change tack in how they handle mobile browsers.  Initially, mobile websites using a subdomain such as with reduced content and a single column were seen as best practice.  This thinking has changed as mobile Smartphone technology has developed.

Responsive web design adapts to the device.  Customers on the website see the same content, at the same URL whether they are viewing it on an 1800 pixel desktop computer or on a 320 pixel Smartphone.  The layout of the content will be very different though.  Another advantage is for the client, as they only need to post content to the website once and no longer have to edit it for a mobile specific website.  Given the growth in mobile internet usage it also makes sense to concentrate on one message and one website.

Internet usage on mobile smart phones and tablets has grown exponentially, it is growing faster than desktop; and will overtake it in the near future.  People browsing the internet on their mobiles expect the same great content as those browsing at their desk at work and if your current web design doesn’t allow your website to display in a usable way on a Smartphone, you could be missing business opportunities.

So how does responsive web design work?  Thanks to CSS web developers can now define how content will render based on min/max device and display width/ height and on device orientation e.g landscape.  CSS allows up to 13 different factors to be taken into consideration and because of these multiple factors CSS media queries work better than a simple screen resolution detection system.

In Ireland we are ahead of the curve in terms of our mobile phone usage, there are more active mobile phones in Ireland than there are people.  You only need to look around you on a bus or train or in a café and you will see people all around browsing the internet on their mobile phone.

Responsive web design is just one of the important factors that you need to consider when developing a new website. If you are developing a new website or redeveloping an old one – talk to us – we have lots of project management experience in this area and we can also help to recommend the right developer for your project, be it an e-commerce or a corporate website.

Subdomain or Subdirectory for my New Blog?

Should I host my blog in a subdomain like or in a sub directory like

This is Five Minute Friday so I’ll give you the short answer – in a subdirectory. Find out why below:

From an SEO perspective if you are adding a blog to a website the best place to host it is in a subdirectory of the main site assuming the following conditions:

1. The blog is related to the same topic as the main website
2. You will be updating the blog regularly
3. The main site currently performs when it comes to ranking

A subdomain is treated by search engines as a completely new site and will require separate SEO efforts. By choosing a subdomain the blog will remain part of the main site and link juice and domain authority will be passed along.

As with anything in life there are no absolutes. You may be adding a blog to your site as a branding exercise and SEO is not an important factor. In this instance a subdomain may work better. It may also be worth considering a subdomain if your blog does not meet the three conditions assumed above.

What is Google Hummingbird?

Google Hummingbird is a new search algorithm announced by Google as part of their 15th birthday celebrations at the end of September 2013.  The salient part of the previous sentence is a new algorithm; this is a totally new departure and potentially affects over 90% of searches. Interestingly, the algorithm was changed about a month before the announcement and received no noticeable negative feedback from users – a sure sign of success!

Why a new algorithm?

Users’ searches have been getting longer and more specific over time. As search queries became longer and more conversational in style Google had to understand the meaning of those queries and to adapt search results accordingly. As always it was about giving the user the information that they wanted.

Give me an example

Google wants to understand what you mean when you type in a search term. First off an example: Think of some interchangeable search queries – say ‘the best ice-cream shop in my area’. You could also mean ‘the best ice cream parlour in my area’ or ‘where to get the tastiest ice-cream in my area.’  These are all long tail conversational style queries, and Google needs to know the best pages to return as a result. Hummingbird is the new algorithm that Google hopes will provide the solution. First off they need to know where you are, which they do if you have set your location.

How does Google Hummingbird Work?

To put a very complex process in simple terms, Hummingbird uses Google patents to re-write queries using synonyms, and by paying attention to all the words in that query and how they relate to one another Google Hummingbird hopes to provide the most relevant search results based on that particular query.

In other words, ice-cream and ice cream mean the same, tastiest and best probably mean the same, and shop, parlour and where to get all mean an actual place.

Here is an excerpt from one of Google’s patents:

A search query for a search engine may be improved by incorporating alternate terms into the search query that are semantically similar to terms of the search query, taking into account information derived from the search query. An initial set of alternate terms that may be semantically similar to the original terms in the search query is generated.

Hummingbird ties together the query re-writing patents that Google has filed and also builds on the latent semantic indexing that is the discovery process for finding related terms and phrases. LSI plays a key role in what is returned on search engine results pages (SERPs), learn about LSI in my earlier blog – Why content is king, the science behind the statement.

What does Hummingbird mean for me?

It seems clear that Google is working towards returning the most relevant content to any given search query. In practical terms this means that Google will continue to reward good quality content. Having a content strategy based around long-tail keywords, and paying attention to the 5 W’s (what, where, when, who and why) will pay dividends in the long term.

Bill Slawksi,  Rand Fishkin, The Moz Blog.

Google Patent Examples:
Search queries improved based on query semantic information
Synonym identification based on co-occurring terms

Search Ranking Trends April 2012

Over the last month, Google has been testing what appear to be some significant algorithm changes, which have cause significant changes in ranking for a variety of sites. There are some facts and opinion below, but first I want to make sure you have some tangible actions.

1. Check to see if you’re affected, and by how much. Do a quick search on Google for your brand name, domain name and for any high-volume head terms. If you find that you are not ranking on the first page for your brand name, or if other terms have significantly slipped in rankings, then it’s a likely sign that you’re suffering. Looking at your analytics will give you more insight into how your total organic traffic is looking. This will also help you find out when your site first suffered.

2. Don’t panic, and don’t make any sudden movements. It might feel like the sky is falling around you right now – particularly if your traffic for a really valuable term has just slumped to zero – but an immediate response isn’t likely to be helpful. Also, any changes you’ve made to your site in the last few days / week are unlikely to be the cause of your particular issue; don’t worry too much about them or try to ‘undo’ things. As discussed below, there’s a chance that Google has been overzealous and made mistakes here; if this is the case, then we would expect to see some of the impact reversed in the coming days.

3. Be prepared to clean up your SEO. If your company has benefited from ‘shady’ SEO techniques, then this is a perfect time to get your house in order and take a more honest approach in future. Now would be a good time to put the brakes on any low-quality link building practices, and to start cleaning up any poor-quality techniques you’ve been using, either on-page or off-page.

A Short Timeline / Background

During March and April, Google has been sending out a significant number of messages to webmasters (via Webmaster Central) – many were ‘Unnatural Link Warnings’, telling the site owners that Google recognised ‘artificial or unnatural links’ in their backlink profile. Google also issued warnings to the SEO community about penalties for ‘over optimisation’, but with scant details on what factors they were assessing. At the same time, Google has been aggressively trying to penalise large link networks. Sites that relied on using these kinds of services for link-building suffered from the drop in link equity to their site. On 18th April, Google tried rolling out an update to recognise parked domains (and presumably reduce their rankings or remove them from search.) It was publicly announced that there was a bug in this change, which mistakenly impacted some sites. However, it’s clear that some sites are still suffering significantly lower rankings, indicating that either this update’s issues haven’t been fully reverted, or that another algorithm change has come into effect.

Our Thoughts

The effects of these changes have been an update targeting exact match domains (EMDs) that got out of hand. If I launch a slew of domains such as with thin content and a lead generating form, then Google is probably quite right in trying not to give the site much credit. Buying EMDs is a pretty cynical tactic, that’s definitely been used as a ‘quick and easy’ way into the top results.

One theory is that Google is not mis-categorising sites, but actually mis-understanding search phrases. There’s also a strong feeling (among SEOs talking online) that Google may well admit to a mistake here, and undo or dial-back the impact of some of the recent changes. (There is precedence for this: in the days after the Panda Update, some sites saw their rankings return to roughly their pre-Panda positions). It is with this possibility in mind that we made the recommendation above to not panic.

If you are confident that your site has a clean link profile, and there’s nothing murky or egregious in your site’s SEO history, then it might be best to lie-low and see what changes over the coming days. For sites that have used any questionable tactics in the past – particularly if you have any ‘grey’ links in your profile – now would be an appropriate time to take action on that. Better still, it’s an opportunity for people to take a closer look at what might have happened in your specific case, and try to plan so your site regains its rankings and traffic. If you would like to talk about some specific issues you are having, please feel free to email me on and I’ll offer whatever advice I can based on the information supplied.

Link Building or On-page SEO. Where do I spend my Money?

We get asked all the time whether our clients should be focussing on On-page SEO or Link building. Unfortunately, the answer tends to be both honest and frustrating – “That depends”. No one wants to hear that because they’re back where they started – having no idea what to do next. Here’s four examples to give you an idea of how I’d allocate your budget for each one.

What Is On-page SEO?

“On-page SEO” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. It could mean keyword research, writing good TITLE tags, internal linking and crawl architecture, even content creation has been dumped into this pile of options. For the purposes of this post, on-page is anything you directly control in the code or content of your site.  Simple, right?  As a rule of thumb, think of the analogy of trying to build a house on sandy foundations, in the rain.  If you don’t have good strategy and site architecture in place with a good base of content and relevant information – forget about driving more links, you’re driving links to a pile of blocks that have fallen down and are crumbling in the sand.

Case #1: The Elephant

70% On-page, 30% Link-building

The Elephant is an established site with a solid, trusted link profile and usually a good base of content. In many cases, it’s a site that’s evolved “organically”, which is a fancy word for “without a plan”. The Elephant could be suffering from any or all of the following:

  • Keyword research is 5 years out of date
  • Keywords are cannibalised across many pages
  • Internal links have grown like weeds
  • Site architecture doesn’t reflect business goals
  • Page TITLEs overlap or are duplicated
  • Old but valuable (i.e. linked-to) content is 404’ing


In many cases, no one notices, because The Elephant’s strong link profile and solid content keep it ranking well. The problem is that you’re sitting on a gold mine of untapped potential. Of course, The Elephant should keep building solid links, but a shift in focus (even for a few months) to really planning and focusing on on-page issues, from keyword research on up, could produce huge dividends.  They say elephants never forget and that’s positive but there’s an element of “What have you done for me lately” that cannot be overlooked.

Case #2: Perfect Pat

30% On-page, 70% Link-building

Perfect Pat often comes out in new webmasters. They’ve read 500 SEO blogs and are following all the “rules” as best they can, but they’ve become sooo obsessed with building the “perfect” site that they’ve hit the tipping point of effort versus results. Perfect Pat wants to know how to squeeze 0.01% more SEO value out of an already good URL by moving one keyword.  Ouch, it’s going to take hours to achieve that 0.01% and that won’t deliver significant enough a return to justify the effort or expense.  You’re not quitting, it’s a case of doing the things that will make most difference to your sales growth.

It’s time for Perfect Pat to remember the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle) – there comes a point where your on-page is good enough, at least for now. You have to get Google to your site to put that on-page magic to work, and that means building links. It’s important to develop content (which is why I’ve left on-page at 30%), but put almost every other on-page tactic to the side temporarily and spend a solid 6 months developing and implementing a link-building campaign

Case #3: The World of Pain

90% On-page, 10% Link-building

The World of Pain is a Google engineer’s fantasy (or possibly nightmare). She’s broken every single rule of on-page SEO, which worked fine for a while, but then came “May Day” and “Panda”, and now Google is even talking about penalising her for optimising too much. The World of Pain has let something (Likely a lot of things) spin out of control, including:

  • Blocked crawl paths and bad redirects
  • Massive URL-based duplication
  • Excessive internal search, categories, and tags
  • Aggressive advertising-to-content ratio
  • Extremely “thin” content
  • Nonsensical site architecture and internal linking
  • Keyword stuffing that would embarrass 1998


In some cases, this could be “over-optimisation” and an attempt to manipulate the search engines (Inadvertent “Black Hat SEO” stuff), but in other cases the World of Pain is just that – a painful mess of garbage that has had every trick in the book fired at it without any strategy or structure whatsoever. Whatever the cause, put down everything and start fixing the problems now. Chasing new links without fixing the mess is like having your carpets cleaned while your house is burning down, or trying to sell the house to the fireman who’s putting out the fire.

Case #4: The Red Card

10% On-page, 90% Link-building

Finally, there’s The Red Card – he’s broken every rule in the Google link-building playbook, and they’ve finally noticed. This could be a large-scale devaluation or a Capital-P Penalty, including:

  • Paid links
  • Link farms, networks and exchanges
  • Excessive low-value links
  • Aggressive anchor-text targeting


If you’ve been naughty enough, you could be facing a serious ranking penalty or even de-indexation. At that point, all the on-page tweaks in the world won’t help you (I left 10% just to keep the site up and running). You have to fix the problem and address the problem links. Bare minimum, you have to stop doing what got you into trouble and show a pattern of positive link-building. You may even have to file for reconsideration. The fix can be tricky, and depends a lot on the situation, but until you fix it, The Red Card isn’t going anywhere.


But What About Social?

Before I get a tonne of comments, I purposely left social factors out of this post. I think the influence of social is growing and it definitely deserves your attention (and budget), but I don’t want to confuse an already complicated issue. Also, at this point, there are no major social “penalties” (small-p or Capital-P), so it’s hard to have an SEO crisis related to social media. Still, social should certainly be a part of any healthy mix in 2012.

One Size Never Fits All

I’ll try to keep the point short and sweet (Those of you who know me, will understand how difficult that can be for me :-) when it comes to the right mix, there is no one-sized-fits-all solution. On-page SEO and link-building are both important, but how important each one is really depends on your current strengths and weaknesses. Long-term, everyone should pursue a mix of solid on-page structure, unique content, an authoritative link profile, and substantive social presence. Diversity is the best way to future-proof your SEO – if the algorithm changes or you hit a snag on one pillar, at least there will still be enough left standing to keep your roof up and your doors OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

Internet Marketing Intelligence – Keeping up with Search Ranking Trends

Developing an internet marketing strategy requires a breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines.  You need to know:

  • How to develop a great website
  • What marketing messages are right for your product or service.
  • How to integrate social media messages into your strategy
  • How to reach your target audience and get your website found on the internet.

Staying on top of how search engines rank websites is a really important aspect of an overall internet marketing strategy.  Online marketing  is not the same as traditional marketing, you can have the coolest website, a great product and some cutting edge marketing messages but if no visitors come to your website, you are not going to sell any products online are you?

Google issues a very general monthly report that it labels ‘Inside Search – Search Quality Highlights’.  It gives a broad-strokes overview of where it is taking its ranking algorithms, allowing you to see where the trends are heading.  In February Google announced that it made 40 changes, the highest number to date, which shows that search moves quickly!  Here are the major trends in my opinion:

Local Search

More locally relevant predictions on YouTube:  For example a for the query [U2  in] performed on the US version of YouTube Google might predict [U2 in America], whereas the same search done on the Australian version might predict [U2 in Sydney]

Improvements to ranking for Local search results:  improves the triggering of local universal results by relying more on the ranking of main search results as a signal

Improved local  results: new system to find results from a users city more reliably, can now detect when both queries and documents are local to the searcher.


Google continued its work on promoting ‘fresh’ content in the changes it made to its algorithms in February. Google disabled two old classifiers relating to query freshness, it also updated its algorithm for image search to surface fresh images when they appear on the web, they have also applied new signals which allows them to surface fresh new content more quickly when it appears on the web.  Google has also consolidated its signals for spiking topics, so they can rely on signals that they can compute in real time, keeping them ‘on trend’ for the spike in popularity of a particular topic.  They have also updated the data in the Panda System making the famous ‘freshness’ update more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes in the web.


Google likes authority, which means knowing that they are returning the user with a reliable source for their particular query.  In February Google adjusted it algorithm to more accurately detect official pages.

Cleaning up

Google has also updated its SafeSearch algorithm for both image and search to ensure that it is better at detecting adult content in image searches and also making it less likely that irrelevant adult content will appear for most queries.  Google has also worked on their auto-complete policy to make offensive and inappropriate terms less likely to appear.

Google also turned off a method of link evaluation that they have used for several years.  They didn’t say which one, or how it affected links, that remains to be seen.  I can be sure of one thing, having looked at the search trends over the past few months, you can bet that it prioritises high-quality in-bound links from authoritative sources and negatively affects anyone engaging in ‘black-hat’ SEO such as link-swapping or link – farming practises.

Evaluating Googles Search Insights it is apparant that engaging in a search engine optimisation strategy that focusses on great content that generates high quality in-bound links, combined with ‘fresh’ updates that engage your consumer, will reap long-term rewards. Google are trying to eridicate black-hat SEO techniques, by changing the way they evaluate links and promoting fresh relevant content. I’m certain I won’t be proven wrong on that one!

Just Why Is Content King? – The Science Behind the Statement

We get asked this question all the time and I suppose the answer hasn’t changed for some time. The way in which the search engines are tracking content however has. When a search engine is asked to search for a service provider, for example to replace a “Flat tyre”, the person looking for the service wants to find a solution, not just information. The way websites rank in the search results depends on the strength of your keywords and how frequently you have used them in the areas of your site that are crawled by search engines. They run algorithms that will seek out the frequency of your keywords and add that to the number of times that your site has been visited and again further to check how often people have linked to your site through recommendations or Backlinks. It all starts with content in this process and the algorithm is using Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI. To embrace the science, you first need to understand the basic principles and that’s important when we try to explain to our clients the benefits of having a cohesive internet marketing strategy when developing great, fresh content. We want to see reward for their efforts.

What is Latent Semantic Indexing?

LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing is a complicated term with a simple explanation. The main concept behind Latent Semantic Indexing is to discover words and phrases that are related in the context of any document or group of documents. Search engines, Internet Marketing Professionals, and Website Designers often use LSI in their day-to-day activities.

Latent Semantic Indexing is the discovery process for finding related terms and phrases. LSI is a mathematical equation that will fold words into a matrix for analysis that will draw out semantically related terms. This equation relies heavily on the context in which any given word is used. For example, if the term “flat tyre” is used in a document, some semantically related terms would be: car, vehicle, repair, wheel, tyre pressure, and wheel brace. You can see that all the words in the list are related to the term “flat tyre”.

The Inner Workings of LSI

The actual work of Semantic Indexing is very complicated and can only be performed by computers running specialised software. These computer programs will build a word and document matrix and run a semantic analysis and output the semantically related terms. These related terms are commonly known as LSI terms. These programs can analyse one document or a group of documents, one website or many websites.

How Do Search Engines Use Semantic Indexing?

Search engines, such as Google, use Latent Semantic Indexing as part of their search analysis, when trying to decide what websites will show up in their search results. The goal of every Search Provider is to provide the most relevant results for any query. For example, if a user searches for the term “flat tyre”, Google must decide what websites or documents are most relevant and display them in the search results. LSI plays a key role in what is returned on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Why is Latent Semantic Indexing Important to Me?

As teams or individuals create content for the Internet, there is often an overriding goal to have this newly created content found by the search engines. To do this, they need to use the terms that are the most related and relevant to their keyword or phrase. If I fix flat tyres, I want to be found for flat tyre repair in my city or town. My internet marketing success depends on the search engines finding my web content and showing that page in the search results when someone types in the query “flat tyre repair Galway”.

What Do You Do If YOU Don’t Have Time To Work This Out Alone?

Well, that’s easy. We help our clients to develop strong keyword strategies and then we can assist them in building great content that is LSI centric. After all, if you are committed to improving the ranking of your website, you’re going to be working on new content all the time, right? Why not work smarter rather than working harder? Allow us to guide you on the science and let the science drive your creativity by providing focus on the things that matter most.

Isn’t it great when everything works in harmony?

Search Engine Optimisation Training Course – e-book

Thanks to all the participants who attended our introduction to search engine optimisation training course today.  We hope you found the material interesting and that you now have a better feel for the general principles involved.

As promised we have prepared our notes into an e-book for you to downlaod.  Please feel free to share it with your friends, colleagues or anyone who you feel may find it beneficial.

If you would like ongoing tips and advice on SEO,  internet marketing and sales strategy we recommed that you follow our blog.

Thanks again for coming today.  Download the notes from our SEO workshop now. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation training course.  If you found the course content to be valuable to you or if you enjoyed the style of our presentation, please connect to us on LinkedIn and if you could post a recommendation for the training you have received, we would really appreciate it.