05.12.2011 Search Engine Optimization No Comments

Agency vs. In-House SEO Battle

Agency vs. In-House SEO

I knew this time would come – that I would have to give my own insight on this age-old comparison. This is not a 100% representation of what an in-house or agency SEO is but it’s a reflection and comparison of my experience.

It’s not a battle per se but it’s worth noticing what it looks like when you’re behind both fences.

In-House SEO Jedi

For 4 consecutive years, I’ve been working on the client side. I’ve built, trained, and led a couple of teams of junior SEO’s, link builders, copywriters and web designers in the ultimate goal of optimizing client sites. Being an in-house SEO seemed like nurturing a baby from birth to adulthood. The close familiarity with your projects in house definitely helps you in learning how it behaves in every aspect of digital marketing – performance in search results, gaining traffic from different channels, acquisition of goals, and seasonal lifecycles.

In-House SEO Jedi

Planning and execution of campaigns were also quite flexible (well depending on how many steps up the ladder you need to climb for approvals) when you’re in-house because you’re directly connected with the stakeholders of the project. In terms of reporting, it is quite straightforward. Once you’ve established your KPI’s (and enhance them over the period of time), then building a monthly template would be fluid enough. This is where you can see the fruits of your effort (and mistakes) come to life. Being able to monitor KPI’s on a regular basis for a single client gives you that confidence in generating projections and action plans for the next proceeding months.If there’s one word that I can attribute to being an in-house SEO, it would be FOCUS. It’s that focus that gives an in-house SEO his core strength vs. an SEO agency. I was fortunate enough that my bosses were patient and generous enough to let me experiment, innovate, and develop my processes for their websites for their success. Yes, I made a lot of mistakes but I always made a point to correct them for twice the gain. An inevitable weakness which is inherited by in-house SEO jedi’s is the disease of being “nearsightedness”. They will become so immersed with the company and industry that sometimes he loses touch of what’s happening in the industry as a whole specially if they stick to process which works and never have the courage or the time to experiment and think out of the corporate box.  read more
11.10.2010 Web Analytics No Comments

Measuring SEO Through Google Analytics Custom Reports

When I started working with Nurture3, my previous role was that of a team leader which meant only executing the plan and strategies set by my manager or the client. Then I had the opportunity (and the challenge) of doing everything as an SEO manager.

When you’re heading an SEO department from the beginning, your major roles will include establishing procedures from keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, and analysis.

Building the benchmark, a.k.a. KPI’s, for your SEO campaign is a process you should not miss. You can’t improve what you can’t measure – that’s a constant reminder by the analytics experts in the industry. With the onset of personalized search and now Google Instant, search engine rankings alone are not effective KPI’s anymore.

There are a number of KPI’s you can establish to measure your SEO campaign. We’ll start with organic traffic and conversions.

Luckily Google Analytics allows you to create custom reports according to your data needs. Let’s go through creating one step by step.

Custom Reporting can be accessed through the left side panel once you log into Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Custom Reports

You can create / edit custom reports in this interface. read more

04.10.2010 Conversion Optimization No Comments

Why SEOMoz has the Perfect Landing Page

Ever since I started working on conversion optimization last January 2010, I knew I found my new love. An increase of 20% in conversions after 2 months of optimizing message to landing page to registration flow, is a great figure to present to your boss.

For those who are not familiar yet with conversion optimization or conversion rate optimization (CRO), I would recommend reading one of my conversion superheroes, Bryan Eisenberg’s Blog.

An essential element of CRO is the landing page. It’s the customers’ entry point into your business and it’s your marketing pitch for them to purchase, register or whatever conversion you would like them to do.

I have been examining and evaluating landing pages for my clients’ projects and I have found that landing page holy grail at SEOMoz.Org. It’s neat, complete, and functional.

I would have written a top 10 strategy post for landing page structure but I think this demonstration will point out the important elements in landing page optimization.

Don’t take my word for it, let me who show you 7 reasons why SEOMoz has the perfect landing page:

SEOMoz Landing Page First Fold

1. Value Proposition (Enough Said!) – According to Bryan Eisenberg, there is one secret of top converting websites that is so simple, so obvious, yet so many people forget to use – Value Proposition. Tell your customers why they should buy your products, why they should choose you instead of your competitors.

What makes you stand out? What makes you better than the competitors? Answer that and deliver that message in a few seconds!For SEOMoz, there’s nothing simpler than “Get Started with SEOMoz Pro, risk free, now.” Apart from the brand that they have, they also give you that money back guarantee. Sweet! Right? read more

31.05.2010 Search Engine Optimization No Comments

How Long before I See Results in SEO?

In my years of working with clients in their organic SEO efforts, I’ve been asked this question over and over again. As a business, I think it is imperative to capitalize on the time at which you can expect good returns from your investment. And SEO being part of your marketing strategy is no different.

Unfortunately, there is not yet a black and white answer to this question. Although your SEO consultants / vendors may have told you that it may take 3-6 months to a year to see results or maybe even more than that. Personally I’ve seen core keywords rank in as short as a month to a longer period of 18 months.

*Photo courtesy of Borkur.Net

Organic SEO results will depend on these following factors:
read more

13.02.2010 Online Marketing No Comments

Latest Guest Blog Posts

It’s a new year and I wasn’t able to greet you folks (better late than never). I’m hoping you’re having a great start for this new millenium.

It’s been more than 3 months since I’ve last posted in this blog. I’ve been focusing more on writing as guest writers in top SEO blogs in the community. It has been pretty exciting (and a drop dead challenge) to expand my portfolio, now I’m working on building strategies for Online Reputation Management for my clients and start on Conversion Optimization.

In a few weeks from now I will be featuring a few parts of Online Reputation (ORM) and Conversion Optimization. I have to admit, I’m learning as I master these new areas in my work but it will be interesting to see the developments and tests of what works and what doesn’t.

As for now, I’m going to leave you with a couple of my previous blog posts at SEODubai.Org and SearchEngineJournal.Com: read more

02.10.2009 Interview Fridays 6 Comments

Interview Fridays – Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, CEO of FlipMedia

I’m very excited in this 2nd part of this episode on Interview Fridays. I have great respects for this next individual.Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, CEO of FlipMedia

He’s the chief of one of the leading digital agencies in the Middle East. He has been a strong figure in the online industry in the region. It was a privilege to have interviewed Mr. Yousef Tuqan of FlipMedia.

It’s an honor to have one of the most important names in region’s online media industry. Please tell us about your success story and your journey with Flip Media?

Thanks for the compliment. Flip’s had a trajectory of success over the past six years – particularly early on – enabling us to become the most successful digital agency in the Middle East. From a team of two, it’s now very well established, with an enviable portfolio of clients and a team comprising over 150 people in 8 countries, throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

I’m pleased to have been a part of this process, having joined Flip as an Account Director back in September 2005, progressing to CEO in July last year. Perhaps what I’ve enjoyed the most is guiding the overall business strategy, in terms of the work we do, the clients we take on and our resulting market position.

I credit the success I’ve enjoyed to a couple of factors: I’m naturally passionate about digital (OK, OK I’m a natural born geek; there, I’ve said it), with communications and marketing as founding skills. My dad worked for IBM, so maybe it’s genetic but I’ll never forget the time when he said he could show me how to build a website in 20 minutes, back in 1996. So we opened up Netscape Composer and the rest is history, really.

How does it feel to be the Chief of the region’s leading interactive agency? What are the challenges?

It’s a tremendous honor for me. Even before I joined Flip, I had always admired what the agency stood for, and the energy Flip brought to the industry. To be entrusted with its continued growth and success is an enormous responsibility, and one that I don’t take lightly.

Luckily for me, Flip has attracted the best people in the industry, and my job is a lot easier when surrounded by people who are truly dedicated to digital marketing, and to Flip’s vision.

read more

16.08.2009 Search Engine Optimization 9 Comments

A Closer Look on Bing’s Search Engine Results for better SEO

Ever since Bing launched and when they finally closed the deal with Yahoo, I’ve been itching to do this review on Bing’s results and the implications it has on SEO’s.

Now that Binghoo has been in existence, optimizing for Google’s competition is growing significantly. If Binghoo will be capturing 1/3 of the search market it’s definitely worth your efforts of grabbing that pie of your traffic.

Let me give you a brief walk through of a few interesting features that Bing has.

Document/Site Preview – Aside from the ordinary SERP’s you have, Bing helps users by giving them a preview of the page/site. According to the Bing team, “it helps searchers find the content they want faster, without leaving the SERP until they are ready.” As a webmaster, you can also disable the document preview feature for your site in Bing. (By the way I’m not affiliated in anyway with the featured websites on the searches.)

Bing Site Preview

Quick Tabs & Related Searches – Bing gives you a neat list of related topical searches at the left panel of every search. In our keyword “dubai business”, we have related search options of “online businesses”, “dubai business directory”, “business opportunities dubai”, and so on.

Another feature I like on Bing is the Quick Tabs section which gives you filtering options on a broad scope of search. For example, I was interested in finding out for “Nike Shoes”, it gave me options for Catalog, Coupons, and Jobs. The Bing team aims to let the searcher to “fully explore their subject without losing track of their initial query.

Bing Quick Tabs & Related Searches

Best Match – If I remembered it correctly, Microsoft branded Bing as a “decision engine”. The best match feature has made this statement clear enough. Bing highlights huge brands and names in their best match feature. It isolates the search results if you’re looking for official websites and leading brands.

Bing Best Match

You can see that aside from the single listing for the Google site, it also features the site’s search box which you can use directly, a “Similar to this” section which listed other similar results which you might have in mind. And then there’s the usual quick tabs, related searches, and search history.

You can read the rest of Bing’s features on the New Features Relevant to Webmasters PDF they’ve released last June 2009. They’ve also mentioned a little bit on Search Engine Optimization (but I still think Google’s SEO Starter Guide was way way more interesting and informative).

Disclaimer: The two websites that I will be reviewing in a while were picked by the fact that they have ranked number 1 during the time of search on Google.Com and Bing.Com. I’m not in any way promoting any of the sites featured in this review.

Let’s get down to the face-off. I did a search for the term “dubai business” (don’t ask me why and how, it’s a random keyword I thought of) on Google and Bing. For everyone’s information “dubai business” has a search volume of 74,000 for the month of July from Google Keyword Tool (this means the keyword is worthy of traffic).

And let’s go tally the results: read more

17.07.2009 Interview Fridays 10 Comments

Interview Fridays – Kevin Gibbons of SEOptimise

I’m proud to announce that today is the official launch of Click-Dubai’s Interview Fridays and we have a very very special guest to kick things off with the program. So let’s forget about Jacko’s conspiracy or Sotomayor’s drama and let’s give our attention to one of the well respective names in the search marketing industry. Ladies and gents, let’s give it up for Mr. Kevin Gibbons of SEOptimise.

For those who are new to the SEO scene, would you be kind enough to introduce SEOptimise and a little background about you and your company?

Hey Dave, thanks for asking me to do this interview.

Well firstly, I’ve been involved in the search marketing industry (SEO in particular) since 2002. During this time I was working for a web design agency whilst still on a placement year from University and I began getting more and more involved in the SEO side of projects.

I then went back to Uni with my free .ac.uk webspace and quickly realised it wasn’t too difficult to dominate for competitive terms in Google! I actually had an assignment to create a website for a made-up driving school and within a few days the site was number one in Google for “Oxford driving school” and I was receiving several daily enquiries to take people out on driving lessons! I even managed to make some cash out of it by putting some AdSense ads up, shame they took the webspace away ?

Anyway, I graduated from Uni, built up a few of my own website’s (which I would thoroughly recommend as a fast-track to learning SEO) and shortly after decided to spend a year in Australia. Rather than getting a job out there, I found that my interest and ability in SEO allowed me to win a few clients and work as a freelance SEO consultant. I decided it would look more professional to set myself up as a company, which is how the early days of SEOptimise were formed.

You’ve been into search engine marketing since 2002, how did the industry evolve over these years? What were the notable changes in history?

In terms of search marketing 2002 seems so far away now it’s unreal. We’re obviously used to seeing the daily algorithm changes or clever new tactics on blogs and Sphinn almost on a daily basis.

read more

14.07.2009 Interview Fridays 1 Comment

Interview Fridays – Coming Soon…

I think I just committed one of the mortal sins in blogging – being on a “dry spell” for quite a long time. Apologies folks! Client projects have been crazy lately and getting a single post up was just impossible. But don’t worry, I’ve come up with a couple of interesting ideas to keep you updated of the search marketing industry.


Yup you read it right, I’ll be starting on Interview Fridays. I’ve started inviting SEO/SEM professionals, online marketing gurus, branding experts, and top CEO’s of search marketing companies to give us a piece of their thoughts, experiences, and most importantly success stories.

Although I have asked a couple of people already for the upcoming Interview Fridays, I will be needing more to keep program alive in the next couple of months. So if you would like to recommend someone or would like yourself to be featured, please don’t hesitate to drop me a message on the contact page or send me an email at dave [at] saktoseo [dot] com.

What sort of professionals are we looking for? Well here’s a list of industries that would be relevant to the program: read more

21.06.2009 Search Engine Optimization 4 Comments

This is My SEO Wishlist… What’s yours?

Last night we went to see Up. It did live up to its expectations. The weird thing is I felt it was more of an adult, rather than a typical 3D kiddie cartoon flick. It was about an old man who promised his wife that they’ll embark on an adventure. And when his wife died, he decided to pursue the adventure and lived the dream of his wife. Pretty simple story but was definitely touching and inspiring.

Although it was quite farfetched, I somehow associated Up’s story with the inspiration I had upon seeing The Secrets. Again, the main thought was simple, positive thoughts and feelings results to positive endings. If you want something so bad, all you got to do is believe in it so hard that you can actually see yourself in it, touch it, and feel it.

So what’s in it for today’s post? I’m getting there. One of the tips that The Secrets has given is that if you have goals/dreams, write them down and each morning remind yourself that someday (you don’t have to worry how) the universe will eventually conspire and make those dreams come true (yeah, cheesy I know but I believe in it).

I still remember the very first job interview I had here in Dubai. Wore my black suit, fixed my tie in the mirror and said to myself, “I’m going to be big here in Dubai”. I don’t know if I was joking or was setting myself on a mission. I bet it was the latter.

In the spirit of lifting my dreams in a house hoisted up in balloons of hopes, here are my SEO wishlist that I’m hoping to achieve in the next 2-3 years of my career: read more