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Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

The importance of ALT tags

As previously discussed on this blog, good images can be highly effective tools for communicating with your audience. Most major email clients (with the exception of Apple Mail) hide images when the email is first loaded for security purposes, which has the unavoidable side effect that many people won’t see your images.

However, what they are likely to see is the ALT tag of the image, which is normally shown in place of the image until images are displayed. Effective use of ALT tags can encourage recipients to view the images, and where images are used in place of text, the ALT tag help to convey the wording even when the image isn’t displayed.

Encouraging users to view the images is also essential if you want track how many people open the email, as this is only possible if a user views the images.


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Twitter and SEO

In the current, competitive business climate, getting your website to the top of the search engines is important for the success of any business. This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in.

SEO is a constantly changing game, with the major search engines such as Google and Bing constantly updating how they work in order to provide the best results to users. In order to do well in these rankings you need a wide ranging digital strategy, and one thing that is worth considering is Twitter.

Since late 2009 Google and Bing have both had partnerships with Twitter, giving them real-time access to the data posted to the site. In Google’s case these have been popping up in some searches as real time results, that update on the screen in front of you. However, Google and Bing have both now confirmed that the contents of Tweets can actually affect the normal organic search engine results as well.

If a tweet contains a link to a page, Google will be aware of the link (even if it has been shortened by one of the many services out there) and will use this as one of the signals for how popular a news article or page is. More links on Twitter equals a more popular post. But that’s not all, Google also look at the authority of the author to judge the quality of the link. The simplest way to think of this is by looking at how many followers a Twitter account has, the more followers, the more authority the link is awarded.

That sounds pretty simple, and that is what has been confirmed by Google and Bing, however using a bit of common sense and knowing how the search engines treat other content we can guess that the following also are important:

  • Diversity – having 50 tweets of a link (or links to one site) from one account is not as valuable as 50 tweets from 50 unique accounts.
  • Surrounding content – the wording of the message accompanying the message puts the link in context (think keywords). Also originality plays a key role here, if your tweets all look the same it looks much more like spam/marketing than if you produce original content each time.
  • Engagement – the number of retweets of a message will surely affect the authority given to the link.
  • Timing – tweeting a link when an article is new is going to be valuable, but consistent tweeting of a link over time from different sources will show the long term value of the content to a search engine.
  • Importance of followers – As well as the number of followers you have, their importance in the Twitter ecosystem (eg how many different followers they have in turn) is likely to play an important role.
  • Association – Chances are the search engines have worked out a pretty good picture of what website controls each Twitter account. Promoting your own content isn’t going to be as valuable as having your links promoted by other Twitter users.

Summary

When you come to think about your social networking strategy, you need to start thinking about more than publishing. While pushing out your own content is a great start, to get the maximum benefit from social media you need to get engagement. That’s retweeting, other people tweeting your content, and having an active pool of followers.

Now, think beyond Twitter, and apply the same concepts to other social media outlets such as your blog and Facebook, and the long term SEO value of your social media efforts starts to show its effect.