December 5, 2011

Life in a Day: Online TV platforms.

A life in a day is a movie that was produced by the Scott brothers and Directed by Kevin Macdonald, an Oscar-winning director. Whats most interesting about it are the cast members - all video was submitted by Users from Youtube.  Everyone was instructed to submit a video of themselves on that particular day, 24th July, 2010 and over 80,000 people did.   Here is the 90 minute video...


The movie is being promoted by Google on December 5, 2011

Screen Shot of Google promoting 'Life in a Day'
 In as much as I think the movie had an appealing concept what strikes me most is that Google is promoting the youtube link on its homepage.  And as soon as you click on the link, the obvious redesign on youtube is apparent.

Google is setting the stage for Google TV or the relaunch of it.  When Google first launched Google TV - the mistake it made was trying to copy its 'search' based algorithms that did not work for video (Link to 10 Google Products that failed).  Apple has a better understanding of video content and that shows in the wider use of its product, Apple TV.  I am currently an owner of Apple TV but my issue of it is the same as the majority - it is not practical to buy each and every television show - Apple TV needs a rethink of its price structuring in order to really impact a bigger majority of Users.  Thats why I am excited at the possibilities of Google TV.  If Google TV can come back to life and seriously provide reasonable content on youtube and since Google is already User-centric I have no doubt that this will prove a worthy adversary to Apple TV.

December 3, 2011

Does the new Google Freshness Algorithm affect us in Cayman?

Freshness Upate (reminds me of Mentos)
Mid November 2011, Google announced its most recent algorithm changes.  But my question is how does it affect websites in the Cayman Islands?  Well, here is a breakdown...

  • The first change is in Cross-language information retrieval - we are not affected at all because we are an English speaking nation.  All our websites are already in english and do not need further translation.  
  • The second change is in snippets.  (the description of your results page) This would affect your website because Google is now going to use relevant text on your content pages vs. using either your header or menu content.  The solution for this is to have relevant robust content on each page and not to focus on Menus or Headers as much.
  • Less Emphasis on boilerplate anchors - This will probably affect your website if you have multiple links pointing to it using boilerplate anchors.  I just remove the boilerplate-like anchors on Easywebsites.ky as a result of this new update.  
  • As a result of Yandex's popularity in Europe (Russia to be specific) Google has stepped up in improving lengthy auto-complete predictions in Russian (also because Russian has very long words).  This practice is already the norm in English.  Cayman is not affected by this unless you are a user and your searches are lengthy.  
  • If you are an applications developer living in the Cayman Islands, then you are affected by this freshness update as now, Google will be providing rich snippets including costs, user reviews, etc. within returned results.  If you are not an applications developer but a User looking for applications, this change will benefit you tremendously.
  • The latest algorithm is also retiring a signal in image search.  Again,  unless you are a photographer who has done alot of image optimization (like me) you will not be affected by this update.  They have retired a signal related to images that has references from many online documents.
  • Fresher Content - this update was announced earlier in the month and affects 6 - 10 % of searches.  The freshness update on Caffeine enables more accurate and 'fresher' content to be indexed within minutes of getting launched live.  Since Search Engines rely on "old" data for trustworthiness, I think this freshness update is genius! 
  • "Official" pages are given more importance - same as before but on an even higher scale.  This change affects you if you work for Government or any other "Official" Website.  
  • Date restricted queries - More relevant results will now show up if you specify a date query.  Are we affected by this?  Only if you search for specific dates but locally, not so much.
  • Prediction fixes for how autocomplete handles queries that contain non-latin characters.  Again, we are not affected by this unless you search using Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.  
For the most part, the freshness update really is a rethink of how Google handles content.  I for one believe it is about time Google provides fresher and more relevant content.  As a professional working in the Search industry it is sometimes frustrating to have to weed out older content for what is new and relevant and because of this update, it will be easier for me to find content faster. 

How do you feel about this freshness update?  

December 1, 2011

The Future of Search

As users, we have been very demanding of Google.  We have expected them to ensure that we find what we are looking for within split seconds of clicking on the search bar.  And for the most part, Google has delivered.  There are of course big issues that have happened  and other issues that continue to happen and thats only because no one company is perfect.

If I didn't have a background in website development, I would probably be taking Google for granted.  If my professional career did not involve a deep understanding of all of Google's algorithms - I possibly wouldn't care about their history or their future.  I would probably be more excited about Voice Search and the Apple iPhone 4s' Siri Personal Assistant.

Here is a video that was recently released by Google on Youtube and it talks about their evolution.  Its a nice look back at what they have achieved and what they want to achieve in the future.  Its very inspiring and at the same time it makes you think of the possibilities of the future of search.


As a professional working in the SEO Industry, I have a gut feeling that the future of search is in Voice Search and it was bound to come to that.  It may perhaps have been fast tracked by the acquisition of Siri by Apple and integrated into the very cool iPhone product but that is what Apple is good at - integrating environments, not search.

If Apple wants a share of the Search Market via Siri, it has to catch up to the progress of Google in terms of understanding what users expect to see.  The newly launched Siri on the iPhone 4s has already caused quite a stir in its inability to return expected results.  Which is a shame because its not getting as much air time for the things that it can do but for the things that it cannot do.

As an SEO professional I am very excited to think of the possibilities of Voice Search.  Will the same search engine algorithms govern the voice search platforms?  It is indeed, quite an exciting time to be involved in the Search Industry.  

November 25, 2011

Cayman SEO: Searches for "Cayman Islands" come mostly from Jamaica

As a Search Engine Optimization Expert for the Cayman Islands, it is important for me to know where web searches are coming from at any time of the year and this hasn't changed at all in the past couple of years, did you know that most of the searches for the major keywords for "Cayman Islands", "Cayman" and "Grand Cayman" originate from Jamaica?

Here is a Screen shot from Google Insights: 
Searches from 2004 for "Cayman Islands" are predominantly coming from the Cayman Islands
The time range of these results are searches done from 2004 to the present time.  A far second are searches for the same keyword, "Cayman Islands" being done in Trinidad and Tobago and an even further third are searches being done in the United States.  

There is some variance with the locations of the searches being done in the last 12 months but Jamaica is still predominantly where the searches are coming from, here are the rest of the countries searching for "Cayman Islands" in the last 12 months: 
12 month Regional Interest of the keyword, "Cayman Islands" with most searches coming from Jamaica
In the last 12 months, Trinidad and Tobago has disappeared from the top ten locations where searches are coming from.  A far second and third place from Jamaica's high search volume index are the United   States and Canada.

What might be of interest to business owners is that there is a significant amount of searches for "Cayman Islands" stemming out of Hong Kong... it would be very interesting to research on what the new Chinese economy is searching for.  Is it time to optimize your website for Baidu?  (The most popular search engine of China).  Perhaps.  Again, that will depend on your industry and other considerations.

 If you are in the tourism industry, it would not be worth your time, money or effort to optimize your website for the "Cayman Islands" - instead as location searches are proving, it is important to choose your keywords properly.  Here are the locations where "Cayman Rental" (monthly search volume of 18,100)
Please note that this might just be a biased search term because we own the first website for that keyword, www.cayman4rent.com but logically if your business wants to attract tourists from the United States, it is important to know two things: 

1)  What are the keyword/keyphrase and what its monthly search volume?

2)  Where are the searches coming from? 

Once you understand what and where, then you can go ahead and target these keywords for your online campaign.  

Please note that this blog is meant to help the user understand search and location parameters in targeting a keyword.  For a more in-depth analysis of your industry keywords and keyword search locations, please contact info@easywebsites.ky   with the subject:  More info in Location Searches.   

October 13, 2011

Selling SEO Services in the Cayman Islands: What can you expect?

I have been in the Search Engine Optimization business for the last 6 years in the Cayman Islands.   For the last 4 years I have been the Founder, General Manager, Accounts Person, Sales Person, Cleaning Person, Customer Service Person and every other person imaginable.

From a staff of 1 person (myself), Easywebsites has grown into a company of 15 employees (11 full time employees).  I have also personally had to transition from being an employee to becoming a business owner.  I haven't fully transitioned yet and everyday I am learning something new.    

One of the biggest challenges is becoming a Sales Person, selling Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is a big challenge because unlike other products and services, SEO is not a one time service.  SEO Services are consultative in nature and it would be very difficult to teach anyone how to sell a service that took me over 5 years to completely understand.  

Selling a service that requires a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the service made it virtually impossible to hire anyone in sales.  But to be fair, I never really looked ...   I made an effort to contact a person in the US to join our team in Cayman but she never made it, for some reason or other, and I just stopped looking as the company was doing really well in referral sales.  

Please note that I was inspired to write this blog from this article.   My blog is in no way meant to copy the article but to give it a different perspective for clients in the Cayman Islands.   It was also amusing how Mark Jackson's experience was relatively similar to my own except he hired a CPA who had a background in business process.   My personal background included understanding business process procedures under a CPA Consultant who worked at SGV Philippines when I was working for  IPVG.  I have Enrique Gonzalez to thank for that.  Up to this day, I have no idea why he made me the official contact of the business process procedures for the company but I will always be grateful. Having that kind of foundation is important for anyone in entrepreneurial-ship.   

Social SEO Vs. Traditional SEO 

I cannot speak for other SEO Professionals and their pricing models, but you can always tell the bogus ones from the real ones from their pricing.  Only a joker would provide a month-to-month plan (Cancel anytime = Waste of your money).  A real SEO contract should run for at least 12 months and have the price involved for internal work, external work, possibly a back-link package in place for competitive industries, and integration of Social Media.  In today's environment with Social Media in play, it is important to have an overall strategy in place and not an a la carte menu.  It is also important to note that Google's latest algorithm actually benefits from strong social media integration.

Traditional SEO is the old way (2 years ago) of doing Optimization.  Two years ago, the SEO Consultant would just have to manage link building, landing page optimization, bounce rate management and online advertising placements. The huge difference now is because of the advent of Social Media, which has pretty much taken over everything we are doing from having Company Facebook profiles to following the companies, brands and interesting people on Twitter.

Social SEO is ensuring that everything you have online whether it be a website, a Facebook profile, twitter, a newsletter, etc is all working and helping to add value to the Company or brand.   A Social SEO contract would include understanding and consultation on the following online aspects of the company:

  • Who is handling the company Facebook page and do they need assistance in understanding the bigger scheme of things such as the overall Marketing Plan?  Is the Facebook page adding value to the online presence of the company or brand?
  • Who is handling the company Twitter page and does it complement other online efforts? 
  • Who is handling the online PR efforts of the company and which online publications are they using? Is the company using an external PR company and do we need to coordinate with them to further push the objectives of the online marketing campaign of the company?  Are the PR efforts aligned with all the online presence of the company?
  • Are the Social Media aspects helping increase the company's brand credibility on two important levels:  Search Engine Rank and Users?
Cost of Services in Cayman vs. Cost of Services Elsewhere

Because we live in the Cayman Islands, we all know that the cost of living here is considerably higher than most places.  The advantage of hiring us would be because we understand the industry so much better than an outsider possibly could.  There are so many nuances ... for example, we know how important the Cruise Ship schedule is to a lot of local businesses and how Users from Cruise Ship searches differ from searches of stay-over Visitors.   Understanding the nuances of the Cayman Islands Tourism Industry gives us an edge over everyone else and could help make or break a business.  

Because of the disparity between cost of services elsewhere and to assist small businesses in the Cayman Islands, we decided to actually include Search Engine Optimization requirements in the websites that we build.  That's the reason our base prices for websites are sometimes higher than other web development companies on the island.  We ensure a lot of SEO features when building a website so that when and if the client does decide that they want to be on the first page of major keyword searches, the costs aren't as high.  

What to Expect from an SEO Contract

Ever since we started building websites that Search Engines "like" we have seen a decrease in SEO contracts.  Most of our clients are happy being on the middle part of the first page and even the bottom part of the first page.  It's hard to push the client to purchase a contract that could deliver a top search result when they have other expenses to worry about.  But aside from Search Engine Results, a business owner also needs to understand that being on the first page of Search Results is not enough. A proper SEO contract also includes: 
  • Usability Testing of Ease of Navigation
  • Smart SEO Content Writing that ensures a high click through rate (each landing page is carefully scrutinized by a proper writer so that Users will get the most value out of their time when they are on your website) 
  • Comprehensive landing page analysis that ensures a high Click Through Rate (CTR) 
  • Comprehensive Keyword Analysis and not just Keyword Research - this targets all keyword permutations that Users are searching for including the very important long-tail and seasonal keywords
  • Integration of all other Online aspects of the Company and ensuring that all online presence is meeting the Objectives of the Company
At the end of an SEO Campaign you can expect quite a few major changes in your business.  Since every industry differs, a general expectation would be:
  • Your website ranks higher in all keyword permutations
  • Your Facebook page has a high CTR to the website and the engagement level with the fans is much higher 
  • You have an effective Twitter stream that directs traffic to your website and/or physical location
  • Business has increased gradually in the last 12 months
  • You have more money in your bank account than you did the previous year 
For more information about how Social SEO can help increase your Company's bottom line, please contact us for a Consultation.  The first meeting is always free!










June 28, 2011

Cayman SEO: Optimization in the Real Estate Industry - Why being no. 4 is something to be proud of!

I am very proud to say that one of our clients, www.caymanluxuryproperty.com is now number 4 on Google for the keyword, "Cayman Islands Real Estate"

Now, some of you might ask, well, if you know what you are doing then they should be no. 1 - and you would be right, I agree.  But there are certain limitations to an SEO contract and one of them would be budget limitations.  Given the resources at my disposal and knowing  our online competitors are, I am so proud to be no. 4 for such a competitive industry.  We just beat www.cireba.com (the association website with a kazillion links pointing to it) and www.caymanlundteam.com (the top remax agent in the Cayman Islands).

The only 3 companies ahead of Cayman Luxury Property for the keyword, Cayman Islands real estate are top 3 franchises for Coldwell Banker, Remax and Century 21.  These domains have been around awhile and they have a kazillion real estate related links pointing to them both locally and Internationally.  Only www.cireba.com would be able to beat their rankings if www.cireba.com was optimized properly.  And given more time and resources, I am certain there is no way but up for our client.

Screenshot below of the search engine results in Cayman -

But thats not all - we are also no. 4 on the US datacenter of Google for the same keyword.  Notice the minor difference with the other top 3 listings.

Screenshot below of US Google Datacentre -

I included the URL on this screenshot to emphasize that these results above are from the US Google Datacentre and you will notice minor ranking changes on the other listing. 

When you search in Cayman, here are your top 4:
1. Remax
2. Coldwell Banker
3. Century21
4. Cayman Luxury Property

When you search in the US, here are your top 4:
1. Coldwell Banker
2. Remax
3. Century21
4. Cayman Luxury Property

There are also alot of disparities when you search for other keywords in the US vs. searching for it in Cayman but I am proud to say that when you do proper SEO work the disparities are minimized and there is always a logical explanation for everything.

Please note that we currently only have 1 client  for SEO in the real estate industry in Cayman and that we would like to invite other real estate companies who want to vie for the first page of their industry keywords.  Just to let you know, its not going to be cheap but it will be worth its value in gold.  Please contact us for more information.

Another important information is that www.caymanluxuryproperty.com is the most visible real estate website in the Cayman Islands.  It may only be no. 4 for a major keyword but it is mostly on the top 3 for everything else. It shows up on the first page of over 1382 keyword searches. 

PS. This blog is an endorsement of the ethical SEO practices of our company Easywebsites.ky

June 4, 2011

Cayman SEO: The competitive industry of Grand Cayman Restaurants

Did you know that if you belonged to the restaurant industry and that if you optimized your website properly, you are looking at over 10,000 searches per month?  Thats 10,000 possible customers.

I hear it all the time, "business is slow" and if I didn't do a proper keyword search, that might possibly be true but finding the proper keywords and structuring a website using web-based standards could very prove you wrong.  Yes, business is slower but more importantly, there is business!  There is alot of searches for "restaurants" in Grand Cayman. Enabling your business to attract current online trends and to show up across a broad range of online presence including social media is whats needs to be done so that your business will not suffer or close, like what has happened to some of restaurants in Grand Cayman including local favorites like Senior Frogs and Bacchus.

A simple combination of SEO and Social Media strategies can easily help your website get to the first page of your industry keywords and every competitive edge online counts.

One of our internal projects is currently www.destination.ky - a travel guide as well as a top ten list of everything to do in the Cayman Islands.  One of the sections directly deals with Grand Cayman restaurants. We have built in a customized voting script so users can come in and vote per IP address.  This removes the probability of one company out numbering another because of sheer volume.  It is solely based on individual users IP address thereby eliminating cheat-clicks.  We just completed the restaurant directory which has over 100 entries and we are certain that all these restaurants are currently operational.   There is a top ten list for categories such as 'casual dining', 'fine dining', 'coffee shops' and more... Please visit the website to check it out and please give us your feedback in the comment fields below.

In the coming months to come you will notice that the page within the website will be increasing its rank for many major and minor keywords and we hope you will join us in promoting the restaurant industry through many of the social media channels.

May 25, 2011

Cayman SEO: Visibility is the Key for www.cayman4rent.com

There is only one property rental website in the Cayman Islands that shows up on the first page of over 800 search terms and no, it doesn't belong to any of the big real estate companies.  Sorry.  In as much a real estate companies have more experience renting property, we, as search engine experts simply have that edge in creating websites. The website was built because of the strong demand of online searches and simply no relevant website showing up for these searches, it was an opportunity that we saw, realized and ran with and now, we are proud, oh so proud to announce to the world that www.cayman4rent.com is the most visible property rental website (both long term and short term) in the country.  Yippeedoodee!  Thank you to users who have used it and to our partner's who have agreed to provide us with their listings.  In no particular order you will find listings of these progressive rental companies on www.cayman4rent.com:

Long Term Property Rentals

  • Rainbow Realty 
  • Tessa Hydes Property Management
  • BCQS 
Short Term, Vacation Rentals
  • Cayman Villas
  • North Coast Management
  • Grandview Condos 


It is also free to list on www.cayman4rent.com - so if you happen to read this post, please list your property so that it is visible to your target market.  Below you will a screen capture as proof of visibility in over 800 keywords.

The website has proven to be a feather in our hat as proof that when we develop your website, you can be sure that users will be able to find it.

Please note that we are also currently testing the Google Panda algorithm on the website - we have added listings from other real estate companies and have not changed the content.  This means that the content of the website is copied.  How is it going to affect www.cayman4rent.com?  You will find out in the coming weeks and we can compare how many keywords it appears on after the Panda has indexed the new property listings. 

Update: June 4, 2011

The website now shows up for 961 keyword searches

May 16, 2011

Cayman SEO: Understanding and Embracing Social Media

We have had quite a few clients who have come in for Social Media Training and the biggest objective that I have heard is this, (paraphrasing) "I don't see how facebook or twitter can increase our sales."  The second biggest objective is this (paraphrasing) "I am not comfortable sharing my personal information online for all the world to see."

I am going to answer both questions on this blog entry.  Please allow me some leg room in explaining how social media has changed the landscape in which we do business.

How can Facebook or Twitter increase our Sales?

In an impromptu training session I drew a chart, which I have inserted here:

The broken line in the middle represents the changing time.

Below the line is the old way customers found your business.  TV, Radio and Print were mediums we used for advertising and customers would either call us, fax us or email us to communicate their needs/requirements.  There are other facets to advertising your business such as direct marketing but for the purpose of this discussion, I have made it as simple as possible.

Above the broken line is the new way that customers are now finding your business. The acronyms below represent the following:

FB = facebook
TW = twitter
YT = youtube
TA = tripadvisor.
And there are many more.

The circle in the middle represents you, the business owner.

What I love about this graphic representation (ehem) is that is shows the exact relationship of new media and old media to your business.  In old media, the communication platform was separate from the advertising platform. Your business can place an ad on the newspaper and a prospective customer can either call you or email you for more information.   There was no direct communication platform between the business owner and the customer.

Social media has changed that.  You can "advertise" on your wall and customers can contact you directly without picking up a phone or opening an email server.  The bonus side of social media is that if you know what you are doing, your business can and will succeed without breaking the bank.  Now that is what is amazing about new media.

To answer the question completely, I needed to illustrate this relationship.  Social Media increases sales because it is an enabling tool  that acts as an interactive real-time communication platform between customers and business owners.  

Not only does it make money for you, it also saves money on traditional advertising because it is a free medium.  It is the amount of time that you are willing to put in it that will differentiate it as an effective tool or just something that you did because everyone else was doing it.

"I don't want my personal information available online"

Actually, neither do I. Who has the time to do social media and run a business at the same time? The learning curve of facebook alone will take some time getting use to.  Knowing how to categorize your "friends" and understanding your privacy settings will not just take time but patience as well.  Especially to Users who have shunned the Internet revolution.  But I promise, once you get the hang of it, you will embrace it completely including the "personal" facet of it.  My mother actually spends more time on facebook than I do and she is almost 70 years old.  I honestly believe that if my mom can get the hang of it, so can anybody.

Once you "get to know" facebook, you will realize that you can completely separate your business page from your personal page.

The ability of social media to make sense of all this information is actually awe-inspiring.

There is already so much information out there that it would be redundant for me to write a blog about how to create things and how to do things.

Instead here is a summary of what you need to know to connect your business with facebook:

How to create Proper Facebook Business Page  - whether its a business or an organization, here is a webpage from facebook thats lets you set it up properly and NOT as an individual
How to link Facebook and Twitter - for users who do not have time to update both social media, this tool will update your twitter feed everytime you update your facebook wall
How to create a proper Twitter Account - for the twitter newbie, here is an important resource
How to link your blog to Facebook - a page from mashable that includes all the blogging platforms. My blog is on blogger and everytime I update it, my facebook wall and twitter feeds are also updated.
How to enable Facebook Places on your blackberry - I wrote a previous blog about enabling facebook places to register your business.

Let me know if there is anything else you need to know by commenting on the fields below.  We also offer social media training on Saturday mornings if you want hands on training.  I hope this article was helpful in understanding and embracing social media.  Thanks for reading!



   

May 9, 2011

Cayman SEO: Google, Bing and Facebook Maps

We just moved offices to Regency Court on West Bay Road and of course the first thing that you have to do when you move offices is ensure that all Google,  Bing and Facebook Maps are updated.   I realized somewhere in the process that not alot of people update their Google, Bing and Facebook Maps so I decided to blog about how to ensure your business address is on all maps.

How to Insert your business on Google Maps
  1. Go to http://maps.google.com/
  2. Sign In or Sign up for Google
  3. On the search field type "Cayman Islands" 
  4. Move/drag the Map with your mouse or mouse pad until you get to the correct location of your office
  5. Click on "edit" which is located on the top right part of the map
  6. These editing tools will appear on the top of the map, click on "Add" and a field will appear asking if what type of location you are adding, choose your type of business and then red (red-ish) push-pin looking button will appear. Drag and drop that to your location.
  7. A module with fields will appear on the left, complete the fields and click 'save' 
  8. Wait for a few minutes or hours for an editor to approve your listing. 
Screen Shot of Google's Map Approval, which took approximately 2 hours to approve

Some notes to remember:

  • Google is very intuitive, if you dont understand something, there is usually a question mark icon near most fields and if you click it, it tells you what that field is requiring
  • It is better to place markers on the Satellite Map vs just the Map because you can be accurate of where the business is actually located
  • You can approve map listings created by others by clicking on "community edits" 

How to Insert your business on Bing Maps*
  1. Go to http://www.bing.com/maps/
  2. Sign In or Sign Up for Bing.  (Note: You can sign in using your Facebook Account. But when I tried to do it using Safari on Mac, my browser crashed.  But when it opened again, I was logged on using my FB account.)
  3. Search for Cayman Islands
  4. Move/drag the map with your mouse or mouse pad until you get to the correct location of your office 
  5. At the bottom left corner you will see an icon with a star, click on it.  A pop up screen will appear. 
  6. Notice the blue-ish pin at the bottom of the pop up screen.  Click on it and then click on the location on the map where you want to place it.  A another pop up screen will appear and this time, it has open fields for you to write on.  Complete the field with information and click on save. 
Some obvious differences between Google and Bing Maps: 
  1. Google's Maps are over populated while Bings are not, also I personally think whoever made Bing's Map is a librarian because of the over categorizing of businesses - you can see the businesses by click on categories on the left while Google's Map has ALL business visible by default. 
  2. Bing's graphic user interface (GUI) is alot more nicer than Google's but Googles is more intuitive. I could be biased here because I am more familiar with Google but I will venture as far as to say, 'I told you so'
  3. If you are looking for "an action" in Google (ie. editing tools), chances are that it is located on the opposite side or almost to the opposite side of the screen on Bing. Also notice the subtle changes in color as both maps try not to copy each other.  
How to insert your business on Facebook Maps
  1. First create a business page, you can find that information here http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
  2. Ensure that you are inserting the correct address in the fields provided
  3. On the map area, drag and drop the pointer to your location
  4. Complete the entire Information fields and hit save
  5. Your address should be highlighted in a blue link and when you click on it, it goes to a Bing Map. Not really helpful as Bing maps are not enabled for the Cayman Islands yet BUT it is a locator for Facebook places so its still important to be on there.
It is unfortunate the the Cayman Islands is not yet listed in Google Places but atleast we have Google Maps.  You will also notice alot of tourists have put in information about places they like on island.  

Why is it important for you to use Bing Maps?  For the simple reason that Facebook uses it for Facebook Places.  As a business owner, you should be visible on all maps because all of them have their own distinct advantage.

Why is it important to be on Facebook Maps - because it what Facebook Places uses and whenever anyone has their facebook places enabled, their friends can see where they are and that would count as a "vote" for your business.

*The Bing Map submission has still not been approved and there are no business located in the Cayman Islands.  Just street names and places.  I've done further research and apparently Bing is only for US business so you might want to not waste your time on this right away but it would be good to be on there when and if they enable the Bing Maps to work for us in the Cayman Islands.   

May 7, 2011

Cayman SEO: Update on Changing to neutral Top Level Domains (TLD)

Just a very quick update on TLD's that address the geo targeting tool that Google released, or is it unleashed.  One of our internal website www.cayman4rent.ky already had a page rank of 3 and was very visible for online searches for most rental keywords in the Cayman Islands and it its domain age was not even 1 year old.  When google inserted the fixed geo-targeting location on Web Master Tools it was a wake up call of sorts.

I quickly read up on what this could possible mean to the .ky and realized very quickly that Google was going to remove the .ky from its US data centres.  I wrote a blog regarding TLDs back in February and you can read it here.  On that blog I showed the fact that www.cayman4rent.ky was showing up for major keywords such as "grand cayman rentals" in the Cayman Islands but it was not showing up for the same keyword in the United States.  I was crushed really because it mean that I would have to give it a neutral TLD such as a .com for it to thrive in searches in the United States. But redirecting the .ky to a .com meant that I could potentially lose my existing 3/10 page rank!

Nevertheless I made the call to redirect www.cayman4rent.ky to www.cayman4rent.com and today, it is showing up in Searches all over the world such as the United States, Canada, UK, Australia for major and minor keywords relating to "rentals" and "for rent".  I was also jumping with joy on the morning that I discovered that Google had given www.cayman4rent.com sitelinks to the keyword "cayman for rent".

If you are in the United States and searched for "grand cayman rentals" which gets approximately 24,000 searches per month you will notice that our website, www.cayman4rent.com is on the first page of the search results.  The website now shows up for over 100,000 monthly searches everywhere in the world because of our decision to switch it to a neutral domain.  The sad news is that our page rank has not seeped through to the new domain but at this point, it doesn't matter nor is page rank as important as the trust rank the website has received from google.

May 5, 2011

Cayman SEO: Keywords for the Month of May, 2011

The Google Panda/Farmer update has been quite tedious for a lot of media companies out there, including ours and we are still in the midst of figuring out how affiliate travel sites have been affected.  It is with caution that we have removed affiliate travel sites from our flagship websites such as www.destination.ky and we are going to delay the expedia affiliate for www.cayman.com.ky for the same reason.  More updates on the Google Panda algorithm as we continue to test the waters.

Without further adieu, here is a list of keywords that are being searched for at this precise moment.  Please note, as always that this result is from Google Adwords Keyword tool and for a more precise keyword search you will need to use more than this but you can use this tool to source our your root keywords.

1. cayman
2. cayman island
3. grand cayman
4. cayman grand
5. cayman islands
6. island cayman
7. grand cayman islands
8. grand cayman cayman islands
9. cayman islands grand cayman
10. the cayman islands
11. grand cayman resorts
12. resorts grand cayman
13. grand cayman beach
14. cayman resort
15. cayman airways
16. cayman all inclusive
17. grand cayman island
18. island grand cayman
19. cayman bank
20. jobs in cayman
21. jobs cayman
22. grand cayman resort
23. cayman map
24. grand cayman weather
25. weather grand cayman
26. resort grand cayman
27. hotels cayman
28. cayman islands weather
29. cayman rental
30. grand cayman rentals
31. rentals in grand cayman
32. grand cayman hotels
33. hotel in grand cayman
34. hotels grand cayman
35. cayman island jobs

According to Adwords, there are over 2 Million searches for these keywords being done on a monthly basis.  The sheer volume of searches alone is enough for me to want to appear on the first page of all these keywords but then again, that might not be as effective as targeting a specific industry keyword, nor will it be as practical.

If you would like a list of your industry keywords please write me an email at fevi@easywebsites.ky - lets get your your website to work for your business.

February 22, 2011

Cayman SEO: Changing TLD's for higher rankings on Google

Just an update on my previous blog about the TLD (Top Level Domain) wars.  Last week we redirected www.cayman4rent.ky to www.cayman4rent.com because we were not showing up for local searches in the United States and Canada and the website was on the first page for major keyword 'grand cayman rentals' if searched in the Cayman Islands.  But if a user was searching in the US or Canada, they would not find us on the first page.

So we did a few things to the website...
1.  We redirected www.cayman4rent.ky to www.cayman4rent.com
2.  We changed the geographical target to "United States" on Webmaster Tools
3.  We did a 301 redirect to all the existing URLs to the new URLs.

We are very happy to announce that even if we are still not showing up for the major keyword, 'grand cayman rentals' yet, we are now showing up for 'grand cayman rental' (singular) on # 6 (right under tripadvisor) and we are actually showing up in Canada on #4 for that keyword as well.  That is a total of 5,400 monthly searches for that major keyword.  So perhaps it is working.  The pagerank of the website has not been transferred yet so that is something to look forward to!

The seamless redirect of the team from the .ky to the .com was fantastic and happened in less than 24 hours - so Congrats Team for a job well done!  More updates on this topic, especially on the pagerank of the website. 

February 17, 2011

Cayman SEO: TLD Wars: .KY vs. the .COM - which is better for my website?

A few years ago, a client asked me if it mattered whether the TLD (top level domain) of a website was a .com or a .ky for Search Engine Optimization and a couple of years ago, I answered 'No, it doesn't matter' because there were several factors that determined search results and not just the TLD.  Also it is important to note that Google's local search wasn't as strong as it is now.  The TLD informed Google where your site was located and that was a good thing.

Things have changed though and because we are a tourism destination and because we need to attract users in the US before they come to the islands, my answer then is wrong now.

Yes it matters depending on your target market's geographical location. 

If your business is in the Cayman Islands and caters to users in the Cayman Islands ONLY then it still doesn't matter - use the .ky because its FREE and available to everyone on island.  But if your business objective is to attract customers before they get to the island then it would serve you well to acquire a .com, which is a neutral domain and is not associated with any geographic location.
 
We recently redirected our website www.cayman4rent.ky to www.cayman4rent.com to address a major concern:  We wanted users in the US finding the website for Rentals in the Cayman Islands
When you search in the Cayman Islands for "grand cayman rentals" on Google, you will notice that www.cayman4rent.ky is no. 6 on the first page.
Google result in the Cayman Islands: Cayman4rent.ky is no. 6 for "grand cayman rentals"

But if you search for the same keyword, "grand cayman rentals" in the United States, you will not see www.cayman4rent.ky on the first or second page of the search results on Google.  Its actually on the third page of that search phrase.

This brings me to an important feature that Google unleashed... geo targeting or geographical targeting.  In the old days of SEO (ehem... 2 years ago) this meant that your top level domain (TLD), in this case a .ky meant that the .ky was associated with the Cayman Islands.  I use to highly regard the .ky TLD because it would automatically inform the search engines that your website should come up for searches relating to 'cayman' and it was FREE - who doesn't like free?   

It is also important to note that the IP address and location of your server is important to the search engines when returning results but that is a side topic.  Our dedicated server is located in the US so it didn't matter what TLD we took and since the .ky is free, I took the liberty of creating our website on it. 

But Google has changed its geo targeting tool and country specific TLD's (ie. .ky, .ca, .bs, .ph) are no longer welcome in Google's Webmaster Tools geo-targeting settings. This has resulted in our .ky's plummeting on search results in the US, UK and Canada (our major markets for tourism).  Because of this gigantic change, we made the bold move to redirect our .ky to a .com TLD.  Taking into consideration that our Page Rank was a 3/10 - which is pretty decent for a domain that is barely a year old.  Using proper 301 redirects, we have our fingers (and toes) crossed and hoping that our Page Rank for the .ky will transfer onto our .com.

Here is what Google has done under Webmaster Tools for our domain, www.cayman4rent.ky thats why it shows up highly for searches in the Cayman Islands but does not show up for searches done in the US, Canada or the UK.
Google's new settings include Geographic Target that automatically targets .KY TLDs to the Cayman Islands

When we validated the .com's site on Google Webmaster tools, here is the screen shot: 
We can now Target searches in the United States because we are using a .com or a neutral TLD

Will redirecting our .ky to a .com change our position in the United States?  We  hope so.  We don't know for certain even if Google says it does - Google sometimes has puzzling views.  They have provided 3 reasons on how your website is categorized for location searches: 
1. Your Top Level Domain (TLD) tells them what country you belong to
2. Your Hosting location 
3. Your IP Address

If a website owner does not change the setting on Webmaster Tools, the Search Engine crawlers will use hosting location and IP address in determining the geo target.  If it is changed, as we have done, will our ranking in search results in the US be better?  We will update this blog in 3 months to see if this experiment paid off.  

In the meantime, just to be safe, if you are registering a domain - depending on your target market.  Use a .com for neutrality if you are targeting other countries.  Use a .ky if you don't care about the Search Engines. It will be easier to geo target a .com than to change the geo location of the .ky because Google does not allow this function. 

When and if Google changes this function, you will be the first to know.

February 2, 2011

Cayman SEO: On Bing copying Google Results

I just read about this on Danny Sullivan's blog and then followed the link going to the official Google blog and both times, I couldn't believe what I was reading.  But at the same time, its hard not to believe it. 

So here is the scoop:  Google's team created fake searches like 'hiybbprqag' - hiybb-what?  Yes. That word that's not a word. It didn't mean anything but the assumption is that when you search for a term that doesn't really mean anything, the search results of two different (rival) search engines differs.  It is a solid a assumption since both search algorithms supposedly operate separately.  But more than that, the Google Team inserted websites that had nothing to do with the search query.  They tested these synthetic queries and inserted websites that had no relevance to the search term whatsoever.  (gasp!) Google returning wrong results! 

Surprise, surprise! Google and Bing had the exact same results.  The Google team tried it on many-a-keywords and it really does seem like Bing is pulling results from Google.  Please read the official google blog for the full story.  The entire sting by the Google Team was brilliant - from using Explorer all the way to posting the last line on the blog, "what do we want out of this? The answer is simple. We'd like for this practice to stop."

I don't normally react to search engine news, I don't normally react period.  I am too busy trying to implement the latest search engine algorithm and dealing with all the web development and SEO contracts we have in the Cayman Islands.  But this time, I needed to react.  If what Google says is true and it seems that they have proven it through their experiment, it means that Bing has been faking it.  They probably spent all their money on Advertising instead of product development. 

The silver lining for me as an SEO is that I don't have to worry about optimizing websites for Bing.  I optimize it for one website and bam!  Two search engines with one click.  Yes!  But the implication of Bing copying Google's result don't stop with me.  What about the future of search and the search market monopoly?  Is no one capable of matching the search giant that is Google?  Well, Facebok perhaps but that is another blog altogether. 

Everyone seems to be going nuts about Bing copying Google but a bigger question at the back of my mind is this:  Google can insert results for search terms! If they can insert results for fake searches then they can most definitely insert results for real searches.  That is probably why they have never revealed their search engine algorithm.  To keep SEO's, like me guessing and to keep Clients, like you - paying for more.

It kills me whenever I am working so hard to optimize a website (given budgetary limitations) and I have to keep buying links and having to get my client to pay for them.  Not only that - because the cost of getting to first page is so high, this cost is probably absorbed by you - the user who buys products and services online.  Yes, you are affected by this whole hullabaloo as well.  

So Bing copies Google results and Google can insert whatever website they want on search results. No wonder the big corporations are getting bigger and the small companies who try to make a decent living, don't stand a chance.  

Kung Hei Fat Choi Everyone!  Thanks for reading my rant that just uninspired me to keep on fighting the good fight.  I use to think Google was amazing but now because of this incident, I am now questioning Google's integrity in returning search results.  Bing never mattered before and it certainly doesn't matter now.