Search engine optimisation SEO & Internet marketing

Welcome to BlogStorm, the UK's most popular search engine optimisation & online marketing blog.

BlogStorm is written by Patrick Altoft, Director of Search at Branded3, a Leeds based digital agency specialising in search engine optimisation, online marketing & web development.

If you are interested in working with Branded3 for search engine optimisation, Pay Per Click / AdWords campaigns or any other aspect of online marketing please get in touch.

Introduction to search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation is the process of tweaking a website to increase the number of visitors to the site from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Here are Branded3 we specialise in both organic search engine optimisation (improving rankings in the “free” or “natural” listings) as well as working with clients to improve the Return On Investment of their pay-per-click or Google AdWords campaigns.

We strive to use social, ethical and natural search engine optimisation strategies which deliver long term sustainable rankings combined with speedy results.

For more information on our search engine optimisation services get in touch with Branded3 today or checkout SEO Leeds

Turnover of UK search agencies

by Patrick Altoft on May 11, 2010

NMA has recently released their annual Marketing Services Guide detailing the turnover and staff levels of 36 UK search agencies and it makes very interesting reading. The guide doesn’t split natural search revenue from PPC revenue in the main table but if you click on the company name the split is listed in the profile page.

What I find interesting is looking at the number of staff some agencies have in comparison to turnover, useful for figuring out how important search is to their revenue stream. It’s also interesting that a lot of “big” agencies that appear to specialise in natural and paid search don’t really make much money from it.

The list isn’t particularly comprehensive, I can think of quite a few that would make the top 20 on here.

{ 4 comments } $15,000 per month listing fees

by Patrick Altoft on May 10, 2010

There has been a lot of talk recently about how might not be the “Independent Authority on Search Vendors” they claim to be. I’ve not followed all the blog posts about it but today I decided to see just how much it would cost to get Branded3 listed on TopSEOs for all the services we offer.

As you can see from the screenshot below, the $500 monthly fee for each category adds up to a nice $15,000 per month fee for being listed. TopSEOs state that this fee is for “research and time is spent on reviewing your organization and talking to your clients” and in the next paragraph state that “unfortunately, some firms do not make their way to the final list. In such a case you will be reimbursed.”

Top SEOs


Please help my experiment to see if Google Starred Results affect rankings

by Patrick Altoft on May 6, 2010

Google is increasingly starting to personalise search results for users and they even have a feature called Starred Results which allows users to make a note of their favourite sites for a particular search result.

We assume that when you “favourite” a site by clicking on the star it gives that site a boost in your personalised results but what isn’t clear is whether it gives the site a boost for every search user.

I would like to do an experiment and need your help in doing this so if you could follow the steps below that would be fantastic.

I will report back on the results in a week or so.

Thanks for your help.


AdWords exact search keywords coming to Analytics in May

by Patrick Altoft on May 5, 2010

The single most useful way to find high value keywords has always been to look at the exact search keywords driving sales via AdWords and copy them. Looking at the keywords you are bidding on is useless, looking at the keywords that people are actually searching for is very important.

This month Google is finally going to add a report to Analytics which shows the exact search keywords for AdWords campaigns in your reports, previously this was only available via AdWords (great if you have access, not so great otherwise) and by a filter which was quite hard to implement.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be making a new set of AdWords reports available in Google Analytics. These reports expand significantly on the AdWords reports you currently see in your account. For example, you can break out your AdWords traffic by actual search query, match type, distribution network, and many other AdWords attributes. We’ve added reports for day parting, placements, and destination URLs.

You can see a video of the new reports below:

Interestingly the asynchronous tracking tag is now out of beta and will be the default option for new users.


My Internet World Presentation on Link Building for Ecommerce Sites

by Patrick Altoft on April 27, 2010

We’re down at Internet World this week and I’ve just done a seminar on Off Site SEO for Ecommerce Websites, if you want to get the slides click here for a PDF.

The sites I mentioned in the presentation are the excellent SEOmoz and their Open Site Explorer tool.

Come and see us on our stand for some free SEO advice.


Google Click Through Data & The End of Rankings

by Patrick Altoft on April 16, 2010

This week Google released a very exciting new feature in Webmaster Tools – the ability to see impression data and click through data for your most popular keywords. On the face of it this is excellent information however the implications of what Google is actually telling us are pretty unprecedented in terms of how the SEO industry reports on results.

Let’s look at the actual data to start with, the report tells me the top keywords along with data for the number of impressions that my search listings have received and the number of people who actually click through to my page. A number of people have pointed out that the figures don’t match Google Analytics but I think we just have to accept that any two systems using different tracking methods are going to give different results.

Click through data


Link Building Seminar at Internet World 2010

by Patrick Altoft on April 15, 2010

In a couple of weeks time I’m doing a half hour seminar on Off-site SEO Strategies for eCommerce Websites at the Internet World event at Earls Court, London.

Internet World always has an excellent seminar programme with case studies and insights from big brands being the highlight of the show. My talk is going to be 100% non-salesy so if you want to learn about the link building strategies we use on a daily basis for ecommerce clients then this is the talk for you. It’s at 1.50pm on Tuesday 27th April in the eCommerce theatre.

Internet World

If you’ve not been to an event such as Internet World before then I really recommend you give it a try. The event is free and you get access to over 180 seminars across 7 different topic areas. There are hundreds of exhibitors all under one roof and most are more than happy to give free tips and advice to people who visit their stand.

With keynote speakers including Ciao, Google, Discovery Channel, Stella Artois, Unilever & LinkedIn there are some big names to attract attention too.

We won’t be taking any sales people to the event so if you come to our stand you will get to meet and chat to the people who actually do the work at Branded3, whether it’s design, development or SEO.

If you can make it to the event please come and say hello, we’re on stand E5050.


Site speed not a factor in the UK, yet

by Patrick Altoft on April 9, 2010

We’ve suspected for some time now that site speed was a factor in the Google algorithm and today Google has sort of confirmed it. The only strange thing is that they have confirmed it is currently only live on

While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal in our implementation and the signal for site speed only applies for visitors searching in English on at this point. We launched this change a few weeks back after rigorous testing. If you haven’t seen much change to your site rankings, then this site speed change possibly did not impact your site.

This is interesting because a lot of the rumours are that this algorithm is live in the UK already but it seems the rumours might be wrong if you believe the wording of the post above.


Using Pivot Charts to visually analyse competitor link profiles

by Patrick Altoft on March 29, 2010

Analysing the link profile of your website and comparing it to your competitors is a fundamental part of any link-building strategy. The normal method is to download all of your competitors links and try to replicate them but sometimes you need to take things further and do some data analysis before you start work.

A link profile is the single biggest SEO asset that a site can have and yet not many people stop to think about what their current profile looks like before trying to improve it.

Link Profile


Using multiple sitemaps to analyse indexation on large sites

by Patrick Altoft on March 28, 2010

One of the easy wins in improving search traffic to a large site is to improve indexation. Indexation isn’t about the raw number of pages indexed, it’s about increasing the percentage of real, high value pages, that are indexed.

Forcing Google to index useless pages that won’t get any traffic isn’t going to help things.

Indexation is quite a straightforward issue, every site has an indexation cap based on a number of factors including:

  • PageRank
  • Trust
  • Site / server speed
  • Duplicate content

The last one is hard to explain but basically if Google sees loads of pages that are the same then it probably won’t bother to do as deep a crawl of the site as if it found a lot of high value unique pages.