'We are India Base SEO web Development Company'

This morning I received the email below. Would you hire this company to handle your SEO?


Hope you are doing well.

Dear Website Administrator, We are India Base SEO web Development Company.

We provide top 10 ranking on Google, yahoo, msn & Bing for multiple search phrases (keywords) relevant to your products / services?

Are you searching for a method to promote your website or business?

If so, read on to discover a website promotion method that costs virtually nothing to implement.

By the help of Search Engine Optimization, Your business will increase; SEO will get you huge number traffic in just one deal.

Try this it really works! We are Specialize in SEO, SMO, Link Building and Web Development.

We are simple but use powerful - Marketing Strategies for your business, to get more traffic for your website.

If you have any query, we will be more than happy to provide you our quick assistance.


Note: We are not spammers and are against spamming of any kind. If you are not interested
then you can reply with a simple \"NO\",We will never contact you again.

Anti-spam Alternatives to Website Contact Forms

Anyone who's made their first, fledgling forays into web design is likely, at some point, to have gone looking for a good website contact form.

I've used them. If you're a web designer, you've probably at least considered using them. Many businesses, small and large, continue to use them. Which raises one question - why?

To be honest, I think for many newcomers, it's a case of wanting to do what the big boys do. You probably don't really need a contact form but, like Flash intros and animated dropdown menus, you've seen them on other websites and they look sort-of professional.

Rule 1: Don't ever do something purely because other people do it.

OK, so let's say it's about welcoming feedback from your site visitors. You actually care about what they have to say, and want to make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch.

A feedback form makes it easier for people to contact you who don't have a desktop email account - people who might otherwise have to copy and paste your email address into Hotmail, or Gmail, or whatever they're called nowadays (Live Mail and Googlemail? I'm not even sure...).

But what about people who have a desktop email account, who just want to click on a 'mailto' link and have a blank email pop up?

Rule 2: Don't over-complicate things by trying to make them easier.

Finally, perhaps you're worried about spam. You know spammers crawl websites looking for email links and then add them to their lists, so you've got an awesome Java-based feedback form that disguises the destination email address.

This is reasonable - your customers' emails are no use to you if they're lost amongst a sea of spam. But it's not ideal, and here's why:

Rule 3: Don't damage your website's usability or accessibility, purely to combat spam.

Spam is a menace. This is true. But your efforts to overcome it should never be to your own detriment - if, by pre-empting spam, you're making your website harder to use, then you're turning potential lost earnings into guaranteed lost earnings.

It's akin to having a double mastectomy in order to avoid breast cancer later - you may have made the right decision, and you may think it's better to be safe than sorry, but you'll never know if you might have lived a lump-free life anyway.

The Alternative

Erm, I don't have a cure for cancer. But I do have a reasonable alternative to feedback forms, and it comes in two stages.

Firstly, let's assume some of your visitors have web-based email accounts, and an on-page feedback form is easier for them than launching their email site, copying your address over, and manually typing out an email.

Fair enough - give them a feedback form. A spam-proof, prescriptive, here's-what-you-can-tell-us form that will translate their ticks, radio button selections and text into a single email and send it over to you.

Now, let's assume some of your visitors are stubborn, and want to get in touch by email, with the freedom to choose what they type.

Simply create a link using code such as this:

(Try it here: bobpbardsley@gmail.com)

It's a simple piece of code, but the addition of ?subject= to the mailto link lets you specify a subject line - now simply tell your visitors to leave that part intact, and use it to filter incoming mail to that address.

You can easily specify the same subject line for responses via your feedback form, and combine communications via the two methods into a single stream of customer contact.

The Warnings

If you look into the method described above on other websites, you may come across certain warnings, threatening that it will break web browsers.

Well, I've never known it to break Internet Explorer, and I've just tested it in Chrome without any problems. I'd bet on it working just fine in Firefox too, but don't take my word for it - run a couple of tests just to make sure.

Even if it doesn't work for any particular visitor to your site, they'll still have the feedback form there to use if they need to.

The point is, don't tell your visitors you welcome their emails, and then have a website entirely devoid of any visible contact email address - it's misleading and offputting.

If you must focus solely on contact forms, say so on your site - explain that you have a focused customer service department who respond to enquiries in the order they are received, and that using the form enables you to get through as many enquiries as possible in the shortest possible time.

For heaven's sake, don't tell me I can't email you because you're afraid of spam, otherwise what are you trying to protect? Nothing but an empty inbox.

No, it won't do. Ten reasons (and many more) why your copywriter probably isn't on autopilot.

I don't normally do 'riposte' style posts, but this morning I read this post from We All Need Words about why copywriters are often on autopilot.

Now, I'm willing to take it with a pinch of salt, because what they're really talking about - I think - is advertising copy, as opposed to the workhorse, everyday, need-to-fill-the-page copy that many of us provide for web and for print.

It's an important distinction, because in advertising, often you're looking to convey an emotive message in the fewest words possible - a catchy slogan, or a brand message that will stick in the reader's mind.

Contrast that with what I call workhorse copy - technical specifications, instruction manuals, and so on - and there's a clear difference in tone. And between the two extremes, there's a whole spectrum where product descriptions and 'about us' pages can be evocative, but still need to stay fairly restrained in terms of poetry and imagery.

So it's a shame that, from the start, We All Need Words go with a general statement like "much of the blame [for bad writing] has to lie with copywriters themselves. Too many of them have knocked out sloppy words for far too long".

Let's take a look at their ten "provocations" for how to "stop the rot and get out of this rut".

1. Style is a crutch

They argue that style should be stripped back - words should be simple and trick-free, like any great advertisement from the past 50 years.

In principle, it's hard to disagree with that, although I'd say it's always worth remembering the tone of voice of your client's brand - not everything needs to be written in Standard English.

2. "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

Again, this point refers to "adding flourishes" to your writing, claiming that this is something copywriters do to show off.

Well no, not really. Many of us have trained for years to be the best writers we can be - I've studied language from its smallest components upwards, and from completed texts backwards into their individual constituent parts.

If it "sounds like writing", that's probably because it's using carefully selected words in a certain order, building meaning and impact as it goes along, and working towards an intended goal - whether to entertain the reader, or to sell something, or for any other purpose.

Rewrite everything that sounds like writing, and you'd be left with something on a linguistic par with The Only Way is Essex.

3. Sometimes commas are in the wrong place. Get over it.

I'm going to print their entire argument on this point in full below. Ready? Here it comes...

"It's easy to fix a stray apostrophe. It's a lot harder to fix a weak idea."

I literally don't know exactly what they mean by that, but I think they're saying that they don't care about punctuating things correctly, as long as you can get the general gist of it.

Now imagine you're paying that person to write for you...

4. Write like you really speak.

Again, there's a bit of confusion here between the defining characteristics of speech and writing.

I mean, like, erm... [pause] when you say things out loud [pause] you don't always know... get it right... exactly right first time. You- you- you make false starts [pause] and um hesitations. And stuff. And it's not gre- not always great.

Let's clear this up for good. A conversational tone is fine. Especially for informal writing, like blog posts, or (heaven forbid) 'chatty' brands. But give some thought to whether or not you're starting to really piss off your target customers, for the sake of indulging your commitment to a conversational tone of voice.

Remember rules 1 and 2 up above - don't use style as a crutch, and don't add unnecessary flourishes to your writing (without good reason, I'd add, as there are always exceptions where a bit of flourish can work wonders).

It's also worth noting the comment "Innocent Drinks (unfairly) get most of the flak for wackaging, the cloying matey tone favoured by banks and fizzy drinks."

I mean, it's easy to defend a brand when they're among your clients.

5. Never trust a writer who says they're a 'storyteller'.

I think I agree in principle with this point, although it's so poorly made that again I'm not 100% sure what they're trying to say.

They argue that "storytelling comes with the job", but I'm still not sure if they think every piece of writing is always a story, or not.

Either way, I think we're in agreement that not every piece of copy needs to 'tell a story' in order to be effective, but given the way they described butter and figs last week, I'm not convinced that We All Need Words really practise what they reach.

6. Say it directly or don't say it at all.

On this point, they ask why banks say "we aim to" and "we believe" instead of simply stating what they are going to do.

Well, sadly, compliance departments the world over will be screaming at your copywriter if they hand over a website full of statements beginning "we will".

You only have to look at any interim financial statement from any major corporation to see a disclaimer against "forward-looking statements", pointing out that the brand can't predict the future, and that you shouldn't invest based on their forecasts.

Good writing should never get mired in legalese, by any means - but nor should it jeopardise the legal standing of its publisher.

7. Clunky segues are a warning sign.


This is the same kind of objection that leads people to say "semicolons are dying out"; in fact, they're not.

Semicolons are much loved among professional and amateur writers alike; they serve a specific function, and they serve it well.

But what do semicolons have to do with anything?

Well, according to We All Need Words, 'clunky segues' mean two unrelated ideas are being forced together.

I disagree (obviously); like a semicolon, a segue sentence of this type is a way of demarcating the division between two distinct but relatable ideas.

They're a nod to the reader - an admission that you're asking for a leap of faith, but only a small one - and like any punctuation (which they're a slightly larger example of, when you're reading aloud) they add a moment's pause, a breathing and thinking space before the text continues into the new idea.

8. The. Lazy. Shortcut.

"Stringing three bland words together with full stops doesn't make a headline."

Erm, yup, can't argue with that one. Whether we're talking about news or advertising, headline laziness is a real bugbear with me too - particularly the way American news outlets use a comma in place of the word 'and'. It's the word 'and', it's hardly gonna bankrupt you paying for the extra ink, is it?

We All Need Words didn't expand on this point beyond the statement quoted above, so there's not much to object to.

9. Microsoft Word gives you verbal diarrhoea.

The point here only makes any sense if you're talking about print, but the authors still include websites in their list of problem areas.

They say that you shouldn't write anything, for anywhere where layout is important, without sketching out your container first.

Now yes, OK, if you need your words to fit into a certain space, you need to know how big that space is. But it's worth remembering that words are not fixed in their dimensions.

Alter the font size, and you change the size of your text - but not your container. Even italicising can make text wider, which caused horizontal scrollbars to appear when they weren't needed in the early days of the web (I know, because I was building websites in the mid to late 1990s).

Nowadays there are different concerns to take into account, particularly online, where the following two rules apply:

a) If your font size is fixed, you know how big your text will be.

Literally, fixing your font size fixes your text size. That means you can write in that font size in Microsoft Word, and know that your text is filling the same amount of space that it will on the website.

You'll still need something to give you an idea of the space you have available to fill, but it can easily be a jpeg mock-up of the page template, and not the finished, working, HTML version.

b) If your website is accessible, your font size is not fixed.

A truly accessible website - and one compliant with modern-day CSS conventions - does not fix font sizes.

This allows visitors with visual impairments to adjust the font size in order to make it larger - and it's worth taking into account when you're designing your site.

It's why fixed-width WordPress templates make me feel a little uneasy, because your visually impaired readers will be left with massive words crammed into the middle 640 pixels of their 2000-pixel-wide flatscreen display, effectively making them read your website as though it was still 1997.

My personal preference for full-width templates with as much space dedicated to the main content as possible stems from this desire not only to cater for visitors with accessibility needs, but to put the main content of my site front and centre for all of my readers.

We All Need Words add that you shouldn't write the Encyclopaedia Britannica when "a few words or an image will do the job better".

Again, it depends on what you're trying to achieve, but if you want your page to have any kind of presence in the search results, you're going to need a decent amount of well-written plain text, until Google make a few more advances in interpreting the content of images.

Seriously, why would you hire a copywriter to suggest an image? We're not photographers. We're not graphic designers. If you want an image to do the job, don't hire someone to write you 500 words.

10. Quoting people. Oh the shame.

We All Need Words evidently are of the opinion that word of mouth is irrelevant, and therefore that there's no point in quoting happy customers on your website, advertisement, brochure or otherwise.

I'd say they're partly right - those trailers for horror movies that consist solely of laughing audience members saying "OMG I was SO frightened!" are cringeworthy for sure (not to mention the fact that 200 people laughing hysterically does little to vouch for the wet-pants-inducing nature of your film).

But sometimes a quote offers an independent voice, a chance to see what somebody really thinks of a product or service before you put your own money into it.

I use testimonials on this site, and they've helped me to secure work. I've given testimonials both as LinkedIn recommendations, and in print in the prospectus for the course I took at University. Sites like Amazon use them too, although you'll see them as customer reviews, rather than as direct quotes.

If your customers are happy - and are willing to go on the record to say so - there is absolutely no reason why you should ever feel any shame about that fact. Just be wary of coming across as smug because of it.

So there we go, all ten points deconstructed and over-analysed. If you've read this far, I'm amazed. In fact, if you've read this far without skipping anything, you should probably hire me to write for you, right?

I've tried to be even-handed in my analysis, because I genuinely do agree with a couple of the points made by We All Need Words, and I hope I've justified myself where I disagree. In places I would have said more, if I was more confident of the point the original authors were trying to make.

To cut a long story short (too late!), the point is this:

Good copywriters have studied and trained for years to develop that autopilot mode that allows them to produce excellent-quality content as second nature, rather than agonising over every word and producing something self-aware and stilted.

If your copywriter can turn around a 500-word project, free from typos, in half an hour, and you're still happy with the result, they probably deserve a pay rise. Don't be too quick to criticise them - you might find they're hard to replace.


So, this morning I received the below enquiry via this blog. Some of it makes sense - some of it - but the rest is a total mystery to me...


I'm an assistant for an entrepreneur who runs a successful direct response company. He's given me the task of finding capable direct response topguns that aren't charging for their fame, but for their profit-pulling skills.

The very first filter is an account of previous results. We can verify references later if we choose to take it further. I am going to need some specific numbers from you attained from your previous projects.

Can you work with me here? You don't need to give me client names but I do need you to give me the numbers you've achieved in your first response to me. He is prepared to hire 3-5 of the very best, so if you know other copywriters at least as good as yourself, do point me towards them also.

We are also endeavoring to make your lives a lot easier by gathering a lot of information that will speed up your research process. This includes text/media ads of competitors, pros/cons of their own products, background information on up to 100 real people that are representatives of the target market, as well as a lot of data and research gathered based on the product itself.


I can't help thinking I'm much more likely to end up with my numbers being included in their 'background information ... of the target market' than I am to make it through to the next 'filter'...

On-Page SEO: The Power of Proximity

If you know me well, you'll know how strongly I believe in the power of on-page SEO over all other forms of optimisation.

Take this blog as an example: I don't run any PPC or banner ad campaigns to promote it, I don't really 'link-build', except for when I guest post for other people, and the only other off-page promotion I do is to tweet out new posts - sometimes.

And yet I rank highly for some terms that aren't even that closely relevant to my role as a freelance writer, such as 'embed twitter hashtag', where I average position 1.4 in the results (which means, 60% of the time, I'm the top result).

So what's going on here? Well, it's simple - my page for embedding a Twitter hashtag in a blog has the words 'embedding', 'twitter' and 'hashtag' in the page title, the headline, and throughout the text.

It's got a clear focus, it's genuinely useful, and the page is updated occasionally when people post comments or questions at the bottom.

This is the power of proximity in on-page SEO - all the right things, in all the right places, on a page you have total control of.

Policing Proximity

In a long-term SEO campaign, control is a key consideration, particularly in the new era of Google Penguin, the recent algorithm update that punishes websites with suspicious-looking patterns of inbound links.

Google have always been supportive of on-page SEO when it doesn't detract from the quality of the content, but artificial inbound linking - such as by paying another webmaster to link to you from every page of their site, or spamming blog comments with links to your own blog - will no longer be accepted.

Before it, the Google Panda update penalised sites with large numbers of non-unique content that had been syndicated or simply copied and pasted from elsewhere, whether with or without the original author's permission.

So how do you recover from either of these updates? Well, in the case of Panda, all the content is on your own website, and you can have it rewritten (by someone like me!) so that it's unique - and, gradually, your search results rankings will begin to recover.

In the case of Penguin, there may be thousands of artificial links to your site all over the internet - tracking them down is a challenge in itself, let alone getting each individual webmaster to remove the links.

Proximity - in the sense that all of your SEO efforts are made on pages controlled by yourself - allows for changes, adaptations to algorithm updates, and flexibility to keep your site on top of the search results, no matter what happens in the future.

Temporal Proximity

Hold tight, because we're about to go fourth-dimensional. Up above we talked about long-term considerations in on-page and off-page SEO, but there are short-term benefits to proximity too, particularly in terms of pages that are published close together.

Your content still needs to be relevant and valuable to the reader, but if you can plan a series of updates around one central topic - without simply repeating yourself day after day - you can quickly build a strong ranking for your target keywords.

I've seen examples of where a client has gone from having no presence for a particularly specific key phrase, to holding eight of the ten front-page positions on Google - and that's without any personalisation or location settings making them appear higher on my screen than they would elsewhere.

Factor in yet another kind of proximity - geographic location - and people with location-based search switched on may see you rank even higher if they're nearby. And if they're far away, with location-based search switched on, there's not much you can do to improve your ranking in their results anyway.

Applying Proximity

The principle behind each of the kinds of proximity outlined above is simple, and always the same: Connections are Good.

The web is all about connections, and while inbound links are nice, they're not as 'connected' as they might seem.

Step outside of the comfort zone of your own website, and you inescapably relinquish some control over your SEO campaign - and that may reap rewards in the short term, but it can only be a bad idea for the long term.

Focus on on-page SEO in a joined-up, 'proximal' way - whether that means posting related pages close together over multiple days, focusing on your local geographic area, or tying together the different opportunities for on-page keyword placement - and your chances of success are greatly increased.

And if you've been hit by any of Google's recent algorithm updates - well, I just hope you're a Panda victim, and haven't been penalised by Penguin.

SEO Alert: Optimise Now for the Christmas Buy Cycle

Today (September 10th, 2012) I'm issuing an SEO alert - because while there are still over 100 days until Christmas, it's time for the Christmas 'buy cycle' to start gearing up.

Sunday (September 16th) will mark exactly 100 days until Christmas, and I think it's worth spending at least the latter half of this month preparing your sites by launching a festive microsite, changing your logo to a snow-capped one and your colour scheme to something icy blue or festive red and green, or simply tossing a few Christmas-themed keywords into your product descriptions.

If you've been following this blog since last year, you may have already seen me discuss the Christmas buy cycle here - but another year's gone by, so it's time to test whether that theory still holds up.

The 2011 Christmas Buy Cycle

First, let's look at the 2011 Google Trends data for searches including the terms 'christmas presents' and 'christmas gifts' conducted in England:

The key characteristics of last year's cycle are as follows:
  • 'christmas presents' received 3/4 as many searches as 'christmas gifts' for the full year - similar to 2010's results
  • October marks the most likely time when both terms will rise above their year-long average (equivalent to '1' on the left-hand scale for 'christmas gifts')
  • search volumes climb rapidly throughout November, but trail off from early December - meaning it pays to get in early with your optimisation
Bagging, Tagging - and Lagging

What gives the Christmas buy cycle its distinctive shape? Well, I believe it's more than just forward planning on the part of shoppers.

Nobody wants their Christmas gifts to arrive late, so you're unlikely to see a high number of people ordering online with only a couple of days left before the big day - which introduces a slight lag between the peak of the cycle, and Christmas itself.

But it's more than that - despite e-commerce itself being instantaneous, you've still got to make sure the relevant products are in stock, package them up, and ship them to your customer. It's this crossover between the virtual and real worlds - when goods come out of that digital shopping basket, and are bagged and tagged for real - that slows the whole process down further.

So what if your products are virtual? What if, say, you sell digital gift cards, which can be sent via email, rather than being bagged and tagged?

The Virtual Christmas Buy Cycle

This time, we're looking at the terms 'amazon gift card' and 'itunes gift card' - and you'll notice the delivery lag has gone from the data.

For the most part, these virtual products continue to gain search share throughout December - they're the modern-day equivalent of petrol-station flowers for last-minute online Christmas gifts.

Remember, this data is for searches conducted in England - so you can no longer dismiss iTunes as a purely American phenomenon. Virtual gift cards are an established form of gift for people in the UK now, especially if they need to send something over a long distance (and particularly if they don't trust the postal service any more).

But again, October is when interest in virtual gift cards begins to rise, and the first time 'amazon gift card', less than a quarter as popular as 'itunes gift card' in the data, scores highly enough to even become visible on the graph.

(On a personal note, I find the difference between the two curious - give somebody an Amazon gift card, and they've got a much wider range to choose from, even including mp3 downloads. Perhaps some of the search traffic can be associated with people giving - or who have in the past given - physical Apple devices as Christmas presents, and know that a gift voucher will complement their earlier gift.)

Any SEO work you do needs time to be crawled and indexed by the search engines, which introduces one final unavoidable lag into the process, bringing the ideal date to begin forwards a little further - and that's why I think the end of September, as the Christmas countdown drops below 100 days and the sun begins to set a little earlier, is the perfect time to make a start on revising your website copy, colour scheme and logos, and generally pitching for that number-one spot in Christmas-related Google searches for your particular product or service.

Get on your buy cycle and ride!

Website News Updates

As a freelance copywriter, I can turn my hand to almost any kind of writing, including some very unusual, specific or technical subjects - but website news updates are a major part of what I do for many of my clients.

They may be small businesses looking to keep their websites up to date, or big agencies who are contracted to provide weekly website updates to their clients; I can work for either, and I can count both kinds of customers among my regular, long-term clients.

Website news updates are a good option if you want to appear to be on top of the changes taking place in your industry - particularly if there are market trends or legislative changes to consider - or simply if you want a more formal alternative to blogging.

Hiring a freelance copywriter like me to provide your content is also a good option - I spent five years working at an online news agency, and while my approach now is very different to the one they used, I can bring my experience dealing with press offices and finding source material for articles into my writing for you, and give you genuine, legitimate news content as a result.

No matter what niche you work in, there is news out there that would make sense to feature on your website, and it's important for search visibility that it's uniquely written for you, and not simply copied and pasted (which can breach copyright laws) or imported via RSS (which, while legal, does not add unique text to your website).

If you're interested in adding website news updates to your site - whether you want weekly articles or just a couple each month, headline or industry news, or news about your own company's achievements - email or tweet me and I'll do my best to help you out.

Even if you don't end up hiring me to provide your content, I'm still happy to share tips and ideas, and I embrace the challenge of working with small businesses on tight marketing budgets, and big brands where the blogging is just one part in a larger campaign, with equal care and commitment.