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Questions To Ask Your SEO

Apr 10, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

When we engage a new client in SEO, we always expect to be asked a number of questions, all of them of varying importance. We’ve been asked the practical things like “can you guarantee results” and we’ve been asked some that come off the wrong way like “can you make my site take over -competitors- results”. Search engine optimization is a process, it is also a skill set that takes years to properly develop, and there are some very important questions that you should be asking yourself when you approach an SEO company, or are approached by one.

closelookOne of the basic questions to ask should be of their awareness to the Penguin and Panda updates and how their penalties can affect a website. Within those two major updates, there are all of the smaller ones which have happened, most in the last year or so and you should have warning bells going off in your head if the agency you’re speaking with has no knowledge of them. Things like the exact match domain update, or the changing sizes of the results pages from 10 down to as little as 6 or 7 on a page, any SEO worth their chops will be able to answer those questions, and others you may have without any issue. Search optimization is a bit of a jack of all trades type job, where you need to have at least a grasp of web coding practices. Knowing how to properly fix code errors within a web page can actually help rank a website, just because you’ve taken the time to correct a potential spidering error, allowing the bots to access your entire site. Your SEO company should also be able to handle properly redirecting pages or an entire site if necessary, and where and when to use 301, 302, and even 404 codes to shape the user experience, and the bot interaction on your site.

Social media optimization is one of the newest buzz words in marketing, and while it is an increasingly more important factor to your optimization efforts. It actually has less to do with the actual act of search engine optimization, and more to do with the interaction with your clients and visitors. By having an active conversation with your customers and visitors, it indirectly shows the search engines that your site has activity on it, and it lends to the authority of your website. It’s the relationship with your visitor base that can allow you to garner legitimate, high quality backlinks which all give benefits to your positioning in the results pages.

And one of the most important questions you need to ask any agency, whether you’ve contacted them or they have contacted you, is how involved you will be in the optimization process. The answer should always be something along the lines “entirely” or “every step of the way” because it’s your brand, your website, and your online image. When we pick up a new client, we make it abundantly clear that while we will not creat your content, we will help you mold and shape your content to deliver your brand and message properly – with the end goal of ranking your site higher in the search engines.

Manage Your E-Commerce Image

Apr 9, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

growthIt is no shock that the internet has been a massive attraction for businesses to sell their products and services online, there are even the mega sites like Amazon who made it their business to sell other peoples stuff. E-commerce is a multi-billion dollar industry, that depending on how you handle your customer interaction can either positively, or negatively affect your sales figures.

In what could be described as an average online shopping experience, it would follow a few basic steps. First off, you are clearly looking to purchase an item for yourself or as a gift, I’ll use a tablet as an example. The first inclination of most people would be to just go purchase an iPad or an iPad mini, but even at that micro of a level there are a dozen different configuration options ranging from memory size to even color choice. Let alone the other dozen major companies that also sell tablets like Samsung, Microsoft or even a Google product. After that item has been decided on, that’s usually where the research starts, and where your SEO should have been mindful of. One of the most neglected areas I’ve found in the online retail space, is the review space for a clients product. Tablets can range in price from $200 to $500 and up, so they’re not small purchase, and a little due diligence and customer interaction can actually increase your sales.

Take for instance, you’ve started a new company to sell the aforementioned gift, named Tablets4U and you have a unique product that is just as good as everyone elses on the market. This is an avenue where marketing and SEO should be working together, marketers sending out the product to review sites and your SEOs to build up quality content for them to link back too. Your web design in a best case scenario would have the option for people to leave reviews on your own website where you can address any questions or concerns, and you should have your SEO actively monitoring social media channels to catch any buzz about the product. As a consumer, one of the first things I look for on the web when I want to research a purchase, are for customer reviews. I don’t need to know technical specs, and I’m not concerned with colors at this point, I want to know what other users experienced with the product. If your SEOs and other marketers have done their jobs correctly, even a negative review can be turned into a positive experience by handling it correctly. Brand management is a very serious concern, especially with more and more shoppers heading online every year, don’t forget about the end user of your products and services as it may lose you sales in the long run if you neglect them.

Common Sense Optimization

Apr 4, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

There are a good deal of different steps involved in properly optimizing a website. On site factors and changes, the time it takes to build a proper backlink profile, and making sure your website is properly built is a weighty deciding factor with the search engines.

gprOn page, on site optimization is a time intensive project. Your content needs to be broken down, weighed and evaluated against your competitors as well as against the search engine guidelines. Your entire website needs to be taken down to its base components, the text, images and navigation all need to be optimized to ensure you have the best chance to rank your site. Some of the larger concerns you have with your on site work are avoiding being spammy with your content, avoiding using any tricky pieces of code to hide text or images – even if these are done by accident they have very real consequences for your website. Avoiding on site optimization issues are basic affairs however, and you can use your gut for the most part to avoid them.

All of the on page work that is done, and for all of the time that it takes to do properly, the off site optimization is just as intensive. There is no real handbook on how to properly perform off site optimization, but there are a couple of key points you can keep an eye on. While you have no real control over who, or what links to your website initially, you do have the ability to manage those back links pointing to your website via Google Webmaster tools. There is thankfully some reprieve where your back link profile is concerned, as the search engines are pretty good at picking out which websites aren’t on the up and up. One of the largest concerns that website owners seem to get worked up about are having links from websites that are obviously selling links to anyone that will pay. Well thankfully, the short story is that it’s highly likely that Google knows they’re not playing by the rules and any links that may be pointing at your site won’t be a problem for you. Matt Cutts, Google’s head of spam gave a brief answer to this concern, the main points to keep in mind:

Websites that sell links will see their toolbar PageRank downgraded by 30, 40 or 50%.

The site will no longer continue to be able to pass PageRank.

Sites they link to will no longer benefit from those links.

Online Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Apr 3, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

growthWhere advertising is concerned for your business, you always like to know that you’re getting what you’ve paid for. There are multiple ways for you to get your name out there, and there are some which are much better than others, it doesn’t really matter which method you use, but in the end it’s always about the numbers. How many visitors, how many conversions, how many sales have been made etc.

Organic search engine optimization is one of the most cost effective means to advertise your business old or new. And unlike more traditional advertising methods, like television or print media, it is fairly simple to use analytics software to track your website. Television and print media can offer you metrics of a fashion, they can offer you market saturation numbers, but actual return on your advertising investment is questionable at best. The metrics that you can gather from an online campaign, are much more comprehensive when you compare them to traditional media. Not only can you track how many people have seen your website, you can see what those visitors have done on your website. And one of the greatest aspects of being able to track your online campaign with analytics software is it gets more accurate over time, so you can really begin to determine where your conversions are and fine tune your marketing goals.

By comparison, the Adwords platform has a great suite of analytics software. It lets you track every aspect from impression, to saturation, to conversion rate. Unlike using organic SEO however, you can begin to make changes to your campaigns and start to see results almost immediately. Paid online advertising is a great avenue for newer businesses to explore, as well as successful online businesses to test other avenues for new products or services for your marketplace.

Both organic search optimization and Adwords have their place in an online marketing scheme, and the strength of the data you have available make them the clear cut choice for your business. That is assuming of course that you would like to have information like visitors, keyword activity and conversion rates so you can make your business even more successful.

Local and Mobile – Fastest Growing Search Demographics

Apr 2, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

Before exploring the latest trends in local mobile engagement specifically, it’s valuable to recognize the rapid growth of mobile and other connected devices and their impact on how consumers are accessing the Internet. Within the U.S. smartphone market, Google and Apple solidified their market dominance, with Android owning 53% of the market, and Apple’s piece being 36%, totaling nearly nine out of 10 smartphones in use at the end of the year.

brandingThe most important piece of the puzzle of users who own mobile phones though, is they’re also likely to own other mobile devices, and at the end of 2012 that number was beginning to get up to around 40% share. Between all of the smart phones and other connected devices, it all adds up to multiple ways for people to access the web in varying formats. Rapid growth of mobile connected devices drastically changed how consumers accessed the Internet as PC use appears to have peaked. Growth in the number of PC users accessing the Internet flat-lined for the first time last year.

An important factor of mobile internet users to keep in mind, is their much higher than average engagement rate. If your website is mobile friendly, and locally optimized, you already have two steps forward in the right direction to increased business. Take this last Christmas shopping season, nearly 50% of all mobile owners used their devices to search locally, and that number is expected to grow over the next year again.

Local businesses should be introducing advertising strategies and mobile and tablet-friendly websites to attract consumers increasingly accessing the Web from their handheld devices. Over 60% of smartphone consumers are now accessing local content on their devices; and, while consumers prefer apps to search for local content, use of browsers is also strong. Local businesses should ensure their mobile efforts include both apps and browsers.

Over Optimization is No Joke

Apr 1, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

leaderSearch engine optimization is a buzz term that makes a lot of marketers out there wince when used in their presence. It isn’t a wonder why, as there seems to be an expert around every corner, and at times it can be a dicey proposition to engage someone to represent you. The dangers associated in a virtual world can have some real world implications if you aren’t mindful of the work being performed on, and off of your site.

Whether you have a website with only a couple of pages or a website with thousands of pages, you need to have an aim with your optimization efforts. You need to decide from the get go, are you going after a site wide optimization or are you going to start with a page or two to try and work your way to the top of your niche. You can optimize your site and pages for single or long tail terms, but you need to have the focus to not push forward on more fronts than you can handle. Once you’ve either paid for the keyword research, or taken the time to do the work yourself, you’ll discover that the vast majority of your traffic will result from only a handful of terms. With that in mind, make the decision to focus on your primary target, and not get distracted by your campaign.

Once you have that target and the primary pages that you’d like to optimize, there’s only one major area to worry about regarding your optimization efforts, and that’s really to not go too far with your optimization. As strange as it might sound, over optimization is a legitimate concern for a website. Being caught over optimizing your website isn’t the end of the world though, and it’s one of the easiest errors to recover from. While we always welcome an open dialogue with our clients, we have had a handful of occasions where we’ve actually had to use the phrase “We’ve taken the steps necessary, but we didn’t want to risk over optimize your pages.”

Quality Client Interactions and Search Engines

Mar 28, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

With the growth of web technology as the internet develops as a marketing tool, there are some incredible effects you can achieve when you design with the new technologies in mind. There are however, a handful of issues that you need to keep in mind when designing your website with them in mind. The main use, and priority of your website should primarily be client interaction, but marketing also needs to weigh heavily with your decisions.

It is an older technology when speaking about the web, but Flash is still widely used to create and display multimedia websites. Flash allows you to create a visually striking website, complete with sounds and animations if you would like, and allows you to have a great client experience. A great idea for websites that have an established visitor base, or is shared directly to users, as it still isn’t easily crawled or indexed by the search engines as of yet.

websiteupgradeSome of the newer tricks on the web involve the use of updated slider coding, allowing you to overlay text and images, and the increasing popularity of Ajax code. The slider bits are getting more friendly in terms of search engine optimization, as you can designate an area for an image, and place text over top of it which can then be indexed by the search engines. A less friendly, but most often seen use of sliders is using images that have the text embedded within it, and while this still gets the message across to visitors, it is not going to be indexed. Ajax is a great new technology in the life of the web, and allows you to construct highly interactive websites. You need to ensure that you follow your optimization steps however, because there are variants of Ajax out there which don’t get properly indexed at the moment. A popular use of Ajax coding at the moment is to create dynamic menus and content, which can make your site look and act very compact, and as it is an active element works well to keep visitors engaged with your site.

I’ll write another shortly about some of the other tech out there which is providing client interaction and a great visual display for visitors at a later date. I’ll have a focus on jQuery and HTML5, the latter of which is one of the more impressive bits of technology out there.

Winnipeg Golf Deal

Mar 27, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

If you love Golf, you’ll love this. Want a try out at one of the leading Golf Courses in Manitoba? Check this out. A little off topic and a shameless plug for my friends at Elmhurst Golf & Country Club.

 

Elmhurst Test Run

Microsoft and Their Crying Game

Mar 26, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

In the spirit of competition, Google has pretty much always said bring it on as competition almost always leads to improvements and innovation. There hasn’t been an innovative search engine developed since Google took their spot at the top of the heap, and while the task is daunting to take on the giant, it isn’t the company itself that is the issue, it’s their index of the web. As simple a problem as it may sound, creating an index of the internet is becoming an exponentially larger task every year, and as a result Google retains their spot as top dog.

Microsoft has similarly deep pockets with which to develop technology, whether it be in search, software, or what ever they may deem worthy at the moment. Disappointingly however, instead of sinking time and money into developing their own product, they spent who knows how much of both, on both their Scroogled campaign, Bing it on campaign, and their battle in the EU, trying to revive their antitrust reviews against Google. Their latest salvo in the fight, trying to convince those in power in the EU that positioning on the search results pages is directly relative to how much search traffic you get to your website. Anyone who works in any style of marketing company will tell you that if you occupy the choice spot, you’ll receive a better response, that’s a no brainer. But again, there was Microsoft time, and money spent to determine something that was already known by everyone who has ever done business. From Microsoft’s blog post:

Moving the best result down just two positions (from first to third) reduced traffic to that site by half.
The diversion effect becomes much more pronounced as a site is moved further down the page. A site that is moved from the first position to the tenth position typically will lose about 85 percent of its traffic.

A site that is moved from the second position to the ninth loses about 75 percent of its traffic.

Well no kidding.

Dilbert-fakelinksWhy they’re making such a big deal about search ranking is a tad confusing, because if you follow the language they use in their post, then Bing search does has exactly the same flaws as Google search, and their manipulated results. With those things being equal, shouldn’t the EU also look into potential anti-competitive practices against them as well? It didn’t go so well for them the last time that happened as I recall. There’s no arguing that Google has a leg up in the search world, they came onto the scene like gang busters with their algorithm and has had the largest web index on the globe, but instead of competing with them and developing their own product Microsoft has decided to go with another temper tantrum. Hopefully one of these days they’ll pull up their socks and improve their own products and stop kicking sand around the sand box.

Search Engine Optimization Cookies

Mar 25, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

There are a handful of advertising options when you’ve gotten your business up and rolling, and each one has their own pros and cons. Television, radio and print advertising is generally seen as being an older, dated method of advertising that still sees a fair amount of use, especially among some of the larger companies out there. Because at a certain point, you need to use it, because your competitors are.

closelookAnd then 20 years or so ago, all of that got flipped onto it’s head with the rapid growth and use of the internet. It took a few years for an indexing service to come along, but Google worked out a way to wrangle the mess of the web, and give it some order, and allowed users to search the web for what they want. Fast forward to today, and it is again starting to become a tangled mess of advertising avenues. Having a website has become, for the most part, a no brainer, if you have a business, you need a website. Because just how old media advertising was perceived 60 years ago, if you’re not doing it and capitalizing on the advertising, your competitor will be. One of the biggest differences between the old advertising methods and their counterparts of today however, is that the online variants can be tracked and deliver you a definitive return on your investment. Search engine marketing, also known as pay per click advertising is great for immediate branding efforts and recognition, and helps you build your brand quicker than by just word of mouth. Think of PPC/SEM advertising as impulse adverts, like the gum and magazines you see in the check out isle at the grocery store.

The true benefits of online marketing really only become clear when you have the time and the budget to incorporate search engine optimization into your advertising portfolio. It is not to be taken lightly or done in a haphazard way. SEO is the chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie, you need to do it right, and it needs to be done in a proper balance otherwise you’ll end up with a poor product, and be met with the wrong side of the ranking algorithm on the search engines. There isn’t much to expand upon regarding search engine optimization, and in the spirit of following our own rule set of keeping it simple, if you don’t know how to properly perform SEO, don’t.

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