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Tagged with " website optimization"

The Dangers Of The Social Web

Jul 12, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

There is a quickly growing trend on the web that has gained a ton of coverage about why it is the “go to” tool where your business is concerned. And while it can be a very powerful tool to use to gain exposure for your business and it’s services, it needs to be done correctly and consistently. It’s not search engine optimization or search engine marketing that is causing recent growth, it’s using the social media side of the web.

social-mediaUsing social media to gain visibility on the web is a perfect avenue for any small business owner as the cost of entry is zero where dollars are concerned, it really requires only your time. You need to make sure though, that if you decide to go down the social media avenue that you are ready to do what is necessary to maintain your business’s image. Using Facebook and Twitter for example is a great way to get out the message that you’re having a limited time sale, and you can broadcast that out instantly to anyone following your posts or tweets. Therein lies one of the automatic problems though where social media is concerned, your follower base and how do/did you acquire them. If you’ve done your homework, and you’re genuinely active on the social web then you will easily attract a qualified audience, those who are interested in your products and services. Your ideal best case scenario for social media is to use it as just another means of conversation with your customer base, as it can allow for rapid problem solving if an issue should arise, and it can bring changed products and services to the fore front when needed.

There is however, a dark side to the social side of the web in the form of detractors, competitors, and sometimes there are just some users out to cause a fuss. When you’re confronted with these types of issues, it can very quickly paint a picture of what type of business owner you are to the rest of your audience, subscribed to your feeds or not. The quip that bad news travels fast is never more true than when you’re in the social space, and if you mishandle a customer or client interaction you can find your business on a slippery downward slope.

Here are just a few questions you need to ask yourself before you get your business involved in the circus that is known as the social web. If you find it difficult to answer the following questions, or you don’t have clear answers, then you and your business are not ready for the social side of the internet. And just because “everyone” is using social media to gain exposure, doesn’t mean it is required in your online profile, if the job isn’t handled correctly it can sink your business just as well as improve it.

Can we benefit from a social media presence?
How do we build our audience?
Who is going to work our social accounts?
How do we announce sales/service changes/updates on our social accounts?
How do we handle negative feedback on our social accounts?

New Client Issues – Old Problems

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

When we work with a site owner one of the first questions we always make sure to ask them is if they’ve worked with any other SEO agency first. Ideally the answer is no, but as the industry becomes more and more populated with people trying to make a quick buck, the ratio of yes to no has slowly started to sway to the yes side of the scale. One of the biggest reasons we tend to worry is simple, we don’t know what we’re walking into when we take on someone elses problems which they either have created, or may have even inherited themselves. One of the most common issues that we happen to find when we dig into their online profile however, is one of duplicate content.

poisonedThere are unfortunately private SEOs and even some agencies who tell you that as long as you change enough of the text, your content can be rehashed again and again without incurring any sort of penalty. But in truth, here’s the thing that they either don’t tell you, or don’t know for themselves: search engines don’t want to list several pages that all say the same thing, so they look for content that is unique from everyone else. If you’re just spinning the same 600 words over and over again into different pages and blog posts, they’ll recognize it and it isn’t the SEO that catches the force of the penalty stick, it’s you and your website. Almost every time we find this to be the issue, our response may come across as a daunting task, but it’s for the best, we highly advise a complete rewrite and revamp of your site wide content. Cleaning up your own content and navigation is a major milestone to helping you improve your online branding image.

There is another side of this coin, and there really isn’t any one on the web that is immune to the problem, automated content scrapers and straight up content thieves. There are a few protections which can be used to safeguard your content on your website, but even then it wouldn’t be too surprising to find that someone somewhere has nabbed your content for themselves. Using as simple a tag as the ‘rel=author’ and linking it to your Google+ social profile is a quick and simple way to let Google know that you are the original creator of this content, and all others from that point forward will, hopefully, be ranked below you for your own content. For the most part thankfully, you don’t need to worry about scraper sites as the search engines are aware of them and they aren’t going to carry much weight in the search results in the end anyhow. The websites which blatantly steal your content however is a different sort of animal, and since you already use the proper markup to show that you are the original creator of the content in question, you can go so far as to file a DMCA removal request to have your content removed from the offending website(s).

Unfortunately duplicate content issues are not an issue which will be going away any time soon, thankfully the search engines have gotten faster, smarter, and there are more and more tools being developed which can show who created what content first, and when.

Avoiding Common Website Mistakes

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

Being in the business of online marketing, website design and development and search engine optimization we get all sorts of needs and wants from people who contact us for any, or all of the previous mentioned services. It isn’t difficult at all to find some of the horror stories online about these services, and regardless of how many contacts we field in a year, there are always common themes that we find that we need to sway people away from.

leaderOne of the biggest issues that we run into is actually one of purpose, we’re contacted to help someone build their website or assist their current sites positions, and we find that there is no clear purpose or reason behind it. You need to have a goal in business and in a website, and if you need to take the time to discern what you would like it to be prior to getting in over your head. The clarity of purpose behind your business needs to be conferred on your website as well, whether it’s informational, services, or a product that you’re trying to sell, using a shotgun approach to online marketing isn’t going to help you.

Within the scope of deciding what your goal of having a website is, is also the content that makes up your pages. The written text, the images and even the navigation topics all play the role of guiding your visitors to your end goal – a sale, sign up or a contact lead. Lack of content, or of updating content is a thorn in any marketers side, because we’re not in your business, we can not create your content for you. The biggest take away from requesting new or updated content should be one of importance, the sooner we can go over and work with your content the sooner we can get it implemented into your online strategy, and time is everything online. Where organic is concerned, time is your enemy more than anything, so taking your time delivering as a client is a poor choice.

The next step of a marketing strategy we find hiccups with is tied to the content as well, and that’s when we find that between all of the variables, there is no call to action. If you’re in the business for example of selling online books, you want to make sure that you’re crystal clear in that endeavour, and make sure your content supports your business goals. Using the online book retailer as an example, you can talk about how large your library is and about your author profit margins and about how you help sponsor amateur novelists and the like all you want. But none of those points help you sell your product, which in this case is an e-book. Always be closing, because if you don’t tell your visitor what you want from them, they can’t give it to you.

Web Designer or Web Developer

Jun 24, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

websiteupgradeWhen you’ve decided that you need a website for yourself, you need to have an idea as to what kind of a world you’re stepping into. It’s not like setting up an ad in your local newspaper that takes a phone number and a catch phrase, even the most basic of websites needs your attention while being developed in order to meet your needs. One of the most basic questions you need to first answer for yourself is do you need a website designer, or a website developer? While their titles and roles may seem similar on the surface, they’re as different as a plumber is to a mechanic.

Back in the beginning where a ‘brochure’ site (static content, basically putting your company’s brochure online), was the norm, you basically had one guy make up your entire site. It was very easy, the design was mostly copied from print materials, and there was little to no focus on user experience. Businesses simply wanted to know, or feel they had some degree of an online presence.

Fast forward to today and that task has been divided up by specialized individuals. While you are busy managing the product or services, you’ll have UI designers handling the design side of your website, engineers or developers handling the server side, and front end website developers handling the resources that interact with the browser.

The role of the front end website developer is specific, and it needs to be specific because the job is far more involved than it was back when static websites were the norm. There are a multitude of browsers to worry about (IE8, IE9, IE10, Firefox, Chrome, Safari), on a multitude of devices (mobile, tablet, desktop), and with clients requesting a specific look or experience, you actually have a lot of logic moving to the client-side and the server side scripting becomes merely a means to deliver your data.

With Freshtraffic having a dedicated in house website designer, we can focus on your design, usability, and ensure everything meets your branding requirements. As more and more of the general population has moved online, the expectation for a good user experience on your site has dramatically increased, so having a dedicated designer for this was imperative.

On the other side of the spectrum, the server side landscape changed quite a bit. With the wide growth and use of web specific languages of PHP and ASP, and the explosion of languages such as Ruby, Python, Java and even ASP having a website developer is also greatly important. Being able to mold your data and shape the back end usability so you can directly administer your own website is just as important as the user experience on the front end. Together we have an amazing team built within Freshtraffic to deliver the best results for online branding in Winnipeg. When it’s time to put your best foot forward online, we already have our team in place and ready to help you grow. With how rapidly the web has changed, just be aware that the role ‘web designer’ was long broken up into dedicated services, and those roles have their own dedicated professionals. It had become far too much for one person to deliver on their own.

Google Dance Version 2 – Panda Step

Jun 12, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

babypandaSince everyone is still slightly reeling and recovering from the upgraded Penguin addition to the algorithm, it was at a recent conference where Matt Cutts spoke about the Panda portion, and elaborated a little on why we are no longer being directly advised that it has been running.

In case you happened to forget, the Panda portion of the algorithm is there to help determine just how high quality your website content is. It checks on things like originality, relevance, and whether or not it’s over optimized as well. The spokesmen for search engines have always maintained that the content that you create on your website should be for the users, not the robots, and Panda was their automatic process in that regard. When you cruise around the news and blogs of the SEO world over the last few years, you can always find the posts every few weeks where someone verified through Google that an update either was happening, or had recently happened. And just a short couple of months ago, Cutts came forward and said they were no longer advising whether or not Panda was being refreshed, or run across the web and their index. The reason is actually quite simple, at present, Panda will be running every month over the course of 10 days or so.

The web is nearly an immeasurable amalgamation of pages, gifs, movies, sounds, information, basically if you can imagine it, it’s on the web somewhere. And while some website owners were hit in a big way by Panda and Penguin, the increase in frequency of it running is a very good thing. In the past, every month or so Google would have a big shakedown of the index, hitting the pages hard with an updated version of the algorithm to try and clean out some of the spammy sites and those that weren’t abiding by the rules. Ever since they came up with the additions of Panda and Penguin, there have been some fairly small changes to the size of the index, impacting only a few percent of the total sites out there, but when you’re talking about trillions of pages, even a small amount can become huge. Panda running for 10 days of the month every month is a good thing, just think of it that way. It helps keep the index fresher and more spam free than it ever has before.

Your SEO – Helping You Help Yourself

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

A few months back, there was an article posted calling on business owners to wise up, and stop spending money on search engine optimization as it is a useless endeavour to try and improve their position on the results pages. It has been near 6 months now since that article, and its follow up have been posted, and putting aside that the article was a cleverly written piece of link bait, it made some valid points for business owners to take heed.

brandingstampTo be upfront, I do not agree that SEO is dieing or that it is going to anytime soon, the practice of search engine optimization is all about working within the guidelines to help improve your online visibility, and so long as there is an internet there will be a search engine, and there will be need of our services. But as I read the article, the major point which I took from what was written, is that your SEO company can not write your content for you and your business. For years the web spam team at Google has posted blogs, videos, articles and answered help threads in the webmaster forums and always with the same response: create your website for the users, not the search engines. The focal point of that statement is simple and it’s one that we always push with our clients – quality content will do more for you than most anything else to be noticed on the web. What no one at Google will actually come out and tell you however, is how to mould your content, your website, and your social profile to work together to portray your best brand image and improve your online image. That would be where our services as search engine optimization experts comes into play.

The misunderstood nature of SEO is that you are trying to trick the search engines, or manipulate them to place your website at the top of the results pages. The boring truth however, is we do nothing to manipulate the search engines, we have no direct phone number to the algorithm creators, we have no magic wand that can fix everything. But what we do have is more than 20 years of experience working within the guidelines, and continually, successfully working with clients and their websites to give them the best possible chance to climb the results pages. It’s the level of knowledge and experience that can’t be taught in a blog post or a webinar, and it is why you should be very wary when approached by an agency offering you page one for only $200.

The SEO world is definitely changing, and with the most recent shake up with the addition of Penguin v2, for all of the extra work it initially entails, it really serves to “clean up” the industry as a whole. It’s major addition and changes to the algorithm that shines an ugly light on the SEO practitioners who believe it is only a game, and not realizing the amount of constant upkeep it requires. Don’t fall into the belief that it is an easy affair to implement every step to give yourself the best possible chance to rank positively online, the best thing you can do for yourself and your website is to keep it simple. Keep your content clear and relevant to your services or products, and if you truly want to improve your online image, call us before you get too far down the rabbit hole, we are here to serve.

Getting Ready For Online Growth

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

In almost every call coming in from someone interested in our optimization services, there is a short list of questions that are asked on almost every occasion. They usually start with the basics, our cost, right to the point and it’s appreciated as it helps them determine right off the bat if they can even make that kind of investment into their website. Usually there are a handful of questions about back linking and on page optimization, and following that, content generation. So let’s have a closer look at how we answer these inquiries.

Winnipeg SEO CompanyAbout our cost, the number is inherently flexible although our starting point serves to separate the businesses who are devoted to their online branding efforts and those who either aren’t there yet, or aren’t devoted enough. We’re not the most expensive in the market, not if you consider all of the players out there, but locally we’re the big fish in the water. And a mantra that we always repeat for the prospective clients contacting us – you get what you pay for. There are web designers out there who are happy to sell you SEO for a one time cost of $200, but in the interest of being blunt – you have no right to be surprised when it ends up being money wasted. Anyone worth their salt, in any industry, will always be worth the premium cost to engage their services. You always get what you pay for, and as you’re searching for an online optimization agency a second rule of thumb to consider – how did you find their phone number? Was it in the yellow pages, or on the top of the search results?

When we’re asked about how we do our back linking, we try not to bore anyone with the details as it’s actually the longest and most laborious process regarding SEO. The boss prides himself on his skills in this regard, and as I said previously, paying for a premium skill should be no surprise. On page optimization has always been highly important, as it’s your major identifier to the search engines. And a major component of your on page optimization is your content. This is one of the points I think that people find rather surprising – we will not create your content for you. We will absolutely work with your content, your call to action and help you deliver your message in the most effective way possible. Once you’re ready to hop into the pool of online optimization, feel free to get in touch with us, just don’t be surprised when we relay our cost. And just as a reminder that you get what you pay for, the following snippet is an example of what you get when you pay for an SEO package and try to save some money.

You really each and every portion of your site not the same as an additional. Take special care when picking a headline to use. Titles are vital to proper search engine optimisation outcome.

Upgraded Penguin and Your Site

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

By now I’m sure you’ve noticed that there has been a stir on the web, a shift in the rankings and maybe you’ve received an email or two from Google describing in vague terms that your site may, or may not, have bad backlinks. It’s the latest iteration of an algorithm update to help cleanse the results pages, and you can further more refer to it as Penguin 2.0 – or webspam filter number 2.

penguin2First things first, if you’ve received notice either directly into your webmaster tools account or via your web site manager that you suddenly have been put on notice, right off the bat, don’t panic. The thing is, it’s likely that hundreds of thousands of websites received the same notificatiosn you did, as Google added a handful of new information to the guidelines as to what constitutes following the guidelines. So first piece of advice, don’t panic, allow your web team to step back and go through your website and it’s backlink profile to see what may be coming up as having run afoul of the algorithm update.

Once that time has been taken to go over the message you’ve received then you can put into place a plan to take care of any issues that are being outlined. In the mean time, what you can do as a site owner to help your own cause, is to go over your pages and its content. Give your main landing pages a thorough run through, make sure you take the time to read your content with an open view and try to imagine what your target user would see. A quick and simple test, read your content out loud to yourself, if it doesn’t sound right, chances are you need to clarify your message. The content you have on your site has to be clear and consistent across all of your pages in order to be viewed as an authority in your market. The higher the quality of your content, the easier it will be for the search engines to determine what your market is. It sounds like we’re a broken record sometimes, especially to our long term clients when we ask them over and over again to refine their content, but high quality unique content is your number one key element that is required for online success.

Once you’ve taken care of your on site performance, you need to make sure that the time is taken to examine your off site strategy. There are a handful of steps that you’re in control of as a site owner, and once you follow the below steps the rest is in the hands of the algorithm and the Google machine. If you’ve been notified that you have bad backlinks coming to your site, then first things first, you need to get your hands on that list. You can generate your inbound links list, all of the backlinks that Google has picked up at any rate, via your webmaster tools account. You might have a handful of backlinks, or you could have thousands. Once you’ve generated that list, you either need to take the time to go through it to determine what looks like spam and what fits your market. If you don’t have the time to go through your list, or your list is in the thousands, there are link audit services which can help speed your process along; if you have a dedicated web team this should be a non-issue. One of the last steps you have available to you as a site owner is to request that a link to your site be removed, the unfortunate side of this request is you have no way to force a link removal. But once you’ve requested it, if it hasn’t been removed you can use the link disavow tool through your webmaster tools account to tell Google to ignore the backlink pointing to your site. Once you’ve followed these basic steps you can submit your site for a reconsideration with the search engines, and then you have the hardest task of all. You need to be patient and wait.

Back Link Traps and How To Avoid Them

May 17, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

linkfishLet’s face it, sometimes regardless of how much you may want to hire an SEO agency to help you with your site you just cannot come up with the necessary budgetary needs. It happens, it’s happened to people who’ve called us for help and it will continue to happen so long as the internet exists. I’ve written extensively about the power of high quality content that you create with the intent of engaging your audience and make the desired conversions. As time intensive as it is to properly create content on your site, working to build a proper back link profile is even more time intensive, and has to be done more carefully than crafting your content.

Building up a relevant back link profile is one of the best things that you can do help increase your visibility in the ranking pages. The downside for you if you need to do it yourself though, is the time required to properly build that profile. One of the first points you need to realize about building links to your site or content, is that regardless of what you may read, the search engines know when you’re building links and so long as you keep two major points in mind, they’ll work for you and not against you. The first thing you need to keep in mind is the relevance of the link you’re working to gain – is the site you’re pitching relevant to you and your niche? It doesn’t matter if they can hook you up with thousands of back links if they’re not relevant to your site, it’ll look to the search engines like you’re trying to cheat your way to the top with spammer tactics – a big negative mark in their books. The other major consideration you need to keep in mind once you’ve determined the relevance of the site, is you need to be mindful of the site owner and if they provide backlinks to other site owners who approach them – and what those links may be. It’s a case of guilty by association in this case, and even if you’ve done everything perfect, all of your work on sticking to the rules can be thrown in the trash if you’re not careful with who you ask to provide you with a link profile.

The second most important issue regarding building your own back link profile that you need to keep in mind is the cost associated. You need to understand that even if you’re doing the work yourself to build your links, your time is valuable and if you’re working on your online profile, you’re not selling your product or services. In other words, don’t mess around with your site or your business, it’s what pays your bills and keeps food on your table. To understand that your time is valuable is important, because it keeps the emails and phone calls offering to sell you links in perspective – if you value your time at $200 per hour for example, and it takes you a few days to curate back links properly, how can someone who doesn’t know you, or your business, come along with 10,000 back links for only $50? Staying away from link sellers is one of the most important steps you can keep in your mind, as all it takes is one link in the wrong place to sink your site. If you can’t afford to hire an agency to do it right, make sure you take the time to do it right and stay away from the seemingly easy solutions, because if it seems too good to be true, then it most likely is.

Most Common Website Mistakes

May 16, 2013   //   by freshtraffic   //   internet marketing  //  Comments Off

When you’re building that fancy new website for your business, there are always a handful of problems that you can run into. Sometimes it’s because of being unfamiliar with the way the web works, and sometimes it has to do with trying too hard. No matter what the issue is boiled down to, it can always be remedied, but here are some of the most common mistakes new site owners tend to make.

WebsitegoalsYou’ve built yourself a singing, dancing website that can identify exactly what what your visitors are after with just a couple of mouse clicks. But that kind of technology comes at a cost, and if your site takes a long time to load (longer than 10 seconds) it’s most likely that you’re actually losing out on more visitors than you engage. Some of the easiest ways to avoid long loading times are to avoid the use of fancy ui elements based on Flash and don’t use images or animations where text will suffice. This is even more important with the recent growth in the mobile market, where internet connections are slower than what you experience with a pc. If you’ve already built your site and it’s incorporated some of these elements already, before you run off and completely tear your site apart, check it’s loading time first. If your load times are good, then your real need to redesign is based more so on the search engines side of the equation, flash and animations aren’t indexable by the spiders so the sooner you can step away from graphical designs that may be hiding your content, the better.

With the billion or so members on Facebook alone, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine that business owners would forget that it’s a major part of the internet. And yet, it’s still a common enough occurrence to find out that a new client has nothing in the way of a social media offering, let alone reaching out to their customers or clients using those channels. There is a growing trend as of late with the search engines which is starting to take into account your social engagement level. While they still aren’t as important as a strong back link profile, social signals are increasingly becoming a sign of trust that lends legitimacy to your website. Flexing your social media muscle requires more than testing the placement of your social share buttons on your site, you need to generate content that demands to be shared, and engage in regular interaction with your target audience. It’s a simple enough issue to work around however, and it really just takes the time to understand your audience to make it work for you.

One of the most common mistakes that we’ve seen the last while with new clients especially, is the heightened focus and awareness of search engine optimization. Carefully crafting your content and your pages with or without outside help is not always a bad thing, as it shows that you understand that it’s important, but it becomes a problem when you only focus on the search engines. I found a great two point synopsis of what you should be considering when you’re creating pages and content for your site: if your keyword is in the title of your article, and it’s what the article is about, you’re well on your way. To make it even plainer, stop worrying about what the search engines see and think about your customers. It doesn’t matter if you can rank in the top spot if your content and delivery is crap, it’s your visitors that make you profitable. Craft your site and pages for your visitors, and the algorithms will do the rest.