Tagged with " website optimization"
One of the more difficult aspects of being a consistent force online, is being able to show to not only the search engines, but your target audience, that you are approachable as a business. One of the cheapest, and simplest ways to prove to the powers that be is by utilizing the power of social media. The most difficult phase of using social media, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc, is just the time involved in keeping your target audience engaged.
Rolling with the assumption that you have the time to sit down and engage your audience, instead of tweeting and posting everything to your social pages, there are some points which are more beneficial than others to cover. Right off the top, one of the biggest bonuses for you to try and keep on top of would have to be the news that is relevant to your market. If you sell toilets for example, and there has been a revolutionary break through in the industry, you’ll want to let your followers know that you have the newest and best crapper in town. Add in to the mix all of the facts and figures regarding the news is the simplest way to offer up quality information, that is quickly and easily consumed by the search engines and by your followers. People on the whole, love having statistics at their fingertips that allows them to compare products or services at a glance, and if you’re at the top of the offerings and quick to act, you’re greatly increasing your chances at making that next big sale.
Twitter especially is great for pushing out snippets of information quickly, and using a website that greatly shortens a web address (like bit.ly for example) allows you to host information on your site, without eating up your 140 character post limit. Taking the SEO side of the equation into consideration, this allows you to break down your visitor flow through your website, as we can tell at a very quick glance if you’ve been found in the results pages for your organic terms, or if people are flowing into your site via your Twitter or Facebook postings. A growing method in the last year or so especially for offering up quickly digestible information has been the use of infographics. Typically brightly colored and visually appealing, infographics allow you to sell your business and it’s services in a simple format. Prevalent more so on Pinterest and it’s growing userbase, the graphics can help to outline why you’re the best toilet salesman around, with the facts and figures to back it up. Producing any kind of content that can be taken in quickly and visually is one of the roadblocks to leveraging social media to engage your audience, as consistency is greatly important. Your content must resonate with your audience emotionally is the best case scenario. Start by creating a compelling title, one that is clear, concise, and relevant — and maybe even mysterious. Invigorate your social media marketing with bold new content ideas, and you will see your website being boosted with shares across the web.
If you own a website for your business, then the chances are pretty good that either you’ve been contacted by someone who offers to perform SEO for your site, or you’ve realized (hopefully) that the web is the way to go and optimization is another tool in your kit you need to leverage. There is an ongoing problem within the SEO world, however, it is slowly being rooted out and the agencies or people who don’t know really what they are doing are slowly falling to the bottom of the heap.
The chief issue with search engine optimization is that very deep down, at it’s very core, it’s a free service that can be used to help improve your website. The caveat to this though, is that just like every other product and service out there, you get what you pay for. So if someone comes along and offers to sell you full service for only $200, don’t be surprised if you find yourself sinking in the results page. Buying the cheapest SEO on the market is like using a rock you find on the ground to hammer together your new roof on your house, it might work in the beginning, but in the end you’re just going to end up hurting yourself and likely not getting the work done properly in the first place.
Freely available information is the culprit in this regard, it only takes an internet connection to learn “everything” about search engine optimization. The problem with information being available though is that sometimes it’s just not the right kind of advice or information you want to follow. As an example, it wouldn’t take long to Google up the steps to be able to rebuild a basic lawnmower engine, but you wouldn’t be able to even begin to parlay that into rebuilding a jet engine. Both of them power machines in order to provide a service, but are immensely different. The readily available information regarding SEO is most often the type of tactics you don’t want to leverage when trying to have your site listed. A lot of culprits that we see when having someone contact us for help are old tricks which the search engines didn’t much worry about at the time, but the algorithms are much smarter now than they ever used to be, so as a result, you need to be better as well. Over used keywords is one of the biggest culprits where lost ranks are concerned that we see, and even from a user experience stand point, spammy text just looks wrong. If you’ve created your content, or had someone work on your content for you, make sure to give it a very careful read once completed. Read it out loud to yourself, because if it sounds strange when you read it, chances are the search engines will pick up on that and you’re not going to be too thrilled with the results.
Unfortunately, a method which I still see to this day when we have people calling us is the use of hidden text on their site, and they can’t understand why they’re not visible in the results pages. It used to be that unscrupulous SEOs would hide text on the page by matching it with the background color of the page, so the text technically exists on the page, it just isn’t visible unless you select the text with your mouse or view the source code of the page. The search engines decided a number of years ago that this was a method in poor taste used to rank a website, and as such devalues any site using such a method. The list of old tactics to rank a website are incredibly simple to find, and as a general rule of thumb if the person working on your site talks about the tricks that they use, make sure you take the time to look into their methods. They may just be setting you up to sink like a stone.
There is occasionally a great discussion to be had on the topic of search engine optimization, and this passed week was no different. There was a discussion started about how SEO isn’t the same game as when it all started some 15+ years ago, and all I could really chime in on that note with would be – of course it has.
In the beginning, search engine optimization wasn’t comprised of more than a handful of tactics really, as the web hadn’t really started it’s cycle of rapid evolution that we see today. The tactics to rank in the beginning weren’t even that difficult to pick up on, a few links from sites, some keyword spammy content and a decently built site and you could push it up the search results in fairly short order. To be fair, those base elements of the SEO world really haven’t change all that much, it’s just the importance of each factor has changed over time, and continues to change. Your content is your most important factor on your site, it always has been and likely always will be, as it determines your message to the search engines. You need to tell the spiders who you are and what you do, in such a way that your message is heard loud and clear. Your site architecture and design is important as well, but it’s as much from a user interaction stand point as it is a search metric these days, as the spiders are pretty good at discovering your site and it’s pages with even a rudimentary navigation setup.
Being an SEO company we’re often met some criticisms when we’re engaging a new client, as it is unfortunately likely that they have been burned by someone calling themselves an SEO, especially in the last couple of years. And the optimization world has changed so much in the last 5 years or so, especially when you start throwing in the rapidly expanding social web and the signals that tie them all together. Having a responsive web design which can detect whether your visitor is on a PC, tablet or even a cell phone these days is also a contributing factor to the marketing decision as you can immediately turn down a highly qualified visitor just by making your site unfriendly to a mobile audience. Search engines measure your value to the results pages on so many additional metrics now, that it’s important to keep them all in balance with your brand image in mind. It is understandably difficult as a business owner to let loose the reins a little and allow a company like Freshtraffic to do what we do best, but your increased online presence is our job. All of the points I’ve mentioned that affect your marketing online are all the important factors we weigh and measure to ensure you’ve exceeded the recommendations for the search engines. Because increased traffic, means increased conversions, which means more business for you and your employees, and we’re in business to bring you business.
For all of the bonuses of having an online presence, occasionally there is going to be a hiccup. The best you will find a host promise you is to have 99.99% up time, because there will be the occasional circumstances beyond their control. It’s an unfortunate discussion that we have sometimes with clients when they try explaining to us that Sally from Edmonton is having difficulty navigating the website because it isn’t loading properly. All we can do is ensure that the site is up, that it’s operating properly and that the connectivity is fine. Everything beyond those few points, is unfortunately beyond our control.
There are however, some very real consequences if your website does happen to come down due to a coding error, or a database retrieval problem.
For example, in the event that your website goes down, and it could happen for any one of a thousand reasons, you need to be aware that first and foremost that visitors can not currently reach your website. So that means no sales for your products, no emails for your newsletters and no exposure to the social market as well. No website online means you can’t work with your content, and it means that you can’t operate your business at 100% capability. Most hosts only have downtime issues that average, at most, only 20 minutes or so at a time over the course of a year. And in the big picture, that may not seem like a whole lot, but the web isn’t a market that forgives easily or quickly.
Say for instance that your website crashed this moment, and that it was down for only a few minutes while your host plugged your server back in, you wouldn’t think too much of it. But just to play devils advocate, if during that window that your website was down the search engine bots came by, they would see that your website was not only gone, but the entire address is invalid. The next step? Regardless of your position on the web, you would be dropped from the results pages because, well you need a website to be on the results pages and you didn’t have one at the moment it visited. Don’t worry though, because this is an outlier situation and anytime a search engine bot encounters a dead url where there was previously a website, it’ll continue to try until it receives a definitive response.
While we work very closely with our clients, we make it part of our routine to ensure your website has as close to 100% uptime as absolutely possible. We’re always watching your address to make sure that everything is ticking along as it should, because your improved position in search is our primary goal. And you’re not going to get there if we be lazy and allow your website to go offline for an extended period of time.
There are a great deal of rules that determine how to conduct yourself and your business online, and make no mistake, the rules for SEO are some of the least flexible of the bunch. Due to the nature of the web being so flexible as a whole, it’s common to see new Search Experts crop up and whither away in a very short time. There are a lot of myths, misconceptions, and just plain bad advice out there online about search engine optimization, and with that in mind allow me to offer just a little bit of insight.
For all you internet beginners out there, you need to realize that just because you can find a template and put it online, it doesn’t mean you’ve optimized a site for search, let alone basic web use. You need to start with the basics of building and designing a website, clean coding with a navigation menu that is simple to use and crawl-able by bots. One of the more simple methods we use to get across to a new client when we tell them they need a new website, is when we show them the output of a basic spider and it returns a blank page regarding their website. If you don’t make it visible, don’t expect it to rank, regardless of how much time and effort you spend on optimizing it.
One of the necessary components to being able to rank online is by having quality content on your pages. Well written and keyword rich for both the search engines and for your visitors which come to your site, you need to be able to quickly and clearly deliver your message and call to action. This is where some of the time intensive processes come into play, because our goal as SEO’s is to deliver visitors to your site primarily, if you’re unable to convert those visitors however it’s irrelevant how much traffic you get. Your call to action needs to be obvious on your landing pages so that when someone arrives at your site, they know precisely what you want them to do. If you’re into selling merchandise, make your sales or features prominent for example, with contrasting text or images so it stands out to your viewer. You only have around 3-5 seconds to get your message across to the user, so you need to do it quick and clean.
The one last thing you need to remember as a new denizen of the web, is that just because there is the world at your fingertips and the code can do wild and incredible things, doesn’t mean you should use it. The more complicated you make your site, the more you invite something to go wrong, whether it’s with search or with conversions, and when things go wrong online it can be a game stopper for a business. Keep your site simple, and keep your message simple, and you will begin converting your new visitors almost as fast as they’re coming in.
Unfortunately from time to time, we are all fallible. You make a mistake at times, sometimes you burn your dinner, or stub your toe, there is always the chance for something to go wrong; even in the SEO world. Thankfully we are always monitoring your site to make sure to remedy anything if a shift happens in the search algorithms, but what happens if you’re not with us as a client? If you’ve taken your optimization work to someone else, who may not be as diligent as we are, who do you speak to when things go wrong?
Failure in an SEO campaign can come from only a couple of different places, either there was a mistake on the clients end, or the agents end. Contrary to popular belief, it’s somewhat rare that the mistakes come direct from the search engines themselves, but we’ll talk about that another time. So how can you fail your SEO as a client, especially when you’ve hired someone else to do the job for you? It’s not common, but there have been occasions where we’ve requested access either via FTP or CMS so that we may be able to make the changes required for on page SEO, and to be able to react to changes coming from the search algorithms, and we’ve had the occasional client who either can’t, or won’t give us the access we require. In this case we need to rely on you to make any and all changes we need to make, and if you fail to make the changes correctly, or even sometimes quickly enough, you can lose rankings and authority on your site. Making constant content tweaks or changes as well, without letting us know about it also hampers our SEO efforts, and as a net result can drive you down the list instead of up. Those are really the two major instances where you can cause your own demise.
It isn’t all roses and sunshine for the SEOs though, and just because we’re the best in town doesn’t mean that there aren’t snake oil salesmen out there. There are still emails which are sent out actually, which are promising #1 positions in Google in only a few days, and for as little as $200 to boot. First rule of life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is greatly applies in this case. If someone has contacted you to work on your SEO promising those kinds of returns, then you need to realize that first off, they’re not playing by the rules of the search engines, and if they insist they are they’re probably trying to sell you an Adwords campaign and not an SEO campaign. It is absolutely true that you can rank immediately on page one for your search terms with an Adwords campaign, and you can likely do it for only $200 as well, but pay per click advertising is not organic advertising, and once your money runs out, your ad stops running until you refill the tank. In all honesty there are many more ways that a search engine optimization company or agent can ruin your search positions, but if they have any interest in remaining in business then they’ll do their best they possibly can for you at all times. A little knowledge however is a dangerous thing, and in the case of SEO there are little bits of knowledge scattered about the web, so be sure to ask the questions you need to before you engage a company, lest you have to deal with the consequences later.
When you’ve taken the time and put the cost out to have a website built for your business there are a ton of variables to consider and decisions to be made. I’ve covered a number of those multiple times through our blog, but as I looked back over some of the material I’d written I realized I hadn’t really made clear a certain point, the point of how important the time factor is.
I’ve discussed a number of times how important it is to trust in your online campaigns and realize that web traffic doesn’t just magically appear over night. It is a process to get your site listed legitimately in organic search without trying to find or exploit a viral niche, and it takes time for the bots to properly scour your content and make a decision at that point where you should list. Those few points are deliverables that are the responsibility of your in house SEO or your contracted SEO agency. A very major deliverable on your end as a client however, is a matter of time as well, as in the longer you take to deliver the harder our life gets as search engine optimization experts.
As an example, if you’re working your way into a competitive market and your SEO is asking for content, it’s extremely important that you do not sit on your hands for this. You need to get that content created and delivered as soon as absolutely possible so we can dig into it and make sure it fits in with the rest of the scope of your campaign. The longer you sit on a request for content, the longer and more difficult our job will become, especially in highly competitive niche markets, and what makes our job harder takes longer for your site to climb the ranks. The point of being on the ball when asked for new or updated content is only the tip of the iceberg, though it goes without saying that you should also make sure that your other contract obligations are upheld in a timely manner. The search engines throw out hundreds of optimization tweaks within a year, and it would be an utter loss to both of our businesses if a request goes unfulfilled. Here at Fresh we’re constantly watching your site, for any crawl errors from Webmaster tools for example, and we always make a point of monitoring the news just in case something slips into the algorithm late in the day. We do everything we can to make sure that you’re ranking as high as possible based on your current website and it’s content, just make sure that you deliver on what we need when we ask for it. Lost time can never be found again, and a day on the internet is a year on the street.
Every now and then I try and make it a point to go over the major talking points which seem to come up when we hammer out a contract with a new client. There are some very specific points which usually are the conversation starters, and the biggest issue that often comes up is the monthly cost associated with an SEO contract.
There are some important facts to keep in mind where optimization is concerned, it is a time intensive project which requires constant tweaking, updating and monitoring. Once we’ve performed your on page changes, we need to begin work on your off page campaign where we scour the web looking for highly relevant websites to try and work out backlinks for your site. And for every link that we can build for your site, it adds another factor that we need to keep tabs on. Off site issues include managing Adwords, your social pages and efforts and working on protecting your brand. Your name is everything in business, and if your brand becomes tarnished, you either dig your way out, rename your business and start over, or you can give in. If you’re genuinely great at your job, then none of these points should be a concern to you, as your client interaction and the brand monitoring can help you identify any issues and do some damage control.
That’s only a snapshot of the always on SEO management that we as an agency need to keep in our cross hairs for every single client that we have. As far as on site needs and changes are concerned, we always have to keep watch on your positions and the way that the search game is always changing. The way that the search engines are constantly shifting means that we need to keep tabs on the news and the way that the algorithm shifts, and make sure that we adjust your site to make sure you don’t mysteriously disappear from the results.
And to be perfectly blunt, one of the main reasons we tie a monthly cost to our services, is because of who we are, and who the man behind the company is. You pay to have the ability to pick up the phone and talk, one on one with a team who has a former Google exec at the helm. Our time is valuable, and if you like the idea of being able to pick up the phone and go over your analytics and site traffic with the leading search experts in Winnipeg, we’re gonna charge you. Don’t be bothered about the total cost at the end, concentrate on your sales and conversions and before you know it, you’ll have more business than you know what to do with.
There are many steps to the optimization game, there is the content management side of things, social optimization which takes a lot of hands on time to properly handle, and there is the link building side of the equation. Just like when you work your content to be readable and highly relevant to your niche, you also have to make sure to properly build your back link profile. The level of detail needed to properly sculpt your profile is thankfully left to us SEO experts to make sure it’s done properly. If you would like to try it on your own for some unknown reason though, there are a few rules you need to keep in mind when searching around the web for a back link.
First and foremost one of the largest mistakes you could make when working on link building is to assume a back link from someone in your market or niche. Just because someone may share a complimentary aspect of your market, does not necessarily mean they would automatically like to link with you. By this point in the age of the web, it is thankfully a mostly lost tactic in the back link game. Occasionally you will receive an email saying that a website has created a link to your website, the very first thing you need to do is check the integrity of their website. If necessary webmaster tools can be used to disavow a link to your site if for some reason a request for removal has been ignored.
One of the fastest growing methods of contact between webmasters in the last couple of years has started to come down to social networks. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ there are more than a billion social signals out there with Facebook alone with which to get your name and address out there. You can create your content and flog it under your own banner and work to garner back links based on your own quality. One of the biggest reasons to build your back link profile this way is you are able to say with certainty that the credit for the links is due to your hard work, and not the result of spam emails. Social networking and building your business through the social channels of the web is one of the newer ways to generate buzz, mostly in the local scene but it is a highly effective form of marketing limited only by the time you are willing to put into it.
And one last important tactic to keep in mind when working on your back link profile, is do not fall for some of the contat emails which offer to sell you packages of links. In a best case scenario the links will be useless to your campaign, and at worst, it may serve to sink your website in the rankings. The negative side of this equation is much greater than the positive, as anything worth doing online is worth doing correctly, it can be difficult to recover from a bad link profile so it is best to stay away from easy solutions like an emailed offer.
Every now and then there is a whipped up frenzy on the web and blogs about the dangers of SEO agencies and experts, and that the game is rigged so that unless you pay for advertising you may as well be lost on the web. While there is always someone out there trying to make a quick buck, even just a little bit of research can help clear your conscience.
When you are approached by an agency to help your company with SEO, there are a handful of basic checks and balances you can use to decide whether or not it is worth your time, and your money, to accept their services. One of the first things you can, and should do when contacted by someone professing to be SEO experts, is to find out what their website address is. Seek them out and have a look at their website for yourself, does it look like the type of website that search professionals would use? Their message should be clear on their site, and their skills in online marketing should be obvious. Ideally you should be able to perform a search for the terms you find on their site, and find them listed in the top of page one, for most if not all of them. After all, if they are experts at SEO, it should be a simple affair to find them in search.
If they are not apparent on their website, you should be able to also ask for a list of referrals from existing clients of theirs. If they have done their job well enough, there should be no problems with providing a list of clients or testimonials, that are able to confirm their skills as an online marketing firm. Search engine optimization is much more than just being able to get your site listed in organic or paid search listings, they should also have been able to demonstrate they can also assist with improving conversions on their clients websites.
A very telling point as to the type of SEO you’re dealing with as well, is unfortunately one of cost. Real website optimization is a time intensive project, and not one that is a short term solution. It takes its time to work, and if done properly can help position your site with a positive gain in ranking. To have an SEO agency properly help your rankings, it will not come at a small cost. If the price seems to be too good to be true for improved search positions, then it likely is. So if someone has approached you and offered a one shot at being able to improve your ranks for only a minimal cost be very wary of their services.
Your website is your storefront on the internet, and if you engage the wrong agency or expert to try and improve your listings, you may end up where you least want it – removed from the index.