Summer storms continue for SEO with Google’s latest changes

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I mentioned in a previous blog post that the world of search is in for a stormy summer with algorithm changes that initially hit in mid-May.

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the search results is a greater diversity of web sites represented on Google, particularly on the first page of results. It’s a lot less likely that any site will be able to dominate the results page for a particular keyword with multiple listings from the same domain.

Back in the day, Google had no limitations on how often your site could show up on the first page or subsequent pages. When users got tired of seeing the same results, Google changed the algorithm. Then companies discovered that if they used sub-domains they could game the algorithm and still obtain multiple results. Again, Google adjusted.

The latest storm hit with Penguin 2.0, when Google took further action against domain clustering. Not only is it less likely to get multiple positions on Page 1, the same now holds true for Pages 2, 3, 4 and so on. Google now says that the only time multiple results will happen for a single keyword research is when a site is really, really good match.

Google wants diversification, so that’s what you are going to get. The result is that many very well optimized sites will see search engine reports that show a significant drop in the number of Top 30 listings. There’s no way around it, and if you try to dupe Google, they will adjust.

The best way to prepare for future algorithm storms always comes back to one thing, CONTENT. It’s simple, continue to develop high quality content and you will be rewarded. Diversifying pages and keywords throughout your site will increase the number of keywords for which you can rank.  Greater keyword use on more pages will equal more traffic.

So lessen the chance of future storms by being more diverse with content.   Soon enough warm days and sunny skies will prevail.

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5 Reasons for Making Your Website Responsive

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Having a responsive website design means that your site will change the way it is displayed depending on which device the visitor is using. Whether on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, or any other device, your website will resize and reposition its elements to fit the space accordingly.

If you are thinking about making the change to responsive design, here are some reasons to consider making the move:

  1. It will save you time and money. 
    You and your web developers won’t have to duplicate the efforts of creating websites for multiple devices. And, once the site is built, you will not have to update information on multiple websites. You will create one site and make one set of edits that will render across all platforms.
  2. Your site will have more longevity. As screen sizes and shapes change over time, as they always do, your website will adjust to the space accordingly.
  3. It will help your SEO. The coding for responsive design is based on industry standards and is SEO-friendly. Not only that, but Google has stated that it supports and recommends the use of responsive design.  (Actually, Google warns that sites not properly configured for mobile devices will be negatively impacted in rankings. Eek!)
  4. Your competitors might already be incorporating responsive design.  If this is the case, (and, since Google prefers sites with responsive design), your competitors could be out-ranking you for this reason.
  5. It’s wise to cater to a growing audience. Smartphones and other mobile devices are continuing to increase exponentially in popularity, so it’s more important than ever to have a website that renders properly on these devices, as well as any other.

It’s important to realize that, when building a responsive website, additional planning, coding and testing will be involved, so the cost will be slightly higher than a traditional website design. But, keep in mind, your new design will reach a more widespread audience and your SEO rankings could certainly benefit, so the additional costs will be well worth the initial investment.

If you would like discuss more about making the transition to a responsive website design, please call John Inama at 877-799-9994, or fill out this form.

 

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What’s a good website and SEO worth to your business?

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Although most of our clients are manufacturers or other businesses operating in the B2B space, we find a huge range of attitudes among them in how they value their websites.

Some treat it as a nuisance – throw it up there and forget about it until it comes time to talk about budgets and why the marketing isn’t working. “Maybe we can cut some cost on that website.”  You mean, the one you haven’t updated in five years or ever optimized?

Meanwhile, others consider it as an important element to their overall marketing, a complement to their tradeshow or print advertising programs. Or, better yet, their website is the vehicle they use to continue procuring prospects after their tradeshows or print ads have come and gone.  These are the companies that regularly identify things that need to be updated or ask questions and take the recommended action to improve performance.   And, yes, these are the companies that see consistent or growing site traffic and sales leads, and resulting new business.

One type of customer will question a minimal hosting fee, while the other will look at a $1,000 change on their site and say “Hey, if it gets me one customer, it’s worth it.”

And, generally, these attitudes play out the same way when it comes to search engine optimization.

The ones who really don’t value the contribution their websites can make to their overall marketing and sales efforts are the ones who don’t understand or accept that SEO is not a one-and-done type of program.

The companies that really want or expect their websites to be lead generating understand you have to make the full commitment to SEO. After all, no matter what industry or business you operate in, there are only 10 spots (usually) on page one of Google – you can’t expect to get to the top without making the necessary effort.

And, whether you decide to make that commitment or not, your competitors may already have.

For a free evaluation of your website to determine what it needs to become a lead-generating tool, contact John Inama at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 or fill out this form.

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Slideshare leverages existing resources to boost SEO effort

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A Pilot Fish tip of the hat goes to Acme Wire Products Co., a long-time client that posted its first optimized SlideShare.net presentation this week.

SlideShare provides a nifty website that allows users to post PowerPoints and PDFs for the entire world to view. But the site isn’t just a great place to curate your company’s business presentations.

SlideShare, which allows users to incorporate links from their presentations back to their own websites, is also a great place to get the backlinks that Google and other search engines use as part of their determination of how to rank websites.

Acme Wire Products’ slideshow, which features the initial design and engineering steps the custom wire fabricator takes as it prepares a new project for production, illustrates the best way to take full advantage of the benefits SlideShare offers. The presentation includes:

  • Important search terms throughout the text;
  • Links back to key sections of Acme Wire Products’ website;
  • A clear call to action, directing viewers to contact Acme Wire for more details.

A nice bonus: The images and information are part of the existing digital factory tour on Acme Wire Products’ website, allowing the company to leverage work that’s already been completed.

In the coming months, Acme Wire Products will repurpose additional tour images to further highlight its custom wire fabrication expertise – and to gain more links back to its website.

Slideshare presentations are just one element of a comprehensive search engine optimization program. Fill out this form or contact John Inama at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 to learn more.

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Does your website give a good first impression?

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If you’re old enough to remember the agony of selecting the “perfect” resume paper while looking for your first job, then you understand the meaning of “making a good first impression.”

Times have certainly changed since then; with online job applications, resume paper has become obsolete. But, making a good first impression still remains important, even if the means have changed.

And, just like updating your resume, you need to periodically review and update your company’s website to ensure sure that it’s telling the most accurate and compelling story about your business – giving a good first impression for prospects who will find your site through the web.

One of our new clients, Bay Valve Service, Inc., of Seattle, recently went through that exercise and realized it was time for a fresh new site design. The nearly 30-year-old valve repair and sales business has grown substantially over time. It now has nine locations and several hundred field and shop technicians serving industrial businesses in 13 western states. And it was seriously time for a fresh new site that better reflected the sophisticated business it has become.

Rolled out last weekend, the new Bay Valve Service site does that in spades. In addition to providing significant detail about the company’s capabilities, the site assists potential customers in easily locating the nearest Bay Valve Service shops and the product brands they represent.

BEFORE AFTER

The site incorporates photography taken at each of their locations, providing site visitors a window into the company’s operations.

For job applicants, the company has developed an online job application that enables prospective employees to apply for positions at specific Bay Valve Service locations and upload their resumes.

The site also connects existing customers with the company’s valve tracking software.

Coming up next will be the company’s product inventory, which will enable customers to view and purchase new valve products online.

Managers at Bay Valve Service realized that their website offered the potential to communicate and serve multiple audiences – prospective customers, existing customers and future employees – and set out to develop a site that communicates well to all of them.

That’s called making a good first impression.

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Stormy summer for SEO companies, sites taking link shortcuts

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Recently I’ve done a number of web site audits for prospective clients that have come to us for help. During our normal review process, we look at your SEO strategy from techniques used on your website (ie. keyword use, content quality, tags) and coming into your site (mainly links). What I’m finding more frequently than ever before are sites using a high number of low-quality links to build links back to their site.

For years and even now (unfortunately), low-quality links have oftentimes helped rank your site on search engines. Originally, the thinking was “the more links, the better,” with no thought to the quality of those links. Search engines equate links to relevancy, relevancy to trust, and trust to higher search results. But, some low-quality links, often of the variety where you pay to be in a directory with millions of sites unrelated to your industry, are still counting towards trust as much as the high-quality links that are earned and position you to display your authority on a specific topic. That’s a major flaw in the algorithm.

Last year, Google made its first attempt to penalize sites that take low-quality link shortcuts through its Penguin update. A second update was made in October to have even greater impact, targeting sites that have a high number of links with exact-match anchor text.

Matt Cutts (head of Google’s web spam team) has promises for an exciting summer, with harsh treatment for those taking linking shortcuts. He mentions the following changes, dubbed Penguin 2.1, in a video released on May 13:

  • Rewarding great sites that have high quality content and those that frequently update content;
  • More comprehensive and deeper impact on sites obtaining low-quality links;
  • Adjustments to how Google treats paid links and advertorials, penalizing ones that pass PageRank;
  • New tactics to fight upstream spammers;
  • Better communication with webmasters via Webmaster Tools;
  • Clustering a lesser number of the same site on one result page;
  • Changes to help small- and medium-sized businesses.

So for those of you that haven’t been paying attention or who have previously worked with unscrupulous SEO companies that optimize with low-quality link strategies, your summer forecast calls for mainly cloudy skies, lower than normal temps, and higher than normal precipitation.

For the rest of us, we’re in for a summer filled with lots of sunshine!

 

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Trimming the Fat from Your Website

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Well, here we are again. It’s SPRINGTIME!! Yayyyy!! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and the weather is ab-so-lutely beautiful! Finally, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for! But, as much as we hate to admit it, the sunshine and beautiful weather often tend to shed light on a problem that can cause us a little bit of guilt and embarrassment. You guessed it … it’s those dreaded WINTER POUNDS. *shriek* But, wait, I’m not talking about your waistline. I’m actually referring to the extra, unhealthy weight your website has slowly, but surely, accumulated over the fall and winter months, or who knows, maybe even longer!

Yep, that extra weight tends to sneak up on you, bit by bit, slowly creating those unsightly, virtual love handles. Eh, so you’ve overindulged and added an extra image here and there (doughnut). And, an extra button (pizza). And, a video (potato chips). Uh, … and some rambling text (cheeseburger, French fries, and probably one of those large-sized cola drinks)?? Hey, that’s okay, we’re all guilty of doing this from time to time. It will just take a little bit of hard work and dedication to get your website back into the great shape it was in just a short time ago.

So, where do we begin? How exactly will you get your website back to looking and performing its best? And, more importantly, how will this be accomplished without affecting the overall integrity of your website? Through exercise and a good diet plan, of course.

Let me explain:

Exercise your website.
Exchange that unwanted flab for some muscle. You can begin by replacing any irrelevant content and unnecessary pages with fresh and more recent information. Update your products and images. I’m pretty sure performing these minor exercises will produce some of those magical endorphins everyone is talking about. Your website will be much happier and will be back to functioning at its best in no time!

Feed your website a balanced diet.
With every good weight loss plan, a well balanced diet is required. So, only populate your website with quality information and try to include only material that is useful. Add images that complement your pages, rather than giant, or excessive graphics, that could weigh your pages down, causing a slower download time.  And, finally, supplement your website’s diet by creating a blog and by participating in social media.

If all else fails, hire a personal trainer.
Perhaps you’ve gotten in a little over your head and are feeling overwhelmed doing this on your own. Or, perhaps it’s just time for a complete overhaul of your website. Well, there’s no shame in getting little bit of extra help and support by hiring a personal trainer to do some of the thinking for you. That’s where your SEO company comes in. Working together, you will begin setting, and achieving, reasonable goals and you will be amazed with the results!

Just remember, crash dieting most often leads to failure. So, make this new maintenance regimen a permanent part of your routine. Trust me, you will thank yourself later.

So, good luck to you on battling those winter pounds and on beginning your new journey to a healthier, happier website!

Now, get out there and enjoy some of that sunshine!

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SEO in a Nutshell

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Search engine optimization isn’t difficult. But, as with any well-honed craft, properly implemented SEO requires knowing which knobs to twist.

Here’s a list of SEO knobs that you can turn to make sure your website performs as well as possible on the search engines:

  • Identify search terms that prospects are actually using to find your products and services
  • Include those terms in the coding and text of all your web pages
  • Install analytics coding on each page to track website usage, traffic sources and other useful information (Google Analytics is free)
  • Add new pages based on those terms to your website
  • Make sure to optimize the PDFs  nd images on your website with the search terms you identified
  • Write press releases based on those terms with links back to your website and post via a press release distribution site like prweb.com, prnewsire.com or 24-7pressrelease.com
  • Create a corporate blog and post to it at least weekly – each post should focus on one of those search terms, with links to appropriate pages on your website
  • Create a corporate channel on YouTube and post a  video (with a link back to your website) once each month
  • Create a corporate account on Slideshare and post a slideshow of sales and technical presentations once each month, with links back to related pages on your site
  • Identify blogs where you can submit guest posts – submit one each month, again, with a link to your website
  • Secure and create your company’s profile in the local/business sections of Yahoo, Bing and Google
  • Secure and create your corporate profile on LinkedIn, Facebook  nd Twitter
  • Secure and create your corporate profile on other social media sites like Tumblr, Quora, FlickR and Squidoo
  • Regularly post items to the social media sites that match the kind the content your company can provide
  • Pay for links on business.com, Best of the Web and Yahoo directories
  • Check your site’s search engine rankings at least once each quarter to indentify search terms that you need to work harder on
  • Check your analytics every month to identify areas where you can improve your site’s usability
  • At least once a year, check through your entire site for inaccuracies and correct them

There’s more work that can be done in gaining additional links back to your website and in researching your competitors’ SEO tactics, but the above list covers the essentials that will improve your search engine rankings and, as a result, the number of qualified leads generated by your website.

In a perfect world, you would have one staff member (or maybe even one-and-a-half or two staffers) to devote to search engine optimization. But we all know this world isn’t perfect, and sometimes you need a helping hand to achieve your goals.

If you’re ready to up the ante with your SEO but would like some assistance – make sure to contact us. We’ve been optimizing websites for a long time and can help you get the results your company needs.

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Don’t be a “Don’t Bee” – Websites need active recordkeeping

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I see Susie … and I see Jimmy … and Mikey … and Patsy.

Yep, just like Miss Barbara or Miss Joan or whoever your Romper Room hostess was, I’m calling each of you out, personally, fondly and urgently.

And just as Miss Claire and the rest of the hostesses reminded you to be polite and kind and patriotic, I’m here to remind you to be responsible. Specifically, responsible for the important information about where your corporate website is located and how it can be accessed.

Here’s a list of the basic information you should know about your B2B website:

    1. Domain name registrar
    2. DNS host
    3. DNS record
    4. Website host
    5. Email host
    6. Usernames and passwords

And here’s a quick explanation of each of those items:

1. Your domain name registrar is the company that sold you your domain name. This is the same company that you need to pay every couple years to renew ownership of your domain name.

2. Your DNS host is the home for your website’s Domain Name Servers/Service.

Your DNS is the signpost that tells everyone on the Internet what servers your website and corporate email reside on, along with the location of anything else associated with your domain name. Sometimes your domain name registrar hosts your DNS, but sometimes a different company hosts this. If your DNS is hosted elsewhere, usually your domain name registrar can tell you what company is providing that service for you.

3. The DNS record lists the information on your domain name’s signpost, the most important being:

    a. a name – the server where the website is hosted (usually represented as a string of numbers, called an “IP” [or “Internet Protocol”] address that looks something like this: 12.34.567.8)
    b. mx record – where the email accounts are hosted (usually looks like a wacky website address, something along the lines of this: mx1.willynelson.emailhost.com)
    – There are often more than one “a name” and one mx record – make sure you have a complete copy of everything in your DNS record.

4. & 5. Sometimes, the same company is your corporate website and email host; sometimes, one company hosts the email, and another one hosts the website.

6. You need to have the usernames and passwords for your company’s:

    a. Registrar account

    b. DNS account

    c. Website access (also called “ftp” – or “file transfer protocol” access)

    d. Email addresses

The importance of having all of this information stored securely in a central location in your company’s files (either electronic or paper) can’t be overstated. It’s as crucial for a company to have this information committed to memory as it is for a young child to know his parents’ names and home address and phone number.

Don’t rely on your website host or developer or any other vendor to remember and store this info for you. Having this information easily accessible can save your company time and money when you want – or have – to change anything about your website.

So. Be a “Do Bee” and do record and keep these important details about your B2B website.

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In B2B SEO, sometimes, you don’t get what you pay for

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We’ve all heard the phrase “you get what you pay for,” and it’s probably one you’ve used in exasperation when pushed by a client to match the price of a competitor who’s offering an inferior product or service.

But, when it comes to website design and search engine optimization (SEO), sometimes you DON’T get what you pay for. “What?” You ask. “How can that be?”

The truth is, there are a lot of SEO-ignorant or just flat-out unscrupulous web design and SEO companies that bank on the fact that you know very little about SEO. So, when you ask for a new site that’s optimized for search engines or ask a provider to optimize an existing site, you take for granted that they will, regardless of whether the price they quoted is $5,000 or $500,000.

This is the scenario from which we get most of our clients — hard-working businesses, most in the industrial or B2B space – who put their faith in some web design or “SEO company” and realize months later they’re left with bubkes for all the effort and dollars invested.

It’s not their fault. These industrial and B2B companies asked for the right thing.  They wanted a website that would perform on Google. The problem is, they don’t have the knowledge to determine whether the solution being proposed really is the right way to do SEO or potentially is an outdated version of SEO that no longer works or is no SEO solution at all.

Here are the most common mistakes a web design or supposed “SEO” company will make that cause your site not to perform well on search engines:

  • Offering to optimize just your meta tags. This is a way outdated tactic.  There are now hundreds of elements that go into Google’s algorithm and meta keywords isn’t one of them. But having good, unique Page Titles and Meta Descriptions are important, they’re just not the magic bullet that some companies want you to believe.
  • Equating a beautiful site with having a beautifully performing site. You’ve probably wondered how it’s possible that some po-dunk manufacturing business that built their crappy little website in 1999 is showing up on the first page of Google, ahead of your expensively and artfully redesigned site. The fact is, Google treats ugly and beautiful sites the same way, by ranking them based on the quality of their content and how well they match up to the keyword that the Internet user has just typed in.   But, having a nice-looking site that also performs well on the search engines is important for another reason. Once site visitors click on your link in Google, you want to be sure they view your site as being an expert in your industry – credible and large enough to handle their business needs. The key is making sure that your web design firm understands that beautiful is important, but performance is more important.
  • Using “state-of-the-art” technology that’s not search engine-compatible. Boy does this frost  our new customers when they find out the reason their website doesn’t show up well in the search engines is that their former web design firm built it using whiz-bang technology that the search engines don’t support.
  • Ignoring off-page SEO. Having a well-optimized website now is only about half of the equation for good performance on the search engines. If your SEO company hasn’t talked to you about off-page SEO and content marketing to develop high-quality back links to your site, then you need to run far away, very fast, and find a new SEO firm.
  • Failing to do research. SEO is keyword-driven and not all terms are alike. In order to have a website that can be seen by the broadest number of potential customers, your site needs to focus on the terms that searchers use to find companies like yours. If your SEO company hasn’t done keyword research it can show you, then you’re not with a credible company.  
  • Linking in bad neighborhoods.  For the last several years, there’s been a clamor about getting backlinks to your site for SEO.  Many businesses sprang up from the idea of developing automated link submission platforms or link-buying schemes.  Unfortunately for them and the clients they coaxed into going along with these strategies, thousands of links doesn’t necessarily equate to good SEO.   Reputable B2B SEO companies understand that it’s important to have good quality links from relevant sites.   And, supporting that premise, Google has begun penalizing websites that have an outrageous number of spammy or paid links.  

So, how can an industrial or B2B business looking for a credible web design or SEO company find one?

  • Don’t tell them what you need, ask them what you need. If they can’t tell you what’s wrong with your site, how they will fix it and how the search engines work to rank websites, then they don’t know industrial or B2B SEO.
  • Ask if they do keyword research. You’ll need to pay your SEO company to do the keyword research as part of your SEO plan, but it’s very worth it. It helps guide strategy for button names, page names and topics you’ll need to cover on your website to ensure potential customers can find you and know what you do once they get to your site.
  • Ask for results and references. Any credible SEO company will be able to cite examples of their success and refer you to clients they helped.
  • Don’t base your decision on price. After 17 years of developing and optimizing industrial and B2B websites, we feel pretty comfortable with our quoting process. We’re not the highest priced company out there and we’re not the lowest. We tend to fall somewhere right in the middle. And, among the clients we work with, some spend way more money on their sites with other developers to have them fail, and others spent significantly less and got very little in return before coming to us. Either way, like Goldilocks and the three bears, once they’ve landed here they find out we’re just right.

For a FREE assessment to determine how to improve your industrial or B2B website’s performance, fill out this form or contact John Inama at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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