Posted by Peter Otte on April 27, 2015
Search engine optimization happens to be a topic where there are a lot of opinions drowning out the facts. Because of this, there are a number of myths that have cropped up in the SEO community. Some of them are old; some of them are new. But, they’re all myths, and now seems like a good time to dispel a few of them for you.
- SEO Is Baloney: Make no mistake, the SEO game has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. The search algorithms and methods have changed significantly, and this has led some people to write off SEO entirely. That’s a mistake. While the rules of the game have certainly shifted, the game is still being played whether you’re on the field or not.
- Social Media Doesn’t Matter: You’ve probably read that Google doesn’t take into account social indicators like “likes” and “retweets” when it’s calculating a website’s relevance. That’s true. Those things in and of themselves are not going to drive your SEO strategy. However, that social engagement is extremely important, as it leads to a number of other things that do help your SEO strategy. Don’t neglect social media!
- Quantity Is Better Than Quality: Whether we’re talking about links, content or something else, there’s a tendency in the community to believe that more is better. That’s not the case. Quality is what’s most important. The external links that point to your site should only come from reputable sources. If you’re talking content, you need something that engages readers and inspires shares. Quantity can’t accomplish these things; only quality content can.
These are the first three SEO myths that I want you to think about. Next week, I’ll take up the final three.
Posted by Peter Otte on April 20, 2015
First thing’s first. If you’re currently duplicating content across your domain in order to improve your search engine ranking, then this is a practice that you will want to discontinue immediately. Google and other search engines consider this to be malicious, and your page ranking could be adversely affected, or your website could become delisted altogether.
Of course, there are a number of different reasons that you may have duplicate content. For example, you may offer printer-friendly versions of specific pages, or you may have information about a product on multiple pages. In theses cases, there are things you can do to avoid duplication penalties.
- Use canonical URLs: If content is available through multiple URLs, then you will want to mark your preferred URL – the one you want search engines to access – with a canonical tag. This can be done by inserting rel=”canonical” into the <link>
- Use “noindex” meta tag: This tag can be used to signal the search engines that you do not want a given page to be seen by their webcrawlers. This is for printer-friendly versions of pages and things of that nature.
- Expand content: For multiple pages where the same content must be present, expand what’s on those pages with content that’s specific to the page’s purpose.
- Collapse content: In places where expanding content isn’t possible, combine the numerous pages that contain the same content into one page.
By employing these different methods, you should be able to successfully avoid penalties for duplicate content. Further, you will improve your users’ experience, both on your website itself and as they access it through a search engine.
Posted by Peter Otte on April 13, 2015
Have you been dragging your feet about getting your website ready for the mobile world that we’re entering? Well, you’re running out of time! Mobile isn’t just becoming important for businesses; it’s becoming important for search engines, too. As a matter of fact, if your website isn’t judged to be mobile friendly, your page rank, especially with mobile users, could be severely affected.
So, how can you find out if your website is mobile friendly? It’s actually incredibly simple. The fine folks at Google offer a free tool that will examine your website and determine if everything is on the up and up:
Here, all you have to do is put in your domain, and then wait for the results to be tabulated. If everything is great, then you’ll receive a green banner that says, “Awesome! This page is mobile friendly.” There will even be a picture that shows what Google sees when it looks at your webpage.
If things aren’t as they should be, then you’ll receive a red banner that says, “Not mobile-friendly”. In addition, Google will inform you of what errors it found on your page. For example, it may tell you that links are placed too closely to one another, or that the text is too small when displayed on a mobile screen.
So what happened when I took the test? I didn’t pass! I was flabbergasted since my site is responsive. So it just goes to show that you may have a mobile site and still receive red warnings from Google. Search engines aren’t perfect but we know how important they are. We’ve been working on the change for several weeks now and we should meet the April 21st deadline.
For those of you who find yourself in the red, it’s time to take action. It’s entirely possible that you may only need to make a few tweaks to your site’s overall design. In most cases, though, you may need a complete redesign. If you find yourself in this last category, then don’t be afraid to get in touch. We’re always here to help you make your website all that it can be.
Posted by Peter Otte on April 6, 2015
This week’s post is aimed more at WordPress users, but the principles apply to every platform. If the terms are unfamiliar, just send me an email and I’ll see if I can help sort it out.
WordPress is popular for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that, when used properly, it is incredibly search-engine friendly. That being said, many WordPress users make the mistake of overlooking a few important things, which serves to undercut many of the SEO strategies they may be employing. If you think you might fall into this category, take a look at these WordPress SEO mistakes and their solutions.
- Not Having a Sitemap: Sitemaps provide an easy way for webcrawlers to get around your site, which makes it dramatically easier for them to index its content. There are a variety of WordPress plugins that can create a sitemap for you, but one of the best, which you should use if you already haven’t, is Google XML Sitemaps.*
- Not Categorizing Content: Your keyword game can be on point within your content, but if webcrawlers can’t easily get to that content, then it’s not going to do you any good. WordPress makes it easy to break up your content into categories and subcategories – make sure that you’re doing this. Not only does it help with indexing, it makes your website more usable for visitors too. Also, be sure that you’re appropriately tagging your posts.
- Forgetting About Meta Titles and Descriptions: Once indexed, search engines will use your meta titles and your meta descriptions on their results pages. So, make sure that you’re updating this information for your blog posts. WordPress doesn’t do this out of the box, but there are many plugins, including this one, that can add meta titles and descriptions to your blog posts.
In addition to correcting these common WordPress SEO mistakes, make sure that you’re following commonly accepted best practices for keywords, linking and the like.
*If you are not using WordPress, I can also recommend xml-sitemaps.com; there are simple instructions for entering the url of your site and then the app will generate an XML sitemap. You will need to upload the file to your FTP site manually, however.
Posted by Peter Otte on March 30, 2015
If you are using WordPress, Weebly, Wild Apricot, or another platform with a built in blog function, you’ve likely already taken more than a few steps to ensure that your on-site optimization is up to snuff. However, on-site optimization is an ongoing battle, and you’ll need to pay close attention to it as you add more and more content to your blog. In order to make sure that your on-site optimization remains as effective as it can be, follow these tips for crafting blog posts that are SEO friendly.
- Title: In addition to explaining what your post is about, be sure that you’ve included the relevant keywords in your blog post titles.
- URL: The URL for any blog post should be identical to the page’s title, which, as mentioned, should include the relevant keyword or keywords.
- Body Content: When writing the content of your blog posts, make sure that you including your relevant keywords naturally and not over often. Generally speaking, your blog posts should be 300 words or longer. Finally, make sure your blog posts are formatted with an eye toward readability, and that you break up longer posts with subheadings.
- Tags: Using tags for your blog posts is always a good idea, just be sure that you’re not overdoing it, and that you’re not using tags that are irrelevant to the post’s topic.
- Images: Search engines can’t look at the content of your images, but they can read their alt tags, so make sure that you’re including them.
- Internal Links: Including internal links within your posts that lead to other posts on your blog is a good idea. However, be sure that the two posts are thematically linked to one another.
Most importantly, make sure that you’re keeping your blog current, as regular posting is one of the most important things driving any blog’s SEO efficacy. Also, remember that it takes around 30 posts before search engines notice your blog.
Posted by Peter Otte on March 23, 2015
Advertising through Facebook is becoming an increasingly important part of every business’s online strategy. Not only can advertising through Facebook help to sell more of your products and services, it can also help to raise your business’s profile, boosting its relevance on popular search engines. If you’ve been considering adding Facebook advertising to your overall marketing plan, then check out this simple guide to creating an effective Facebook advertisement:
- Choose the Right Image: Facebook is overwhelmingly a visual platform, so make sure you choose the right image. Most marketing experts agree that pictures of people perform best, as do pictures of children and animals. Whatever image you choose, though, make sure that it stands out well against Facebook’s blue and white color scheme.
- Make a Compelling Title: If you use Facebook, then you know how fast you scroll through your newsfeed. If you want your ads to get clicks, then you’re going to need titles that have a clear call to action. Ideally, your ad should make sense to a reader even if they don’t look at the body text.
- To Brand or Not: You don’t have a lot of space with a Facebook ad title, so carefully consider whether or not you want it to include your brand name. If you think people will recognize it, then it might make sense. Otherwise, your limited space is probably better spent with a well-wrought CTA.
- Choose Your Audience Wisely: Since Facebook allows you to narrowly target your ads at specific demographics, be sure that you’ve taken the time to carefully consider your ideal customer. Facebook ad campaigns often hinge on this crucial step.
By following these tips, you should have the basics down for running an effective Facebook advertisement. As always, make sure you keep a careful eye on the metrics, as these will tell you how you should adjust your Facebook advertising strategies for the future.
Posted by Peter Otte on March 16, 2015
Every week I send out a genuine tip that will help you improve your site’s search engine visibility. If you would like us to review your web site, please feel free to contact us. The initial consultation is free.
Internal links, simply, are those which join together the separate pages on any given website. These links are most important for SEO purposes in terms of establishing your site’s architecture. A well-constructed site is one that’s easy for a search engine to crawl and has a clear and consistent hierarchy. In order to ensure that your internal links work to your advantage, follow these best practices:
- Categories / Subcategories: When possible, try to organize the content of your website into categories and subcategories with internal links moving from one to the next. Think of how Amazon is organized, and follow suit.
- Fewer Links are Better: If you follow a rigid hierarchy, this should naturally lead to fewer internal links per individual page. Fewer internal links is better, because it doesn’t dilute your “link juice” – which is passed from page to page – as much.
- Use Descriptive Anchor Text: The anchor text for your internal links should let the reader and the web crawler know where the link is going. That being said, if there are multiple internal links to the same page, make sure you change up the wording of those links.
- Don’t Link Unrelated Pages: Make sure that there’s a logic as to why one page on your website links to another. If such logic doesn’t exist, it could lead to penalization.
- Make Sure Pages Aren’t Hidden: If there are pages on your site that aren’t internally linked from somewhere, or are hidden behind something a search engine won’t crawl (like a form), then they might as well not exist as far as a search engine is concerned.
Choosing to follow these best practices for internal links won’t just help with your SEO strategy, it will also help to make your website more useful and easier to navigate.
Posted by Peter Otte on March 9, 2015
Google and other search engines are always updating their algorithms, and they are increasingly shifting toward privileging “quality content”. Because of this, it’s getting harder and harder to know how best to include keywords on any given website. Believing that the more keywords the better, there are many business websites that are currently being penalized by search engines for “keyword stuffing”.
By following this guide, you should be able to examine your business’ website to see if it could be considered a keyword-stuffed one by search engines.
- Avoid Unnatural Repetition: If in reading over you content, you notice that the same keyword or phrase is popping up over and over again, take steps to rid this from your content.
- Don’t Use Keywords in Anchor Text: Not long ago, this was SEO best practice. Now, not so much. Instead of anchoring your links to keywords, anchor them on long phrases or naked web addresses.
- Ignore Keyword Density: For whatever reason, many SEO websites and ‘experts’ still recommend that you focus on keyword density (the percentage that your keywords make up the content). Despite what they tell you, or what you might believe, keyword density is a meaningless metric.
- Focus on Content: Given that keyword density has no effect on your SEO strategy, you should instead focus on making your content the very best in can be. Of course, you should use your keywords, but only to the extent that they fit naturally within your content. Moreover, make sure you are tying your keywords to your headers.
If you keep these four things in mind as you examine your site’s content and add new content, you should ensure that you do not practice keyword stuffing. As a general rule, though, you can follow the age-old adage: When in doubt, leave it out.
Posted by Peter Otte on March 2, 2015
Perhaps moreso than Facebook, Twitter provides an excellent venue for boosting your business’s visibility and for gaining social media traction. On Twitter, it’s simply easier to share yourself and your content, which in turn inspires others to share your business – thus benefiting your overall SEO strategy. In order to do this, though, you’re going to need followers. To get those followers, here are some things that you can do:
- Follow Others: With a little bit of research, you should be able to determine who the influential Twitter users are in your business’s field. Find them and follow them.
- Participate in the Dialogue: Once you’ve located influential people within your industry, make the effort to participate in a dialogue with them. Not only will this inspire those influential users to follow you, but that user’s followers might follow suit as well.
- See What’s Trending: You can also boost your business’s profile by participating in the dialogue surrounding trending topics. Just be sure to understand the trending topic before you weigh in.
- Include Your Twitter Handle on Your Website: Make it easy for people that visit your website to find your Twitter account. If you’re using WordPress, there are a variety of plugins that will put your Twitter posts directly on your homepage.
- Include Your Twitter Handle Elsewhere: If you send out email newsletters, for example, make sure that you’re providing readers with a link to your Twitter feed. The same goes for other social media accounts you might have.
By following the above tips, you should be able to increase the number of followers your business has on Twitter. Just remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint; building a large follower base is going to take some time.
Posted by Peter Otte on February 23, 2015
Of all of the plugins available for WordPress blogs and websites, “SEO All-In-One” is perhaps the most popular. It makes optimizing your WordPress blog or website for search engines much easier than it otherwise might be. If you’re not already using this for your business’s website or blog, then here’s a down and dirty guide for how to install the plugin and configure it.
- Get the Plugin: You can do this one of two ways; you can use the WordPress automatic plugin installer (where you will see it listed), or you can download the plugin from SEO All-in-One here and upload it to your website yourself.
- Activate the Plugin: After you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll need to activate it. Navigate to your WordPress website’s plugin tab, locate “SEO All-in-One” and activate it.
After the plugin is installed and activated, you will then need to configure it. Here the most important things you should configure:
- Activate Canonical URLs: In order to avoid duplicate content penalties, make sure this setting is active. You’ll find it under the plugin’s general settings.
- Fill Out Your Homepage Information: Be sure to fill in your website or blog’s title, and also provide a description that uses your main keywords and key phrases. Don’t worry about “Home Keywords”, as search engines no longer use these when indexing websites.
- Make Sure Noindex Settings are Active: Archived material can count against your website’s page rank when it’s indexed by webcrawlers. By activating these settings, you’re preventing that from happening.
Outside of the above configurations, there are a lot of other features that are offered by this powerful WordPress plugin. Depending upon the kind of website you have, you will want to investigate some of these other settings. Conducting a simple search about the plugin will yield a bevy of valuable resources for getting even more out of “SEO All-in-One”.