Are you ready? 2017 is going to be the year of mobile

Are you ready? 2017 is going to be the year of mobile

Having a mobile website is no longer an option. It is a necessity. In this article, we’re going to show you how to prepare your website for this.

A mobile friendly website is a must-have in 2017

What is mobile friendly?

Even if you have a mobile-ready website, it is important to check the usability on mobile devices. The fact that your website can be displayed on mobile devices does not necessarily mean that your site is also easy to use. A mobile friendly site should be easy to navigate, load quickly & be visually pleasing across all sized mobile devices and tablets.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, people are more likely to leave your site. In addition, people are likely to leave your site if it does not load fast enough. So usability and speed are as important as each other!

Google’s mobile-first index

Until now, Google ranked web pages based on the desktop version of the site. This is going to change. Google announced that they are working on a mobile-first index that is going to rank pages based on the mobile versions.

Google has published several resources that help you to make sure that your web pages are mobile-friendly:

Mobile optimization checklist

There are some things that you should check to make sure that your website works fine on mobile devices:

1. Use responsive website design

Google recommends responsive design to make sure that your web pages work with mobile devices. If there isn’t any strong reason not to use responsive design, you should use it for your website.

Responsive website design makes sure that your web pages ‘respond’ to different screen sizes. The content is always the same but the design changes based on the size of the screen. The design of your website will be slightly different on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones. You can simulate this by changing the width of your web browser window.

If you use WordPress to create your web pages, just download a responsive template and adjust it to your needs. Other content management systems also offer responsive templates. Changing your website to a responsive design is the very first thing that you should do.

2. Improve the speed of your website

The page speed is always important. Even if your website loads fast on a WiFi connection, it might be very slow on a mobile data network. You can test the speed of your website here.

The test tool will show you the things that could be improved, for example: eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content, enable compression, optimize images, minify CSS, etc.

If you use WordPress, you can use plugins (cache, etc.) that will fix these things for you. Google recommends a page loading time of 2-3 seconds.

3. Improve the user experience on mobile

Mobile users are goal-oriented. They want to achieve their goal quickly and easily. There shouldn’t be a need to zoom, there shouldn’t be a confusing navigation and the touch elements should be big enough. Google has published design guidelines that might help you. You can find them here.

Here are some things that you can do to make your mobile site easier to use:

  • Make calls to action easy to see.
  • Keep your website menu short and sweet.
  • Provide an easy way to get back to the home page.
  • Don’t distract website visitors from the main goal by adding promotions for other items, etc.
  • Provide an easy to use site search feature.
  • Make the shopping experience as easy as possible.
  • Streamline your forms and use the simplest form item for each task.
  • Don’t make your visitors pinch to zoom.

After changing your web pages, let real people test your site. Non-technical people who do not work in your company might find things that you haven’t thought of.

Get a competitive advantage

Optimizing for mobile isn’t rocket science. It is some work to adjust your web pages but the results are more than worth it. Without a mobile website, your website is going to be invisible in the future.

We offer tools for mobile optimization. For example, we use an Optimizer tool that enables us to optimize your pages for Google’s mobile results.

The Ranking Monitor tool checks the position of your pages in Google’s mobile results. We offer many powerful tools that will help you to get better rankings on Google and other search engines.

How Social Media benefits SEO

Ten years ago, search engine optimization was fairly straightforward:

Make sure the search engines can crawl your site, use the right keywords, and get lots of links. As the engines become more and more sophisticated at delivering personalized results, these traditional SEO signals are no longer enough. Social media, however, specializes in the signals that search engines crave: identity and relationships.

Search engines are working on making their results ever more personalized so that their search results will contain more content directly relevant to you, either based on location, past behavior, or from people you know or are likely to trust.

How Social feeds SEO:

By understanding that identity and relationships are important to search engines and therefore to SEO, we can begin to change our marketing behaviors so that we’re positioned to benefit as the tide swells.

But blasting Facebook posts out that link to your site won’t give you an ounce more link authority in the search algorithms. All reputable social networks strip the link authority from the links off to other sites by using 302 redirects or nofollow attributes. So where exactly is the value to organic search?

  • Indirect link earning. If no one sees your content, regardless of how amazingly awesome it may be, no one can link to it. Social media can be a powerful way to expose masses of customers to engaging content. The more people that see that content and enjoy it, the more likely it is to earn reshares that expose even more people to your messages. Increasing the number of exposures logically increases the number of people who are likely to link to the content on a blog or another site that does pass link authority back to your site.

Recent studies have shown a high correllation between the numbers of Google +1s and Facebook Likes compared to high rankings. Naturally some speculate that social data is already being used in web ranking algorithms, but Google and Bing both deny it. Most likely the rankings are a result of the afore mentioned increased exposure/increased linking relationship.

  • Personalization. Social relationships also create opportunities for your content to show up in individual customers’ personalized search results. For example, If Sally uses Google+ to +1 an informative tips and tricks page on your site, and Sally is friends with Susie, the next time Susie searches for similar tips content she will likely see that Sally liked your tips and tricks page enough to share it.

Your page may display in Susie’s search results purely because Sally shared it, when it wouldn’t have normally been displayed in search results. And the search result will be visually augmented with Sally’s picture and the notation that she shared it. That personalization benefits your ability to rank, your visual appeal to increase click through, and boosts trust based on the relationship between Sally and Susie.

Multiply this interaction by 100, 1,000 or 10,000 and you can understand the widespread impact that personalization based on participation in the right social networks can have. For Google search results, the social network that matters most is Google+. Don’t roll your eyes, there are several very good reasons to participate in Google Plus.

source: practicalecommerce.com

SEO For Google Plus: How to Optimize your G+ profile.

If you want to explore the full potential of some of the most influential social media platforms, you cannot afford to ignore G+ (Google Plus), with its ever-growing popularity or its plethora of amazing marketing opportunities. Facebook and Twitter may be trending these days, but keep in mind that they aren’t the only channels that you should focus on when it comes to creating and applying a successful set of off-page SEO strategies.

Julia Mccoy, from socialmediatoday.com has some handy hints on how to capitalize on SEO results using G+, outlined here:

Not many people are aware that Facebook and Twitter actually stop Google from accessing and utilizing a great percentage of their data. On the other hand, G+ doesn’t keep any secrets. This is only one good reason why you should work on your Google Plus optimization efforts as soon as possible. Here’s an experiment done by the Moz blog on the topic:

“If you use Google+, perform a search for your name and check the domain distribution of first 100 results. The graph below shows what happens when searching my own name.

 

Even though I use Twitter and Facebook far more often, Google+ dominates the search results. Google+ even beats SEOmoz and my own blog. Multiply this for 100’s of millions of people, and you can begin to comprehend the scope of Google’s platform.”

Creating a winning strategy for Google Plus, in 5 easy steps:

1) Optimize Your Profile and Profit from Limitless Editing Power. Start by optimizing your Google Plus profile. This means that you have to complete all fields (profile image, website URL, business details and so on). All in all, your profile should be a mirror of your interests, capabilities, goals, vision, mission and purpose in business. Getting your Google Plus page verified by the mighty Google also helps, since it allows you to build credibility and trust. You should know that Google Plus allows you to erase and rewind. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, this platform offers you the chance to profit from limitless editing power. Therefore, you can go back to your old posts and fully edit them, anytime, anywhere.

2) Make Sure Your G Plus Title Tags Are Optimized. The very first sentence of your G plus posts becomes a part of your title tag; therefore it can impact your rankings and maximize your click-through rates. Opt for the most relevant keywords and note that the title is the first thing that people analyze before reading your post. Your title tags should be short (around 65-75 characters), compelling and concise.

3) Get in Touch with Influencers. Be sociable and always give people something to talk about. Make new connections. Add new people to your circle; ask other users to add you to their circle, share a post with a few influencers, tag them in a photo, mention them in posts, start meaningful conversations, invite them to an event and so on; just make sure you don’t cross the line. Strangers who are a tad too friendly on Google Plus are often cataloged as spammers and get banned till the end of times.

4) Count on a Killer Author Pic. Cyrus Shepard from Moz has conducted an experiment with his Google Plus profile pic. The results were amazing and predictable to some extent: in a world in which looks are extremely important, your profile pic says a lot about you and your competencies. A perfect (real), professional-looking picture of yourself taken in a very flattering light can boost your website traffic.

5) Stay Active. Whatever you do, do something. Inactivity is one of the capital sins when it comes to social media marketing strategies. You don’t want to be one of the many inactive users that have a Google Plus account, but refuse to put it to good use for one reason or another. Give your readers at least one good reason to use the 1 button. According to Business2Community, you can accomplish this goal by simply:

  • Posting quality content on a regular basis
  • Creating and updating content based on the needs, interests and expectations of your audience
  • Connecting Google Plus to your website and all your social extensions

Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to connect your web content to your Google Plus profile via Google Authorship. This is the simplest method to reaffirm your authority, increase your influence and enable readers to identify your content in no time.

 

5 (more) reasons your business needs a blog.

Smart article over on Small Business Bliss. You’ve probably heard it all before in a dozen different places, but maybe never as succinctly. Here are the basic reasons a blog solves all of your major online marketing needs in one simple, compact package. If you want to know why a blog must literally be the beginning and end of your basic online marketing approach, look no further.

Those clients of ours blogging successfully will know how important this strategy is, and those readers who arent clients of ours but blog successfully will also know. It really is the basis of your social media platform and essential.

Read the article in detail and talk to us about setting up a successful blog strategy.
5 reasons your business needs a blog.

5 reasons why your ecommerce site should have a blog

Selling online is getting harder these days. As more and more big-box retailers shift their focus to ecommerce, remaining competitive takes more than low prices and a website. This is especially true if your products are not unique.One easy way to break out from the pack is with a blog.

Why a blog?

An ecommerce blog can really make a difference if it’s done right. That means keeping it updated keeping it fresh, and posting interesting and relevant material that your customers want.

How can a blog help your online store? Here’s 5 ways it can have an impact…

1. SEO SEO SEO

It’s no surprise that a blog can help with your search engine rankings. Google loves updated content. They also love content that is written in a way to be appealing to living, breathing humans.

As Google’s search system evolves, it’s gone beyond measuring keywords and links. It’s now looking at how well a web page will resonate with readers. Does it contain information people want to find? Is it being shared at places like Facebook and Twitter?

A blog fits this mold perfectly. You write a title for a post that appeals to your customers. The content is about a single theme and is relevant. Google realizes this and gives your blog post a higher ranking for the topic you wrote about.

BUT, make sure each blog post is focused and contains words and phrases related to your product line/ industry. The more focused, the better it will rank with the search engines.

2. Connect with customers

Although people buy products based on price and ease of ordering, they also will buy from a website they know and trust. If your website is just another store that doesn’t stand out, you’ll have a hard time swaying people to buy from you as opposed to a big-box retailer.

One powerful way to make a connection with your customers is through your blog. Personalize your company. Show them that you are more than a website with products.

Speak to them (and with them) through your blog so they see you as a source of knowledge and understanding. This type of connection can create a customer for life.

3. Introduce new products and new trends in your niche

Is there a new product on the horizon? New uses for an old product? You just came back from a convention with killer ideas? Use your blog to bring this information to your customers.

However, do NOT make your blog a walking billboard for your company. No one wants to read ads. Sprinkle in a product or two, but that should not be the focus of your posts.

Bring value to your readers. Keep them up to date on the latest happenings in your industry.

4. Provide information that your customers want

How to get the most out of XYZ. A great video of your product being used. Search YouTube for one to link to. Maybe a post about what you don’t like about one of your products (controversy can spark discussion).

Find out what your customers want to learn about, and give it to them. They’ll become loyal followers, and hopefully loyal buyers.

5. Highlight your customers

You want your blog to be about them? Make them the focus of some of your posts!

Get permission to post part of their testimonial as part of your blog. Interview them. Use one of their videos. Ask them for input or think about signing some up as guest authors to write their own posts!

The bottom line – When you focus on your customers, it makes them feel like part of your company. And that’s something more powerful than Amazon or Kmart.

Talk to us today about utlising blogging as part of your internet strategy

Building “back links” for search engine optimisation – for beginners!

All commercial website owners want people to visit their site. Since you’ve gone to the trouble to produce a website, you have probably also made a little effort to learn something about how to get it noticed. In the course of your reading, you will have read about back links, but you may not know exactly what they are. This guide for building back links is intended for people like you.

Once you’ve published your site, you’ll then want to start the process of promoting it using SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You’ll maybe subscribe to newsletters by SEO gurus in hopes of gaining some valuable insights. Like many beginners, some of the best advisers will be useless to you because they use terminology you don’t yet fully understand.

The first and most important thing you will have to do to get your site optimized for search engines will be the creation of back links (or backlinks) and this is where beginners often get lost. Their SEO guru doesn’t tell you what these “back links” are. Instead, he will skip ahead and tell you that you have to write blog posts, join and post comments on forums, make article directory submissions, etc. That include backlinks, but you don’t know what he’s talking about.

Don’t be too annoyed with your guru. You do know what backlinks are. It’s just the terminology that you don’t understand. Backlinks are those underlined links you see all over the web. So yes “backlinks” are basically links from other websites to yours. When you click them on, you are sent to another website.

It’s as simple as that. These links are important in SEO not so much because you’re hoping to get the people who stumble across your links to click them on and go to your site, but because web crawlers (the automated programs search engines use to “crawl” the web for content) take note of them. To the web crawler, those links to your website are an indication that your site has been noticed and commented on. This is turn helps your search engine ranking. Think of the web like a big democracy and links are votes, like in a democracy the person (website) with the most votes (links) will rank the highest.
In very competitive niches, it’s almost impossible these days to have your siterank highly in search engines unless you employ a paid link building service. (Paying people to build these links for you in an ongoing fashion) In smaller niches, however, it can be done by the site owner. For starters, you will have to get links from anywhere you can, the more relevant to your site, the better. So starting with any suppliers, partners, associations etc and then you can also write articles and publish them to as many social media markets as you can find.

You will also need to visit relevant forums and other people’s blogs and post comments that include backlinks to your URL. You have to spread the word if you want to be found. It will be a big job, but it can be done.

Talk to us today for more information about a link building strategy.

Six Ways to Engage, and Convert your customers

Converting visitors into customers is about more than just supplying great product information. It’s about more than a great design, simple navigation and customer service links. The basics–such as page design and content presentation are certainly necessary. But if you want to grow a loyal customer base for the long term, you have to reach even further.
Here are six ways to engage visitors and turn more of them into actual customers, bringing friends with them.

  1. Serve up the ideal newsletter. Contrary to what some social media “experts” say, people still like to receive email from companies they love and from stores that carry items or product lines to which they’re devoted. By integrating useful tips and links to articles or invites to forums, you’re opening up a channel for conversation, of which customers will take advantage.
  2. Encourage customers to rate and comment on products. Customer ratings and reviews help sell products better than any description. This is because people trust other people more than they do a business that writes copy specifically to sell merchandise. And let the not-so-good ones in, too, because this keeps it all real.
  3. Take a poll. Thinking about changing the home page? Wondering which product line your customers really want? Ask them. Simple polls that use images instead of lengthy text questionnaires will garner the most responses, and shoppers appreciate being asked for input.
  4. Host a gallery. If you sell products that people love to show off, let them do just that. Sell model kits? Invite customers to show off how they put it all together. Home decor? Prompt them to share photos of their new living room. You can even take it a step further by hosting contests where the users vote, and the winner receives a store gift certificate or specialty item.
  5. Run a blog. A blog is a suitable add-on for most online stores because there’s always something to talk about, show off or review. From electronic gadgets to wall art to craft stores, people love content which revolves around their own passions. By mixing “feel good” stories, new product announcements and thought-provoking ideas, a blog gives you the flexibility to be more creative and more personal. You should invite and encourage comments, because it is user responses that truly drive the traffic and ranking of a blog, not just the content.
  6. Host a real contest. The web is riddled with useless contests, especially across social media. The problem is, most of these provide little value to the retailer or the visitor. A campaign designed to increase Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily bring you people who will visit your website. So, while giving away an iPad to a random new face on Facebook or Twitter sounds like a big deal, small, lesser known businesses are better off reaching a more dedicated audience by giving away store-related prizes for real shopper engagement. Remember, it only takes a handful of loyal shoppers to bring you hordes of new customers.

Summary
Whichever way you go, keep this one directive in mind: Ask questions. Questions inspire people to respond, whether it concerns new products they’d love to see you carry, or insight on features they wish they could use at your store. It’s all about getting people communicating. The more people communicate, the more incoming links you’ll get. The more people talk positively about a product, the more likely they are to share their experience, not just at your site, but across the web via social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The more people talk, the more time new visitors will spend checking out what they have to say and, in turn, the faster you’ll grow your base audience and your business.

Deeper links lead to deeper value

Getting links to your site isn’t a new concept, but links should point to your most relevant pages. Home page links aren’t usually relevant for searches. Look to gain links to specific category or product pages. This will pass link value deep into your site and drive rankings for specific long-tail keywords.

Build your link popularity attract more free website traffic, heres how…

Build your link popularity attract more free website traffic, heres how…

Build Links to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings Introducing Wordtracker’s Link Builder Tool

The surest way to improve your website rankings in the search engines is to get quality links pointing to your site.

With Wordtracker’s powerful new Link Builder tool, you’ll be able to:

  • Find hundreds of top quality link prospects
  • Uncover your competitors’ linking strategies (and beat them at their own game)
  • Analyze sites that rank well for a particular keyword
  • Plan and create your own high impact linking campaigns
  • Drive more traffic, sales and revenue for your business

This Link Builder tool offers 7 day free trial (credit card required), a 30 day money back guarantee and the cost is $59 per month, not much if you consider other forms of attracting traffic. And unlike pay-per-click improving your search rankings means you dont have to pay for every visitor delivered to your site. Yes it takes some time and effort but in the long term its a must to not have to rely solely on paying for visitors.
Follow this link to find out more info and/or sign up for the free trial

Start building your link popularity, improve your search engine rankings and attract more free website traffic

Tip of the day: improve search rankings with quality links

To improve your search engine ranking, increase the number of quality links to your site. Links are the lifeblood of search, especially for competitive terms. You don’t necessarily have to pay for links. You can obtain links through suppliers, customers, product reviews, and links from local organizations that you are part of, such as chambers of commerce and civic associations. Friends, family and more… We cannot stress the importance of building links. Talk to us today if youd like to automate this laborious process.

Google Does Not Use Keywords Meta Tag to Rank Web Pages

There has always been some discussion as to whether Google pays any attention to the “keywords” meta tag when ranking web pages. For now, that discussion can be put to rest. Today, Matt Cutts, Google’s page ranking head honcho (he refers to himself as the head of Google’s Webspam team) put out a video and several blog posts that state conclusively that Google disregards the keywords tag.”At least for Google’s web search results currently (September 2009), the answer is no. Google doesn’t use the “keywords” meta tag in our web search ranking.”

He notes that the “description” meta tag is used to determine what a page is about, and it is also used as the short summary that is part of a web page listing when it appears in a Google search results page.

The “description” and “keywords” meta tags usually appear at the top of the HTML for a web page. They are not visible in the web browser unless you select View > Page Source or View > Source.

Google will display the contents of the “description” meta tag as part of the information in a search results page listing when it is useful information for human visitors. If there is no description meta tag or the information is not especially relevant, Google may use information from the visible web page instead. …
So there you have it…concentrate on good meta descriptions!

Talk to us if youd like to know more!

Tip Of The Day – Find Related Forums and Blogs

Targeted marketing is the most effective way to drive potential customers to your site. Use the search engines to find related forums and blogs, and sign up for as many you find. Participate by adding useful information, comments and advice, and be sure to include a link to your website!

Talk to us today if you aren’t sure where to start.

To blog or not to blog? That is the question…

Several of our clients lately have asked us whether or not it is a good idea to have a blog on their site. Our answer is an emphatic yes! A blog on your website can greatly increase the performance of your site, and it is surprisingly easier to upkeep than you might think.Here are a few advantages of adding a blog to your site:

  • Build the Content of Your Site – If there is one thing that search engines love, it’s great text content! Blogging allows your site to fit better into the original purpose of the internet – a hub for information. While building informative articles, the search engines will give you a little extra love.
  • Become the Industry Expert – The more knowledge you share online, the more people will come to respect you as the industry expert. If you are an expert, people (and search engines) will trust you, which in turn leads to more customers.
  • Gain Links – As your readership grows, people will begin to link back to your site gaining valuable link juice.
  • Grow Your Business – Blogs build familiarity and positive branding and if I remember my business school training, the cardinal rule was – people do business with you because they know you, like you and they trust you – blogging accomplishes all three (and they show off your expertise in a subject).
  • Build Brand Recognition – If you blog the right way, you should develop a faithful following in no time. One of the great things about blogging is that it creates credibility and a readership of devotees.
  • Share Knowledge – Blogging not only allows you to show off your expertise in a field, but you can do so freely. When people get something from you for free, they are much more likely to become a customer.
  • Record a Written History – Let’s face it. We are forgetful people. Blogging allows you to journal the chronicles of your business. You can look back and use it as a timeline for specific achievements.
  • Create a Personal Voice – If your only contact with customers is in the form of PR, your business can begin to sound like a robot. Blogging allows you to create a personal voice that people feel comfortable with.
  • Make More $$$ – Building your site with quality content, more visits, higher domain trust, being viewed as an expert and becoming more personal in the eyes of your readers all lead to one thing – more sales.

If you are interested in setting up a blog on your site, please let us know

Ecommerce Blogging 101

Benefits of a blog
Relative to static ecommerce sites, search engines consider blogs more real and trusted because blogs tend to have fresh content and there is a less financial, more informational link between a blog and its readers. An ecommerce site should take advantage of this tendency by adding a blog to augment the overall site.

A focused, well-written blog can get readers hooked on the blog and promote repeat visits to the website or garner subscriptions via RSS feeds and email newsletters. These recurring communications will help to tie potential customers to your site, encourage natural link building and increase repeat visits. Journalists are also more likely to follow a blog or subscribe via RSS than to visit the corporate site repeatedly. So, several avenues of search optimization and online marketing can be addressed with a single blog entity.

Let’s go through the following areas. Choosing blog topics, choosing who will do the blogging and measuring cost versus return are important issues with regard to a corporate or ecommerce blog.

Who should blog?
It could be a single person, it could be open to a company’s entire staff, or it could be a person or group outside the company, though some blogs have been lambasted for trying to fool their readers with repurposed information or purchased content, so outsourcing your blog is a route to avoid. Employees make good bloggers because they understand the brand direction, and the message can be controlled more easily. Most importantly, bloggers need to let their personalities shine through. Introduce all bloggers with a photo; people want to befriend and link to other people, not faceless corporations. Or, at the very least, leverage a look-alike avatar for each contributor. Also, consider the occasional use of guest bloggers, especially if they are recognized in your industry. Don’t be afraid to invite knowledgeable leaders and other industry bloggers to write a post for the blog. There are often real benefits for them (including a link, which should always be offered in this situation), and the worst they can do is say no.

What should my site’s blog be about?
A blog’s theme should be consistent with the company’s focus, yet universal enough that the blog is not solely about things the company sells. A blog that only exists to link to its corporate site will not be trusted. A site selling cameras, for instance, should go beyond making the blog a secondary camera sales tool and get involved with photography as art and business. It’s secondary to cameras, but it is directly related to the interests of potential customers. A site selling pet supplies might cover pet ownership and pet health in its blog. Don’t be afraid to get a little “fresh” in the blogosphere; go ahead and state an opinion or poke a little fun, but do so in a tasteful and good-natured way. Always be professional, but look for angles in the story that will catch reader attention.

How much time should be taken to blog?
Momentum must be kept with regard to interest in a blog, and this can only be done through regular posting. Daily posting is ideal, but a couple times a week is sufficient. The higher the quality of the posts, the less frequently you have to post. If each post takes 30 to 60 minutes to write (a good average to go by), that’s one to five hours per week. A week or more of inactivity makes the reader feel like nobody’s home. Allocate a good amount of time (one to four hours per week) to commenting on other blogs. A minimum then would be eight to ten hours a month, with an ideal amount of time being closer to 25 to 30 hours a month.

Will blogging really help my ecommerce site?
If the blog is created and maintained optimally, with a transparent and sincere voice and a commitment to using it to building relationships as well as links, yes, it will help. The more you become part of the blogosphere, the more likely it is that the blog will help to boost the corporate site. If the blog comes across insincere, dishonest or overtly self-serving, it could hurt more than it helps. While there are many infamous stories about blogs gone awry, the vast majority of ecommerce blogs are helpful to and supportive of the larger website.

Using descriptive text in your website links

If you are trying to improve your search engine ranking and results, and optimize your site, one of the first things you should look at is the wording of links within your site. This not only applies to your website’s navigation menu, but also any links you have on your site that link to other pages or information. More importantly if you can control how other websites link to you this is essential part of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), make sure you get these incoming links (or backlinks) to use keywords and not just your business name.

Don’t Click Here!

The use of “click here” as the actual link to another page or info on your site will not produce good search engine results and you are wasting an opportuinty to add to your site’s SEO performance if you use this for internal (or external links) on your site.

Search engines treat a link’s text like a keyword, therefore you should make the actual text that is used as the link more descriptive. For example, if you have a page on your site with information about Gucci sunglasses, and you are creating a link to it from another page on your site, ideally the text in the link to the Gucci sunglasses page should be descriptive “keyword” type text.

So you could use something like: Gucci sunglasses – the newest range of Gucci sunglasses

This will mean a lot more to a search engine, and produce better results if people use these keywords in a search.

Your website navigation menu

The same applies to your navigation menu. If you can use descriptive wording on your site’s navigation menu, without getting too long, then you are vastly improving your site SEO. If we use our Gucci sunglasses sample again, on the site’s main navigation menu you might use the wording: Gucci sunglasses

This will again mean more to a search engine and the results to a person searching on sites like Google.

Say no to images

This brings us to another important topic when considering your site’s navigation menu. If you use images to create the navigation menu on your site, you will hurt your sites chances of gaining good search engine rankings. The text in an image based navigation button can not be read by a search engine when it crawls your site, and therefore can’t index the links based on the link text. Search engines are smart but they arent smart enough to read the text embedded inside an image (yet!)
The use of text based menu links is a much better way to gain good SEO for your site, and also means your site is more standards compliant as screen readers can read the links which helps vision impared visitors to your website.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) demystified

We’ve had a lot of queries about search engines and how they work lately. There are many ways to get traffic to your website, but for the average small business they probably boil down to only four. These are outlined below simply, and you can always dig deeper later. The four main ways are:

  1. Traffic from search engines, known as search engine optimisation or SEO.
  2. Traffic from paid search ads, the pay-per-click (or PPC) text ads that appear in e.g. Google.
  3. Traffic from other advertising, such as newsletter advertising, e-mails, blogs, direct mail, print advertising, TV ads, radio spots, etc.
  4. Traffic from former visitors, e-mail newsletters that keep you in touch with visitors and customers.

But let’s start with the most basic and possibly the most important – traffic from search engines.

Traffic from Search Engines
SEO isn’t something you can just turn on. It would be great if we could just flick a switch and suddenly your website would be optimised and start receiving highly targeted search engine traffic. But, unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. Your website structure may need to be modified, text links rewritten, Titles and Meta descriptions created, and content overhauled. Even paid search can’t be turned on with the flick of a switch – keywords need to be defined, landing pages created, campaigns need to be set up, etc.

SEO needs time to age. After your website has been put into perfect SEO shape, it will start to receive more targeted search engine traffic. But even that is a slow process. Traffic will increase incrementally, and get better over time as the organic SEO work begins to mature.

SEO needs link popularity. Organic SEO is only half of the battle for more search engine visitors. The success of your SEO depends on the overall link popularity of your website. If your website has been around a long time and has already built up a lot of links, that will certainly help things go faster. However, most websites will need some additional work in this area.

SEO needs to be done in conjunction with other marketing. While SEO is a relatively inexpensive form of marketing, it shouldn’t be the only thing you do to gain business. SEO is very volatile and the search engines can change their formula or drop your website just like that. You should never count on the visitors you receive from organic search to always be there. Use it to supplement your other marketing, but always be aware that what Google giveth they can also taketh away. It’s a good idea to use other online marketing campaigns such as paid search, email marketing, blogging, social media marketing, etc., but also offline marketing such as direct mail, print advertising, radio spots, etc.

There’s a lot that goes into a successful SEO campaign; when done correctly it’s a worthwhile, long-term investment for nearly any business with a website. Just make sure to build it into your marketing plan from the start and not make it an afterthought.

Far and away, the least expensive traffic you’ll ever have to your website will come through the “natural” or “organic” search results on Google or Yahoo. To get traffic to your website for the search words or keywords that are important to your organisation, you need to do what is called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.

SEO has two parts, each equally important: (1) webpage optimisation and (2) getting links back to your website.

1. Webpage Optimisation

Basically, webpage optimisation involves setting up each of your webpages so that it can be easily “understood” and indexed by the search engine robots or “spiders” that come calling.

Each webpage (except your homepage, of course) should be clearly focused on just a single topic. The more focused the better. Then you give the search engines spiders clues to the nature of this focus. The strategy is to use the main keywords for that page in the title tag, description metatag, headline or subheadings, and in your body text. You don’t stuff keywords everywhere; just make sure that you’re leaving a clear trail of clues as to the content. But webpage optimisation is just half of the equation.

The other half, and the harder task, is getting …

2. Incoming Links to Your Site

Search engine ranking formulas, known as “algorithms,” rank websites higher the more links they have that point to their website. Links are considered a kind of recommendation that a website is worth visiting. But getting links from websites that Google considers trustworthy isn’t easy. Start by submitting your website to various directories in your niche. Provide great content on your website that is worth linking to. Write articles that others would want to host on their websites, each with a link back to yours. Use blogging to get links. Exchange links with websites in your industry, called “reciprocal linking.” This work is inexpensive, but takes patience and constant work.

Search engine optimisation will take several months to get traffic flowing well, but don’t skip this step just because you’re in a hurry. SEO is an essential foundation for internet marketing.

Steps to boost your search visibility

If your company’s organic search results aren’t what you wish they were, check out these key tricks to know and implement. If you arent utilising these tricks currently get in touch and we can implement then for you.When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), there is no magic bullet. Effective SEO boils down to doing a lot of little things well. Imagine building a house — each brick that goes into the foundation plays a vital role in creating a solid structure. A website is similarly comprised of a large number of building blocks, each of which needs to be given a proper level of attention to maximize your site’s visibility. Following are 11 steps marketers can take to get more out of organic search.

1. Optimize your title tags: The title tag is the most important tag on a page. It’s like the title of a book in that it should tell the search engine spiders exactly what the page is about. Also, bear in mind that the title tag forms the link in the search engine results page (SERP), so think about giving it a keyword-rich call to action to help it stand out from the crowd.

2. Add a robots.txt file: This is a simple file that sits in the root of the website. It’s one of the first files a search spider will look for as it begins a site crawl, so make sure you have one — it helps to control where the spider can and cannot go and hence what it can and cannot see.

3. Include sitemaps (HTML and XML): Google doesn’t share much in the way of how to optimize for its algorithms, but the search giant does recommend that you add an HTML sitemap, and when Google talks, you should listen. Make sure you include the entire site, break it into multiple pages (no more than 100 links per page) and update it regularly so it accurately reflects the structure of the site. Add an XML sitemap designed specifically for search engines. This is particularly important for large sites that spiders are having trouble indexing. Verify the sitemap with the Google webmaster console and receive useful data back about your site.

4. Write high-quality, unique content: After all these years, content still rules. Good quality content will help attract links to your site as people refer to it and that same content will work to keep them on your site after they arrive. From a search engine perspective, spiders love content, so the more you can provide them, the better. And don’t limit yourself to text — images and video can help to showcase additional brand messages and attributes. But whatever content you do serve up, just make sure it is in an accessible format.

5. Insert meta-tags for top-level pages: While not nearly as important as they used to be, optimized meta-descriptions are still worth adding to your key landing and top-level pages. Well-wrought meta-tags will help entice users to your site from a SERP.

6. Conduct keyword research: There’s no point in ranking for keywords that your target audience is not using, so make sure you know what your customers are searching for and the terms they’re using to find you. To improve your chances of connecting with interested users, structure your site around keywords and themes that reflect their vernacular, not your internal marketing-speak. Remember that you want to help both visitors and search engines build a complete picture of your site.

7. Don’t neglect your internal link structure: There’s more to SEO and boosting your search rankings than getting links from other sites. Devote some attention to your internal link structure. Embed your target keywords into the internal links and help reinforce the key landing pages to the spiders; don’t just use “click here,” “next” and “more.”

8. Think about pages you want to rank and those you don’t: This is something that’s closely tied to the internal link structure. For brand searches (typically the most significant source of traffic for any site), the home page often ranks first, followed by privacy policies, contact us and terms and conditions pages. The home page is a good destination to steer interested visitors, but the privacy policy and T&C pages generally are not the places you want your users to hit first, so try to sculpt the flow of page rank to the key site landing pages instead.

9. Get more from analytics: Make sure you set up your analytics package correctly so it separates the sources of your traffic. There’s no point spending a lot of time and effort on search engine marketing only to find that your analytics software was not configured to separate the paid search traffic from the organic traffic.

10. Submit to the main directories: Make sure your site is listed in all of the main directories, such as Yahoo!, DMOZ, Business.com, JoeAnt, etc.

11. Emphasize internal education: Everyone within your company can make a difference, particularly when it comes to a natural search campaign. Make sure all departments, from marketing to IT to PR to product development, know why the company is undertaking an SEO program and how they can contribute. Run regular sessions to update staff and inform them about how the campaign is progressing.

Last, but certainly not least, remember that SEO is not a set-and-forget process, but rather, one of ongoing improvement. Anytime you make changes to the structure of or content on your site, review the relevant steps in the optimization process to make sure you get the maximum benefit from these changes. Search can help you connect with your customers, but you have to make sure you’re supplying the search engines with the right connective tissue.

Tlak to us today about any aspect of Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing.