googlezilla

Is your website mobile friendly?

Google brings the hammer down on non-mobile friendly websites

The statistic is that about 73% of the people searching the internet these days do it on mobile devices and yet only about 20% of the companies have mobile friendly websites.  So, about 3 out of every 4 searches on the web is via mobile and only 1 in 5 businesses have mobile optimized websites.  You have to understand that Google manages two different indices for search data.  The first one is the “desktop index” which is what we’ve all become accustomed to over the last 15 years or so.  The second is the “mobile index” which is how they manage and track searches done from mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, etc.  If you compare the two, you’ll see very different results.  Now they are enforcing what they’ve found by managing those two indices – that a mobile experience must be optimized to be user friendly.  We’ve all opened a website on our smartphone only to be greeted with tiny text and no practical navigation.  This is what Google’s current war is against and it makes perfect sense.  Mobile searchers are in the majority and they should get the most user friendly and actionable results from their searches.

The fallout

The fallout is three-fold.  First, Google will rank your site less than comparable sites than are mobile friendly.  Secondly, since you’re being ranked less favorably you’ll get less traffic and third, the traffic you do get won’t have a good experience if they’re using their mobile device!  This went into effect last month (April 21st, 2015) so if you’ve noticed any lessening of traffic in the past few weeks, this could be the culprit.  Fortunately, for many of us, the fix is not too difficult.

***I should note that Google has said that lack of a Mobile Friendly site will NOT negatively affect  your desktop search results.  They are not penalizing your desktop search results because they aren’t mobile friendly but your mobile search results will be affected.  Regardless, the writing is on the wall and you should take action quickly to ensure your site is mobile friendly. Read more

SnugDataSEO-Local SEO

Local SEO vs. Global SEO

Does Google know you?

As a business owner, it’s critical that prospective customers can find you and in today’s world, that means, to a very large extent, that they can find you on Google.  I know a few companies that exist strictly on word-of-mouth and they do just fine but that is not the norm by any means.  If your business relies on local customers, for example, then your “Local SEO” should be optimized.  If, however, your business is worldwide in nature, then local SEO is less important and you should focus on world-wide SEO.

Local SEO

An example of critical “Local SEO” would be an air conditioning service company in your home town.  They don’t want or need anybody in another state or country to know they exist – there’s no way they would become a customer.  The only benefit would be possible linking from other air conditioning/HVAC/Heating types of sites to their own to raise their website’s rankings but that’s about it.  For the most part, the local HVAC repairman is interested in his town and the surrounding areas.

Free Bonus:  Click here to download our 10 Step On-Page SEO Guide that shows you 10 critical elements of your on page SEO you have to get right to rank effectively in the Google Search results. 

To this end, the focus keywords on his site and in his SEO efforts should be something like: “air conditioning”, “hvac”, “heating and air”, “specialist”, “home town”, “nearby town 1”, “nearby town 2”.   The idea is that the website itself should focus on the local area and the keywords of the business.  A great practice, and one becoming increasingly more beneficial to SEO, is to product fairly lengthy, highly informative, and easy to read articles.  As they say “content is king”, but it has to be good content, well written, and topical.  Timely is helpful also.

The HVAC repairman would therefore have several articles on his website, each one discussing an area of HVAC and possible mentioning local towns.  So one article might be “10 Steps to ensuring your Air Conditioner is ready for summer” and then throughout the article, mention nearby towns.  Another article could be “Mini-split efficiency, are they worth it?” and again, the article should be well written, greater than 500 words, informative and easy to read.  Post about 5-7 of these types of articles on the website and watchi the HVAC rankings go up.

This is, once again, only scratching the surface of Local SEO – there’s a lot more to discuss and I will be doing so in an upcoming post.

Competition

We can’t just leave it there, because the HVAC’s competition is reading this article also, right?  Well, maybe not exactly this article but we should assume that the competition isn’t sitting idly by while we rush past them in the search rankings.  They’re trying to beat us while we try to beat them.  T

There are quite a few tools to help with this and I’ll probably go into this in more depth in another article.   But the gist of it is that you want to find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, how many articles (and how good are they?) do they have on their site, what high power sites are linking back to your competitors website (and can you maybe get a link there also?) and how fresh is your competitor’s content?  Is the website updated on a regular basis?  Are they still advertising last 2014’s summer deals? (I saw this just this morning on a site I visited)

Once you get a good grasp on what your competitors are doing, simply copy them.  Nothing wrong with that.  If you copy them AND create and post the articles mentioned above, your rankings will increase.  They have to.  So if you see they have a link from www.whatever.com, you would follow that link and see if you can get the same link. I might be a “donation” site (pay per link) or might be a guestbook entry, forum entry, comment review, etc, etc.  It could be a number of things but the point is, can you get the same link?  If so, do it as that brings you and your competitor’s site closer together.  You’ll catch up with them in this way, you’ll pass them with the excellent content you are posting.

On Page vs. Off Page SEO

We discussed this before but it’s worth repeating.  Your on-page SEO is 100% under your control, so if you’re web titles are messed up, or your articles aren’t up to speed or poorly linked, that’s all within your ability to change, and you should change it as soon as you see it’s a problem.  For off page SEO, unless you want to engage in black/grey hat SEO practices such as buying links or creating your own high power network and using links from it to point to your primary site, you will be relying on your articles to be shared among your users.  The more they get shared, the higher the likelihood of links coming back your way.  Do a great job here.

Ok, enough rambling for today. I hope this helps at least a little bit.  Stay tuned for more info!  Thanks and happy SEO-ing!

Snugdata_seo_keyword

Search Engine Optimization – basics

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The arcane art of ensuring your or a customer’s website bubbles up to the first page of Google is what search engine optimization (SEO) is all about.  Extreme SEO would be ensuring said website hits one of the “olympic” spots – first, second, or third (gold, silver, bronze).  Bear in mind there are two parts of this puzzle.  The website you’re trying to rank and the keywords you’re trying to rank it for.  So saying your site ranks first on Google really doesn’t mean anything if you can’t qualify that statement with a useful (and valuable) keyword search.

“My site ranks on the first page on Google for the keyword search ‘ancient dog paranoia of the Ming Dynasty'” means very little because really, who is searching for that?  Sure, you can spin up a site and probably rank for that tomorrow.  But ranking for something valuable is more difficult and the competition can be very strong.

It’s also important to note that there are two more considerations and they are “on page” and “off page” SEO.

On Page SEO is what you do to your website to let Google know it’s relevance.  Off Page SEO is how other websites interact with your site, linking to it with good strong links (hopefully).  You have 100% control over your on page SEO so you must focus on it quite a bit.  The off page SEO is largely out of your hands.  You can ask for links, you can comment on blogs with a backlink, you can even buy links back to your site but the best approach to improving your off page SEO is to have a very strong site with excellent content that other people find and want to link back to.  Pull that off, and your SEO rankings will soar. Read more

Backlinks - chain and computer

Increase your Google Rankings with Backlinks

Getting Backlinks for your site

Why Do I Need Backlinks?

Backlinks have long been considered as one of the primary ranking factors for any site. The more backlinks you have, generally the better your site will rank.  Think of backlinks as votes for your site – the more votes you get, the better your site is. There are caveats, of course, but for the most part if your site creates good enough content to earn links from other sites, then your site’s placement in the Google search results will improve.

Keep in mind that Google makes about 95% of their ~$60 Billion each year from search, so their main focus is to ensure than when you search for something on Google, you get the very best results.  Basing those results on how many good backlinks a website has is a time proven and highly effective method to determine which sites are good results for the Search Engines.

There is a concept we in the SEO world refer to as “Link Juice” and that refers to the power that backlinks can send to your site.  Link Juice can be good or bad.  A powerful site sends a lot of good Link Juice.  A poor site sends bad Link Juice.

Backlinks - chain and computerWhat are Good Backlinks?

The very best backlinks are links from sites that are relevant and authoritative. If your site is focused on how to care for your dog, a link from PetCo would be a very powerful link because it is relevant to your site and it’s accepted as being an authoritative site.  That’s not to say that only relevant links are good though.  A link from Forbes magazine, for instance, isn’t as relevant as a link from PetCo, but it is still immensely powerful.

Think in terms of relevance and authority.

There are a couple of other types of sites that are generally considered to carry a bit more weight than others – specifically Government sites and Educational sites.  If a government site (with a “.gov” domain name) links to your site, it carries more weight than a link from elsewhere.  Same with a link from an educational site (.edu).  If you think about the difficulty of getting a government site or a college such as Stanford to link to your site, you can understand why they are considered extra powerful.  This has lessened a bit lately but still well worth the effort.

What are Bad Backlinks

There are a few categories of what should be considered “bad” backlinks.  Foremost among them is any link that you pay for.  Yes, there are places you can go to buy links to your website and it is almost always a bad idea.  Google spends an inordinate amount of time and money to find sites that have paid backlinks pointing at them and when they find them, they penalize them heavily.

Don’t buy backlinks.

Other than that, trading links is not looked upon favorably.  I have a site, you have a site. I send you an article with a link to my site and you send me an article with a link to your site.  We both put those articles on our sites and presto, we each have a backlink.  The problem with this approach is that it’s very easy for Google to discover and, again, penalize you for.

Don’t trade backlinks

Bad backlinks can also come from sites that are considered spammy sites or any site that could be considered a “poor neighborhood” in Google’s eyes.  You probably don’t want links from gambling or porn sites pointing to your site.

Since relevance and authority were the buzzwords for the Good Backlinks, non-relevance and little authority can be thrown into the Bad Backlinks description.  Going back to your Dog Care website, a link from PetCo was good (relevant and authoritative) but a link from Joe’s House Guitar Pics Made From Fingernail Shavings (www.joeshouseofguitarpicsmadefromfingernailshavings.com) isn’t a good backlink because it’s neither relevant nor, more than likely, is it an authoritative site.

How do I get Backlinks?

First, I should point out that you have absolutely zero say in what site points to your site.  So you can get a backlink literally from any website.  If Forbes decides to discuss an article on your site and links to it, great news for you.  But, on the other hand, if OnlineCasinoWinnersEveryDay.com decides to link to the same article, there’s nothing you can do.  The links from Forbes would be a good one, the link from the Casino site would probably be a bad one – you’re stuck with them

But, there are ways to earn links from sites that are relevant and authoritative.  The simplest way (not really simple, but you know…) is to create good content and then socialize it.  If it’s good enough, other people will link to it.

As an example, the article you’re reading right now.  I’m writing it with two purposes in mind.  First is to be useful to the reader but a very strong second is for the article to be so well written…so well researched…so detailed that other sites will say “Wow, great article. I’m going to link to it”.  When you have content like that on your site – content that is so good other sites link to it – then you are earning backlinks and most likely they’ll be very relevant and largely authoritative and credible.  Why would OnlineCasinoGambling.com link to this article?  No reason for them too.  But what about Better Business Bureau?  What about Chamber of Commerce sites? What about local business incubators?  All good sites, all relevant and all credible.  I’d love to get links from them.

Makes sense, right?

How can I get some good backlinks fast?

Slow down tiger.

“Getting backlinks fast” can be a signal to Google that your site is suspect.  I mean, how does a site get a lot of relevant, credible and authoritative backlinks fast legitimately?

It can be done.  There are a number of places you should consider as very easily obtained and yet highly authoritative and credible (but not necessarily relevant, but that’s OK in this case) websites.  What are they?  Facebook for one.  Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr to name a few.  I’ll give a more comprehensive list below but the idea is to create profiles on sites such as these and fill those profiles out entirely.  They also have an entry for “website” – guess what goes there. Yep, your website and this magically becomes a backlink.  Easy peasy.  So easy, everybody is doing it. If everybody is doing it, normally I’d say don’t do it but in this case, it’s best to do it.  If your competitor has a backlink from LinkedIn but you don’t, what do you think Google thinks of that?

Here’s a list of places you can sign up, create a profile and add your website for a quick and easy backlink.  But, as always, a caveat is in order.

Use these sites.  Don’t just create a profile and let it rot.  Log into them on a regular basis (monthly is fine) and add some content.  Otherwise Google sees a backlink from a credible site (Twitter) but from a page that isn’t ever used (Twitter.com/yourpage).  Create the profiles and then use them.Backlink Map

Here’s a solid list:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Pinterest
  5. Google Plus
  6. Instagram
  7. Reddit
  8. Flickr
  9. Imgur
  10. Photobucket
  11. Tumblr
  12. Medium
  13. HubPages
  14. Dailymotion
  15. YouTube (Remember, Google owns YouTube so extra credit for having an excellent profile and videos uploaded with links in those video descriptions back to your website.
  16. SlideShare
  17. Stumbleupon
  18. Diigo
  19. Slashdot
  20. Digg
  21. Flipboard

 

That’s a solid list.

If you create a profile on each of them and then use them, your site will gain credibility.  How do you use them?

SlideShare is a great place to repurpose content you already have created.  Turn an article into a PowerPoint presentation and upload it SlideShare so more people can view it.

Got some Videos?  Upload them to YouTube and share them.

Got an itch to do some more blogging?  Write on Medium.

Got some images to share?  Upload them to Flickr.

You get the idea – be creative and be busy!

Where Can I Get Backlinks Slowly?

Now you’re talking.

Gaining links, or more accurately, backlinks pointing to your site should be considered an ongoing and literally never-ending effort.  It’s not a one-time thing but rather something you should always be striving for.

The best way to gain links over time is to consistently create content that is interesting and useful for your website’s visitors and suitable for backlinking by industry professionals and influencers.

There are two basic approaches:

  1. Publish and pray: This is the where you spend a lot of time writing great content, put it on your website, and then do nothing more –  you just hope people will notice it and link to it.
    1. Don’t do this.
  2. Publish and pursue: This is where you spend a lot of time writing great content and then more time reaching out to industry experts and influencers to share that content. You socialize your content on all of your social media channels.  You post on Facebook about it, you Tweet about it, etc.  You research and find the owner of a site that is considered the very top of the heap in your chosen field or niche and you reach out to that person with a warm and personal email to thank that person for the work you do and share your article.
    1. You do this about 500 times.
    2. If the article took you a week to write, you spend the next 3 weeks socializing it.
    3. Then you start on your next article.

…if you followed the above procedures for an entire year, you’d end up with 12 very well written articles and numerous strong backlinks.  This is far better than 60 so-so written articles and a couple of weak backlinks.

When I say you write great content, I mean you write it with the intention of it being the very best on the web.  If it’s not, why would Google show your page over somebody else’s?   This typically means content that is rather lengthy, detailed, well researched and includes links out to other authoritative sites.

  • Lengthy: Studies have shown that long articles are more supportive than short articles with regards to your ranking. I’m talking on the order of 1,500 words and up.  Shoot for 2,000.  The article you’re reading right now is a shade over 2,300 words and when I socialize it, I feel confident that other sites will be happy to link to it.  Why?  Because it is a well thought out, detailed and exhaustive article.
  • Detailed: Leave no stone unturned. Don’t make your reader go to another website to augment what you (should be) explaining.
  • Well Researched: Don’t wing it – your readers will know if you are the expert you say you are or not. You have about one chance to lose their respect with some crappily researched information and you’ll never see them again.
  • Links: Yes, you should link out to other sites as long as those sites are relevant to your article, credible and authoritative. Linking out is a great approach.
    • Also, internal links are great – if you have pages or other resources on your site that supplement what you’re writing about, by all means link out to those pages. Great idea!

What is Anchor Text?

No discussion about Backlinks would be complete without discussing Anchor text.  As a quick definition, Anchor Text is the text that is displayed as the link.  For example, in the following sentence, I have created a link to my own Resources page.  The Anchor Text is the string “SnugData Resource Page” and the URL that the link (and the anchor text) point to is http://snugdata.com/seo-resources.

For more information, please visit the SnugData Resource Page.

The Anchor text is what shows up as the linkable text…in this case, the underlined blue text that your read is the Anchor Text.  The link it takes you to is the actual Backlink.

Why is this important?

Google places an emphasis on the anchor text for links that come into your site and, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  Again, going to relevance as an important point regarding Backlinks, a link whose anchor text is relevant to your website is more powerful than one whose anchor text is not relevant.

If you have two backlinks to your Dog Care website and the anchor text of one is “pet shampoo” and the other is “online gambling”, which is more relevant?

Unfortunately, you often have little say over anchor text.  Remember you’re not buying or trading backlinks so how can you control how another person creates the link to your page from their website? Mostly, you can’t.  But sometimes, you can and when you can, you definitely should. If you create a guest post, for example, its common to link back to your own site in the article you write.  This is a perfect case of when you have control over the anchor text of your backlink. Also, if you post questions or answer questions in public forums, you can often add a backlink and in this case, you can usually control the anchor text.

You can’t always control it but when you can, you should.

Backlinks – A Summary

Short and sweet:

  • They’re incredibly important to help rank your site    h as possible
  • You can get a lot of very solid backlinks by creating profiles on a number of popular social media sites
  • You should constantly and consistently add quality, lengthy, detailed content to your site and then spend more time promoting that content than you did writing it. With content, quality trumps quantity.
  • Control the anchor text when you can

Enjoy!

 

Seo-blocks1

What does SEO stand for? What does SEO mean?

What Does SEO Stand For?

Funny you should ask – just last night at our weekly trivia contest, “what does SEO stand for” showed up on the big screen and, I think, I was the only person in the room that got the question right.  I suspect that me helping our Trivia guy with his website may have had something to do with it, but I didn’t feel the need to bring that up.  So, what does SEO stand for?  The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization and, as easy as that is, it underscores a critically important and complex profession.  And that’s usually the next question we here after we define what “SEO” stands for.  What does SEO mean?

What does SEO stand forWhat does SEO mean?

SEO is the art of influencing a websites “rankability” according to the search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and the others in such a way that the given website will appear higher in the Search Engine Results, or, as we geeks call it, the “SERPS” (Search Engine Results Page).

SEO is a fine are of technical knowledge, business knowledge, ability to research, an understanding of how thing change and how they stay the same, and finally, a lot of patience.  There was a time when we could influence the rankings of a page practically overnight but those days are long gone now and we find ourselves instead often waiting months to get to Page 1 of the results.  But that’s OK – the new normal for SEO has thinned the herds as others find easier ways to make a living, leaving more opportunities for those of us that are still having fun and enjoy the challenge.

There are a few other terms that go along with SEO that you may bump into:

  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing – basically, a larger part of the pie, if that makes sense.  Whereas SEO is concerned primarily with a business’s website and it’s outreach and influence, SEM is concerned with more of an overall holistic marketing perspective to include things like social media and such.
  • PPC: Pay Per Click – this is when a website owner pays Google to show up on the first page of the Google results.  The catch here is that the more popular the search term they wish to show up for, the most each click costs them.  And, they have to pay for each and every click whether they actually make any money from it or not.  It’s a numbers game.  An attorney knows that for every 100 clicks he gets for his “Best Divorce Lawyer in Atlanta” keyword, he’ll get 1 actual customer that pays.  If each click costs him $5.00, then he’s paid $500 to get that one customer which, for a lawyer, is a pretty good deal.  It is not unusual to see PPC costs in the hundreds of dollars for extremely popular keywords
  • SERP: Search Engine Results Page – this is the page you are shown after you run your search.  Search for “Plastic Surgeon Atlanta” and you’ll be shown a listing of 10 (by default) plastic surgeons that Google has determined have the best websites to match your search critiria
  • On Page SEO: On Page SEO pertains to the efforts that go into making a website agreeable to Google in terms of how it is structured.  Google expects to find certain elements in certain places and when it can’t find them, it makes it more difficult to “crawl” that page.  The more difficult a page is to crawl, the less it actually gets crawled and therefore, the less likely it will rank.  Neil Patle produced a great infographic that explains the structure of a perfectly optimized page.  See it here.   We also go into it in great detail on our own SEO page here at SnugData.
  • Off Page SEO: Off page SEO pertains to those things that a typical webmaster has little to no control over.  The most common, and most important of these is “backlinks”.  Backlinks are when another site mentions something on your site and links to it.  These are, for the most part, counted as votes for your site’s popularity but unlike voting in the normal sense, it’s important where these votes come from.  A backlink from a popular and credible site carries more weight than a backlink from an unknown site.  Many SEOs spend the majority of their time working to get backlinks from popular sites.  Brian Dean, at Backlinko, wrote a lengthy and detailed article that goes into good detail on perfecting a site’s “off page SEO” in ways that are agreeable with Google.

There are approximately 3, 546,881 more terms and acronyms that pertain to SEO overall, but I wanted to show you the ones that most closely relate to the actual type of marketing involved with SEO.

To get an idea of what goes into SEO, take a look at the following short video:

What does SEO mean?Cost Effective SEO

The last part of the conversation often hinges around how cost effective SEO is and how soon do clients recognize Return on Investment (ROI).  The answer, as is so often the case, is “it depends”.  The factors surrounding SEO are many and varied and some businesses absolutely benefit from it while others do not.  I’ve worked with clients who run businesses that are entirely successful on word-of-mouth alone and, as much as I hated to say it, there wasn’t much I could do to improve their bottom line.  This is not uncommon for the small 1 or 2 man show that has enough business to handle and, if I SEO’d their website and attracted more business, there’s a very good chance it would be too much for them.  These kinds of business, I offer free advice to but do not engage in any kind of SEO commitment.

But for the vast majority of other businesses, SEO – when implemented correctly – is entirely cost effective.  There are no other marketing efforts a business can undertake that even comes close to matching the benefits SEO brings.  It’s not uncommon, and in fact I talk to clients about it on a regular basis, to expect 500% ROI in a matter of months.  A company that invests $1000 monthly with me will see $5000 in revenue increase in a very short amount of time and this is not uncommon.  I challenge anybody to find any other marketing that pays off that well.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful.  The original intent was to answer the question “what does SEO stand for”, but I went a bit further to provide additional information on what SEO actually is and how it can help a business attract new customers.

Thanks for reading!