Archive for the ‘search engine optimization’ Category

SEO companies aren't magiciansTo my knowledge, most SEO experts don’t have a degree in quantum physics, aren’t proficient in calculus or even have a degree from Hogwarts school of magic. But clients seem to think a search engine optimization company can work magic. (Though, based on the sales pitch you hear from the SEO telemarketers, they would make you believe they can.)

Everyone today is searching for the easy button – that quick fix that will catapult their site to page one of Google. And there are lots of SEO companies out there promising to do just that, when, in reality, they are just taking your money. The truth is Google is slowly whittling away at the tactics used by most of these companies. Link building, blog commenting, and optimizing anchor text, all common practices, are now being penalized by Google’s latest updates.

That spells bad news for the SEO companies that are looking for the fast buck. For the business owners, it’s both good news and bad. The good news is, the playing field is being leveled so that your competition can’t cheat the system as easily. The bad news – now your site must stand on it’s own merit. If you want to be at the top of Google for “Money Saving Widgets”, you better have the most authoritative site on “Money Saving Widgets.”

easy-buttonThe easy button you’ve been searching for is content. Every time I tell a client that they need to create content, you see a dejected look, a “I was hoping you wouldn’t say that” look. Creating content conjures up unpleasant memories of high school English. “Where am I going to find the time to write content?” “What am I going to say?” “Everyone knows what our business does.” Here are some suggestions to help you start creating content:

1. Create content that educates – A website/blog is the best source for educating your customers/clients. Regardless of the subject, people want to make sure they are making an informed decision and your content can reinforce those decisions.
2. Create content that entertains – We buy based on emotions, then justify it with logic. Content that entertains the reader taps their emotions and forges a bond between your site and the reader.
3. Tell a story – Storytelling is an effective content strategy. Readers can immerse themselves into the story line and identify with the characters. Consider a testimonial type of story that demonstrates how your company solved a problem. Readers will remember you for your problem solving skills rather than your list of services.
4. Forget the sales pitch – If your content is done right, you won’t need to have a sales pitch. A sales pitch immediately shifts the focus from the reader to “me, me, me”. The harsh reality – no one cares about you or your business. They care about whether you can solve their problem, increase their profitability or make their life easier. If your content gets that message across, you will never need a sales pitch.

So as you’re looking for that elusive shortcut to the top of Google, remember, there is no shortcut. The easy button is only in commercials. If you are committed to forging your way to the top of the search engines, you need to be ready to start creating dynamic content and keep creating dynamic content. Like any sporting event, the playing field will be dominated by the person or team that is the most dedicated, consistent and prepared.

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Google+ for business is now open. “Oh great,” I can hear you say, “another social network I have to keep up with.” Yes, I know the traffic is not on Google + like it is on Facebook. And I don’t expect a mass exodus from Facebook. But, here are my top 5 reasons you should be on Google +.

 

5. It’s easy to sign up. To signup, you enter your business name and phone number. Google + then matches that to your Google Places Page. (You DO have a Google Places page, don’t you?)

4. Sharing is Easy – Others can share your business page either through the Share Page button or by +1’ing the page. Either way, it increases the chances of virally spreading your page.

3. No Finding Friends – With business pages, you don’t have to go hunting for friends. You share your page and post the page link to your web site and the traffic comes to you.

2. Build a Following and Improve Your Traffic – Because Google customizes the search function when you are logged in to a Google product (Gmail, Google +, Google Reader, etc.) the results you see are based, in part, on your connections. For example, if someone in one of your circles has +1’d a page, and you do a search on a keyword that related to that page, Google is going to show you that page higher up in the search results than normal.

The bottom line for a business is to have as large a following as possible, so when a follower searches for your catagory, your site will show up much higher.

1. Faster Indexing in Google – The number 1 reason to create a Google + page is speed up the process of getting content indexed in the Google search results. When content is shared in Google +, Google sees the content much quicker and as a result will add it to the search results page, based on the content.

I have seen this first hand within my blog articles. I created a blog article with the title Ninja Marketing Tips. Within 3 days of sharing the article in Google +, it was ranking at the top of an incognito Google search for the term, Ninja Marketing Tips.

Judge for yourself. What is your marketing strategy? Would improved search engine visibility be a plus? I welcome your thoughts.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing. The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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17
Jul

Google Plus — Another Flop in the Waiting?

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon Tags: ,

Google Plus, the latest attempt from the Big G, to break into social media, has begun.  By invitation only at the current time, Google Plus is the buzz all over the tech and social media sites.  But will it be another flop (any one remember Google Wave)?

The structure of Google Plus revolves around circles.  As you connect with friends, you assign them to a circle.  The process is as easy as dragging them to the circle where you want to assign them.  You can then filter your updates and your news streams to the specific stream, helping to cut through the clutter that’s so prominent, especially on Twitter.

The signup is ultra easy if you already have a Google profile.  Simply sign up with your gmail or Google profile email and your in.  If you don’t have either, it’s just takes a few minutes to complete.  One confusing step, when you first sign up it asks if you want to connect your Picasa photos.  The choices are Yes and Quit Google + Setup.   If you don’t have a Picasa account, it won’t matter.  If you have a Picasa account and link it, the folders there will not be visible in Google + unless you share each folder.

As with all other social media sites, completing your profile should be your first priority.  You can add videos, links and even photos.

Other cool new features in Google + are Hangouts, Group Chat and Sparks.  Hangouts uses Google voice and video plugin.  You can create a group video or audio chat from within Google +.  It does require you download and install the Google voice application.  Once installed, you can Hangout with an entire circle, share YouTube videos

Group chat allows you to talk to members of your circles in a text chat format, much like Facebook’s chat function.  It’s a quick way to send a message while they are online and much faster than email.

Sparks is another Google Plus feature.  Sparks finds stuff you are interested in and delivers them to your Google Plus page.  It searches news feeds and blogs to find the most relevant content (in Google’s estimation.)  By entering the keywords in the search box, a stream is created for that term and is updated daily.

Google Plus also has an app for Androids.  Pictures and videos shot from an Android phone can automatically update to your private album making it easier to edit and share them.  One feature of the mobile app is group huddle.  No need to make numerous phone calls to confirm dinner plans for the evening.  A group huddle can pull all parties together in a simple chat.

Whether Google Plus will be another monumental flop, or a homerun, remains to be seen.  For my money, I’m betting Google Plus takes it’s place along side Facebook as a player in social media.  What do you think?

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions. Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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8
Jun

Google Plus 1

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon Tags: , ,

Goliath has started its latest foray into the social media arena.  Google this week announced the launching of its +1 feature, its answer to the Facebook Like and LinkedIin Share buttons.  While previous attempts in social media (like Google Wave and even Google Buzz) have not had the level of success they expected, +1 could well be the social media success Google has  been searching for.

What is Google +1? +1 allows Web surfers, while logged in to their Google account, to share sites they like or recommend within the Google search.  The plus one button can be added to any webpage or blog with a few simple steps (which we will describe below.)

Google +1 on Website

When do you see the Google +1? To begin, you must have a Google profile or a Google account such as Gmail.   To find your Google profile, go to http://profiles.Google.com/yourname.  If nothing comes up for you,  then you may not have created a profile or you could have it private, in which case you may need to create a public profile (do a Google search for details how to do that.)

Once you’ve logged in to your profile and do any search, you will see, at the end of the top line of the search results, the greyed out +1 button.  Simply click the +1 button and it turns to full-color, leaving a trail for your Google contacts to see.  When one of your Google contacts does a similar search, they will see your +1 link recommendation.  There is also talk that in the near future the link will be visible to your Twitter and Flickr contacts as well.

Google +1 Search Results

Google publicly says that +1 activity will be used to show more relevant ads on non-Google base sites, however, you do have the ability to disable that feature within the +1 settings in your Google account.

But what’s the real value of the Google +1? From the initial announcement of +1, speculation has centered around the effect it will have on search results and search engine ranking.  Google has long had, as part of their algorithm, the relevancy and popularity of a website.  By adding +1 to a website, the webmaster/owner may potentially have a positive impact on their search engine rankings.  How big an effect is yet to be seen but with more and more emphasis being placed on social media and the social aspects of the web, logic says this can have a significant impact.

How you add the Google +1 button? The process is a very simple one.  You will need FTP access to your website to complete the process or you will need to have your webmaster complete the process.  Below are the four steps:

  1. Go to Google +1 page
  2. Choose your button size and language.  The advanced options allow you to include the +1’d count and include the target URL you want attached to the +1
  3. Copy the first section of the code and paste it just above the closing body tag of the page
  4. Copy the second section of the code and paste it where you want the button to appear

Creating a Google +1 Button

That’s all it takes.  I hope you found this blog useful.  If so, +1 me.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com Online Marketing Solutions specializes in helping small to medium size businesses to drive traffic to their door through web site design, search engine optimization, text message marketing and social media marketing and coaching.  Gary is also the co-founder of SocialMediaLab, an online education and training program to help business owners master social media.

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Ninja Blogging Secrets to More SEO trafficYour blog is written, it’s got the keywords in the right place and it’s posted for all to read. The final step is to spread the word. The purpose of your blog is to drive traffic — either to your web site, landing page or event. And the broader your readership, the more traffic you can expect.

To increase your blogosphere, you need to expose more readers to your content. Sharing your blog through social media is the best place to start. If you have a business Facebook page, you can have your blog automatically update your status. The same can be done on LinkedIn. Assuming you have dynamite content, it’s an easy step for your friends, likers or connections to share it with their friends.

But how do you expand beyond your sphere of connections? One of the easiest ways to do that is through social bookmarking sites, like Stumbleupon, Digg and Reddit. As of January 1, 2011, Stumbleupon generated more website traffic (referrals) than any other social media site, including Facebook. Social bookmarking sites are the equivalent to your favorites, only made public for all to see and share.

There are a number of social bookmarking sites, some general and some industry specific. The most popular general interest sites are Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Diigo, Mixx and Fark but there are dozens more. To submit a site, you will need an account setup at each of these sites. When you are ready to submit your new blog post, you then login to each one and add the link.

But I’m all about time saving. If you have to go to each site, add the link, add an excerpt, then submit it, it’s going to take some time. Despair not, grasshopper. Simply add a plugin to your WordPress blog called ShareToAny. Once you activate the plugin, ShareToAny adds a button to the bottom of each blog post that will automatically connect you with all the above social bookmark sites, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and close to 100 other potential sites.

When I first discovered this technique, I closely monitored my web traffic to see if it did have an effect. Almost without exception, every time I submit a blog post, I see a significant spike in traffic to my web site as a result.

Now, you’ve learned some of the ninja master’s most guarded secrets. It’s time for you to go forth and make your way in the blogosphere.

Gary Wagnon, owner of 800biz.com Digital Marketing Solutions, specialize in helping small business owners maximize their traffic through web site design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and mobile text message marketing.

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ninjaNow we get into the really cool stuff only the advanced warriors know. It’s common knowledge that keywords in domain names are given high importance by the search engines.  But it’s not possible to have a separate site for every keyword phrase that applies to your business.

With a WordPress blog, you can do the next best thing.  Every blog post you create has a unique page name.  By default, that page name often looks something like, www.800biz.com/blog/?page=25 .  No search engine value there.  Take heart.  There is a simple fix and a stealthy super fix.

The simple fix first.  At the top of each post between the title box and the body box, you will see the Permalink.  Following that you will see an edit button.  Clicking the edit button will allow you to change the name of the post to the article title or any keyword phrase you want.  This will give the search engines a keyword phrase to work with.

Now for the stealthy super fix.  Under the setting tab on your dashboard, click on Permalinks.  This will open the permalinks settings page.  You will see several choices.  Choose the Custom Structure option.  In the blank box, enter the following:

/%category%/%postname%

Once you save the changes, immediately test your blog and see if your page displays.  Some servers may not be setup for this and may require a manual entry to the .htaccess file. (Your web designer or server should be able to help.  If your site does not work or you don’t have access to change this file, use the simple fix above.)

What this change does is make the url of each blog post the domain name plus the category and post title.  Assuming your category is also a keyword or keyword phrase, now you’ve doubled your SEO keyword exposure in the prime real estate of your domain url.

You’re almost there.  One more big secret to share before you become a black belt blogger, so stay tuned.  The secret to skyrocketing traffic is the final secret.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in online marketing solutions, including web design, search engine optimization, social media marketing and mobile text marketing.

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Now that you’re blogging (I assume you read my last blog), you’re no longer a white belt (novice). So now let’s give you the next secret techniques to earn your green belt (intermediate) – SEO Keywords in your blog.
Black Belt

My blog is done through WordPress, so that’s the platform I will be talking about. I know there are other blogging platforms but in my opinion, WordPress is far and away the most powerful in terms of functionality and overall SEO ability. So aside from just writing a blog and hoping for the best, what specifically should you be doing.

Let’s start with keyword usage. The same rules apply to a blog as to a website. If you have a major keyword phrase you want to get indexed, that phrase should have a web page devoted to it. In the case of your blog, don’t try to cram every possible keyword in your post. That only waters down the entire importance of every keyword phrase and, as a result, your post won’t get optimal results. If you have more keyword phrases, put them in separate posts.

WP-keywordsPost tags and Categories. Every post should have a keyword rich category and keyword tags. In WordPress, those are added to the post on the right hand side. Once a category is created, all posts assigned to that category will appear in the blog menu (if you choose to display it.) While categories are permanently incorporated, post tags (the WordPress term for keywords) are not. You will need to add them to each post. One common question I get is how many keywords should I add here. If the keyword phrase isn’t mentioned in your blog title or body, it probably shouldn’t be one of the post tags. A good rule of thumb is no more than 5 post tags per post.

In my early martial art days, I couldn’t wait to get to the really cool stuff the brown and black belts got to do. Well, you’re almost there. The really cool stuff is coming up so keep practicing what you’ve learned so far.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz specializes in website design, search engine optimization, social media marketing and mobile text message marketing.

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kung-fu_tv-master_po-young_grasshopper“Ah Grasshopper, when you can snatch the pebble from my hand it will be time for you to leave.” Okay, I’m an old Kung Fu fan but the master’s comment still holds true. When you learn to master a few basic secrets, it will be time for your business to soar.

So, Grasshopper, are you ready to get started? Secret Number 1 – You must learn to blog. Now before you get that dear in the headlights look, hang on. Like any good master, I’m going to impart the knowledge you need to master this needed skill.

I can almost always predict the reaction when I tell clients they need to start a blog. Their shoulders sag, they expel a huge sigh and look like they just got punched in the stomach. The hardest thing for most business owners is writing about their business. We can talk about our businesses in person, but when it comes to putting it down on paper, that’s a different story. Maybe it’s insecurity in our writing style, maybe it’s the time it takes to peck it out on the keyboard. But fear not. Help is here.

Let’s address the easiest one first – slow typing skills. Even though I’m pretty proficient on the keyboard, my best writing is done as I speak. So I bought Dragon Speak software and with my headset microphone, I talk, it types. It takes a little training but the more you use it the better it gets. It was the best $40 I’ve spent.

With that excuse down, let’s tackle writing insecurity. The beauty of a blog is your high school English teacher isn’t going to be grading it. If you can “fool” most of the people most of the time verbally, you’re in luck. A blog should be in your voice. Let your personality show through. People do business with people they know, like and trust. If your blog reflects who you are, your readers will get to “know” you. Besides, if your blog is a boring lecture, your readers will only come back when they have incurable insomnia.

Now for the serious decisions. What direction do you take your blog? Do you go serious or humorous? Witty and sarcastic or reassuring and calming? Or maybe controversial? A couple of notes on controversial. If you choose to go down the controversy road, be prepared for responses. A controversial post will frequently generate lots of comments. While that is exactly what you want, engagement from your readers, you also need to be thick-skinned enough to handle it. You will also want to respond to every comment. Just don’t be argumentative. Acknowledge the commentor’s points and either defend your position, recant it or just thank them and let it go.

KungFuGrasshopperOne last hidden secret Grasshopper. What do you talk about? Do you read newsletters, trade journals or other publications about what’s happening in your industry? (If you answer “No” we need to go back to Grasshopper kindergarten. You’re probably way behind the times and your competitors are more than likely taking your lunch money!!)

The information you read is loaded with trends, techniques or knowledge your customers would find valuable. All you need to do is take that information, put your spin on it and there’s your blog post. Sight the article source and wrap your take around it. “Just read this article about the new 2011 widgets. Their going to make your life so much easier because…” Or the article may trigger something you want to let your customers or clients know. Don’t hesitate to dip into this limitless well of information.

So now you’re ready to start practicing. Remember Cain was in the Shaolin Temple many years before he could grab the pebble. But feel free to test your skills when you feel ready.

Need help with how to write your content?    Creating a Buzz with Word Of Mouth Advertising is a 64 page ebook loaded with ideas, tips and techniques.

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6
Jul

Analyze This

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon Tags: , , ,

So you have a website, but is it performing?  You monitor your advertising efforts, you may even ask customers that call where they found you.  And you may even be gratified when they say they found you online.

But are you really getting the most out of your web site?  An analysis of your web statistics can provide you a wealth of information.  Most web hosting companies can provide you with stats on your site.  Another option is adding Google Analytics to your site.  (Google Analytics may be the easiest if you don’t have access to your web server’s control panel.)

One common question I get is “What do all these mean?”  Even though the categories are self-explanatory, what do they REALLY mean?

The first stat is unique visitors vs (total) visitors.  So what is the difference?  When a browser comes to your site the first time, they are counted as in the unique visitor and in the visitor total.  The second time (and beyond) they are counted only in the visitor total.  Are you providing current information that draws visitors back?  If you business is a one time sale, then unique visitors are the most important stat of the 2.  But even if that is the nature of your business, providing relevant content of value, even your old customers, can result in referrals and possibly repeat business.

The next stat to analyze is time spent on the site.  Sadly, by far the largest time block is less than 30 seconds for most web sites.  That means that most browsers spend less than 30 seconds before leaving your site and going to the next one.  Why?  Some factors that effect the “stickiness” of your site are:

  • Lack of Content
  • Poorly Organized Content
  • Difficult to Navigate
  • Overall Site Appearance
  • Out of Date Information

Very few businesses have a monopoly on the web today.  The competition is fierce and you must be equally aggressive if you want to claim your piece of the pie.

Bounce rate is another factor related to time spent.  The bounce rate refers to the percentage of single page visits in which a browser left your site from the entrance page.  High bounce rates can be the result of ineffective headlines, poor keyword choices or poorly worded ad campaigns.

Another stat to pay particular attention to is the keywords section.  Most web site owners look at the keywords with an eye to which keyword brings in the most visitors.  But an equally critical piece is what keywords are NOT there.  When you did your keyword analysis, you should have identified the keywords that best matched your business.  If some of those keywords do not show up in your stats, it may be time to evaluate your content and have some additional search engine optimization (SEO) done.

Finally, review the referrers section.  For years this section was a measure of SEO efforts.  And while that is still true, with the importance of social media, this stat has become a measure for your return on engagement in social media.  The importance of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and especially you blog in your SEO plan have been well documented.  A successful social media plan will result in driving traffic to your web site.  The referrer stat helps you document the traffic that is coming from the various social media and identify weak areas.

If you have gone to the effort of creating a web site, doesn’t it make sense to get the most from your site?  Use your stats as a guide to maximize your traffic and your revenue.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com is a specialist in search engine optimization, web site design and social media marketing.  If you would like a free, no obligation SEO analysis, feel free to contact 800biz.

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For the last 5 or more years, I couldn’t pick up a newsletter or ezine without finding an article about search engine optimization.  That is, until now.

Ten years ago, we focused on adding meta tags to our websites to get them ranked.   Five years ago, it was about linking strategies.  Then content became king.  And with each change, SEO specialists like myself adapted.  So how to you drive traffic to your site today?

The evolution of search today has taken on a real time emphasis.  Looking for the news? Today the news finds you.   Of course, you want the latest information on whatever you are searching for.  Nothing is more frustrating than going to a website and finding information from 2006.  Even if it’s still pertinent, chances are you will go on to a more current site.

Real search or live search focuses on delivering the most recent information.  And that information is frequently not from a website.  The most recent information is more likely a blog post or even a Twitter tweet.  Yes, I said a Twitter tweet.  Here’s a good example:

A Google search for “Iceland Volcano” resulted in a section for Latest News – that contains a live feed changing every few seconds.  The listing below shows results from just minutes before.

Twitter Results in Google

Twitter Results in Google

Directly below the Latest News is a section for Video results that displays YouTube videos of the Iceland Volcano.  What every happened to the Google we all knew that took 90 days to get your site found?

Video Results - YouTube

Video Results - YouTube

So should you abandon your website for a blog, Twitter account and YouTube channel?  Not yet.  I look at the social media like a big funnel.  Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should be funneling people to your blog and your blog should be funneling people to your website, where browsers can find out details about you and your business and hopefully take action (but that’s another topic).

Another reason you can’t abandon search engine optimization (SEO) and your website is the permanency of social media.  You might be ranking well with your current article, post, tweet or video, but as more recent media are found, yours will either drop in ranking or disappear all together.  So you website is the anchor. A well designed, search engine optimized website should remain fairly stable (even in competitive keywords.)  For example, search for “Tucson Interior Design” in Google.  Of the top 4 results, 3 of the sites are ones that were optimized by 800biz.com several years ago.  With little or no changes, these sites have maintained their top ranking consistently.

So for now, SEO is still alive and kicking.  But today, you there are more pieces of the online marketing puzzle to put together.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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