Posts tagged with ‘search’

How to Get Reviews Using Google Hotpot

This video outlines a free way to get your local business to appear higher in Google’s search results by having a Google places page, and asking your customers and clients to review your company there.  By the way, we are practicing what we preach here, too. If you are a satisfied client, would you please review us?

What Will You Do To Be # 1?

In our culture we often push the limits to be # 1. However, when it comes to the internet and search; beware of the # 1 pitch. Any company that tells you they can get you to the number 1 position on any search engine, map or place page should be thoroughly investigated before hiring. This is because all most all of the top SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies never promise position. What they promise is to get you the very best position based on your budget and time commitment. After all, what you are paying for is their time to implement their SEO expertise within your timeframe and the time it takes to do it.

You aren’t paying for a silver bullet that takes you to the top to only have you disappear over time into oblivion. This is what happens when black or gray hat methods are used to get you to the top of the heap. You may stay there for awhile and even make a little money but eventually you will get found out.  Then you will have to make another decision; give it up or start over. Be #1 in the long run. Remember; do it the right way and stay.

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Google May Be The Best, But Not The Only, Way To Be Found

I’m a regular reader of Techdirt, a blog that deals with many issues facing us in the digital age. Mike Masnick, the author, poses an interesting point in a post from last Thursday: Has anyone noticed that sites don’t have to rely on Google so much for traffic anymore? Now, remember, the key words in that sentence are so much. There is no doubt that for now and the foreseeable future, Google is the dominant player in search, and you’ll want to be seen there.

However, more and more people are finding that their traffic is coming from a variety of places. Facebook is definitely a great place to find new things. Also, don’t forget about Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon and other places like them. These are great networks to find new people, places and content. I find my most timely news comes from Twitter. I’ve found some of the most interesting analysis of current events on Reddit. There is one caveat, however. You do need to have good content that people actually want to read and share.

Google can be a tough nut to crack. You don’t want to put all of your “eggs” in one basket, so I suggest you find your place somewhere in the social media-sphere. You’ll find there are many to choose from that provide the perfect platform for your unique voice.

Is Google Instant Preview Bad for Websites?

Snapshot decisions may change the way we search…but not really.

Many SEO and web development circles are up in arms about Google’s installment of the Instant Preview feature. When you search for something using Google, each search result will have a magnifying glass icon next to the search result.  Click on the magnifying glass to reveal a snapshot of the web page in the search result like this:

Some experts think this is the end of organic search, and the beginning of snapshot judgments that will hurt many websites and their rankings.  When considered, Google Instant Preview aligns itself with current web trends and user habits in order to make the web searching process faster and easier.

The Internet has made all users able to make fast decisions, and move on. We are constantly searching for the next great source of information, new innovative product, and best way to share pictures and videos with friends and family. The result? Shorter attention spans and less patience for searching, clicking, and scrolling.

Google Instant Preview takes this into consideration and allows users to view website layouts and basic information before navigating away from Google. Users won’t waste time clicking on a website if the Instant Preview shows any of the following:

  • Not enough text
  • Too much text
  • No images
  • Outdated design

The user experience is becoming more streamlined as a result of this, but it won’t drastically change the way websites are designed and outlined. Instead, website owners may be encouraged to keep their web design, content, and functionality up to date to attract web users instantly, and to retain their interest.

In short, Google Instant Preview does not revolutionize or even threaten the way we search. It simply recognizes the way we search the web in order to make it easier.

Snapshot decisions may change the way we search…but not really.

When SEO Doesn’t Make Sense

I recently had a conversation with a doctor about search engine optimization.  He was excited to talk about the idea that he wanted his name, and to a slightly lesser extent the name of his practice, to pop up all over the front page of Google.  He was disappointed when he googled himself, not to see his name popping up at the top.  He wanted to know how much it would cost to get that kind of result.  I told him it wouldn’t be expensive at all.  He got excited.

I then told him that it would be money down the drain, with no real return on investment to speak of.  He looked puzzled, so I went on to demonstrate my point by pulling up a keyword tool on my iphone, and showing him the volume of people searching for his name. Zilch.  Or so few that the keyword tool wouldn’t embarrass him further by showing him just how few there really were, after you subtracted his own vanity searches.  His doctor-ego had just taken a hit, so I decided I’d better channel his energy in a positive direction.

Next, I asked him if he had any idea how many people searched for the name of the primary disease with which his particular specialty dealt.  We did the numbers (the name of the disease plus the name of the city in which he practiced), and he was astounded to see how many monthly searches there were.  Then I asked him if he would like for his name to appear all over the front page of Google for THAT phrase. To his credit, the light bulb sparked to life without much delay.  He asked me how much this strategy would cost, and I just smiled at him.

Rule # 1 of Search Optimization: There is a direct correlation between the number of searches a term gets, and the amount of money, effort, and time it will require to move the needle.

Rule # 2 of Search Optimization: There is a direct correlation between the number of searches a term gets and the potential returns to be had in going after the front page of the SERPs.

The work of SEO must always consider these rules when forming and deploying a meaningful strategy.

So what kinds of scenarios don’t make sense for a comprehensive SEO strategy?  I asked our SEO team to answer that, and this was their list:

  1. The market-busting product. If it’s so new and revolutionary that no one in the market even knows that they need it yet, then SEO is not going to help at all.  The real expense of marketing this kind of category-defiant product or service is in directly educating existing customers and potential customers about what your product is and does, and why it’s needed.  If no one knows what term or phrase to enter into a search engine to find you, they won’t be searching that way for you yet. (One exception is the revolutionary product that fits well into an existing, clearly defined market need, such as a new vacuum cleaner technology, or an amazing new spatula.
  2. The invisible Brand Name. Branding is a necessary function of marketing, but not necessarily the first priority of SEO. It’s not the low-hanging fruit.  Again, this comes back to knowing what keywords people use to find your product or service.  Getting the sale is the first priority, and if your brand name alone does not yet have the cache to move the market, stick to optimizing the keywords that describe your product or service until your other concentrated branding efforts catch up.
  3. The tangential product, or Red-Headed Stepchild. Many companies have a core competency they are known for, but there’s still this great little product or service on the side that seems to get far less attention.  SEO the heck out of it, right?  Well, maybe, maybe not.  If there is not a clear connection between the core offering and the sidebar deal, there may not be a smart way of leveraging the strength of the one to infuse the other with deserved attention.  Remember, Google doesn’t care that your company is branching out. It only cares about returning relevant search results to its visitors (and arguably making Gazillions in the process).  If your New Thing isn’t the same thing as your Tried and True Thing, the amount of effort necessary to get noticeable results begins to look a lot like an entirely separate SEO strategy, complete with its own budget and structure.  Diluting the strength of your tested and profitable web pages with large doses of The New Thing is not going to help anyone get rich(er).
  4. The low-profit per sale deals. We’ve had to talk some clients out of SEO, simply because the price point (and more importantly, the profit margin) on their typical sales didn’t justify the expense.  Quite simply, if the research shows that you can expect to pay the same price or more than you’ll net on a sale to acquire that sale through organic or paid search optimization activities, then either raise your prices, or find a different, more cost-effective method of marketing your goods or services.  We love to see clients who fundamentally understand the expected net value over time of a new customer relationship, because these are the clients we can truly have rational discussions about ROI expectations.  Don’t spend too much to acquire too little.
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Local Business & NAP – Why it’s Important

Back when the only way to find a business was by letting your “fingers do the walking” through the Yellow Pages, it was relatively easy for the business owner to change and/or forward a phone number. It was easy to get that address changed through the post office as well in a reasonable amount of time along with sending out change of address cards to vendors, clients and other “must haves” on your list. Yes, when the only source was the big yellow book there wasn’t much thought that had to go into a move, opening up another location or just making a business change of some sort; merger, name change or changing from one type of business to another. However, now that the internet pulls from multiple sources to get your NAP, (business name, address and phone number) all of a sudden it’s not as easy to get and maintain control over.

There is no longer just one place to go where you can enter in your new or changed information and then forget about it. In fact, there are many places you now have to visit to make sure your business listings are correct. We have heard of businesses that have had to revisit listings and directories multiple times before their information is corrected. Many businesses either don’t know this is something they need to pay attention to or find it too hard and time consuming to bother with so they don’t. The problem with not paying attention and correcting your NAP is the search engines (Google, Bing, etc) look to see that the NAP is consistent on as many listings as possible to put that business as high on the local listings as possible. NAP confusion can cause your business to be “out of favor” with the SERP’s, especially when it’s all about local search. You might beat it in time but in the mean time your competitors just might shoot right by you in local online listings.

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Do You Need a Website Audit?

Web Site Traffic Problems
One of the questions I get asked a lot is; “Why isn’t my website getting traffic?” When I tell them that I have no idea it takes them back a little because I am supposed to be an expert in the online traffic world. But just like real traffic, there are numerous things that can happen out there on the road that can slow, stall or bring traffic to a stand still and it’s the same with a website.

That’s why having someone conduct an audit when you have no idea what is happening is extremely important. It’s also much better for a real “live” person to do it so they can “see” what’s happening on the page; navigation, content, etc. I say this because there are companies that charge a fee to do an audit and all they do is run your website through a program to find keywords, density, links, etc. While all this is good stuff to know, I have yet to find a program that can help you with navigation, content, structure and strategy. That’s not to say that it won’t happen someday; but it has not happened yet.

Just last week I sat with a client that had no idea that the bots sent to the website couldn’t get past the front page. Everything past the home page was not being seen by the search engines. All of the page rank and page strength (a.k.a. juice) was coming from links that were going to the individual pages, which was good. However, they were not indexing the entire website because they couldn’t get in through the home page even though by looking at the home page one would “think” they were getting in because the visitor could.

This is just one of the things that could really impact a website and if you don’t have people looking at it that can connect the dots then you could spend a lot of unnecessary money to find the answer and correct the problem. Getting a website audit is well worth the cost to get your site working for you and your business.