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How Long Does It Really Take to Get Results

Instant gratification. We’re living in a time where nobody really wants to wait too long for anything. We’ve been conditioned to believe that faster often equates to better. We want instant food. Instant miracles. Instant salary. Instant job titles. Instant results. Instant everything.

Let’s take food. You can open up a can of soup, heat it up in the microwave and within seconds you can be eating your lunch. It’s delicious, quick and provides you the sustenance you need to get through the next part of your day. Sort of. It’s filled with salt and preservatives. And, in many cases, the nutritional value can be lost.

Now, think of that homemade turkey soup you cooked right after Thanksgiving. You created a broth from the bones that you let simmer for hours in order to extract every ounce of natural flavour. You added in your fresh vegetables and herbs. It might have taken all day (not to mention the day it took to cook the actual Turkey) but the result was the perfect bowl of homemade soup that was chock-full of goodness and taste.

It took time, but it was worth it.

The same can be said for Search Engine Optimization.

Almost every single client will ask the all-important question: how long will it take to see results. The industry-standard answer is 4-6 months. You can find hundreds (thousands) of articles on the Internet that agree with this consensus. And you can say that to every-single-client but somewhere within the first week or two, they’ll call you up and ask if it’s working yet.

Clients are excited. They’re nervous. They need to account for their spend. You’ll remind them that you ensured they’d start to see some results within 4-6 months, but at some point, they’ll begin to get impatient. It might not happen every time, but it happens enough that we’ve concluded there is a far better answer to the question “how long does it take to see results?”.

After all, results can take a day. They can take a year. They can take five years. It all depends on the goal, the KPIs, the competition and the industry.

How Long Does It Take To See Results?  Let’s Determine What The Results Will Be!

Instead of providing the generic four-to-six months answer, we find it can be far more beneficial to outline what our anticipated results will be.

Key Performance Indicators – KPIs

KPIs are objective, tangible metrics that are used to measure the success of a campaign.

In the realm of SEO there are several KPIs that can constitute successful results.

1. Growth in Organic Sessions– Tracking traffic from organic search is a measurable KPI. Growth can be slow going as it does take time for pages and websites to make their way up the search engine results, especially in competitive industries. It is the objective that lies at the heart of any SEO campaign. More targeted traffic from search engines is an easy result to share with clients, too.

2. Increases in Keyword Rankings – Back in the day, SEO companies would provide clients with spreadsheets outlining keyword results for targeted keywords. It was a metric clients loved. But, with the growth of localized and individualized search results, it became more difficult to provide an accurate measure of keyword rankings. A website could be sitting at #1 for one user but #4 for another. Now, SEO companies might provide a more generalized average for keyword rankings.

Keyword ranking isn’t the be all, end all though. Going from spot number 50 to result number 8 might not make a huge different in traffic; however going from number 8 to number 4 likely will. This is because most users will click on the first few results, but not wade too much further down the list.

3. Leads & Conversions – What good is all of this extra traffic if they are converting into leads? More and more companies are getting savvy with the results they expect to see and leads, orders and sales has become a valuable KPI for SEO campaigns. On average, the best results for a website come from organic traffic results. After all, this traffic is highly targeted for specific searches. If a person is searching for the best place to wash their car, it is likely to assume they are further down the path-to-purchase than a person who gets advertised to with a car-wash display ad or social media post. They’re already searching.

4. Session Duration – Generally speaking, once you implement an SEO campaign, you will likely start to see an increase in session duration. This is because the quality of traffic is highly targeted which means the user would likely be more genuinely interested in your website and information.

Targeted Traffic vs General Traffic

If you look at just numbers, one might think that having 10,000 visitors a day vs 5,000 visitors a day is a win. But, if the 10,000 visitors who are coming are more general in nature, is it really? They’re likely not spending as much time on the website, or they’re browsing without intent to purchase, contact or convert. They take more effort to convert or bring back. So, if you can get 5,000 visitors who are searching for one of your particular products or services, they’re more targeted. They’re likely more ready to convert or purchase. Those 5,000 visitors are more valuable than the 10,000 generalists.

The Tactics Play A Part in The Time It Takes to See Results

Depending on the industry and the competition, an SEO professional will undertake a variety of tactics to achieve results. Think of it like growing a garden. Some plants, fruit and vegetables take longer to bare fruit or flowers than others. In addition, you can’t quite ever predict how long it will take before the tomatoes are ready to be picked.

An SEO plan that is really content-driven can take a lot of time; however, the results might come in spurts. The SEO professional will target a keyword, have a piece of content written and published, and depending on how competitive the keyword is, results may start coming within a week. It could also take six months. In the meantime, with each new piece of content, results will start to build.

Budget

Nobody wants to admit that the more you pay the better results you will get; however, budget equals time and resources. So, the more you put into it, the more you should get out. Three team members spending six hours should see results faster than one team member sending two hours.

At the end of the day, SEO is not a quick-fix for a business that requires results immediately. It’s a long-term process that requires a strategy. It is a process where every step builds upon the one before it. Today’s results are likely built upon the effort from six months ago.

So, while you’ll likely find it takes four-to-six months to start seeing results, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead of offering a timeline, it can be more beneficial to offer education on the KPIs. That way, you can start celebrating the little wins along the way.

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5 Questions To Ask When Choosing An SEO Services Firm

In the late 90s and early 2000’s, it was a lot easier to choose an experienced SEO Services firm because there were not that many of them. Of course, like any industry, there were some amateurs and bad apples in the mix. The term ‘black hat seo’ stemmed from early SEO days where some individuals and businesses were looking to cheat the system, rather than figure out best practices for success.

But, even back then, many businesses had a hard time justifying if the work was worth the cost or if they had found a good company. SEO is complicated and not in the average business’ wheelhouse so it can be more difficult to understand the complexity of the results.

After all, if a business knew how to do it and had the resources to do it in-house, they wouldn’t be hiring out.

So, when it comes time to look for an SEO services firm, having a basic understanding of what’s involved and knowing the questions to ask during the interview process is key.

Recovering from a bad SEO strategy or unprofessional tricks is time consuming and costly. You can avoid this by ensuring you’re selecting an SEO Services firm that has the experience and methods to achieve success.  

Benefits of Search Engine Optimization

Traffic from organic search engine results is highly targeted. This means, when a user queries a search engine they are looking for something specific (be it an answer, information, a product or service). The goal of the search engines is to deliver the best results for the query. So, the idea is that if a visitor lands on your site from a search engine, it his highly likely they are looking for your product, service or information.

The art and science of having your website appear for related search queries is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short

A good SEO strategy places your business in a position to receive targeted visitor traffic to your website. A targeted visitor is further down the path to conversion/purchase which makes them a great target market.  

SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. It can take some time to implement; however, the results are usually long-term.

Generally, an SEO firm will recommend a long-term monthly program. A well-run and successful program is ongoing and includes a variety of items including on-page continuous optimization, content strategies, technical elements, link building and more. Analyze. Rinse. Repeat.

How is SEO Achieved?

There are a variety of tactics involved in a good SEO strategy. Often, you will see that a web designer offers ‘SEO’ under their list of services. Usually, this means they are outfitting the site with a tool designed to allow for the integration of Meta tags (strings of code read by the search engines). This is only one factor of SEO and is not a strategy or a tactic, but rather a tool.  

For the average business owner, if they’re told they’re getting ‘SEO’ they believe it, right? What many are not aware of is that there is SEO and then there is SEO. How do you tell SEO from SEO? Ah, now that’s the big question!  

A Successful SEO Plan Generally Includes:

1. Keyword & Market Research – What is the targeted web visitor searching for to find the website? What are other websites providing? Where is there room for improvement and market infiltration?

2. Content /Site Planning – User experience is everything because SEO is designed to get a visitor to a website, but what happens once they are there is equally as important. Determining the required content, order of pages, importance of items and site flow is paramount.

3. Site Navigation – A cleanly navigated website is easier for the visitor and the search engines.

4. Content – Content is king (and queen, and prince/princess/commoner, too). Again, SEO is designed to get a visitor to click on a search result. Content is what keeps and converts the visitor once they arrive on a website.

5. Clean Coding – A well-built, clean-coded website does wonders in helping a website rank.
6. Speed – Search engines factor in site speed and website load when looking at a website. Speed on mobile devices and desktop computers should be looked at.

7. U/X – User-Centered Design/Content – Some businesses design the website they want to see, or the website they like; however, well-performing websites are designed 100% for the visitor.

8. Meta Tags – Title and description tags are integrated on every page to help aid the search engines in what that page is about.

9. Page Titles– A page title is important for the search engines and the web visitor.

10. Technical SEO Items – There are a variety of technical elements that can help or hinder SEO.
11. Analytics Review – It’s important to continue to monitor campaign results, traffic, and user-flow on a website to adjust strategies and get new ideas.

12. Repeat – SEO is not a one-time affair. For long-term success, an ongoing strategy is essential.
13. Plus various other factors – There are a variety of factors that go into how well a website ranks on the search engines. From link-building to alt-tags and everything in between, a professional SEO services firm prioritizes tactics for your success.

One of the first things you will see is that there is a good deal of planning and strategy that goes into an SEO-optimized website before the build even begins. This is because it is important to build a website that is designed for the targeted web visitor. A site plan, content strategy and website that is built with SEO in mind from the ground up has the right foundation for success.

How To Choose an SEO Services Firm

With so many SEO Services firms out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the choices. Finding one who can talk the talk and walk the walk is key.

In addition, because SEO is a long game strategy, choosing the wrong firm can set you behind. But even more so, when SEO tactics are not implemented properly, or black hat tricks are used, long lasting damage can often be done to a site that takes a lot of hard work and time to overcome.

By asking these questions, a business is able to better ascertain who is reputable, and who is not.

Top 5 Questions To Ask An SEO Company

1. How Many Years Experience Do You Have (and can you show me examples and case studies of your success stories)?

Perhaps the general philosophies and tactics of SEO can be book-learned; however, actual industry experience is priceless. Through working in the industry, SEO experts can delve beyond best practices and recommendations because they have developed an innate ability to naturally assess a situation and implement a strategy that will work.

By asking this question, you’re looking for an SEO services firm that has been around for years and can provide many examples of top search engine positioning and lead generation results in a variety of industries.

2. Do You Follow Industry Best Standards and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?

Ideally, we’d like to think this is the easy question that every SEO professional would answer properly; however, there are some out there who have developed proprietary practices designed to trick the search engines. That’s your cue to run away.  Another cue? When they tell you they can rank you in a day or a week and offer ranking guarantees. If a sales pitch sounds fishy, generally, the practices put in place are too.

You should only hire a company that continues to stay up-to-date on recommended best practices and uses white-hat SEO practices.

3. How Is Your Success Measured?

Reputable SEO companies work with you to outline goals, targets and timelines. They send regular reports and updates that measure things such as keyword positioning, website traffic, visitor demographics, time on site, bounce rate and lead conversions.

It is important you know the goals of the SEO firm and that they align with your goals. What kind of traffic increase are you expecting? How many visitors per month are the targeted keywords expected to get?

4. What Keywords Can You Guarantee?
Here’s the trick question! You want to hire an SEO services firm that can look you in the eye and explain that keyword positions cannot be guaranteed. There are many companies out there touting first page positions, guaranteed! But, for what keywords? And, for how long? Organic search engine results are not something that anybody can guarantee so it’s best you work with a company that is upfront about the goals and the strategies to get there.

Generally speaking, the more popular a keyword, the more competitive the keyword which means the more work and time it will take to rank. We’ve worked tirelessly for multiple years to rank a website for a very popular keyword while others can take a week or a month.

5. Am I Under Contract? What Happens if We Part Ways?
Many reputable SEO services firms are confident in their ability to establish long-term client relationships and are happy to not work within locked-in contracts. Some may require contract terms. Regardless of whether you are locked-into a relationship or not, more importantly, you need to understand what happens if you choose to part ways.

There are a variety of reasons a business may cancel or pause their SEO services. Best practices are that the business retains their content, access to their website (if with the same company) and all logins/passwords for accounts.

Trust, Integrity and General Likeability

One of the reasons a business might have difficulty selecting an SEO services firm is because they do not understand the process and therefore, find it more difficult to ascertain what to look for. Business owners regularly have to contract out services that are outside their own scope of work. When a business can build a long-term relationship with an outside vendor, there is a greater opportunity for success.

A successful relationship with an SEO services firm can be highly beneficial to a business. So, it is important you select a firm you can trust and is based on integrity. This firm and their professionals will be working hard on your account so it’s helpful if there is a good working relationship.

Selecting the least expensive company or the company with the slick sales pitch doesn’t necessarily bode well for long-term success.  

Ideally, a company that has been around, achieving successful results, for years is best suited to help your business achieve long-term success. They’ve not only seen, but experienced, search engine algorithm updates. They’ve had experience with competitive keywords, dropped rankings, and cleaning up technical code on a website. They’ve developed an innate understanding of what it takes to achieve results. They stay up-to-date on best practices and up-and-coming trends but have a solid grasp of the foundation and good, sound business.

They can speak client and programmer and act as a bridge for your company between these two, very different languages. They can delve deep into analytics to continue to strategize for best results and then provide you with key indicators in a way you can understand. They can stay up-to-date on the trends but also are not bound by the trends.

Ideally, you’re looking for a company that has a proven track record, satisfied clients and has achieved long-term successful results that go beyond positioning and into ROI and lead generation.

As a business owner, you don’t need to know how to do SEO to hire an SEO services firm. You just need to know the right questions to ask so you can ensure you’re hiring a reputable firm that has your best interests in mind.

About 1st on the List

Located just outside Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1st on the List is a boutique SEO Company that has been offering search engine optimization, pay per click, and SEO web design services since 1997.

To learn more about our services, please call us Toll Free at 1-877-562-7965 or send us an email.

How Search Engine Optimization Works

Whenever someone asks me “What do you do?” it really is a loaded question because understanding what I do requires just a little understanding of SEO and how SEO works.

More often than not I find myself answering like this, “I work for a local Internet Marketing company that specializes in Search Engine Optimization”. Then I follow it up with “Essentially, it’s like an advertising company for websites.”

I am always prepared to get a puzzled face that may recognize the term ‘SEO’ but not have any clue as to what SEO is, what it means or how it works. I must also be prepared to explain in more detail exactly what is SEO. This is usually how the conversation might play out:

Me: The whole point of SEO or Search Engine Optimization, is to improve your web pages and make sure that they meet and adhere to the search engine guidelines so that your website can be found at the top search engine results pages (SERPs).

Person: But how does SEO work? What does it mean to “optimize your site”?

Me: What search engine optimization does is …

“Improve your web pages and make them better, more useful
and more effective for everyone including the people who visit your site
and for the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.”

In other words, search engine optimization helps both the search engines and the visitors.

Person: Oh, you mean like you get the website at the top of the page?

Me: Yes but it’s a little more complicated than just “getting” it there. Websites don’t just magically appear at the top by following a secret formula or paying a fee to Google. There’s much more to it …

Most times, they’ve heard enough but sometimes the person is intrigued and wants to hear more. The rest of the conversation might be summarized below.

Understanding How SEO Helps the Search Engines

Search engine optimization works by making sure your web pages meet the search engine guidelines and become more relevant. SEO helps the search engines to:

  • Find your web pages easier
  • Review your web pages faster
  • Better understand what your website is all about
  • So they can Index your web pages properly (add your pages to their database)
  • Rate your web pages more favorably
  • And list your web pages near the top of the search engine results so people can find you easier

In summary, search engine optimization works to help your web pages:

  1. Be Found
  2. Be Understood
  3. Be Indexed
  4. Be Rated Properly
  5. And Be Visible to people who are searching

Understanding How SEO Helps Your Visitors

Optimizing your web pages to make them as good as possible will help your website perform better in the search engines, which in turn, puts you in front of the very people who are searching for what you have to offer.

Search engine optimization works to help visitors find your website faster and easier plus your website will:

  • Be more relevant for the terms people use to find your website
  • Be easier to navigate
  • Help visitors find what they came looking for faster
  • Help visitors make better decisions (sooner) about what you have to offer
  • Help convert visitors into customers

In summary, search engine optimization will help visitors to:

  1. Find your site faster
  2. Understand your offerings
  3. Make better decisions about what they want
  4. Convert sooner

Understanding How Search Engine Optimization Works

While you may not know how to do SEO, there are many ways to optimize your web pages to make them as good as possible for searchers and for the search engines.

During search engine optimization, improvement changes can be made to any of the following (plus much more) to help improve your web pages and your page performance.

So in answer to the question, “How does SEO work?” here are some of the many places SEO helps to make improvements to your website:

  • Web Page Content
    – Body Text Content
    – Keyword Usage
    – Page Titles
    – Sub-Headings
    – Link Text
    – Images
    – Meta Data (Meta Titles, Descriptions, Alt Text)
    – Content Management Systems (CMS)
    – E-commerce Systems (shopping carts)
  • Source Code
  • In-Bound Linking
  • Page Loading Times
  • Image Sizing
  • Site Structure/Architecture
  • Site Navigation
  • Social Media/Videos
  • Server Setup
  • Hosting
  • Performance Analytics

Learn More About How Search Engine Optimization Works

By the end of the conversation I usually like to look at the big picture again; In marketing, the primary goal is to get your message out to as many potential customers as possible so they will buy your product or services.

Online marketing can be very powerful because no other marketing medium has the potential to reach as many potential customers 24/7 as do the search engines. And search engines like Google simply want to give their searchers the best, most relevant pages that they think will match what is being searched for.

The purpose of doing search engine optimization then, is to try and do just that: Provide the best, most relevant pages for the keyword term that was searched on.

Still looking for more answers? Visit our detailed explanation of “What is Search Engine Optimization” or contact our Search Engine Optimization Consultants.

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What To Do If You Are Not Getting Leads From Your Website

I know that you want to see results from your website project.  And I know it can be disappointing when you don’t start getting results soon after you have launched the website.  It is natural to want to give up on the whole idea and conclude, “You can’t get leads for your business from the Internet”.

That’s fair, because you really should expect results from any advertising.  If it doesn’t work, you should stop using that promotion.

But there is another aspect of Internet marketing that you should consider.

I’m not trying to convince you of anything but, as a businessman, I know you have been asking yourself one question since the day you started and will continue to ask the same question for as long as you are in business.  I chose to be in this business with the same question in my mind.

Every businessman is always asking:  “How can I grow my business?”

When you boil it down, there are only two options:

  1. Referrals – When you start out you don’t have much of a budget so you somehow find a few clients to get started with, treat your clients like gold, and hope they will recommend their friends and family to help you grow.
  2. Advertising – At some point, every business person finds that referrals don’t grow the business fast enough and there are never really enough referrals to make a good living.

After struggling to make a living for a while, every businessperson turns to advertising to try to achieve the success they see others achieving in the same business.

Advertising sounds like a great idea, but pretty quickly you find out that it is easy to blow away thousands of dollars with little or nothing to show for it.

Even the cheapest of advertising can cost $1,000 to $2,000, with no guarantee of return.  In most cases, even after you spend the money you may never see any results.

I have clients in the roofing and driveway paving business that spend $20,000 to $30,000 at a time on a flyer campaign, four or five times a year to get a handful of new clients each time.  I asked them “How much do you spend, on average, to get a client?”

The answer was, “Well, over $500 … You never know if you will get any clients even after all the money has been spent.” 

Every single business person is in the same situation.  They spend a bunch of money and “hope” they will get clients.  Sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t.

This is where the Internet comes in.

In a scenario where every little magazine and promotional flyer requires a minimum of $500 to $2,500 with no promise of returns, what can a small businessperson do to grow his or her business without going broke?

Until the Internet came around, there was never a good answer to this question.

On the Internet, you can spend $500 to $1,000 per month and you will attract qualified prospects to view your proposition.

Every month that you promote your business online, you get more and more qualified prospects viewing your business.  Some of these people start picking up the phone and calling you.  Your business grows with new clients from the Internet and from the referrals they send you.

On the Internet, the longer you continue to promote, the more exposure you get for the same small budget of $500 to $1000 per month.

There is no other advertising medium that builds and builds your reach, the longer you keep advertising like SEO can.

If you decide to stop promoting your website, you will still face the same question, “How do I grow my business?”  You will have the same options you always did:  spend, spend, spend on advertising that produces little or no results.

After seeing and living through many different marketing programs, my conclusion is this:

SEO is by far the cheapest way to promote your business and get new clients.

When I start promoting a website, there is usually little or no traffic.  After a two or three months they start getting several hundred qualified prospects coming to their website every month. And frankly, this is just the beginning.

In the next six months the traffic builds and builds with the plan I implement.

I have a client where last month he got four people who filled out his website’s contact form.  I bet a few people phoned him as well, but they didn’t mention his website.  I also bet a few people saw where he was on the map on his website and stopped in without telling him they saw his address on the website.

How many clients will it take for you to break even with spending $500 to $1,000 per month?

If you got 10 new clients in the next 12 months would that cover your advertising expenses and more?  In my opinion you should be able to get 10+ new clients every month once the online marketing campaign matures.

Over time, a properly SEO’d website gains “Equity”.  It produces more and more business for you.

As you consider your options for “How do I grow my business?” I hope you will keep these points in mind.

I can help your business grow… slowly at first, and then faster and faster and faster as your website builds “Equity”.

If you feel that you want to work with me and 1st on the List, I would be happy to evaluate your situation.  If it looks like we can do something for you, we’ll let you know.  For some businesses Internet marketing on its own is just not enough. You may have to combine Internet marketing with other techniques to get good results.

The first evaluation is free.  Most people get a lot of value from the investigation we do initially.  Give us a call today at 1-888-262-6687 and let’s get your business growing!

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How Higher Click Through Rates Help Maintain Your Higher Rankings

Once your site achieves a first page search engine ranking, your listings’ click through rate plays an important factor in whether it will remain there.  Once you learn how to increase your click through rate it will not only help you keep that top ranking, but also improve your rankings over time.

Obtaining a high ranking for a competitive phrase can be difficult, but maintaining it can be just as hard.  Google’s algorithm allows them to track the click through rates on your listings and determine if your site is worthy of keeping that top ranking.  While density, keyword location, placement and PageRank™ may have had a lot to do with you initially obtaining the ranking, your visitors and how they select the listings they wish to visit will determine your ability to remain at the top.

That’s the secret! Having a good strong click through rate can help you keep your rankings!

Understanding the Thought Process

Put yourself in Google’s shoes for a moment.  If your primary goal is to show the most relevant results to your visitors, then you may be able to build your initial results through density, but with millions of searches being completed each day, visitors can help further assist with the selection process by adding that human element a search engine wants to emulate.

For example, if your website was listed in position 4 for “Red Scarves” but visitors clicked on the listing in position 5 over 70% of the time, then it would make sense that your site be moved to position 5 and their site take your ranking.  Their websites rankings would improve because they received more clicks than yours. This would move the more popular sites higher up into the rankings allowing their visitors to locate the more relevant sites faster.

If this process was carried out on the search engine rankings over a period of time, then Google is essentially allowing their visitors to aid in the selection process of what they wish to be served.  As SEO’s, you may think that this takes away from your abilities to keep a site ranked in the top of Google, however this is untrue.

Maintaining & Increasing Your Rankings

In order to maintain and increase your site’s rankings in Google, you will need to have access to the Google Webmaster Console for that website and have it verified.

Once this is completed you will want to allow data to be collected for at least 1-2 weeks.  When you have enough data to see a large enough sample you can view the top search queries for your site.  This information will tell you about the top keyword phrases your site was ranked for and the positions they were in for that selected time period.  Review the click through rate of the top 10 keyword phrases and record the position you are listed in for that period.

For example it may say that you were ranked #4 for the keyword phrase “red scarves” and that when you were #4 people clicked on your listing 12% of the time.  If you look at the previous weeks data and you see that you were listed #2 and your listing was clicked on only 4% of the time, then it would be easy to see why your listing may have moved down, allowing a site with a higher click-through rate to be shown higher in the results.

Now there are two things that you can do; say to yourself that this is just the natural order of things, the site is getting a higher click-through rate at position number 4 and that is fine; or you can determine what causes visitors to select other sites and make the needed changes to your listing to increase your click-through rate.

Increasing Your Sites’ Click-Through Rate

To increase your website’s click-through rate there are a few things you need to do.

The first thing would be to identify the other sites that are listed within the top 10 for the keyword you are targeting.

Once you have done this, begin to study their rankings.  Just as your site bounces around a few positions at various times of the day / week, their sites do also.  Begin to study if they are always in the same position, or if there were number 5 today, 8 another day etc.

If you see that their site is bouncing around, it is likely because the search engines are determining whether they get a higher click-through rate at various positions, and if other sites get a higher click-through rate in their position.

Now you will want to begin studying their actual listing, and compare it against your own.  Ask yourself a series of questions to gather the information you need:

  • Is their title catchy?
  • Is their listed page the home page or an interior page?
  • Is their page on topic?
  • Does their page directly provide the solution to the visitors search query?
  • Is their description a snippet, or is it the actual Meta description?
  • Do they offer a discount, or sale within their listing?

Once you have gathered this data, answer the same questions for your own site.  Your goal is to determine what your site is lacking so that you can make the necessary adjustments to increase your click-through rates.

After making the needed adjustments, simply implement them within the site, update your Google Sitemap and continue monitoring your rankings and click-through rate through the Google Webmaster Console.

Learn more about Click Through Rates in Google and Bing or how our SEO Services can address poor click through rates for your website.

The Newbie’s Guide: What is Search Engine Optimization and How Does it Work?

Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) just a buzz phrase you hear floating around the office among your colleagues?

In this article our goal is to help you understand SEO better by explaining the fundamentals of how Search Engines work, what Search Engines need to rank your website and how we “SEO” a website in an effort to give the Search Engines what they need.

Understanding How Search Engines Work

Search Engines are the directories of the Internet. Imagine the Internet as the largest library in the world. Now picture finding an image or article in this vast library. Unless the image has some defining terms to enter into the library directory, that picture is just a piece of paper floating around without categorization in the miscellaneous drawer. Now envision the billions of pages that users around the world have deposited onto the internet.

Search Engines were originally created to sort through all the information uploaded to the web daily. Search Engines use spiders to find and crawl the information on each new page. The Search Engines then have to decipher how this information fits with every other page on the Internet. The page is then categorized and added to an index so that is it faster to recall and show in a Results page for a relevant search.

There is a big difference between what Search Engines actually show in results and all the potential results they could show that are stored in their results. In fact, Google uses more than 200 factors in its algorithm and is continually updating the formula to meet user demands. In the last year alone, there have been almost 900 updates!

What Search Engines Need from a Website and How You Get Ranked

Before any website can be shown in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) the Search Engine must be able to:

  1. Find your website.
  2. Crawl (or spider) your website pages.
  3. Understand what information is on your website.
  4. Categorize each of your website pages in the indexes based on what it understands from your Source Code.
  5. Understand the intent of any Search Query by a person and display the pages in its index it believes are most relevant.

This means that your website must be easy for Search Engine spiders to find, to crawl all your pages, understand what is on your pages (including text and images) and be confident that your web page is the most relevant. Sound like a lot of work? This is where Search Engine Optimization comes in.

How Search Engine Optimization Works in 5 Simple Stages

At 1st on the List we like to break SEO down in 5 stages that work together to make the website most accessible to the Search Engines and most relevant to what visitors expect to find.

1. Site Analysis:

Taking stock of the current state of any website provides a good strategy for moving forward and determining what needs to be fixed to make it easier to the Search Engines to access and crawl your website.

    • Review the site to make sure the Server and Hosting is set up properly, to make it as easy as possible for the Search Engines to access any page on your site at any time.
    • Review the website for duplicate content, spam, slow load times, broken links and other things the Search Engines will demerit your website for.

2. SEO Keyword Research:

A large part of Search Engine Optimization is making sure that the words people are using to search for a company like yours are visible on your website for the Search Engines to read. Keyword research provides the basis for optimizing the content on your website and seeks to discover:

    • What phrases people are using to search for your company? (these are your “keywords”)
    • What SEO Keywords are the most popular (search volume), have the fewest competiting pages and are most relevant to the content presented?
    • What phrases are most attainable for your website and will attract the most qualified traffic?

3. SEO Content Optimization

Once the research stages of the Site Analysis and Keyword Research are completed it is time to start optimizing the content on the website. This SEO work includes but is not limited to:

    • Proper page source code
    • Internal link structure
    • Meta Data
    • Alt Tags
    • Page headings and sub-headings
    • Sitemap creation
    • Body text content that supports the keywords searcher’s use.

A site must attract visitors and it must hold the visitor’s attention. Google uses engagement metrics as one of its ranking factors. The more people who visit your website and stay on it for a long time and look at a number of pages, the more often the Search Engine will show the site in Search Results.

Content optimization focuses on accessibility, reliability, readability, currency, credibility and more as these all affect site rankings. Content optimization also focuses on giving visitors the exact information they are looking for, plus anticipates what additional information the visitor will need in order to complete a conversion, such as purchasing a product or signing up for a consultation.

4. Website Analytics

Once most of the initial grunt work is complete to bring a website up to Search Engine standards the best way to increase value is to monitor its progress and growth. This stage is called “Analytics” and includes:

    • Monitoring visitor traffic to the site over a set time period
    • Tracking and understanding visitor motivations
    • Tracking where and how visitors use the website
    • Tracking and measure sales conversions

Often Analytics can give additional insights to go and tweak items from the Site Audit, Keyword Research and Content Optimization stages.

5. Ongoing SEO Maintenance

If you think SEO is a one time task you are wrong. SEO is always ongoing as the Search Engines like to see fresh and new content on your website. With more than 500 websites created every minute and with your competitors working on their SEO strategy you can’t afford to just sit back. Ongoing website optimization and maintenance keeps web content current, relevant and maintained to meet the changes that the search engine algorithms make, changes in HTML standards and what visitor searching habits indicate.

Search Engine Optimization has changed drastically in our 17 years of experience. However, our general process for optimizing websites has remained stable and is able to achieve lasting results for clients.

Do you need help applying the SEO Process to your website? Give our consultants a call at 1-888-262-6687 to set up a free meeting to discuss your needs and the SEO Plan best suited for your goals and budget.

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5 SEO Tweaks You Can Make When Updating Your Website

Every day we work with bloggers, marketing coordinators and receptionists who are all tasked with the job of keeping their company’s website current and updated.

This may involve updating website pages, adding new products, blogging about events and even running social media. While they have an intimate knowledge of their brand and products as well as excellent writing skills and aesthetic prowess there are still some simple SEO tweaks to be made to further improve the website and user experience.

That’s why we’ve put together this quick article with 5 simple tips for better SEO to make your work stand out and get even more visibility. It’s these simple SEO tweaks you can integrate into your work to help you get ahead!

Write Unique and Interesting Titles, Descriptions and URLs

Many website platforms such as WordPress use dashboards that make it easy to add a new page – much like working in a Word Document. However, when you add a new page the Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are often auto-generated based on a template. This is ok but you could do better! What do we mean?

The Title and Description tag is what gets shown in Search Results most of the time. It is crucial to make this unique and interesting in order to get searchers to click on your website rather than a competitor’s website.

Title: Make it interesting, capture the searcher’s attention and make sure it includes the main keyword or topic of the page.

Description: Describe what the page is about and benefits the person will get by visiting the page. You should also take the opportunity to add your brand name, city (if you are local) and your phone number.

URL: Many websites will create a URL for your page based on the Title, especially in WordPress. You can easily override this before you publish the page to make the URL more concise and reflective of what is on the page.

The problem with using auto-generated meta tags is that they don’t give the best first impression to the public and don’t usually give the Search Engine the information to base a query referral on. Based on your experience with using the Internet what type of Search Results do you tend to click on?

In our article on Local Optimization we give tips for writing awesome Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions.

Write Search Engine and Reader Friendly Content

When writing a new page or blog post pick one central theme or idea and make sure you incorporate that theme (or the “keyword”) naturally throughout the text. Try using some of these SEO content writing tips:

  • Use different variations of the keyword in the text and even go to Google Search, start typing your keyword and use their AutoSuggest feature to see what other related topics come up.
  • Try to incorporate the keyword into the heading and at the beginning of the text, as well as your meta title and description, as outlined in #1 above.
  • As you write optimized content don’t forget about your reader. Write for the customer in customer lingo but refer back to proper industry standard for credibility.
  • When writing new content or if using industry references or instructions, write in your own words and check that you have not copied any content. Try using a tool like Copyscape.

For more tips on writing great content check out our Guide to Writing Search Engine Friendly Content and Keyword Insights page.

Don’t upload just any image – take the time to prepare the image.

Image files take up a huge amount of space and time! Bytes slow down your load time. Here’s what we suggest:

  1. Rename each image file to describe what it is. The camera assigned JPG name does no one any good – even you when looking for just the right picture. Search engines can better understand images based on a file name.
  2. Crop and resize images to fit your layout. Avoid any stretching or shrinking that can make your site look unprofessional.
  3. Compress before loading the image to your website. The less bytes the faster your site will load.
  4. Don’t forget to add the Alt Tag, which is what is shown when the image is broken or won’t load. Image alt tags also help Search Engines understand the image.

For a detailed how-to on image file set up, check out our Optimization Image Tips.

Keep your website running fast.

A slow site can annoy your visitors to the point of abandonment! Slow websites also take longer for the Search Engines to crawl, acting as an inhibitor to all of your pages being properly viewed and indexed.

If your site takes more than 2 seconds to load, you are probably losing potential sales! You need to improve your site load time as soon as possible. Check your speed with our helpful tools or find out more about improving site speed here.

There are many factors that can be causing the slow load times. Here are three:

  1. We just mentioned images affect site speed and how you need to decrease image file size for optimization.
  2. Check your site for JavaScript. It does slow down load times. Try to find alternatives.
  3. Sometimes it’s simply an inadequate service provider. Check for a new host provider that can handle your content delivery.

Finally, get trained help when you need it.

1st on the List has a great Resources section on our site that is sure to guide you in many of the areas you need. And there are thousands of other SEO resource sites out there too.

However, sometimes it just takes a bit of coaching to get through the coding and uploading and writing and updating to make a difference. That’s where we come in. If you are having problems larger than you can handle, we can offer you several options:

  1. We can provide SEO training for your staff members responsible for keeping your website updated.
  2. We can perform a SEO Site Audit to determine just what is missing on your site.
  3. We can provide an SEO quote for the cost of ongoing SEO on your website.

For an initial consultation to determine your needs call us at 1-888-262-6687 or just drop us a note at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Agency

Do you really know how to evaluate an SEO and what they can do for you?

You’re not alone! Over the years we have found that most business owners don’t really know what they should be looking for or how to ask the questions most critical to finding the right fit SEO for their business.

In this eBook we candidly outline the 14 most important questions you should ask any SEO company and explain the importance of each. We then outline what type of answer you should expect from an honest and successful SEO.

For example, you may think guaranteed rankings in 30 days sounds good but did you know that Google warns you to beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings?

Or do you know the different options of how an SEO may measure the success of your campaign and which metrics have your best interest in mind?

Interested in these SEO Interview Questions? Just hit the
download button and start reading immediately!

Interested in interviewing our SEO company? Request a call back by using our SEO Quote Request Form or call us at 1-888-262-6687 to speak with one of our representatives today!

Don’t forget to browse all of our free SEO eBooks, Articles, Slide Presentations and Infographics over on our Resources Page.

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78% of Local Searches Result in This

Never underestimate the power of local search.

The recent 2014 Local Search Study by Neustar Localeze and 15miles suggests that between 61 and 78% of local searches result in a purchase, depending on what type of device the person was searching from.

Between 65 and 73% of these purchases are “in store” meaning the person has selected your company from their search options and physically came to your location to do business with you.

Why you should care about these numbers … 

People are searching for local businesses like yours.

These searching people are qualified and ready to make a purchase. In fact, nearly 4 in 5 people using their phone to find a local business end up making a purchase.

If you haven’t considered local search visibility and optimizing your website so you are at the top of search results you are missing out on extremely affordable advertising to qualified buyers!

Additional Local SEO Takeaways from the Study

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  • If you are a local business (serving customers in a specific geographic region) local search visibility is crucial.
  • If you are a local business your mobile search visibility is just as critical.
  • The primary piece of information sought when searching on a mobile phone is the address or location. Your mobile site must make this extremely easy to find.
  • People searching on tablets tend to be comparing prices and seeking information about your products and services. Your website must be engaging and easy to use on a tablet device where people use their fingers to navigate your pages on a smaller size screen.
  • Only half of those searching on a mobile phone are satisfied with their experience – there is always room for improving your mobile website.
  • Other important pieces of information local searchers seek to find are hours of operation, special offers and ratings and reviews.

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Learn more about our Local SEO Services designed specifically for local businesses needing some extra visibility or gives us a call at 1-888-262-6687 to request your complimentary Local SEO Site Evaluation.

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23 Benefits of Using Videos on Websites

A recent study released by Animoto states that online product videos boost purchase likelihood.

This had us asking the question “Does the average business and website owner know all the benefits of putting videos on their website?” In case the answer was “no” we sat down and created this list of benefits of videos to help our readers understand the effectiveness of videos on websites.

SEO Advantages of Videos on Websites

  1. Can extend your reach. Having videos on your website that are hosted on YouTube can extend your reach in a huge way. Did you know that YouTube has more than 1 billion unique visitors each month and that YouTube reaches more US adults aged 18-34 than any cable network?
  2. Optimized videos get you rich snippets. Attract extra attention to your Search Engine listing with a video snippet preview beside your website. These have been proven to increase click through rates to your website.
  3. Provide link worthy content. People are more likely to link to and share your content when it has multimedia content like videos. Having these natural links from other websites sharing your content is very important in the eyes of the Search Engines.
  4. Increases Page Quality. The Search Engines like to see videos on a website because they know that videos increase a viewer’s time on page, which is an important indicator of page quality.

User Experience Advantages of Videos on Websites

  1. Increases time on site. In 2010, Comscore found that retail visitors who viewed video stayed 2 minutes longer on average than other site visitors.
  2. Engages visitors. Videos can be interactive and create an emotional connection with the visitor.
  3. Gives the visitors what they want. Visitors are used to seeing rich media content on the internet and may not be as engaged with just text content.
  4. More effective content. Generally your visitors can digest information that they see and hear faster than they can if they read the information.

Putting Videos on Websites to Increase Sales

  1. Engagement leads to sales. As user engagement and time on site increases, videos can also help increase the number of conversions of visitors to paying customers. Did you know that Dropbox.com was able to increase their conversion rate by over 10% by adding an introductory video to their homepage?
  2. Aid in buying process. Animoto found that 96% of consumers find videos helpful when making purchase decisions online.
  3. Builds buyers’ confidence. 52% of consumers say that watching a product video makes them feel more confident about going ahead and making a purchase.
  4. Upsell your products and services. Interactive videos give the visitor all the information they need without having to move from page to page.
  5. On demand sales. A visitor can watch your sales pitch (video) anytime they want and not just when your salesperson is working from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.
  6. Better showcases products. Videos can show visitors how a product or service works much more in depth and more effectively than any amount of text could.
  7. Help visitors make purchase decisions. Animoto found that 73% of consumer say they are more likely to make a purchase after watching an online video that explains the product.
  8. Increase in-store sales. Mediapost found that online media influences more than 50% of in-store sales.

Branding Benefits of Using Videos on Websites

  1. Gives your company a personality. Videos are your chance to be creative and showcase your organization’s flair and uniqueness.
  2. Showcase your employees. In general people like to buy from people that they know. By adding videos showcasing your employees you create a personal bond with your visitors.
  3. Differentiate yourself. Use a video to describe what sets your company apart from all of your competitors.
  4. Makes you memorable. Not all websites use video and by putting video on your website you will stand out.
  5. Makes a positive impression. Animoto found that 71% of consumers say that a video leaves a positive impression of a company.
  6. Increases trustworthiness. Animoto found that 58% of consumers will consider companies that produce online video to be more trustworthy.
  7. Makes you appear engaged. Animoto found that 77% of consumers believe companies that create online videos are more engaged with customers.

More Videos on Websites Statistics

  • 1 in 2 consumers claim that YouTube videos have influenced a purchase decision (WalkerSands, 2014)
  • 57% of consumers say they are more confident when they watch a product video in advance of making a purchase online (Invodo, 2013)
  • Over half of 25 – 54 year olds share video online (EMarketer, 2013).
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as the type of content with the best ROI (EMarketer, 2013).
  • Mobile and tablet shoppers are 3x as likely to view a video as laptop or desktop users (NPD, 2012).

Note About Using YouTube Videos on Websites

Part of our SEO process is helping you to optimize videos so you get the most out of using YouTube videos on your website, or whatever video platform you have chosen to embed your video. We help point out the best ways to use videos on your website to increase traffic, conversions and sales.

Do you know if your website videos are “SEO” optimized? Can the Search Engines understand your videos and give you credit for the work you’ve put into making the video.

Call us at 1-888-262-6687 to learn more about our customized Search Engine Optimization campaigns and how we can help you optimize the videos on your website.