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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.

6 Search Engine Optimization Factors to Stay Current and Ranked

Search Engine Optimization is all the rage today and it seems that every marketing firm and marketing department attempts to do some justice to “search engine optimizing” websites. A lot has happened in the background since the advent of Yahoo Search in 1995 to speed up search engine processing time, to understand search queries and to improve the user experience on the internet.

The purpose of this article is to briefly discuss the purpose of search engine optimization and six factors search engines use when evaluating your website and determining where it should rank.

The Quick Explanation of Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the optimization of your website to meet Search Engine standards and to be the best answer for relevant searches. What many website developers fail to understand is that there is much more to a website’s success than simply “looking good”.

Remember that the Search Engines are not humans and cannot actually see your website as a visitor would. In order to account for this the Search Engines use between 200 and 300 different factors or rules in their algorithm to try to predict how a visitor will react to the website. The more factors your site meets the better its visibility in search results. How you rank is a cumulative score of these factors; the more SEO factors you address the better your website will rank.

When a person sits at their computer, phone or tablet and types in a question or search, the Search Engines rely on its algorithm to determine the website or webpages that best answer the query.

So what are some of the factors that determine the websites with the “best answer” to the search?

#1 – Fast loading website pages

Search Engines know that people are impatient and do not want to wait more than a couple seconds for a website page to load. Websites with slow loading pages are usually abandoned in search of a faster and better website. Search Engines know this and display the fast websites first.

#2 – Viewable on all types of devices

A website’s content and images must be viewable over multiple devices including desktops, tablets and mobile phones. Again, the Search Engines know that people are browsing the web from various types of devices and expect a website to perform well based on the type of device it is viewed on. Are your images displaying too large on a small mobile screen, is your text too small to read on a mobile phone or is your navigation “finger friendly”?

#3 – Images supported by alt tags and content

Unfortunately a picture isn’t worth a thousand words to a Search Engine as Search Engines can’t visually see and interpret a picture as we humans can. Search Engines look for other factors such as image alt tags and additional content on the webpage as clues to the picture. A website needs to find a good balance between images used to evoke emotion with a visitor and content used to support the image with the Search Engines.

#4 – Clear purpose and value offer

A recent study by Dianna Huff and KoMarketing  found that 83% of buyers are annoyed by lack of message on a website. Search Engines are equally put off by no clear message or branding on a website. The Search Engines want to know exactly what it is you offer visitors and why it is more valuable than what other websites may offer. Learn more about measuring your Mobile Website Usability.

#5 – Physical location of your business and hosting

The Search Engines recognize that for many search queries a locally based website provides the best results. This why the Search Engines include your business address and where your website is hosted as SEO factors.  These factors reinforce your commitment to your service area.

# 6 – Proper technical website architecture

Because the Search Engines have to crawl your website before they can evaluate and rank it, it makes sense that several SEO factors have to do with how easy it is to access and evaluate a website. These factors include valid and clean HTML code and proper HTTP response codes. An SEO Site Audit will help you assess the backend of your website and if the Search Engines can actually access the information on your website.

What else does SEO Do?

SEO works to address as many of the other 200+ SEO factors in order to improve your visibility in search results and increase traffic to your website.

SEO also works to improve the health and profitability of the website. By conducting site audits, SEO consultants can report what technical issues need to be updated and addressed, what keywords and phrases are drawing visitors and what ones are not and what platforms are drawing traffic.

By conducting analytics, SEO consultants can develop an ongoing plan to emphasize sales and services you want to move, develop platform enhancements to get your site seen and followed, and working content that draws and hold visitors.

For a basic Site Audit to see how well your website adheres to these search engine optimization factors take our free Instant SEO Evaluation or contact our SEO consultants at 1-888-262-6687 for a complimentary phone consultation.

Interested in all the Search Engine Optimization Factors?
Check out the SEO Periodic Table by SearchEngineLand.

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What I’ve Learned About SEO That Every Business Owner Needs to Know

In today’s article Cathy, our newest staff member, reflects on what she has learned about SEO since joining our team that she thinks all small business owner should know.

Search Engines need to find your website with the phrases customers use.

I like to think of keywords (or phrases) as your anchor or connection to the Search Engine. Since nearly half of all website visitors come from a Natural Search, (i.e. Google or Bing) keywords are now your connection to new customers too! If potential customers cannot find your site because your website’s language doesn’t include the search phrases searchers are using, you lose credibility. If you are not ranking for the keywords your customers are searching for then you need SEO.

But SEO is more than just keywords.

However not just keywords get you ranked. Google uses an algorithm (set of rules) made up of over 200 factors to evaluate your website. Evaluating how keywords are used on your website is just one factor. For example, did you know that where your website is hosted can affect your rankings? Google is always updating its algorithm to better meet the needs of Internet users and to be able to provide relevant search results.

Your website’s mobile responsiveness matters, a lot.

Google now places importance on how your site displays on various devices. A site can look great on a desktop screen but if it is not optimized to display on tablets or mobile platforms not only will Google show your website LESS in mobile search results, your website visitors will quickly move to a site that they can view with ease. If your website is not adaptive to various screen sizes and devices then you may need SEO.

Google uses Semantics to understand your website better than you think.

Do not underestimate Google’s ability to understand the language and context of a search query, or its ability to assess whether your website may have an answer to the search. Google now considers semantics in its algorithm which means that the context of your answer to search queries must be understandable. The days of creating countless pages with poorly written, over keyword-optimized content are gone. Searchers are looking for direct, understandable answers to their questions and Search Engines are doing their best to rank websites with these answers at the top. If your content is not meeting the criterion set by the search engine semantics then you need SEO.

Google favors local search results;
Local SEO gets you the exposure you need in your city.

Where are you located? Google now ranks your site on the information you provide about where you are and how your clients can reach you. If your site does not rank in your market area, you need SEO.

Images and video make up a huge portion of Google Searches.
Are your images and videos ranking?

Today, more than ever, the internet has become image driven. YouTube has taken videos to new markets worldwide and Google now indexes and ranks images, presentations, and videos to make it easier for the viewer to find what they are looking for. There are Best Practices to optimizing videos and images to ensure that your media content is noticed that you need to follow.

Don’t let other websites copy your content;
Duplicate content can have devastating effects on SEO.

This may seem like we are going back to high school but plagiarism is bad! You never want to copy someone else’s website content and you don’t want to risk the consequences of letting someone else copy yours!

Google penalizes duplicate content. Google gives credit to the first website it finds with the content (this even involves short phrases). Any other website with the content does not get any credit. There are ways to check your website for duplicate content and to tell if other websites are using your content in an unauthorized manner.

A website needs to load fast because visitors are impatient and Google recognizes this.

People are in a hurry. They want answers now. Google knows this and in order to provide these impatient visitors with the best experience Google search results will favor fast loading website results. If your website is slow to load you risk losing potential traffic and customers either because you won’t be shown in Search Results or because the visitors will leave your website.

Are you learning more about your website? Does this bring up more questions about how your website may be hurting itself in terms of SEO and rankings? One of our SEO consultants is available to speak with you. Simply call us toll free at 1-888-262-6687 or email contact@1stonthelist.ca to arrange a time that works for you to speak with us. 

Go For Gold and Own the Search Engine Podium

how to own the search marketing podiumHave you been inspired by the dedication our Olympians competing in Sochia, Russia?These athletes have dedicated countless hours of hard work into their sport and it pays off! What they can do on the mountains and ice is beyond belief.

This leaves us asking the question – what does it take to win gold and get rankings on Google, Yahoo and other Search Engines? In today’s post we’re going to draw some parallels between competing at the Olympics and getting top rankings in the Search Engines.

You Don’t Become an Olympian Overnight

One of the questions we get asked a lot are “How long will it take to rank #1 on Google?”

When you put this in the context of sports you would sound silly asking your child’s coach, “How long before they are competing in the Olympics?” You simply do not become an Olympian overnight and there is no fast and easy way to get top rankings Google or other Search Engines. Both take time and there is no perfect formula to calculate how long it will take.

Build Your SEO Coaching Staff

The Olympians on our televisions at night have some of the very best coaches in their discipline. Some of the athletes even move across the country or to another country to train with their coach. Although it may come at a cost this coaching advice pays off.

To get rankings for your website your business must embrace the same strategy to excel. Do you have your SEO coaching team in place? How much experience does your SEO have?Has your SEO helped other websites achieve lasting ranking success? Do you get along with and enjoy working with your SEO?

Embrace the Lifestyle in Order to Excel

What makes one team win consistently? There are many talented people in the world but only a choice few win consistently. Consider Canada’s hockey teams. They are always top ranked, consistently intimidate the world with their skill and their Canadian trainers, coaches and athletes are sought after around the world.

This happens because Canada embraces the sport. From the time a child can hold a stick there are clinics, hockey leagues, afterschool games out back, tournaments, training, watching hockey on TV and so on. Hockey is part of Canada’s psyche. You could say that Canadians live and breathe hockey. And Canada consistently excels at it.

A winning approach to SEO is much like this. It should be ingrained in your website development, content marketing strategy, social marketing and so on. Along the way you should always ask yourself “How can we improve our SEO” and “What other opportunities are there for SEO?”

Being an Olympian Comes at a Cost

Finally we can draw a parallel between the cost it takes to become an Olympian and to become a topped ranked website within your industry. It takes focus, desire, skill and expertise. It also takes the investment of both time and money. It takes scoping out the competition and knowing what you need to do to be better. It also takes being proactive even when you are at the top.

Countries that improved their rankings in today’s Olympics spared no expense on building the coaching staff for their athletes and those companies that are excelling  with their online marketing have spared no expense in securing the best SEO consultants.

Do you have the commitment it takes to strike gold in the Search Engines? If you are ready to assemble a winning SEO team for your website contact one of our Search Engine consultants today by calling toll free 1-888-262-6687 or emailing us at contact@1stonthelist.ca