May 222015
 

In the last few months Google has started penalizing for website mobility issues which will affect your search engine rankings. If you have Webmaster Tools, you can view the errors by logging into your account. Depending on the type of website you have, the problems can range from being very easy to fix to being numerous and difficult. In this blog post, I will cover how to correct mobility issues with WordPress which fortunately is fairly easy.

Google Mobility Issues

Google Mobility Issues

The first thing you will want to do is make sure your WordPress version is updated along with your theme and plugins. As a side note you should be doing this anyway for security reasons. Many WordPress themes will be mobile friendly, but not all of them, so once you’ve updated your version, you’ll want to login to Webmaster Tools and check some specific pages.

Under Search Traffic click on Mobile Usability. Next click on one of the error(s) from the list, and then click on a specific url. On the popup click number 1 (Check live version). Hopefully you’ll receive the following message that your page is now mobile friendly.

Mobile Friendly Test

Mobile Friendly Test

If your page(s) is still having mobile issues, then the next step would be to add a mobile theme plugin like WP Touch or Jetpack. You’ll probably end up adding a mobile plugin anyway, but it’s good practice to go ahead and update everything anyway. Once you’ve added a mobile plugin theme, check in Webmaster Tools, and you’ll most likely find the page is now mobile friendly.

And that’s it. Follow these easy steps to fix any WordPress mobility issues so you don’t have to worry about search engine ranking penalties.

Aug 082012
 

By now the dust as settled from Google’s Panda update.  If you followed the tips I gave in my SEO article, your website rankings should not have decreased – and hopefully you moved up.  But if your website rankings suffered, here are some things you can look for to fix the issue, as well as some tips to make improvements.

 search engine optimization

Links

Link popularity has always been a major factor in ranking well in Google.  The problem is that many websites were able to “game the system,” by creating spammy links (eg. posting junk in blog comments just to get a link), buying links, and creating link farms (ie. buying domains and linking websites to each other).  If you had a good number of backlinks, but your rankings suffered, then Google probably considered many of them as spammy or unnatural links.

So what should you do?  You need to produce content that others find valuable and informational so they will “naturally link” to your website.  For example if your are trying to sell products on your website, do not just provide product descriptions, but show your customers several different product images.  Add a video demonstrating your product.  In addition you need to make it easier for users to share your content by providing them with social share buttons.  Below this blog post, you will see a social share bar.  For my articles, such as the SEO article I linked in the first paragraph, I provide an AddThis social share bar at the bottom of each article.

Content

  • Spammy content such as web pages mainly stuffed with keywords. 
  • Poor content web pages that barely say anthing or make sense.
  • Over/under optimized web pages such as providing keyword stuffed title tags or nothing at all in your title tags.

These are all issues that were flagged by Google.  So what can you do?  Clean up your content.  If a web page does not read well to the average user, then it is going to suffer.  In fact when it comes to content, forget about search engines alltogether, and write for the people who will be reading your website.  Check your meta tags, title and description, and make sure they describe exactly the content on each webpage and/or make sure they are not overly stuffed with keywords. 

And finally quit relying on Google

If the majority of the traffic coming to your website is generated by Google, then you have major problems.  Any type of change could wipe out the traffic flowing to your website.  Personally I do not even use Google anymore to conduct searches.  There are simply better search engine alternatives on the market.  In addition Google, along with the other major search engines, have just become to intrusive in tracking their customers – and this is coming from someone with a marketing background.

So what should you do?  For starters build your social network so others can easily recommend you via their social networks.  As I mentioned above, search engines view these recommendations as quality links, but in addition you generate more traffic via social networks.  Become a recognized expert and use other websites like BizSugar to publish your articles.  And finally stick to good old fashioned marketing.  There is still no better lead generation than a referral.

In conclusion I hope your website did not suffer through the latest Google update, but if it did, follow these tips, and you should recover over time.

Apr 182012
 

I have always recommended blogging as a key part of a small business online marketing strategy.  Blogging allows you to interact with potential clients on your website, is a good way to allow visitors to promote your content, helps with your SEO strategy, and is a good way to provide timely and helpful information to your clients.  So with that introduction in mind, here are some blogging tips to help you take your small business blog to the next level.

Blogging Tips

  1. Pick a good blogging platform.  I prefer and use WordPress, but there are several good platforms out there.  See this blog post where I reviewed several blog platforms.
  2. Do what I just did in number one.  Link to your other relevant blog posts, and consider writing a blog post series to keep readers coming back.
  3. Be consistent.  Pick a schedule and stick to it.  I used to write daily blog posts, then as I got busier, I slowly dwindled down to a few blog posts each month.  If you have a dedicated marketing person for your small business, then a couple of posts each week will be about ideal. 
  4. Write good content.  Easier said than done, right!  So what is “good” content???  Well it needs to be easy to read, and you need to provide something useful for your potential customers.  If you are using your blog for sales and marketing purposes only, you will probably find you have few readers.  Consider using your blog to provide tips, how-to posts, and other types of useful information.  My blog posts are probably about 95% useful information, and the other 5% is links back to the services I offer on my website.  At most I would consider 80/20 with 80% being useful information and 20% promoting your products and services. 
  5. Do not just write for readers, but consider search engines as well.  So how do you do this?  I use a WordPress plugin call All in One SEO, but essentially you need to provide meta tags for titles and descriptions of your blog posts.  Keep your content fresh, and link within your blog posts, websites, and to other websites.
  6. Use a call to action and encourage readers to comment about your blog post.
  7. Provide social share buttons to allow readers of your blog to easily share the content with their social networks.  See below each of my posts for an example.
  8. Use eye catching images to show details on what your are writing about or just to break up the content.
  9. Consider video blogging.  Video blogging is especially helpful when you are trying to show customers a how-to.
  10. Allow guest blog posts to provide a different and useful perspective to your readers.
  11. Provide a search box.
  12. Provide an RSS feed.
  13. Provide a way for readers to subscribe to your blog via email.
  14. Provide Categories based on the different topics you write about, and write posts to fit into your Categories.  See my sidebar for example Categories.
  15. Use analytics to measure how readers are using your blog, what they are most interested in, inbound links, and how readers are socially sharing your content. 
  16. Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  17. And finally promote your blog.  Link your blog to your other social marketing networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.  Link your blog in free directories.  Use tools like Onlywire to publish your blog post to multiple platforms at once.

Follow these tips to create a successful small business blog.  And if you have any additional tips, please feel free to list in the comments below.

Mar 092012
 

Promoting your social media networking via your website is an important step in marketing your small business.  There are several benefits to doing this.

  • Allows your customers to more easily interact with you
  • Makes it easier for your customers to promote you through their social networks
  • Helps from a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint – fresh content, link promotion via social networks, etc.

Here are some tips on how to do it.

1.  Use social media buttons to link to your main social network websites.  Place the images in the top or bottom navigation bar.  See number 1 in the image below.

2.  Do you have a blog?  If so when you create new blog posts, link them from your home page (see number 2 in the image below).  It is a good way to show the search engines, in addition to your customers, that you are constantly creating new and valuable content.

Website Social Network Promotion

3.  If you have a blog, also make sure you provide social share buttons to allow your readers to share your content with their social networks.

Blog Social Recommend Buttons

4.  Do you post articles on your website?  Do you have an e-commerce store?  Do you have a newsletter?  Use social share buttons to allow your website users to recommend or share your content.  AddThis offers and easy to customize social share toolbar. 

Social Share Buttons

Follow these easy steps, and you will effectively promote your social networks via your small business website.  Just keep it simple and don’t overdo it.

Jan 122012
 

In my article, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – How to Improve Your Rankings, I covered several different areas you should focus on to improve your search engine ranking results, but one of the areas I do not touch on is the planning stages. In this blog post I am going to cover several questions you should ask yourself before you either start or change your search engine optimization (SEO) program for your small business.

Search engine optimization (SEO) planning strategy

1.  What is your goal and strategy?  Obviously you would like to increase your rankings, but in what areas specifically?  Who is your target market?  Do you want to target highly competitive keyword phrases?  If so what other search phrases could you possibly target?  How are people finding your website and your competitor’s websites currently? What are people searching for, and how are they navigating once they are on your website?  How do you match-up with your competitor’s websites, and what are they currently doing from an SEO perspective?  Do you want to increase sales, sign-up people to your newsletter and/or blog, provide product and service information to potential clients, etc? 

All of these questions are very important to consider in developing your goals and strategy.  But let’s just take a look at the questions I listed targeting keyword phrases.  You are going to want to target keywords you already know apply to your business,  but the keywords you are targeting might not be the same ones your potential customer base is using.  So your first step will be to determine your targeted keyword phrases and then perform a keyword analysis to determine what other keywords your potential customers are searching for as well.

2.  What has your SEO strategy been up until this point?  Maybe you have done nothing.  But in many cases small businesses have tried some type of SEO plan such as purchasing keyword phrases (pay per clicks), swapping links with other websites, “optimizing” your website, etc.  If you have tried some type of SEO, then what have been the results?  Have you followed your search engine rankings?  Have you used any analytics tools like WebTrends, Quantcast, or Google Analytics to monitor your website and rankings?  Have you done anything to drastically lower your website rankings or get your website banned from a search engine?  Do you own other websites where you might be swapping links, redirecting urls, or have duplicate content?

It is important to understand what you have already done and what worked and did not work.  Of course SEO is always changing because search engines are always changing their algorithms, but there are sound strategies you can always pursue like offering strong content. 

3.  Do you have a social marketing presence and/or strategy?  What social networking websites are you currently using?  Are they linked from/to your website? Do you have a blog?  Do you offer content on your website along with a method to allow your website users to share with their social networks (see the social share buttons below this post)?

If you do not already have a social marketing presence for your small business, it is important you begin to dip your toes in the water.  Besides the fact that many potential customers are already online discussing and researching products and/or services you offer, social marketing is playing a larger and larger role in search engine optimization and rankings.  A simple strategy to consider is to think of your website as your marketing brochure, and your social marketing network as your way to interact directly with potential and existing customers.

Review these questions before starting or changing your SEO campaign, and you will be well on your way to developing a successful SEO campaign.  And as always if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below.

 

Jul 152011
 

If you are having issues achieving higher search engine rankings with your small business website, a blog might be the answer for helping you improve your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.  Blogs are also excellent social marketing tools, and I have covered blog social marketing strategies in several posts so today’s post will focus on the SEO benefits of small business blogging.

Here are three reasons why blogs are good for your SEO strategy.

  1. They are an excellent format for providing updated content to your website domain, and search engines love new and unique content.
  2. Blog platforms such as WordPress were built with SEO in mind providing automated services like pinging (alerting) search engines to new content, ability to customize link urls, and the ability to add-on SEO plugins which allow you to create items like unique page titles and descriptions.
  3. Blogs provide a great format to allow others to easily link back to your site and share your content within their social network.  Write great and useful content, and people will share it.

So now that we have established the SEO benefits of blogging, lets discuss some tips you can follow to make sure you can achieve those benefits.

  1. Pick a strong blogging platform.  I covered several blog platform options in a previous post
  2. Link to content on your website as well as other blog posts, and use keyword phrases as your links. 
  3. Make it easy for readers of your blog to share your content.  See the social share buttons below this post for an example.
  4. Add SEO plugins to your blog platform.  For example if you have a WordPress blog, All in One SEO Pack is an excellent SEO plugin. 
  5. Good code is also important.  Check your blog for broken links.  Check your blog page download speed to make sure it is not slow.  Make sure you add titles and descriptions to each blog post page.

Add a blog to your website, and follow these tips, and you will improve your search engine rankings.  If you have some examples of how your small business blogging has helped you increase your search engine rankings, please feel free to share in the comments below.

Jun 292011
 

In a previous blog post, I showed you how to develop a keyword strategy for your search engine optimization (SEO) and website design campaigns.  In today’s post I am going to dive a little deeper into keyword analysis and show you how to develop the right keyword phrases for your small business website.  In a nutshell you want to pick the keywords people are searching for online when they are researching the products and services you offer.

Let’s take a look at an example as it applies to my business.  I offer online marketing services to small business in Georgia.  By performing a quick keyword analysis comparison between “online marketing Georgia” and internet marketing Georgia,” I will see that “internet marketing Georgia,” is searched much more often than “online marketing Georgia.”  And when I review the additional keyword ideas, I see that “Atlanta internet marketing” receives 4 times the amount of searches as “internet marketing Georgia” so it makes sense to focus my website keyword phrases on Atlanta instead of Georgia.  In addition I would target other cities in my content such as Warner Robins and Macon.

Here are the steps for performing a keyword analysis for your small business website content.

  1. First you want to write down keyword phrases that apply to your small business product and/or service offerings.  Review your marketing materials, competitor websites, and get input from co-workers or colleagues who are familiar with your business offerings. 
  2. Once you have your keyword list in hand, you want to review them in a keyword analysis tool such as Google’s keyword tool.
  3. Using the Google keyword tool as an example, you would enter in individual keywords or keyword comparison’s such as the example I used for my business. 
  4. Depending on whether the keyword phrase was broad or narrow, you would select Broad, Exact, or Phrase in the Match Type in the left hand navigation area of the Google Keyword Tool.  For example if one of your keywords is very narrow in focus with a minimal amount of searches, you would choose Broad Match.  Most of the time, however, you should select Exact to get the most relevant results.
  5. After you submit your keyword, review the Keyword Ideas results below your search to see what other related keywords people are searching for in addition to the number of times the keyword is searched.
  6. When reviewing the Keyword idea results, you want to choose keywords that apply to your business, but do not rely to much on heavily trafficked keywords, as these phrases will oftentimes be very competitive and difficult to rank highly.  Essentially what you are looking for here are keywords that apply to your small business offerings, receive a fair amount of traffic, but are not too competitive.  The goal is to discover similar keywords that you may not have thought of such as my “online” vs “internet” example above.

When you have completed your keyword analysis and developed a complete list of targeted keywords for your small business offerings, you are ready to begin working on the content for your website.  Check out my link at the beginning of this post for help on setting up your website content using your new keyword list.

Jun 082011
 

Organic search engine optimization (SEO) takes time when you setup a new small business website, but that does not mean you have to wait to achieve higher search engine rankings.  Of course you always have the option to purchase pay per click (PPC) search engine advertising, but there is another less expensive option to help you increase your search engine rankings in the short term.  List your website in established higher ranked websites.  When you list your new small business website in a higher ranked website, there are two immediate benefits:  1)   The listing itself will initally rank higher than your own website and 2) You are creating a quality backlink to your website which will benefit you in the long run.

Here is a list of websites for you to consider.

  1. List your website in the local search engine lists like Google Places, Bing Local, and Yahoo Local.
  2. Manta, Merchant Circle, and Foursquare are additional websites where you can establish local listings. 
  3. Create a presentation for one or more of your products or services and list it on SlideShare.
  4. Create a video about your company, your products, or your services, and link the video on YouTube.
  5. Setup a Company Profile on LinkedIn.

When you are setting up these listings, the key is to provide as much detail about your business as possible.  List your address, contact information, and products and/or services in detail.  Use the same keyword phrases you are targeting on your website, and you should see these listings appearing in the search engine rankings in a short amount of time.

Apr 112011
 

Recently I wrote a blog post detailing how important website content is to your SEO rankings, along with good website code and link building. In this post I am detailing several items which will NOT help your SEO results and in fact could hurt you.

  1. Link exchanges – Swapping links with other websites is not going to help you, and in some cases, depending on the type of sites, it could hurt your SEO efforts. The only time link swapping makes sense is if the website you link to provides value to your website users and vice versa.
  2. Not updating your content – If you have very little competition for your targeted SEO keywords, then you may be able to slide by with just putting up a website and leaving it. But for the majority of small business websites, you will need to update your content on a fairly regular basis, and minor changes/updates do not count. You need to add new content webpages. Check out my other blog posts for tips on how to do this with tools such as blogs, news, PR articles, etc.
  3. Stuffing your keyword meta tags – Adding a ton of keywords in your keyword meta tags will not help your SEO rankings. Old habits die hard so I still add them to some of my website pages, but it makes absolutely no difference.
  4. Stuffing your website content with keywords – You definitely do not want to stuff your website pages with too many keywords, and there are two elements to this statement. The first element focuses on the fact that you should only target one or two keywords or phrases per webpage. The second element consists of not stuffing or overusing these same keywords or keyphrases on the webpage. For one thing the content will not read well to your target audience, and in fact stuffing keywords on a webpage could hurt your SEO results.
  5. Adding alt tags to your non-clickable images – This is a minor one, but it will not help your SEO rankings. From a proper coding standpoint, you should still do it, but do not expect it to make a difference in your rankings. If the image is a clickable link, then it will help you from an SEO standpoint.
  6. Broken links – Run a link checker on your website to make sure you have no broken links. This is poor website coding, and it will hurt your SEO efforts.

Remember one of the most important items for search engine optimization (SEO) is time. It takes time and consistency to achieve good SEO results. Follow my tips on what to do and avoid what not to do, and you will see improvements in your SEO results.