The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


The Simple SEO Success Formula

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Most Valuable Real EstateIf you want to achieve your SEO dreams, my advice to you is to stop dreaming and get a grip on the reality of what SEO entails.

Top rankings in Google don't just happen. If you get them, you got them for a reason. Let's look at some of those reasons.

Valuable Content On Site

It is "common knowledge" that Google's algorithm prefers pages that have at least 300 written words. If you are in a market where there is more than one company like yours that offers the products or services you do, you need to go beyond the minimum requirements if you want to achieve top rankings. You need to offer valuable content.

I define valuable content as content which meets or exceeds the informational needs of visitors to your webpage. That will often take more than 300 words, which is absolutely fine. You don't achieve maximum results with minimum effort when it comes to SEO except in a few special situations which I'll talk about later.

Case Study: A customer of mine sells telecommunications products. So do thousands of other companies. A search for one particular model of headset showed that it was sitting at the 135th position in Google's search results. As a test, I added some valuable content answering common questions about the headset. 514 words, to be exact. That page jumped to the 2nd page of search results within two weeks and it has held that ranking since April 2016. I should also mention, the site is not responsive, doesn't have SSL, and doesn't meet a whole bunch of Google "best practices". That's okay, because the content about that headset is more valuable than the content on other websites that sell the same headset.

MARKET YOUR CONTENT Off Site

"Content Marketing" is a phrase being used a lot by people like me to explain why blogging is so important. A lot of people distill the idea of content marketing down to the notion that if you create great content, search engines will notice and then people will take notice. This is true, but it's not the whole story.

You will get more results for your great content if you proactively market it rather than passively hope the search engines will take notice. Marketing your content can take many forms, but it's relatively easy to do. It just takes time. Send a link to your customers and ask them to post it on their blog or link to it from their Facebook page. Link it from your own social media platforms. Ask people to talk about it. If you don't, chances are they won't. These mentions on other sites are all examples of inbound links, which Google's algorithm analyzes for quality and quantity. If you pay for thousands of links from link farms to your great content, you won't get great results. However, a few links to great content from credible websites like your Chamber of Commerce or customers' sites will be more likely to give your content a ranking boost. If you do that regularly, you'll eventually build hundreds of quality links to your website which will in turn, be picked up by Google's algorithm and will likely result in better search engine rankings for your site overall.

The Special Situations

I alluded to some situations where you can get top rankings in Google with minimum effort. Here they are.

  1. People search directly for your business by name. If someone does a search for your business name, they'll probably find you. If they narrow it down by city, (i.e. Joline's Hairstyling Niagara Falls), they'll probably find you at the top or in the top 10. Why not #1? Sometimes the folks at the Yellow Pages or other directory sites have done a better job at SEO than you.
  2. People search for your brand. The good people at Despair.com have trademarked the term "Demotivators". If you forget their website but remember their brand name, you'll find them in the #1 spot for that term. If other folks are outdoing you in the SERPs for your own brand, you have nobody to blame but yourself.
  3. You build a better resource before anyone else. I have a website that has a list of Niagara wineries. It has consistently been ranked in the top 10 Google results for over a decade. The page does not follow Google's best practices guidelines for SEO, but it was one of the first listings of Niagara wineries and it has a good number of inbound links. It may not stay in the top 10 forever, but it's done well over the years, even being the #1 result for a few years. It was built first, it was marketed, and it has remained. You could do the same with your content.

Synopsis

Successful SEO involves creating valuable, user-focused content on a regular basis which is then marketed through blogging, social media and other outreach methods to build inbound links. In other words, it is work. It's not hard work, compared to digging a ditch, but it takes effort. The steps I've outlined above aren't rocket science. Lots of other people have talked about them for years, as have I. What I hope you'll take away is that if you want your site to have great SEO, you have to be better than the other websites in your market at providing and marketing your valuable content and creating a great user experience.

The Most Valuable Real Estate

Mark Kawabe - Monday, December 12, 2016

The Most Valuable Real EstateMention the words "real estate" and most people think about a house, or a building, or land. For anyone involved in online marketing, the most valuable real estate isn't any of these things. It's something much smaller, more personal. One could even use the word "intimate" to describe it. With the rise of the mobile device, the screen of your target audience's smartphone or tablet is now the hottest real estate property.

A few thoughts to consider:

  • The first thing more than 50% of smartphone users do in the morning is - grab their smartphone.
  • 80% of internet users own a smartphone
  • 90% of time spent on a mobile device is spent using an app like Facebook or messaging. 10% is spent in the browser.

People are spending more and more time looking at their smartphones and tablets. While more complex decisions seem to require the larger screens of desktops and laptops, many searches are started online. Decisions aren't made in a device vacuum. One screen just gives way to another, depending on what your visitors are trying to accomplish.

Being aware of these trends can give your business a leg up. If people are spending more time on mobile devices using apps like Facebook, then you may want to evaluate and improve your Facebook marketing efforts. Additionally, ensuring your website provides a good user experience across multiple screen sizes becomes more important when you consider how many people are using their smartphones to browse, surf and search.

The rise of mobile also impacts your email marketing. A majority of email users access their email accounts from their mobile devices. Email messages are not necessarily mobile-friendly, so you may want to check what your messages look like when viewed on a smartphone. Responsive design is just as important for your website as it is for your email messages.

Ensuring your online marketing strategies take mobile usage into consideration is important. While more complex decisions are often made with the benefit of a larger screen, the entry point to the information gathering process is likely to be a mobile device. Going forward, the health of your business will depend on how well you meet your customers' needs, whatever device they're learning about you on.

Mobile Erosion

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, January 06, 2016
Erosion - photo by Benoit Rochon

The rise of mobile devices isn't new. Search behemoth Google announced in May 2015 that mobile accounts for more search than desktop in 10 of its key markets. This is a significant shift, but many companies have not made the shift to responsive websites that are more mobile-friendly. This could be the cause of a subtle but steady erosion of market share for those businesses.

As of April 21, 2015, Google rolled out an update that gives preference to responsive, mobile-friendly websites in searches done from mobile devices. Consider that more than 50% of your potential site visitors are going to access your website on their smartphone. Non-responsive websites will likely appear lower in the SERPs on mobile devices.

The results for non-responsive websites will likely show up as lower overall traffic over time as competing websites shift to responsive design. It may also manifest itself in higher bounce rates for mobile users coming to non-responsive sites, and potentially lower conversion rates for mobile users.

From my perspective, the business case for redeveloping a non-responsive website is starting to be more clear, especially for companies that rely on their websites for new lead generation. It also increases the importance of customer retention and referral marketing. The data that drives the business case is likely sitting untouched in your website visit statistics, so if you haven't done so lately, it's high time to dive into the numbers.

The wind will always blow and water will always flow. Change is constant online and businesses must adjust to survive. Here's hoping you make choices that allow your online presence to thrive in 2016 and beyond.

Mobilegeddon is Here

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mobile-f-ing-geddon!If you're like most people, you probably haven't heard of the so-called "Mobilegeddon" that's happening today. I'm not going to say it's a good or bad thing that you haven't. Just because Google says something in February doesn't mean that it makes the papers.

So, what's the big deal? Here's the story.

Google announced in February that sites that are not mobile-friendly will essentially be penalized in search results when a search is made from a smartphone. This does not affect searches made from tablets. Yes, I know, a tablet is a "mobile device", but Google treats tablets like desktops when it comes to searches.

What does "mobile friendly" mean? Fundamentally, Google's philosophy has now extended beyond getting people the best, most relevant search results. Now they want top ranking websites (on mobile) to have unique content, lots of social media and other relevance AS WELL AS a great user experience. These days, "great user experience" when viewing a website on a mobile phone means having a responsive website. The term "responsive" means your website has a layout that RESPONDS to fit various screens. Having a responsive website is now more important than before for many companies.

What this means for most businesses is . . . well, that depends.

If your business gets a significant portion of its web traffic from people using mobile devices, you could be in trouble. This depends largely on how people search for your business. If you run a coffee shop called "Higher Grounds Cafe" in Niagara Falls, for example, you may not be found as readily if someone does a search for "niagara falls coffee shop" or "niagara falls cafe". However, if people primarily search by your business name, you probably won't lose visitors searching on mobile devices.

Another perspective is that if your business operates in an industry where your clients aren't likely using mobile devices to search for a company like yours, you shouldn't be losing sleep over this change. Chances are that a person making a major purchasing decision will not be doing all of their research on a smartphone. If you sell office equipment or machinery or are generally a B2B type company, you may not notice any decline in your site visits.

I agree that "Mobilegeddon" may have a significant impact on many business' rankings in mobile search results. On the other hand, it's also true that MANY businesses already have poor rankings with their websites and are not getting great amounts of search engine traffic from non-brand (i.e. company name) searches. If a website is already ranked #25 for a search and it ranks #35 after Mobilegeddon, will it truly make any difference?

My suggestions for dealing with Mobilegeddon:

  1. Don't Panic. It was good advice when The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy came out and it's just as relevant today.

  2. Look at your website. Is it responsive already? If so, relax.
  3. Check your search engine rankings. Do you rank highly for a number of relevant searches? You might want to preserve that. Don't rank well at all? Well then, you might as well skip to #4.
  4. Check your website statistics. Do you have Google Analytics? Good. You can see how many searches came from mobile.
  5. Create a responsive website. I know - this is definitely easier said than done. I can help, so contact me.
  6. Act. The majority of business owners and entrepreneurs truly care about their search engine positioning. Most do nothing about it. If you're one of the ones who acts, you'll have an advantage over those who don't.

Another important point to consider is that according to Forrester research, between 2004 and 2011, the percentage of consumers who cited "search engines" as the way the found websites declined from 83% to 61%. One can see that while search is important, it's not the only factor involved in how you can draw attention to your brand and your website. Maybe your website is not mobile friendly. Perhaps you might be better off strengthening your brand on social media to get more visitors rather than investing in a mobile friendly website.

In short, Mobilegeddon may be a huge thing or nothing for your business to consider. If you want some advice, please contact me and I'll answer any question you may have about this topic.

 

New Website Launch for Joan Worthington, RSW

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Having been through counseling, I can attest to how valuable it can be. That's why when Joan Worthington, RSW, a gifted counsellor with decades of experience contacted us to update her website, we were happy to jump in.

Joan's original website was on an older hosted Content Management System (CMS). We developed her new website on the WordPress platform so she could retain her ability to update the website as needed on her own. WordPress is a very common platform for website development. Millions of websites have been developed using WordPress. An no, we're not exaggerating.

Another reason we chose to go with WordPress is because of the availability of responsive templates. With the upcoming change to Google's algorithm to focus more on mobile, having a responsive website is becoming a competitive advantage. Not all WordPress templates are responsive, so watch for that if you're thinking WordPress is the answer to your responsive website prayers.

With the new website, Joan took the opportunity to expand the content she has provided about the areas she counsels people in. There are many people suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, or dealing with loss or grief, relationship and parenting issues. Of course, there are many other areas that Joan can provide counselling in, so it's good that the WordPress system can accommodate future expansions of content.

When it comes to managing her own updates, we created a custom video tutorial to help Joan work with some of the more advanced features available to her in WordPress. This is something we do for many of our WordPress clients. We have also created tutorial videos for other features like how to use our webmail system.

Joan provides counselling services in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. If you know people who could use counselling, please refer them to Joan's website at http://www.consultworth.com.