The Web For Business.com Blog

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


Does Your CMS Affect Your Site's SEO?

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, July 09, 2015

There are many people who swear that WordPress is the best content management system (CMS) when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO).

I disagree. When it comes to SEO, the difference doesn't come from the CMS platform you choose. The difference comes from how you use the tools available.

There are many elements that factor into how a site shows up in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Some of those factors are within your control because they're things you can modify within your website. Things like having good page titles, solid content, good internal linking strategies etc. Those are under your control, so in theory, your CMS could make a difference.

Does WordPress do those things better than any other CMS? No. In fact, WordPress in its default setup (as of today's writing) doesn't even allow you to specifically define a page title and meta description for SEO purposes.

What WordPress offers is the potential to simplify your SEO efforts. Add a plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast or the All In One SEO Pack and you'll suddenly have more options available to you. These aren't native to WordPress. They have to be added in. If you assumed that WordPress was simply better for SEO right out of the box, you'd be disappointed in your results.

A SEO specialist can do SEO on any website. It doesn't matter if it's a static HTML website, a WordPress site, or a site done on any other CMS. I have a static HTML website that's been in the top 10 for a popular search term for over a decade. I have clients with sites built on Adobe's Business Catalyst CMS who have good results in the SERPs.

No CMS offers an inherent advantage over another when it comes to SEO. The difference comes from the human being who manages the site. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't telling you the whole truth.

What does it take for great SEO?

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, April 30, 2015

Questions about SEO?Getting great results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is what everyone wants. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as it used to be. I've been around long enough to remember the pre-Google days, when you could submit a site to Yahoo and it would be #1 for your keyword search in less than a week. <sigh>

The Google algorithm never stops evolving. That's good, because the internet is still a new medium and everyone is still scrambling to figure out how it works. Even the big players don't always get things right. Just look at Google's social media stumbles.

A few years ago, you used to be able to do a few things well and be rewarded in the search engines. Things like carefully matching the keywords on a webpage to the actual searches done by potential visitors. Having lots of inbound links used to be a hot ticket. Posting fresh content regularly was a great approach. Those things are still important, but now, there are more "hoops" to jump through.

I call them hoops, but they're just additional factors that Google and other search engines use to determine the overall quality of your website. Take all of the above and now add in things like topical authority, site usage characteristics, the user experience on your website, whether your site is secure (using https) or is mobile friendly - and more. When you look at the bigger picture, there's so much more than keyword matching involved.

Business knowledge is generally a few years behind when it comes to advances in technology and marketing. In this case though, it's not such a bad thing. For years, I have gently reminded people that although the tools are changing, the underlying fundamentals of online marketing haven't changed. If you've paid attention to your fundamentals, you're probably still doing just fine in search engine rankings.

One of the websites I manage has been sitting very comfortably in the top 10 websites for a relatively competitive keyword search for more than a decade. Let thank sink in for a moment. MORE THAN 10 YEARS. The work I do on it is comparatively little when looking at the competition. So why does this website still rank highly? Fundamentals.

Some might argue that it's because this site is old that it's ranking well. That's part of it, to be sure. The domain's been registered since 2001 and it's built up some authority over that time as a result. Truthfully though, you can start a website tomorrow and with some discipline, build a site that is just as authoritative in one year. What is it going to take? Focusing on fundamentals.

Start sharing your knowledge. Tell your story. Connect with prospects and clients using the old and new tools available. Be useful enough on a regular basis and believe it or not, that will make you special. Why? Because most people lack the discipline needed to do the work required. Be special enough that people believe in your ability to help them. When you're special, people will look for you, talk about you, and trust you to take care of them. At that point, you might have done really well in the SERPs, but you'll also probably not need to worry about that because you'll be busy enough with the work you have coming in.

By all means, adapt and adjust to changing search engine requirements. Make your site responsive. It'll be better for you anyway. But don't let the trends that come and go take your attention away from your fundamentals. Responsive website or not, your online presence will work better for you when you're focused on what's most important.

Now is the time to start video marketing

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Video marketing is huge.

Let me say that again.

Video marketing is HUGE!

The statistics on this are pretty clear. Some of the statistics are shocking, but they demonstrate the online appeal of videos and make a clear case that all businesses should be using video marketing as a part of their online marketing mix.

  1. YouTube is the world's #2 search engine
  2. 1/3 of all online activity is watching videos
  3. 100 million internet users watch an online video every day
  4. 50% of users watch business related videos on YouTube at least once a week

What does this mean for you? Lots. Here's how videos affect visitor behaviour to your website:

  1. Watching a video can increase a visitor's understanding of your product or service by 74%
  2. A visitor to a retail website is 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video
  3. A real estate listing with a video gets 403% more inquiries compared to listings without
  4. Videos in email increase click-through rates 2~3 times compared to regular messages
  5. 20% of your site visitors will read all the content you provide: 80% will watch a video
  6. Websites are 50x more likely to show up on the first page of search engine results page if it includes a video

The barriers to entry for video marketing are much easier to hurdle than they used to be. Depending on a video's production value, it can be very inexpensive to create a video for marketing purposes. Best of all, they can be put on YouTube, your own website, Facebook and most other social media marketing platforms to get you more exposure.

Do your customers and your business a favour: incorporate video marketing into your online marketing mix.

Posting is Like Flossing

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 04, 2014

Floss - I mean post - for the long-term health of your businessThe quest to create new and unique content is a challenge for most people who have a website. We're all knowledgeable people, but sometimes knowing what to write about is confusing. My suggestion: read the news.

Every day, there is likely something in the news that you can share your perspective on. Why you agree or disagree. Share your knowledge and expertise. Let people know where you stand.

People do business with people who they trust. That trust is developed online one post at a time. Those pieces of information tell the story about who you are and what you stand for.

Working in the marketing field, there are always plenty of things to comment on. Sometimes I come across items through the mainstream media that are worth discussing. Other times an interesting article will be making the rounds on social media. If I'm really strapped, I look at what other marketers are talking about and share my own perspective on the topic.

I think of posting as something akin to flossing. It's beneficial to do, but because the benefits come over the long-term, most people don't do it. Regularly posting meaningful, self-generated content is a good practice. It shows people who you are, demonstrates your expertise and builds credibility. It can also benefit your search engine positioning, especially in long-tail search terms.

As with flossing, the payoff for posting is likely in the future. It's the kind of thing you would benefit from starting now if you want to realize the benefits down the road. An added bonus: if you post AND floss, you'll have a great smile to show your new clients.

How's that strategy working out for you?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chess - all about strategyStrategy can be defined as "a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim."

How is your online marketing strategy doing for you? This is a question you should ask yourself regularly. Things change quickly online and what may have been a great idea a year ago may not be so hot now.

Four points to consider:

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not dead. Doing it well can take time, especially if you are trying to achieve top rankings for a competitive term (think "Niagara Falls"). However, if you've determined what the appropriate keywords are for your business to target, it can be well worth the effort.

  2. Email marketing is still effective. For those of you who do not regularly put out an email communication to your clients and prospects, this may be an area you want to reconsider.

  3. Social media is not a replacement for SEO, nor does it particularly help your SEO efforts in and of itself. Social media is about engaging with people. It requires as much time (or more) as SEO but it can also work well when done properly.

  4. Whatever you're doing with SEO, email marketing or social media, remember to track your website's performance. If the site has a high bounce rate or does not convert visitors to inquiries or sales very well, you're ultimately wasting your marketing efforts. If you don't know how to measure your bounce rate or your conversion rate, take the time to learn or seek professional help.

Our business slogan used to be "Making the internet WORK for business". That can be read two ways - to make it more effective or to make it more work. It reflected the reality that to get results there is an investment required. Either you invest your time or your money, but if you do nothing, that's generally what you'll get.

Turning the Online Monster into your Servant

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, July 25, 2013

Websites. 1000 social media websites. Blogs. YouTube. SEO. There are thousands of ways to market online. What's a business to do? Here are some tips on how to turn the online monster you've created (or are thinking of creating) into your servant.

Plan

When managing your online presence seems overwhelming, it's probably because you didn't plan. If you don't know where you're going, you'll have no idea if you're getting there or not. Fortunately, you can change this whenever you want.

Implement

This is where many people start - they start doing before planning. If this sounds like you, take a deep breath, back away from your monitor and take some time to plan your activities. Make a schedule. Define your goals. Then work on making them happen.

Social media sites make it easy to implement. Slap up a post or a picture or comment and voila! You're done! But how do you know it's what's most beneficial?

Websites or other corporate social media tools that are not current demonstrate a failure to implement. Most businesses can improve in this area. My business included.

Measure

Do you know how many people read your last Facebook post? Did anyone like them? Do you know who they were? How did that Facebook post compare to the previous one - and the one before it?

How about your site traffic? Is it up or down from last month? How about your search engine rankings?

Not measuring the results of online activities means you're shooting at targets without knowing you've hit them. This is why many business owners say marketing online doesn't work for them. They or their staff don't measure the results they get.

Analyze, Study & Plan Again

So you've planned, implemented and measured. Can things be improved? Of course they can. Take what you've done and build on it to make it better.

If you don't know HOW to make it better, you're in luck. There are at least a few million pages of online advice (including this one) on how to improve every aspect of your online presence.

If you've read my earlier blog posts, you'll know this stuff isn't rocket science. It's "common sense" - but we all know how prevalent that is these days. I came across a website just before writing this post that proudly exclaimed their latest news on the homepage - except it was from 2011. When the primary purpose of a website is to create confidence about doing business with you, how does something like that benefit your business?

Most "problems" with websites and online marketing are solved by following the steps above. If you don't have time or patience to follow the prescription, then feel free to call "Dr. Mark" at 905-227-6667. I'd be happy to help you manage your online marketing needs so you don't have to.

What's New for YOU in 2012?

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Welcome to 2012. I'm glad you've made it this far. What's going to be new for you in 2012?

Here are my predictions about the changes most small business owners will make in 2012 to their online marketing efforts.

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If you don't see anything listed above, well, I hope you get my point.

It is my prediction that MOST small business owners will continue to market themselves online more or less the same as they've been doing.

I think there are many reasons for this, and they're remarkably similar to the reasons most other new years resolutions fail.

  • It's too much work.
  • I don't have time.
  • It won't make a big difference.
  • I don't know how I can do things better.
  • I don't have time to learn how to do things better.
  • I don't want to learn something new.

And so forth.

Most want results without the investment required to achieve them. That's nothing new.

What I'm hoping is new this year is for more people to choose to prove my predictions wrong.

I wish you peace, health, happiness and prosperity in 2012.

With my Best Regards,

Mark Kawabe

What's Your Title?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The title tag is one of the most important bits of information on your webpage. Chances are you've never thought about it. Here's an explanation of what it is and why it's important.

Look at the top of this page. Right up at the top of the screen - above the browser's toolbar. If you're on the main page of the blog, you'll see the title: "The Internet Marketing Passioneer's Blog". There it is. Nothing special, right?

Wrong. Search engines love titles. If you look at the code of a webpage, the title will be right near the top, between the <title> and </title> tags. Search engines use the text in the title tag to determine the subject of a webpage. It's one of the most important things you can change on your website, aside from the obvious of having quality content.

I met with a client today whose website's homepage had a title of "index". No keywords. Just "index". When you consider the homepage is the main page of the website and is usually the page you want to show up in the search engines, it's important to have keywords in the title.

Make sure your website developer puts relevant keywords in your page title. Every page of your site should have a unique title. EVERY page.

If you need any assistance with adding titles to your website, I'm happy to help. Just contact me at your earliest convenience.

The Invisible Website

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It is unusual to find a site that is invisible in the search engines. I mean, you have to do so little to get a website into Google, yet I found one. Actually, I didn't find it - a client presented it to me and asked what could be done. He said it couldn't be found in the search engines. I didn't believe him, but after a quick check, I found that the website wasn't even indexed in Google despite having been online for more than a year.

Let me explain for a moment why this is so jaw-dropping. Most web developers will submit the work they do to the major search engines as part of their service. They'll either do a direct submission or let the engines crawl the site through links. I link to many of my clients' websites through my portfolio page and that's one simple way to set up an inbound link to a site. So imagine how much effort was involved to have the website NOT be picked up by any of the major search engines. You couldn't even find the website under a specific search for the company's name. That's how bad it was.

Fortunately, with a few changes to the site (there weren't even titles!) and the addition of a few inbound links the site was quickly spidered. It is now found on page one in Google when you search for the company name - which is where it should be. As for other SEO, well, that's for the client to decide.

Search engines owe you nothing. You owe it to your business to ensure your site appears in the major engines. At a minimum, if someone just types in your company name they should find you on the first page of results unless you have an exceptionally common corporate name. (If that's the case, you should really think about talking to a branding expert.)

Your Enemy is You

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is related to my earlier blog post about how search engines don't owe you anything.

A client and I were discussing a local company that has managed to crowd out the first page of Google results for a variety of keywords and phrases. My client asked what could be done to compete with this company in Google. Two ideas came out of that question.

One: The "Problem" Might Not Be a Problem

When I did some checking into the popularity of the keyword phrases in question, it turns out there were very few searches registered in Google. In other words, the competition was dominant for phrases that few people used in their searches. Fighting to get a top ranking for an infrequently-used keyword phrase is probably not worth my client's effort.

Two: Doing Nothing Is Not an Option

I strongly encouraged my client to do something with his website. Small businesses don't have a ton of time to keep sites updated. Those who do can gain an advantage over time in two ways. First, the search engines will have more content to crawl so their sites will be more likely to show up for a variety of searches. Second, the HUMANS who come to their websites will be more likely to do business with them if the company has a helpful website - which requires content. Doing a little bit of SOMETHING consistently is better than consistently doing nothing.

Our worst enemies are ourselves. Doing the right things for ourselves takes effort. Just ask anyone who's tried to start and stick with a diet or exercise program. You can make a big difference with small efforts over time. Starting today, what will you do to make a difference in your business?