Where to start with SEO

guy-on-pcIt’s no secret that marketing your business online is essential, so pretty much every company already has online real estate in place. But with the non-stop, seemingly overnight Internet changes, it’s no easy task deciding what strategies to implement – and when.

So where do you start? Should you research a dozen Internet marketing articles for the newest techniques? Look at what your competitors are doing? Stand frozen like a deer in headlights?

Before getting overwhelmed with the possibilities, the first step is to analyze what you’re already doing. If your company has a website and a blog in place, it’s time to stand back and take a super close look at how those things are working for you. Let’s cover a few of the most important data points to gather before you do anything drastic.

Is Anyone Visiting Your Site?

Using website analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics, Mint, and GoSquared), find out how many people are visiting your site. Daily and monthly visits are the most important to note. Internet marketing goals usually include increasing visitors, so you need to know where you are right now.

Who’s Visiting and Are They Coming Back?

Obviously, this is closely related to the first data point. Just because you have 1000 visitors each day doesn’t mean they’re relevant. If 900 of the visits are from the same person, your message isn’t getting out there. If you are getting a lot of new visitors, it may not mean very much if they take one look at your site and never come back. Your website’s goal is to get a variety of people who find enough value in your website to stop by and want to come back to learn even more.

How Was Their Visit?

New people who keep coming back is great, but what did they do there? Did they spend time on various pages (page views and pages per session), take one look at the site and click away (bounce rate), or stay a long time (average session duration)?

Where Did They Come From?

Finally, how did your company find your online property? Some may have found you directly by typing in your URL. Others may have clicked on a search engine suggestion (organic), clicked on a link in an article (referral), or even been led there by a social media post (social). Knowing your traffic’s source(s) can help you decide what highways you want to focus on for future campaigns.

This list isn’t exhaustive – you can definitely find out more about your website using other data points. But don’t get bogged down with this first step either. Once you’ve done some of this background work, start deciding what your website goals are. Armed with this information, researching strategies won’t seem so overwhelming.

SEO and Changing Algorithms

seo-blogMost individuals and businesses that want to be seen on a Google search will need Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It simply means showing up on the first three pages of a Google search. Although SEO can be explained easily, achieving it is another matter.

As of October 2014, there were a billion websites according to Netcraft, an Internet research firm in the UK. Google, the top search engine in the world, continues to make changes in its algorithm to ensure that Internet users get the best results from their searches – and to maintain its lead among all other search engines.

Some of the major changes in Google’s algorithm were Panda (2011), Penguin (2012) and Hummingbird (2013). Panda was done to filter high-quality websites from poorly designed sites. Penguin was done to check links and weed out unnatural links because according to Google, using these is part of what they consider “unethical.” Hummingbird was not exactly an algorithm change but more of a complete overhaul of their indexing methods and overarching algorithm. This affected how websites are now ranked. These changes and updates will continue to emerge and often without warning. Google is famous for announcing the new algorithms after it has been activated. The result? Your website will suddenly drop or go up in ranking depending on the quality of your website – according to the search engine’s standards.

These are just the major changes. As far as small changes in the algorithm are concerned, it happens about 500 times a year. It is possible to make an intelligent guess when an algorithm is changed because there are visible signs. The most visible sign would be volatile movement of your website’s ranking. Some of the reasons for the most recent movement last June occurred with websites that:

  • Had more ads than content.
  • Had too much sponsored content.
  • Had generic and/or thin content.
  • Had issues with indexing.

Although it isn’t possible to foresee changes in algorithms, it is possible to be prepared for any such event.

  • Make sure your website follows the high quality standards (front and back end) of the top search engines.
  • Keep content unique, high quality, and informative.
  • Use social media hyperlinks.
  • Avoid overstuffing.
  • Use high-quality links

You should also consider getting a professional to step in and monitor your website occasionally. You don’t need a full-time consultant to do this but having an expert team keeping tabs on your website and giving you recommendations will go a long way in preparing you for the inevitable algorithm changes. Don’t be like Demand Media, a company that was soaring high in 2010 as the 17th largest web property in the country with over 105 million followers, only to tumble and crash after Google changed its algorithm. The website had to make drastic changes in its website – changes that continue to this date. As of August 2016, the website has only managed to climb back to 71st place – a far cry from its 2010 status.



Why Does Social Media Change So Much?

Social Media LogosWith over 78% of the American population having at least one social media profile, is it any wonder social media is changing the world in a way no one ever imagined it would? With social media, one can no longer hide behind a computer screen and many people are creating their own personal brand using social media.

Does this answer why social media changes so often? In a way, yes, because with the demand so high for anything new on social media, enterprising individuals will want to cash in by creating new apps, new designs, and new technology.

Here’s a quick look at what happens on social media in a one-day period:

  • 75 billion posts on Facebook
  • Over 400 million tweets
  • 4 billion YouTube videos
  • 2 billion photos on Instagram

These are four reasons why social media is changing faster than any other content on the web and marketers have to deal with multi-channel strategies to make a dent or keep the status quo of businesses.

Social Media Creates Surges

If you have a cause you want to promote and bring to national attention, the best way is through social media unless you have a direct line to a major news outlet.

As far as advertising is concerned, there is a major surge towards social media with ad spending reaching over $25 billion in 2015. Facebook captured almost 64% of ad spending on social media with Twitter and Instagram coming in way behind, but still posting impressive growths in ad revenues.

Social Media Changes the Way Consumers Shop and Read

Instead of reading the broadsheets or switching on their TVs, consumers are getting their “Breaking News” from social media. Instead of using the phone to talk to a sales person, consumers would rather browse the web for information and feedback.

Social Media and Relationships

Is it official on Facebook? Milestones are now being reported officially on social media, and a person’s life and relationships are no longer private but socially public, which means one blast reveals the latest updates to one’s network, saving a person a tremendous amount of time trying to keep everyone updated.

However, beyond just updates, social media is the new dating site, getting-to-know-you-better place, and break-up site for some.

Social Media Creates Income and Business Opportunities

One of the top reasons why social media is changing so much is because now small and medium enterprises can compete with big multinationals and corporations. They have found a huge opportunity to market their products and services without the high capital requirements using social media. Break-out products are finally getting the attention they deserve from viral sharing and creative marketing.

To stay connected to your market, a business must build a social profile. However, before doing this, there are four things that must take priority:

  1. Start being open-minded about social media and avoid setting limits.
  2. Understand the need to research the social behavior of your market so you can customize your profile to appeal to them.
  3. Integrate and create content so you can be reached on different screens, online and offline.

Getting the Right Kind of Help When Changing Your CMS

settings-265131_1280The Content Management System (CMS) is an application that makes it easier to manage a website. There are several kinds of CMS like WordPress, Ruby on Rails, Java Script, and PHP. It isn’t uncommon for anyone with a website to want to change their CMS for one reason or another – usually to improve the site.

Reasons to Update or Rebuild your CMS

There are several reasons a website might need redesigning, such as:

  • Your website speed is slowing down.
  • Your business is growing.
  • You want to be more responsive, especially to the mobile market.
  • You want to upgrade your design, change colors, or improve your branding.
  • Your bounce rates are too high.
  • You are getting complaints about your site.
  • The CMS you are using is an old version and no longer has adequate support.

However, saying is much easier than doing, especially with CMS, because any change can potentially affect your SEO and, more importantly, lead to a poor quality website that will affect the very reason you are on the web.

Studies show that the quality of a website is in direct proportion to the way it is managed, especially if self-managed. Of course, it cannot be denied that businesses invest in an online presence to promote their product and will consider anything to lower costs like building your own website or making changes on the website like a DIY project. The downside of making changes with the CMS on your own with an app will reflect in the output. The website mighty experience the following issues:

  • Wrong format
  • Disregard for white space
  • Security issues if the CMS you select has inborn vulnerabilities
  • Slow page load time by selecting the wrong CMS for your website
  • Picking a CMS that does not address your specific needs and team size

Based on an August 8th survey on CMS, the most popular is WordPress with over 17 million users. While you don’t have to be highly intellectual to use WordPress, there are prerequisite knowledge and skills needed if you want to use it and not be bogged down with errors and issues, namely with plugins, design editing, layouts, and maintenance. Furthermore, WordPress has a reputation for being vulnerable to viruses and attacks. Plus, if you want heavy content on your website, this CMS must be tweaked to handle the load because on its own, it does not have enough horsepower.


8 Reasons Why a Professional Will Do a Better Job

Just like you would not build your own car or house unless you are in that line of business, your CMS would benefit from the expertise of a professional for several reasons.

One, you save time and get the job done quickly.

Two, you save money because your time is money and focusing on something with a steep learning curve will take you away from running your business. However, you can ask the professional to teach you basic skills so you can make small changes on your website without compromising its quality and technical performance.

Three, a professional will be able to customize the CMS to fit your website and business needs to a “T.” With a DIY CMS app, you are bound by its design and functions – some of which are quite limiting. A professional will be able to build your website so you attract your target market and decrease bounce rate. You will also enjoy infinite possibilities compared with working with a few templates.

Four, you will have a better user experience. A professional team will be able to select the best topography, lay-outs, accessibility, and interactive elements so your message is appealing to your market. Users will also benefit from easy navigation and be able to enjoy the website.

Five, SEO will improve. With the help of an expert, structural changes with the CMS will not affect SEO and will in fact boost it. This means web traffic will not be affected negatively because there will be no broken links and issues with meta tags.

Six, with proper care, your website will be scalable. This means you won’t suffer quality when you make modifications or post new content.

Seven, you are guaranteed service and ongoing maintenance.

Finally, your credibility as an online presence will advance because you will have a website that performs and operates seamlessly. You will not experience erratic design elements, which would affect traffic, and you will become the benchmark for your industry because of your well-developed website.