Archive for the ‘Search Engines’ Category

Search + Social: Why Reviews Matter

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Testimonials and Recommendations matter!

This is simply a fact for any business be it word of mouth or online reviews. Personal recommendations are extremely powerful with regard to growing your business and bringing in new clients and patients. Are people leaving your business positive reviews? Do enough people look closely at what is said in reviews to help your online business grow?

The Role of Online Reviews

google-local-denver-dentistOnline review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places, and Bing Local give people fast access to location facts and ratings for local neighborhood businesses.  Every year, a growing number of online visitors are using reviews to build their trust in local businesses.

According to a BrightLocal study done in 2013, 85% of consumers said they read online reviews for local businesses.  79% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  And 73% of consumers said that positive reviews online make them trust a local business more.  There is no denying that customer reviews help you engage with your potential clients and also help you understand potential customer needs.  Reviews also help you improve your online visibility in search results by increasing trust and click-through rates for your website.  This actually helps push your site higher in the rankings if enough people continue to engage with the content they find on your site.

The Role of Social Media

So, how do search engines use reviews in their search results?  At first glance, it’s easy to see that Google and Bing both show the amount of reviews a business has in its local results. With the growing popularity of social networking websites, online searchers have more access than ever to attitudes, opinions, and viewpoints of people who have interacted with a business.  Search engines are realizing how trustworthy and useful this information is by incorporating activity on these sites as favorable ranking factors.  Google utilizes +1s in its algo.  Bing recently rolled out their new Smart Search feature which incorporates reviews from places like Facebook, Mapquest, and Yelp in local results.  Reviews are increasingly becoming more about personal interactivity on social platforms, and sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are playing a bigger role in how a website ranks in search.

How to Best Leverage Social & Online Reviews

With social and review sites in mind, what is the best way to incorporate those reviews and interactions into your greater web marketing plan?  First, if you don’t already have listings or pages on these sites, then, you will want to actively work on claiming and optimizing those listings.  Make sure your business name, address, phone number, business hours, and website url are up to date and current so people can find you and contact you.

Create an outlet where you can expertly provide advice and information about your business.  Promote your special services.  Offer something that “the other guys” do not.  What makes you stand out from the crowd?  Create value, and share it on these pages with potential new clients and customers.

Share and engage with your audience, don’t just spew information (I call this “soap-boxing” – this will lose you followers faster than it will gain them).  When customers feel engaged, they tend to be more loyal to your products and services.  Loyal clients become advocates for your business. With social media, engaged clients and patients can (and probably will) endorse your company for everyone to see.  When that happens, it can be a very powerful tool to enhance your online presence.

Denver Dentist Search Results on Google (with reviews)

Additionally, local businesses with negative reviews will want to respond openly to negative reviews.  A bad review is not necessarily a bad thing.  If used the right way, it can become a positive influencer.  Use the opportunity to reach out and change that reviewer’s experience into something positive.  If the reviewer is not interested in responding, it at least shows future visitors that you are concerned about the experience people have when visiting your business or using your products.  It also shows that you are willing to go that extra mile to make amends.

You will also want to continually generate new reviews from happy clients promoting what you do best.  In doing this you can drive any negative reviews further down the page and keep the newer, positive reviews higher up.  Reviews don’t just affect the impressions a potential client has on your business; it can affect how your business website ranks on Google, Bing, and Yahoo search.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Forward Thinking – Future SEO

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Yesterday at PubCon 2012 was probably the most info packed day of the week. From the early morning news that Internet Marketing Ninjas in New York acquired WebmasterWorld Online Forums to the jam packed late afternoon Authorship session in a crowded Exhibit Hall A, my notebook was brimming and my brain was spinning. No, not from comped casino beverages, but from a virtual dump truck of information exchanged here at the second big day of SEO sessions. Standout tracks from the day were the Bing session and the Authorship discussions.

Future of SEO - PubCon 2012 SessionDuane Forrester from Bing delivered an amazing presentation, that has so far been my favorite track from the conference series. Entitled “What’s Up at Bing?” it was less of a – here’s what we’re doing – type of discussion, and more of a layout of the future of search and the tools that Bing has at the ready for all inquiring SEO minds. Two main things to remember when thinking about SEO in 2012 and beyond is to see the act of search as less of a one time action and more of a lengthy session. Forrester pointed out that for many things (such as a cup of coffee, a slice of pizza, or a recipe) the search may be a one and done type of deal, but for a substantial purchase, or to find a family doctor, the searcher is going to do considerable research. They are going to spend hours, even days, gathering and digesting information (good content), specs or credentials, where the business is located (local), and product or service testimonials (reviews and recommendations in their social circles). According to Duane Forrester’s data:

“44% of search sessions last a day or more”

and in order to capitalize on this, to leverage your product and your brand, you need to be focusing on a different style of search and keyword data than the current one search SEO query is looking at.

A lot to think about and digest? Yes!  But, that was just the beginning of the knowledge-fest because hot of the heels of the Bing talk was the Authorship session (otherwise known as rel=”author” tagging in G+). That’s been the rising focus of many SEO campaigns since August of 2011, and it was clear that the mechanics are still hard to grasp for newcomers to the topic as they were for those of us who have been trying to keep up with Google’s changing preference for implementation methods over the last few months. There were furrowed brows, many questions, and some blank stares in the large crowd listening to Eric Enge, Stephen Spencer, and Jim Boykin shed light on the subject.  At Page 1 Solutions we’ve been following all the changes and keeping up with the most current info regarding authorship, so there was not a lot of new info for us here, but it is good to know that we are solidly on the right track.  Go Page 1 Ninjas!

The rest of today will be spent listening to thoughts on competitor “stalking” (aka – gathering intelligence about what your competitors are doing and analyzing the data). More about that and the final thoughts on the conference as PubCon wraps up later this evening.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Day 1 at PubCon 2012 – G+ and Disavow Links

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

PubCon 2012 Las Vegas, NV – Day 1

Yesterday was the first full day of conference sessions at the PubCon conference in Las Vegas. True to Vegas style it was energetic and loud and full of pumped up music and flashing lights. The keynote, about the psychology of motives and persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, was an informative introduction to the day ahead.

There were a lot of new people to meet, and an abundance of great information to be digested. I am proud to be a part of an industry that thrives on knowledge and has such passion for guessing the next piece of the puzzle in the game of SEO. As a whole, the SEO community is very exciting and forward thinking. Everyone I met on Tuesday was eager to share what makes them passionate and what gets them excited about working in this field. I was asked questions like: Do you find it difficult to traverse the Google landscape since the changes in local+? What types of A/B testing do you do with your websites and what has been the most influential revelation from that testing? How do you leverage Pinterest for a local small business? Do you Foursquare? Authorship and Search, how huge has that become, and where will it lead? It’s enough to make a nerdy girl like me giddy.

I am literally amazed at the amount of topics covered in just a few hours the first day at PubCon, and I’m grateful for the chance to be a part of such an inquisitive and passionate community.

Two big takeaways for me from the the first day of the conference:

  1. G+ linked content gets indexed faster than content linked from Twitter and Facebook (more about this to come in a follow up blog, but for now, know that it is pretty important to get set up on G+ and utilize it to promote your website and blog content.)
  2. Matt Cutts announced the ability to Disavow Links in Google Webmaster Tools (this is HUGE)

Matt Cutts announces the Disavow Tool

 Best quote of the day?

“Google is really making things complicated!” -Marcus Tober

I’m looking forward to Days 2, 3, and 4 – and sharing some of what I learn with you through this blog.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

How Is Mobile Search Different from a Desktop Search?

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

It is estimated that more people will be accessing Internet information via a mobile device than a personal computer by the year 2013 (that’s not very far away, folks). As we know, most standard websites do not render well on a smartphone screen due to the smaller screen size, or use of incompatible plug-ins (such as flash). As many businesses opt for a mobile website to complement their standard website, one wonders what this means for keyword optimization and search trends? Do smartphone users search the same way desktop searchers do?

Interestingly enough, mobile search is used and rendered very different from a desktop search. Here are my Top 5 reasons why this is so:

  • Mobile search is highly geared toward local information. Statistically 9 out of 10 smartphone searches result in an action. Chances are, if you are looking for for something on your phone’s browser (like a food, a museum, or a bike repair shop) it is because you want to purchase, find, or visit the searched item. Desktop searches tend to be less action oriented overall and more information oriented in nature. Because of this pages like Google Local Listings are positioned to rank higher than pages that are not locally oriented. Domains with geo-targeted keywords will also rank well in this system.
  • Google has 97% of the mobile search market share, and their algorithm is different for mobile devices than desktops.
  • Smartphone screen size is much smaller than a PC’s screen size, so it will be even more important to snag the top few spots on a mobile search in order to be on the first page.
  • Site loading speed becomes critical in a mobile search. A site that takes too long to load when on-the-go information is needed quickly, will lead to higher bounce rates than a standard desktop site search.
  • Android users are always logged in to Google on their mobile system.  This means that Android users will always be served personalized results more often than folks searching on a PC who may not have logged in. This will obviously change as more and more people begin to use Google+ or who search when logged into their Google accounts.  Most users aren’t aware if they are logged in or not, and personalized results definitely have an impact on what you will see in your search results.

These are key points to keep in mind when conducting a search on either platform, and even more important to keep in mind when positioning yourself and your business for the future, whether or not you have a mobile website. Keeping a claimed and optimized local listing has always been an important piece in your overall SEO strategy. But now, it seems as if listings such as Google Places and Bing Local could have even more impact on your search results in the future.

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Why Should I Re-Optimize My Website? – SEO Basics XVIII

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Some reasons to re-optimize your website :

    Your site has enjoyed great rankings for several years but you’ve now lost your top or first page listings.

    Your website statistics show a big drop in the number of people visiting your site.

    Your site was optimized a long time ago, the keywords you originally used to gain high rankings no longer work.

    Your site has undergone a redesign or moved to a different platform.

    Your competitors seem to be achieving top rankings, you need to market your site to improve rankings.

    Your business has changed it’s focus and the priority Keyterms have changed.

    Your location has changed or you have new offices and you need to update your optimization accordingly.

Strategies to keep in mind while re-optimizing your Website to Increase Rankings and Traffic

    1.Look at the keywords generating the most visits. Are they currently included in your Title tags and content? Use keyword research tools to find related keywords that can be added to your web pages. Create extra web pages that target high priority keywords.

    2.Do searches for your top priority keywords and find the competing sites that are showing up at the top of the first page. Analyze these competitor websites for title tags, web copy plus the quantity and quality of their backlnks.

    3. Find related keywords and include these within your web pages to increase web traffic.

    5. Incoming links to your website help your web page rankings increase. Link building is a task that must be done regularly to stay ahead of your competitors. Boost the number of backlinks across your webpages so they can achieve better rankings.

    6. Look for high quality local directories and review sites where you can register your website and increase visibilty for your business.

    7. Optimize and verify your Google Places and Bing and Yahoo Local listings.

Do I select keywords and phrases before or after I build my website?- SEO Basics XV

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Keywords and key phrases need to be selected much before building a website. In fact, you should think about keywords and phrases even before you choose a domain name.
It is a known fact that having a key word relevant domain name can be helpful to your website’s rankings with the Search Engines.
It is very important to name your website as close to the your targeted keywords and phrases as possible.
By choosing your keywords and phrases well in advance, you will also be able to design your site with an advantage as you can include key terms in your page URLs and ensure that the site’s architecture and navigation highlights the key phrases for your business.
Choosing target keywords and phrases in advance also enhances your competitive analysis and allows you to focus on the important points while writing your website’s content.
You can define your internal and external links and maximize the value from anchor text.

Top Five Google Plus Features

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

With the recent roll out of Google+ three weeks ago, there has been much talk about Google’s attempt to stomp all over Facebook and other social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. So far the Google+ platform is available by invitation only, as they are still tweaking the system and working out the bugs.  I was able to set up a Google+ account two weeks ago and so  far I really like what I’m seeing.

Keep in mind that at this early stage, Google+ works only with Google accounts that have an active Google profile. If you haven’t created your Google profile, you will not be able to sign up for Google+. Judging from the feedback I’m seeing from other users, there are people who love what Google is doing, and then there are those who doubt Google’s ability to create a social media platform that will actually work well and catch on with the Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter crowds.  After all, say the doubters, this is Google’s third attempt in the social media realm.

This time, however, I think they are on to something, and have created a powerful social media tool with a great deal of potential.  G+ integrates what I like most about the other platforms and adds a bit more.

Here are my personal Top Five Favorite Google Plus Features:

#5 – Hangouts – Hangouts is a great way to communicate face to face with anyone via video chat.  It is very easy to set up and, in my experience, works better than Facebook’s Video Chat feature. The interface looks good and is incredibly easy to use.  You only need to download a simple plug-in the first time you initiate use, and you are ready to chat!

Google Hangouts

#4 – Sparks – Sparks is a feature that enables you to find, create, and ultimately share topics of interest and use them like a news feed source for information.  Topics can be broad like the pre-set categories “movies”, “gardening” or “comics”.  You can also create targeted topics like “1950’s Horror Films”, “Growing Tomato Plants”, or “X-Men” by using the Find stuff you’re interested in… search bar.

#3 - Photos / Instant Uploads from Android – For someone like me who is always forgetting to dump the pictures out of my phone, this feature makes photo uploading unthinkably easy!  All you need is the Google+ for Android app and your photos automatically upload themselves to your G+ account immediately after they’ve been taken.  The app is much easier to use than Facebook's upload interface and the photos are quickly uploaded into a private album, by default.  You can set to share them with one or more circles when you upload or you can keep them private and share later. So simple.

#2 - Mute Posts – The Mute post option came so close to being number one on my list. It is a simple thing, but oh, so necessary.  If you have a topic on your Stream feed that no longer interests you, or a conversation that you don’t care to follow, you have the ability to get rid of it via the mute, report, or block options. Link To is also an option in the menu if the conversation is something you want to pass along to others.  Mute post is the kind way of saying "shut up" or "not now" to someone on Google+!

#1 - Circles (and Streams limited sharing capabilities) – Circles is definitely my favorite feature of all!  Circles allow you to add people to different groups and categorize them.  For instance, I currently have a few different Circles categories:  friends, work, family, & following.  Each of these are groups of people I interact with differently.  For instance, I probably wouldn’t share pictures of my weekend exploits with my family or work circles, but would with my friends circle.  I can use the family circle to keep up to date on the upcoming family reunion, and I can chat with co-workers about the latest and greatest SEO happenings in my work circle.  The best part is no one has to read conversations from me that do not pertain to them.  Each circle sees only what they need to see.  No superfluous junk!  If you do happen to  have a big announcement you want to share with everyone, you can easily do that as well.  You do not have to be in your Circles to segregate your posts, you only need to designate who gets to see what right from your posting bar in Stream (via Share what’s new…).

In a not so tiny nutshell, those are my top five favorite features that Google+ has to offer right now.  Keep in mind that what we are seeing in these early stages is Google+ for the individual. With the scheduled roll out of Google+ For Business later this year, Google has the means to integrate much of what they already excel at (search, Google Checkout, advertising, analytics, mapping, and communication) and bundle everything together in one tidy and potentially powerful package for business entities. More on that when Google releases it!

by Tammy Smith SEO Analyst, Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Does Traffic Affect Your Search Rankings? SEO Basics XII

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Traffic does matters in search engine rankings. While social media marketing and link-building are very important factors, research has shown that traffic to a website can influence search rankings.

Google has always that its primary task is to deliver value to searchers, and it is known that Google looks at backlinks , bounce rates, and RSS subscriptions. It is most likely that these factors could be considered important by Google in terms of measuring website authority and value, which could be translated into search rankings. If your site has a high bounce rate, Google could view it as a negative vote from viewers and hence drop your rankings, on the other hand if viewers often click on your site and stay with it , it could have a positive impact on your search results.

Should I have different Title Tags on every page? SEO Basics XI

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

The Title tag is considered to be the most important on-page element of search engine optimization. Most search engines assign maximum value to the Title tag when determining what sites to index, since the Title tag is what usually shows up for the title of your listing in search results.

Having customized Title tags for every page of the website is an essential part of successful optimization

  • Personalize each title tag for each page of your site if you would like your web pages to rank high in the SERPs. Ensure that the title tag references what the page is actually about.
    Place your most optimized keyword phrases at the beginning of the title tag; so that there is no fear of the phrases getting cut off due to character restrictions from the search engines.
    •Make your Title relevant and appropriate to what your site’s focus is, making sure that it’s a readable title that will appeal to viewers and the Search engines.
    • If you are targeting specific geographic locations, put the geographical location in your title tag. Ensure that you do not stuff the Title tags with too many localizations and or key terms to avoid being penalized for spam.

Can redesigning my website negatively affect my search engine results? – SEO Basics X

Monday, February 28th, 2011

The goal of any business’ website is to increase leads and conversions, in order to be successful the site needs to be on the top pages of the major Search engines and therefore needs to be both viewer and search-engine friendly. Redesigning your website can be an effective way of repositioning your brand, or changing public perceptions of your company.
However, redesigning a site without keeping in mind the search engine aspect can cause a negative impact on your SE results. It is therefore imperative to include your optimization specialists in the initial discussions about the redesign so that the changes that come about in the redesign do not cause your site to lose any of it’s existing “equity” .

As the new site is designed, the site architecture, content, internal links, navigation and meta data should be taken into consideration. The impact of external links should be considered as well so redirects that are both user and search engine friendly can be planned. It is important to keep the site content rich and design it in a way that the SE spidrers can crawl important information about the business. A site redesign or change in content management system may need a migration plan to ensure a smooth transition of existing categories, link URLs and anchor text. If the site changes URLs, 301 redirects must be put in place. Making sure that the redesigned site has an updated HTML and XML site map can help search engines find and crawl new content.

When there are major changes to a web site’s design, content and URL structure, there will be some effect on the search engine visibility of a site, However, if the fundamental elements are taken care of, one can greatly minimize any negative effects and have an appealing new site that stays on the first page of the search engines.