Archive for the ‘Web Design and SEO’ Category

Top Five Tools for Website Analysis

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Every SEO will, at one point or another, be confronted with the task of doing some in-depth website analysis.  Sometimes you need to get an idea of the health of on-page elements, at others you want to do comparative analysis.  Often you may simple need a “bigger picture” view of what is going on with a site.   When posed with questions such as – Why has my traffic dropped this month?  To – What areas do I need to focus on for improvement in SERP rankings?  A search engine optimizer will need to sift through some data to better understand the exact circumstances of a website’s performance in order to make accurate and educated recommendations.

SEO Tools for Website Analysis - Page 1 Solutions

There are a number of tools on the market that help with the SEO analysis process, some free, some paid.  What are the programs that can help the most, or are easiest to use and understand?  The following are five of my all-time favorite SEO Tools to use for site analysis and research:

  1. Raven Toolswww.raventools.com -  Raven Tools offers a paid set of marketing tools – their SEO Software is currently one of my favorite go-to programs for reporting.  Not only does it offer an immense amount of details and a wide range of reporting options, Raven Tools also makes it easy to incorporate your branding on reports.  It used to take me five or six open browser tabs to accomplish what Raven Tools can do with just one click.  It grabs the data, adds it to an easy to use reporting interface and makes accessing that data a snap with color graphics and clickable data links for delving further into the data it has retrieved.  A great tool and a huge time saver.  A busy SEOs dream.
  2. Google Analyticswww.google.com/analytics – Of course Google Analytics had to make my ‘top five’ list.  Any SEO who is not using Google Analytics is missing out on a boatload of valuable data.  You know the old saying that humans only use 20% of their brains?  Well, I kind of feel  the same way when I’m knee deep in numbers, digging through a client’s dashboard trying to figure out a current statistical anomaly.  It’s times like those when  I realize that most SEOs (including myself) only use a fraction of what Google Analytics can offer – there is just so much information to digest!   A girl (or boy) can get lost in there.  A word of advice – if you are using GA regularly, get certified by taking the  Google Analytics IQ Test and make sure you are using this tool to its greatest potential.   For research and statistics, it is second to none.  For reporting integration – it leaves something to be desired.  But to be fair, it’s not trying to be a branding tool like Raven Tools is – and for a FREE tool, it is one powerful vehicle.
  3. The Hubspot Marketing Grader Toolmarketing.grader.com – HubSpot’s Marketing Grader is a tool that analyzes your website and provides actionable insights to improve your online marketing tactics – for FREE!  It gives you insight into your on-page SEO (meta tag usage, headers, internal linking) as well as off site indicators like social media, blogging, and backlinks.  This is a one stop snapshot of how your site is doing, instantly!  A great place to start your research if you are not sure where to begin.
  4. Webmaster Tools (Bing www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster  and Google www.google.com/webmasters/tools ) – Often overlooked, Bing and Google webmaster tools are positioned to be one of the more info heavy (and reliable) of the data providers outside of Google Analytics.  While Bing may actually offer a bit more in the arena of data, both tools offer keywords, links, queries, and site issues so you can maintain a healthy web presence if you take the time to review the information within.  The tools are free, and super intuitive to use (unlike Google Analytics) so finding information fast is very doable from either of these interfaces.
  5. MySEOToolwww.myseotool.com - This is another set of analysis software that is incredibly user friendly.  MySEOTool shows keyword rank, social media monitoring, and backlink statistics all from a very visually appealing interface.  Reports are easy to export in pdf format.  This tool is my favorite for showing local rank.  It has become a go-to favorite in my SEO toolbox.  Google webmaster tools is integrated in their newest release, so you get two great tools in one!
To learn more about SEO, website analysis, or if you need help with your internet marketing, contact one of our experienced digital marketers at Page 1 Solutions or call 800-368-9910!  We can help with any of your online marketing and SEO questions.
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.

Choosing the Right Content Management System for Your Website

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Content management systems are very appealing. Being able to give our clients the ability to make simple text changes and content updates on their own saves time for us and money for them. They’re also a slick way to manage large websites with lots of content, and can make theming a cinch for your designer/developer.

Once you decide to use a content management system, you have to choose one of the many available to you. Some are free, some are paid, and many have restrictions and flaws. Most systems are built to work very well with a specific subset of sites, and can be adapted for others (eg. WordPress.org is a blogging platform, but makes an excellent CMS with few modifications).

Factors to Consider

As you are exploring your content management system options, you should take into consideration what your website needs from the CMS and how it can make your job easier, faster, cheaper, or better.

Consider these questions when you are investigating:

  • How does this system work for the type of website you run (ecommerce, blog, forum, etc)?
  • How easy is it to install, administer, and update? Can you or do you know someone who can do this?
  • How strong and helpful is the user community for this CMS?
  • Is this CMS still updated, or is it on its way out?
  • Is this CMS SEO-friendly?

This last item is very important to the success of your website. By not considering SEO-friendliness as one of the most important factors, you may end up stuck with a beautifully functioning website that no one can find.

By choosing a CMS that is SEO-friendly, you ensure that your optimizer can effectively market your website and the search engines can crawl and display it correctly.

Some of the most important CMS features include:

  • Clean URLs – Session tracking or dynamic URLs make it difficult for search engines to crawl and properly link to your website. Without clean URLs, you may end up with duplicate content problems or incomplete indexation. This includes customizable URLs, so you can reference the article name instead of database ID number. URLs that look static are best.
  • H1 tags – Header markup is important to split your content appropriately. Having an H1 instead of strong text at the beginning of a piece of content signals that this is the title of the content.
  • Redirects – 301 redirects are essential to SEO if the content on your site might ever change (this is everyone!). If your CMS can automatically handle changes in URL structure and content with 301s, your life will be much simpler.

Not essential, but if your CMS can gracefully handle meta tags, robots.txt files, and bulk uploads, you will thank yourself later.

Content Management Systems

There are quite a few content management systems to choose from:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla!
  • Expression Engine
  • Drupal
  • DotNetNuke
  • Radiant
  • Magento
  • and many more

Each system is built to suit a different type of consumer, and most have dedicated followings.

Drupal

At Page 1 Solutions, we use Drupal as our CMS of choice. We now program all of our new designs into Drupal, and have spent many hours training the company and our clients on how to use it.

Drupal was a great choice because it is pretty SEO-friendly out of the box. With just a few additional free modules available through the community, it is highly customizable and ready for search engine optimization. The Drupal community is also very active and helpful, and have always come through for us if we had a question.

Drupal Modules for SEO

Drupal already offers clean URLs and tight, clean coding out of the box. Fellow ninja, John Donnelly and I presented at this year’s Drupal Camp Colorado, going over basics of SEO and modules we recommend for Drupal. See the video and slides for our presentation by visiting the Drupal Camp Colorado 2011 site.

The modules we recommend are:

Your Website

As a Drupal fan-girl, I will recommend Drupal to nearly everyone. It is highly customizable and can handle the most important of websites, including the White House’s website. The community is very supportive, and folks who can help figure out Drupal problems are easy to find.

Choosing the right CMS is personal, though, and it is important that you choose the right content management system to run your website. Do not forget to consider SEO when making a selection, and choose wisely!

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.

Yet Another Algo Change: What Google Previews Is and What it Means to You

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It is a well known fact that Google changes its algorithm a lot. They have changed it over 500 times this year alone. Usually those changes are pretty small and will only be noticed by the most scrupulous of eyes.

More recently, Google has been experimenting with larger changes. Some of the highlights from the recent months include:

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What Is Black Hat SEO –SEO Basics IV

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Continuing with the series on basic SEO questions, one question that we optimizers frequently hear is “What is Black Hat SEO?”

There is no generally accepted definition for black hat SEO. The answers depend on who you are speaking to, something considered fair by one webmaster maybe off-limits to another. Generally, efforts to manipulate Search Engines to gain quick results are considered as Black Hat SEO.

Besides the principles that web companies and marketing personnel apply to their work, guidelines can also vary based on the industry and sometimes the Search Engines too.
Search engine operators, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, have published guidelines about techniques they consider to be Black Hat and in violation of their policies.

There are no shortcuts in SEO. It is a long-term process that requires perseverance and diligence. Black hat techniques may look tempting and easy and may give short-term results but they are detrimental in the long run. They can cause your site to get banned by the SEs which is every webmaster’s worst nightmare..

Here are some common BlackHat SEO techniques to be aware of :

Cloaking a website by displaying one website to visitors and other one to Google’s spiders. The most common way to do this is using the “iframe” redirect code.

Using Hidden Text or “white” text written on a white background to stuff keywords within webpages.

Creating Doorway pages which involves having a website optimized for one set of keywords, then redirecting its traffic to another website once it is indexed.

Using Automated Submission/Link Building Software that submits your site to hundreds of directories that probably have no relevance to your site. This is also known as Link Farming.

Keyword Stuffing or adding a large number of keywords in the meta-tags.

Buying Paid Links indiscriminately to try and build inbound links.

Choosing your URL : Take a long term approach

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

The URL you choose for your business’ web site can play a major factor in the long-term success of your online marketing campaigns, and of your business. I want to outline in the next few paragraphs some of the do’s and don’ts for choosing a URL that will work for, not against you. (more…)

5 Reasons Why Storing Old Copies of Your Site in Live Subfolders is a Bad Idea

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I began an SEO overhaul last week for a legal client. It’s an older website, one that our firm did not design, and their rankings have been suffering inexplicably. Investigating the site architecture, I quickly realized that the previous designers had stored the old copies of the site in subfolders that were live on the web.  They weren’t excluded from crawling in the robots.txt.  Cue the facepalm.

SEO for Designers

Why, WHY would a competent designer do such a thing!? I implored my Facebook friends. The most designer-ish of my friends quickly responded, “Wouldn’t you do that for the historical record?” In general the response seemed confused by my objection. My reply quickly evolved into a rather substantial treatise on spidering theory, so I decided to make a blog post of it. Here’s my answer:

No. You don’t store old copies in a live subfolder. EVER. If you want a historical record, store it locally. Store it on an external hard drive, a thumb drive, a floppy disk – whatever. DON’T KEEP IT IN A LIVE SUBFOLDER. Here’s why.

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Getting Creative with Link Building

Monday, March 8th, 2010

As the competition for first page listings, web traffic and business leads keeps getting tougher, optimizers are always looking for new ways to get inbound links and authority and credibility for their clients’ sites.

The fact that results from search queries now increasingly include real time search results , it’s becoming imperative for us to craft strategies above and beyond the traditional link-building methods.

While making sure that the fundamentals like custom Title tags, compelling descriptions, high quality content and user friendly interfaces remain the cornerstone of our work, we can successfully use some strategies to boost the presence of our sites.

  • Publishing targeted blog posts, interacting with the viewers and syndicating blog via feeds.
  • Making sure Google Maps and Bing Local listings are verified and updated with the latest media rich information about the site.
  • Finding Local directories to add sites and create a presence within a smaller, more focussed geographic area.
  • Using Twitter and Facebook to build a brand following for your site, thus proving the popularity of your site to the search engines.
  • Using e-PRs , articles and press releases to target specific key phrases through latest updates.
  • Using Video especially YouTube to build a strong presence for your site.

These strategies will bring definite advantages to our sites, helping us get an edge over competition in the search engine rankings and potentially bring in high quality web traffic and business leads for our clients.

Sub-Sites: White Hat or Grey Hat?

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Search engine marketing, especially in large metropolitan areas, is becoming increasingly competitive. With more and more business owners and professionals becoming aware of the benefits of ranking high for relevant search terms, it is becoming increasingly challenging to rank well.

The typical “formula” for good on-page optimization looks something like this (not an all-inclusive list, but does touch on some of the main points):

  • A search relevant URL
  • A “flat” html file structure
  • Search friendly html file names
  • Relevant page titles
  • Quality, unique content  (and plenty of it)
  • Good on-page linking with relevant anchor text

Then you go into the off-page factors like:

  • Local profiles (Google, Bing, etc.)
  • Quality, relevant Inbound links (I have issues with this one, as it still seems that spammy links benefit results. I guess my definition of spammy differs from that of Google.)
  • Blogging
  • Active social networking profiles

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