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    Small Business, Local Business, Successful Business Websites

    Keeping up with the competition

    It takes a lot of work to keep up with the latest news and best-practices in Design, SEO, SEM, Content Marketing, and Social Media management. It's my job to do the research so you don't have to.

    The information in this blog is based on hours and hours of market research, expert advice, and data driven studies. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not keeping up-to-date with latest breaking news to make your website better.

    All the posts in this blog are dedicated to making sure that you have actionable tools to improve the SERPs, traffic and conversions on your site. I keep promising that I'll build your website while you build your business. You can do the work yourself or contact me for help. Let's make sure you stay ahead of your competition!

    ~JoMarie

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    2017 Biggest SEO Opportunities

    06/19/2017

    SEOs from around the world gather at Seattle's waterfront Bell Harbor Center for the annual SMX Advanced.Every year I attend the biggest SEO/SEM conference in North America. SMX Advanced is the only conference designed exclusively for experienced search marketers and attended by the top experts in the world. From small agencies like mine to the biggest corporate SEO teams, we gather to learn from each other and from the search engines themselves including Google, Bing, Amazon and more.
     

    Here are the big takeaways for this year:

     
    Page Speed
    Page Speed is only an official ranking factor on mobile devices (the majority of searches are on mobile). But even on desktop computers, conversions go up as your page speed goes down. Google denies that user engagement is a ranking factor but all the latest studies show fast sites are in the top results and have the best clickthrough and conversion rates.
     
    Interestingly, Page Speed is one area that small sites can actually beat the big players. Nimble code and web-specialized servers give an edge for this critical factor.
     
    Mobile First
    It's not breaking news but we had another reminder at how important Mobile is. Google is moving to a Mobile First index. What they want to see for mobile friendly gets tighter every year! What was good enough two years ago may not be enough anymore.
     
    Google's Mobile First will take another 4 - 5 years to be fully implemented. Most SEOs expect testing to begin long before that.
     
    Featured Snippets
    You've probably seen these answers to questions at the top of search result pages. They've been nicknamed  "Position 0" because they are separate from and appear above ads and organic results. The consensus is - it is easier to go from position 6 to position 0 than it is to position 1. I'm back with specific details on how to make that happen!
     
    Want to know what pages on your site are showing as a featured snippet? So does everyone but Google won't be giving us that information because of internal politics. 
     
    Links
    Links are still Google's favorite way to find and prioritize content. Now that they are monitoring the quality and quantity of links as part of their core algorithm we are seeing changes in how they penalize and reward link policies. You are always going to be better off working on quality, relevant links that prove your business's authority.
     
    Buying links are less likely to generate a manual penalty. These days you have to be an egregious abuser to get locked out of Google. While you might not get removed from the SERPs, Google's Gary Illyes said that buying links is basically like throwing away money. Google has gotten very good at simply ignoring those links even when on major publications like Forbes and Huffington post.
     
    On the other hand, multiple sources have been testing large volume link purchases and have compelling data showing big boosts to SERPs. 
     
    Site Security 
    You probably know that you shouldn't put your credit card information into a web-form unless you see the address starts with https and has a little lock in the address bar.  Google has confirmed that https does give a small ranking boost and should be implemented on any website in the YMYL [Your Money or Your Life] categories. 
     
    I've been seeing security warnings on pages with no direct security risks at all. I'm currently recommending that all websites start planning a move to HTTPS in the next year or two.
     
    Voice Search
    Google (Siri, Cortana) find a [something] near me. Voice search is getting better, more conversational, hugely popular and will soon be reflected in Google Analytic data. Google Home and Amazon Echo type devices aren't novelty gadgets anymore.
     
    Google Algorithm Changes
    There are usually two Google updates every single day. Most of the changes to the way Google ranks your website are minuscule. Many are based on the way real visitors interact on websites. Some changes are a result of the real life people Google hires to test their results. Don't count on big updates taking down your competition. Make sure your website is the best it can be. 
     
    Curious about the guidelines? Google publishes the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines for everyone to view.
     
    Content
    It is always, always, always about the content on your site. You need to have the content that your customer/visitor wants and needs. If you guess what that content is, you are going to lose to websites that do the basic research. If you want Google to think you are the authority in your field - you need to give them an authoritative content packed website.
     

    SEO News You Can Use

    06/13/2017

    Standing room only at SMX Advanced AMA with Gary IllyesThis morning's Keynote AMA with Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan quizzing Google's Gary Illyes was standing room only at SMX Advanced 2017.

    There is no better way to start the 2 day sold out event than to get the basics from Google themselves. Gary (aka @methode) always plays coy but usually gives actionable information. Information of use to my clients includes:

    What does it take to rank well in 2017?

    • Great content, quality incoming links and marketing your content!

    • Google typically makes 2 updates to their algorithm every single day. 

    • Featured snippets are important but Google is  not ready to give us the metrics on what content they gather and serve from our sites.

    • Voice search metrics will be coming soon. Voice search should be of great interest to all Local businesses and websites. 

    • Page speed is far more important on mobile devices and is a ranking factor. If you get your page fast enough you probably don't need to use one of the latest page alternatives (AMP, PWA, PWAMP, etc.) unless you are a news or recipe based website and then you probably want to switch to AMP pages.

    • There is a small rank boost for https. (If your content is YMYL [Your money or your life] subjects and tools, you need https. This includes but isn't limited to financial sites, health sites, and ecommerce sites.)

    • Responsive sites aren't better than m. sites ... except if you leave out content for your mobile site. You will probably do better with a responsive site once Google switches to Mobile First index.

    • Schema is very important.

    • Mobile First is coming and soon.

    Hopefully a great deal more information is to come. I'm already coming home with new tools and products for small and local businesses. You don't have to be an enterprise level player to compete anymore.

     

     

    Non-profits Heads-Up

    06/06/2017

    This just in from Facebook, new template beginning June 19, 2017:

    Facebook is making changes to help organizations like yours find new supporters and stay connected. We've developed a new Page template for nonprofits. It will showcase content from your Page, like photos and events, and make it easier for people to take action with your page.

    There's nothing you need to do now. You'll see this change applied on June 19. You can always choose another template and make more changes later. If you're not interested in having this new template applied, you can opt out.

    You can apply the new template now and decide if you like the update. If not, you can always back up and go back to the template you prefer.  

    My suspicion is that it will be worth the change. 

    ~ JoMarie

     

    You Have To Be Fast To Win The SEO Race

    05/30/2017

    how fast are websites in your industryA phone and a stopwatch are not pro SEO tools

    Forget the tortoise and the hare. If your website is slow it is costing you business. 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

    But, you say, my customers won't be using a phone to find me*. True or not, if Google looks at your website with Mobile First, you need it to work on one.

    How fast is your site?

    Don't guess - test!

    Google Page Speed Insights Google makes it easy to get numbers you can use and understand. The latest edition of the tool will email test results for passing on to your webmaster.

    Pingdom is also a free tool with detailed information about your website - even your competitors if you wish.

    In a recent test on one of my own websites, I ran both tests and found plenty to clean up. Google Page Speed showed 73 mobile / 77 desktop. Pingdom scored a B at 650 ms. Simply by optimizing a handful of images, I was able to get my scores up to 78 mobile / 91 desktop.

    Tweaking continued with an ultimate score of 79 mobile and 93 desktop. Pingdom improved to an A and only 432 ms! The only items left were the Google Fonts and the style sheet which I'm not ready to give up.

    What do I need to do to improve my page speed?

    1. Optimize your images. Smaller files are better.
    2. Use a fast hosting server and avoid redirects to your home page.
    3. Make sure your hosting solution enables compression and browser caching.
    4. Clean up and minify your code.

    If you need help, ask. Check first with your developer and then with a technical SEO**. They both should have access to professional level tools providing more information in greater depth.

    Chances are good that you can get your site faster than the vast majority of website's in your industry. Make sure your site is faster than your closest competition. The higher the score the better your user's experience. The better your user's experience - often means - the higher your site should rank.

    ~JoMarie


    *For more information: How consumers research products using mobile search and review sites.

    **If you are my client, contact me to set up your annual site audit. Site speed is a big part of tech SEO.
     

     

    Ratings Featured in Search Results

    05/02/2017

    The searcher wants to find something. You want to sell something. Google wants to be the tool that connects you. 

    To make sure they provide the results most likely to satisfy, Google is testing showing hotel ratings directly in search results. I wouldn't be surprised to see this spread to a variety of categories.

    See: TheSEMpost for screenshots and more details.

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