Does Page Load Time Affect SEO? Yes!

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An important factor in rank is Page Speed, also known as Page Load Time. This is the time it takes a page (like your home page) to load. Google has made it clear that sites that load faster, especially on mobile, will rank better than slower loading pages. PageSpeed

But thanks to those wonderful folks at Google, we now have a tool to tell us our page load time. It’s called PageSpeed Insights.

I highly recommend you test the speed of your site. I did this for my own site and one of the big things it recommended was enabling compression. More specifically, they recommended using “Gzip compression.”

Before the compression, I was rated at 51/100 on the PageSpeed Insights test. After using a nifty plugin called W3 Total Cache for WordPress, I was able to get that number up to 73/100. With a few more changes, such as compressing PNG images to JPG format, I’ll be able to increase it even more. Some of the suggestions I won’t be able to do, due to where my site is hosted and my CMS platform.

If you’re not on WordPress, you can still add code to your .htaccess file. Just do a google search for Gzip compression and you’ll find out how to do this.

4 Ways to Improve your Blog

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So you may have been told by your SEO agency that you need more content on your site. A blog is the first thing that comes to mind. But Google is on to you. Just creating content for the sake of content will not have much impact. You need to put information out there that is valuable to your readers. Information that grabs their attention, educates them, makblank diary, reading glasses, pictureses them want to pass it on. There are only so many articles you can write on your business. Instead, turn your thinking toward a more customer-centric approach. What do my customers want to read? If you have been apart of the any social network, you know that people love hearing from people just like them. How many times have you gotten an idea or tip from one of your friends on Facebook? Plenty, I bet. And that’s the kind information you need to pass on to your customer.

1. Customer Stories

Take one of your customers that you know has had a good experience with you. Talk about the project you did for them. If you’re in the hardwood flooring business, highlight a customer that loved how you refinished their floors. Talk about the scope of the project, the questions the customer had, the challenges involved, and the results (with plenty of pictures.) Get a quote or two from the customer to make it authentic.

2. Interviews with Influencers in your industry

First of all, what is an influencer? An influencer is someone in your industry that most folks in that industry have heard of and respect. This can be the head of an industry association, the CEO of one of the bigger companies in your niche, influential journalists/bloggers in your industry, or others with clout in your field.

A blog article featuring an influencer can have the ability to be shared, not only by readers, but by the influencer themselves.

3. Authoritative Articles

When you’ve been in business long enough, you consider yourself an expert in whatever field you’re in. But do new visitors to your blog feel the same way? Probably not. We get so much information blasted at us from all directions that we’ve become adept at filtering and determining what we feel is authentic and what is fabricated. The way you can bridge that gap for your readers is to back up your statement through the use of authoritative quotes and information. Say you’re writing a story on why Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is the hottest thing in aesthetic medicine. This may be true, but having quotes and content from a 10-year NIH study showing the positive effects of this treatment lends incredible credence to your story.

4. Repurposed Content

Not all of your blog content has to be original. By curating content from other sources, you can come up with engaging, timely content that people like to read (and may pass on.) Sites such as Buzzfeed and UpWorthy do this extremely effectively. Focus on articles that are have the potential to elicit emotions in your readers. Going back to the hardwood flooring company, perhaps there is a story out there of a child that was getting extremely ill due to mold content in the flooring. Once the new floors were installed, the child went to live a healthier, happier life.

I know that blank page is staring at you. But using these tips might help you get the inertia you need to come up with great content that people will like, share, and ultimately help your SEO efforts.

How to Get Rid of Ghost Spam in Google Analytics

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If you are the person responsible for reviewing your company’s website analytics, most likely you’re using Google Analytics. GA is an incredibly robust tool that is constantly being improved. And the best part? It’s free. (Most of it is free, unless you want to get keyword usage, then it will cost you an arm and a leg.) But increasingly, Google Analytics data is becoming a bit of a nightmare due to something called Ghost Spam (also known as Referrer Spam.) Ghost spam can show up in both your referral data and your organic data and appears as visits to your sites that never actually took place. They do this by using something known as the “Measurement Protocol” which allows people to send data directly to Google Analytics servers. Sites use this so that their site shows up in Google Analytics, thereby tempting the person reviewing the data to visit the site. In other words, a really shady way to gain traffic.

But how to stop this? When this first started a few years ago, the quick fix was to create a filter that filtered out the offending url. This worked for a while until thousands of sites starting getting into the act. There is no way to create enough filters to block every site using this technique.

Instead, you’ll create a filter that only allows valid hostnames to register their data. You can find more information on how to do this here:

Ultimate Guide: Stop and Remove All the Spam and Other Junk Traffic in Google Analytics

 

Angie’s List Now Free

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A big change happened recently on the local review front. Angie’s List, the venerable service review site, announced that they are making both their listing service and their contractor review service free. Angie’s List had previously been a paid service where only paid members could have their businesses listed. Likewise only paid subscribers could read and contact suitable contractors for local services such as pluming, hardwood floors, electrical and so on.

Ranking for Small Business Owners

If you own a small business, this could be a boon for you. Google and the other search engines have ranked Angie’s list reviews very high in search results.The more places you have reviews on, the more relevant you are deemed to be.

How to Claim Your Angie’s List Listing

The first thing you’ll want to do is claim your listing. This will allow you to be notified of any new reviews of your business. If your business is not listed, I recommend adding it. If your particular field is not represented yet, keep checking back. As this is a drastic departure for the company, they need to open up the service to a wider variety of businesses in hopes of competing with the likes of Yelp and Google Reviews as well as expanding their advertising base through getting companies to sign up for the higher tiers of service.

highway stop action shot

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

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The talk for a long time now is that Google is placing more importance on mobile. Specifically, Google realizes that now over 50% of all web searches take place through mobile devices such as phones and tablets. In light of this fact, Google is returning results that favor mobile-optimized sites over non-mobile-optimized sites. These sites are known as “Responsive” meaning they automatically adapt to the resolution of the device displaying the site.

Not only is responsiveness a factor, but the speed with which it loads on mobile is as important. If your site loads slowly on a mobile platform, the search engines will downgrade your site in the rankings.

There are a couple of simple tools to test your site for both mobile-friendlyness and speed.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly tester. Enter your site’s URL and it will analyze your site for its ability to convert from desktop resolution to mobile resolution.

Google’s Page Insights. Enter your site’s URL to test if your site loads quickly enough. It will give you suggestions for what to fix based on level of importance.

 

 

one yellow tulip

WordPress: The Best Website Platform for SEO

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If you own a local business and are struggling to get your site ranked, you may want to look at changing your site platform, otherwise known as a CMS (Content Management System.) Many companies I speak to have a very basic html site that was made 15 years ago by someone they know. The web developer most likely didn’t take into account any principles of SEO or correct site architecture. So the site languishes on the 9th page of the SERPs. This situation can most likely be rectified in a straightforward manner, simply because it’s easy to access all the files and content that need to be modified.

The more difficult situation occurs when the client uses GoDaddy’s Website Builder. While this platform makes it ultra-simple to develop a site, it also makes it nearly impossible to optimize for the search engines. This is because there is no way to get to the files that make up the site. No FTP, no cpanel, nothing. It makes for a very secure site that can’t be hacked. But it really limits your ability to rank well.

Most of you have heard of WordPress. You may think that this is a blogging platform. It’s grown to be a platform used by over 23% of all the world’s websites. It’s easy to use, easy to customize and with so many users there is a ton of information on how to do things for your site. Here is a good article on what makes WordPress the best site for SEO.

For more information, read this article from Search Engine Journal.

pliers, hammer, chisel

Free SEO Tools for Small Budget Businesses

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As a small SEO company, we’re no different than other small companies in that we don’t have a lot of money to spend on tools. So when we absolutely need a tool, we want to get the best bang for our buck.

Sure there are tools that are free. I use a lot of them. But many of these only do one thing and some are more robust than others.

A good, free tool for checking your site’s backlinks is OpenLinkProfiler. It shows you the total number of backlinks you have, and gives you a “Link Influence Score” which calculates the value of each backlink. http://www.openlinkprofiler.org/

For some reasonably-priced, paid tools, a like Wincher and Whitespark. Wincher is a keyword ranking tracker. That costs under $6/month for a single domain and only $2/month for additional domains. It gives you the basics–keyword tracking, change in rank, and best and worst movers. http://www.Wincher.com/

Whitespark.ca offers a suite of seo services including a citation finder, reputation builder, and local rank tracker. They also offer to do these services for you for an extra cost. I use the citation finder. It runs $20/month, but allows me to find new and existing citations and keep track of them along with notes with what I’ve done with that citation. As you may know, citations are typically directories such as yellow pages, the better business bureau, facebook, google+ and thousands of others where a company can list their name, address, and phone (NAP.) With Google still valuing NAP highly, it’s important that this information is correctly conveyed across all listings on the web. http//www.whitespark.ca.

While these tools make it easier to mange your SEO, you still have to do the work. Or should I say, I do.

Walk on Water

How to Contact Google

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We all know that Google is the Sauron of the internet world. It sees all and knows all. But when we have questions regarding their products such as Google Analytics, Google Adwords, or our Google+ account, how can we communicate with it?

A lot of you may decide to find the answers you’re looking for by perusing the Google forums or other sites. While this can sometimes give you the answer you’re looking for, there are other times when you’ve found yourself searching for hours online for the right answer.

Amazing as it might sound, oftentimes the best way to get questions answered is to just call them. Every time I’ve called Google, I’ve been able to get right through with no waiting time, and I was able to talk with someone that immediately helped solve my issue.

Just today in fact, I was trying to reclaim a Google Analytics account for a client. My Google rep, Farhan, told me the steps to follow to get this done. He then followed up with an email outlining what we had talked about. In this day and age of decreased customer service, I’m impressed that Google is offering this level of support.

Here is a link to contact Google by phone. You’ll notice that this link takes you to Google Adwords support. I hope your experience has been as good as mine.