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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • Increasing Site Speed: 8 Often-Overlooked Steps

    by Jayson DeMers

    How important is your website's speed? When it comes to internet traffic, it's critical - and that may be an understatement. Users expect their online experiences to move like lightning, and a slow-moving website can propel them to a different one in mere seconds. While many site owners know that speed matters, most don't realize how many different ways there are to improve it. Read on to learn more of its significance and what advanced - and often overlooked - steps you can take to increase website speed.

    Why Site Speed?

    Why is site speed so important? The following statistics illustrate how vital it is to ensure visitor website engagement:

    Nearly half of users (47%) expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less.

    40% of users will give up on a web page that takes 3+ seconds to load.

    For every 1 second delay in page load time, you lose 11% of page views and 7% of conversions.

    Amazon found that for every 100 milliseconds of improvement to their site speed, revenue increased by 1%.

    52% of online shoppers state that fast load times are critical to brand loyalty.

    Tips for Improving Site Speed

    With the above numbers, it's clear that site speed is key to improving user experience and increasing conversions, while also increasing revenue. Here are eight ways to improve the speed of your website.

    1. Use a CDN. One often-overlooked way to increase site speed is to use a CDN, or content delivery network. A CDN is a group of multiple web servers in various locations that are capable of efficiently distributing content online. The server with the fastest response time, or least network hops, will deliver content to each individual user. This is often based on the user's proximity to the server. By using a CDN, all your visitors receive content at a consistently fast rate, regardless of their location.

    2. Minimize HTTP requests. When a user visits your website, the majority of the load time is spent making HTTP requests to download various pieces, such as Flash, scripts, images, style sheets, etc. Reduce load time by minimizing the number of HTTP requests, which involves decreasing the number of your site's on-page components. Do this by using CSS rather than images when possible, streamlining the number of page elements, combining style sheets, and reducing scripts and moving them to the bottom of your page.

    3. Optimize images. Oversized images can drastically increase load time. To optimize your images for faster load times, use an image editing tool to crop image sizes, eliminate image comments, and reduce color depth as much as possible. JPEG is the best choice for image format, followed by PNG. GIF should be used for simple, small, and animated images, and BMP and TIFF should not be used.

    4. Compress CSS & JavaScript files. Unnecessary CSS or JavaScript code can also slow load time. Before you deploy your website compress all CSS and JavaScript files. Place CSS at the top of the page and JavaScript at the bottom to further increase site speed. 

    5. Enable browser caching. Another way to ensure a quicker load time is to enable browser caching using Apache. Browser caching allows the elements of each page to be stored on the user's hard drive, which means that the next time the user visits your page, it can be loaded without sending another HTTP request. This can eliminate a significant amount of load time for repeat visitors.

    6. Reduce plugins. Does your website use a significant amount of plugins? For each one you use, speed decreases. First, reduce unnecessary plugins to decrease load times. Then, eliminate those that are poorly coded and slow down your website. You can determine which plugins to delete by selectively disabling each one and measuring the performance of your server. 

    7. Utilize GZIP compression. According to Yahoo, GZIP is the most effective and widely used method for website compression. It can reduce HTTP response size by 70%. Ask your web host if GZIP compression is used for their servers.

    8. Choose the right web hosting provider. The type of web hosting you choose also effects site speed. If you use shared web hosting, work only with a reputable provider that doesn't over-sell the server. If you can afford it, consider dedicated or VPS hosting instead. Alternatively, if your website is based on the Wordpress CMS (which I highly recommend), then consider Wordpress hosting. BlueHost currently offers this, and has been officially recommended by Wordpress.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • How do you break into SEO?

    by Mike Moran

    If you are in this business long enough, someone will come up and ask the question. To some of them, it is the most important question in their lives: "How do I break into SEO?" I honestly get this question several times a month. And each person that asks me is ready for my answer. Some seem ready to take notes. They expect that I am going to rattle off some kind of canned answer that will unlock the secret to their future career. But I don't, because it isn't that easy.Some people readily accept that it isn't that easy. If it were easy, they wouldn't need to ask.In fact many folks ask a longer question. "How do I break into SEO, because I don't have..."
    • ...a technical background. This is one of the most common worries. People believe that they need to know how to program or at least code HTML or else they are doomed.
    • ...a marketing background. Yeah, people who actually have a technical background worry that they need something else.
    The truth is that almost no one breaks into SEO with both a marketing and a technical background. So, no matter who you are, you probably don't have all the skills required to optimize for organic search.But as SEO grows, you don't really need all those skills anymore. There are plenty of jobs out there for folks who are specialists. They don't know everything about SEO--they just know enough SEO, that when coupled with other skills make them employable.That's why when people ask me the magic question, I always ask them a question back. What do you already know?People are always struck by this question because they don't expect the magic formula to have anything to do with them. But it does:
    • If you have a background in direct marketing, you can learn search analytics.
    • If you came from PR, you can come up with social media ideas or write blog posts.
    • If you understand copy writing, you can do content optimization or paid search copy writing.
    • If you are a programmer, you can fix infrastructure problems.
    You probably get the idea.SEO is no longer some kind of monolithic profession. where you must know every part of it to get a job. If you have any skills that border on organic search marketing, adding SEO skills to that mix makes you far more employable.  And that is always the right way to break into SEO, by building on what you already know. 

    Originally posted on Biznology.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • 10 Ways SEO Works for B2B Companies

    by Jayson DeMers

    When marketers think of SEO, they often misunderstand its relationship with B2B companies. Typically, SEO is associated with B2C organizations, since customer acquisition is focused on a positive brand user experience. It's easy to forget, though, that marketing to other businesses still involves marketing to people and building relationships. The reality is that 67 percent of the B2B buyer's journey is completed online. B2B companies serious about establishing an authoritative web presence, unlocking the revenue potential of their website, and creating a positive user experience must invest in SEO today.

    SEO works for B2B companies by:

    1. Demanding better content. The biggest mistake marketers make is producing more content instead of better content. Since Google's Panda and Penguin algorithm updates focus on the quality of content, B2B brands that focus on SEO will generate better content than their competitors, which creates a better user experience. 

    When it comes to producing useful content, B2B companies must focus on what their peers value the most. B2B executives prefer professional association research reports/whitepapers, product reviews, customer case studies, and analyst reports over self-serving and promotional content.

    2. Engaging social users. Creating a Google+ Business page, if you don't have one already, is an excellent way to broadcast details such as your business hours, location, and reviews. Google+ Business pages allow B2B companies to add other pages and users to their "circles." Optimized pages should include a logo, descriptive tagline, and links to other social platforms.

    3. Building authority. Google authorship is an excellent tool that not only assists SEO, but is proven to get more click-throughs to your website. Google authorship displays the author's photo next to the search result, which draws the attention of web users.

    Furthermore, the longer a business invests in SEO, the stronger its web presence becomes. By focusing on valuable content in each SEO campaign, you'll begin to build a massive online presence that establishes your brand's thought-leadership in its industry.

    4. Generating fresh content. Regularly posting new content is key to keeping your business blog and website in favor with search algorithms. Fresh content shows that your site is regularly producing value for its readers while creating more opportunities for your content to appear in search results. Because economic challenges have elongated today's sales cycle, consistent content is paramount to converting leads. If you need help coming up with ideas for your blog, see "Little-Known Ways to Find Content Ideas for Your Blog."

    5. Building and maintaining relationships. When B2B companies focus less on promotional content and more on creating engaging content, then it's easier to build professional relationships. By using content to answer frequently asked questions, discuss consumer pain points, or provide industry news, you're able to harness the power of blogging to cultivate business relationships that matter.

    6. Prioritizing the budget. Now that Google results in 90 percent of search traffic to B2B websites, brands have no excuse to frivolously spend their marketing budgets. Spending must focus on SEO, PPC campaigns, content marketing, and social and mobile users to create the most effective digital impact possible.

    7. Differentiating your business from competitors. When it comes to B2C ecommerce sites, content is a luxury, but it's price that ultimately matters. No matter how beautiful the website or seamless the checkout processes, the cost largely determines whether or not the consumer makes a purchase.

    With B2B sites, however, investing in content is critical to stand out from today's competitive market. Content allows a brand to differentiate itself on its own terms after being connected to a prospective client.

    8. Creating a positive brand image. Even though B2B marketing content shouldn't be self-promotional in nature, the fact that you publish quality content becomes a marketing tool on its own. You immediately distinguish yourself as a brand focused on the client experience no matter what.

    9. Unifying digital platforms. The largest challenge for 64 percent of marketers is to produce enough content. By focusing on SEO, you discover that regular business blogging gives you content to promote through social media outlets. Using existing digital platforms to cross promote your brand's content means you'll never run out of things to post!

    10. Focusing on future trends. By 2020, experts predict that 85 percent of customers will complete a transaction without a single human-to-human interaction. Investing in SEO and content marketing now lays the groundwork for the future.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • A Simple Overview of Meta Tags

    by Stoney deGeyter

    It always amazes me at the number of people I come across who equate SEO with "adding keywords to meta tags." As if SEO is a bag of magic beans that when properly placed, grow your site to a #1 ranking--you know, where the goose that lays the golden eggs lives. I've seen that movie, and it's called a fairy tale for a reason. It's just not true!

    Let's go ahead and dispense with any magic beans misconceptions about SEO meta tags and clear the air. I'll make this as short and painless as possible.

    What are Meta Tags?


    There are all kinds of meta tags, but only three that matter to an SEO. Two, if you don't count the keyword meta tag in all of it's useless glory (more about that below). And only one if you don't count the title tag, which technically isn't a "meta" tag. But for our purposes, we'll call all three meta tags relevant to SEO since that is what most magic-beaners think about when it comes to their understanding of SEO.

    Let's start with the Title tag. It looks like this:

    <title>Title Tag Text</title>

    The purpose of the title tag is for you to give your page a succinct title. Think of it like a newspaper headline. Each page is its own "article" that deserves its own headline that describes the content to follow. I've written extensively about the title tag for SEO purposes, so you'll want to read my Complete Guide to Mastering Title Tags for the non-simple overview.

    Next up is the Meta Description tag, which looks like this:

    <meta name="description" content="Meta description text goes here.">

    The meta description is a short summary of your page content. This is your chance to explain what the title can't. You have about 20 words to provide a compelling "description" of the content of the page.

    Finally, the almost-entirely-useless Meta Keyword tag, looks like this:

    <meta name="keywords" content="this, is, where, the, magic, bean, keywords, go">

    The original intent of the keyword meta tag was to allow search engines to easily see what keywords your page should rank for. There was once a time that this worked. But there was also a time that a "personal" computer was as large as an entire room of a house. Those days are long gone.

    I have also written a Complete Guide to Mastering Meta Tags, which will give you far more detail than I can simplify here.

    Why Meta Tags Matter for SEO

    I've said it before and at the risk of repeating myself over and over again, I'll go ahead and repeat myself again: A web page's title tag is the single most important piece of SEO real estate there is. But it's still no magic bean. The title tag provides the best on-site indicator of the content of the page, both to the search engine and the searcher scanning through search results, but rarely will a title tag alone push you above other competitors. Especially well-optimized competitors.

    Like the title tag, the meta description tag also appears in the search results. Unfortunately for magic-beaners, from a true SEO standpoint, neither the meta description nor the meta keyword tag help get you search rankings. Neither is an algorithmic factor. And since only the meta description tag gets any kind of visibility to searchers, it's the only tag other than the title, that you really need to be concerned about.

    Both the title and the meta description tag are important for generating clicks from your site from the search results, but only the title tag will help in any way with search engine rankings. So if you believe that those ten words in the title tag is the only thing an SEO does, then you're in a whole other world. That's kind of like thinking that the only thing a mechanic does is change the oil. Sure, that helps, but there is a whole lot more to making a car go zoom than changing oil! And, there is a whole lot more to making a website get ranked than editing meta tags.

    Now you know.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • How Schema Helps Your SEO Campaign

    by Jayson DeMers

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is the internet marketing discipline that aims to increase your website or other online presence (such as a blog or social media page) and visibility within search engine results pages, such as Google and Bing. For example, if you're a florist in Houston, your customers and potential customers are probably googling "Houston florist" or "flower delivery Houston" which means your site needs to display preferably in the first three Google search results. Studies show that people almost never go beyond the first page of search results and rarely look beyond the first few. So, it's important to do whatever you can to get ranked not only on the first page, but within the top three results when possible. 

    SEO is your ticket for targeted search traffic that's made up of buyers who are looking for products, events or services you're offering. Every business, regardless of where you stand, is interested in growing and upping customer leads; your website is the perfect conductor for this. Schema data can optimize your SEO, which in turn can cause an increase in targeted search traffic, which results in more customer leads. But what is Schema data anyway? 

    Know your tech speak 

    Simply put, Schema is a type of data markup structure that all the big search engines have been trying to weave into their algorithms ever sine 2011. If you include Schema markup within your site's coding, you're automatically improving your SEO. This happens by generating "rich snippets" which help search engines index your content and get found in search results pages. It also improves your visibility in niche search results (such as Video, Image, etc.) and improves your click through rate (CTR) within search results by adding visual elements to the result. 

    The end result is an increase in your organic traffic/leads. While the benefits of Schema markup are many, the best thing is that it essentially helps to grow your business online. It's a system that defines common microdata used by all major search engines, reducing redundant work and maximizing exposure. Microdata consists of tag sets, compliments of HTML 5, which lets you mark up your page with the vocabulary major search engines understand and translate; mostly Microformats and RDFA is used. 

    "Dummying up" your website 

    You might think your website is gorgeous and intuitive, but don't forget that algorithms (and not just people) are trying to figure out what's on your website, and how it looks and feels. This is, however, a major factor in modern ranking algorithms. Gather feedback from your users, and collaborate with your colleagues to get a solid answer to the questions; is my site really user-friendly? Does my site provide a positive user experience? 

    You might have put a lot of effort into your "Snippets" maximizing the use of the title, description and URL, and a "rich snippet" can make things even better by including images within the search engine results pages next to your listing. However, including Schema means search engines don't have to "guess" what the information is on your site or where it belongs. Search engines like things structured and simple; Schema helps you do this by giving you the tools to label content pieces and categorize them. 

    When that's done, search engines "know" what to do with every piece of content. You can assign properties including "sameAs," "additionalType," image, URL, and name. These are instructions telling search engines how to categorize them. Search engines play well with hard facts, bypassing their intelligence, and this is what's displayed to users like your customers. Schema gives you more accuracy, more precision, and puts more control in your hands. However, this wasn't developed to make business easier for you, but simply to ensure the most relevant information reaches users. 

    Schema and SEO 

    Put yourself in your customer's shoes. If you're looking for the best video conferencing technology and consider the first two choices that pop up, there are reasons why you'll choose one over the other. You're almost guaranteed to be attracted to the link with a face, more information and an attractive layout, right? Schema makes sure you have any relevant listings, ratings, breadcrumbs or images because this is all relevant data users want. 

    Using Schema will get you more clicks even if your website isn't necessarily at the top of search results. For example, a competitor might have Google's top spot but if you're number three, that Schema-enhanced layout is going to attract the eye even better and potentially lead to a higher CTR. Studies have been conducted using an eye tracking heat map, and links with photos and a more dynamic presentation simply get more clicks than non-rich snippets. The sooner you incorporate Schema into your SEO campaign, using mobile technology as an aid, the sooner you can enjoy better traffic.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

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