The other day I wrote about a challenge I was facing with a client of mine who was using a WordPress site.
Their web designer had possibly nefariously tagged the entire site to be invisible to the search engines…like a vampire unable to see its own reflection.
While I worked for a while on unravelling this mystery by looking into the deepest, darkest corners of the code and then the web that encased it, I found no solutions. I tried a work around that failed, even though sucking the blood out of other methods succeeded. Ultimately, getting my hands dirty in the cobwebs of WordPress found success.
As I suspected, the culprit was a simple checkbox with a universal application. Unfortunately I didn’t know where to look. The WordPress gurus I consulted had no idea. To be fair, I fired off questions. Channa is awesome. I was looking for answers, not explorations.
While setting up a new WordPress site last night, I discovered the answer to my question. I’ll save the screenshot for another time.
Settings-Privacy-I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers.
If you have this checked, your website is golden. If not, your website is dying an anonymous death. Like a rare disease, nobody but the experts knows why your site is dying from a dearth of traffic. I do. Let’s fix it.
I’ve written before about how web designers don’t know how to do search engine optimization and why bringing an SEO company into your project as early as possible is a good idea.
This last week I saw one of the worst uses of meta tags on a new client’s site. The company that set up the WordPress blog for my client coded in a meta tag that tells the search engine spiders to ignore every page and link on the site.
The worst thing is every method I tried to change that code failed. However, I know a work around for everything. Since I couldn’t change the meta tag, I added a robots.txt file. Spiders look at two things when they visit a site, the meta tags and the robots.txt file. On my client’s site the meta tags said “go away” but the robots file says index my entire site.
It’s entirely likely that a robot might find the same links on some other page without a NOFOLLOW (perhaps on some other site), and so still arrives at your undesired page.
The other thing I did to fix the situation was submit the URL to Google for indexing and created a directory listing for the site at Merchant Circle. Tomorrow a press release hits that also contains links, so I know we’ll be getting a lot of quality inbound links for my client in a very short time.
In the mean time, I’ll still be figuring out how to move that irresponsible meta tag. The reason the tag exists is to avoid the so called “duplicate content penalty.” However the penalty no longer exists.
There is one reason and one reason alone to ever use the noindex, nofollow meta tag. It’s when you’re running a paid search campaign to a specific landing page and you don’t want organic traffic to skew your numbers. That’s it!
Where do you place the robots.txt file?
It goes in the root directory like this – http://www.seobyswaby.com/robots.txt. It’s just like a page except it’s in basic text instead of .html.
What’s in a robots.txt file?
Very simple commands for the spider. Here’s what my client’s file looks like.
If you’re doing a site redesign or having a site made for the first time, be sure to get someone who understands SEO involved early because you will save money and possibly avoid having your site tagged to be ignored by Google.
Last week I had a meeting with John over at inQuo, a computer support company. He suggested I write an article about why SEO must be ongoing and not a one shot deal.
That is a very good idea because many people think we SEO guys just sprinkle a little magic dust and presto websites are appearing on the front page of Google.
While I could go into detail about specific steps that need to be taken each month, the bigger reason ongoing SEO needs to occur is more conceptual.
Three major reasons you need ongoing SEO services:
1. Google loves fresh content and rewards it with high results. If you don’t have someone to update your content or site on a regular basis, any upfront, on page SEO will eventually lose its value. It may not happen right away, but it will happen.
2. Tracking. Businesses and people for that matter tend to perform better when there’s a number to beat. If you don’t measure performance, you’ll never know how to improve it. Any SEO service should involve monthly reporting. For certain types of PPC, these reports should be weekly.
3. Expertise. While having tracking in place is part of the battle, knowing how to read those numbers is the other part. For this site, I’ve found Friday’s are my slowest day of the week. I’ve tried additional marketing on Twitter and making sure to post new content to help drive traffic on that day, but it still tends to be my slowest day. Other sites I’ve managed have other “slow” days. It’s my experience that tells me whether to be concerned or to recognize that it’s a normal traffic trend.
The same applies to spikes in traffic. If you get one you want to know why, whether that traffic is effective and whether to try and duplicate it. Again, it’s experience that matters.
Some people think SEO is a waste of time and money. Some SEO companies will waste your time and money. I don’t think a properly executed campaign is. I’ve seen amazing results in the past and now from being on top of the search engines both in traffic and income. I know proper SEO works and I know it needs to be ongoing. There is no magic dust. There are no instant results.
I felt that because I had done a lot of research on my real estate blog, I didn’t need to do it on this one. I knew I wanted a key phrase like “salt lake city seo” to test my skills and my success with that term certainly makes a great point in my sales presentation.
When I targeted that term I knew “utah seo” would be the one that would drive more traffic, but I knew it would be harder to get. What I didn’t know was “salt lake city seo” is searched less than 30 times a month on all the major search engines combined.
Had I invested a little time at the beginning, that mistake wouldn’t have happened. Fortunately my success with that key phrase displays my SEO skills and I’ve been able to use those results constructively.
When I started doing some keyword research last week for some new clients who are geographically targeting traffic, I discovered only a few industries in Salt Lake are searched for with a location included. The are dentists, lawyers, HVAC contractors, plumbers, general contractors and real estate agents.
Every other industry in Salt Lake is searched for less than 30 times a month according to the numbers. I believe the reason is pay-per-click advertising is so well filtered for delivering geographic results, web searchers tend not to include a geographic location. Someone is more inclined to search for “SEO consultant” than “Utah SEO consultant” because the PPC result will include the information they want.
This is further evidence multi-pronged Internet marketing is necessary. The medium I’m most interested in is Twitter since it’s so easy to tag and search keywords there. There is also evidence PPC can be effective for driving traffic as well.
The bottom line is, you can’t ignore the keyword research no matter how well you think you know an industry. For my clients the first task is keyword research. I don’t write titles, metatags, copy or press releases until I know which words to use. Unfortunately in the SEO industry, this important step is often ignored or glossed over.
Keyword research is glossed over because it’s boring and tedious. Nobody likes to do it. Why research keywords when you can be doing exciting things like recording podcasts or videos and tweeting? Because those podcasts and videos have descriptions that require keywords to be found! Tweets are searchable. Why not use the keywords that are being searched? You can’t if you don’t know.
If you’re thinking of hiring an SEO company, ask them what the first step is. If it isn’t keyword research, you’re going to be wasting a lot of money.
I promise I’m not writing this article to brag, but rather to demonstrate my versatility on projects that are sometimes out of my control.
My boast is I can SEO a paper bag to the front page of Google. More specifically, the front page of Google images.
I’ve had quite a bit of success with spiders and webs and even though Halloween is over, arachnid traffic is still generating a significant portion of my daily visitors. Thanks to some other key images, I’m now getting traffic from weak links and fish bowls.
Paper bag will be just another of my SEO optimized images where I dominate the search engine results.
What it means for potential clients is much more significant. After reviewing dozens of sites over the last few weeks, I’ve only found one that doesn’t need some serious on page SEO work. However, because of my SEO strategies, that doesn’t really matter. I can literally SEO a paper bag to the top of the SERPs. In three weeks, I’ll prove it!
Here are five difficult SEO situations I’ve run across, where I can still do SEO and get results:
1. There is no site to SEO! – I can have a website built or utilize a Facebook business page to provide a solution.
2. There is no access to the existing site for on page SEO – I can utilize off-page tactics like local directories, press releases and article marketing to attain results. I currently have a client like this.
3. Big corporate doesn’t utilize local web marketing - If you’re an agent or representative of a big company that won’t target market, I can still help you brand yourself or your local market with my SEO tactics.
4. The existing site is poorly optimized, but there’s no budget for web design changes – Some of the best ranked sites I’ve seen have this problem. Off site optimization or popularity trumps this weakness. If you have a clear call to action on your site, you’ve got the heart of a web marketing campaign. Why not take advantage?
5. It’s a template, CMS, blog or other site that doesn’t allow significant on page optimization – It doesn’t matter! There’s a reason I’ve chosen a WordPress hosted blog for my business site…to prove I can optimize it.
Some people argue I need a self-hosted site, or a better e-mail address or business cards. I say, “NO!” If I can get ranked on the front page of Google for the term “Utah SEM,” I can achieve similar success with your website. I have no shortage of meetings with potential clients even though I’m using Yahoo! email. I refuse to use an analog business card when my digital card is yielding the results it is. I actually had a business coach apologize to me today for suggesting otherwise.
When I show the results I’m getting to technically inclined people, they’re absolutely amazed. I purposefully picked difficult site options so I could show my abilities. My old goal of “Salt Lake City SEO” has been crushed. The last time I checked, four of the top ten spots had my press releases or directory listing. That means I sent four of my competitors to SERP oblivion. Good riddance!
My strategy towards my competitors is scorched earth. I am going to leave them in my dust. I’ve never been on my own in this business and I am taking no prisoners. I already have a toehold on “Utah SEM” and “Utah SEO” is my next target. The fact the number one SERP holder recently started following me on Twitter gives me confidence. I am not going to stop working on these keywords until I occupy every position on Google’s front page. It is not enough just to get there, I intend to dominate.
I’ll admit some of it’s a little bit personal. The only company I believe offers any significant competition to me, told me I was “overqualified” to work for them. I’ll show them “overqualified” by locking them out of any local keyword SERP they ever wanted. Trouble is, they’re not my competition. They’re far too expensive for anybody in my target market to afford. I’m going to show them exactly how “overqualified” I am anyway…without really expending much effort.
I do have a “beef” with two other companies. Only one of them directly competes with me here in Utah, so that’s the only one I’m even thinking about. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty of SEO business to go around for everybody.
I just need these SERPs to show what I can do against my competition, which means I can do the same against your competition…
I’ve been talking to a lot of people recently about landing pages for websites. I’m not sure everyone “gets” what I’m saying, so I thought I’d write a little article as a reference.
Ideally, a landing page is one a visitor first goes to when they visit your site through a paid or natural search result. An organic landing page isn’t always necessary or possible, but for a paid campaign, it absolutely is.
What is the purpose of a landing page?
An effective landing page should do three things:
1. Establish trust by being relevant to the search that was made. This is very easy to do with the SEM campaign, so make sure to do it.
2. It should describe your product or service in a way that begs a question from the visitor OR provides a clear call to action if this is a one call close.
3. It should capture a piece of visitor information like a phone number, email, Facebook fan or Twitter follow. As marketers, we have to understand visitors will contact us the way they feel most comfortable with.
Mark Ijlal pointed out we don’t know as much about our customers as we think we do.
Secondly, in all due honestly we don’t know that much about our customers. We think we do but we don’t. It is not possible for us to know about their online habits just by what they do on our website. They might be doing a whole lot more someplace else.
…because someone else gives them more choices, I might add.
I’ve come to the conclusion any pay-per-click landing page needs to have more than an email form or phone number. That visit costs money and you need the opportunity to contact the visitor again. Why not present the Twitter and Facebook business page fan as an option too?
I’m running into people and SEO companies that don’t use landing pages at all. It’s like running the furnace with all the windows and doors open. It doesn’t make sense!
Consumers are bombarded with messages. Most of us don’t make a buying decision after our first visit to a web site. We need more information before we commit, unless that site gives us the necessary belief (trust) to make the decision then. Could a client testimonial be effective copy writing on a landing page? I think so. It may not persuade everyone, but if it persuades just a few, that conversion rate will improve and you’ll see more web sales, web leads and web traffic.
If you think in these terms when conducting SEO and SEM campaigns, you will far exceed your goals and create a smooth landing experience for your website visitors. Never pay for traffic that doesn’t go to your custom landing page to build trust, clearly explain your product/service and ask to collect a bit of information about your potential customer.