Local SEO – The way forward for many small local companies

Local SEO – The way forward for many small local companies

Local SEO

Local SEO is crucial in 2018

 

Why Local SEO is becoming so important?

The fact of the matter is that things are changing because of one thing, the growth of the use of Mobile Devices, especially Smartphones to access the Internet. The figures are quite startling when you look at them, from 41% in 2016 to over 61% in 2017.

Smartphones and Internet Search

How People use Smartphones to Search the Internet

When you then consider that most smartphone searches are related to immediate / local needs you can see why appearing on that Google Search screen has become more important, YOU NEED TO BE THERE to get that all important click (and the business that comes with it).

You also have to consider that when you search on a Smartphone you automatically get local results (Google after all knows where you are) instead of having to ‘manually signal’ i.e. use a geographic term along with the search phrase (i.e ‘Security companies Hereford’ rather  than just ‘security companies’. The latter, when used on a Smartphone automatically giving you local results for Hereford (as long as of course  you are in Hereford at the time of the search).

 

So What Makes Google Choose One Site Over Another?

The first thing to remember is that Google uses different signals to decide who to list in the Local SEO (the map section at the top of listings that is often shown) than the standard Organic Listings.

The Six Local Pack Ranking Factors

  • Proximity of the address used in your Google My Business (GMB) listing
  • The quality of the GMB listing, photographs, details of services etc
  • The linking structure for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The On Page SEO of the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The number of Citations for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The number of Reviews the GMB has recevied

Local SEO and Organic SEO have similarities

As you can see, it is IMPORTANT to ensure that your website is properly optimised, as many of the factors used in Local SEO are also used in the normal Organic listings. It is of course possible to get a listing in the so called 3 pack without having a website, but you are far more likely to get a position if you have a high quality optimised site linked too from your GMB listing.

How to get a Place in the 3 Pack?

Obviously the first thing you need is a Google My Business listing. You may well find that one does exist already, in which case you need to ‘claim it’ a process that can sometimes be carried out by phone, whilst in other cases Google will send you an email or a postcard.

If you don’t have a listing to claim the you must  first log onto your Google account and then vistit https://www.google.com/intl/en/business/, following the process laid out there.

Whichever process is used, you will eventually end up with a GMB listing that you can edit.

Are you listed already and if not who is?

You may also want to check to see if you are, for some reason already listed in the 3 pack, or maybe you want to find out who is. The best way of doing this is to use the Google Adwords tool, this can be found at https://adwords.google.com/apt/anon/AdPreview.

3 Pack Listing Checking Tool

See if your business is already listed in the 3 Pack

 

3 Pack Listing for Caple Security

3 Pack Listing for Caple Security

Editing your Google My Business Listing

The first thing to do is to remember to keep to the rules, these being available at https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en-GB.

Another set of interesting information can be found at https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en.

What to include in your GMB listing

  • At least 5 photographs are needed, it also being important to ‘GeoTag’ them (this telling Google they are relevant to a certain location). This is an easy enough process, see https://www.geoimgr.com/ for more information.
  • Provide as much information as you can about the services you offer and your times of operation / opening.

Getting Citations and Reviews

As mentioned above, having a correctly optimised website is a key requirement to getting a 3 Pack listing, but that is a separate matter (and you can find a lot about ‘search engine optimisation’ elsewhere in this blog, so please do have a look about), this post will just cover the important area of Citations and Reviews.

Of the two, Citations are the most important, it being very possible to get a 3 pack listing with no reviews at all.

If you already have a GMB listing that is not listed in the 3 Pack AND have a fully optimised site, then this is more than likely being caused by having too few Citations, or by the fact that the ones you have are ‘confusing’ Google. This is often caused by the fact that the Citations are using different variations of your business name, address of phone number. Sometimes this is just human error, in other cases it is because your business has moved address or changed the phone number.

Whatever the reasons, having citations that all use different Names, Addresses or Phone numbers (the three together being known by the acronym NAP) can be a real killer to your chances of getting a place, so the first thing to do is to check on what citations you do have and ‘clean them up’.

If you don’t have any then fine, you can start building them up, but ALWAYS ensure that you use EXACTLY the same information on ALL of the citations you create.

Don’t forget Press Releases

Online Press Releases are also a way of helping things along, so please also consider posting these as many times as you can.

Local SEO also helps in getting business if you are not in the 3 Pack.

In some cases, you simply won’t be able to get a 3 Pack listing in the town / city you want, this for the very good reason that your office (as in the GMB listing) is not close enough to the centre of the city / town for Google to consider you as being ‘local enough for a 3 Pack placement.

One way around this is to create a ‘virtual’ office in the town that you wish to target, and whilst this, if done properly can work, it is fraught with dangers (i.e. getting your business thrown off ALL 3 Pack listings). It is therefore better to make sure that your website is fully optimised for ‘Local Searches’ as that way, although you cannot get a 3 pack listing, you can get an Organic listing.

As some if the results in Google don’t have a 3 Pack to get listed in in the first place, this is really a great way to go. See below for our customers No.1 listing, one of many too.

 

Local SEO outside the 3 Pack

Local SEO outside the 3 Pack

 

I do hope that this has provided you with some useful information and please do contact us if you want more information or help with your Local SEO / 3 Pack problems. We are here to help!

Why You Should Care About Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse is an Open Source tool that effectively audits web pages and applications to enhance the quality of them. The audits are conducted to measure a variety of areas of a website and webpage. For one, it focuses on performance. The other areas it focuses on include the accessibility and the best practices in order to figure out how the entire user experience scores and whether or not there are any specific problems with it that can detract from a good end-user experience. Below, we will be going over some of the reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse.

Reasons You Should Care About Google Lighthouse:

1. Receive Actionable Advice.

One of the main reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse is due to its unique ability to offer you actionable advice from real data that can help you boost your end-user experience. You are going to get presented with all kinds of data that can help you improve your website in total. Not only will you be able to get the metrics that mean something, but you will also get an actionable report that includes information regarding the most technical aspects of your entire website including CSS selectors, DOM elements, and even the entire infrastructure set up that your website is built on.

2. It’s Built By Experts.

Another good thing that comes from Google Lighthouse is derived from it being uniquely built by the best experts at Google. The engineers that built the performance tooling software have a deep understanding of browsers and what matters inside because they effectively build them. Therefore, you know that they have the greatest expertise when it comes to auditing a website because they fully understand the inner workings of the browser and search engine experience as a whole. They also have direct access to API creators which can help them with both benchmarking and accurate tracking.

3. Measure a Website’s Speed.

When it comes to measuring a website’s speed, there is no better way to go about it. The fact is, the speed of your website is crucial in today’s mobile dominated marketplace. As more consumers change to using their mobile devices rather than traditional desktop or laptop computers, it is becoming increasingly important to maintain as fast of a speed as possible. Everything can affect a website’s speed including the response time, animation time, idle time, and even load times. Thus, you will need to have the proper analytics on each to see where improvements can be made, where they should be made, and if they need to be made in the first place. Being able to use tools like this to help measure website speed can be a game-changer for optimizing your end-user experience.

For anyone that is looking to improve their end-user experience, Lighthouse is an invaluable collection of tools. Not only will you be able to get quantifiable and actionable metrics, but also having actionable advice laid out in an easy to understand way which can help you make the proper adjustments and corrections to your web app or website to improve the end-user experience.

 

Lighthouse is Google’s free, open source, and automated site monitoring tool. It can help ecommerce businesses track site load times, accessibility, and search engine optimization.

Lighthouse is available in a few forms, including via current versions of the Google Chrome web browser.

An ecommerce owner or manager simply opens Chrome’s developer tools by alt-clicking anywhere on a web page, selecting “Inspect,” and then opening the “Audits” tab to find Lighthouse.

Lighthouse is available under the “Audits” tab of Chrome developer tools.

When an audit is run, Lighthouse will load the target website several times as it gathers information about site structure, tags, and performance. The tool puts a premium on mobile, so Lighthouse does its best to emulate a smartphone, even throttling the network connection to something like 3G and testing the page offline.

Improving Your Site

Lighthouse is meant to “help you identify and fix common problems that affect your site’s performance, accessibility, and user experience,” according to Google.

Put another way, the world’s largest search engine wants to use its extensive experience to give your company advice. Followed intelligently, Lighthouse’s findings could help your online store improve, and, perhaps, become easier for shoppers to find and use.

Lighthouse provides a score for each audit category and then offers actionable feedback to improve your site.

A Lighthouse audit will provide five categories of feedback, each with a ranking of zero to 100.

  • Performance. How quickly your site loads or how quickly key elements become available to users on mobile. This audit is based on several data points including when the first elements are painted and when the page becomes interactive.
  • Progressive Web App. Based on the progressive web app basic checklist, Lighthouse looks for your site’s level of completeness. Google is emphasizing PWAs, which improve mobile performance and may boost search engine rankings.
  • Accessibility. This score is a weighted average of about 35 accessibility traits. Accessibility is one of the most important things online merchants can monitor; it is very helpful to have this built in. Not providing an accessible site might be illegal.
  • Best Practices. Checks for the use of current web development best practices, such as employing HTTP/2.
  • SEO. Audits nine search engine optimization basics. This is significantly less thorough than some third-party SEO audit tools or extensions, but it can still help your business get an idea of how it will perform in Google and other search engines.

Usable Results

In many cases, Lighthouse provides details a business can use to improve its site.

As an example, a Lighthouse audit of Walmart.com conducted on May 7, 2018 found a few accessibility errors, including an iframe without a title attribute. Lighthouse points out that this missing title could make understanding the page relatively more difficult for shoppers using a screen reader and shows the specific iframe tag in question.

Lighthouse’s feedback is often specific enough to take action and improve your score.

Armed with this information a Walmart developer could add the required title attribute and improve the site’s accessibility.

Similarly, a Lighthouse audit of Kohls.com on May 7, 2018 identified several CSS declarations not used. The tool pointed to the specific style sheets in question and estimated how many bytes of data Kohl’s might save if it edited this CSS.

Kohl’s might save a few bytes by removing unused style declarations.

Read more: https://www.practicalecommerce.com/google-lighthouse-monitor-site-performance-seo-accessibility

 

SEO Is A Marathon – Not A Sprint

There is a common mistake that many new website owners make, and it’s about the concept of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). For the most part, those who don’t have experience with it believe it’s something you do once or twice, then you forget about it. In reality, SEO is a consistent practice. So, it is in every website owner’s best interest to understand that SEO is all about the long haul and that it’s not going to be instant. That means all the experts promising you higher overnight rankings are not being completely truthful.

Now you might be wondering why you need to constantly tweak your SEO strategy? Or maybe there’s a shortcut you can use? In order to find out the answers, keep reading.

Why SEO Is A Marathon

The best way to explain why SEO is like a marathon is to look at the way search engines operate. If you were to compare how Google operates now, and what it was like ten years ago, you would notice a dramatic difference.

This is because search engines never stop adapting to the habits of their users. Instead, they continue to add and fine-tune technology in such a way that users become completely dependent on their services.

And you can bet your site the changes will never stop. Because the more people get comfortable with something, the more they search for change.

What does this all mean to you exactly? Well, with SEO you are trying to make your site more visible. And getting to the first pages are definitely possible, but there are many variables involved.

Not only do you have to keep the changing algorithms of search in mind, but you have to stay up-to-date with trends and your competition. Everything will be changing around, getting more focused towards making users happy, which means you need to keep changing if you want to stay relevant.

The Current Situation

As it stands, search engines make it pretty obvious what they want from websites. And by doing a little research, you’ll learn all about these requirements, ranging from informative content to page loading speeds.

Once you have all these areas covered according to the set requirements, it becomes a matter of maintenance. So, no, you won’t have to do a massive amount of work each day, but there are certain things that need to do to stay consistent. For example, posting quality content two or three times a week, makings sure the site is responsive, check for important software updates, etc.

Basically, everything you do can be considered a step towards the next thing that needs to get done. And if you take the right steps, it’s a lot easier to maintain an SEO campaign.

SEO Takes Time

Another tough reality is the fact that SEO takes time to show results. Don’t expect things to happen in a day or two, because there are simply no guarantees involved and you don’t control all the variables.

All you can do is think smart and do the work. And if you really want to take a shortcut, the best way to save loads of time is to work with a professional.

 

Clients can often make tough demands but some of these are literally impossible, such as being able to block a specific country from viewing a particular webpage…

Ah, clients. We love them. They are our bread and butter and helping them realise their search goals is naturally what we’re all about. Of course, helping them understand what their search goals actually are – or should be – is another kettle of fish.

Read four of the most common yet misguided client requests below.

1. We want to rank top in Google for ‘biscuit news’ but we don’t actually want to mention biscuits in the content

If only this was possible! Actually, on second thoughts, no. Could you imagine the state the web would be in if optimisation really worked like this? It all goes back to search intent – if content does not meet user expectations then search engines such as Google will not present it to them. You can’t trick engines by mentioning something in a headline but talking about something entirely different in the body – they are much, much cleverer than that. In fact, since 2017 Google et al have been demanding to see even more relevant detail in body copy than ever before. Deep diving into a topic and its associated interests is really what it’s all about.

2. We need to rank #1 for this keyword by next week

Perhaps the most common request of all. And in our heads we’re thinking, “Of course you do – but so do 500+ other websites.” Lots of clients I’ve come into contact with do not consider SEO to be a time-consuming process – most seem to be under the impression that adding a smattering of big number keywords to a page will work itself out because “Google will do the rest”. No. It. Won’t. Even a new Telegraph webpage, which comes from a domain of longstanding authority, can take weeks or even months to settle.

But expecting to rank at number one – even without a given timeframe – is a mistake. It could be that the client’s website is not authoritative enough to land a page-one slot or that the keyphrase they’re gunning for is so competitive and far removed from conversion opportunity that it would be a pointless exercise.It’s also worth pointing out that search engines can rank and un-rank content without obvious reasons so even if your efforts are improving client ranks today, tomorrow might be a different story. Clients should therefore be encouraged to take the long term view and create content pieces that will enable them to build authority in the relevant field. Targeting keywords big and small is essential – those long-tail keywords, that are cheaper and “less popular” are actually often closer to points of conversion and should be considered “low hanging fruit”.

3. I need every trace of this webpage wiped from the internet by X date

This demand crops up when clients are working to specific campaign timelines, meaning certain messaging or detail can expire on certain dates. It’s understandable, therefore, that pages or content marketing efforts which feature this detail will need to be edited or removed from the front and centre.

Unfortunately, a page that goes live on the web cannot simply be erased with the push of a button. Certainly, we can delete pages from a content management system and yes, we can redirect old links into new destinations on servers, but we cannot control search engine indexes, old social posts that refer to content pieces and any other platforms that may have lifted the content and re-published it on their end.

If content detail is so sensitive to a client’s marketing schedule then discussions should be had at the beginning to manage expectations.

Read more: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/spark/marketing-guides/funny-seo-requests-from-clients/

 

Importance Of Fast Loading Web Pages For SEO

Page speed is often confused with ‘site speed.’ Page speed is actually the time it takes for a webpage to load and fully display its available content. With that being said, page speed is a crucial element when it comes to both SEO and user satisfaction. Not only will you be able to get your website to rank better in the search engines, but it will help you convert more of your traffic as well. Below, we will be going over why fast loading web pages are so important.

Why Fast Loading Web Pages Are So Important For SEO:

1. Optimization.

One of the biggest reasons it is so crucial to achieving a fast loading web page is because of optimization purposes. Search engines want to provide the best experience for their own users. Thus, in order to effectively do so, they need to ensure that the websites they are ranking high within the search engine ranks are well optimized. Having a fast loading web page is one of the biggest indicators of having a well-optimized website.

2. Mobile Responsiveness.

Another reason why having a fast loading webpage is so important for achieving a high ranking within the search engines is because it means that your website is mobile responsive. Because a majority of the traffic now comes from mobile devices, search engine providers are making a concerted effort to boost the rankings of websites that adhere to this trend. Thus, if your website is not fast loading or if it is unoptimized for mobile traffic, you are bound to experience some sort of penalty within the search engine ranks.

Now that we have gone over some of the main reasons it is so important to have fast loading web pages, we will be going over some of the top ways to achieve it.

Ways To Achieve Fast Loading Web pages:

1. Compression.

One of the best ways to achieve faster load times for your web pages is by enabling compression. By reducing the overall size of your CSS, HTML, and Java files, you will be able to make your web pages load at a much faster overall rate.

2. Reduce Redirects.

Another successful way to minimize load times is by reducing the number of redirects you use. Each time a page redirects a user to another page, additional time is added to the load time. Thus, by reducing this redirect pattern, you should be able to achieve significantly reduced load times. One example of a redirect could be redirecting your visitor to a mobile version of your website.

Overall, there are plenty of different ways you are going to be able to minimize the load times that each of your webpages has. By implementing the tips above, you should be able to achieve highly optimized web pages that load fast. By achieving fast load times, you will be able to boost your website’s organic rankings in the search engines and even achieve a higher conversion rate for the traffic that you do end up generating.

 

Success in search engine optimization (SEO) requires not only an understanding of where Google’s algorithm is today but an insight to where Google is heading in the future.

Based on my experience, it has become clear to me Google will place a stronger weight on the customer’s experience with page load speed as part of their mobile-first strategy. With the investment Google has made in page performance, there are some indicators we need in order to understand how critical this factor is now and will be in the future. For example:

  • AMP — Specifically designed to bring more information into the search engine results pages (SERPs) in a way that delivers on the customer’s intent most expeditiously. Google’s desire to quickly serve the customer “blazing-fast page rendering and content delivery” across devices and media begins with Google caching more content in their own cloud.
  • Google Fiber — A faster internet connection for a faster web. A faster web allows for a stronger internet presence in our everyday lives and is the basis of the success of the internet of things (IoT). What the internet is today is driven by content and experience delivery. When fiber installations reach critical mass and gigabit becomes the standard, the internet will begin to reach its full potential.
  • Google Developer Guidelines — 200-millisecond response time and a one-second top of fold page load time, more than a subtle hint that speed should be a primary goal for every webmaster.

Now that we are aware page performance is very important to Google, how do we as digital marketing professionals work speed and performance into our everyday SEO routine?

A first step would be to build the data source. SEO is a data-driven marketing channel, and performance data is no different from positions, click-through rates (CTRs) and impressions. We collect the data, analyze, and determine the course of action required to move the metrics in the direction of our choosing.

Tools to use

With page performance tools it is important to remember a tool may be inaccurate with a single measurement. I prefer to use at least three tools for gathering general performance metrics so I can triangulate the data and validate each individual source against the other two.

Data is only useful when the data is reliable. Depending on the website I am working on, I may have access to page performance data on a recurring basis. Some tool solutions like DynaTrace, Quantum Metric, Foglight, IBM and TeaLeaf collect data in real time but come with a high price tag or limited licenses. When cost is a consideration, I rely more heavily on the following tools:

  • Google Page Speed Insights — Regardless of what tools you have access to, how Google perceives the performance of a page is really what matters.
  • Pingdom.com — A solid tool for gathering baseline metrics and recommendations for improvement. The added capability to test using international servers is key when international traffic is a strong driver for the business you are working on.
  • GTMetrix.com — Similar to Pingdom, with the added benefit of being able to play back the user experience timeline in a video medium.
  • WebPageTest.org — A bit rougher user interface  (UI) design, but you can capture all the critical metrics. Great for validating the data obtained from other tools.

Use multiple tools to capitalize on specific benefits of each tool, look to see if the data from all sources tells the same story. When the data is not telling the same story, there are deeper issues that should be resolved before performance data can be actionable.

Sampling approach

While it is more than feasible to analyze a single universal resource locator (URL) you are working on, if you want to drive changes in the metrics, you need to be able to tell the entire story.

I always recommend using a sampling approach. If you are working on an e-commerce site, for example, and your URL focus is a specific product detail page, gather metrics about the specific URL, and then do a 10-product detail page sample to produce an average. There may be a story unique to the single URL, or the story may be at the page level.

Read more: https://searchengineland.com/making-website-speed-and-performance-part-of-your-seo-routine-291449

 

 

Search Engine Optimisation and Link Building in 2018

Let’s face it, SEO is considered by many to be a ‘black art’, by others to be a waste of time, whilst those who do agree that SEO is worthwhile will endlessly debate about what is good and what is bad, what tactics are ‘white’ and what are ‘black’.

“If you ask six SEO experts a question you will probably get 7 answers….”

Then again, if you turned to Google to ask them about SEO, they appear to suggest that they disagree with the concept (wanting their results to be natural and not manipulated), whilst at the same time knowing that without someone to help all the website owners ‘understand’ how to set up their sites so that Google can read them properly, they (Google) would be lost.

The Death of Link Building Announced Again (and Again and Again)

When it comes to the thorny topic of Link Building, not only do we see Google denouncing the process because it is not natural, we also see them desperate for some help in deciding what sites to list and what ones not to bother with. Like it or not Google needs links..

BUT, not all links are equal and there is definitely a way of gaining Google’s displeasure when it comes to building them. Do it the wrong way and your site is doomed, that is one of the known Google rules and is put into play all the time.

Turning to the Experts

This is why many businesses turn to the experts, as here they can rest easy, knowing their site will be built in a way that Google can read and the content will be created to suit the Search Engines and their readers alike. They will also know that the links built to their site will be created in such a way that it will not be penalised by Google. They will then expect that their site gets better rankings and more traffic. In many cases this is exactly what happens, but in some it does not, and sometimes it is impossible for anyone to discover just what has gone wrong, what appears to be working in one area, fails to do so in another…

Either way, you can be pretty sure that the website owner will not really be aware of what is going on and that there are many ways of creating a ‘buzz’ and the boost of (relevant) traffic that all website owners want.

The Key to Top Class Traffic

If you own a business which has a website, you will, I am sure, have been inundated with telephone calls and emails promising you top rankings on Google, sometimes for little cost. You will also have seen countless bits of software that will boost your site, often, they say, at the touch of a button….

Some of these claims will be by bona fide companies and of the software – particularly research software – can be useful, but what few of them will tell you is that it will be the CONTENT of the site that will win the day, both for getting traffic and for converting your visitors to customers.

The True Power of Content

So why is content so very important? This may seem to be a strange question, but many site owners do not give it much attention. They spend a get deal of time discussing format and presentation, but often give scant regard to the content the pages are to hold. So doing things this way is simply not going to work because there is nothing for Google to get its ’teeth’ into, so the rankings are poor. When (and if) a potential customer arrives, there is nothing to ‘make’ them want to buy or at least to take the relationship any further.

The correct way of approaching any market place (and the keyword market place of the web is no different) is to see what people want. When it comes to Google, this means finding out what phrases people use in the market sector which relate to your products, and thus the pages of your site that will be selling those products.

Reverse Engineering and Latent Semantic Indexing

Then you can start writing content that uses those phrases (and similar words using a technique called LSI (or Latent Semantic Indexing) – this being vital as Google gets cleverer and cleverer). You can even reverse engineer the top sites in Google for a given phrase, therefore TELLING you what words to use.

Pages written this way will not only give Google what it wants, but will also give the visitor the information that will enable them to decide if your product is for them or if you can help them solve the problem that drove them to search for help in the first place.
This content ought to include images, videos, flow charts and anything else that will help them to make a good decision (which hopefully means doing business with you).

The OTHER reason for TOP QUALITY CONTENT

Saying all this, content has another VITAL job to do in the battle for traffic and sales. Having good content will mean that others will link to the site and mention it in their Social Media postings, after all they will have good reason to, they will have something WORTH SHARING.

content is king internet concept

content is king internet concept

But, it is not always easy getting people to notice how good your copy is. The whole thing is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. After all, your fantastic copy can’t get links until someone finds it, and reads it. Without rankings or some form of Social Media chatter, no one will ever know it is there..

Priming the Pump (and keeping the pressure up too)

This is where SEO, Paid Search and Social Media come into play. By using all or some of these systems, website owners can start the ball rolling so that people can see just how good they, and their all important copy, is.

Great Copy Required

This is where the need for the top rate copy comes in, as even though the SEO and Social Media work above will bring in the visits, if there is nothing there to grip the audience, all the time and effort will have been wasted as no sales will be made and perhaps as importantly, no one will find anything worthwhile to come back for, mention or link to.

Without these mentions and links Google will not get the signals it wants to give the site repeatedly better rankings and thus more effort is needed to keep things going. If, however, there is something to ‘write home about’ then the links will come in, your site / product will be mentioned on Social Media, and what is more you will get repeat visits.

Are you Getting Returning Visitors?

This is just one area where Google Analytics can help. Just as having lots of New Visitors is good, a low percentage of Returning visitors indicates that you site is not delivering and people are not coming back for more.

 

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

If your site is one with a poor level of returning visitors, then a long hard look at the contents is a must…

The Different Processes of SEO

The term Search Engine Optimisation covers a host of things, usually divided (basically) into Technical, On Page, Off Page and Social Media.

Technical SEO

This covers the way a site is built, how fast it is, how easy it can be read and navigated as well as topics like Rich Snippets and Schema. Some of this is easy to do, some of it a bit more difficult, and not all website developers or SEO professionals cover all of these areas.

On Page SEO

Here we are talking about the words on the pages and the placement of the ‘target keywords’ in the important places on the page, all with a view of ensuring that Google finds what it needs in the ‘appropriate places’ on a sites’ pages. Of course this includes the copy / content of a site, but that is not SEO.SEO is how you make sure that the copy is found, not the actual copy itself (except that SEO will help you find out what to talk about in the first place via the Keyword / Market Research phase).

Off Page SEO

This area covers the issue of Links (and to a degree Social Media). It is these ‘signals’ that attract Googles attention and that will get the rankings and ‘seed’ traffic needed. Creating links also helps to keep the pot boiling while the site builds up its momentum.

Social Media

This is included here because even though this is nothing to do with SEO per say, it is important when considering the process of getting the site, brand and product noticed and talked about in a way that will enhance the site in Google’s eyes and extend the reach of the site beyond that of the Search Engine Results.

The Basic SEO process

In all cases it is necessary to carry out the keyword research so that you can target the phrases that are relevant to your market place AND are being used today.

The site must then be built the right way (the technical SEO bit), and then the copy created. This should be of a high quality, but does not have to be as good as it has to be for ‘Top Notch SEO’, for reasons that will be apparent later. Things such as internal linking should be carried out of course, but basically this is a ‘quick’ method of SEO.

Then the link building starts. These are built in the right way at the right speed, using techniques like ‘Power Link Structures’. Social Media signals are also created using this method. In some cases the pump is also primed by actually creating a small amount of traffic to some of the articles and posts that form a part of the linking structure.

Guest Posts Are Used in the quick method too

Guest posts are included in the ‘quick’ method too of course, but they are used differently. As you will see later on, the ‘proper way’ of placing Guest posts is to find a top Infuencer site, chat to them and get them to accept the post (or pay an lot of money for the privilege). However, this process is a LOT more expensive than just placing an article on a relevant site, so for those clients with limited budgets this is the way we go. Basically, these Guest Posts are ‘link vehicles’ and as long as they are well written (no article spinning here at SOM) and contain links that are not going to trigger a Penguin penalty, they do help, we have many examples  the prove the point.

Carrying out SEO in this manner DOES work and is the way the majority of SEO companies work.

The Top Quality SEO process

If you talk to those SEO professionals who practice only the whitest of white SEO, then they will say this is the only way, everything else being a waste of time. Well I disagree with that, but there is no doubt that this process is superior and offers a greater chance of success, BUT, it is a lot harder and thus more expensive in time and money.

This process includes all the On page SEO that Basic SEO requires, including things such as having explanatory ‘Category Pages’ for Ecommerce sites. These are needed as most sites of this type have lots of product pages that (a) often use the same words as a host of other sites and (b) are also often far too short. Thus these Category pages allow the owner to present the products they sell, with links of course to the product pages themselves. These pages can be much better at getting rankings and thus their use should be seriously considered for all levels of SEO.

Power Pages

Remember, this whole process is based on having TOP QUALITY content on your site. Such pages are often called ‘Power Pages’, their contents varying from ‘How to do something’ to a great infographic, anything that would be interesting to visitors and has not been done before (or at least as sufficiently).

Text based Power Pages need to be around 2,000 words long and contain images, videos and links to other authoritative content on the web, PLUS of course the areas in your site that you want people to see and the pages that will result in conversions and sales. Infographics can be just that, but having some words on the page as well can help in my opinion (just as having a transcript of the words used in a video can).

What to Create the Power Page About

The Keyword Research for the site would of course have been carried out first, so the target phrases are known and understood. Using these words, the bulk of the site, (the ‘normal’ pages) will be written and optimised, this including interlinking relevant pages (Google likes this).

Power pages, however, have a different mission. Their job is to get noticed BIG TIME, to become a fount of knowledge and a ‘go to’ source of information on a particular subject (relevant to the products and services of the hosting website). With this in mind it is easy to see that the very first thing you have to know is what subject to write about.

Research into Trends (or try to start one yourself)

This is where checking on trending posts and web pages can be a great help, as it allows you to see what people have become interested in over a period of time (which you can set). You can then have a look at these posts / pages and use them as a basis of your own works, all in the knowledge that people are INTERESTED in the topic.

finding trending topics

 

Of course you can also plough your own farrow, choosing a topic that is relevant to your market place, for instance ‘What is the History of Plastering’ or ‘How to choose the right lawnmower’. There are countless topics to choose from. Besides Kudani, you could also use Buzzsumo.

Writing the Page

Either way, you can start your research into what to talk about, and that will mean looking not only at the trending sites, but also at all the top INFLUENCER sites, in this instance the ones that are at the top of the Search Engines’ results for some top terms.

All the while it is vital to make sure that the page will be ‘entertaining’ and fulfil one of its main purposes, that of being WORTH SHARING.

Note, for a great definition of what an Influencer is, click this link.

Supporting Guest Posts

One important part of this SEO process is to make sure that there are links to the Power Page from trusted sites, but as it can take some time to get an INFUENCER to mention the page or allow a Guest Post on their site, the first thing that needs to be done is to place a well written ‘taster’ post on a High Domain Authority site.

Thus one post (perhaps more) is written and placed on some relevant sites. In most instances this means paying a ‘publishing fee’. Here I must state that there are some SEO’s who think that placing a post on a site that is known to take money for the privilege is worthless. However when you know that high profile sites like the HuffingtonPost take money for Guest posts, you can see that their argument holds little water.

Converting the Influencers

This starts at the website level, where some selected sites are contacted with a view to them mentioning the Power Page or by having a Guest post placed on their site. It need not contain a DO FOLLOW link as we are after traffic as much as link juice, but if they will allow a FOLLOW link then all the better.

It is best if these influences have been contacted and nurtured for some time before you make a request to place a guest post on their site (this also being the case with Social Media Influencers).
Hopefully one of the sites you contact will allow the publication and thus provide you with a link and the potential for a lot of relevant traffic.

Create a Press Release

Press Releases are a well known way of creating a ‘buzz’ in a manner in which Google approves. All the posts are the same of course, but as the links are always NO FOLLOW this does not matter. Google, it is said, really loves press releases and so one pointing to your power page and telling all about how interesting it is and how they should not miss it, is a good idea.

Posting on your Own Social Media Channels

Presuming you have some Social Media accounts, now is the time to start posting about the power page, (although maybe you have been talking about it coming for a few weeks already – another neat trick). Remember that you will have to post again and again here, Social Media posts being, for the most part, short lived, as they are soon replaced with the next tweet and thus scroll off peoples screens. This makes choosing the right time to post important too.

Contacting the Social Media Influencers

Now is the time to start contacting the Social Media Influencers. There are various ways the leaders in a field can be found and once found the ‘nurturing process’ needs to be continued. This process needs to have been started before the power page is posted, the SEO Agency in question having to have commenced this process some time before.

The idea here is to mention that they may be interested in the Power Page’s contents, perhaps also mentioning the Guest Posts that have already been posted and the Press Release. All of this with the aim of getting them to ‘add their weight’ to the campaign.
This is important, as if they can be convinced to mention the power page on their Social Media accounts, the ripples will build and build, all resulting in more traffic and higher rankings.

Monitor and Interact

Hopefully you will have had some comments on your Social Media channels and on the Guest Posts (where the sites allow). It is VITAL that you monitor these and respond as that will only strengthen the whole campaign.

In Conclusion

So there we have it, a brief summary of what SEO is, and how the two main types differ. Hopefully you can see the differences between the two approaches and can understand why SEO carried out ‘by the book’ is such a long, complicated and thus expensive process.

The good news for businesses with shallower pockets is that the ‘basic SEO’ does work in most markets, you just have to choose to approach any highly competitive areas in a cleverer manner, and not try to charge headlong in to get top rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

Why PPC Is Still Relevant In Online Marketing – Making The Most Of Everything

There will always be challenges involved with online marketing and even when you think you have got the perfect system in place, things change and you find yourself back to square one – searching for effective ways of reaching your target audience. In other words, you have to stay current with the “here and now” if you want your online marketing campaign to produce a solid return.

However, some tactics have a longer lifespan than others. For example, word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to spark interest in a business or product. That’s because people have a tendency to follow, and history has shown it’s a trait that will probably never change.

But, it’s definitely not the only example of marketing that remains effective, PPC (Pay Per Click) marketing is also still relevant in online marketing, and if you haven’t found success with it yet, you are maybe not using the PPC campaigns in the right places. Granted, many users have developed a sense of banner blindness and they use software to block ads, but that doesn’t mean PPC has lost its edge, it only means you have to customise your tactics.

Using another example, search engines like Google will help your PPC campaign reach the front page of search results, and statistics show this is incredibly effective. Why? Because people trust search engines. In fact, more than 80 % of people online will use a search engine to find whatever they are interested in and if you bid on the right keywords, your ad will show up right at the top.

But what about investing in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) instead? Won’t it be more affordable? Essentially, SEO is more affordable, and it brings about great long-term results. But you are also going up against some tough competition, seeing as most website owners who are serious about their sites will also be investing in SEO. Plus, you have to take into consideration the amount it takes to reach higher rankings through SEO. There is no reason why you cannot include PPC in your SEO strategy as this will give you benefits from both. With a strong PPC campaign, you can reach the top almost instantly, while SEO as a long-term approach.

However, not all PPC campaigns are the same and some advertising spaces are just going to waste your time. Assuming for a moment that you pay a company to run a few PPC ads for you and they run those ads on sites where users love to click but they don’t convert. Or they run them on sites that have no connection with what you are selling, can you really expect to make money? Of course not, having a proper plan of action is essential so that you get a return on your investment.

Make sure that you hire a company with connections to authority sites and organic traffic. Google is a great place to start if you want to see some substantial traffic, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t or can’t try other channels. If the site running the ad has a strong online presence, you are bound to get clicks that typically turn into profit.

 

I believe artificial intelligence (AI) will be a key driver of change in PPC in 2018 as it leads to more and better PPC intelligence.

So far, I’ve discussed the roles humans will play when PPC management becomes nearly fully automated and six strategies agencies can take to future-proof their business. In this final post on the state of AI in PPC, I’ll cover the technology of AI.

Why AI took years to matter to PPC

AI has been around since 1956, and PPC has existed since the late 1990s. So why did it take until now for AI’s role in paid search to become such a hot topic in our industry?

It’s because we’ve recently hit an inflection point where, due to the exponential nature of technological advances, we’re now seeing improvements that used to take years happen in weeks.

What’s driving this is the exponential growth explained by Moore’s Law, the principle that computing power doubles approximately every 18 months. The outcome of exponential growth is hard for humans to grasp, so let me give an example that doesn’t involve computing speeds since those can be a bit too conceptual. Instead, let’s apply this doubling of speed to cars, where we can more easily understand how it impacts the distances we travel and how quickly we get somewhere.

Imagine if the first car, invented by Karl Benz in 1885 with a top speed of about 10 mph, was doubling its speed every 18 months. In 1885, we could have driven that car across a typical town in an hour. After 27 times doubling its speed (the same number of times the microchip has doubled its speed since it was invented), we could have gone to the sun in about 4 minutes. And less than 18 months later, it would take just about 2 hours to travel to Neptune, the farthest planet in our solar system. (Voyager 2 did that same trip in about 12 years.)

Because computing speed has already doubled 27 times, every extra doubling leads to new capabilities that are beyond imagination.

What exponential growth means for PPC

So, if we’ve reached the point of PPC automation today where humans and computers are about equally good, consider that the pace of technological improvement makes it possible for the machines to leave humans in the dust later this year. That’s why it’s worth thinking about the roles humans will play in the future of PPC.

And just like the first car is not the right vehicle for a flight to Neptune, the tools you used to manage AdWords a few years ago may no longer be the ones that make sense for managing AdWords today. So let’s take a look at what AI is doing to PPC tools.

The technologies driving PPC intelligence

Just like you want to know what your employees are capable of by interviewing them before hiring them, you should understand a technology’s capabilities (and limits) before adding it to your toolkit. So let’s see how artificial intelligence works in PPC.

PPC intelligence through programmed rules

Before the advent of AI as a research field in 1956, you could make a machine appear “intelligent” by programming it to deliver specific responses to a large number of scenarios. But that form of AI is very limited because it can’t deal with edge cases, of which there are invariably many in the real world.

In PPC, this would be akin to using Automated Rules to write rules for every possible scenario an account might encounter. Rules are great for covering the majority use cases, but the real world is messy, and trying to write rules for every scenario is simply impossible.

PPC intelligence through symbolic representations

Between the 1950s and 1980s, AI evolved into using symbolic systems to be able to take heuristic shortcuts like humans do. By framing problems in human readable form, it was believed the machines could make logical deductions.

Here’s a PPC problem: you’re adding a new keyword, but you don’t know the right bid to set because there is no historical data for it. By teaching the machine concepts like campaigns and keywords and how these relate to each other, we are providing it with the same heuristics we use to make reasonable guesses.

So the system can now automate bid management and might set a similar bid to other keywords in the campaign because it knows that campaigns tend to have keywords that have something in common.

Read more here: https://searchengineland.com/technology-behind-ai-ppc-289777

 

What SEO Strategists Need to Know About the Google AI in 2108

The search engines have matured much since their humble beginnings and the SEO strategies of the future must become fully aware of their increasing potential if they hope to stay in their good graces and be blessed with plenty of high-value traffic.

Last year saw the full performance of Semantic Search and the prospect of the Google AI behaving much less like a directory machine and more like an insightful guide. Rather than taking the search queries as mere entries to be matched with equal entries, this incredible thinking machine now has the capacity to look for meanings behind words and provide more meaningful results to their users.

This contributes to Google’s primary goal of providing their users with the results they are truly looking for. It was the creation of the Knowledge Graph database that set the foundation for Google’s latest Semantic Search technology, which allows the results provided to have more meaning by rethinking what truly is relevant to the query and possible interpretations of the query.

The Google AI will apply more than simply a massive database it contains on just about everything on the planet, Knowledge Graph, but more importantly, the many ways that the information it holds on all these topics is interconnected. This means that the results for a query about “Elizabeth Taylor” also includes notable and relevant details like her birthday, her unique eye colour or her first great performance.

Highly meaningful results will be the flavour of the day as the Google AI accesses more properties on the entries it contains. These results will be far more accurate to the user under the understanding that things are connected to other things in very important ways. It will be the subtle connections that will make or break the strategy.

What This Will Mean You When Planning Your SEO Strategies in 2018

The Google AI of the future will rely heavily on elements like anchor texts, meta tags, substantive content and links to form these precision results. But, the real trick this year will be learning how to make an advance in all directions.

It will be essential to consider SEO as a crucial weapon in a much larger arsenal of marketing efforts that will be used in combination to reach your goals. Then you must consider every small adjustment and action taken by your campaign as a part of a greater semantic identity you are creating as you go.

From the web design, to social networks to the blogs you choose to engage everything will be creating a credible and successful campaign in the future or a flop. Here we will see the essential importance of marrying your SEO and Digital Marketing efforts in one seamless strategy.

There will be three crucial areas of your marketing campaign you will need to focus on, creating Authority, building Trust and gaining relevance. The quality of the methods applied in boosting these three areas will decide the final success of your venture.

 

The media has not got a clue about artificial intelligence (AI). Or technology. ‘Robots are coming for your job’ is a popular cry, but the next day it’s fears about AI starting World War III.

Not only do robots and AI have very little to do with each other, but AI is at a very early stage. What’s more, it can be split into several separate technologies.

The masses are being misled into fearing automation and a nebulous super-intelligence, but it’s those with a working knowledge of how AI works – and how it can be exploited – that will be best prepared for the future of work.

What is AI?

There is no precise answer to this question, but it’s got nothing to do with robot overlords. AI is a field of computer science that examines if we can teach a computer to ‘think’.

AI as a phrase has been around since 1956 when it was coined by American computer scientist John McCarthy, six years after English mathematician Alan Turing had published a paper called ‘Computing machinery and intelligence’ in 1950.

AI is generally split into various subsets that try to emulate specific things that humans do. Speech recognition mimics hearing, natural language processing mimics writing and speaking, image recognition and face scanning mimic sight, and machine learning mimics thinking.

That’s a lot of different, often unrelated technologies; AI is an umbrella term, and certainly not a general purpose technology.

Why is AI so hyped up?

Research into AI is currently riding the wave of increased computing power and big data. Together they make AI both possible and imperative; as a society we now produce way too much data to ever process ourselves or get any insight from. Collected data is growing 40% a year, and it’s mostly going to waste.

The existence of all this data also means that AI software has enough information not only to work with, but to learn from. Is this AI’s big moment? Venture capitalists and technology giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple think so, and are investing heavily in research.

It’s these companies that have unimaginably huge data sets collected in the last few decades, and a vested interest in automating tasks on that data. Together they’re becoming the arbiters of AI know-how, so it’s AI techniques developed by Google et al. that are being used by scientists to trawl through data to get new insights.

There’s about to be an AI-powered knowledge explosion.

Supervised machine learning

Machine learning is the act of computer scientists training a computer to do something. It’s about automating repetitive tasks, essentially training a computer to recognize patterns, and categorize data.

The classic example is image recognition or ‘AI vision’; give a computer a large number of images containing labeled objects, and the computer can learn to identify them automatically. The computer creates what AI researchers call a neural network; a virtual brain connection similar to a basic process in the human brain.

However, creating a neural network like this takes a lot of human labor, and also a lot of processing power. Google AI and the University of Texas recently used AI on a labeled data-set of signals from the Kepler space telescope to discover two exoplanets when astronomers had failed to find anything.

It’s also being used to identify cracks in reactors, and even help engineers at the UK’s Joint European Torus facility capture and deploy nuclear fusion energy.

This is supervised machine learning, and while it’s getting better at not forgetting, its usefulness at predicting patterns in data is hamstrung by the data it is fed.

Read more here: http://www.techradar.com/news/why-we-should-embrace-ai-not-fear-it

 

How To Use Social Media To Promote Your Business

Social media is an effective yet affordable marketing strategy that can be used to reach your target audience. Although many businesses have come to understand the power of social media in growing their businesses, there are still some marketers who are struggling to harness the real power of this asset. It is a cost-effective method of building a sound relationship with your customer and taking the business to the next level. Here is how to use social media to promote your small business.
The use of technology has helped revolutionise many aspects of modern marketing including our shopping habits. People spend a lot of of their time on social media every day and as a business, if you are not taking advantage of this trend, you could be losing a lot of revenue in the process. Social media is not only cost-effective, but it also has many other advantages for your small business. It helps share your knowledge with the customers, give your company a personality, become a leader in your industry, increase customer loyalty, assist in search engine optimisation functions, and improve brand awareness. If you are still not investing in social media marketing, your competition is taking advantage of your ignorance. That is why you need to invest in social media marketing right now.
There are different ways to promote your small business on social media. The first thing is to know your buyer. Creating the right buyer persona is the first step in developing an effective social media marketing plan for your small business. You have to use multiple platforms to promote your business. Don’t settle for one or two social media platforms when promoting your business, look at the choices available to you and perhaps more importantly, find out which ones your customers use. But make sure you study the behaviour patterns of your buyer before becoming active on social media platforms. You have to be active on the platforms that your buyer often frequents. Target your campaigns on the social media platforms that your customer is active on. That is the best way to get highly targeted clients for your company over time.
Valuable content is an asset to your small business, it helps grow your business within a short time. But you need to distribute the content via the right social channels. That is the best way to reach a wide section of your audience. Quality content will help promote your business among the followers of your customer. In fact, quality content has a viral effect when promoting your business to the right customer base. Social media is important to give your company some personality. It is not about just sharing links. It should include different posts to give your company some personality. These are important techniques to promote your small business on social media platforms.
In conclusion, social media is an effective way of promoting your small business. There are many social media marketing techniques that can help grow your business. It helps to improve the brand awareness and traffic of your business.

 

The Dutch airline, KLM has developed a social media strategy revered by marketers. The brand uses Twitter, Facebook and Instagram masterfully to provide outstanding customer service and to advance the organization’s brand narrative. As a result of this strategy, KLM makes roughly €25 million annually from social media.

Similarly, after IBM re-tooled their social media marketing strategy to focus on increasing engagement on LinkedIn, the company saw a 4X increase in sales.

“From our work in the experience economy, we’ve found that an effective social media strategy is an incredibly powerful tool to create a multiplier effect on experiential marketing,” says Daniel Yaffe, co-founder of experience relationship management platform AnyRoad. “It opens connections between the online and offline worlds and helps create brand ambassadors.”

Here are 12 ways social media marketers can revamp their social strategy to increase the success of their startup.

1. Create customer personas based on interviews.

When you think “batteries” what’s the first brand the pops into your head? What about when you think about “body spray?”

Chances are it took you less than one recall brands associated with batteries or body spray. This is thanks to the remarkable work done by marketers at CPGs (companies that sell consumer packaged goods).

Organizations like P&G (the makers of Duracell batteries) and Unilever (the makers of Axe body spray) lean heavily on marketing teams to create differentiation for otherwise ordinary products.

Marketers develop meaningful campaigns by always thinking about the customer first. Marketing personas allow the world’s best marketers to do just that.

P&G and Unilever invest millions of dollars each year in getting to know their customers. Marketers conduct focus groups, surveys and one-on-one interviews to learn what the customer wants. Then they develop marketing campaigns that make a difference.

Social media marketers should learn from the best marketing organizations by developing clear customer personas through interviews. Talk to current and prospective customers to learn about their needs and desires, then create social media campaigns that are aligned with what customers really want.

2. Use a social media analytics platform.

It’s difficult to know whether or not your social media strategy is working if you don’t have analytics to provide detailed information.

For example, if your social strategy is focused on Instagram, you should invest in a tool like Owlmetrics to understand follower engagement, growth, and click through rate. This sort of data can help marketers understand if the strategy is producing meaningful results that impact key metrics like revenue or brand awareness.

3. Start asking “the five whys.”

When something goes wrong in a Toyota manufacturing plant, company managers ask “the five whys.” It’s a way of systematically getting to the bottom of underlying problems that manifest in various mistakes. If your social media strategy isn’t working as expected, ask the five whys to uncover root causes.

4. Develop an influencer marketing strategy.

Over 95 percent of marketers who use some sort of influencer marketing strategy believe it is effective. Most marketers don’t unanimously agree on much, which speaks to the effectiveness of influencer marketing.

Brands like Harley Davidson, KitchenAid, and the North Face use influencer marketing to gain access to skeptical audiences who have become weary of traditional marketing and advertising techniques.

5. Test the effectiveness of each platform in your marketing mix.

Simply because a social media platform is popular among some audiences, doesn’t mean it will work for your brand. Test the effectiveness of each social media platform in your marketing mix. Use an all-in-one social media analytics tool to compare performance across platforms.

It may also be the case that some platforms are better at producing one type of result, while other platforms are more effective at producing another type of result. For example, Instagram might be great at generating brand awareness, whereas Facebook may be better suited for generating purchases.

Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/12-ways-to-improve-your-startups-social-media-marketing_us_5a2e0ee6e4b022ec613b8416

 

How To Choose SEO Plug-ins For WordPress

WordPress is one of the most widely used website creation tools out there. One of the reasons why it is so popular is the vast amount of plug-ins that you can use to enhance your website or the backend functions. When creating any website, you need to consider your content and how it will affect your SEO strategy. To help you sort out your SEO, there are many different WordPress plug-ins that you can choose from. The problem comes in choosing only one and to do this you need to ensure that there are certain features and that the plug-in is user-friendly.

Is The Plug-in User-Friendly?

There is no point in installing a plug-in if you are going to have a hard time using it. This is why you need to see if it is user-friendly before you look at anything else. One of the ways to determine this is to look at the screenshots that plug-in creator’s supply. These screenshots will generally show you a number of different areas of the plug-in and you can then determine if it looks easy to use or not.

However, for most plug-ins, you will have to wait until you have installed it to see if it is user-friendly. Fortunately, you can easily disable and delete the plug-in if you find it too cumbersome or hard to use. Most SEO plug-ins are actually very user-friendly as they are aimed at helping you and not confusing you.

When Was The Plug-in Last Updated?

SEO is constantly changing and you need to use an SEO plug-in that is up to date. Before you install the plug-in, you need to check when it was last updated. If the plug-in has not been updated in years, it will be out of date and will not help you meet current SEO standards. The best SEO plug-ins will be constantly updated and will not go more than a few months with an update, if that long.

When you are looking at when last the plug-in was updated, you should also check if it is compatible with your version of WordPress. WordPress is always updating to ensure that you get the best platform for your website. If you are on the latest version of WordPress, the SEO plug-in may not be tested yet, but you are able to find out the last version that it is compatible with. The last version should be the version of WordPress directly preceding the one that you are using.

Helps You Target Keywords

One of the features that your SEO plug-in needs to have is the ability to help you target keywords. Most SEO plug-ins will let you state what your keyword for the content is and then tell you what the density of the keyword is. This is important because high keyword density is often penalized by the search engines.

The plug-in should not only look at the written content on your page when helping you with keywords. The alt text for your images should also be considered and the plug-in should offer analytics on this.

Generating XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps are something that a lot of people overlook because they are focused on the actual content on their pages. However, XML sitemaps can help the search engines crawl your website and index your pages. It is recommended that you use an SEO plug-in that is able to generate these sitemaps for you.

It is also recommended that the plug-in is able to modify robot.txt files. These are basically instructions for the search bots which will tell them what pages to look at and what to ignore. Most people will not need to use these files, but it is handy to have a plug-in that can help you with this.

 

Today’s digitalized era has made it easier than ever for all kinds of businesses to have an online presence. According to a research, eight in ten Americans prefer shopping online. That is almost 79% of U.S. consumers, as compared to a meagre 22% back in 2000.

This is why, it is a good time to start an online store and spread your wings further if you already haven’t. Having a digital presence for your brand can help you reach out to more people, equating to even more sales and revenue for your business.

The first step towards building an online store, however, is to decide the type of platform that would suit the nature of your business the best. One of the most common and user-friendly options is WordPress. Many e-commerce businesses are using WordPress to reach out to their customers. It is a highly customizable platform that suits almost every business owner’s needs. It is also light on the pocket and according to a recent survey, around 10% of the ecommerce stores today are using WordPress to build their website.

Once you are up and running on WordPress, the next task is to install relevant plugins that can make your e-store even more efficient. The website is going to represent your business, so you want it to be flawless to give the right impression to your customers. There are countless options to choose from to create a beautiful and functional online store.

With more than 40,000 plugins to choose on WordPress, it can be a tad bit overwhelming to select the one that will suit your business. In this article, we are going to share 7 of our favorite ecommerce WordPress plugins that will not only make your life easier, but will also make sure that lots of cash flows in.

1- WP e-Commerce

A popular choice among e-commerce website builders, WP e-commerce is one of the leading e-commerce solutions that makes it easy for you to run your e-store. It is a free plugin which features a variety of coupon codes, discounts and free shipping options, single-page checkout, integration with all major e-commerce payment options and much more.

You can always upgrade the plug-in to make it even more dynamic and add more features to it like extra payment gateways, slider carousels and additional shipping options. It is undoubtedly a must-have plugin for all e-commerce websites.

2- Hummingbird

If your website takes forever to load, chances are that your customer will leave. According to a recent study, an average visitor will not even wait for 8 seconds for the website to load. In addition, Google recommends that a trusted website should load within 2 seconds, otherwise your search result rankings will suffer. This is why, it is crucial to speed up your website.

One of the best ways to do this is to use caching. Hummingbird is an app that jumps to your rescue and will take care of this aspect. It is an easy to use plugin that scans and analyzes your website. Once this is done, your website will be scored according to its current speed. A couple of clicks can resolve any issue if the need arises.

Hummingbird does not only do page caching; It also minifies, compresses and merges so that your visitors can experience the best version of your website. It is a paid plugin but worth all the money. You can try Hummingbird for free with a 14-day trial, and watch your website soar as fast as a hummingbird (pun intended).

3- Defender

Being the most popular choice for creating websites, WordPress is also an easy target for hackers. This is why, you should be prepared for it beforehand. Thus, it is important to tighten your website security from time to time and Defender is an excellent plugin that will help you to do this and more.

Defender is a plugin that searches your website for vulnerabilities and updates you whenever there is one. You can patch them up instantly by a single click. You can also schedule clean up sessions and stop worrying about threats.

You can try Defender for free with a 14-day trial and then buy the full version if you like it.

4- Google Analytics+

While running an e-commerce business, it is important to track your visitors and their visiting patterns. Google Analytics is an excellent plugin that gives you the opportunity to work on the areas that your website might be lagging behind in.

All the information, including track visits, page views, bounce rate, average visit duration and referrers, is presented directly on your admin dashboard. You can also analyze your customers’ shopping behaviors based on demographic and interests by enabling the advanced settings.

It is a great plugin that helps you keep track of all the important statistics of your website and the best part is that it has an easy user-interface.

Read More: https://www.besttechie.com/7-ecommerce-wordpress-plugins-make-online-store-better/

 

 

Tips for Protecting Your Website from Hackers that Use SEO Keywords for Spreading Malware

There’s a growing trend for hackers to spread their malware by infecting websites that rank well in the search engines for certain keywords, and using those SEO keywords to get lots of visitors who will then become victims of ‘drive by downloads’.

If you want to protect your website from those hackers, then you will need to be proactive with your security. Many websites are breached not because a hacker specifically targeted them, but simply because they were vulnerable – the hackers get a list of websites that rank well for given keywords, then use software to see if those websites are vulnerable to generalised attacks. If they find a site that is vulnerable, then they’ll ‘break in’ and infect it with their malware.

WordPress and Magento are two of the most popular platforms for business websites – they are used for blogs and content sites, and for online stores. Because they are so popular, they get a lot of attention from malicious developers and users, who know that if they can find a security hole they can exploit it for financial gain – or just for fun. WordPress, in particular, is quite an ‘open’ platform in that anyone can just develop plug-ins and themes for it and distribute them without them having to undergo extensive checks. This means that there are a lot of plug-ins out there that are not well written, and that are riddled with potential holes for hackers to exploit.

If you run WordPress, Magento – or any other online content management system or store platform for that matter – then you should look at ways of securing it. For WordPress, that means installing plug-ins to block repeated failed login attempts, renaming the admin account, and keeping the main WordPress up to date, as well as keeping plug-ins up to date as well and removing any plug-ins and themes that you are not using. You should also delete the installation directory once you are satisfied that the installation was successful.

The same goes for Magento. It’s important that you remove the installation directory, change the admin path, and rename all the users to something hard to guess. Keep the platform itself patched up to date, and keep all your extensions patched as well. This will go a long way towards ensuring that the platform runs well and is secure.

If your site does get hacked, the first that you know of it might be when a malware warning pops up when you visit the site, or when you see a warning against it in the search engines. If that happens, your first priority should be removing the malware, then fixing the exploit that caused it. Once your site is clean – and not likely to be immediately re-infected – then you can look at telling the search engines that it’s fixed and asking them to remove the warnings against your site.

Removing malware is an involved process that takes some technical knowledge – and in some cases the vulnerability is something that only the web host can fix, not an end user. So, for this reason, it’s a good idea to hire a web developer to look at your site for you – or a security expert. It can be quite expensive to fix these issues, so try to prevent them from happening in the first place! Following best practices from day one is much easier than trying to fix the issues with your site after an infection has cropped up, and takes less knowledge too.

 

The security protocol used to protect the vast majority of wifi connections has been broken, potentially exposing wireless internet traffic to malicious eavesdroppers and attacks, according to the researcher who discovered the weakness.

Mathy Vanhoef, a security expert at Belgian university KU Leuven, discovered the weakness in the wireless security protocol WPA2, and published details of the flaw on Monday morning.

“Attackers can use this novel attack technique to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted,” Vanhoef’s report said. “This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos and so on.

Vanhoef emphasised that the attack works against all modern protected wifi networks. Depending on the network configuration, it is also possible to inject and manipulate data. For example, an attacker might be able to inject ransomware or other malware into websites.”

The vulnerability affects a number of operating systems and devices, the report said, including Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys and others.

“If your device supports wifi, it is most likely affected,” Vanhoef wrote. “In general, any data or information that the victim transmits can be decrypted … Additionally, depending on the device being used and the network setup, it is also possible to decrypt data sent towards the victim (e.g. the content of a website).”

Vanhoef gave the weakness the codename Krack, short for Key Reinstallation AttaCK.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said in a statement it was examining the vulnerability. “Research has been published today into potential global weaknesses to wifi systems. The attacker would have to be physically close to the target and the potential weaknesses would not compromise connections to secure websites, such as banking services or online shopping.

“We are examining the research and will be providing guidance if required. Internet security is a key NCSC priority and we continuously update our advice on issues such as wifi safety, device management and browser security.”

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (Cert) issued a warning on Sunday in response to the vulnerability.

“The impact of exploiting these vulnerabilities includes decryption, packet replay, TCP connection hijacking, HTTP content injection and others,” the alert says, detailing a number of potential attacks. It adds that, since the vulnerability is in the protocol itself, rather than any specific device or software, “most or all correct implementations of the standard will be affected”.

The development is significant because the compromised security protocol is the most secure in general use to encrypt wifi connections. Older security standards have been broken in the past, but on those occasions a successor was available and in widespread use.

Crucially, the attack is unlikely to affect the security of information sent over the network that is protected in addition to the standard WPA2 encryption. This means connections to secure websites are still safe, as are other encrypted connections such as virtual private networks (VPN) and SSH communications.

However, insecure connections to websites – those which do not display a padlock icon in the address bar, indicating their support for HTTPS – should be considered public, and viewable to any other user on the network, until the vulnerability is fixed.

Equally, home internet connections will remain difficult to fully secure for quite some time. Many wireless routers are infrequently if ever updated, meaning that they will continue to communicate in an insecure manner. However, Vanhoef says, if the fix is installed on a phone or computer, that device will still be able to communicate with an insecure router. That means even users with an unpatched router should still fix as many devices as they can, to ensure security on other networks.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/16/wpa2-wifi-security-vulnerable-hacking-us-government-warns