Been there, done that you might be thinking as you read the title of today’s blog post and for my SEO friends, yeah I know. But for all our SMB readers what I’m trying to indicate to you is that there is – there really IS – value in working on your site’s SEO rankinf factors to gain new traffic.
And as you know new traffic brings new conversions and new conversions mean new leads and new leads can turn into new customers or clients and that means new revenue.
Got it? Good!
As usual it’s been a heck of a weekend what with fires to put out for an Australian client and some interesting new variations for google.co.uk we’ve been testing against – but that all said we did get three seperate and individual emails from SMB owners who basically asked the same question.
How can I find out what my competitors are “up to” SEO wise for their sites?
In other words, is there a way to do a website audit of a competitor to see how they’re doing SEO wise? And the answer for the hundredth time is YUP, there sure is, eh!
Okay if you’re like many of the lean firms that has so much on their plate that they seldom have time to even think about marketing items on the ‘back-burner’ then maybe it’s time to move Social Media up front.
We’ve just completed a full study for a client in the retail sector and what we’ve been able to show is that when it comes to employees, you NEED to have a solid set of guidelines in place, else you’re toast!
Well, maybe not real toast, but in the words of Warren Buffet “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it!” and that is just so so true if you think about the immediacy of Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIN too!
As you may know for years we (the SEO world that is) preached that if you want to use a title tag longer than say 70 characters, you’d be indexed, but Google et al would only show the first 69/70 characters. End of story. Do that and you were fine.
Except not so much for some of us…and yes, I did go to www.seomofo.com (not updated tho!) and read Darren’s testing on that and see that he was one of the first to push the new thought that maybe it wasn’t “characters” that were counted, but “pixels” themselves. Or go here to moz.com and see their tool here…
Wait, you say…what’m I talking about?
Okay, backstory first….
Google back in June of 2011, announced that it “would begin to support authorship markup. The company encouraged webmasters to begin marking up content on their sites with the rel=”author” and rel=”me” tags, connecting each piece of content to an author profile…” as Eric Enge put it so well here.
About a month ago now, Google rolled out a brand new update to it’s web results search algo, and it was quickly noted and named by the SEO community as the “Pigeon” update. And while it did make changes to the overall rankings for web search result serps, it didn’t happen up here in the google.ca world till just this past week – at least our whole Canuck client roster was unaffected till then.
So, what’s this Pigeon update and what do you need to know about same?
It’s always a surprise when I get a new LOCAL SEO Campaign client and do a competitors analysis for their channel – and when I say surprised what I mean is that it’s really a set of on-page factors that must be done – and they’re not! That is, while the new client may not know what to do it’s the lack of just about anyone in their city and channel too, that always makes me shake my head with a “doh!”
Let’s say you run a legal firm in your city. You have (like any professional does) certain “areas of expertise” like perhaps “personal injury” or “trademarks and patents” – which ones you choose to specialize on is of course up to you but when it comes to Google et al, what you want to do is to let them know – yup, you’re the leader in that type of legal area in your city.
What are long-tail keywords and why might they be important to an SMB owner? Ah…some of the finest friends your website will ever have are “long-tails” when it comes to Google search results, so let’s get into it!
A long-tail keyword is – as Google itself reports here - “Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase. They’re a little bit counter-intuitive, at first, but they can be hugely valuable if you know how to use them…”
Okay, you’ve been thinking about your own SMB marketing plan you’ve got up and running for 2014, and if it’s one thing that’s standing out, it’s the lack somehow of great SEO rankings for your local, national or global sites….like the rest of the world. And if it’s one more thing that is nagging at you, it’s the thought perhaps that you’re not using “best practices” to push that SMB site up and up and up…maybe you’re not as “white hat” as you might think?
Almost every new prospective client that we get uses the same type of rationale as I’ve just outlined…they don’t know why their own DIY SEO campaign has stalled and they don’t know why. And they don’t know what it is they dont’ know.
The short answer is yes…but only with a few provisos that you’d need to consider first, not the least of all is that if you start something it should not “die” as it will reflect on you and your own online reputation too!
Huh….might be the first thing you think of, so to explain let me try to rationalize the commitment that you’d have to make to enable both a vital community and your own mirrored reputation.
Thinking today, that as I’ve had to push off 7 prospective clients in the past month (due to a multitude of reasons), that I am lacking really in one major “help” item – a worthwhile SEO Starter Guide to try to give them some “best practices” SEO help for them to use.
What I mean is that say for the last client who wanted our $5,000 monthly package for $250 a month – someone again who had no business intelligence to know that an investment is a real live SEO program has a real live ROI, that they were working from a POV that just isn’t real in a cost vs benefits comparison. They believed that as they only had that $250 a month to invest, that they would find an SEO firm that would accept that revenue but do a job at 20 times the value of same. And that, as we all know just doesn’t happen.
Why so long? This is still the #1 question we get asked by every single new SEO Program client…and while we do take the time to explain why, it’s also apparent to us that for many new-to-SEO clients, they just don’t “get it!”
Why? Well for the first matter under consideration, you must remember that they’re thinking with their wallet. That is, until we can produce brand new traffic, they pay the freight and that means the up-front ROI is not producing the numbers that they’d hoped.
Yes, we do tell them it’s an investment in their revenue stream and yes we do tell them that it definitely is front end loaded…but I also think that they ‘gloss’ over that in the hopes that new numbers will appear quicker than what we estimate.
Okay, you’re startup is up and live…you’ve had the EUREKA moment and it got passed every single vetting moment by friends, family and your own peer group. You found a great company name, a matching domain name too, it’s up and live and yes, you’re ready for that all important traffic to start to drop by to be amazed…and to buy your online products or services.
You’re ready – but is your website itself would be the question – and from our own long-time SEO practice, what we know already is that the site is NOT ready at all.
So why do we think so?
Okay this is now only a couple of weeks old, but it’s taken us that long to test everysingle TITLE tag and META description text strings in our tester to see what the changes just made by Google will mean – and it’s a change that any SMB should be aware of.
Google web results pages now use Arial 18 pt fonts to show these two link descriptors and that’s up 2 pts from the Arial 16 pt font that used to be used – and it changes IMHO how you should be “doing” both of these areas.
In fact there are many items to deal with to try to understand the “why” of an SEO Program cost for a new client to the world of search engine marketing, so I thought today I’d try to put together a short post explaining what any prospective client should consider before going ahead with any SEO practitioner or firm…so here goes!
Any SEO Program must be of course a real live one – and the only way to perhaps tell that it even stands a chance of being something you may want to consider investing in, would be the track record of the firm you’re vetting…..and yes, the costs and promises made.
Knowing what kind of a penalty your site receives from Google is the start of learning how to fix same – there I said it. That is so true that I’m always surprised when a new client comes along and they have no idea as to “which” type of a penalty they’ve been hit with. How does one tell and even more importantly, what can you do about same would be the import of todays post on Google penalties, eh!
Penalties come in two kinds of course – manual and algorithmic and yes there is a difference. A manual penalty from Google is when an actual human being at Google takes manual action against a website. One of the most recent (and attention grabbing) examples of Google taking manual action against a website and penalizing it was the J.C. Penney paid links scandal.