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Archive for February, 2009

Regardless of what we hear about the economy these days, the web is still hot. According to ComScore, online sales totaled $10.9 billion in January of this year. Among the categories that grew the most were sports and fitness, up 42% vs. a year ago; books and magazines, up 37%; and home, garden and furniture, up 14%. Yes, you read those numbers correct – sales increases of 14% to 42%!

The economy is driving record numbers of consumers online as opposed to in-store retailers. According to AdAge, web sales are growing at five times the rate of traditional brick and mortar stores, which is a trend that is expected to continue for years to come.

Ecommerce is proving to be better capable of handling a recession since more people are turning to comparison shopping sites now than in the past. Also, most of these comparison sites lead consumers directly to ecommerce websites. This being the case, it is critical for marketers to engage potential customers through online channels where people are actively researching and buying products and services.

If you want to grow your business in today’s price conscious world, you’ve got to be where your potential customers are most likely to be. What is your business doing to succeed and grow in these challenging times? Hopefully the Internet is at the very top of your list.

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Depending upon who you talk to, Google has anywhere from 100 to well over 200 factors that they use to rank pages in their search results. To add to the fun and excitement, the days of Google updating their algorithms on a monthly basis or so no longer exists.

In today’s world of search, Google now updates their index and rankings constantly (24 hours a day – AKA Everflux). This being the case, you have to really understand SEO in order to be successful in achieving high organic search results.

The days of simply adding some Meta tags to your website and getting found is history. Not only are those days gone – such practices can even be dangerous if you do not have a solid understanding of what you’re doing.

So here are some examples of positive and negative on-page and off-page factors that affect Google rankings. Keep in mind the details are much more complex than bulleted below. However, this will give you some idea of what expert SEO professionals are up against every day. Without further ado, here’s the basics.

Positive On-Page Google Ranking Factors
(Keep in mind that when the following factors are used incorrectly they can become negative factors.)

  • Keyword in URL file name
  • Keyword in domain name
  • Keyword in Title tag
  • Keyword in Meta Description tag
  • Keyword in Keyword Meta tag
  • Keyword density in page body text
  • Keyword font size (strong, bold, italic)
  • Keyword proximity (how close keywords are placed together)
  • Keyword phrase order
  • Keyword prominence (how early used in tags/page content)
  • Keyword in alt text
  • Keyword in links to other pages of site
  • Keyword in links to external pages
  • Internal and external links not broken
  • Efficient tree-like navigation structure
  • Intra-site linking
  • Less than 100 links out per page total
  • Top level URL extension, i.e., “.com” vs. “.tv”
  • Page file size
  • Freshness of new pages and content updates
  • Frequency of updates
  • Page theming
  • Keyword stemming, i.e., drove, drive, driven, driver
  • Use of synonyms
  • Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
  • URL length
  • Site size
  • Site age
  • Age of page vs. age of site

Negative On-Page Google Ranking Factors

  • Text in graphic form only
  • Over optimization
  • Linking to Free For All (FFA) sites and bad neighborhoods
  • Redirects via Meta refresh tags
  • Copyright violations
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Keyword dilution
  • Inappropriate use of Flash
  • Use of frames
  • Misuse of robots.txt tag
  • Single pixel links
  • Invisible text, i.e., white text on white background
  • Duplicate content

Positive Off-Page Google Ranking Factors

  • PageRank (based on the number and quality of links to your site)
  • Total incoming links
  • Anchor text (keywords in text links) of inbound links to your site
  • Age of inbound links
  • Relevant keywords on referring pages
  • Page titles of referring pages
  • Inbound links from pages of same theme
  • Categorization of links from other sites
  • Age of site linking to yours (older better)

Negative Off-Page Google Ranking Factors

  • Buying links
  • Traffic buying
  • No incoming links to your site
  • Cloaking (presenting one page to search spiders and a different one to your visitors)
  • Links from bad neighborhoods/link farms
  • Google Terms of Service violations

Remember, the above are just some basic examples of ranking factors that affect how well your site ranks in Google (and other search engines). This being the case, it is recommended that you seriously study SEO before trying to implement it on your own, or you hire a professional. If you think it’s time you hired a professional to do your SEO work give us a call toll free at 877-276-2402. We can help turn the world of search in your favor.

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The following are 7 surefire ways to help your business be more successful online in 2009 and the in the years to come. Each of these concepts is used by the most successful companies online. Are you applying them?

1. Budget for Customers – Regardless of economic conditions, you need to always be on the lookout for new customers and taking care of those you already have. With this said, start spending where they are. More than likely, more of your customers are online than you may have expected. Whether they’re actually shopping or keeping up to date on topics related to your industry that interests them. Do some quick research on this with Forrester or any other major research company that focuses on this topic. Remember the online universe touches direct online sales as well as in-store sales and phone orders. Don’t leave these valuable opportunities on the table. Your smart competitors aren’t.

2. Make the Most of Social Networking – Online social networks are a great place to “network” to cross promote your business with other companies and to get your brand in front of potential customers. Particularly when they may currently be more active online than they are spending money off-line – go where the fish are. Those that effectively create strong social networks now will be ahead of their competitors that continue putting such efforts off. Remember, the Internet is not a fad – and neither is social networking online.

3. Apply Your Analytics – Actively review your web analytics at least once a week to help gain insight into improving your site. Look for clues to increase your conversion rates, page views, keywords for the search engines, etc. Simply looking at your website’s stats without developing plans of action is useless. These are not the times for useless actions – carefully define the results you want to achieve and keeping working towards them.

4. Email with a Clear and Direct Purpose – Do away with the chit-chat newsletters for the sake of sending a newsletter and focus on gaining insights and generating sales. For your next email newsletter, offer a product your customers would really want to buy (not something you’re just trying to get rid of) and make the offer too enticing to pass up. Also, ask your customers about what interests them, what they want to hear more about and even how often. The more you can understand and segment your customers – the higher your conversion rates will be.

5. Make Organic Search Marketing Your Friend – Gaining significant traffic through the search engines via pay-per-click advertising is ongoing, unpredictable and expensive. Although SEO doesn’t produce results as quickly, it is critical to the long-term success of any website. Also, look into additional paths of search engine marketing such as marketing through online shopping marketplaces such as Google Product Search (AKA Google Shopping). Search marketing is something you can try for yourself. However, for quicker and long lasting results you are better off to hire a professional search marketer that is experienced with the in’s and out’s of search engine marketing. In addition to producing quicker results, this path can also save lots of time and money in trial and error efforts.

6. Use User Generated Content to Your Advantage – Does your website allow your users to leave reviews of your products? Does your blog allow visitors to leave comments about your wonderful insights? If the answer is no to either, or both, you’re missing out. User generated content can increase your search engine rankings due to additional on-page content, help build your brand through interaction, and even close more sales by allowing your customers to openly review the items you sell on your site. There’s a reason why the most successful companies online do this – it works. If you’re not doing it, what’s your reason?

7. Share Your Content for Maximum Exposure – All of us have some content that others are interested in and we should make it easy for them to receive it and share it with others. Syndicate your blog posts with RSS and provide content for others to use and share such as articles that link back to your website. As the old saying goes, “The more you give the more you get”, which is especially true online. The more links and references to your site and brand, the more successful you will be.

The days of “if you build it and they will come” never existed. Therefore, you need to be making a constant effort at increasing your reach online in order to succeed now and well into the distant future. Considering the millions of potential customers searching online for the products or services your company offers – what did you do today to gain their business? Hopefully your answer includes some of the 7 concepts above.

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There is no question that search engine optimization (SEO) can put your website on the fast track to increased visitors and potential sales. However, the fast track can often take a matter of months, and in some cases years to fully materialize. This being the case, you have to understand the three P’s of “real search engine optimization” in order to stay focused and on the right track.

Patience – Real SEO results take time. It’s a common misconception that once a website has been optimized by an SEO it will instantly shoot up in the search engine results. Nothing could be further from the truth. Depending upon how competitive your search phrases are, it can take weeks, months or even years to rank well in the major search engines. It is important to enter into the world of SEO with realistic expectations. Achieving a first page ranking for your keyword phrases takes time and patience.

Persistence – Search engine optimization is not a single act, but a long serious of related actions. This doesn’t mean you should give up on trying to achieve high rankings due to the time and effort required. Especially since gaining first page rankings for important keyword phrases related to your business can significantly add to your bottom line.

Progress – Keep in mind that the web is constantly evolving, so SEO practices must also evolve to stay relevant with current best practices and search engine guidelines. What may have worked well five years ago – may have little effect on your search engine rankings today. This being the case, major SEO success requires a long term commitment to master the ever changing landscape of the internet.

Whether you do your own search engine optimization or you hire a professional SEO to do the hard work for you – keep the three P’s above in mind. With patience and persistence significant SEO progress can be achieved.

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