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Online marketing is ever evolving and there seems to constantly be more and more digital marketing options for your business. If you are over forty you probably vaguely remember a time before the internet when trade shows, direct mail marketing, public relations and print advertising were the kings of marketing world for small to medium sized businesses. Since then we have seen many online marketing strategies become available and then slowly fade away in their level of effectiveness both cost-wise and in relation to ROI in the last 20 years or so.
Email marketing took off in the late 90’s and initially brought good results. Email marketing was a fantastic way for companies to market their products and services to their clients. However, by the early 2000’s how many email accounts did you cancel due to spam? Anti-spamming laws and filters killed email marketing as an effective online marketing strategy for most businesses in the last decade.
Since then we have seen webinars, online video, text message marketing and social media marketing all have their moments in the sun and then slowly fade away. This is not to say that these marketing techniques don’t have value, because each of them do but overall the major marketing impact has had a short life span. This brings us to the one constant digital marketing juggernaut that has been invaluable to businesses since its inception, online search.
According to the Marketing Sherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Survey, SEO is the most effective lead generating marketing strategy for business.
According to Hubspot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report, leads that are generated by organic search close at a rate of 14.6%, which is higher than any other form of digital marketing.
There are literally hundreds of online studies that report organic search engine rankings are clicked on approximately six times more often than paid ads. Research also points out that searchers also have a higher trust factor in regard to companies with high organic rankings as opposed to their PPC counterparts. Most consumers are aware that anyone can set up a paid ad campaign on a search engine. The perception among consumers is that companies with good organic rankings are more established and better quality vendors because organic rankings are not paid for, they are earned and are based on ranking factors that provide the best options for consumers.
If your business is not ranking well organically or you are curious what the first steps are in moving your business forward with search engine marketing. Here are two good tools to get you started.
The first is a free Keyword Research Tool that will give you hundreds of keyword suggestions at no charge. This tool allows you to enter one of your top targeted keywords and returns a list of long tail keyword search variants based on your entry. If your industries top targeted keywords are too difficult for you to rank on page one for, there are other options. One of those options is to target long tail keywords that are easier to rank well for and can still drive your business quality traffic.
The other part of your online marketing strategy that is paramount is your ability to rank online with mobile search. On Google when you are searching from your mobile phone you will get a different set of search results then you will if you are searching from your desktop. Google wants to see that your website is either mobile responsive or that you have a distinct, separate mobile site for your business. If you have a mobile site and your competitors don’t, you can rank your mobile site over your competitors on mobile search even if your main site isn’t ranking as well on desktop searches. If you have a mobile site for your business and you are not seeing the kind of mobile search rankings you would like to, I suggest using this mobile website evaluator it based on Google’s page speed insights and it provides valuable information on what you can do to improve your mobile sites performance.
Here is one more valuable piece of information for businesses regarding search engine marketing in general. Stefan Weitz the Director of Search at Microsoft admitted recently at the Web Summit Conference in Ireland that “Bing probably can’t compete with Google’s search engine in a head-to-head race.” Instead he states that Bing is focusing on incorporating search into more of Microsoft’s applications and that Bing is also focusing on search “in different areas of life.” It’s an ambiguous and yet telling statement. When any company, let alone Microsoft, admits they can’t be competitive with another company and that they are looking at indirect ways to compete, it provides insight. Google is going to continue to dominate search and be the platform to focus on for organic search results for the foreseeable future.
NETwork Ave is a Fort Collins SEO Agency serving Colorado’s Front Range.
For the uninitiated Google’s Penguin update is nothing more than another cute word for an algorithm update that you know nothing about but occasionally mention to impress intelligent members of the opposite sex at tech trade shows and after hours mixers.
For those who have had their organic rankings affected by the Penguins of the past, never has the mention of a cute little bird, beloved of children and wildlife conservationists carried such connotations of pain and lost revenue.
Penguin’s original intent was mainly focused on stopping the over-use of keyword specific link anchor text and to penalize sites with spammy link profiles. It worked, in today’s world, SEO’s watch the quality of their client’s link profile and anchor text like Santa watches the naughty list.
A ding from Penguin can have devastating and long lasting effects. In-fact, too long, the last time Google updated the Penguin algorithm was over a year ago. October 4th 2013 to be exact when Penguin 2.1 was released. Theories abound when it comes to how often, when and how the Penguin update refreshes. Many SEO’s have seen a bounce in rankings upon cleaning up spammy links with the Disavow tool and correcting what link anchor text they could. Suggesting that once you do some reverse SEO and submit your spammy links to disavow, Google re-runs Penguin on your site and forgives all your spamful sins, restoring you once again into the good graces of Larry Page. Others report not seeing immediate if any results from the same actions.
Getting back to P3.0, some SEO’s are claiming that they are seeing big changes in their client’s traffic, others are reporting no noticeable changes. That might sound confusing but honestly, when can you believe anything you read online? One of the most reliable sources for ranking data is reporting that this update is basically unrecognizable on their daily data charts.
Here is what we actually know about Penguin 3.0.
1.) Google confirmed the roll out happened Monday October 20th.
2.) Google is telling us it impacted 1% of English queries.
3.) Pierre Farr (an important Google guy) called it specifically a “refresh.” (not an update)
4.) It is a worldwide update, not just here in America kids.
That is about it… thus the title of this blog.
Here is the good news, most likely this Penguin “refresh” was not an actual update but a get out of jail free card of sorts for websites that had cleaned up their link profiles and simply needed a chance to prove it to Google. Thus hopefully gaining back some of the ground they lost in the rankings from previous Penguin updates. The painful part is those hit by Penguin 2.1 had to wait over a year to glean the redemptive benefits of this Penguin refresh.
So if you are still suffering Penguin penalties and have yet to clean up your link profile, my best advice is that you do so immediately. Then pray it’s not another year before Google decides to refresh their web-spam devouring Penguin who is quick to penalize and, so far, slow to forgive.
NETwork Ave is located in Fort Collins, CO and offers SEO Services for both local and national campaigns.
On July 25th 2014 Google released an update aptly named the Pigeon update. It caused a major shake-up in local search rankings results for many small businesses. The general observations have been that many small businesses have suffered in their local search engine rankings, while larger directory sites have benefitted with ranking jumps. It is an interesting move by Google. Page one search engine results for small businesses are vital to local markets. Who wants to go to Google, which is functionally a business directory, only to find more business directories? I don’t see Google users being happy about having extra steps involved in their search for local businesses. Despite all the confusion over just what Google is doing with this update, there are some benefits.
According to one aggregators data their research suggested a 23.4% drop in the number of local map results that were showing up for local searches. Changes in local search engine results have been reported by a very diverse cross-section of industries from local restaurants to DUI lawyers. So theories abound on exactly what Google is trying to accomplish with this update.
Initially what we saw in search results with the Pigeon update was a drop in the number of maps listings for several local business verticals. Instead of a seven pack of search results on the local map, there were suddenly only three or in some cases, none. In essence, local businesses were being taken off the map.
No one knows for sure what Google’s search algorithm changes are but we can take a look at the results and draw conclusions based on what we are seeing. Commercial services appear to have seen one of the most significant changes in search results. Many keywords related to (plumbers, painting, remodeling, etc) are no longer returning map results. This change seems to make more sense, as the business location of commercial services is not typically a major concern in the decision making process for hiring a contractor. However this does not apply to all commercial services.
I did a local search for “Fort Collins Mold Remediation” and no local map results appeared.
However, when I did a search for “Fort Collins Roofers” a full set of local map results appeared. Why would my local roofer’s business location display and not my local mold remediation company?
The keyword “Fort Collins Plumbers” returned a three pack of local search results. Four major directory sites, BBB, Yelp, Yellow Pages and Dex also listed on page one.
“Fort Collins Emergency Plumbers” returned no map results and two directory sites, Dex and BBB.
“Fort Collins Painters” brings up a seven pack of map search results and Angie’s List is the only major directory that appears on page one.
Google’s goal is to provide intuitive local search results, keeping that in mind we can draw some probable conclusions.
No local map results appear for the keyword “Fort Collins Mold Remediation” but a full set of map results do appear for “Fort Collins Roofers.” A possible explanation may be that in the roofing industry there are national companies that set up shop in major local markets and sell roofing services. They sell new roofs as if they were the contractor. In reality these companies take a premium off the top, then they hire subpar local roofing companies to do the actual work. In mold remediation, no such companies exist. Is Google actually interested in protecting their end users?
Plumbing is a competitive industry, plumbing businesses abound in every local market. In fairness to both the business owners and those looking for a local plumber, Google gives page one space to not only local businesses but national chains and also major directories to provide maximum visibility for businesses. This also offers plenty of choices for Googles users.
For the keyword “Emergency Plumbers” no map results appear. But let’s face it, if your home is flooding at three in the morning, do you care where the plumber’s office is located?
Local painting company keywords do pull up a full seven pack of map results on Google and Angie’s List on page one. Painting is not as competitive as plumbing. The search results on these keywords provide local business options and they include Angie’s List for Google users that like to be reassured about the quality of their choice of contractor.
Google wants to give its users intuitive, timely and relevant results. Post Pigeon update local search results appear to have helped Google take another step in that direction. Search engine marketers that have a continual eye on the future of search don’t panic when they see a new update like Pigeon, they analyze, adjust and advance.
NETwork Ave is a Fort Collins SEO agency offering SEO Services to the Colorado Front Range.
On September 25th 2014 Google announced that it was rolling out the latest update to its Panda algorithm, Panda 4.1. For seasoned SEO specialists Panda updates are as significant as the revolutionary war and well known as the location of your local Five Guys restaurant. If you are not as familiar with SEO as many of our readers are, here is a brief history of Google’s Panda update. On February 24th 2011 Google launched what is now known as Panda 1.0. The purpose of the update was to penalize websites that were posting duplicate or poor quality content on their websites.
It worked, Panda 1.0 tore through poor content like a ravenous Panda in a thicket of bamboo forever changing the SEO landscape. Websites that features poorly written content, duplicate content or content that was quickly re-spun from existing sources were profoundly affected. The aftermath looked like the deforested Amazon jungle 11.8% of searches were affected in the United States on English language websites. Panda was truly a landscape changing update.
Since then there have been twenty-six additional Panda updates focused on improving web content. I did a quick estimate on the confirmed and estimated impact of all the Panda updates both in the U.S. and globally. The combined power of the Panda updates has affected approximately 48.3% of search queries in the last three and a half years.
So get out of the way Kung-Fu Panda! Google Panda is here to stay and is still hungry for high quality, relevant and up-to-date content and is on the hunt again. Google is telling us this update will affect 3% to 5% of searches. Apparently at this point the update has been fully implemented. What we are seeing is a drop in rankings for larger sites that have not updated their content in a long time or that have content that is fairly common for their industry. The Huffington Post has an interesting article about some of the most heavily impacted sites. Apparently websites in the medical industry that re-post medical documentation from manufacturers have been heavily hit. Also, websites like ehow.com have been negatively impacted. I also know of a popular Search Engine Optimization blog that was heavily impacted by this update.
It appears that Google is going after content that has not been updated in a long time that may no longer be relevant. There is speculation that some of these sites may be posting content that is too focused on advertising products as opposed to providing valuable information. Also, websites that promote content from writers that are not considered industry experts are apparently suffering a decline in rankings. Google doesn’t want to see articles that are essentially advertisements or websites that are posting such articles ranking highly on their search engines.
It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out in the coming weeks as we gather more data on the impact of Panda 4.1. Google never shares exactly what they are doing and it takes time to disseminate the post update impact and narrow down speculation as to exactly what just happened. However, Google has provided a good general outline of what they are looking for when it comes to the quality of the content they would like to see on your website.
One thing is certain, your content is and will continue to be the most important feature of your website in regard to your Search Engine Optimization. So keep a close eye on the content you are posting on your site because if history is any indicator another hungry Google Panda update will be coming soon to a website near you.
NETwork Ave is a Fort Collins SEO Service Provider to all of Colorado’s Front Range.
What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Here is a brief explanation for beginners.
SEO can be split into three parts, these parts are:
1. On-page Optimization
2. Content Development
3. Link Development
Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the visibility of a website on organic (“natural” or un-paid) search engine result pages (SERPs), by incorporating search engine friendly elements into a website. A successful search engine optimization campaign will have, as part of the improvements, carefully selected, relevant keywords which the on-page optimization will be designed to make prominent for search engine algorithms. Search engine optimization is broken down into two basic areas: on-page, and off-page optimization. On-page optimization refers to website elements which comprise a web page, such as HTML code, textual content, and images. Off-page optimization refers, predominantly, to back-links (links pointing to the site which is being optimized, from other relevant websites.)
NETwork Ave is a Fort Collins SEO Firm serving the Front Range of Colorado.
Whenever I speak to a potential client the main obstacles we have to overcome together are usually two things. The first is trust, most companies have been burned more than once by digital marketing firms. The other is misinformation. The only other entity that there is more confusion and misinformation in involves the U.S. government. So let’s address both issues.
Trust, it is key in any relationship but especially in a business relationship because you are trusting the company you hire to create a significant return on investment. Now, how do the companies that you have hired in the past, that from all appearances have driven great results for past clients, seemingly accomplish nothing in creating significant rankings in SERP’s for your business?
The answer is scale-ability, clarity and honesty. Most SEO companies initially had talent that knew how to get results for their clients. However as they grew, they had to bring on new SEO talent and most likely train that talent. Here is the catch 22 for most SEO firms. If they teach their employees all the “secrets” of SEO strategy, then they are empowering their own employees to go out on their own and potentially lose their customers in the process.
Because of this problem, the quality of work drops dramatically the larger the company gets.
The other issue that affects many SEO agencies is clarity. Five years ago, SEO was a much less complicated process. Updates like Caffeine, Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird have changed the playing field immensely in a relatively short period of time. That being the case many SEO’s no longer have a clear idea of what they need to do for their clients in order to produce the kind of results they achieved in the past for their clients. They may have part of the puzzle solved but not the entire picture.
As I mentioned before, there is more misinformation today about SEO and what makes for good SEO then ever before. If you want to thoroughly confuse your self, spend a few hours reading all the latest SEO blogs online. Instead of coming away with a clearer picture of the SEO landscape, you will probably come away with hundreds of questions and a headache.
Then there is the old fashion concept of honesty. Because there are so few quality SEO agencies out there and so much misinformation about what makes for good SEO results. How do you know what you are actually getting for your investment? Transparency is important, it makes the windshield of your vehicle incredibly effective for seeing the road ahead. If your current SEO company is not honest with you and can’t show you exactly what they are doing for you on a monthly basis. It’s time to install a new windshield!
NETwork Ave is a full service SEO Agency in Fort Collins, serving the Front Range of Colorado.