Make Your Website Faster: Tips to Increase Page Load Speed

In a time where Google puts its highest priority on user experience, and users are not willing to wait for much of anything… website load time is a critical factor for search engine rankings and retaining potential leads.

There are many factors to consider: browser, website host, device, page content, etc. But first, let’s start with YOUR website’s load time.

What’s my website loading speed?

You can check page load time through a couple avenues. If you use Chrome, you can use the Chrome extension “Page Load Time” or a separate tracker like Pingdom. You can also check if your website is loading fast enough for you visitors by checking your bounce rate. Bounce rate can be seen through Google Analytics. If the bounce rate is high, it can indicate load time is too slow. High bounce rate can also negatively impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Google Webmaster recommends a maximum of 2 second load time for an ecommerce website, but Google aims for a half a second. That’s fast.

frustrated user waiting for website to load

How to make my website faster

Compress: The file size that the browser renders is king. The smaller the image the faster the load time. Here are some tips to optimize your images for faster website load time.

  • Resize your images before you upload them onto a page. Don’t load a 5000x3500px image when your image on the page displays at 500×300. Your browser needs to calculate this resizing, and this takes time.
  • Remove all the metadata from an image to reduce the image size. For example, you don’t need to know what camera was used, where the photo was taken, etc… This can bloat the filesize that the browser needs to render. This takes time.
  • Consider compressing your CSS and Javascript files so that they are condensed into fewer files and the overall bytes loaded is smaller. This can make future edits to your site tedious and time consuming, so be sure to consult your web developer and get their advice before doing this.
  • Consult your website hosting provider about how to utilize gzip to serve your website files to browsers. Compressing the resources that the browser requests can allow your browser to get information faster.

Design, Coding & Content: The three main factors when build a website, all contributing to website load time. Here are some tips to optimize website design, coding and website content for fast website load time.

  • Remove the junk. Many prebuilt templates are built to sell and have ALL the features. By the time you have your content, images, page structure, etc. established, you’re left with a lot of dead weight you’re not using. Delete as much unnecessary data from your template as possible, including images, plugins and posts.
  • If speed is a top priority, consider getting a custom-built template. Often, prebuilt templates are built in a complex way to hide code, making it harder for others to “borrow” code. These hiding techniques are good at making it difficult to borrow, but they also sometimes make a browser load more files, or the structure of the code causes render blocking (some sections on the site cannot render until all the appropriate files are loaded). This can increase load time and create the illusion that the page loads extremely slow.
  • During the website design process, don’t force a ton of heavy elements into your design: Use fewer photos, host videos on YouTube, consider less “moving content” like ajax loading or lazy-load content.

Other Considerations: Consider utilizing the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages provided by Google. Basically, Google renders a snapshot of your site instead of reloading it for mobile users, so it loads lightning fast. But be sure to understand the problems with caching for this method of Google displaying your content.

How to design a fast website

The best route to go is to ditch the out-of-the-box solution and partner with a website design and SEO company. If you’re working with a team that builds websites to look beautiful with best SEO practices in mind, website load time will be considered through every step of the process.

Our website design and Search Engine Optimization Omaha team considers website load speed from the initial planning stages through our SEO strategy implementation. So, if you want to know how to design a fast website, let us know, or we can make it happen for you.

Make My Website Fast

Why is Quality Content Important?

The short answer… quality content is important because it’s important to the search engines. There’s not a single client who walks through our door who doesn’t care about success in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). And if Google loves good content, then you should too!

The strategy of website design has made major shifts over the last few years. The goal has always been for good user experience; and years ago, our Omaha web designers and web developers would put most of the focus on functional and beautiful design for the best experience possible. Functional and beautiful design are still important to user experience, but now we must also put heavy emphasis on website content.

So, let’s approach your website from a more holistic point of view. Let’s build a website that is both beautiful to the eye and rich in valuable information.

Where should you start?

google search example image

You can start by understanding how results are served on Google. Google’s algorithm is multifaceted and based on more than 200 factors. But Google’s focus when serving results is relevance. Google does not see the design of your website, but instead sees the words and their location.

Because of Google’s commitment to serving relevant websites and content, high quality content serves itself. This is not keyword stuffed content. This is content that is readable, that is appropriately placed on the correct page, that is keeping a user on your website. This is more than just plunking in a keyword every-so-often.

So, you think you optimized your pages…

You’ve selected your primary keywords based on what you think your potential customers are searching. Or even better, perhaps, you’ve partnered with our Omaha SEO team to do some in-depth keyword research and analysis.

And you’ve tried to integrate your keywords into your web page titles and H1’s, and as frequently as possible into your content. (We offer this service as a one-time SEO optimization.) But if your website content is only a few sentences per page, with very little substance, your efforts hold very little weight in the search engines. In fact, it’s often more beneficial for you to invest in creating valuable content than implementing our one-time SEO optimization.

What’s the next step?

icon to show searching through website pages

The only way to know your best way forward is to analyze how your website is performing. Though Google Analytics and Search Console you can see how each page is ranking, how you’re performing for your desired keywords, and what your user time on site and bouncerates are for each individual page.

Quality content is going to establish, at least three critical factors for SEO success:

  1. The search engines will read it and rank it according to its context and value.
  2. Users will read the content, because it is relevant and valuable to them, increasing user time on site
  3. Users will likely be funneled into the website, decreasing user bounce rate.

If your questioning the value of any page on your website, I’d venture to say you probably need to rewrite it. And as a website design company who approaches your website from a holistic point of view, quality content is not only important from an SEO perspective, but also from a design perspective.

Did you know that we have a copywriter on staff? Quality content is worth the time and financial investment because it can, and will, bring in new business. So, let us help you improve on every facet of your website – design, performance, content.

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SEO Facts to Protect Against Dishonest SEO Providers

A Nebraska small business owner recently called us asking about our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services. He had signed up with an “SEO service provider” who promised a #1 ranking in Google for only $100 a month. And it worked – for one month. The next month his site dropped to page 6 in search results, far worse than before. Now the “service provider” (Can you read my sarcasm?) was telling our caller that he would have to pay a lot more money to fix the damage. Damage caused by this provider’s “services.”

Unfortunately, this provider took actions that not only didn’t help our caller’s ranking but likely severely damaged his website’s reputation with Google. Recovering from such penalties will take much longer than 1 month and more than $100.

You can protect yourself from cheats and liars by knowing a few facts about SEO.

lying service provider icon

No one can legitimately promise a #1 ranking

Even the best SEO agencies in the world are limited by one fact: SEOs are not Google. Google’s engineers make their own decisions and they carefully limit public information about how it all works. SEO practitioners depend on close readings of everything Google engineers say and on research by industry leaders. Legitimate SEO practitioners are experts on the research but they also know their powers are limited.

Link schemes are a bad bet

web link graphic

Some “SEO service providers” say they’ll get thousands of social media mentions and many thousands of links to your site. Run, don’t walk, away from someone offering you that “service.” Google knows these schemes exist, are constantly uncovering systems that operate them, and penalizes sites that receive those kinds of links and mentions.  In the case of the business owner that called JM, his story had all the tell-tale signs of receiving a Google penalty. If your prospective SEO doesn’t show concern for good quality links, their work is likely to cause your site more harm than good.

That being said, there is a correct way to build links to your site: Creating good content that’s valuable to your audience. I’ll cover this in a future post.

If the price sounds too good to be true, it is.

More than a few charlatans are willing to sell you empty promises for easy money. The truth is SEO, done correctly and without causing harm, requires months of work and costs a lot more than $100. If you can’t put that much trust in a prospective SEO, then trust your instincts, walk away, and find one you can be confident in.

A good SEO should be interested in your business

The point of a website is for new customers to discover your business and for everyone to buy your products or services more easily. SEO is one set of tactics to support that strategy. If your prospective SEO isn’t interested in your business, what you sell, and who your desired customers are, they’re not prepared to make decisions that will support your strategy and benefit your business.

When you’re considering hiring an Omaha SEO service provider, it pays off to take it seriously. Don’t look for a cheap deal. Find an SEO who knows what they can and cannot promise and who is interested in helping your business succeed online.

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5 Ways to Increase User Time on Site

It all comes back to user experience. Whether its design, functionality or content – a successful website provides a user with value.

User experience is so important that it’s become the main driver for Google’s algorithm updates over the last several years. And it’s been said in some major SEO studies that one of the most critical factors for SEO success is user time on page.

User time on site is directly correlated to user experience. If your website design is pleasing, if your functionality is friendly, and your content is engaging and valuable the overall time on site will increase. Abandoning visitors increase the bounce rate (user gets to your website and leaves without clicking anything), which reduces conversions and profits.

You can find out your average user time on site through Google Analytics under Audience > Overview.

Here are five tips from our Omaha web design and SEO team for increasing user time on site:

Spruce up design

Your website design gives users a first impression. The design entices or turns away a user before they even start reading the content. So, make that first impression count with a website design that’s clean, functional and accurately reflects your business.

A user-friendly website will also be mobile-friendly. Make sure your website is using responsive technology. Google will reward your website for responsive technology and the added value and readability will increase time on site for mobile users, also increasing your organic rankings.

Quality content

Among Google’s guidelines for content is “make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” Contrary to the old-school way of thinking, keywords stuffed into mindless or irrelevant content will not increase SEO value. Your website content, page structure, design… everything… should be geared toward adding value to your users.

This is relevant to pages relating to your core services and to your website blog. Feeding Google consistent content through a blog/news page can be great. But the quantity of content is no longer a key factor for SEO success. Instead, focus on quality of content. If you are unable to produce quality content for your blog, then get rid of it (or hire JM to do it). A blog that’s not being updating with quality content is likely doing nothing for your SEO value and it’s not building credibility for website visitors.

Internal linking

Keep users interested by pointing them to the next thing they’ll want to read. Across your website, link to related services or key team members when relevant. On blogs, link to other related articles whenever possible. This will help provide more relevant information that will appeal to user’s direct interests and be good for your website’s SEO.

Links are crucial SEO ranking signals. Inbound links, outbound links and internal links help Google figure out what is relevant and authoritative.

Optimize website performance

You have less than one minute to keep a visitor on your website. And if even a small portion of that minute is being spent on load time… you’ve likely lost your visitor. You can check your website load time using free tools like Pingdom, and if you’re load time is more than 4 second… you need to make some changes. You can consider:

Getting a new website host: Nothing you can do to optimize your website will make any difference if you have a bad website hosting company. There are VERY cheap hosting options available. I, for one, love a good deal. But you’re not looking for a good deal when it comes to website hosting… you’re looking for reliable, secure and support-focused website hosting.

Use a caching plugin: Caching can result in a 10x speed gain over a non-cached website. And the plugin is free!

Remove unnecessary plugins and update: WordPress (our preferred platform) has lots of cool plugins. But they may be slowing your website down. So, you need to weigh the options and get rid of the ones you don’t need. Also, updating your plugins is critical for site performance AND security.

Optimize images:  There are plugins available that can compress and optimize images for faster load time. Or, you can make your images smaller to increase load time.

Attract the right users

A great design, good content, internal links and fast load times are not relevant unless you’re attracting the right users to your website in the first place. Use keywords and long-tail keywords that your ideal customer will search, bid on these keywords for Google Ad campaigns, and create good meta descriptions so users will understand what they’re clicking on before they get to a page.

After making modifications to your website and strategy to increase user time on site, check your Google analytics and analyze the success of each page, individually. Your data will help you make informed decisions.

Don’t know how to analyze the data? Our Omaha SEO team can. Don’t have time to write valuable content? We have an experienced copywriter. Don’t have the ability to make the changes that need to be made? No problem. We can help!

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Google+ Cutting Dead Weight

google+ logo

Google has considered Google+ a failed experiment for a few years now and eventually led to the creation of Google My Business (GMB) in late 2014. The G+ social media network has been plagued by low participation and engagement since the start, and due to those same issues Google has decided to cut the dead weight. In late June, Google began sending notifications to business owners that unused G+ Business pages are scheduled for deletion.

How will the deletions affect local business owners and their online presence in search results?

Does Google+ Still Have Any SEO Ranking Value?

It is important to first note that the deletion of Google+ pages will not have any affect on Google My Business pages. Your GMB reviews, information and Maps data will remain untouched. As G+ Business pages evolved into the current GMB pages, reviews and data were periodically stripped out leaving empty pages with virtually zero value. Google+ pages have been nearly wiped off Google search results as well, minus the extremely occasional appearance of posts from major national brands, which tells us that Google’s own ranking algorithms have zeroed out the value of Google+ Business pages.

Our Omaha SEO and Web Marketing team find that G+ Business pages only have true value if they have built up a community of engagement with a large volume of consistent +1s, Shares, Comments or Follows. A common misconception is that posting to your Google+ business page means you’ve given it immediate value. True value comes from how other users engage and interact with the content you have posted by sharing, discussing with others outside the core group.

Should I Keep Using Google+?

google+ icon on phone

Our SEO and Web Marketing team has created several G+ Business pages over the years through our website builds and marketing efforts. However, in our experience those same accounts have fallen by the wayside and joined the masses of other small business accounts that have gone nearly unused since creation or been completely abandoned all-together. Unless your G+ Business page has been carefully curated over the years and has garnered a high amount of engagement, we suggest taking a deep breath and letting it go. Focus your SEO efforts elsewhere.

I Want to Keep My Google+ Business Page. What Should I Do?

If you have been notified your G+ Business page is on the chopping block and want to keep the page, the process to do so is simple. Log into your Google+ account, navigate to your G+ Business page and create a post. You can also avoid deletion by commenting on another user’s post. Don’t stop there, dig deep and keep up your posts and comments to build your page presence and influence.

Contact Us With Questions

Increase SEO with Traditional Marketing

While web marketing is our jam, we still believe in the power of traditional marketing to reinforce your online brand. Even at JM, we use traditional marketing efforts in the Omaha metro and we believe the branding power it gives directly effects our SEO.

For years, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been thought to be a keyword game. Yes, using strategic keywords and regularly contributing rich content is still a factor in organic ranking. But search engines use many factors to determine a site’s rank and most do not rely on keywords.

What factors do search engines use for SEO rank?

semrush ranking factors

In 2017 SEMrush conducted a ranking factors study, analyzing the importance of 17 different factors for organic rankings. The top five factors are:

  1. Direct website visits
  2. Time on the site
  3. Pages per session
  4. Bounce rate
  5. Referring domains
  6. Backlinks

The factors that I’d argue can be strongly correlated to traditional marketing efforts are:

Direct Website Visits: Users arrive at your website directly, typing in your domain. This indicates to Google that the domain has high authority and value.

Backlinks: A backlink is any link from another website to your website. This indicates to Google that other people believe in the value of your website.

So what…?

dart board bulls-eye

Your marketing strategy “in-real-life” reinforces your company’s online presence. When people discover your offline brand, they are more likely to visit your website than to drive to your storefront and walk in.

Search engines know this and they recognize these direct visits as a mark of a strong, real life business. Since direct website visits are one of the greatest factors of high search rank, branding your business offline is a crucial part in strengthening your business online.

Also, develop relationships and partnerships in your community. Think speaking engagements, guest blogging, newspaper articles, supporting public charities. All of that community involvement and the publicity connected with it can bring even more potential customers to your site. It’s good for the place you love and it’s good for your SEO.

The point is…

If people see a bus ad, hear a radio ad, see your logo on a sponsorship banner, hear you speak at a seminar… they are more likely to look up your company directly, giving your business domain a powerful boost.

Being involved in your community by doing good and providing education can give you brand power AND SEO power through direct visits and backlinks.

So look at your current marketing efforts. Are they working together? Do they elevate your brand offline AND increase the value of your SEO efforts online?

Google Analytics can tell you a lot about the results your efforts are producing. And if you don’t know how to analyze that data, we do. Let our Omaha-based SEO team help you put together a comprehensive SEO strategy that can help you build power!

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Optimizing Google My Business for Multiple Locations

Google My Business has been around since 2014 and was intended to make local SEO efforts easier for local businesses. Recently, we wrote about the excellent FREE opportunity Google My Business provides to businesses amid a competitive Search Engine Result Page (SERP), and we provide a step-by-step guide for building a Google My Business page and how to optimize it.

In 2015 Google reduced the number of local results from 7 to 3, commonly referred to as the “3-pack” or “map-pack”, so it’s important to rank in the local Google My Business results. But competition is fierce.

google results 3-pack
The “3-pack” or “map-pack”

For businesses with multiple locations, how can you optimize for each location??

Optimizing each location

User proximity is the top local search ranking factor. This is often why results in the “3-pack” may have unclaimed pages.

Considering the number of searches that take place on mobile devices, and the visibility of the map on mobile search results, the value of multiple locations on Google My Business is clear. And the more locations you have, the more likely you’ll appear in results. But how can you get yourself positioned well for the “3-pack”?

You need to optimize for best results.

Verified listings: Each location must have its own verified and optimized Google My Business listing. Learn how to do that here. Each listing must link back to a corresponding location page, and not a main homepage. This means you need to have an optimized page for each location on your website.

Optimizing website pages: Each location of your business should have its own page. Each page should include the city and state of the location and contain unique content. Include a photo of the location with a good alt tag.

Gain reviews: For each location, gain reviews for increased online reputation. Unique reviews for each location will help you stand out, and positive reviews may help convert a prospect to a customer.

Consistency: Ensure your business name, address and phone number are an exact match, wherever they appear – including Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc.

Can we help?

Our SEO Omaha team highly values Google My Business as an excellent tool for local SEO efforts. And getting an optimized page for each location is only going to make you more visible and build credibility among users.

Don’t have time to create and optimize a Google My Business page for each of your business locations? Or don’t have time to optimize your website to assist in local SEO efforts? No problem. We can do it for you.

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Pay-Per-Click, SEO or Both?

In an ideal world, you would be focusing efforts on both SEO and paid advertising to increase website traffic and increase sales. Both can serve you more traffic and increased qualified leads. Maybe you’re not sold on Pay-Per-Click, or SEO is not going to give you the instant results you need, OR you just straight-up don’t have the budget to do everything. We get it.

So, this begs the question – which should you choose?

SEO and PPC are both efforts to place your website in front of quality customers above your competition, but through different means. So, before you have your mind made up about what’s best for your business, let our web marketing and SEO team give you some basics.

graphic comparing SEO and PPC services

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of visitors to your website through organic search engine results. So not only do you seek MORE traffic through SEO, but also users who are interested in your company/product. Organic results are results served without paying Google.

We recently wrote a post on quality website content that details how Google search works. Every search engine has a crawler that gathers information across the internet, brings back information and builds an index. This index goes through an algorithm that matches a search query with data.

There are many factors that play into SEO, and because of endless algorithm updates from Google and other search engines the factors are always changing. And while I won’t get into all the factors we consider when dealing with an SEO client, here are a few things you’ll want to consider about SEO to see if it’s a good fit for your business:

Long-term strategy: SEO is a long-term strategy. To gain a significant increase in traffic and quality leads can take up to a year or more. Depending on the equity your website already has in the search engines, you may be a tiny ant climbing up a huge mountain. The task is not impossible, but it will take time and money.

It’s not one-size-fits all: SEO strategies, and service costs, vary depending on where you are, where you want to be and how fast you want to get there.

Website design: To execute an SEO strategy your website needs to be optimized. This can be a large investment, but it includes a robust CMS, optimal site structure, valuable content, mobile friendly design and usability, among MANY other things. Without a solid foundation you cannot expect to see success in the search engines.

Build credibility: SEO strategies are often partnered with regular, valuable content. Investing in quality, relevant and consistent content as part of your SEO strategy not only builds credibility with the search engines, but with your customers and the community you’re serving. It’s also about about making yourself a valuable resource for the community your potential new customers come from.

Pay-Per-Click

PPC marketing through Google Ads offers advertisers two ways to reach people: 1. through Google Search Network and 2. through Google Display Network. Both use a PPC auction system, where advertisers bid to have their ads shown to matched audiences.

Google Search Network, or “search ads”, appear above organic results. The Google Search Network allows you to show your ads to users who are actively searching for the keywords that you’ve selected. So if you own a contractor business, for example, you bid to have this texted-based ad show up every time a user types in Windows Omaha.

PPC text ad example

Google Display Network shows ads to users who are searching for your product or service. These “display ads” are placed on websites you think your target will be on. These image-based ads work well for re-engagement campaigns, showing ads to visitors who have already been to your website, in hopes they will come back and purchase/convert. This is often called remarketing or retargeting. For instance, we purchased something from Williams Sonoma six months ago… and they are still retargeting us.

banner ad example

These Google search and display ads are a great opportunity to capture quality leads and is an excellent way to reach your target audience. So here are a few things you might want to consider about PPC advertising:

Long-term strategy: PPC, like SEO, is a long-term strategy. You’ll want to run ads and refine your reach/budget based on the data. These ads may bring much quicker results than trying to gain traction in organic rankings.

Cost: The cost is mostly dependent on your Google budget. If you’re in a highly competitive industry it can get pretty pricey.  If your AdWords campaigns are well-targeted, optimized correctly and have an appropriate CPC bid, you’ll be able to show your ads to a responsive audience, nearly guaranteeing a positive ROI. Many businesses can run successful AdWords campaigns for a reasonable cost relative to the amount of money you make with each conversion.

Remarketing: While retargeting is great for most businesses, it’s especially useful for eCommerce websites. You can create and target audiences of users who have already visited your website with tailored banner ads, including image and video ads. Through these dynamic ads, a product from your store can follow a prospect until they pull the trigger!

Target niche terms: PPC can provide an affordable way to advertise for a niche phrase. Often more specific keyword phrases can run much less expensive than a short keyword. So, for instance, instead of ‘tires’ consider ‘winter truck tires.’

Either/Or, or Both: You can choose to do text ads, or banner ads, or both. If you have little traffic to your website, you’ll want to consider text ads to drive quality traffic to your website. If you have a lot of traffic, but want to reengage that traffic, you’ll want to consider banner ads.

Assessing Your Marketing Goals

Your decision to invest in SEO and/or PPC Google AdWords should be based on your company’s marketing strategy. By assessing your long and short-term goals, your budget and your competition you should have a starting place for which service you should invest in.

Also, looking at the data can be difficult. Assessing where you are and where you want to be can be easier with the guidance of an experienced SEO and web marketing team. Let us know if we can help answer your questions, if you want to explore an SEO or PPC campaign for your business, or need help assessing your current SEO or PPC situation. We’re happy to help!

Avoiding or Correcting Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is any substantial portion of content that appears anywhere on the Internet more than once. Content is considered duplicate when it appears on your website AND someone else’s website. It’s also duplicate when it appears more than once on the same website URL.

Sometimes duplicate content is deceptive, meaning it is deliberately duplicated on different URLs to manipulate the search engines. One of the main reasons Google does not favor this is because it can result in a poor user experience, and Google updates it’s algorithms regularly mostly because of its dedication to enhanced user experience. If Google thinks duplicate content is malicious, ranking will drop for all URLs with this content or a website could be removed entirely from the Google index.

copy cut paste icons

How does duplicate content happen?

Many times duplicate content is not intended to deceive the search engines. Here are some examples of non-malicious duplicate content:

Printer-friendly website pages: These pages are often a duplicate of an already existing page. It’s also common to use an alternative version of a URL in these instances. For instance, http://www.exampleurl.com/product and http://www.exampleurl.com/print/product. URL variations, like this, cause duplicate content issues.

HTTP vs HTTPS: If your site maintains versions at both http:// and https:// they are both live, visible and indexable to the search engines.

Copied Content: Some people will copy blog posts from other websites. Other times it’s less obvious… like duplicating large portions of content for each service page on your website, or for eCommerce websites it can exist in product information.

These few examples are among the most common causes of duplicate content.

Why should you care?

Duplicate content really cannot provide you any benefit. The only thing it can provide is decreased rankings and traffic loss. Consider that Google will rarely show duplicate content in it’s search results, reducing the chances that a page will be served. And if whether you are competing for local or national SEO success, duplicate content will not benefit you.

Duplicate content will only be acted upon (punished) by Google if a review indicates that you engaged in deceptive practices. But, if your website does suffer from duplicate content issues then Google will select a version of the content itself to show in the results.

How can you address duplicate content?

While Google can do a decent job of addressing and ranking pages with non-malicious duplicate content itself, there are a few steps you can take for best SEO practice to ensure your website is indexed and ranked appropriately and fairly, despite having the same content in more than one place.

Nonindex meta tag: This is particularly useful for those printer-friendly webpages. You can block the printer-friendly version of the page using the nonindex meta tag and Google will not index it.

301 redirects: We’ve discussed this previously, but if you’ve restructured your website or launched a new one with a new page structure, use 301 redirects to redirect users and Googlebot.

Consolidate Duplicate URLs: A page accessible by multiple URLs or different pages with similar content can be considered duplicate content/duplicate pages. Google will choose one as the canonical version, but you can tell Google which URL is the canonical version. Consider doing this if you have a mobile and a desktop version of your website.

Use Google Search Console: Here you can indicate how you wish Google to index your site and select a preferred domain. An example of this is HTTP vs HTTPS or WWW vs no WWW

Minimize your duplicate content: Review your website content and see where it’s repetitive. Take action yourself to reduce the words being duplicated on multiple pages. You can provide unique and valuable content on every page and then link to another with the content you need to be repeated. If you have an eCommerce website, take care to rewrite your product descriptions so they’re different than the manufacturer, or create ONE product with variations instead of 6 of the same product – the size being the only difference.

Need help?

If you have repetitive content across your website, but aren’t how to rewrite it, we can help. If you switched to https:// recently and are questioning if you have duplicate content issues as a result, we can help. If you need assistance implementing redirects after a website restructure, we can help. If you copied website content from your competitor and put it on your website… and now you’re a bit worried, we can help with that, too.

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What is Quality Website Content?

Website content is, perhaps, one of the most critical components of success for your website. In recent years, Google has put more and more emphasis on valuable content. So much so, that you’re likely to struggle with SEO success without putting thought into your website content and content structure.

We’ve said it a million times, but content is king. Google analyzes the value of your content and ranks it accordingly.

google search bar

 

So, how does Google search work?

Google delivers instant results to a user with three key processes: crawling, indexing and serving.

Crawling: Googlebot, a computer that crawls billions of pages across the web, discovers updates and new pages. The process begins with a list of URLs that have been determined from previous crawls in partnership with sitemap data provided by webmasters. When visiting each web page, Googlebot detects links on each page and adds them to its list of pages to crawl. New sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links are noted and used to update the Google index.

Indexing: Googlebot processes each page after a crawl. It compiles a list of all the words it sees and the location of the words. It also processes title tags and ALT attributes. It’s important to note that Google cannot process rich media files or dynamic pages.

Serving: Google serves results based on relevancy and is based on more than 200 factors! These factors include keyword usage, site structure, site speed, time spent on site, number of inbound links, quality of inbound links.

website site map graphic

How to determine your page structure

The page structure, or site map, shows the pages in your main navigation, sub navigation, footer navigation, etc. For an eCommerce website, you’ll also include the structure of your products – main product categories and sub product categories. When building a site map you should consider:

Current Website Structure: If you’re building a new website, the SEO value your current pages already hold in Google is worth considering. If your website is established and doing well in the search engines, you’re likely going to want to keep the page structure nearly the same. This can help avoid a major drop in rankings after launch and avoid a huge list of crawl errors.

Useless Pages: While the above statement is true, quite often there are just some useless pages on a website that add no value. Maybe it’s a page about a service you no longer offer, or a page with only a few paragraphs that adds no value. Regardless, ridding your website of useless pages, even during a new website build, is positive. However, post-launch you’ll want to make sure to implement a 301 redirect to avoid crawl errors.

The Data: Data doesn’t lie, people! If you’re struggling to determine your site map, or honestly don’t know if a page is adding value to your website, you can always consult analytics. Assuming your website has analytics installed. Google Analytics can provide data that will show you what pages people visit, how long they stay on the page, user flow, and MUCH more.

Now… what to put on those pages

Once your site map is set, it’s time to start collecting and writing content. Admittedly, writing website content is not the most exciting thing. I know because I’ve done it. And I am still doing it as we seek to continue to restructure and rewrite JM’s current website based on the data we are seeing in our analytics and AdWords campaigns. BUT, time put-forth now will benefit you for years to come.

Many people have no idea where to start when building website content. But, you’ll be happy to learn that you likely have a lot of content already drafted in many places. So start with:

  • Your current website
  • Business plans
  • Emails
  • Internal training documents
  • Existing marketing pieces

Each page should have valuable content full of keywords, a nice image that adds value to the content and a call to action.

What keywords do I use?

Select one or two keywords or keyword phrases you would like to be found under. Even ask your current customers how they found your business online to determine what keywords your performing best at. You can use some free tools to help determine what to use. Moz and SEMrush both have some pretty intuitive and free tools that can help you analyze keywords and your competition.

If you want more exact data to select your keywords, our web marketing team can help with that. Basically, we take a list of your suggested keywords and pull some data (because data doesn’t lie) through multiple tools. We can then see how many searches there are for a keyword, what the competition is like, and a list of other possible keywords to consider. Ideally, we want a keyword with a decent amount of searches and low competition.

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Define quality content

Who better to ask what is considered “quality content” than Google? Here’s some basic guidelines from the source, and here’s a recap of the article:

Basic principles:

  • Page content is for your users, not Google
  • Don’t do something just because you feel like the search engines will love it
  • Make your website stand out from others in your field by touting what sets you apart
  • Don’t put false information on your website

Avoid:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Pulling content off another website
  • Hidden text or links
  • Using irrelevant keywords

To wrap it up

Your website content is critical. If you don’t have the time to do it well, hire a pro. JM’s copywriter has experience writing for all kinds of industries, so let us introduce you to James.

And if you’re going to writing your website content, let this be a high-priority item on your endless to-do list. Don’t let months go by, foregoing countless leads and business because you don’t have the time to dedicate to writing good website content. Let us know how we can help!

Benefits of Google My Business

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Google My Business offers businesses an incredible opportunity to be found in local search engine results. As Google’s algorithms undergo constant change to provide a better user experience, Google My Business becomes increasingly important for ALL businesses as they seek to have an online presence and seek to be found easily in a local search.

Google My Business lists your business location on Google Maps and local search results. The listing is free and is a necessity for both store fronts and eCommerce businesses, and lists important information about your business, hours, location, services, contact information and website link.

google results for web design omaha

This is a simple and effective way to be found in local searches on Google. As Google accounts more and more for a user’s location in its algorithm, this local listing will help your business appear when users type in “[keyword] near me.” So, for JM, our listing will appear for a user in Omaha searching for “web designer near me,” because of our Google My Business listing. You’ll notice also in a query like this, Google returns three locations based on your current location.

Gaining access to or setting up a Google My Business page is SO EASY. Here’s a step-by-step guide from our web marketing and SEO team:

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Set up Google My Business

Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and select “Start Now”. Sign up for a Google account or enter your current account information. You’ll then be able to search for your business. If you cannot find your business, simply “add your business.”

Create /Claim My Business Page

Once you’ve found your business location you can follow steps to confirm you’re authorized to manage the page. This part CAN be a little tricky, depending on the history of your page. We run into problems when:

  • A page has been created for your business, but you no longer have access to it
  • Someone else has access to your page, and you cannot retain ownership of the page directly from them

Sometimes, these circumstances require a direct phone call to a Google support tech.

Verify location(s)

Verifying your business with Google takes a few simple steps, but it important for appearing in Maps and Search. Google will provide you with a verification code through one of the following ways:

  • Phone
  • Postcard mailed to your business address
  • Email

JM Google My Business Listing

Optimize and Manage

Manage and respond to reviews

Reviews can be powerful. And whether a Google review is positive or negative, responding to these reviews show you value your customers. Positive reviews will increase your visibility, so encourage customers to leave reviews.

Include services

Listing services with brief descriptions (maybe even pricing) can help Google return your business to a viable customer and can give users a general idea of your business.

Add photos

Photos can help you tell a story by showing your office space, employees and products, your giving users a look into your company culture. It’s a digital storefront.

Add posts

Google My Business has a posts option for each page. For each post you can upload an image, write up a little text, add a title and include a link. This area offers flexibility in promoting events, sales, new products, new services, highlight old services, blogs, etc. These posts expire after about 7 days.

Google My Business is one of the most simple and critical steps you can take to help your website be found in a local search. And it’s free! And if you don’t have the time to worry about this, we’re happy to help you in set up your My Business Page, optimize it and advise you on how to take advantage of all its benefits.

Web Designer or Website Builder?

I honestly cannot think of a business who doesn’t need a website. Maybe you can surprise me with one, but… nope. Can’t think of one. And since we are in this age where you must have a website to build credibility and you must be competitive in the search engines to break into almost any market, it’s no wonder the market is being overwhelmed with website builders.

Wix and Squarespace are website builders. And they are just a couple of an endless list of companies who provide out-of-the-box, DIY solutions for little-to-no cost. A website builder, at it’s most basic level, is a tool that eliminates the needs to know CSS, HTML or any other coding language. You select a template, drag and drop, plug and chug.

Free? I love free.

Free sounds awesome. I love free samples, I love free hugs, I LOVE free shipping. And these free (or cheap) website builders certainly fill a need in the market. They provide a DIY solution for a company with no budget for a website. It’s available at your disposal and the determining factor for launch is the time you’re able to invest.

The truth is, some people just cannot afford an experienced web design company. That’s okay! That’s why website builders exist. However, there are several disadvantages to using a website builder.

icon to represent building a website

No professional guidance

The hands-down best benefit you will receive when partnering with a web designer and developer is the savvy guidance you will receive from start to finish. A professional web design team can offer advice on layout for aesthetics, on page structure for usability, on call to action for increased conversions, for preparations to make your website market-ready upon launch.

You can probably spend time reading about these things and gain some insight, but a web design team with expertise in what works will provide a better product with opportunity for growth.

Poor SEO

Many website builders do not offer the tools needs to be competitive in search engines. As Google makes frequent changes for user satisfaction, algorithms are changing and so are requirements for website success. Missing out of robust tools for SEO success could be the difference between your success and failure.

Not only can a web design company provide a website equipped with tools for SEO success, but they can also provide insight into keywords and information on HOW to optimize your website for these keywords. Or they can even do it for you. A web marketing team can analyze Google data to determine best practices for success. You cannot get this with a website builder.

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Time intensive

There are certain things I am just not willing (or able) to do myself because I just do not have the time. I will pickle my own garden vegetables, make my own bread before buying it in the store, and ALWAYS make my brownies from scratch because I do not believe in box brownies. But I will NOT make my own kombucha. I must draw the line somewhere.

We all choose how we spend our valuable time. So, the question is, do you want to spend your time building your own website? What else would you do with that time?

This blog isn’t meant to knock down people who need to use a website builder. It’s simply meant to shed light on some of the realities of selecting a website builder vs a web designer.

Our Omaha firm has seen major market shifts in the last couple years. Expectations are changing, our processes are changing, and end-products look different than 10 years ago. However, partnering with a web design firm that can care for your entire online image may be the thing you need for success. And it may be the thing you need to save time and resources in the short and long-term.