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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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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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.

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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.

Help me review my content

Benefits of Google My Business

google my business logo

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:

green start now buton

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.

Tips for Preserving SEO Value: Monitor Post-Launch

We’ve been taking the last several weeks to discuss critical steps when designing and building a website for a successful launch – so organic search engine rankings don’t take a hit and maybe even improve! You can read about these SEO tips in our posts on 301 redirects and website content. But what happens after launch?

A website should never sit stagnant. It should always be evaluated, refined and updated to satisfy your industry as it changes, your customers and the search engines. Monitoring organic rankings, traffic and Google Search Console in the months and years after a new website launch will help develop short and long-term strategies for improvement.

Monitor Rankings and Traffic

Google analytics admin

With a new website launch, you can expect fluctuation in both rankings and organic traffic. Ideally, within one month you should hit a baseline. By monitoring Google Analytics closely in the weeks post-launch, you should be able to identify problems and solve them quickly. Larger sites can take more time for a recrawl.

And while it’s impossible to rank and track every keyword that goes into driving traffic to your website, monitoring organic traffic will provide data on what keywords are performing best, what pages are out-performing/under-performing and what updates need to be made for improvements.

Use Google Search Console

google search console admin area

Google Search Console is a diagnostic space, provided as a free resource from Google. As with all Google products, Search Console keeps improving and providing more data for your benefit. All you need to do is know about to interpret the data. You can track your 301s and 404s here to ensure your strategies are working; and information covering clicks, impressions, CTR and average position are all critical for a long-term SEO strategy.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

As with anything, you’ll likely want to weigh the options of a DIY approach or hiring a professional Omaha web design and SEO team. From the initial stages of website design, to the content building and population, to the post-launch monitoring – do you honestly have time to do it yourself? DIY is always an option, and in some cases the only option. But considering the information we’ve reviewed in the last four posts relating to preserving SEO with a new website launch – it seems that the failure of a botched launch could cost a lot of money down the road.

If you have the time and skills to prepare your new website for a successful launch by analyzing old data, evaluating SEO strategy, implementing redirects, refining website content and monitoring data post-launch, then DIY is definitely a viable option for you. But, if you do not have the time, skills or know-how to complete all the needed tasks for a successful website launch, then hiring an experienced Omaha web design and SEO team is worth its weight in gold!

 

 

Tips for Preserving SEO Value: 301 Redirects

Rebuilding and relaunching a website brings much anticipation and excitement. And while significant effort usually goes into designing, layout and population, the critical steps of launch preparation and post-launch support are often overlooked – causing catastrophic results in lost SEO value.

As we began to discuss last week, in preparation for launching a new website our Omaha web design team implements many strategies and methods for retaining a website’s credibility in the search engines. A website should not only keep its rankings in Google, Bing and other search engines with a new website launch, but it should also incorporate new SEO opportunities – which were either not utilized in a previous website build, or not yet known.

rocket launching graphic to symbolize new website launch

Best-Practices

Best-practices are often overlooked, because they can be laborious. It takes preparation, thoughtful execution and continued monitoring to ensure SEO value is retained. Let’s, first, hit one major checklist item in preserving SEO rankings in a new website launch.

arrow representing redirects

301 Redirects

If possible, try to keep the URL structure and page names the same. Less can go wrong this way. When your URL’s change, search engines can still serve the old pages they’ve indexed. When this happens, redirects must be implemented to avoid to serving your users the wrong content and to prevent old URL’s from displaying errors.

The 301 redirect is for both users and search engines and indicates to both browsers and search engine bots that the page has moved. For instance, www.examplesite.com/contact is now www.examplesite.com/contact-us on a new website. These will be considered two separate pages to the search engines until a redirect is in place.

Search engines take a 301 redirect to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the content can be found at the new URL. It could take some time for the search engines to recognize this URL redirect and credit the new page with the ranking from the old URL.

Prior to launching you will want a spreadsheet of all URLs on the old and new sites, so you can implement and test 301 redirects. When the new site is live, you will want to crawl the old list of URLs to ensure everything 301 redirects correctly. Additionally, keeping the old website as a backup will aid in knowing how to implement unforeseen redirects.

Wait… there’s more

301 redirects are critical for ensuring success in the search engines after a new website launch. But this is just one piece in the larger picture.

A credible Omaha web design company will be able to execute these redirects, but it’s also possible for anyone – if you have the foresight and time.

Follow us in the weeks to come for more new website launch tips for preserving SEO rankings.

 

 

JM Featured in Advantages Magazine

snippet of advantages magazine article on web design and seo
Click Image for Enlarged View

Our Omaha web design firm was recently featured in Advantages Magazine, briefly touching on web design and SEO best practices. Advantages Magazine is a publication for distributor sales people – providing tips and tactics for success.

JM’s CEO Jonathan Patton and Internet Marketing Director Megan Patton hit on website layout with a clear call to action, and properly showcasing a business’ product of services to build credibility. Additionally, a website no one can find isn’t helpful – so Jonathan and Megan provide a few tips for optimizing a website (SEO) so Google can properly index a website, and recommend businesses utilize Google Analytics for better marketing strategies.

Thank you to Advantages Magazine for this feature! We’re always excited to share our knowledge for the success of others!