Can Your SEO Campaign Be Effective in Other Countries?

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by Jayson DeMers

Most search optimizers end up getting tunnel vision–understandably. Google still gets the vast majority of all search queries, so most optimizers focus exclusively on Google rankings, and if most of your customers are in the United States, you’re also likely focusing on domestic results.

But have you ever thought about spending effort optimizing your website for another country?

Advantages of International SEO

The idea is simple: get your business listed in search engines beyond the ones in your home country. For example, you might optimize your site to show up in searches in Singapore, in addition to the United States. Why would you want to do this?

  • Broaden your demographics. If your product or service has a broad appeal, optimizing for search engines in other countries could instantly make it visible and available to thousands, or even millions of new people.
  • Leverage inexpensive opportunities. Prices in other countries–especially developing countries–are much lower than in the United States. Google AdWords ads in the United States have increased in price steadily over time; they’re still not expensive, by most definitions, but prices for marketing efforts in other countries could be substantially lower.
  • Focus on a new target audience. You may also want to target another country as a way to target an entirely new demographic. Rather than simply casting a wider net, as you would if you were only interested in expanding your existing audience, you’ll be creating entirely new products, services, and/or marketing materials for a new market segment.

Strategies to Make Your Site Internationally Friendly

As you might imagine, you won’t have to radically overhaul your SEO strategy to rank high in other countries’ search engines. As usual, your main points of development will include things like technical optimization, ongoing content creation, and backlink building.
Beyond that, you can optimize for other countries using the following strategies:

  • Revise your URL structures. First, you’ll need to update the URL structures of your website. If you’re going to have a United States version and various international versions (as you should), there are a few options available to you. You could host each version of your site on a different domain, or use a different domain extension (like .us) to distinguish between your versions. You could also use different subdomains (like or offer different national versions as subdirectories, which come at the end of the URL. Going even further, you could use a generic top-level domain (gTLD) with extra language parameters to specify which language is displayed.
  • Update your language tags. If the country you’re optimizing for has a language other than English, make sure to update the language tags of your site to reflect that new language. This will allow search engines to detect what language you’re using in what sections of your site, and index your site accordingly.
  • Understand your new population. Remember, much of search engine optimization depends on how you write for the people reading your content, rather than the machines scanning it. When you adopt an international component to your SEO strategy, you’ll need to perform some new market and background research to target your content appropriately. The better you know your readers, the more likely you’ll be to succeed, so don’t just blindly translate work you’ve already done.
  • Create regular content in the new language or culture. Again, just blindly translating the work you’re doing for United States residents isn’t going to cut it. If you want to see any measurable long-term results, you’ll need to produce an ongoing stream of content that reflects the language and/or culture of your intended readers.

Overall, updating your site to be featured across multiple countries doesn’t take a lot of effort. You’ll need to maintain a new branch of your site, and potentially produce new or translated content to target your new demographics, but your domain authority and current content will still help you in your pursuit of high rankings.

International SEO isn’t for everybody–just the people specifically trying to target international audiences–but it’s still worth knowing the tactic exists, and how to pull it off if you need it.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

6 Ways Nonprofits Should Be Using SEO

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by Jayson DeMers

Nonprofit organizations need to raise awareness of their brands just like ordinary corporations, but they face unique challenges in the marketing world. For example, nonprofits rely on donations to keep their organizations alive, and that often creates a catch-22: relying on donations limits the budget, which means you’ll have less available to fund your marketing strategies, but without marketing strategies in place, you’ll have a harder time getting those donations.

It may also be difficult to recruit volunteers, or put together a cohesive brand “voice” that summarizes the mission of the organization while characterizing it for the purposes of raising brand awareness.

How Nonprofits Can Take Advantage of SEO

Fortunately, SEO is a good fit for nonprofits as a cost-efficient, scalable way to reach almost any target audience. If you’re working for a nonprofit and you’re trying to build a search presence, use these tips and strategies to get an edge:

1. Recruit volunteers to write content for your site.

Arguably, the most important ingredient in any SEO campaign is a wealth of high-quality, diversified content. But you’re so busy and short-staffed, it’s nearly impossible to find time to write all the posts you want. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, rely on volunteer authors to populate your blog on your behalf. Recruiting guest authors is easier than most people think–even for for-profit industries–so it shouldn’t be hard to find a handful of people passionate about your cause who also want to establish themselves as online authorities.

2. Reach out to companies for linking opportunities.

Companies usually like the idea of associating themselves with nonprofits. It’s a way to give back to the community and engage in corporate social responsibility, and it also makes them look good to their customers. Reach out to businesses in your area, and ask if they’d be interested in partnering with you; you could ask for donations of money, supplies, or even just visibility opportunities. In any case, the partnership, no matter how small, will serve as an excuse for your sites to link to each other. You should be able to generate significant authority by attracting these links.

3. Boost blog posts through social syndication.

Your blog posts aren’t going to generate attention all on their own; you need some kind of catalyzing action to attract more eyes to your work. The best way for nonprofits to do this is through social syndication, and potentially boosted social media posts. Connect with as many people as you can, and distribute your work regularly to make sure it gets in front of as many people as possible.

4. Rely on original research.

As a nonprofit, there’s likely one cause at the center of your organization; for example, you might be trying to provide resources to local families, or raise awareness and research funds for a specific disease. In any case, one of the best ways to convince new donors is by illustrating the problem you’re trying to solve with numbers. Incidentally, that’s also one of the best ways to create original content. Do as much original research as you can on the problem you’re trying to solve, and weave your findings into your best blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks.

5. Take images and videos of your nonprofit in action.

You can also motivate more people to follow and engage with your brand by including more images and video of your organization in action, both in your regular content and throughout your social media presence. This helps people understand what it is you do, and humanizes your brand. It also encourages the individuals in those pictures to take action by sharing it further with their social circles.

6. Take advantage of social influencers.

Finally, take advantage of the potential of social media influencers, who are already connected to tens of thousands of followers (or more). The idea here is to work with influencers on collaborative content, or through one-off engagements, and get your nonprofit exposed to an enormous new swath of followers, who can then share and link to your best content. Because influencers want to be seen as benefitting good causes, they’ll be more likely to work with you.

Getting Started

With these strategies in place, even nonprofit organizations with strictly limited budgets can achieve growth in SEO. The trick is to get started with enough momentum to generate early results; SEO is a long-term strategy, and it can sometimes take months before your tactics start paying off.

Obviously, you’ll need to invest in it as a long-term strategy, but early boosts from influencers and linking partners can help you get the early momentum you need to establish your web presence. Just make sure you have a strong homepage–with convincing calls-to-action–to make all that inbound traffic worth it.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

How To Rank YouTube Videos (On The First Page Of Google, Fast!)

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Here’s a new training video for you. It’s call How To Rank YouTube Videos On The First Page Of Google In Less Than 24 Hours… For Free… Using A Secret Backdoor That Google Left WIDE Open For You!” Here’s a hint: It’s all about taking what I taught you in the last video about YouTube […]

We’re Optimizing in a Post-Penguin Era: Here’s What That Means

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by Jayson DeMers

Link building has always been an important part of search engine optimization; links indicate authority, which in turn dictates how sites can rank in SERPs for relevant keyword terms. The Penguin update, which was originally released in 2012, overhauled how optimizers viewed link quality, and subsequent iterations of Penguin helped to shape the “Penguin era,” demanding intelligent, relevant link building instead of link spam and forcing optimizers to reevaluate their previous strategies.

Now, we may be entering an entirely new era of link building, thanks to a major change in how the Penguin update works. This is the post-Penguin era, and your link building strategies should change with that distinction.

The Last Penguin Update

In September of 2016, Google released what became known as Penguin 4.0, an end cap to the regular, iterative Penguin updates. According to MultimediaX, the biggest takeaway here is Penguin’s incorporation into the “core” Google algorithm, and the resulting process of Penguin-related data to update in real-time.

What does that mean? Previously, Penguin existed as a separate algorithm that worked in conjunction with Google’s core. Data refreshes occasionally updated information in Google’s index about specific sites, but those refreshes weren’t exactly consistent.

You might find out that your rankings dropped due to a link you built two months ago, or fail to see your rankings recover for months after you initially made changes to your link profile. Now, those refreshes happen constantly and automatically, so any actions you take will have a nearly instant impact on your performance.

In addition, Penguin 4.0 introduced a change to how penalties work. Previously, if a formal penalty was applied, it would apply to a full domain. It still might apply to an entire domain, but in some cases, it may only apply to a specific page. However, it’s still bad to get a penalty, no matter what.

How to Build Post-Penguin Links

So are links still important? Absolutely. It’s almost impossible for any site to rank without first building authority–and you need inbound links for that. Let’s take a look at how to build links, now that Penguin is officially part of Google’s core algorithm:

  • Focus on “natural” links. Even though Penguin is now part of Google’s core algorithm, the standards it set for link quality still remain. If you want to avoid getting penalized, you’ll need to build “natural” links, which means the links pointing to your site shouldn’t look like they’re intended solely to pass authority to your domain. In practice, there’s an easy rule of thumb for determining how natural the link appears: ask yourself if a user encountering this link would find the link valuable. If they do, it’s probably okay. For example, if you’re writing an article about the importance of getting new tires for your vehicle, a link to a site with tire reviews would be helpful to readers while a link to a bowling alley would not.
  • Use strong content as an anchor. Instead of focusing on building links, focus on writing fantastic offsite content. Your content should take priority, and your links should be secondary. Establish guest posting profiles on multiple offsite sources, and do your best to contribute material that those publishers want to see. You’ll make the publishers happy and the readers happy, and whatever links you can fit into your content will look natural and add even more value to your already-valuable content. Plus, if the content’s good, it will bring your brand some reputation value even without a link.
  • Check your rankings weekly (at least). The biggest change that Penguin 4.0 offered was the constant state of refresh in monitoring backlinks. That means your rankings could change within a day or two of a new link being considered as part of your backlink profile. Accordingly, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your rankings, checking in on at least a weekly basis. Doing so will help you identify any problem links proactively so you can remove them before they do any more harm.

Is There a Future for Penguin?

It’s unlikely that Google will revisit Penguin, now that it’s joined Panda as part of Google’s core. However, Google may update the way it evaluates authority in the future.

Over the past few years, Google has made moves to incorporate things like user reviews, ratings, and appearances in third-party review sites like Yelp. It’s also incorporated more apps (including streaming app content) in search results. If a new authoritative score emerges in the future, it may come from one of these areas.

Until then, links remain your best way to improve your site’s authority and overall rankings–as long as you comply with Penguin’s standards.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

The Site Speed and SEO Connection

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From ProBlogger SEO expert Jim Stewart of Bloggers SEO

Last year the Australian retailer Booktopia gave a presentation where they shared that speeding up their page load times by 1 second, equated to an extra $600,000 on the bottom line.

Today, speed matters. Turning your blog into a highly optimised, relevant, platform takes time. Fortunately, SEO has shortened the distance between blog owner and reader. In 2017, users will ‘reject’ websites that don’t stack up, speed-wise. While acceptable load page times range from .5 seconds to four seconds, most support a 1.5-second load time for continuous success.

Today’s top 20 websites have lead times under this at less than one second, and they’re only getting faster. So, how can you make your site rank higher, perform faster, and remain popular? SEO, still, is the answer. It’s also an incredibly reliable one.

Speed and SEO: What’s the Connection?

The Googlebot crawls sites independently, judging their worth based upon several factors. Of these factors, site speed is the easiest to control. Speed, itself, is derived from the time it takes between site clicks and views. If your website is fully optimised, it’ll take only half of a second to load. Google research suggests that pages can lose as much as 40 percent of traffic when they take over three seconds to load; a powerful SEO option is unbeatable. Simply put; you need to clear your database—and often. Having a fast database will speed up the site. There are many quality WordPress database cleaners available. I recommend the rvg database optimiser plugin that is a simple ‘One-click’ WordPress database cleaner and optimiser that assists you in crucial tasks such as deleting old posts, optimising database tables, and creating optional log-files.

How Can You Measure Speed?

Because speed is an all-important website factor, it’s important to check it often. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights, entering your page’s URL to check its response speed. Once it’s been analysed, you’ll be presented with a page report. This report assesses your page and delivers a rating out of 100, taking into account factors such as user experience, and makes suggestions for faster speeds. Each recommendation is clickable, linking you to additional advice. You can also use Google Search Console’s Crawl Stats report. Under crawl stats, you will see a green line graph. This is the average speed it takes the Googlebot to download a page. Try to get this under an average of 500ms.

Further Optimisation

Once you have your SEO plan, optimised the database, and have created a speed benchmark, you should further boost your site’s speed by making sure you have a good workflow for optimising images. So many blogs upload huge images when they don’t need to. Make sure the images you upload have a resolution no larger than what they need to be displayed. I have seen thumbnail images on a webpage that were huge files just because they were not re-sized before upload. With images, you can also use compression plugins such as WP Smush that will compress the files once you have uploaded them.

Render Blocking

When you use PageSpeed Insights, you’ll most likely see a reference to “render-blocking.” This is referring to code that is stopping the page from rendering until it has been executed. Usually JavaScript but CSS as well. Often these can be moved in the code, say to the footer, so that the user gets to see the page quickly and then the JavaScript does its thing in the background.


There are many ways of optimising your page’s speed. That said, few come close to the power of hosting your WordPress site with WP Engine. They offer today’s best-in-class customer service, which is vital to website upkeep. WP Engine is built on EverCache, an architecture that creates reliable, scalable sites. Remember: Your site’s visitors are an impatient bunch. If your site loads slowly, they’ll seek business elsewhere. The EverCache platform helps sites run up to six times faster, using effective front-end technology. All WP Engine users benefit from the enterprise-grade software capable of continuously improving a website.

A Step Above the Rest

Note: We’re hearing a lot of very good things about WPEngine if you’re looking for hosting of an established site with more traffic (or want to position yourself for that in the future). They are more expensive but, as WordPress specialists, they are doing some great things for bloggers. Use ProBlogger’s partner link and you’ll get 2 months free when you sign up for an annual plan.

WP Engine is also designed for completely scalable WordPress hosting. Its proprietary, front-end build operates upon a slew of carefully designed rules. Each rule is continuously checked for maximum performance, so you don’t need to worry about outdated solutions. Offering one of the best caching mechanisms available, WP Engine also reduces server load. Really, it’s a win-win situation in terms of boosting speed. By being instantly accessible while handling high concurrent traffic numbers, WP Engine isn’t only one of the fastest-working options around—it’s one of the most reliable.

At the end of the day, your website’s speed will determine its memorability, popularity, and use. Forty seven percent of consumers, in fact, expect a web page to load in under two seconds.

The post The Site Speed and SEO Connection appeared first on ProBlogger.


On-page SEO Tips: Three Things You Can Do Right Now

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On-page SEO Tips: Three Things You Can Do Right Now

Here’s something you should have known by now –

There are a number of aspects of a given web page that influence search engine rankings. And by optimizing these aspects (namely, on-page SEO), you will get higher rankings on search engines.

Some of these factors which comprise on-page optimization include:

  • writing great content which fills a need, and making it linkable
  • having a catchy page title with your top keyword in it
  • creating a URL which accurately reflects the hierarchy of your website
  • using your image alt text to help search engines understand your content better

These are considered the fundamental factors of on-page SEO optimization, but they are by no means the only things you can do to improve your website’s rankings with search engines.

In this post, I will talk about three on-page optimizations, proven by case studies and SEO experiments, which will create an immediate impact on how well your site gets ranked on search engines – in particularly, Google.

1. Better click-through-rate, better search rankings

SEO is never a pure-science subject in my opinion. However, it has been possible to guesstimate what Google wants, by considering patents it has submitted in recent years, and by experimenting with various factors for their effect on rankings.

One of the known on-page factors, proven by Rand Fishkin’s study, is your page click-through-rate on Google search results (I call it Search CTR). Search CTR is a percentage that identifies how often people view your page on search engine, and then actually click on it to see more.

According to Rand’s experiment, when Google sees that the CTR for a given page is higher than normal, it assigns it a higher ranking.

From this, it stands to reason that one great way to boost your site rankings would be to improve your CTR on the search results page. Some ways you can go about that include the following approaches:

Optimize your page title for more clicks

There are some very specific things you can do to optimize your title, for example, including the current month or year in your title.

4 out of 5 top search results for “Best Laptop Brands” contain the year in the page title

You can also experiment with Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising to see which version of your title works best and appeals most to your target audience. For instance, titles using the phrase “step-by-step” or “how-to” usually have greater appeal than the mere mention of how to do something in my experience.

One of our top performers this year. This Facebook post (both paid and organic) got 6x better engagement rate compare to our average.

Shorter, more concise titles also lead to better CTR and higher rankings, according to a study conducted by Etsy, and those which performed the best were titles that included only the target search keyword phrase.

Include schema markup on your site

Schema markup gives meaning to your data. It helps search engines to understand your data better and display your data differently on their search results. Hence, more users’ attention and (hopefully) clicks.

Put ‘breadcrumbs’ in your blog

Breadcrumbs help users navigate back to the main topic, and to locate themselves in whatever blog they’re reading, and have been explicitly stressed by Google as important to the overall user experience.

Example of Google showing a site’s breadcrumb navigation in its search result.

2. Broken links and 404-errors

Broken links and 404 errors signal Google two things –

  1. Your site is poorly maintained.
  2. Google users are more likely to bump into broken pages.

In result, Google assumes your website is simply not being maintained to a high standard, and users would be better served by another site which has high quality content.

In an actual case history of a site clean-up published in Blizzard Press, a comprehensive site improvement was undertaken. The clean-up initiative repaired more than 1,000 broken images, setup more than 100 301-redirects, corrected dozens of broken internal links, and tracked more than 280 keyword phrases for effectiveness.

As a result of the corrections made, the client’s website climbed more than 1,700 places in the search rankings.

On average, each of the 286 keyword phrases being tracked advanced six full places.

Not only was this an astonishing climb for the website, but it all happened within the space of one week!

This should serve as proof positive that timely correction of navigation issues can have an immediate and profound effect on the ranking of your website.

Taking Actions

404 errors and broken links are easily fixed, so such problems should be avoided.

In the case of a wrong URL, simply correct the address. If the target page no longer exists, a 301-redirect can be used to point to a page with similar content. To determine whether or not your site has such errors embedded in its pages, a site-crawling tool such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider or SEM Rush can be used.

3. Get mobile-optimized

In April of 2015, Google rolled out an update which boosted the rankings of mobile-friendly websites. This gave preference to sites having high-quality content for mobile devices, without the need to zoom, scroll, or otherwise re-position their screens for readability. This was of course in deference to the fact that the usage of mobile devices and smartphones were being used so much for web browsing.

Within 18 months, Google was prepared to roll out another update, this one making their primary indexing and evaluation centered on the mobile website’s characteristics rather than the desktop version of the same website. While not ignoring the desktop website, focus was then centered squarely on the kind of user experience provided to owners of mobile devices instead.

It is not at all surprising therefore, that a number of case studies have confirmed the fact that optimized mobile site presentation now has a direct correlation to being ranked higher in search engine results. When my site’s (WHSR) new mobile-friendly site design went live on December last year, search traffic surged for more than 20% (in particular, our host review index page – which took us more than three weeks to create such a big mobile-friendly table).


Google Mobile-Friendly Update Study #1

One study conducted by Stone Temple was particularly telling, because it captured rankings information for thousands of websites before and after Google’s update. As might be expected, 46% of sites considered non-mobile friendly slipped down in the rankings, and more than 30% of those which were considered mobile-friendly rose in the rankings. The rise for mobile-friendly sites would have been much more dramatic, except for the fact that many of the sites tracked were already ranked #1 in their specific area of interest.

Google Mobile-Friendly Update Study #2

In a second case study involving retail company Offspring, a major re-design of their website was undertaken to provide users with a responsive website.

Previously the company had no mobile-friendly presentation, and it had become painfully obvious that Offspring was missing out on a huge sector of the consuming public.

After wading through all the expected trials and tribulations of such a massive project, the results were even more impressive than company officials had hoped for.

Within three months of the new mobile-friendly site launch, first-page visibility had increased almost 78%. In addition, the Google site usability score jumped from 60 to 100, the company had a 103% increase in mobile revenue, and there was a 15% increase in their mobile conversion rate.

Take Actions

It’s no exaggeration to say that getting mobile-optimized is not really an option anymore, it’s a requirement. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile traffic, you’re missing out on the largest segment of Internet traffic. To find out just how mobile-friendly your website is, use this handy tool:

Sample of Google Mobile Friendly Test.

All you have to do is plug in your site URL, and Google will evaluate everything about your site. Then you’ll be provided with a percentage figure on its mobile friendliness, its mobile speed, and its desktop speed. You will also have the option to request a free report which details how those figures were arrived at, and some recommendations on what you can do to improve your scores.

The post On-page SEO Tips: Three Things You Can Do Right Now appeared first on ProBlogger.


April 26th 2017 Search Engine Optimization

How to Optimize Your Online Product Catalog for Search

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by Jayson DeMers

Consumers have increasingly turned to online stores to do their shopping, but with so much competition in play, it’s hard for ecommerce business owners to remain competitive. Your online catalog exists to showcase your products to an interested audience, but if that audience never gets their eyes on your offers, it won’t matter how good your deals or products are.

One solution is to optimize your online product catalog for search engines, which will help you rank higher, achieve more brand visibility, and get more traffic to your pages. So how can you do this without spending a fortune?

Strategies for Catalog Optimization

These strategies will help you build a bigger online audience:

1. Use printed and online catalogs together.

If you’re used to operating exclusively online, using a printed catalog may seem foreign to you, but catalog printing is relatively inexpensive through sites like Printing Center USA. It’s a good way to quickly advertise the existence of your online catalog to an audience who may otherwise miss it (demographics who rely on printed advertisements and news), and start directing traffic to your site. This, in turn, creates a synergy between your digital and physical campaigns and jumpstarts your SEO efforts with new traffic, shares, and social media buzz.

2. Use specific product names in your page titles.

Your page titles and descriptions will be the main sources of information that search crawlers use to judge the relevance of your page. Including the specific name of your product will ensure that your page is considered when consumers search for that name; for example, you’ll want to include the brand, the model, the model number, and the variation (if applicable). You’ll also want to briefly describe the product in the meta description.

3. Include at least two paragraphs of descriptive text for each product.

You’ll also want to include lots of descriptive text–at least two paragraphs’ worth–for each of your product pages. According to Spotify’s guide, this not only gives more content for search crawlers to consider and index, it also helps consumers by giving them more information to make a final decision.

4. Optimize your images and videos.

Including images and videos on your product pages is a good way to secure more customer engagement, and you’ll likely earn more backlinks, which are vital if you want to build your authority over time. You can optimize images and video by giving them a descriptive name, including alt text (for images), and including a meta description that describes what’s happening (in the video). You may also consider hosting your videos on YouTube and embedding them on your pages, giving you another outlet of optimization; Backlinko has an excellent guide on YouTube optimization if you’re interested in more information.

5. Include reviews and testimonials.

Reviews and testimonials will make your site seem more authoritative, and as an added bonus, they’ll help push consumers to make a decision. In fact, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so the more reviews you’re able to collect, the better.

6. Answer common consumer questions on-site.

You should also include a brief Q&A section on each of your product pages. Here, you’ll list at least a handful of common consumer questions with common phrasing, alongside detailed answers that address those concerns. Again, the information may help consumers make a decision, but they’ll also optimize your pages for long-tail keyword searches, making you more likely to rank when customers submit those queries.

7. Employ microformatting.

Microformatting, sometimes called “structured markup,” is a way to format your backend code in a way that allows Google to better understand and categorize it. For example, you can point out what portion of your page is a collection of reviews, and feed information like star ratings and review text to search engine crawlers. This makes it more likely that these features will show up as “rich answers” or “rich snippets,” the sampled bits of onsite content that sometimes appear above regular search results in SERPs. is still the best name in microformatting, and they have an excellent guide on how to get started.

Investing in SEO

SEO is a complex strategy, and if you want to get serious with it, you’ll need to hire an expert or start educating yourself in more advanced technical areas. As you can see, however, you don’t need to be an expert to get started. These strategies should be able to help you refine the audience you’re targeting, differentiate yourself from your competitors, and start building the authority you need to outrank them. Remember, this is a long-term strategy, so don’t be frustrated if you don’t see results right away.

Stick with it, and eventually you’ll see your traffic rise.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

April 12th 2017 Search Engine Optimization, SEO

The Complete Guide to HTTP Codes and Redirects

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HyperText Transfer Protocol, or HTTP codes and redirects, are vital to your SEO efforts. Status code 400 and 500 errors can derail your web traffic, and cause Google Panda penalties.

HTTP codes and redirects can be caused by DNS errors, server errors, and robots failure.

“Sitemaps that contain bad URLs are called “dirty sitemaps”, and they can lead to the engines losing trust in those sitemaps,” according to Search Engine Watch. “For example, providing URLs that 404, 302, 500, etc.”

Understanding HTTP codes and redirects will allow you to avoid status code errors, dirty sitemaps, and Google penalties, allowing you to optimize your search engine results and ranking.

The complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects |

Let’s take a closer look at how this complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects can move your SEO marketing strategy forward in a powerful way.

What are HTTP codes and redirects, and why are they so important for marketers?

HTTP codes are essentially notes from a web server that is added to a webpage. They are not part of the webpage itself, however, HTTP codes and redirects are vital messages from the server, according to Lifewire.

The server uses HTTP codes and redirects to let you know how your request to access a specific webpage went. These little server messages are like sticky notes. Once your browser gets them from the server, they are returned.

It may not sound all that interesting, but make no mistake, HTTP codes and redirects can make a big impact when troubleshooting website configuration errors. They are also helpful for marketers to boost SEO efforts as well.

HTTP Codes and Redirects Happen Every Time You Click

You may not notice HTTP codes and redirects, but they are always there. Every time you click or whip something up in a URL, your browser is requesting access from a web server.

Once the server receives your request to view a webpage, it processes the request, and then allows you access with the HTTP header for that webpage. All this happens behind the scenes, unless there is a problem.

HTTP codes and redirects go relatively unnoticed. That is, unless the web server finds an issue with your request as it processes it to send back. If a problem arises, you will see an HTTP code instead of gaining access to the webpage.

The Google 404 code is the most common of all HTTP codes and redirects. You probably have seen this at least once or twice during your browsing history. And marketers need to know how to locate these errors.

Google support explains, “The Crawl Errors report for websites provides details about the site URLs that Google could not successfully crawl or that returned an HTTP error code.”

The complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects |

Classes of HTTP Codes and Redirects Marketers Need to Know

There are more than 40 unique server codes. However, you will most likely only see a handful. HTTP codes 404 and 301 are two you may be familiar with already.

Getting an idea of what each HTTP code and redirect is pointing to can help your SEO efforts, and keep your website Panda penalty free. These five classes of HTTP codes and redirects are certainly worth exploring.

  • 100 status codes. Any HTTP codes and redirects in the 100s is a message from the server that your browser request is still processing and ongoing.
  • 200 status codes. These codes are the ones that point toward success. They let you know that your request was received and processed by the server without issue.
  • 300 status codes. These redirect codes are sent by the server to indicate that a new resource was submitted, replacing the webpage initially requested.
  • 400 status codes. Status codes in the 400s are important to recognize, since these are problematic. They let you know there is an issue with your request to access a webpage.
  • 500 status codes. These status codes are also essential to understand. They appear when your request to view a webpage was successful, but there is an issue in the server.

Each class of status codes has several, more specific codes within them, highlighted by Mozilla Developer Network. Each specific code has a very important meaning. Knowing where to find HTTP codes and redirects is a valuable asset if you are running a website with SEO in mind.

Where to Find Specific HTTP Codes and Redirects

Finding specific HTTP codes and redirects that don’t appear due to an error with the webpage or server is not as challenging as you may think. You can utilize browser extensions like Firefox or Chrome, or employ a header-fetching tool and other online HTTP checkers.

Understanding specific HTTP codes and redirects is essential to marketers. You can see how the webpages you are overseeing check out periodically. Here are a few important for marketers to embrace.

  • 200 is the server’s way of giving you a thumbs up. It means everything is operational and your request is successful.
  • 301 means that the resource you requested has been reassigned. It has essentially been moved to a new URL. 301 redirects are common, and it is used when a URL needs to be redirected to another URL. 301 redirects still give your links SEO juice and they are certainly important.
  • 302 is telling you that the server found your request, but is currently dealing with a page from a different location. Even though the site has been moved, requests are still using the prior location. You may lose a bit of your link juice when using a 302 redirect, compared to a 301 redirect.
  • 404 simply means that the page you requested is not found. The URL you requested didn’t come up with any matches, and the condition is unknown.
  • 410 tells you that the requested resource is gone. It is like moving and leaving no forwarding address. This is not good for SEO.
  • 500 is a code used for server problems. If you see 500, you can bet there is an internal issue with the server, and it is unable to process your request.
  • 503 means your server is not in good shape. Either it is overloaded at that moment, it is undergoing maintenance, or not operational at all. The 503 HTTP code can be useful, letting search engines know the page is down for server maintenance and not gone forever.

The complete guide to HTTP codes and redirects |

When Marketers Should Use 301 HTTP Code Redirects

Using 301 HTTP code redirects can be useful for marketers. A 301 redirect is simply an HTTP code that is used when a page or URL has been permanently moved to a new one.

There are also useful redirect HTTP codes like 302 and the Rel canonical tag, which is like a 301 redirect. And each of these unique redirects can serve a specific purpose in your SEO efforts.

For example, a 301 redirect will move your inbound links and page records for one URL to another. In theory, it will transfer the prior URL’s past benefits with it.

A 302 HTTP code redirect can be used to temporarily redirect your site visitors while you are doing maintenance or running tests. It will not redirect bots, however, you will be able to keep your traffic value and rankings with a 302 redirect.

The Rel canonical tag is another useful redirect for marketers. It is like a reverse 302 redirect, when bots will be redirected, but visitors will not. However, you will be allowed to have duplicate content users without Google Panda penalties.

HTTP Code and Redirect Tips for Marketers and SEOs

Marketers and SEOs should have a plan in place for dealing with HTTP code errors, and when using redirects. Using 301 redirects instead of 302 redirects may help maintain your link juice.

When you come across an HTTP code 404 errors, you should manually review those pages to get a clearer picture of why the request was not successful. HTTP code 404 errors with valuable links that are up for long periods should be 301 redirected as well.

Customizing 404 pages with navigational options is best practice. This will allow your visitors to reroute their request. Utilizing a Rel canonical tag instead of a 404 page can also save your from a Panda penalty.

Remember that 500 and 503 HTTP code errors are server related. If you come across these error messages, it is a good idea to inspect your server or connect with your web host.

HTTP codes and redirects are not always the bearers of bad news for marketers. Redirects are often quite useful when it comes to keeping your pagerank, mozrank, and traffic value.

Understanding the most common HTTP codes and redirects will help you troubleshoot and keep the Google Panda off your back too. Marketers who succeed simply never stop learning, and this guide aims at facilitating that SEO success.

Marcela De Vivo, CEO of Gryffin Media,  is a search veteran who has been in the industry since 1999. Marcela draws on an deep expertise in both organic and paid search to help companies large and small increase their revenue from digital marketing. Her emphasis has been in creating integrated marketing strategies that include paid, organic, social, and PR to build authoritative domains that have strong visibility across a variety of channels.

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April 11th 2017 Search Engine Optimization

Has Google’s ‘Fred’ Update Left Your Rankings Dead?

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Has Google’s ‘Fred’ Update Left Your Rankings Dead? | ProBlogger.comRecently, Google’s ‘Fred’ ranking update hit the search pages. While Google hasn’t confirmed the update, it’s certainly live. Webmasters across the board have been impacted by Fred, but not every page is created similarly.

Low-value content and poorly configured sites are taking a heavy blow. Meanwhile, SEO-jammed pages prioritising revenue over quality material are running for the hills. Fred targets websites seeking a high rank among the hundreds of affiliate-link-sprinkled, meta-tag-riddled, and SEO-exploiting pages abroad. Many of the sites impacted by Fred aren’t industry expert sites. That said, some websites might be impacted by Fred. Here’s what we know:

What is Fred, Anyway?

The Fred Update, while still obscure, has been described as likely a spam algorithm established around links.

I disagree though. Every site I have looked at that suffered a rankings drop on March 8/9 had other quality issues. Fred, itself, is a name coined by Google’s Gary Illyes. For a while, Google has targeted “black hat” SEO practices without scrutiny, banishing page-pushers who exploit Google’s intuitive keyword relevancy system. These days, Google rarely confirms algorithm updates. Fred can still be identified for what I believe it is, a heavier weighting on known quality issues.

Fred’s Impact on Websites

Google’s yet-to-be-confirmed Fred Update, allegedly, has reduced traffic directed towards low-quality sites by as much as 50 to 90 percent. This is a massive organic rating decrease, and it likely reflects websites that have ignored basic quality issues like internal duplication, content quality and/or visibility.

While the Fred Update was likely spawned from good intentions, it has hit quality websites with penalties, too. Sites with quality content that was duplicated are also experiencing ranking declines. Some webmasters, indeed, have reported great recoveries after removing either all or specific advertisements. This is most likely a Panda-related issue and making the content more visible has returned rankings.

We’ve worked with other webmasters where simply removing duplication of content, titles and headings has seen rankings return. There’s a chance Fred is still too new to target low-quality websites with precision. Either way, Google’s newest algorithm update may be a difficult pill for some to swallow.

Will You Be Affected?

None of our clients suffered a ranking drop with this latest update. We had one phrase drop significantly on our own site. It was an outlier phrase with not much importance for us. On closer inspection, it had a near duplicate title with another post.

The Google Fred Update—that was first sighted on March 8th—is still hard at work and will likely only increase in efficiency as time goes on. If you have a content-driven website, via either blogs or cross-channel content marketing, you may be hit by Fred’s broad sweep if you are not paying attention to the structural quality of your site and its content.

Fear not, however, because you might have been targeted due to your display advertisements that are taking up too much screen real estate. If your content was created to establish links, pull traffic and prioritise SEO over quality, you may have a problem.

If You are Hit, Do the Following:

To recover your webpage’s rankings, and to protect it from future algorithm updates, keep a few things in mind.

First, do a check in Google. Look for pages that should not be there and remove them. If you are on WordPress make sure you don’t have all your tag pages or archives indexed. Check Google Search Console HTML suggestions and look for Google complaining about duplication or missing titles. Fix those things. Make sure your sitemaps only have in them what you want in them.

Check out your display ads, and make sure you are not cluttering above the fold. If you’re tracking your site’s keyword performance, look for any fluctuations. Then, check out your Google Search Analytics in Search Console and do a date comparison before and after March 8 to get an idea of the keyword groups that dropped. This will give you some idea of where you need to focus. That data only lasts for 90 days though so the clock is ticking.

You should adopt a wholehearted “quality over quantity” mantra. Your backlink quality matters and it’ll sustain your traffic in upcoming years. Just make sure you focus on building your audience NOT your backlinks and the great backlinks will follow. 


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How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

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How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well

In the final part of our three-part series on the WhatWhy and How of SEO and how it can be used to improve your blog’s rankings, we’ll be exploring how SEO can help your blog rank well.

Ranking well in the major search engines means added visibility for your blog. Visibility should eventually turn into conversions, so you are making money by learning SEO. The rules change often. The major search engines, led by Google, generate somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90% of all web traffic on the Internet. New viewers are much more likely to find your blog through Google than through any other medium, including friendly word of mouth. Obviously, ranking well is of vital importance!

Learning the nuances of how SEO helps the search engines rank pages can be incredibly helpful for SEO noobs. Once you learn the basic rules of why other blogs are winning, you can modify your strategies to win as well! Here are the ways that SEO can help your blog rank well.

Natural Organisation / The Macro theme

The major search engines are always looking to provide the most relevant results to its audience. To this end, Google created an unofficial ‘trust’ system, that takes into account a site’s trust, authority and expertise. The purpose is to give greater visibility and rankings to sites that are widely acknowledged as leaders or authorities in their chosen fields. While it has to be said that no one can say with certainty the metrics used to determine ‘authority’ it is thought to be based on aspects such as your social presence and quality of links that your site receives. It is Google’s way of recommending a site, or piece of content, that it determines would best answer a search query.

Part of SEO is learning how to organise your blog around relevant keywords so that the search engines associate your entire blog with an overall theme. Blogs that skip around from dog food to beach living to auto parts will find it difficult to rank for any of those subjects.

In Australia we have a saying: “jack of all trades, master of none.” The same applies to your blog. The blog that picks one subject and talks about every nuance of it will gain more visibility by becoming an authority on the subject. Creating a theme (the macro theme) is your first discipline when learning SEO.

Relevant Keywords in Individual Blogs

Within a macro theme, the search engines are looking to drill down even more. In order to provide even better results for their audiences, the search engines will place special relevance on blogs that answer a specific query. What are people asking about? Local topics and specific questions. As you write your blogs, you should look to answer specific questions in each of your pieces. This is what people are looking for, and if the search engines match your topic to a popular question, you will gain a great deal of visibility and may even achieve a Featured Answer position.

You signal the topic of your blogs to the search engines through keywords. Keywords are words that are the focus of your blog. For instance, if you are blogging about cat food, you are likely to use the terms “chicken” or “flavouring” more than “ignition” or “light fixture.”

Google has been around long enough to have accumulated masses of data regarding search terms and the predictive nature of searchers. Their algorithms can accurately predict relevant keywords associated with previous searches, making it easier for searchers to find relevant content that answers their query. It is imperative that you include accurate keywords relevant to your content, as the search engines will be looking for those keywords and phrases when determining the relevancy of your blog. Matching your keywords to the search engine’s assumptions of what your blog should contain is great SEO technique and boosts the visibility of your blog post.

How SEO Can Help Your Blog Rank Well | Featured Answer vs Number One Organic

Bringing Relevant Traffic to Your Blog

While the search engines are checking for keywords and other technical aspects of your writing, you should also check what real human traffic is doing. Search engines have the ability to track how long a visitor stays on your page with a metric known as the bounce rate. A high bounce rate means a visitor has left the page quickly, while a low bounce rate means the opposite. While the question of whether the bounce rate affects your rankings has long been dispelled (it doesn’t!), you can still use it to your advantage.

Bounce rate is not an accurate metric in the first instance, as many sites don’t utilise Google Analytics, leaving Google unable to track bounce rate information across the board. In other instances, a high bounce rate may be good for one page and bad for another. For example, if a contact page has a high bounce rate, then it may simply be that it is fulfilling its purpose; visitors complete the contact form before leaving.

What you can use bounce rate for is to monitor the quality of your site. Bounce rate can be an indicator of quality, but not as a weighting factor. A high bounce rate doesn’t equate to low rankings, but you can monitor pages on your site for a high bounce rate. That high rate may be due to low quality pages that you can improve to lower the bounce rate and improve your overall ranking.

Search engine optimisation is a complex discipline that people have written entire books about. There are entire blogs dedicated to the subject and the nuances of the process are only becoming more complicated as time goes on. However, the basics of SEO will never change.

Your main job is this: Create content that people want to see, and market it to them honestly! Do this, and SEO will work in your favour to make your blog rank well!

Jim Stewart, CEO of StewArt Media, is a recognised digital marketing expert. Jim is ProBlogger’s SEO expert and will share his vast SEO knowledge to equip you with the systems and skills to optimise and monetise your blog using tried and tested techniques. What Jim doesn’t know about SEO and blogging isn’t worth knowing.

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March 28th 2017 Search Engine Optimization