SEO and Website Update for Service Based Businesses | What Is Working In 2014

SEO and Website Update for Service Based Businesses | What Is Working In 2014SEO has been on my mind a lot lately after giving an SEO talk to some really great, hardworking service based business people. Now, these are guys who are out there in the trenches every day, making a living and busting their butts through manual labor.

They are a mixed bag when talking about marketing, some are on the side of “I do it all by referral”, which is great and I never argue with!

Some are on the side of “My site ranks #1 for my main keyword and has for years”, which is awesome and I am sure brings in a ton of business (I would still recommend some other kinds of marketing but would not touch that site with a 10 foot pole, if your stuff is working, leave it alone!)

The last group is the majority. They have a website that is not ranking on in the first spot of Google. They might not even be on the first page. One fellow that I was emailing with said that he was sick of the hype from SEO companies when they sold him about getting him on the first page, only to say that it was too competitive and giving up. Having taken a peek at his market and seeing the competition, I would say that trying to do it with just SEO (getting backlinks and SEO’ing a static site) would not cut it in 2014.

There really is just too much competition out there for a pure SEO play to work, in addition to the fact that Google has taken away all the tools to measure which pages are working for which keywords and why.

Now we are having to guess which pages might be ranking well and then try to reverse engineer an idea of what might be going on.

What Is Working With SEO and Websites Now

So if SEO as a pure play is not working now, what is?

It is definitely a mix of good SEO practices combined with social media and videos. Because Google search returns such mish mash of Videos, News, Google+ posts, websites and maps, it is impossible to know which one will tip you over and start producing great traffic results.

It could be a video that you nailed or the Google+ post that gets shown every time someone searches for your keywords.

Whatever winds up working, you can bet it will not be just because you got some backlinks and optimized a couple of pages. Today’s search is so much larger than the “old days” when there were 10 static results that were the same for everyone!

What To Do

There are about a million things you can do but to get started this is a pretty good list:

1. Check Google Webmaster tools. Use Google Webmaster tools to see what you rank for right now, these are the keywords that you are going to focus on short term. These low hanging words are your best bet for moving up fast.

2. Share your best posts on social. Not just once, scheduled out over time and mixed up so that you are not spamming. Make sure you are including a mix of industry posts and your keyword targeted posts.

3. Check out your competitors to see what they are ranking for. You may find new words to target and even if not, you can see what kinds of efforts they are using to get there.

4. Grow your social. While follower counts are not the be-all and end-all, it is silly to ignore the millions of people who are using one or the other of the social sites daily.

5. Make some videos. Google owns YouTube and it is the second biggest search engine in the world. Video results show up on search. There really is no good reason not to be rocking the videos.

6. Produce regular content. Google’s Caffeine algorithm update a few years ago started rewarding sites with new content (like blog posts). If you are not regularly updating your site you will be fighting to keep your search listings.

7. Speaking of updating your site. Make sure you have a blog, either as your website or as a stand-alone supporting your blog. Either way, you need to know the power of blogging!

Who Does This Work For?

This kind of SEO and website focus will work for most local service based business like:

  • Pressure washers
  • Cleaning companies
  • Realtors
  • Lawyers
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Accountants
  • CPAs
  • Marketing companies
  • Gym trainers
  • Churches
  • Attractions and tours
  • Veterinarians
  • Plumbers
  • Roofers
  • Electricians
  • Appliance repair
  • Pest control

Basically anyone who is performing a “service” that can be fulfilled locally. The reason this works so well is that you are not just targeting a search term or location but the convergence of the two.

Ranking well for Accountant might be nice, but it would be much more beneficial to rank for Denver Accountant if you are serving local people.

Hopefully this helps get your arms around where SEO and websites are for local service providers in 2014. If you would like to find out more about the marketing services we offer, please give us a call today! 727-415-9165

Using SEO and Tagging To Play The Game!

Using SEO and Tagging To Play The GameOkay, today I am going to let you into the twisted world of “winning” at SEO and tagging on any website you are registered with. This is not for the purposes of ranking on search engines, but on specific websites that you are a part of (although it should work on YouTube and other sites that allow self tagging).

The Media Monster and I signed up for SpeakerMatch.com so we could get more public speaking events next year. You may be signed up for an association website, LinkedIn or other similar site where there is heavy database, keyword or tagging searching (I did this for my husband on LinkedIn so he could rank for Database Administrator (DBA) a keyword that people look for when they are looking for people like him! As you can see he is ranked number three with very little LinkedIn use and very few connections.

SEO LinkedIn Tagging and Keywords

If you are in the job market (for say speaking gigs), you could max out your profile with keywords that people might use like public speaker, denver, etc. These will all effect the number of hits you get. Don’t try to be everything to everyone on each site, just try to be the best you on each one!

Database Bits

SpeakerMatch Database SearchSo I was messing around searching the SpeakerMatch database BEFORE I publish our profile. There are a number of different database fields that you search (these are called CLUES to me!) This is the public search that meeting organizers will be using to find speakers. Some fields include:

please note that humans tend to start at the top and work their way down, keep that in mind!

  • Speakers First or Last Name – I can’t compete with this one…if they have someone in mind already I am NOT changing my name…:)
  • Keyword – This has to be a boolean search (a database term that means using keywords with the ability to use pluses, etc.) as the results that come up are not in the tags of the people who are returned. Note to self, make sure that I have LOTS of keywords in my description. Someone could search “marketing speaker” which returned 2 results OR “marketing speakers” which returned two also – could mean that it knows plurals but to be on the safe side I am going to use both.
  • Topic category – Now this is where it gets interesting! Like I said before, people read from the top down so my potential categories are (A) Advertising and PR, (M) Marketing and (S) Social Media. Now there is not a place for me to choose this so I need to make sure that I have those keywords in my profile so I can get in the juicy first category!
  • Fee range – optional based on your business…picking nothing (open) seems lame and counter productive
  • City - PLEASE use the biggest city in your area. I live in Westminster, CO but say that I am traveling from Denver as that is the closest large city to me!
  • State – Self explanatory
  • Gender, Ethnicity and Religion – Can feel like it is intrusive, but meeting planners and others sometimes have need of certain person to fill a spot. Your goal is to get on the list so fill these out!

Missed Opportunities

Now, I started filling bits out and thought I had it pretty well done except for tweeking. Then I dug a little deeper. You can have programs (your topics – many didn’t even have this basic information filled out), articles (why not write a couple of quick articles?), audio (pull it off of your videos!), blog (um add the link!), pictures, documents, and testimonials.

As with any website that makes their business selling information, rarely are the owners of the site (like SpeakerMatch) going to tell what to do to win. But dang, they sure give you come clues. If you are dedicated to succeeding at coming up in the most searches, add some articles (even though you wonder why in the heck you would…:) Upload your videos if that is what they like or share you YouTubes. Remember this is all a game and the player with the most cards WINS!

One thing that is tempting to do is repurpose something you have written somewhere else. I wouldn’t do that, make sure you have new content for the articles. Also, it would probably be a great idea to do a welcome video just for that website so people know that you care! These little touches will ABSOLUTELY make a big difference in how many people find you in searches (and that is the point right?)

If you have meandered down here, you probably have either a jones to make your LinkedIn or SpeakerMatch better BUT remember this works for ANY website that allows search term, SEO, tagging or opting in to things like “liking” certain pages (ie Facebook). If you start to think, “hey I want to be the one that comes up in searches” you can make a huge difference in your SEO marketing efforts!

Small Business Marketing – Why Do They Keep Saying SEO Is Dead

Small Business Marketing - Why Do They Keep Saying SEO Is DeadThis post is for NON-SEO (search engine optimization) people, my small business owners who are out there in the trenches trying to figure out how to do SEO to get your posts and sites seen and read. It is pretty long and detailed, if you have any questions, please make sure to leave them in the comment section!

A little history of SEO

The history of SEO for me starts in about 1999 when I was working at a web hosting company and we started building websites for clients. In those days having a website was a rarity and luxury that few business owners could or would afford. In those days there were no search engines as we know them today, you just had yahoo and altavista which were sites that were effectively big directories of page links that you could add your website to. Not too much SEO going on yet…but we still tried. In those days you DID have to keyword each page because they were all separate HTML pages.

Fast forward to 2005-2006 for me and blogs had become all the rage in the big dog circles although I was still on the fence. That said, I built my two main sites there and we were off to the races. They looked clumsy and ugly, but man did they rank well in search engines like Google which was big and getting bigger all the time (check out the history of the Google here…:)

Around this time I first became aware that there were “black hat” and “white hat” methods of SEO and that some of the black hatters were doing mean things like hijacking your website and redirecting it to the porn…sigh. Oh this was high times for SEO. You could throw up a couple of “doorway pages” that were keyword stuffed and get rankings right away. You could also write a bunch of keywords in the bottom of the page and make them white so no one could “see” them…but of course the search engines could read them when the spiders came to index your site.

The other thing you could do was to make huge networks of links that were really lame and came from “thin sites” which had about 5 keyword stuffed pages. You could also pay very little to be put into gagillions of directories. All these backlinks still helped to increase your rankings on Google although everyone knew they violated the terms of service.

Onto 2009 and some really fun times. You could write a couple of posts and then “spin” them and submit them to sites like Ezine articles and article farms. There was no thought put into any of these, just tons of gibberish and sort of english sounding words all strung together. You could also find content on the internet and just pull the feed into your site as content or simply copy and paste it to your website and it would still rank well. For a while there, when you did a google search, all you got was crap sites…which leads us to a short break to talk about what Google does…

Google is focused on the user experience of the searcher and they don’t care if marketers are happy. They make changes to their algorithm constantly and this causes some sites to go up and some sites to go down. Sometimes popular site are penalized by these changes and tactics that worked in the past no longer will work. Additionally, they have an internal system for figuring out page rank of sites, giving sites a score between 0-10. Having a 10 site (like www.usa.gov and www.adobe.com) link to you is like the holy grail of link juice and something that all marketers try to accomplish!

Moving on, in 2011 the Panda Update targeted thin sites that offered a poor user experience…meaning that all of those crappy sites dropped like a stone. Not only did this effect the little sites, but it made the page rank that they sent to the connected pages in the network worthless. So if someone had 100s of sites all linking to them from thin sites and google took all those sites down all that ranking love went with it. Now we recommend that people have more “authority sites” rather than little tiny websites!

The 2012 Penguin Update specifically targeted links. This one mad me very happy because I KNEW that there were black-hatters out there who were getting LOTS of traffic because they had made A LOT of fraudulent backlinks to their websites and I didn’t want to cheat that way even though my clients’ and my sites were struggling to show up in the non-black hat world. This update didn’t just say that crappy backlinks were bad, and don’t do them anymore…it said we are going to penalize you dearly for all those backlinks you ALREADY have out there and you need to try to walk back the cat and make them go away. Think about finding 5 or 10 THOUSAND of bad backlinks, emailing the site owner and begging them to remove your link…not fun!

Last but not least, the Google is a changing over to semantic search. This is a term to describe the fact that, while many people are still searching on their computers, many searches are done on a smart phone with real words, such as “siri how do I get to the grocery store on 7th and main”. In the past this search would look much different as it was typed into a computer!

Now you are pretty much up to today so let’s break down some of the specifics about why they say SEO is dead!!! ps – I wrote a post a while ago about bad SEO not just not helping but hurting that you might enjoy too!!

No follow links

Back in the heyday of link building, there were many sites that allowed “follow” links in their comments and even on their sites (Squidoo comes to mind). That has changed drastically now and most links that you are able to proactively create are “no follow” links which do not pass any page rank to your website.

Over-optimized links

It has been almost two years now since Google said that they would punish you for bad links and still I get user names like this in my comment section…”SEO China, SEO Hong Kong”. What they are trying to do is get a link back that has the keywords SEO and SEO china in them. The problem with this is link building companies are unable to make links the way humans do. In the real world, some of those links would say “click here” and some would say the owner’s name, and some would say the company name and some would link to SEO china, but not all. The SEO companies are still using old tricks that no longer work and could hurt you!

Doorway Pages

Some of you may be wondering why I am talking about something from 4-5 years ago…well I am here to tell you, these are still going on and being sold by SEO companies even though they will probably hurt the website owner! These are keyword stuffed pages that are intended to stand alone and provide a “doorway” for a particular page on a website. For example, I could make a doorway page that was super optimized for SEO Expert Denver, and have the only link go to my sales page for that service. Sounds good, right? Well it was at least 4 years ago that Google got wise to these and shut them down (even before noticing the “thin sites” that they corrected in the Panda update). These do not work!

Keyword Links to multiple pages

Dude, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just, like, rank for Social Media Expert Maryland, Social Media Expert Florida and a whole bunch of different ones like that? Then we could make pages for each one with the same content except change the words to the right city and state…people are STILL doing this to this day even though it was Panda-ed. This one just needs to die a horrible death!!!

Article Spinning

There are hundreds of article spinner softwares out there and it can be tempting to think about all the great backlinks you can get…unfortunately this is another blast from the past and it doesn’t work nearly as well as it did before. You would be MUCH better off to write a number of different articles so you will know that it is original content!

Fake directories

There are literally MILLIONS of directories that you can submit your website to. None are particularly good or high quality and they don’t work anymore. Here is a great article about this… What Makes a Good Web Directory, and Why Google Penalized Dozens of Bad Ones. Please note that this post is from 2007…when they started to crack down. The sad thing is this is still a service that SEO companies offer today.

Buying links

The whole idea that you will write great content and people will beat a path to your door is cute and not all that relevant. You have to work your face off to get backlinks from other sites and share it on social A LOT to get traction. This can make wanting to just buy backlinks from Fiverr or a really bad SEO company very tempting. DO NOT DO IT!!! All of those links violate the terms of service and will count AGAINST you. In plain English…you will pay someone to make a whole bunch of links that you will have to pay someone else later to get rid of through remediation and hard work.

Why EXACTLY Do They Say SEO Is Dead

Well, Google just hid all the data about what keywords people use to search for your website so it is hard to figure out what you rank for. The data in your google analytics just shows the info from Yahoo and Bing and is such a small sampling for most of us that it paints an inaccurate picture. There are a few companies out there with some data about this stored but it is getting more out of date day by day.

The “tactics and tricks” that people used in the past are all falling by the wayside as google cracks down (sometimes retro-actively) on bad practices. Being cute and trying to game the system is getting harder and harder. I wrote this post because many of our clients are still hiring “old” seo firms that are using these practices and are being hurt by them. Today’s SEO landscape looks more like a soccer field with multiple players. You need to be doing social and video and blogging and myriad other things rather than relying on one company to “get your site to the top of the search engines”. It isn’t pretty and it is hard, but honestly you don’t have any other choice.

Ebook – SEO Marketing For Realtors

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  • A Quick Word About Keywords
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