SEO

Why Did My Website Traffic Drop Overnight?

No, Google isn’t broken. Algorithm changes occur often without warning. Here’s what happened with the Penguin and Panda updates. Never settle for quick results!

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Measure Social Media Traffic-User and Flow with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is key to finding out what social media outlets are working best for your traffic. We show you how to analyse the results.

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Google Searches Plummet by over 60 Percent

Google took the bat to countless websites recently. We explain why this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Increase Your Facebook EdgeRank, Reach and Engagement

What determines how many fans see your posts and which posts they see?  It may seem random or arbitrary, but there is actually a very specific algorithm called EdgeRank that determines where every post shows up.  Much like the Google algorithm determines keyword rank for specific searches, EdgeRank determines where every post is displayed.   For those that want to know how EdgeRank works we explain the details at the end of this blog post, and for those that just want to know how to get your Page posts ranking higher we explain that below.   Optimize Your Facebook Posts to Increase Your EdgeRank  Like the infamous Panda and Penguin updates by Google, EdgeRank is intended to improve the user experience by delivering more relevant content and reducing spam.  As with Panda and Penguin, there are steps you can take to optimize your Facebook Page and posts; likewise poor practices can make your EdgeRank plummet.  SEO is used to improve search rankings of websites, SMO is the social media equivalent to improve the performance social networks.   Manual Posts:  Facebook can detect which posts are automated and which have been posted manually.  Automated posts are devalued because many of these posts are automated news feeds and some are outright spam.  Many websites use plugins or apps to automatically post blogs to Facebook and while this is convenient and saves time; we no longer recommend doing this due to the inherent reduction in rank.  We know recommend that Facebook posts be done manually with a comment tailored to the post (more on this later).  Content:  posts with comments generally have a get higher EdgeRank than posts with just a link to an article, picture or blog.  These posts tend to get more Likes from Fans which also increases your rank.  It is equally important that the content immediately grabs the interest of your Fans (see tips for content below).  Post Frequency:  while this is not part of the rank equation it indirectly affects your rank as a result of Fan interaction and comments.  If you post very infrequently Fans have little reason to follow your Page and no opportunity to interact with you which will reduce your overall ranking.  If you post too frequently Fans will either un-Like your page or simply ignore your posts.  It is important post regularly and at a frequency that will engage your Fans, but not annoy them.  For most B2B and b2C clients we recommend no more than once a day, and for some 2 to 3 times a week may be optimum depending on your content.  For entertainment and news related pages we recommend once a day with the option to post more frequently when major events are happening.   Interacting with Fans:  this is perhaps the most important action you can take.  Interaction with Fans drives more comments and shares which in turn increases your rank thereby increasing your Reach further.  Facebook is very personal, even for brands and the converstation with your Fans is very important to a successful Page.  Tips for Content that will Increase EdgeRank and Engagement Content is the key to engagement, which results in Likes, Shares, comments, and more visits to your Facebook Page.  All of these will increase your EdgeRank, which in turn results in your posts showing up on more Fan’s feeds, thus propelling your engagement even higher.   A Great Picture:  in monitoring data from our client Facebook Pages and Facebook ads we found that just changing a picture and double, even more than triple click throughs.  We have found that images that are fun, cute, and immediately engaging are the most successful.   A Captivating Title:  again from studying client Facebook data we found that the first few words can also significantly increase click throughs.  Users glance at the picture and first few words and decide if they are going to Like or Share a post.   Topic and Content:  with a great image and title you have their attention, there’s one final ingredient, great content.  In general Facebook users are looking for posts that are light, fun, and interesting.  Write your content in a light and personal style.  Do not overtly sell or talk about your products as this falls flat.  We have tracked both light and fun posts vs posts written in a highly “professional” style and found without fail that the light-fun posts do exceptionally well, while the corporate posts always fall flat.  Make it fun, light and interesting, boring and Advertorials don’t work on Facebook.  Why is it called EdgeRank?   “Frictionless sharing” is part of the Facebook Open Graph social sharing platform.  Frictionless sharing is a concept where social interactions on a variety of networks including Foursquare, Pandora, Spotify, and games are shared in the timeline (hence frictionless).  This is obviously too much information to feed onto a users timeline and it could over saturate users with a bunch of posts they really don’t care about.   Every object shared, posted, Liked, or Commented on, including objects in other social networks has what Facebook calls an Edge.  The EdgeRank of each interaction determines where it will show up in timelines.   Three Factors Determine EdgeRank Simply put EdgeRank is the product of Affinity, Ue, Weight, We, and Decay, De (these three terms multiplied together).  Facebook published the formula, what is not known is exactly how each of these factors are calculated.    Affinity: this is a measure of the relationship between a particular fan and your page.  Fans that have visited your frequently and posted comments will have a high affinity score while fans that liked your page months ago and have not returned will have a very low affinity score.   Weight: perhaps a better description for this is value or relevance.  The goal of this factor is to measure how important the post is.   While you have little control over Affinity and Decay, you have a great deal of control over Weight.  While no one has specifics on how Weight is calculated we do have an idea of how it works based on empirical evidence.  We know that manual posts are given more weight than auto posts, shares more than likes, and comments more than likes.  A post with text and a picture has more weight that just a picture.  In general the more interaction and effort involved the higher the weight assigned is.   Decay: this is perhaps the easiest factor to understand, a fresh post or share is more relevant and of interest to users than one from say a month ago or a year ago.  As time passes the importance of a post decays and has less value.   More on EdgeRank – Some Great Resources Facebook EdgeRank: What marketers need to know; econsultantcy.com – great blog with lots of details for those that want to know more.  Facebook EdgeRank: The Truth About Page Feed Reach and Promoted Posts ; searchenginejournal.com – another excellent blog explaining how it works with suggestions to improve performance.  Facebook EdgeRank Changes; Make Sure Your Content Comes Out on Top; socialmediatoay.com – suggestions on how to improve posts and using promoted posts. 

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Measuring SEO Results, Time to Ditch SERPs, Focus on Results

The most familiar, in fact dominant,  metric for SEO has been keyword ranking; and SERP (Search Engine Rank Position) reports have been a favorite tool for tracking and reporting an SEO campaign results.  SERP results have been a favorite metric because they are easy to understand.  SERP reports show exactly where your website ranks for specific keywords that are being tracked and provide what seems to be a metric you can count on to measure SEO campaign results.  If you rank #1 or even#5 for a keyword you know exactly what that means and there is a since of comfort and satisfaction that you are #1 and your competitor is on page two or maybe at the bottom of the page below you.   Intuitively this makes sense, we all like a simple scorecard to show how we are doing.  But people have changed how they use search engines and Google and Bing have dramatically changed how search works.   In 2012 Google rolled out their Knowledge Graph which is leading the way for a change from simple keyword based search to semantic search which uses an enormous range of data to anticipate what you are likely looking for.  The goal is to provide more intelligent search results that are more relevant to what you are actually looking for.  In addition, most users seldom type in a single or even two keyword phrase anymore when they are search for something because there are too many search results.  Most users have figured out that if they type in a very specific query they get much better results.  The SEO term for these longer phrase type search queries is “long tail search” which is actually a statistical term referring to the results outside the middle of the curve or on the tail of it.   What does this all mean?   Search has changed, the way people use it and the way it works.  Doing SEO for a obvious two word keyword phrases is no longer a tactic that will deliver good results and tracking your SEO results this way is no longer a good measure of how your are doing.  In fact, SERPs can be gamed with an uninformed client.  Firstly, the results could be false, and secondly, real SERP results could be presented for words that have little if any search demand.  For more information on how SEO results can be rigged see our blog on SEO Scams.  So while SERP reports were the be all and end all measure of SEO success, they no longer tell the entire story and can be outright misleading.   So what do I measure for SEO results?  The most reliable source of data is Google Analytics, but there is a lot of data in there and it’s easy to get lost in it.  By focusing on a few simple metrics you can easily track the progress of your SEO campaign.  We suggest that you track the following as baseline data for your SEO metrics.  And by the way, if you don’t have Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools installed on your website you are flying blind and getting both installed is step1 and priority one!  Website Unique Visits: compare your current traffic to traffic from a previous period or the previous year.  If your campaign is working well your traffic should be increasing, but don’t jump to conclusions if it is flat or even down there is a problem.  In some cases traffic can go down BUT the inquiries are more specific and better leads.  So don’t stop here.  Search Engine Traffic: in Google Analytics click on Traffic Sources, Overview and look at the percentage of visits from Search (pie chart).  If your SEO is working you should be getting search traffic from it.  If traffic from search queries is less than 50% you should take a hard look at what is going on, or more accurately, what is not going on.   Keyword Traffic: again in your Google Analytics click on Traffic Sources, Search, Organic and look at your top 25 or 50 keywords.  Are they relevant and the right kind of traffic?  If you have good SEO the keyword visits to your site will make sense.  If you have poor SEO it will be random words and it will be obvious that you have a problem.  Likewise look at how many visits from search you are getting.  Good SEO = lots of good visits.  Bad SEO, well you figure it out.   Referrals: no this is referral from friends and business contacts, well maybe in a way it is.  Referrals are traffic that is sent from related sites like your Facebook Page, Twitter, and sometimes industry websites that link directly to your site.  Analytics shows your referrals on the Overview pie chart and you can look directly at the referral details if you like.  Referrals from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and other social media sites can run from 5% to as high as 25% of you traffic each.  At Esotech we include social media as part of our SEO strategy and this traffic is often a significant part of the traffic to our client websites.   Conversions: this is not someting you can measure on Google Analytics without doing a little bit of setup work.  Google Analytics has what they call Funnels and Goals (I hate the funnels name).  Goals are obvious, when a user clicks on a specified url that is counted as completing a “Goal”.  This could be completing a submission form or perhaps a purchase transaction.  The Funnels track users entering your sales or lead funnel and allows you to track their path.  With Goals and Funnels you can track actual conversions on your website, but it requires setup on your part and it can be a bit confusing to get it right. Examples  Here’s a  some of examples actual Google Analytics graphs from one of our SEO campaigns.  These are great examples of what you should be looking for and measuring.  We wish we could share the Keyword visit data details, but unfortunately that is confidential and sensitive to the client so this is all we can show.   You can click on the images to see the full size graph.   Google Analytics Traffic Overview Graph The graph below is a great example of excellent SEO (yes that’s our handy work).  Note that 64% of the traffic is from search results and while we can’t show you the keywords, they are very targeted and very specific to this clients market and products.  Also note that 11% of the traffic is Referral traffic, this is nearly all from social media.     Google Analytics Traffic Year to Year Comparison This is another great example of where SEO is working and is delivering more traffic than the previous year.  So in this case it is easy to see that yes, the SEO campaign is clearly working.  Note that overall visits increased 84%, unique visits up 70% and engagement metrics improved too!  Bounce rate down 23% and visit duration up 35%.    Google Analytics Traffic Year to Year Comparison – Second example This is a more modest example of improved traffic.  At a quick glance it doesn’t look like traffic improved that much, but look at the figures.  Visits increased by 27% and 70% where new visitors.    

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SEO Scams: Promising Page One Results and Fake Page One Results

A common SEO scam sales pitch is “we will get you on Page One of Google!”.  I used to say that any firm “promising” page one results was clearly a scam or at best a charlatan, but recently I ran across some instances where they were telling the truth, well sort of.  I have seen several large SEO companies promising and delivering what I consider fake, or at best useless, Google page one results to naive clients.  Here’s how they do it… Figures Don’t Lie but Liars Can Figure!  During the sales pitch they promise X keywords on page one of Google within an amazing time frame, maybe 30 to 60 days, even 24 hours!  Impressed by their confidence and “promise” you sign up, I mean hey, page one of Google, who would say no to that!  30 days goes by, you get your report, and behold, you have X keywords on Google!  Did you get what you paid for and are these results of any value?  In short, NO. Here’s the trick… The keywords they delivered, at least every instance I have seen, always include your company name (will duh, that was an easy mark) and other words that are very specific to your business.  One might think well that’s great, but wait a minute, does anyone search for these words?  The answer is generally no.  These keywords have pretty much zero competition and zero search volume.  Frankly you probably would have ranked for these words without any off-site SEO (in fact I wonder if they even do any real SEO).  Here’s the SEO Snake Oil; while it is technically true that you do rank on page one for those keywords, nobody ever searches for them!   Many clients don’t catch on to this and proudly look at their report showing their page one results, but then several months later they get irritated that they aren’t getting any inquiries.  So they fire that SEO company and hire another one that is promising page one results and the process starts over again.  Eventually they become disillusioned with SEO and convinced that all SEO is a scam.  Sadly firms like this are poisoning the well and giving the entire industry a terrible reputation resulting in a common opinion that no SEO company can be trusted. How to Spot an SEO Scam and SEO Snake Oil Here’s a short list of how to spot a SEO scam:  Promises of “Google Page One Results”: in every instance I have seen this is either an outright lie or at best the page one results are useless.  If this is the opening pitch stop right there. Fast Results:  It takes time to rank for any keywords that are meaningful and have any significant search volume and competition.  If they promise results in 30 to 60 days, or may favorite 24 or 48 hours! this is snake oil.  Again the results will either be useless or fake. Lame Keywords: if the targeted keywords are yourbrandname and city or yourbrandname and location or the specific products you make or other words that are unique to you this is a redflag.  Of course it is important to do SEO for your brand and products, but this should not be the full extent of the campaign and ranking on page one for your company name certainly is not a big deal or a claim of SEO success.  You can check keyword search volume and see suggested keywords with the Google Keyword Tool.  It is easy to use, free, and a great way to verify if the targeted keywords are of any value or significance.   Results on a Spreadsheet or Word Doc:  If your monthly report from the SEO firm is on a spreadsheet clearly created manually this is an immediate and huge red flag.  You should only trust results from Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and a reliable SERP (Search Engine Rank Position) program.   Really Cheap SEO: as the old adage says, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t”, or the other one, “good work ain’t cheap and cheap work ain’t good”.  SEO firms promising “page one results” for a few hundred dollars are clearly charlatans selling SEO snake oil.   Silver Bullets:  if they offer a couple of quick fixes for your website like your title is too long or your title is not right, your  H1 headers need to be fixed, or your meta keywords need work and go on to say that this will fix everything this is Snake Oil.  There are no silver bullets that will fix all of your SEO problems with a single shot or two.  SEO is doing a lot of little things right and it is a lot of work to do it right.   SEO Spam emails: I love these because they are such obvious SPAM and BS, but wait… someone must be buying this because they still send them and I get them all the time!  The email will start with I reviewed your site and it only has 68 backlinks… I reviewed your website and it has very low traffic actually any claim in the email that they have “reviewed” your website, even with some fake metrics/stats – they use the same figures for every email.   the email has a gmail or yahoo address – enough said…  No SEO company website or name shown in the email and finally one of my favorites, the email is from Steve, or Kate, or whoever, and you call the US phone number, the person that answers the phone is clearly not from or even in the US and they either claim they are Steve or say that Steve isn’t here right now and they can help you.  Go ahead, call, press them for details about the review of your website, it is hilarious, I’ve done it a couple of times! We’ve cracked the Google Algorithm or we have an inside man at Google… – enough said, this is an obvious scam.  Search Engine Submissions: We will submit your website to hundreds or thousands of search engines!  Today there is really only Google and Bing and while each has country specific search engines they use the same  algorithm.  Long ago it was a practice with marginal benefits to “submit” websites  to search engines, today it is a waste of time and unnecessary as the search engines continuously crawl the entire web and will crawl your site in time.  In fact, most of these charlatans use automated software to submit your website and guess what, Google and Bing and can spot this (yes they are fairly smart) and will ignore spam submissions.   You can speed up the crawl rate through Google Webmaster tools which is the proper way to do it.   X Directory Submissions or hundreds of Directory Submissions:  a few years ago this was an acceptable practice with marginal benefits and it did no harm.  Post Google Panda and Penguin updates directories have very little benefit and many have been delisted by Google which means they have zero benefit.  Some in the SEO community even believe that poor directory listings could have a negative impact.   What to Look for in an SEO Company  OK, so the above was how to spot a scam, here’s what to look for in a quality SEO company you might also consider SMO (social media optimization).  At Esotech we now include both SEO and SMO in our Search Engine Optimization programs as we consider the two inseparable and equally important.   What will they do?: ask for a scope of work and make sure they will be addressing both On-Site SEO (work on your website) and Off-Site SEO (link building).  SEO Analysis: An SEO analysis or keyword analysis should be done before they start and this should be reviewed with you.   Content and blogging: don’t lead them on this, but see if they talk about the importance of quality content and blogging (on your site).  If it is not part of their plan and recommendations enough said.   Sample Reports: ask for a copy of a sample Sample Client SEO Report or website metrics report that you will receive.  Make sure that data is from Google Analytics and if it is search rankings it is from a verifiable SERP program – and then check some sample results to make sure it is real.  Case Studies: ask for a copy of SEO Case studies and when you review them look for actual data.  Many case studies have a few paragraphs about the client, the situation, and then what they claimed they accomplished which is fine, but ask for the data – show me the graph from Google Analytics or the actual search results.   Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools: make sure the firm is using both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools and ask that you be added to both accounts so you can check the numbers for yourself.   References: at the end of the day the best way to confirm any company’s claim is by talking to a couple of real customers.  Nothing can replace the honesty of an actual customer.  

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How Does Your Website Measure Up? Compare Traffic to Competitors with this Handy Tool

  • Oct 10, 2012
  • SEO
  • 0

Have you ever wondered how your website stacks up against your competitors? Google Analytics provides traffic data for your website, but provides no comparative data for other websites. In fact, without access to Google Analytics for a website it is impossible to get precise traffic metrics or data. While you cannot obtain exact data for websites other than your own, there is a way to get comparative traffic rankings for your website versus competitors or other websites. Alexa and Compete offer traffic rank statistics based on data gathered from their users browsers. We created a easy to use Website Traffic Rank tool that runs Alexa and Compete traffic data for your website and multiple competitors and displays the information on the webpage.   Website Traffic Rank Comparison Our Website Rank Tool shows the following data:  Alexa Data Alexa Rank & Top % – where your site ranks with respect to other websites, this is the Top Percentile. Links In (as reported by Alexa) – shows the number of links into your website as reported by Alexa. This is not an exact number, Goolge webmaster tools provides the best link data, but this is good a good comparison between your website and your competitors. Inbound links are still one of the key factors for SEO so take a look at your reported links vs your competitors and other websites that have good traffic.  Load Speed and Top % for Load Speed – load speed is important for SEO. A load speed of 2 seconds or less is recommended by Google.  If your load speed is over 3 seconds it needs improvement.  Compete Data Compete Rank & Top % – this where you rank in the Top Percentile of worldwide for Compete traffic. Unique Visits (as reported by Compete) – estimated unique visits. Great comparison tool.  Google Page Rank Website Page Rank Below is an example comparing Amazon, Facebook and MySpace.  What is Alexa Rank? Alexa website traffic ranks reflect website popularity,  similar to TV’s Neilson ratings as this is not an precise measurement of traffic but an estimate of relative popularity. Alexa is measuring popularity, not unique visits. For example a visitor to that visits your website 5 times in one day counts as 5 Alexa visits, but is one unique visit.   Alexa rank is a statistical estimate based on data gathered from the Alexa subscriber base of over 32 million users. Alexa traffic rank is top down, e.g. #1 is the most popular or most frequently visited website. Websites with Alexa ranks of under 100,00 are in the top 100,000 websites world wide. Websites with Alexa ranks of over 1 million have low traffic and websites ranked in the millions have extremely low traffic.  What is Compete Rank and Traffic Metrics? While Alexa measures overall popularity, Compete measures unique visits to a website, thus a user visiting the website 5 times in one day is counted as one unique visit in Compete. Compete is a website ranking company that compares and estimates unique visits to a website based on their subscriber community of over 4 million users.   Compete estimates website traffic statistically much like the Nielson ratings estimate viewer for TV shows. Compete traffic estimates are not 100% accurate as they are a an estimate based they user community, but they are very useful for relative comparisons between websites.

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The Road to Website Recovery – Google Adds Disavow Links Penguin Fixing Tool

  • Oct 10, 2012
  • SEO
  • 0

Was your Website effected by Google’s Penguin Update? Did you use a SEO Company that spammed the internet with shady links pointing to your site, only to suddenly drop in rankings and traffic overnight? How many hours of sleep have you lost worrying about getting your rankings back? Did you curse and mutter while trying to decide whether to take  dreadfully slow route of  trashing your website and starting over, or trying, painstakingly, to get those links removed?  Worry no longer, today Google Launched a Penguin Fixing Tool to ease the process of recovering from a Penguin update and getting you back on track. Now that you have learned the detriments of low quality SEO, and the benefits of brand building and content marketing, you have a chance to recover from a Penguin disaster. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main Just create any major text file in notepad, text, sublime or notepad++ and save it as a .rtf or .txt file.  Inside of it list the domains following format: domain:linkpharm.com that you do not want to trust. This will send a signal to Google to consider these links as unwanted or untrustworthy, possibly lifting any Penguin penalties your website has. This will also help fend off attacks from those using Negative SEO Link Farming against you. (Yes, it is possible to do this, and will be explained in a later blog). Here is an example of the format Examples, and a file for quick handy reference and download (right click and save-as to download): domain:linkpharm.comdomain:blackhatlinks.comdomain:lookingtogetpenguinslapped.comdomain:lookatmeimalinkfarm.comdomain:icantbelieveitsnotalinkfarm.com  This tool is recommended to assist with links that you have not been able to remove yourself. It is still recommended to try and get those links removed, but if you can’t use the tool.  Matt Cutts has a video on Youtube explaining the reasoning behind the Disavrow Tool, as well as how to use it. This is very welcome and fresh news from Google after a year of dreadful update after update putting thousands of dollars of company SEO funding down the drain. At least SEO’s who participated in darker practices now  chance to take some action to correct it.  But perhaps it is still too little, too late for some companies that got hit very hard and were relying on that traffic to survive.

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2012 – The SEO Apocalypse – Shuffling the Deck

  • Oct 10, 2012
  • SEO
  • 0

Apocalypse – Penguin, Panda, and EMD Missiles In the past week we have seen some major changes to Google Search pushed by Google, an algorithm Update, a EMD algorithm update and a Penguin Update, all within the span of a week. The rate of data refreshes is alarming. The rate signifies a few things though, most importantly that Google is comfortable enough as king of search to start tinkering with the results without having to wait too long to see the results (or complaints). No matter how many Bing taste tests Microsoft does, they are being dwarfed.  This heralds both good and bad news for SEO’s out there and their clients. Depending on how the algorithm works with the methods an SEO employs, it could spell disaster or victory. Some may call this a SEO Armageddon and that SEO is dead. Their position is that Google is killing SEO doesn’t want SEO’s to succeed or exist! This is not the case, as can be seen in this article and infographic from SEOBook and Search Engine Land on how these harbingers have been decreeing the death of SEO for years. One of the most significant changes, and a good one in my opinion, is the drop of focus on Exact Match Domains (EMDs). Google sent an EMD Missile at that old SEO tactic, blowing it to smithereens. Finally, we have written proof and reason to tell clients they don’t need to buy kittyclumpinglitter.com and 5 other exact match domains to redirect to their website, or worse…build their website on it.  Shuffling the Deck – Keeping it Fresh Let’s talk about why SEO can’t die, no matter what Google does to search, or how they change the algorithm. The irony is that changing SERP’s is good for the economy, for user experience and for Google’s pocketbook. It evens the playing field and shuffles the deck so that up and coming websites may have a chance at attaining Google’s graces and the subsequent traffic that is bestows.  It gets users closer to getting the answers they want faster. What it’s not good for is the client that just lost all his traffic due to an update. But never fear! Google has PPC ready for you while you recover your SEO. (not something a client wants to hear, but often the only short term solution!) Let’s think about it though. Shuffling the deck, ordinarily, and making tweaks here and there, keeps webmasters and SEO’s on their toes. As soon as SEO know the game and the rules are well understood, it is won, it is over, and then its spam city. The techniques that get your to rank open the floodgates for spammers that start devising methods to game the system and users can’t find what they want, because anyone with enough bucks can hire a company to get to the top. Google cannot and will not ever maintain or perfect their algorithm…simply because it is mathematical, and you should only be able to buy your way to the top with PPC. The only way to keep the formula from being discovered, is to change the formula and non systematically go in different directions to render old methods of gaming the system ineffective. This is where Penguin, Panda, and other curiously named updates come in. They send people on a mission to discover the next formula. This boosts revenue for SEO companies, especially newer companies as businesses shuffle through SEO companies, blaming the previous company and looking to the next for new answers. It shuffles money into the economy, as companies not getting much traffic suddenly start booming and making sales, while others scramble to invest in other marketing methods or PPC /Affiliate Marketing to keep up. This shuffle doesn’t always happen, sometimes clients end up with an SEO company that uses brand based methods and cleanly thought out digital marketing plans that go beyond generic whitehat SEO strategy and risky blackhat witchcraft.  The funny and interesting thing is this is the very basic principle behind gamification, and more specifically massively multi-player online gaming theory: constantly creating new content and new achievements so that the game never stagnates, and there is no “end” or “pinnacle” except for a peak on the current interval of gameplay in time before the rules suddenly change. It is game mechanics applied to search. I am sure many marketers out there have heard how you can “gamify” your website, sales, salespeople, and business in general. It is absolutely true, and it works.  As an SEO company, we try to hold as many cards as we can while the deck gets shuffled, and we play carefully and employ long term strategies. Sometimes we don’t get to the top quickly or first, but we stay there more consistently and reliably. Don’t ever think Google’s poker face is easy to read and they will never show their cards!

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SEO Scams! How to Find a Reputable Web Design, SEO and Digital Marketing Company

If I hear one more company owner tell me they flushed away thousands of dollars on a web company that made big promises and did not deliver results, I am going to need to defragment my mental hard drive! Maybe there is an ashram for business people who need to cultivate compassion for crooks and scammers that give any given industry a bad name. But until we find that place to deal with these bad business practices, we have to exercise caution and remember the old saying, “Buyer Beware.” If you are looking for a website refresh or redesign that increases your traffic, leads and ultimately increases sales through a digital marketing strategy, there are simple ways to verify that a web design and digital marketing company is legit.  Here are some things to look for:  Look at the company portfolio and actually OPEN the websites they claim to have built. Are they user-friendly? Next, open a separate search page and run an “organic search” to see how the website ranks. EXAMPLE: Esotech built a website for Horizon Power Catamarans. If you Google “power catamaran manufacturers”, “power catamaran yachts”, “luxury power catamaran”, or “cruising power catamarans”, you will find the site is ranked on page one for these organic search results.  In fact, this Esotech client has 10 words ranked in position 1 through 3 on page one and 47 words on page one.  Go for the old-school route and ASK for professional references.  Call one or two of their previous clients and ask them whether they have seen results. Beware of Barbie-site designers who only focus on the look of the site and do not take the time to properly build a web site that can rank on search engines.   It’s great to have a “pretty” website, but if there is nothing under the hood working to deliver traffic it is like a car with a great paint job and a 4 cylinder engine that needs an overhaul.  Google robots “crawl” sites to find out what the website is about and what keywords are relevant, and determine the quality of the site. These Google robots then use over 250 different factors to rank that site for various keywords.  Google bots don’t have eyes so they are not looking at how pretty a site is, but how relevant the content is and how it compares to other websites for the same topics. Beware of companies who use ready-made templates to build your site.   Our experience is that ready-made templates are not Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, friendly and are difficult to optimize for a particular customer application. This NEGATIVELY impacts search engine optimization.  Beware of companies who promise instant results, such as “we will have you on page one in 60 days,” or “we can fix your Panda-Penguin problems in 30 days,” or worse, “we can get you page one results for $100 just per month.” These are scams!!! It takes time to build a website properly and get it to rank effectively for keywords.  Don’t let stars of “going viral” get in your eyes. Look for steady incremental increase in your rankings and traffic starting in three to four months and with substantial results over approximately 6 months to a year.    These are just a few tips to help you steer clear of scams and crooks in the world of web design and digital marketing.  

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