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Leveraging subdomains

If you’ve spent years building up the authority on your website’s domain, you know how powerful this authority can be when ranking for competitive terms.  The more trust and authority, the easier it will be for your SEO to rank your website if you decide to get into new areas of business or launch a new product.  The usual way of attacking this challenge is to build new category pages or subdirectories.  So if your website is abc.com, then your new product might show up in a new catagory page names abc.com/newproduct/.  This works very well and you are probably using some variations of this approach on your website right now.

The other option, that is using a subdomain, is something that national franchises have been doing for years to give a boost to their local franchisee sites.  Using the example from above, let’s say you are opening an ABC franchise in Boise, ID.  Your franchisee would have a URL like this:  boise.abc.com.  The letters in front of the first period is the name of the subdomain.  You can see how powerful this particular approach might be for ranking locally for a particular product.  Further, the mother ship can give control of the subdomain to the franchisee with no ill effects on the root domain should something go awry or get screwed up by the franchisee.  Taking this example even further, a company could add a subdomain for all their products or services, giving them a lot of power to get search terms within the url.  This can be especially helpful if you wanted to use a different theme or design on subdomains than on the root domain.

The power of subdomains and the flexibility they offer should not be underestimated.  Even Matt Cutts has weighed in on the subject as you can view in the video below.

Subdomainsas explained by Wikipedia can be accessed through the link.

Meta what?

Perhaps you’ve heard of meta tags. These can take the form of a meta title and a meta description most often seen as your entry on the results of a search page. You don’t have to take pot luck when it comes to these meta tags. You can, and should, make sure that what you want displayed is actually what is displayed by the search engines.

Have you come across a search engine result that seems to have been pulled from the middle of an article or a page of copy? It has some relevance to what you are looking for but isn’t compelling in any way — at least enough to click on it to see what the site has to offer.

The search engines are giving you free exposure for your site and your brand. Use it. Your meta title should have to do with the search term you want to rank for…it doesn’t have to be an exact match. Use this space to provide information like your phone number so that people can call you without clicking on your site to find out contact information. That’s what we do as often as we can…it saves people time and makes your site stand out from the crowd.

As for the meta description, all 156 characters of it, make sure you are using every character to tell people that you not only have the answer to their search query, but that you are the best at what you do. Don’t be afraid to sell your USP or something irresistible like an offer that will get the click.

Taking pot luck means you are leaving your message to an algorithm to pick what shows up. Take the time to give the search engines what you want them to display.

How long does it take to….

Chicago SEOThere isn’t a day that goes by when someone needs to know the answer to the question “how long does it take to get rankings once SEO has begun?”  This question is part curiosity and managing expectations and part holding feet to the fire.  And, unfortunately, the answer which is usually “it depends” doesn’t satisfy any of those queries.

A recent study by BrightLocal has compiled these answers gleaned from dozens of SEO types to put some credence into the “it depends” answer.  They queried pros as to how long it would take to rank for a brand new site, a site that had some SEO done to it in the past, whether the site was in a competitive niche or locale or not, whether there were penalties, and sites that had no SEO done.  The answers are, as you would expect, all different.  The link to the entire article is below and you can delve into the minutia of the data, but generally, expect to see some movement after a couple of months.  The chart above is illustrative of the types of responses you will see in the article.

For our clients, we can usually give them a pretty good idea of what will happen after we do our preliminary site audit.  Our focus is always on a positive ROI for our clients, so no matter how long it takes, we make sure that no money spent has been wasted while their site is moving up the ranks.  SEO is a long term investment and earns a long term return that can be seen in the bottom line every single month.

To read the full article, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Linking Unnaturally

Perhaps you’ve heard of something called a manual penalty from Google. You will find this notice in your site’s Google Webmaster Tools if you have signed up for WT for your site. (If you haven’t signed up, give us a call and we will walk you through the signup process.) Somewhere in the thousands of lines of code that Google’s algorithm entails is a string that can detect unnatural links. These might be spammy links that you might have bought from a lesser SEO, or something you might have seen online and thought you would like to try.

The problem with these cheap, automated services is that they leave something called a footprint, which is a pattern that is detectable by algorithms. When the flag goes up that there is something fishy with your site, a real person goes through your links to determine if there is a pattern that is unnatural. Hundreds of humans doing things one at a time don’t have a pattern. They use words in different ways. They use different key terms. Their spelling isn’t perfect.

Automated services will use the same keyword terms over and over again in the same ways and that is something that Google will eventually find and penalize. When that happens, you will either need to reverse the offending links by hand, disavow those links, or start over with a new site.