Blog : SEO Tips

How important is website structure?

A website has to serve many masters. The most important is its visitors or its customers. If visitors don’t like your site or are not “engaged” by it and leave it quickly, it speaks volume for the usefulness of the material on a site and its appeal.

A website also has to serve search engines by which we mean it must be understandable for a search engine bot to be able to tell what the site is about and the quality of the site in mere nanoseconds. One way to accomplish this is through a good site structure. Can a poorly structured site rank well? Of course. But why make the job harder than it needs to be for the bots and your visitors?

Many businesses contract with a web designer to create an attractive site without regard to the functionality of the site and how it works. That is really putting the cart before the horse. You need to have your list of keywords, of topic themes and important concepts before you even begin to explore the options for look and feel. You need to know the tone you want to set with the words you have chosen and very importantly, ‘why is this post or this picture important and necessary’ to the site. Posting content for the sake of posting content is never a very good strategy. It wastes your time and that of the visitors and bots. If there is a good reason for the content, if it adds to the overall experience and body of knowledge that your site provides, then, by all means, post it. If you are writing drivel in order to get a few words into the lexicon of your site; don’t bother.

Having a proper structure helps your visitors navigate to the information that will answer their questions. Having a proper structure helps search engines decide which of your many pages will best answer their searchers’ queries. And, as a bonus, you will need less effort to rank a properly structured website than one that is not. You have made the search engines’ jobs easier; and you are thusly rewarded with better rankings overall.

Mobile-friendly

Perhaps you have heard elsewhere, or on this blog, about the upcoming Google update that will affect websites that are not mobile friendly. This update should be taken seriously by any company that values their current rankings for lead generation or sales. Google is looking at every site, no matter how big or small.

We have been testing our clients’ sites for few months now and have made adjustments to old programming where needed. There are things we can do to help your business’ site become mobile friendly even if you have had it for many years and don’t want to pay for a whole new redesign. Google’s warning is that rankings will suffer (although they couched that warning in Google-speak) is a warning that we are acting upon while there is still time.

We work primarily in the Chicago area, but are ready to assist you no matter where your company is located. We will do a mobile friendly analysis and give you recommendations as to what can be done to satisfy this new requirement. Not all solutions are time-consuming or expensive. But if your site doesn’t pass the “test”, it will need work before you lose clients and revenue.

And, should you be looking for a forward-thinking marketing company to help your business stay ahead of the game, then we hope you will consider our services at the top of your list. The mobile friendly update is one of the ways that we’ve kept our customers’ sites compliant before the twelfth hour. Your business deserves the same kind of attention. Give us a call at 847-867-0198 or drop me an email at chicagoseopros@gmail.com.

For further explanation of what friendliness in mobile devices means, then here’s a video for programmers that explains the processes:

Do What Works Tomorrow

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. This video from Moz highlights not only the importance of link building, but what are good and bad practices. Another important takeaway from this is that you want your SEO firm to concentrate on what not only works today, but what will work tomorrow! Things are changing all the time in the world of the search engine algorithms…you need to be able to see what is coming around the bend so that you can prepare today. One of the things we do here at Chicago SEO Pros is stay on top of the algorithm changes (we have our ways) so that nothing surprises us when an update occurs.

Importance of Mobile Search

It is predicted that more than 60% of all searches that will be done next year will be from mobile devices including phones, PDAs and tablets. This video from Google Webmasters will help you get your site ready for this challenge.

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.

All about SEO budgets

We get requests for SEO proposals all the time.  Many begin with “I’m just starting out and don’t have much money” and move right on to “I want to rank #1 for dentist” or another very difficult term to rank for.  And then there’s the popular “I’ll pay $5 an hour”, which is less than the minimum wage in this country.

In the past, services connected with Internet marketing were priced low because the effort required was not that great and there wasn’t much competition to contend with.  Now, there is competition on every page of search results, because every page has potential revenue for someone.  If there are Adwords on the page, there’s money to be made and if there’s money to be made, there is value in being there.

So what is a reasonable budget for SEO work?  What is one visitor worth to you?  Not clicks, actual visitors.  We tell site owners that they really need to get a handle on their conversions to know how many visitors will turn into paying customers.  What is the lifetime value of that customer?  These are all metrics that companies with sophisticated marketing staffs monitor on a daily basis.  So if your competitor thinks each client is worth $200 per transaction, are you willing to pay $20 to acquire that customer?  Most companies would say yes because that customer may bring in $2000 over time.  The ROI on that acquisition is 1000%, and you can’t get that kind of return on most investments these days.

To take this example further, if you could get 1000 new customers this month, would you pay $20,000 if it meant your sales would be $200,000 more than last month?  You bet you would.  That is the way your competition is thinking.  That is why you won’t get the results you want for $5 per hour and certainly not first page results where all the monetizable traffic is.  Everyone else is thinking in terms of ROI and conversions, and you are thinking in terms of money out of pocket.

There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for.  And even though the Internet is relatively new in human history, that old adage still applies.

 

 

 

What makes a Chicago SEO company great?

SEO is one of those unregulated professions that have sprung up all over the Internet over the past 20 years. You can’t get a college degree in it, there are no licensing organizations and you don’t have to pass a test to hang up your shingle and pronounce that yes indeed, your firm can optimize websites.

Companies that hire SEO talent are wise to be skeptical about guarantees of first place rankings and wild promises of Internet riches from first place rankings. We have seen way too many companies get “fleeced” month after month with nothing to show for their monies spent other than cancelled checks.

SEO is becoming more and more difficult for a great many reasons, not the least of which are the billions of websites (and more each day) that are vying for the coveted positions on the first page of search engine results. What worked well last month, or last year, may not work as well this month or this year. Potential clients come to us with their sites that used to rank on the first page and now are languishing on page 8 or worse and they have no idea why or how to fix that which is obviously broken.

What is even more troubling is that these very sites were being managed by large agencies. Upon further investigation, these agencies were outsourcing their work to SEO companies that just so happen to have a large menu of “packaged plans” that happen to fit within clients’ budgets with enough room to make a tidy profit for doing absolutely nothing but selecting the outsourcer.

Our tips for selecting a great SEO company are as follows and are gleaned from our experience fixing the problems that clients come to us with:

 

  1. Make sure the people you hire are the ones that are doing the work.  Communication is a pivotal element in a successful internet marketing relationship.
  2. Choose honesty.  Rankings bounce all over the place.  That is the only constant.  If someone shows you a suspicious number of steady rankings over a year’s time, listen to your gut.  We are reminded of the warning signs from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme – no one can produce consistent results year after year without some variance.
  3. Rankings are great.  Conversions are even better.  It does you absolutely no good to get traffic that doesn’t convert.  Look for a SEO firm that focuses on both traffic and conversions.
  4. Choose experience.  It is part of Internet lore that the young guns are where the brains are.  Be careful because it is that wet-behind-the-ears college grad that will be in charge of your multi-million dollar Internet business’ marketing efforts.  Make sure they have had bottom line responsibility for more than a lemonade stand in their careers.

Follow these simple tips and you will find yourself, and your website, in a better position a year from now.

 

 

Internet Marketing Myths Video

SEO Benefits of Rich Snippets

Businesses can benefit from adding additional, informative text to their search results on Google. These are called Rich Snippets and they can provide searchers with more insight into what your page is about. Think about how you can use this tool to engage searchers and drive traffic to your site…and you can always call us and we can help you sort out the benefits of this tool for your site.