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SEO Blog

How to Focus Your Home Page Optimization

How to optimize your home page.We usually optimize home pages for the organization or company name and perhaps one specific keyword, and not much else.  That’s to guarantee that someone learning about you from another customer or client of yours will find you at the top of the results when they search for your name.

Clients ask us:

Why don’t you optimize my home page for all my important keywords?

There are reasons both practical and behavioral.

First, the practical SEO reasons:

The Title Tag is the most powerful place for your keywords to be. It shows up as the text in the tab of your browser, sometimes in the top border of your browser window, and almost always is the headline of your listing whenever the page shows up in search results. You need to get all the individual words from your optimized keywords into the title tag. Anything past about 70-80 characters is treated as less important than words near the beginning, so this limits how many keywords can be fully optimized. And only the first 55 characters or so will be visible in the Google search results.

Optimized keywords need to appear in a number of places on the page. Many of those places are in the code, and there’s a limited number of opportunities for that. But they also need to appear in the readable text copy on the page, in headings and sub-headings, in paragraph text, and in the clickable text of links. In order to cover all of your keywords on the home page and have them be used in a natural, readable way would require you to write a tome. And people just aren’t going to read your page if there’s that much text: it’s intimidating. When that happens, people click back to the search results and try something else  — probably your competitor.

Search engines need to understand that your page is 'al aboutSearch engines need to understand that your page is really “about” the keyword phrase that was searched. If your page covers dozens or hundreds of keywords, it can’t really be “about” all of those things. It ends up being about everything and nothing. Then search engines won’t be able to tell what searches your page is a good match for.

People don’t have to always come in through the front door. Our objective is always to have well-focused internal pages for our most important keyword groupings.

Let’s take a law firm, for example. There may be many attorneys, each focusing on a small set of legal practice areas: criminal defense, wills and trusts, business contracts, real estate closings, personal injury litigation, employment law, and so forth. Each of those practice areas needs its own page in order to be optimized for all the keywords related to that topic. If you land on a page that lists all the many and varied things the firm does, you may need to scan down the page, scrolling down “below the fold” to see if they do what you need. Most people won’t take the time.

But if you land on a page that’s all about real estate closings, that page will be immediately recognizable as what you want: both from it’s headline in the search results and from the headings and sub-headings on the page itself. That focus is essential for search engines to know what searches to show any web page for.

Now the behavioral reasons:

Firsat impressions are important, and they happen fast.First impressions happen fast. Depending on the research, you have between 50 milliseconds and three seconds to convince the new visitor that they’re in the right place. If people are searching for a child custody lawyer, it needs to be immediately obvious that they’ve landed on a page about family law, focusing on child custody issues.There’s no way your home page can convince them it’s a match that quickly. It may mention child custody but the searcher would have to take the time to scan through the home page to find it among all the other things your firm does  — and people just don’t do that anymore. They simply won’t take the time; they’ll click the back button on their browser and pick another listing from the search results hoping for a better match.

Avoid bounces.When someone clicks a search result and then comes quickly back to the search engine results to look for another choice, that’s called a bounce. Bounces are bad. They tell the search engine that your page was actually not a good match for the search term. Search engines learn from user behavior and will reduce your rankings as a result of a high bounce rate.

It’s as simple as that.

That’s why I won’t encourage you to spend a lot of time and energy working detailed keywords into your home page. It won’t necessarily hurt the home page’s rankings, but it won’t help it appreciably to rank for focused keywords. And it won’t help convert those visitors into paying customers. Your internal pages are where you need people to end up, and those are the pages that will include calls to action and encourage them to reach out to you to become a client or customer.

Need help focusing your home page and internal pagges for great rankings? Rank Magic can help!

We encourage your thoughts and feedback: please leave a comment below.

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We Are 100% Green

Going Green

We have always been environmentally aware, and have been moving toward renewable energy for a long time. We’ve just made a big improvement and wanted to tell you about it.

Solar hot water systemSolar Hot Water

In 1975 we took advantage of solar energy incentives from the Jimmy Carter administration to install solar hot water panels on our roof. In the winter they pre-heat our water to about 85° before it goes to our water heater, which is a significant improvement over the roughly 55° town water coming into the building. In the summer the roof panels heat our water to 150°. Woo-Hoo!

Solar Electric

In 2006 we installed solar PV panels on the roof, and have been generating about 2/3 of all our electricity use from them ever since. We can’t go completely off-grid though because the panels generate nothing at night or when they’re snow-covered  — and we can’t generate more than about 2/3 of our electricity because we ran out of roof space. Nevertheless, our solar electric decision has turned out to be an excellent one in terms of reducing our energy costs and our carbon footprint.

Rooftop solar paanels

The Green Grid

We have now changed our electricity supplier to one that generates all of our electricity from wind farms. So even the electricity we get from the local power company is now green energy. We’ve just done this; it adds only a couple of cents per KWH to our electricity cost, and we’re not polluting air and water or contributing to global warming for any of our electricity anymore.

Green Natural Gas

100% GreenWe’re now getting our gas from landfill generation. Decomposing waste in municipal landfills produces gas, which is a mixture of about half methane and half carbon dioxide. These landfills are the third largest source of human-made methane emissions in the United States, and methane extracted from them is the source of our natural gas now. Not only are we no longer relying on fracking and other destructive methods of extracting natural gas, we’re also using methane that would otherwise have vented into the atmosphere. That’s a good thing because methane has 25 times the global warming impact as carbon dioxide does.

Other Than That

Other than that, we’re still the same personal, all-American, hand-crafted, non-automated SEO company we’ve always been. Going green hasn’t changed how we work with our clients, but if you’ll feel better working with an environmentally conscious company, that’s just another reason to consider Rank Magic. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

A Few Recent Rank Magic Clients

Appreciating Our Clients

MeaCulpa  — it used to be our practice to highlight and thank new clients every so often, and that practice fell by the wayside a couple of years ago. I’d like to begin correcting that today by recognizing some clients which have been with us for more than a year now. We appreciate their continued trust in us.

A residential sliding gate by DuraGates.

Duragates makes sliding fence gates that look great and open faster and in a more compact space than a swing gate. DuraGates is the latest development in sliding/rolling fence gate technology that has rendered sliding gates maintenance-free. Whether automatic electronic security gates or wooden driveway gates, if it’s a sliding gate, they have the best hardware for it.


Kathleen Audet, professional image consultant

Kathleen Audet is a professional image consultant in Reno, Nevada who offers personal wardrobe, styling & shopping services, color analysis, makeup & skin care consulting, fit & fashion advice, and a number of private programs.


The Bridlebrook Group business brokers
The Bridlebrook Group
is a certified business broker handling mergers and acquisitions, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland and Connecticut.


Business miracles for the highly sensitive entrepreneur.Business coach and marketing mentor Heather Dominick helps highly sensitive entrepreneurs and self employed people succeed in business. through classes and individual coaching in marketing, productivity and creativity. Overcome fear of marketing and selling through classes in business miracles, creating financial flow, and leveraging your intuition.

Gold Star Home Improvement
Gold Star Home Improvement
contractor serves NYC & northern New Jersey for kitchen & bath remodels, interior & exterior house painting, cabinet refacing, commercial painting, furniture refinishing and handyman services.


Airborne Animals pet transportation serviceAirborne Animals is a full service professional pet transportation service for house pets. We safely transport your pets by ground or by air. Our pet transportation services include relocating small pets (such as rabbits, ferrets and turtles), dogs, cats, and birds by commercial airlines cargo services both domestically and internationally, and by road within the Northeast of America.

Fitness Senior Style offers personalized one-on-one physical training for New Jersey seniors.Fitness Senior Style provides personalized one-on-one physical training for New Jersey seniors, in your home. They help dealing with strength, balance, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, dementia, fibromyalgia, stroke and brain surgery. Group classes are available, and they offer seminars to senior citizen groups, corporations, and other organizations.

If you’d like to join these fine companies as a client of Rank Magic and position yourself for improved visibility when people search for your products or services, please just ask for a free assessment of your website.

Top Local Ranking Factors for Small Businesses

Are You in the Local Stack?

Local stack: separet local listings in Google search results

Click to enlarge.

There have been a number of changes in how Google represents local search results. Sometimes referred to as the Local Stack, when people search for a business or service  within a particular local area, Google shows the top three local websites beneath a map showing their locations. This often appears above all of the organic or natural listings, so even if your website shows up at the top of the organic results, if you show up here it substantially increases the likelihood someone will click on your listing.

There has been reliable research showing that if you appear in both the organic results and the pay per click results, it super validates you as one customers will click on. Showing up in the local listings does the same thing, or even more so.

New: 2015 Survey Results

The folks at Moz have just concluded a detailed study for 2015 of all the significant factors that govern whether and where your website shows up in the Local Stack. While that study may be a bit too intense for most small business owners, here’s a pared down list of the very most important factors you should know about.

  • Domain Authority  — Domain authority is an overall measure of how well a website should perform in searches, based on many factors including link popularity.
  • Quality of inbound links  — this is more important than the number of inbound links.
  • City and State in the Page Title of your landing page from Google My Business  — that’s usually your website home page.
  • Consistency of structured citations  — citations are mentions of your business name, address and phone number across the web, and especially listings in local directories such as YellowPages.com, Yelp.com, SuperPages.com and those included in our PowerListings subscriptions.
  • Quality or Authority of your citations  — citations from high quality sites and those with a high Domain Authority count very heavily in your favor.
  • Keyword relevance in the content  — aside from the local geographical terms in the search (city, county, state, etc.) this relates to the keywords in the search and how relevant the content of your page is.
  • Inbound link diversity  — having links pointing to you from many different websites.
  • Geographical relevance in your content  — having the county, city, neighborhood, etc. included in the content of your page.
  • Having your physical address in the city of search

SEO Best Practices

Much of the above relates to best practices SEO. There are no major surprises in the above list; mostly a re-ordering of priorities. You should routinely have all those bases covered and be working on improving those you can on an ongoing basis.

If you need better visibility in local search, Rank Magic can help.

Google recently changed the Local Stack from seven local listings to three. How has that impacted you? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Drive More Readers to Your Blog Posts

There are lots of ways to attract readers to your blog.None of us writes a blog just to admire our own words of wisdom. We write it to provide information, to bolster our credibility, to illustrate our expertise, to attract new customers … the reasons are many and varied. But they all share the common factor that we want readers.

Attracting Readers

Just creating and writing a blog is not a guarantee that it will attract readers.  There are many things readers may find attractive: humor, images, pithy writing, helpful information, insightful analysis, compelling content and more. But if no one knows about your blog, no one will read it.  Just like a website without SEO, it may end up being like a Billboard in the Woods.

Where Do You Get Exposure?

There are a bunch of places to seek visibility for your blog posts. BlogPros.com recently listed 50 of them. Let’s highlight some of the best ones for a small business blog.

  • Social Media Sites
  • Social Bookmarking Sites
  • Article Directories
    • These no longer provide link juice to your blog posts like they once did, but they can still drive traffic to your posts. Here are a couple of the best:
    • Blog Engage
    • EZine Articles
  • Personal Resources
  • Paid Advertising
    • Pay Per Click ads can get expensive, and many businesses spend thousands of dollars a month on them. But they can also help on a much smaller scale for small businesses. These are the top two:
    • Google AdWords
    • Facebook Ads
  • Specialized Sites
    • Google AdWordsBusiness2Community is a great place to automatically syndicate your blog.These are similar to blog directories and bookmarking sites, but are more narrowly focused. Here are a few examples:
    • Business2Community for business related content
    • BizSugar for content related to small businesses
    • DesignFloat for material related to web design
    • DeviantArt for the art and design community
    • Inbound.org for marketing related content
    • MySpace for music and entertainment related content

Tell us about your success (or lack of it) with these. Is there a technique you’ve found that’s not listed here? Please tell us about it in the comments below.

Need help with your visibility? Rank Magic can help!

How to Handle Bad Online Reviews

Bad online reviews can really hurt.Ouch!

Bad online reviews online may have the power to cost you new customers. And if you’ve ever received a bad review, you’re painfully aware of how that stings — especially for a small business.

Do you have any bad reviews?

The first step to dealing with the problem is knowing it exists. You can check for yourself at the most common sites that post reviews like Yelp, Google Places, Angie’s List, Judy’s Book, CitySearch, and so forth.

One approach we handle for many of our clients is PowerListings. That’s primarily a service to ensure that your NAP (name, address, phone) information is correct and consistent across more than 50 local search engines, directories, and applications. One of the more valuable features is that it lets you check reviews at any of those sites as well.

Contact us to get started with PowerListings.

Oops! You have a bad online review!Gulp! You found one or more bad reviews.

Your first reaction is likely to be angry denial. Stifle that. In a helpful article in Small Biz Trends, Megan Totka discourages your gut reaction to

  • Argue about it
  • Pay people for good reviews to counter it
  • Ignore it

Instead, she suggests that you be objective. If the review is a flamingly irrational rant, it maybe best to ignore it: the tone will convince people it’s not worth serious consideration.

Otherwise, you should respond tactfully and positively. If it’s a legitimate complaint, apologize and try to make it right. You’ll be seen as sincerely wanting to help. That can actually turn a negative review into a positive experience that more than compensates for the initial review.

Become proactive

There are a number of ways you can become proactive and at the same time encourage happy customers to write positive reviews and discourage disappointed customers from posting negative reviews. Reputation LoopOne service we’re considering offering to our clients is Reputation Loop. It builds into your website a solicitation of private feedback, positive or negative, from your customers, helps convert positive ones into online reviews, and allows you to fix negative situations and prevent them from becoming bad online reviews.

If you’re interested in this service, please call us to explore in more detail how it works, what it requires of you, and how much it costs. Reports to date are very positive for it, and if enough of our clients want to participate it would make sense for us to partner up and support it.

Need some personalized help with online reviews? Rank Magic can help!

How have you dealt with negative reviews, and how well did it work? Tell us in the comments below.

If you like our blog, please share that with the buttons above and give us a +1 at the top of the page. (Thanks!)

12 Ways Reviews Affect Sales for Your Small Business

Customer online reviews can influence sales.Online reviews are increasingly being consulted by consumers before making buying decisions. Here are a dozen reason they can affect your sales.

  1. Local sites featuring reviews are more prominent in search than in the past.
  2. Two thirds of local directory traffic comes from people searching for products & services. (source)
  3. Regardless of your SEO, local sites drive visitors to your site. (source)
  4. Each star in a review translates to 5-9% impact on revenues. (source)
  5. Local independent businesses are the most affected by reviews. (source)
  6. 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision (source) and Forbes says it’s as high as 90%.
  7. People are 63% more likely to buy from a site with user reviews. (source)
  8. Reviews are 12 times more trusted than your web site itself. (source)
  9. More reviews lend credibility to the ratings, driving visitors and sales. (source)
  10. The Harvard Business Review says that good reviews can increase sales 32%-52%.
  11. Negative reviews can cause a drop of 15% in sales (source)
  12. But for an unfamiliar product, even bad reviews can sometimes increase sales. (source)

Do you have a process in place to increase the likelihood of getting good customer reviews? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.

Need better rankings or more visibility in local directories? Rank Magic can help!

If you like our blog, please share that with the buttons above and give us a +1 at the top of the page. (Thanks)

How to Keep Spambots From Ruining Your Traffic Reporting

Google-Analytics-logoA couple of weeks ago, we ran a post alerting you to the fact that spambots may be inflating your traffic reporting in Google Analytics. Now let’s consider a couple of ways to prevent that.

Google’s Bot Filter

About a year ago, Google added a filter for just this sort of thing. It’s quite simple to implement. With Administrative rights, open your Google Analytics and click on the Admin link.

Google Analytics Admin sectionOnce there, Click on View Settings:

Google-Analytics-View-Settingsbot and spider filterDown near the bottom of the screen you’ll find the Bot  Filter checkbox. Just check that and you’re done.

Sort of. Google is only filtering out traffic from known bots and spiders.There may be many spambots that aren’t on the list, so you may still get some of that traffic  reporting. But at least it will filter out friendly spiders like Googlebot.

If That’s Not Enough

If you’re still seeing lots of spambot traffic from some of the sources we illustrated in our previous post then we may need to pull out the big guns. The simplest way to keep these bots from crawling your site is to stop them at the door. Not only will they not pollute your traffic reporting anymore,but they won’t even get onto your site, saving your web server some traffic load.

If your web host is running a Unix or Linux server, you can block these spambots in the .htaccess file. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is; your webmaster will know.) The folks over at ROI Marketing have done some nice work on this, compiling an extensive list of the most common spambots, and they even went so far as to provide the code you can copy & paste into your .htaccess file.

It May Take a Little Ongoing Vigilance

It may be a good idea to check for new spambots every once in awhile; these things tend to pop up without warning. But utilizing these two techniques should take a really big nite out of your referrer spam traffic.

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Please enter a comment below to let us know how this works for you, or if you’ve found a better way to deal with this.
Need help with your organic search traffic? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Are Spambots Ruining Your Traffic Reporting?

Google Analytics

Google-Analytics-logoMany, many website owners rely on Google Analytics to report on the traffic to their sites: where do visitors come from, what pages to they like, how many visitors are coming to their website, etc.

If you’re doing SEO or paying someone like us for it, you need to know how well it’s working.

When looking at SEO, you (and we) like to see how many visitors are coming from organic search, from links on other sites (referrals), from paid search, from social media, and from typing in the URL directly. That’s getting a little more difficult now.

Arrival of the Spambots

In recent months we’ve seen a disturbing trend of spambots showing up in the referral traffic figures. Spambots are not human visitors, so they’re not the kind of traffic we want or need. Some may be scraping email addresses or have other goals, but whatever their motivation, it’s not serving you well.

While a few hundred spambot visits a month are unlikely to skew reporting for a large site like Amazon, for a small local business just getting started on the web they grossly distort traffic reporting.That makes it hard to tell where visitors are coming from and whether or not your SEO efforts are paying off.

Here’s an example of what looks like really nice traffic growth:

total-trafficBut if we look into where that traffic came from, we find it’s almost all referral traffic, and that traffic has just exploded over the past two months, accounting for the vast majority of new visits. Here’s traffic showing only referral visits:


navigationYou can see where those referral visits came from in Google Analytics, navigating as shown on the right.

Once you do, the websites where those visits originated are listed. In this case, we’re only showing the top ten referral sources, but spambots consume the majority of those sources even when you look deeper into the results.

1,409 of the top 1,510 visits are from bots — more than 93%. You can see how this makes interpreting your website traffic exceedingly difficult.

Is this happening to you?

The first step you need to take is to determine if this is a problem for you. Access your Google Analytics and navigate to the spot shown just above. If you don’t know if you have Google Analytics installed on your site, just ask your webmaster. If you don’t have it, I encourage you to ask your webmaster to add it, and to give you Admin rights. Having Admin rights will open up one of the tools to help you deal with this.

In the meantime, it helps to know whether you can trust your traffic analytics. In Acquisition | All Traffic | Channels (the location shown above) you can still check all the non-referral traffic sources individually to understand the traffic you’re getting from those.

How do you fix this?

There are ways to filter out much of the spambot traffic from your reporting, and even to deny spambots access to your website. That’s a topic for a future blog post right here.

Stay tuned.

Did you find this helpful? If so, please share it with your friends and colleagues with the buttons above and give it a +1 at the top of the page.
Tell us about your own experiences with this in the comments below.
Need help with your organic search traffic? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Avoid This Pitfall for Small Business Mobile Sites

rank-magic-mobileYou may have received an email like this from Google:

Google systems have detected that your desktop site URLs redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone site rather than the page they found in Search results. This critical issue causes problems for Googlebot for smartphones because it can’t access your smartphone URLs. It also confuses your users.

Some people have taken the shortcut to make their website’s home page responsive and not taking care of the internal pages. When they do that, they create a redirect so that regardless of which page a mobile user finds in search results, clicking on it only brings them to the mobile version of the home page instead of the page they want.

Google is cracking down this practice and has been sending emails like the one above to owners, warning them about that practice. They have devoted a post in the Official Google Blog to this topic. If you’ve received the above warning, I encourage you to read Google’s position in that blog post and fix the problem ASAP.

Humorous look at poor mobile redirection practices.

We borrowed this from the folks at xkcd.com.

Did you find this helpful? If so, please share it with your friends and colleagues with the buttons above and give it a +1 at the top of the page.

Tell us about your own experiences with this in the comments below.

Need help with poor visibility in search engines? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

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