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Avoid Doorway Pages

Doorway pages will get you in trouble with Google.I thought the practice of creating doorway pages was a thing of the past. We’ve discouraged this practice since 2005 and  reported back in 2006 about doorway pages getting the German language websites for Ricoh and BMW completely banned from Google for six months. After that, I thought the practice had fallen into disuse. Apparently not.

Google just came out with a warning that they’re increasing the ranking penalty applied for this black hat SEO technique. Here’s what they wrote a few weeks go in the Google Webmaster Central Blog (emphasis is mine):

We have a long-standing view that doorway pages that are created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience.

For example, searchers might get a list of results that all go to the same site. So if a user clicks on one result, doesn’t like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn’t like, that’s a really frustrating experience.

Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

Google has a list of things you can check to assess your vulnerability to this new Google slap-down. I encourage you to check them out and make sure you’re safe from this newest Google algorithm change.

Share your experiences with local listings in the comments below.

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PowerListings – Local Visibility on Steroids

Local Listings Drive Business

Some of the top local sitesLocal listings are vital to all businesses that deal with customers on a face-to-face basis – nearly everyone consults them before choosing a local business. But they’re almost impossibly time-consuming to manage across dozens of different sites. And manage them you must. You may be listed at many local sites you’re not even aware of, because they populate their listings from a number of different sources, and whether your listing is correct or not may be a crap-shoot.

Being Listed Is Not Enough

Too often we see local listings that are incorrect: old phone numbers, confusing variations on your business name, inconsistent addresses. It’s been reported that one in every five local searches returns false information, and that hurts your business. Getting them all current and correct is important to do, but time consuming.  And since the information there comes from multiple sources, it can easily change back after you’ve fixed it.

Run a free scan to see how accurate your own listings are.

PowerListings To the Rescue

Important sites for local search.PowerListings automatically syncs your business listings almost instantly across our network of premium sites and mobile apps. You can take control of your listings from a single point to get your basic NAP (Name, Address & Phone) information listed and/or corrected. It happens almost instantly, compared to the common industry turnaround times of days, weeks, or months for changes to appear. And PowerListings will make sure your corrected information doesn’t get changed back to incorrect versions.

It’s More Than Just NAP

We can help you differentiates your business listings with rich content on search engines, mapping services and mobile apps. Many local listings can allow additional information to help your listing stand out from the crowd: photos, logos, staff bios, enumeration of your products and services, promotions and special offers, events and more can be custom tailored and controlled by you. This enhanced content can be updated in real time and tailored to each location, affording you an unprecedented amount of potential customer engagement through your local listings across all platforms.

And PowerListings offer tracking and reporting on searches and profile views across our network as well. You can also keep an eye on any customer reviews on these sites so you can address any less-than-stellar reviews.

If you’re a local business, ask us how PowerListings can help you.

Share your experiences with local listings in the comments below.

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Mopocalypse April 21


Whether you call it Mopocalypse or Mobilegeddon, April 21 is when lots of websites will suffer significantly in Google mobile search rankings. There’s just one week left.

That’s the date Google is rolling out an algorithm change designed to promote mobile-friendly websites in mobile search. Google has taken the unusual step of actually sending emails to many website owners warning them about this, so we’re anticipating major negative impacts on sites that aren’t mobile friendly. We have more details on this in our post about it last month.

If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile friendly just check it out in Google’s new Mobile Friendly Test page. If you fail the test, we encourage you to get your site mobile friendly as soon as possible. Your webmaster can make it “responsive”, meaning the site will adjust its formatting in response to the nature of the device looking at it. Or you can create a mobile version with a product like Dudamobile and redirect to the mobile version if the user is on a phone.

If you’re using a different approach, please let us know in the comments below how you’re doing it and how well it’s working.

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Need better visibility on the web? Rank Magic can help.

Local Listings are Essential for Local Businesses

Google’s Pigeon algorithm


The newest Google algorithm update, Pigeon, has put a larger emphasis on local SEO and search. Well-known local listing sites like Yelp, CitySearch and SuperPages are seeing a boost in rankings, which means having listings on these sites is now more important than ever.

The biggest factors in SEO remain unchanged and you should still focus on site structure, content, link popularity and authority. But now a presence in local listings with links back to your website is an increasingly valuable supplement to organic SEO.

Too Many Local Sites, Too Much Inconsistency

Too often we see local listings that are incorrect: old phone numbers, confusing variations on your business name, inconsistent addresses. It’s been reported that one in every five local searches returns false information, and that hurts your business. Getting them all current, correct and consistent is important but time-consuming. And they’re subject to being changed as the publishers collect information from multiple sources; keeping them correct requires frequent attention.

PowerListings Addresses That

We’re now offering PowerListings — a service to ensure you have an effective and consistent presence on more than 50 local directories, search engines and mobile apps. It: can:

  1. PowerListings local sitesMake sure you’re listed on 50+ local sites
  2. Synchronize them all so they show the same name, address and phone (important for Google rankings)
  3. Allow for detection and removal of duplicates and near-duplicates (also a ranking factor)
  4. Provide you a dashboard where you can see any of the listings anytime and add updates whenever appropriate
  5. Synchronize display of additional information like logos & photos, payment methods, office hours, events, special announcements and more
  6. Monitor your online reviews at about a dozen and a half local sites that publish reviews
  7. Prevent unexpected changes to your listings as the publishers gather information from other sources; always keeping your listings current and accurate

Want to find out how many local listings you have and accurate they are? Run a free scan to see.

Want to explore this in greater depth? Learn more here.

We encourage your feedback in the comments below.

Your Website Needs To Be Mobile-Friendly

Why Should I Care?

US smartphone penetration is up to 75% as of the end of 2014. Late last year, mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic for the first time. And according to Nielsen, 87% of mobile users used their mobile device for shopping activities like searching for a product or service, pricing comparisons, or brick & mortar address search.

not mobile-friendlyAccording to Google:

Appearing on smartphones is critical for local businesses. 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 84% take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

Google has also been focusing more recently on the user experience of websites, preferring those that provide a good user experience because web users like those sites better. And a website that’s not mobile-friendly provides a poor user experience for smartphone users.

Google has previously announced that whether a site is mobile-friendly is a positive ranking factor. As a hint that it might be due for increased weight in Google rankings, early this year Google started issuing warnings to webmasters if their site isn’t mobile-friendly. Then as recently as last week, Google wrote “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” Google has already begun a rollout of alerts for users indicating which sites in it’s search results are mobile-friendly. It’s not universal yet, but seems to be increasing in coverage.

What makes a site mobile-friendly?

mobile-friendly websiteThere are four main things that distinguish a mobile-friendly site:

  • It avoids use of software that doesn’t work on phones (like Flash).
  • It makes links and buttons large enough and far enough apart to be easily clicked with a finger.
  • It uses text that can be easily read without zooming.
  • It sizes content so there’s no horizontal scrolling needed and no zooming required.

Check your site

There are two easy ways to check to see whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

  1. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Tool to see if Google thinks you’re mobile-friendly.
  2. The acid test: look up your site on a phone yourself and judge.

What if you fail the test?

If you fail the test, you have three options.

  1. You can talk with your web designer about a site redesign to make your site “responsive”. Responsive means your website changes how it looks depending on what kind of device is used to view it.
  2. Without a website redesign, you can use a tool like DudaMobile to create a mobile version of your site. Typically it replaces the “www.” prefix with a “m.” prefix and does a lot of the redesign work for you. You will still need to spend time tweaking it to look the way you want, and there’s an annual fee for the service.
  3. Do nothing and take your chances with your Google rankings.

Not being mobile-friendly is not yet a major ranking signal at Google, but it will be increasing in importance over time as smartphones and tablets continue to displace laptops and desktops as the platform of choice. The next big jump in its importance as a ranking signal is scheduled for April 21 of this year.

If you’re not currently mobile-friendly, now is the time to fix that.

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Need help showing up min Google, Yahoo & Bing? Rank Magic can fix that.

Tell us about your own mobile-friendly experience in the comments below.


SEO Delivers the Best ROI for Local Businesses

ROI-600x360Search Engine Land recently published the results of a survey that examines the sources of traffic and leads to local businesses. According to the 288 respondents, organic search delivers the best ROI to local businesses. The survey found organic search delivered the most website traffic and phone calls into local businesses, which justifies the effort spent on it.

Google Places/+Local (now renamed Google My Business) comes in second and delivers almost as good an ROI, although it sends significantly less traffic to local business websites.

website-traffic-600x371When asked what percent of visits to their websites come from different sources, organic search again came out on top, with local search on Google coming in second. The combination of organic search and local search account for a full 40% of all visits, dwarfing the other sources of traffic. That illustrates the importance of having good local visibility in place as well as organic SEO.

Does this agree with your experience? Or do you disagree? Let us know in the comments below.

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Need help with your own organic and local visibility? Rank Magic can help.

Market Your Blog with Social Media in Three Easy Steps

How you can leverage social networking sites to kickstart your blog’s promotion efforts

Social media platformsNo matter how engaging the content, you won’t build a following if no one knows about your blog. If you’re like many new bloggers, you don’t have a marketing budget to speak of. Luckily, social media is a completely free means of promoting your blog.

Today’s most popular social networking platforms each have hundreds of millions of active users who troll the social web to connect with others, seek and share information, express opinions, and be entertained. Get in on the action and show them what you’ve got with these simple steps.

  1. If you don’t have them already, set up accounts on the most popular social media platforms, creating Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ profiles. If you’re already well established on these sites, you might also consider adding Tumblr, Pinterest, or Instagram, depending on your readership and content. When creating your profiles on these sites, be sure to link back to and reference your blog. The goal is to ensure everyone you come in contact with on the social web is aware of and has easy access to your blog.
  2. Add social media widgets and/or links to those social media accounts to your blog and your email signature. Add a Facebook Like button, a Tweet button and a Google +1 button on all your blog posts, like the ones we have at the top and bottom of our own posts. Add social media Share buttons like the ones on this blog post from AddThis so readers can share your blog posts with others.  You can also place social icons and your profile addresses on your business cards and any other literature you distribute. If you’re active on forums, web rings, and chat rooms, include them in your signature there as well. Ditto when you comment on others’ blogs (which you should do, as often as possible!)
  3. Use automatic sharing features to post links to your blog on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Many social media platforms offer features that allow for automatic sharing. External, third-party applications such as Buffer and the WP to Buffer WordPress plug-in, Zapier, TweetDeck, and are also great options that offer automation features to post across your online profiles to save time and simplify your social media marketing efforts.

Remember that every time you participate in a conversation, post a comment, or tell the world what’s on your mind on Facebook or Twitter, those words and ideas should ultimately link back to your blog. When you’re online, you’re always representing your brand. (You’ll want to consider this carefully before posting anything.) And take some care to ensure that your comments are relevant, timely, and appropriate, especially when you’re adding a link to your blog as your signature. Otherwise, your post may be ignored as unwanted spam.

Blog orangeWhile there are a variety of ways to enrich and enhance your readers’ experience with social media, and plenty of more advanced methods for driving traffic to your blog, the steps above are among the first and most important you can take in order to begin leveraging social media to boost your blog’s readership. By using applications that automate your social media activity and posting your blog’s web address on your social media profiles (and vice versa) you’ll ultimately create a system that consistently puts your blog and its content in front of hundreds of potential followers who want what you have to offer.

Let us know how you promote your blog in the comments below.

Tag That Tweet!

How hashtags can help you build your business, gain new followers, and showcase your expertise


The simple little number sign first began appearing on Twitter in 2000, and has since become a widely used, well-recognized Twitter topic categorization tool.  Now dubbed the “hashtag,” the symbol is used to classify an extraordinarily wide variety of topics.

You see those tags everywhere, but perhaps you aren’t sure what they are or why you should care. Your organization can leverage hashtags to meet a variety of marketing objectives. Take to Twitter to drive website traffic, build brand awareness, showcase your expertise, announce events, and keep followers engaged by enabling them to easily follow relevant tweets. (Such as, lowest prices of the year #BoulderAutoSale!). You can also encourage followers to visit your website or blog by tweeting about topics they care about. The tags can be used to link back to an article, blog post, site, or video (for example, the benefits of using your dealer for regular maintenance #dealermaintenance #BoulderAuto).

You can use the hashtag classification system to identify tweets related to the same topic. The more users who employ the same hashtag, the more the topic will trend upward. Those topics that are tagged the most will end up highlighted in Twitter’s Trending Topics page. Though the concept of tagging is relatively simple, it’s critical that you understand how to appropriately tag your posts without offending or annoying others, miscategorizing posts, or inadvertently claiming or creating a tag that’s already in use. Armed with this information, you can then get to work using the hashtag to your advantage.

If you’re looking to highlight a unique aspect of your business, announce an event or promotion, or discuss a relevant hot topic related to your organization, the first step is to choose a hashtag. Perhaps you want to join a conversation already trending in order to promote yourself or your business as a topic expert. In this case, carefully research the most popular version of the tag, which may have a variety of formats (#carmaintenance, #vehiclemaintenance, #carcare), and choose the most widely used. Or you may want to create an entirely new topic unique to your business, event, or idea. If so, choose wisely. With so many hashtags in use, you’ll want to be sure to employ a tag not currently in use. The best way to do so is to add uniquely identifying information (#BoulderAutoDecemberSale).

Regardless of the topic you choose, tag your own company’s name separately within the same tweet (#BoulderAuto), so you can begin to build a group of tweets that are all related to your company. While you want to ensure your tag is unique, take care to ensure spelling is correct and that the tag isn’t so long that others might find it cumbersome to retweet or write about on their own (especially important given Twitter’s 140-character limit).

Though Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags, it’s not the only social media site on which the symbol can be found. If you are looking to create a real presence for your new tag, consider employing it across multiple channels, such as Facebook and Google+. You can and definitely should also use tweets to link back to your pages on those sites, as well as to existing blog posts, your website, relevant articles, and more, boosting traffic on your organization’s other online “homes” and/or raising awareness of a given subject.

Before you get started, remember that it’s easy to get tag-crazy. You may assume that the more tags in your tweet, the more searches you’ll show up in, and the more folks will read your posts. Unfortunately, many users before you have been there, done that, and it’s generally considered poor etiquette to include more than three tags in your post. Those users who add too many tags or who attach unrelated tags to their posts may lose the interest of their readers or even find themselves suspended or kicked off social media sites.

Hashtags are highly effective means of categorizing and organizing tweets in what would otherwise be a rather chaotic, albeit character-limited environment. Your organization can reap the benefits of tagging by carefully considering which tags to use, following proper etiquette, and using tags as a means to not only build a following but also drive traffic to your organization’s other social media sites and website. With knowledge and understanding, as well as some research and preparation, you can easily begin leveraging hashtags to promote your business, help your customers to see you as an authority in your field, build brand and subject awareness, and boost web traffic. So go ahead and tag that tweet!

Do you use hashtags in a special way? Please let us know in the comments below.

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Should You Avoid Hidden Content?

hidden-contentA Hidden Danger

A common web design technique may now be dangerous to your rankings.

A Common Technique

A lot of blogs don’t display entire blog posts on the blog’s home page. It’s common to see a teaser or perhaps the first paragraph of the blog post followed by a “read more” link to open the entire blog post. That’s probably okay, as the blog post itself usually includes all the content of the blog.

I’m seeing this technique becoming more popular on non-blog pages, too, as a way to attract viewers who may be intimidated by too dense text content. Insofar as it works kind of like a bullet list where a reader can skim down and click on the one or two sections they want to read more about, it works. But it may present a hidden danger to your rankings on Google.

May Be a Bad Idea

A page that has a “read more” or “click to expand” link typically doesn’t link to a new page with its own URL. Instead, it opens the hidden content right there. And that hidden content may just be more hidden than you want it to be. It may be hidden from Google completely.

All the way back in 2012, Google wrote: “we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience.” Google went on to talk about content that’s not visible above the fold or that’s buried beneath ads and such. However, Search Engine Journal is now reporting that Google may be extending that practice by not be indexing the hidden content that’s only revealed by clicking on one of those “read more” links.

It hasn’t been 100% confirmed that Google is ignoring this kind of hidden content, so if revealing all of that content would be a major undertaking on your site it may be premature to do that. But if this is a technique you use on your site only occasionally and it would be easy to remove the hidden nature of that copy, you might give it a try and watch to see if your rankings change.

If you make a change like this, please let us know whether it affected your rankings in the comments below.

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‘Tis the Season!

Season’s Greetings to all our clients and other friends.

This season is rife with holidays and celebrations in many countries and among many faiths (and non-faiths). Whatever your personal preference, we hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season and a prosperous 2015.

Merry/Happy/Joyous/Prosperous (as appropriate):

winter holiday logo

  • Boxing Day
  • Christmas
  • Festivus
  • Global Family Day
  • Handsel Monday
  • Hanukkah
  • Hogmanay
  • HumanLight
  • Jól
  • Jul
  • Junkanoo
  • Korochun
  • Kwanzaa
  • Makar Sankranti
  • Malanka
  • Montol Festival
  • Mummer’s Day
  • New Year
  • Saint Stephen’s Day
  • Saturnalia
  • Seol-nal (Korean New Year)
  • Sinterklaas
  • Soyal
  • Winter Solstice
  • Wren Day
  • Yalda
  • Yule
  • Zartosht No-Diso

I hope we’ve mentioned your favorite celebration.

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