Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

SEO Blog

Protect Your SEO Investment: Own Your Domain

True Story: A Cautionary Tale of Domain Ownership

Do you know who owns your business’s domain name?

A client of mine was a local chiropractic center. They had a reasonably acceptable website, but it had never been optimized. Without SEO, they just did not show up in search. To fix that, they hired us to optimize their site. When it came time to apply our optimization to their site, they had a falling out with their website design company. It was so bad that they decided they needed to move to a new company to host and support their website.

Their old web person had registered their domain for them; let’s call it LocalChiropractor.net. When it came time to move it, their web person wouldn’t allow it, wanting to retain the income for hosting the website. Suddenly it became clear that this client did not own their domain name. Their web company had registered it in their own name and refused to release it.

Aarrgghh! Domain ownership isn't always obvious to a small business owner. But it's important.

Make sure you own your own domain name.

Moving to a brand-new domain name would have caused them to lose all SEO benefits and search visibility that had been earned by the old website. Only because they had no visibility at all yet did they really have nothing to lose. And fortunately for them their web company had registered them a .net domain name. Having a .com domain instead of a .net domain is important for small business.  Fortunately, I was able to help them register LocalChiropractor.com which matched their previous domain except with .com. We optimized that and they now have enviable visibility on Google.

If this client had earned good Google rankings on their old domain, all of that would have been lost and they would been starting from scratch. It would have taken them many months to catch up to where they had been before.

Moral of the story

Make sure you, and not your website or marketing company, own your own domain name. It’s your business and you’re entitled to full control. If you’re not sure, check with whoever registered your domain for you.

We welcome you to join the conversation in the Comments section below.

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Finally, how do you show up when someone searches for you without knowing your company name? It’s easy to find out! Just click here.

To Blog or Not To Blog?

Why should I blog?

Does your small business need a blog?

Would you love to have the perfect prospects find you without having to spend thousands in purchased advertisements?

Would you be happy to grow your business and build sustainable profitability with a steady stream of top clients without spending hours per week on marketing tasks?

For any business to grow, new prospects need to be able to find you easily where they search – Google. And while Google has millions of websites to review, one thing that helps yours climb to the forefront of Google’s attention is fresh, high value content.

The most effective way to accomplish this is with blogging. Blogging is just one form of content marketing, and we’ve all heard that content is king.

Bottom line, consumers are not randomly choosing a company to work with. They are researching, reviewing, and weighing in on whether you’re the company they want to choose. Notice I didn’t say “the best” company – I said the one they want to choose. Years ago, marketing and advertising messages were focused on the company proudly stating that they are the best in their industry.

Times have changed – we know that “best” is strictly subjective – and quite frankly, meaningless. Your company may be the best option for some prospects and be a bad fit for others. So focus your blog topics on your uniqueness, who you help and how you help them. The best-fit prospects will identify with your company as “the best” – for their situation and needs.

A blog makes your small business more competitive

Yes, you need a blog.

But do I really need a blog?

Yes. High value blogs give your audience new, meaningful content to consume on a consistent basis. They are interesting, educational, thought provoking and memorable. Blog content is not only what Google is seeking, it’s what your next top client is searching for, reading and evaluating. Now if your perfect prospect has a choice of 2 companies – who do you think will get the sale: the company that posts valuable content 2 to 4 times per month, or the company that randomly posts blogs 2 or 3 times per quarter? And if you’re not blogging at all, you’ve automatically lost that sale.

Yes, you can do this yourself. Simply write clean and informative articles, without spelling or grammar mistakes, with a friendly and professional tone of voice, accompanied by high quality images, at least twice a month, every month. Post that article on your blog page and on your LinkedIn profile. For good measure you’ll want to include that article in a branded and formatted email campaign for those prospects who have found you and have signed up for your emails but are still considering working with you.

Peek into What Content Marketing IS NOT

Writing a small business blog

This is totally do-able. However, it takes time. Time away from servicing your clients, time away from leading your team, time away from building your projects and running your operations.

It also takes skill. You may have gotten away with acceptable writing for college term papers, but marketing-ready copy is a different skill set. Tone of voice as well as grammar and punctuation are all essential.

Even for the most devoted Do It Yourselfer, please know that creating high quality content consistently is not a Saturday Home Depot project. It’s a “must get done every month” ongoing business process. It must be planned ahead of time and executed according to a pre-determined launch schedule.

You can do this. In fact, you can jump in right now. Get out a paper and pen….

  • List the top 3 questions you get asked about most often in your industry.
  • List the top 3 frustrations and problems your clients have that your company solves.
  • List the top 3 goals your prospects have that your company can help attain.
  • List the top 3 ways your company does things differently.

If you can do this (of course you can!) you’ve got your topics for weekly blog posts for the next 3 months! You’re welcome 😊

Now …

Now that you’ve had the experience of beginning your plan – decide if you’re willing to commit the time to carry this out yourself, or if you’ll outsource it. Is this going to be in your Zone of Genius or will it be an unwelcome burden? Either way – blogging is a must, and it’s here to stay.

About our guest blogger

Susana Fonticoba, Clear Path MarketingSusana Fonticoba is the owner of Clear Path Marketing in East Hanover, NJ. Have questions? You’re invited to reach out and ask. Better yet, she’s giving away her popular Content Marketing Cheat Sheet. The mission and specialty of Clear Path Marketing is to work side by side with entrepreneurs who are growing their revenue but lack processes and structure to map out a consistent, sustainable growth plan. Susana is a certified business growth strategist who partners with entrepreneurs across the country.

What’s been your experience? If you have a blog, how happy are you with the investment of time and attention it takes? Let us know in the comments below.

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NJ Presentation: The Secrets of Do-It-Yourself SEO

Sponsored by SCORE of Northwest New Jersey

I’ll be presenting at Fairleigh Dickinson University on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:30 PM.

The presentation is focused on small businesses and startups, and will explain the essentials of search engine optimization, focusing on things you can do yourself.  If you have more time than money in your startup or small business, invest some time in making sure that you show up in Google when potential customers are looking for someone who does what you do.

Click here to register.

Score presentation for New Jersey small businesses on SEO.

I hope to see you there!

Click here to register.

Mastering the Art of Voice Search Optimization

Amazon Alexa“Alexa, tell me about voice search”
“I found this information on: Boy George”

Virtual assistants may be far from perfect – just search #AlexaFail on Twitter – but they sure are popular.

A 2018 survey of over 90,000 internet users found that 17% currently own a smart speaker (such as a Google Home, or an Amazon Echo), with a further 34% planning to purchase one in the near future. 20% of mobile Google searches are also carried out using a virtual assistant such as Siri.

Voice search is clearly here to stay, and businesses need to pay attention. Why? Because while the Alexas and Siris of the world may be saving lives, they could be killing your SEO.

We’ll take a quick look at four foolproof ways to stay on their good side.


1.  Siri Loves Structured Data

It’s true, she really does.

But first, what exactly is structured data? Structured data helps the Google bots to better understand your website, and the content you write. While humans can easily identify tables, lists and reviews by sight, robots need a little more help.

Voice search on phones is increasing in frequency.When you add structured data to your pages, you’ll need to use what’s known as ‘schema markup’. This is a specific type of HTML code that lets Google recognize the format of the data you’ve added, and – crucially – pull this data through for search result snippets. Think of it like speaking to the Google bots in a language they can understand. And the better they understand you, the better chance your site will have of ranking.

That said, adding elements like ‘review schema’ benefits users, as well as robots. By pulling through a review’s star rating to the results page, users have a far clearer idea of the type of content they’ll be viewing, which in turn should boost your click-through rate. Plus, by adding a variety of types of content to your pages you’ll also improve the experience of those viewing your site online (nobody likes to be faced with a huge wall of text!), so it really is a win-win.

So why does voice search favor structured data so much? By adding schema markup in the right places, you’re spelling out to Google exactly where it can find the content it needs to answer a voice search query. The easier you can make its job, the better!

And keep your eyes peeled for the launch of ‘speakable structured data’. It’s still in its BETA phase at the moment, but if introduced it will let you wrap certain parts of your copy in a specific markup code to signpost it as the perfect voice search result for Google.


2. Conversation is Key

Most local searches are done via voice search on a phone.The way we type a search query is different from  the way we search by speaking aloud.

Instead of typing ‘what is SEO’, or even ‘SEO what is’, we’re more likely to say ‘what’s SEO?’. This might seem like semantics (and technically, it is!), but bringing a conversational feel to your content is a surefire way to set you up for voice search success.

Here are three easy ways to nail conversational content:

  1. Use contractions, such as what’s, it’s, and here’s. This is simply more reflective of how we speak. E.g. ‘You might be wondering exactly what SEO is. Here’s a quick breakdown…’
  2. Use questions and answers. Why? Because it makes your content more engaging, and it signposts snappy answers to be picked up as voice search snippets. E.g. ‘So what is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s all about…’
  3. Use natural language. It can be tempting to drift into complicated language in your copy, which can be off-putting to both robots and humans alike. Follow the easy rule: ‘If you can say it in a simpler way, do’.

3. Revel in Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile responsiveness is no longe an option. Most searches are done from phones now.Mobile responsiveness is no longer the secret of clued-up web designers; all the best website builders in the business now offer completely mobile-responsive templates as standard. In SEO terms, having a mobile responsive website is an essential, not a preference.

But how does mobile responsiveness help with voice search optimization? With the vast majority of voice searches still carried out on mobile, your site needs to offer the best mobile user experience in order to compete for voice search snippets. That means a site that’s fast, and easy to navigate from your phone. Again, this is something that will benefit all your mobile users, not just those using voice search.


4. Fish for Long-Tail Keywords

When it comes to targeting keywords, voice search presents an opportunity rather than a challenge.

People are lazy when they type. They rely on search engine intelligence to decipher the meaning behind their two or three word queries: think ‘best restaurant Washington’, ‘website cost’, or ‘find gas station’.

With voice search, people are a lot more talkative. You’re far more likely to see queries such as ‘where’s the best restaurant in Washington?’, ‘how much does a website cost?’ or ‘how far away is the nearest gas station?’.

You can harness the power of these long-tail keywords in two key ways:

First, the gift of extra information and a question word in these queries gives a much clearer idea of the user intent behind the search. By targeting these long-tail keywords, you’ll create more precise content that gives users the answers they’re really searching for.

Second, you can (almost) say goodbye to shoehorning awkwardly worded keywords into your articles. Voice search queries are generally fully formed sentences that will easily double up as engaging H2s and H3s. Get ready for your content to (almost) write itself!


So there you have it: four simple ways to set your site up for voice search success.

But the best part? As we’ve mentioned throughout, these optimizations will improve the quality of your site for all users, not just those finding you through voice search. That means happy customers, happy search engines, and a website that’s ready to face future Google algorithm updates head on.


Hannah WhitfieldAbout the Author

Hannah Whitfield writes for Website Builder Expert, the number one resource for getting people online. Behind every successful online business is a sound knowledge of SEO, and Hannah wants to bring you the latest developments that’ll keep you one step ahead of the competition.


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SEO Tactics And Statistics That Every Small Business Should Know

Learning about SEO is an investment in your business.In today’s world, it comes as no surprise that search engine optimization (SEO) has become one of the most important aspects of marketing for small businesses.

SEO is a collection of practices that affect the online visibility of your website online. These techniques are used to rank it higher in the unpaid search results, commonly known as organic search results.

Having a website is not sufficient

Whether you already own a small business or plan to start one, just creating a website won’t lead to success. You’ll have to direct quality traffic to it to increase your leads.

According to a 2017 SEO research published on HubSpot, 61% of marketers say that improving SEO and increasing rankings in organic search is their inbound marketing priority.

SEO techniques include link building, page speed optimization, creating top-quality content, introducing SSL security on your site, and a lot more.

Two essential approaches to SEO

Basically, there are two different but complementary SEO approaches – on-site and off-site.

Understanding SEO is worth the effort.On-site SEO deals with improving your keyword visibility by optimizing context, images, refining code and structure, or anything else that is directly related to your own website.This ensures you’ll be included somewhere in results when people search for those keyword phrases.

Off-site SEO, on the other hand, involves increasing the ranking of your site by relating it to outside sources such as trustworthy sites (link building), social media, citations blogs, etc.

Neither approach is sufficient by itself. On-site SEO gets you included (somewhere) in search results and off-site SEO gets you ranked closer to the top of those results.

Search algorithms are fluid

Search engines update their algorithms on a daily basis, which is why it is hard to keep up with all the latest trends in the industry. Luckily, the infographic below is here to help you.

It takes you through the 72 stats that will help you understand the most important trends in 2019. It’ll explain common SEO concepts and techniques and provide you with a quick look at the evolution of search engines.

You will learn what you have to do in terms of SEO to improve your site’s ranking in search results, attract more visitors, and increase conversions (converting visitors into customers).

Last but not least, you’ll learn what else you need to do if you own a local business.

All about hoe to rank highly in search in 2019.

About the Author

Tina NikolovskaHristina Nikolovska — As the Marketing Manager at SEO Tribunal, part of Tina’s daily engagements involve raising awareness of the importance of digital marketing when it comes to the success of small businesses. As her first step towards this journey was in the field of content marketing, she’s still using every opportunity she gets to put her thoughts into educational articles.