Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

SEO Blog

Google’s New Possum Algorithm Change

Is Google’s Possum helping you?

Google's G logoGoogle’s been reporting a surge in “near me” type searches, probably at least partly related to the increased use of mobile phones for search.

One of the problems centers around searches by town or city. If your business falls just outside the city limits, you were unlikely to show up in the Local Stack or the listings revealed when you click on “More Places” for searches focused on that city. People very close to you might find only listings within the city limits that are much farther away from them than you are.

We’ve been able to get good rankings in the organic listings for searches like this. But listings in the Local Stack and More Places have been very difficult if not impossible to achieve

Google's Possum algorithm change

Then Came Possum

Possum arrived on or about September 1. Search Engine Land calls this the most significant update since Google’s Pigeon update in 2014. And it seems to be doing wonders for those businesses just outside of the city limits. This is a good thing.

The physical location of the searcher is now more important than before in these searches as well. Normally that’s a good thing, especially for “near me” types of searches. However, a client of ours has headquarters in New Jersaey and a second location on the outskirts of Phoenix. While Arizonans searching for what they do in Phoenix find them in the Local Stack, if my client searchers from New Jersey they’re not there. Organic searches appear to be unaffected though.

Possum Helps … and then …

On the down side, when there are multiple companies in the same line of business with offices in the same building, it appears most of them get filtered out, leaving only one of them in the Local Stack results. It’s as if Google thinks they’re affiliated with one another, like multiple doctors in the same medical practice.

Search Engine Land is reporting significant fluctuations in behavior leading them to conclude that Google is still tuning up the Possum algorithm. We expect it to settle down soon.

What changes have you seen in your local rankings since September 1? Let us know in the comments below.

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Not showing up for local searches? Rank Magic can help.

Better Get Your Website Mobile Friendly Now

Google is creating a separate mobile index.Google will soon split its index of web pages into two separate ones: one for desktop and one for mobile.

And the mobile one will be primary: Google will be updating it frequently while they will update the desktop index less often. This is a reflection of the fact that more than half of all searches are done on phones now—and the ratio of phone to desktop searches is continuing to increase.

According to Gary Illyes, a Google webmaster trends analyst, Google will make the change “within  months” and will leave the desktop index somewhat less up-to-date than the mobile one.

So what does this actually mean?

The biggest impact of this is likely to be on websites that have separate mobile and desktop versions. The two website versions will be indexed and evaluated separately as if they’re different websites … because sometimes they are. Separate mobile pages are often optimized differently from desktop pages, so search rankings may differ dramatically depending on whether a customer searches for you from their desktop/laptop or their phone.

If your site is “responsive”, meaning your pages adjust how they display depending on the device looking at them, you ought to be okay since the content is always the same.

However, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your ranking penalty when customers search from their phones will get worse. Possibly much worse, though Google hasn’t actually claimed that yet.

Joost de Valk, who runs search engine firm and author of the highly recommended Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, recently said this move makes sense.

I think in part it is about pushing people to change their sites to be responsive rather than having a separate desktop and mobile site. By saying that their mobile index is more important, it will push people to focus on their mobile sites.

This bears watching, but if you’re a little late in making your website responsive, now’s the time to get on the stick and do it.

Want to discuss how important this is for you? Call me.

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Nailing Your Online Presence


Nailing Your Online Presence

Live presentation with breakout sessions
to answer your questions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nailing Your Online Presence presenters: Bill Treloar of Rank Magic, Patti Singer of Follow Me Social Media Consulting, Sue Toth of Editing & More by Sue, and Valerie Paik of TAG Online.

Website, Facebook, Content, Twitter, SEO – it’s just so much to master! If you’re having trouble making sense of your online presence, we can help.

The presentation will start with a panel discussion moderated by Walt Blau of Generic Brand Human/Ashland Studios, followed by small breakout sessions where each expert will spend time at each table answering specific questions. Come prepared with your questions about starting and maintaining a website, writing content that gets noticed, using SEO to land your company at the top of online searches, and gaining your prospects’ attention on social media.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

8-10 am

Ashland Studios
343 New Road, Suite 3
Parsippany, NJ 07054

$25 per person

Online at
Pre-registration is required

For more info, please contact Bill Treloar at Rank Magic.

If you think friends or colleagues will be interested in this event, please share it with any of the buttons on the left. And if you think it warrants a Facebook Like or a Google +1, you’ll find buttons for those at the top.

Why Do I Need a Blog?

Do I really need a blog?

Why do you need a blog? Because there are lots of ways a blog helps you rank well in search engines.

We almost always recommend that our SEO clients maintain an active blog on their websites. Often they are concerned about the time and attention that requires, and ask how important it is. Do they really need a blog? More to the point, do you need a blog?

It’s true that a blog requires a certain level of dedication to write new blog posts on a regular basis. While opinions differ on how often you should write a new blog post, we typically recommend a minimum of one blog post per month. That level of blogging should be pretty easy to maintain, right?

Well, we’ve seen several instances of clients (and non-clients) starting a blog, and posting very frequently for the first month or two, and then forgetting about it for a year or more.

That doesn’t work.

Search engines, seeing regular activity in the way of new content on your blog, consider your website to be alive and active. That’s a positive ranking factor for SEO. But if you start a blog and then forget about it for months on end search engines are likely to consider your website to be like a vacant lot: uninteresting and unworthy of visitors.

So the question arises again: do you really need a blog? And the answer is almost always:

Yes, you need a blog.

Why should I blog? Is it worth the time and trouble?

Here are 3 reasons why:

  • Fresh content is good for your search engine rankings.
  • Your blog opens up some great marketing opportunities.
  • Your blog will help conversions – converting visitors into paying customers.

Let’s address those in a little more depth.

Fresh content on your blog

  • We’ve already touched on the benefit that it shows search engines your site is healthy, alive, and active.
  • Blog posts about your business will naturally address existing keyword phrases, cementing the relevance of your site for those terms for search engines.
  • Blog posts naturally focus on long-tail keyword phrases. Those are the search terms with four, five or more words that are narrowly focused. There is less competition for these and you’re likely to rank very highly for them as a result.
  • Regularly posted content on your blog gives visitors a reason to return frequently.

Leverage your blog for better marketing

  • Your blog is your friend when it comes to showing up in search.Having an active blog allows you to be listed in a number of blog directories on the web. Each of those listings provides an authoritative link back to your blog post, which enhances the link popularity of your whole website.
  • Blog posts provide great fodder for your email marketing campaign or newsletter. In fact, that was the main reason I started this blog way back in 2005.
  • Every blog post gives you at least one new opportunity to post a link to it on all of your social media accounts spreading your message further on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and maybe more.
  • For our clients, we typically promote each blog post on a dozen of the top social sites, expanding visibility beyond their own social circles.

Your blog can increase your conversion rate.

Conversion rate is the proportion of visitors who become paying customers, clients or patients. The higher the better.

  • You can use blog posts to promote special offers and promotions.
  • Every blog post gives you multiple opportunities for calls to action to encourage readers to contact you.
  • Blog posts about relevant and important aspects of your business establish your authority and expertise. That helps visitors trust you.
  • Especially if you deal with your customer base on a face-to-face basis, your blog can help to convey your personality as helpful, approachable, and a person or company that visitors will want to do business with.

An additional side benefit of a blog

We often have the opportunity to explain things to clients and others. Very often part of what we’re explaining has been dealt with in a blog post, so we can refer them to an old blog post for additional information. I would say I have the opportunity at least once a week to send someone to a past blog post to help answer their question or explain a concept. Will that be helpful for you? Only you can tell.

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.

Is your site like a Billboard in the Woods? Take a simple test.

If you’re not happy with the results of that test, Rank Magic can help.

How Many Incoming Links Do I Really Have?

Link Popularity Is an Important Ranking Factor

Link popularity — the number and quality of inbound links to your site is a critical ranking factor. I estimate it counts for 40-50% of where you rank on Google. While link quality outweighs link counts, many of our clients still like to know how their link counts are doing.

Moz and Majestic

Your link count is one of the link-related ranking factors at Google.

We track client inbound link counts from both Moz and Majestic because there are different ways to “count” links that results in occasionally large differences in link counts between them.

Link age may be a consideration: older links may count less than fresher links. Link weight is also important: the weight of a link is related to the web authority of the linking page so that links from more authoritative pages count significantly more heavily in your favor than links from lesser sources.

Link trend chartMoz tends to track high value links while Majestic tends to dig deeper and track many lower quality links. Moz tends also to have fewer false positives. Both constantly refine their link counting algorithms, resulting in occasional dramatic changes in reported link counts.

Links versus Domain LinksIn our monthly reporting to clients, we rely on the Moz link counts. But we track both and periodically report to clients about both of them, as well as counts of how many other websites are linking. Some websites (domains) may link to you from multiple pages, resulting in a difference between total links and linking domains. We also report on MozRank and Domain Authority.


Moz logoMozRank is a link popularity score that weighs the number of incoming links to a given web page (or a given website for Domain MozRank) but modifies that with a quality score for those inbound links. It’s designed to approximate Google’s PageRank score which is an important ranking factor at Google, and is on a logarithmic 0-10 scale like Google’s PageRank.  While Google used to display an approximate PageRank for web pages, they stopped doing that around 2014. MozRank is the closest approximation of that we’ve found.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority by MozDomain Authority is another metric from the folks at Moz to measure the strength of a website in terms of its likelihood to rank prominently in web search results. On a logarithmic 0-100 scale, it’s based on a number of more elementary metrics including link counts, linking domains, link quality, MozRank, and more. It’s being continuously tweaked via machine learning against actual Google search results

If you’d like to know more or have us track your own link popularity, just reach out anytime.

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Have something to say about this? Start or join the conversation in the comments below.