Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

SEO Blog

Why Optimizing Your Website Is of Value to a Small Business Owner

SEO… SEM… Search Queries… Organic Results… PPC…

Is it more than just alphabet soup?

Once upon a time there was an easy way (or so a small business owner might have thought) to get customers and increase business. ’Yellow pages’ Yellow Books’, ‘Little Yellow Books’ and the like were full of advertisements in varying sizes and prospective advertisers were bombarded with offers to be #1.

Competition was fierce to be in the first page position and/or on the right side of the page. Business owners couldn’t get enough of it, and every month, year after year, that’s where the majority of advertising money went. At least for our company.

Then came the web

Over a number of years, websites became increasingly popular, and the good news was, you didn’t have to be a Fortune 500 company or a country-wide chain to have a website. You no longer needed to “let your fingers do the walking” in order to find what you were looking for  — your friend the computer was your guide to the internet

Time passed and more and more people throughout the world began searching on Google and other lesser patronized search engines for items they might want to buy, services they needed, and a source for information. There were, however, nay-sayers and dis-believers. But, we weren’t about to join that parade.

And so, ‘back in the day’ we had a website designed for our company.  It was 1999 and we were pioneers in our industry, particularly in our local service area  — one of the very first to venture onto “the web”. The mere thought was mesmerizing! It was exciting, and it was, at least in our mind, THE place to be. And of course, many thought it silly. Who was going to look for our business on the internet? Everyone, that’s who!

And so begins the Odyssey

As with anything new, there’s a learning curve and being a savvy small business owner, I decided to start doing some legwork and educating myself in the ways of the new marketing trend. And so, after years of a somewhat stagnant website, it was clear that the time had come for a complete overhaul. The year was 2007.  After creating a new website design I decided to dip my toe in the big pool of Search Engine Marketing.  Webinars, seminars, books (by the dozen) and a foray into this new form of advertising and marketing led me to want to learn more.

And… why not? After all, our business success could largely depend on it. And so it became my focus. Not being found in a search query would then become the apparent bane of my existence.  But, how does one accomplish this. Start reading online and you’ll find, as of the date of this blog post, 1,630,000,000 responses, and that’s on Google alone. Daunting isn’t it?

As luck would have it, I met Bill Treloar (more on Bill later) who was nice enough to invite me to write this blog post.  After spending a few hours with Bill I decided to engage his services. Bill was a fountain of information, filling in the gaps of knowledge for me. Bill helped our company with the optimization of a half dozen pages on our website, which had recently undergone another revision in early 2011. Steadily we began seeing increased organic results. Coupled with my aggressive Pay-Per-Click marketing campaign, which, in my humble opinion goes hand-in-hand with other efforts, the pace began to build.  Slow and steady wins the race, as the cliché goes. All along, I continued (and do so today) to read, search, learn and persevere in my mission to be at the ‘top of the page’, at the’ front of the line’, the’ head of the class’.  And it works.

But… as with anything good…there’s an expiration date.  And so, my suggestion is to stay vigilant. Don’t let your expiration date come when you reach a time that you think you’ve done enough. It’s never enough.  Be your own best advocate, and continue the efforts laid out in the foundation that is created. Algorithms change, competition increases, and eventually you’ll be ready to unleash the expert you hired. Once that happens, hire yourself and stay the course. You’ll be glad you did!

See you online!
Bonnie Bornstein Fertel
Bornstein Sons, Inc.

About our guest blogger

Bonnie Bornstein FertelBonnie Bornstein Fertel along with her husband Richard Fertel are owners of Bornstein Sons, Inc. a 3rd generation family owned and operated contracting company providing Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, Solar and Electrical services for homes and businesses in northern and north central New Jersey.  Bonnie’s recently launched  new business, Bonnie B, LLC concentrates on web content, blogging, social media and Google AdWords Account Management.  Bonnie manages Google Ad Words accounts for small business owners and writes content.

Thanks to Bill Treloar and Rank Magic for getting us off on the right foot! Bill’s expertise in optimizing for search has proved to be quite an asset and I would highly recommend him to get your website off to a running start as well as ongoing monitoring. You do, however, have to keep your end of the bargain though! And, that’s the voice of experience talking!

19 Factors Influencing Local Search Rankings

For businesses with a local focus, rankings in Local Search are critical.

These are the listings that show up in Google, Yahoo and Bing with an icon relating to a location on an accompanying map. Search engines have been showing local search results higher and higher on their results pages and it’s not unusual for a well-optimized site to appear twice on the first page of results: once in the organic results and once in the local results. And if you show up twice in the results, it more than doubles the likelihood of a customer clicking on your listing.

Localo search listingSo how do you show up in the local results?

In our blog category for local search we have lots of information about how to find, claim and optimize your local listings in Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local. But which optimization factors are moist important? Here’s our list of what we believe to be the most important of them all. You don’t have to hit every single one of them, and some may even be inappropriate for you. But if you pay attention to this list and address as many as you can, your chances of showing up high in the local results will improve. The list is not in any particular order, but the ones we think you should focus on the most are in bold. (By the way, when I mention the “Local Page” I’m referring to your business listings in Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local.)

  • Physical address in the city of search
  • Proper business categories chosen in Local Page
  • Domain Authority
  • City and State in the page title of your home page
  • Local area code on Local Page
  • Owner-Verified (claimed) Local Page
  • Quality of inbound links to your website
  • Number of inbound links to your website
  • Diversity of inbound links to your website
  • Number of reviews at places like Yelp, CitySearch, and InsiderPages
  • Product or Service keywords in anchor text of inbound links to your website
  • Location keywords in anchor text of inbound links to your website
  • Photos and/or logos on your Local Page
  • Age of your Local Page
  • Percent of the information on your Local Page that’s completed
  • Number of +1s on your website (affects only Google)
  • Number of followers of your Google+ page (affects only Google)
  • Number of likes on Facebook
  • Number of followers on Twitter

10 Ways to Pick the Best Keywords

Some of the important factors we use to evaluate keywords include search frequency, buying intent, and competability (the ease or difficulty of achieving first page rankings). Hannah Howard has expanded on that list in a blog post over at LonghornLeads.com. Here are some of the factors she considers valuable.

  1. Keyword selection criteriaHaving a keyword in the domain name (though we think that’s losing potency fast)
  2. Popularity for PPC (pay per lick) advertising like Google’s AdWords
  3. Compete.com can reveal who is targeting a given keyword min organic and paid search.
  4. Local search volume from Google’s Keyword Tool.
  5. search about you from other tools such as SEMRush.com. SEOBook.com and SEOmoz.com.
  6. Global search volume from Google’s Keyword Tool.
  7. Microsoft Advertising Intelligence, a tool offered by Microsoft that works in Excel and can be used to research keywords based on Bing data.
  8. The authority of sites currently ranking highly for a given keyword. That will indicate the level of difficulty you can expect to compete for rankings. measures that might be relevant here include link counts, PageRankmozRank, and Domain Authority.
  9. Domain selling sites like buydomains.com and sedo.com,can reveal how competitive domains are for a given keyword.
  10. Google suggestions: start typing it in Google and if Google automatically suggests that keyword after the first few letters are typed then you may have a strong keyword.

I recommend Hannah’s post to you for elaboration on each of the above suggestions.

Search Engine Market Share

New search engine ordering - Google then Bing and then YahooWe haven’t reported on the respective market share among the three top search engines for a little more than a year, and we see some new trends going on. A year ago Google had 64% of all US searches, Yahoo had 16% and Bing had 14%. That’s changing.

Google & Bing Up  — Yahoo Down

Now Google’s share has improved to 66%, Bing is up to 15% and Yahoo is down to 13%, their lowest share of the market yet. That moves Bing into second place for the first time.

Ask has about 3% od the search market and AOL comes in at about a percent and a half. So the big three still monopolize search adding up to 94% of all searches.

Need help getting found in Google, Bing & Yahoo? Request our Overview & Pricing Guide via the button on the right.

Penguin Penalty for Keyword Stuffing

Penguin Penalizes Keyword Stuffing

Google’s latest significant algorithm change, Penguin, was released in late April of this year.  It’s designed to reward high quality websites and penalize what Google calls webspam. One of the kinds of webspam Penguin is focusing on is on-page keyword stuffing.

In the past it was felt that a certain number of iterations of a verbatim keyword phrase was needed in order to score highly enough in relevance and achieve a high ranking in the search engines. Search engines have since gotten much better at understanding matching pages for a query without requiring such verbatim keyword density measures. But many web pages have nevertheless gotten better rankings than they might otherwise deserve due to overly aggressive on-page keyword placement.

Penguin is designed to put those web pages in their place. According to Google:

In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked. We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.

Have you inadvertently done some keyword stuffing?

Assuming you haven’t engaged in link spam, it would serve you well to examine your on-page optimization. Now a certain presence of important keywords is essential for a page to rank well, so how do you know if you’ve gone overboard? Respected SEO guru Dan Thies has studied a large number of websites and come up with a test you can do yourself with a printout of your web pages. He calls it The Red Pen test and it should give you a good idea of whether you’ve stepped over the line and are in danger of a Penguin slap-down.

We recommend his keyword stuffing test to you  — you’ll find it here.