Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

SEO Blog

How Good Is Your Blog?

Your blog is a powerful inbound marketing tool.Hubspot’s companion to their Website Grader is Blog Grader. Like Website Grader, it gives you a percentage grade and then breaks down your analysis by components such as these:

  • a comparative rank (against all the blogs they’ve analyzed
  • estimated traffic rank
  • SEO link authority
  • where your blog is hosted
  • subscribability (how easy it is for people to subscribe to your blog)
  • analysis of individual posts
    • title tags
    • meta description tags
    • posting frequency
    • post length (word count)
    • links per post
    • images per post

Blog Grader makes suggestions about all of these things to help you improve your blog. If you blog, I recommend you get your blog graded.

Page Speed Automated

Check your page downoad speed.Somewhere within Google, there’s an organization known as the “Make the Web Faster” initiative. It’s based on the belief that the faster pages load in your browser, the better. People are no longer content to sit drumming their fingers while waiting for a web page to display. Slow web pages are a user turn-off, and we’ve written before about how that can affect your rankings, at least in Google. In fact, Google’s position on this is clear from this statement:

“At Google, we’re obsessed with speed – we measure it, pick it apart, think about it constantly.  It’s even baked into our quarterly goals.”

We include page download speed issues in optimization recommendations for our clients, and wrote about a tool Google created called “Page Speed” to help webmasters identify specific speed issues and which suggests how to fix them.

Recently, Google announced a great new tool – sort of the next generation page speedup technology:

We just launched a new open-source Apache module called mod_pagespeed that any webmasters can use to quickly and automatically optimize their sites. (It’s like Page Speed, but makes the changes automatically.)

Google says this new tool can double the speed of web page downloads, and do it automatically. It’s not something the typical business owner should mess with, as it’s a bit technical. But you ought to make your webmaster aware of the tool if you have any slow pages on your site. Google describes it this way:

mod_pagespeed includes several filters that optimize JavaScript, HTML and CSS stylesheets. It also includes filters for optimizing JPEG and PNG images. The filters are based on a set of best practices known to enhance web page performance. Webmasters who set up mod_pagespeed in addition to configuring proper caching and compression on their Apache distribution should expect to see an improvement in the loading time of the pages on their websites.

The improved user experience will contribute to your conversion rate, and the prospect of ranking higher in Google as a by-product is nothing to sneeze at. Here’s Google’s page for mod_pagespeed.

What Makes SEO Fail?

What makes an SEO campaign fail to deliver results?What makes SEO fail? There can be many reasons an SEO campaign fails to achieve or continue achieving the results you desire. One way SEO results are bound to fail is if you don’t keep your SEO consultant abreast of website changes. We’ve seen this happen all to often. Let’s analyze what happens.

What the client thinks:

We need to make changes to the website to reflect the changing nature of our business and our marketing focus. We don’t want to run all of them past the SEO consultant because they don’t concern him or her. And they may charge us for their time to review stuff that’s not related to our search engine rankings. Who needs the extra red tape and expense?

What the SEO consultant encounters:

A Keyword Status Report for the client shows a substantial drop in rankings for a group of important keyword phrases. Manually checking some of those keyword phrases confirms the worst: the client no longer shows up anywhere for those critical search phrases. Next, a review of the client web site shows that the pages that had been optimized for those phrases are gone altogether, or combined with other pages, or have been rewritten such that the keyword phrase no longer exists in the copy or the page title tag or anywhere else. Diagnosis: SEO failure.

We’ve seen this far too often. One client that had great rankings five years ago (the last time we were in touch with each other) decided to get their web site redesigned a year or more ago. The new site really looks a lot better than the old site. But their new web designer wasn’t given a copy of our optimization recommendations, so they just redesigned the web site to look the way the client wanted. Result: every last optimization technique on the site vanished. Suddenly the site can’t be found in Google or Yahoo or Bing unless you search explicitly for the company name. Anyone who doesn’t know the company name will never find them by searching for what they do. That’s SEO failure. And until we happened to talk, the client was blaming it on the poor economy.

How to prevent this kind of SEO failure:

If your web site has been optimized and is doing well for your essential keywords, make sure any redesign includes your optimization. Keep the recommendations from your SEO consultant and give them to your web designer before they start redesigning your web site.

In fact, it doesn’t take a complete redesign to compromise your optimization. We recommend talking with your SEO consultant before changing anything on your web site. Don’t worry about the small cost that may be involved. You’re better off safe than sorry.

Search Marketing with Twitter

When people search on Google, they’re asking questions. “Who does house cleaning locally?” “Where can I buy ice hockey gear?”. And we all know how SEO for local businesses is the best search marketing response to that type of demand.

But people ask the same kind of questions on Twitter, where they ask their friends & family (or followers) questions like “Anyone know a good chiropractor?”

TwitterThat phrase “anyone know” is very common on Twitter and is a red flag indicating someone’s looking to buy a product or service. Maybe your product or service. So if you’re active on Twitter and have a wide following, chances are someone might respond to a question like that and recommend you.

Even if you don’t have such a wide following, you can still listen for those questions. With a Twitter account, you can search for recent tweets that include certain keywords and phrases, like the combination of “anyone know” and your name, brand, product or service. Search for “anyone know” NJ landscaper or “anyone know” water filter. If you find a tweet that looks like it might present a good lead for you, simply reply and answer the question, volunteer your product or services, or offer a link to your web site. Couldn’t be easier.

Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief at Search Engine Land wrote a terrific article recently where he touched on this technique and expanded it to using Twitter to engage with customers, both happy and disgruntled, by searching Twitter for mentions of you or your company, and responding helpfully.

Is It Worth Investing in Multiple Domain Names?

Buying up lots of domain names that are vaguely similar to your primary domain is common practice and lots of online business owners will have a stash of domains that they have invested in rather than simply buying just one.

In most cases where clients simply want to have multiple domains with keyword variations in the domain name, we usually suggest that’s not an effective strategy. But there are some valid reasons for registering multiple domain names.

Search Marketing Standard lists four specific reasons it might make sense to do so:

  1. Owning multiple domains can lead to more traffic
  2. Owning certain domain variations can be a strategic decision
  3. They can help you leverage domain complaints or domain reviews
  4. Multiple domains can handle misspellings of your domain

See the article in Search Marketing Standard for an elaboration of each of those.