Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

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Google’s Penguin Update

Penguin Update

The most recent significant update to the Google ranking algorithm is the Penguin Update unleashed on April 24. It’s designed to reward high quality websites and penalize what Google calls webspam. Web sites that may have enjoyed high rankings due to things like keyword stuffing and excessive keyword placement in various places in the code may experience lowered rankings.

The Google Penguin updateThe main focus of this change is to remove content from websites with:

Have you suffered from Penguin?

If you think you’ve been unfairly penalized by this update, Google has a form to complain about it and possibly get your website re-evaluated. Google’s Pengiun complaint form is here.

Ned help recovering from a Penguin slap-down? Need help optimizing your site without running into a problem with the Penguin update? Rank Magic can help.

Keyword Density According to Google

Google’s Matt Cutts recently addressed a question about what the ideal keyword density is. He refers to the diminishing return of repeated keyword usage and the danger of keyword stuffing which can earn you an over-optimization penalty.

Matt says it best, so take a look at the video.

Increasingly employing variations on a keyword phrase rather than strict repetitions of a verbatim phrase seem to work best.

First Impressions Happen Fast on a Web Site

Less than 3 Seconds!

According to research conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes under three seconds to form a first impression when someone lands on your website.

“We know first impressions are very important,” says Dr. Hong Sheng, assistant professor of business and information technology at Missouri S&T. “As more people use the Internet to search for information, a user’s first impressions of a website can determine whether that user forms a favorable or unfavorable view of that organization.”

A major factor

Eye tracking heat map and gaze plot of a visitor looking at a web page.

(Credit: Image courtesy of Missouri University of Science and Technology)

First impressions are a major factor in whether a person remains on a website long enough to find what they’re looking for or long enough to take an action like buying something or calling a phone  number. A poor first impression drives away potential customers.

Using eye-tracking software and an infrared camera, the researchers monitored college students’ eye movements as they scanned the web pages. They then analyzed the eye-tracking data to determine how long it took for the students to focus on specific sections of a page — such as the menu, logo, images and social media icons — before they moved on to another section.

It took 2.6 seconds for the students to scan and then focus on an item on the web page, where they formed initial impressions. The item they first focused on was fixated on for less than 2 tenths of a second before their eyes moved on to other items on the page.

After rating the sites, analysis showed that students stayed longer on the pages that they scored more highly for their first impression. That’s not surprising, but indicates that first impressions have a strong impact on how long a person is willing to view or read a web page.

The elements on the page that drew students’ focus and displayed the greatest interest were these, in order of attention time:

  • The website’s logo.
  • Equally important was the main navigation menu, whether horizontally along the top of vertically down the left side of the page.
  • The search box, if there was one.
  • Social networking links to sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • The site’s main image, if there was one
  • The site’s written content.
  • The bottom border or footer of the page.

One thing that wasn’t focused on during this study was banner ads, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

Why You Need Video Now

Video can be a powerful marketing tool for small and very small businesses. Chances are you’re not doing it yet  — most of our clients aren’t either. But it’s time to give it some serious thought.

Interpersonal Value

Online marketing videoVideo allows your customers to get to know you and your business, and feel comfortable with you. This can make the critical difference for small local businesses, especially those that involve face to face interaction. In your video, you will seem friendly and approachable (assuming you really are those things) and if your competitor doesn’t convey those impressions, you have a significant advantage right off the bat.

Your video can give the impression of honesty and friendliness  — just the kind of person your customer thinks they would enjoy dealing with. If they’re on your website chances are they’re looking for what you do. That’s the situation before they get to your website, when they’re searching for your products or services. But then your website has to convince them that you’re the one they want to spend their money with. Your website has to close the sale, and a video can be a powerful conversion tool.

A video sets you apart from competitors who don’t use video. It also lets you explain what differentiates you from your competition more easily than normal text content. Your videos present a face customers can recognize and trust. That’s the kind of relationship you want with your customers, but more importantly that’s the kind of relationship your customers want with you.

Visibility Value

Forrester Research Group says “video is 53 times more likely than text pages to appear on the first page of a search engine.” Google and Bing in particular seem to be working hard to integrate multiple kinds of content in their results and video gives you another avenue to show up there.

Your video isn’t restricted to your website either. You can post it on YouTube, Vimeo and other places, all of which adds to your exposure and can drive people to your website.

Explore Your Options

YouTubeWe all know that TV commercials are impossibly expensive for many small and very small businesses. But online videos aren’t like that. Prices may range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, and you may save money by scripting three or four videos and shooting them all at the same time. Some online video marketing companies provide professional scripting, scenery, makeup and direction while others rely on you to write the script and provide the background, and they just come and shoot. The extent of final editing can vary, too. And we’ve seen some effective videos that people recorded themselves with their webcam.

Explore your options, and see what best fits your style and your budget. But do consider using video. It can add a whole new dimension to your marketing.

Why SEO Is Not Enough

We’ve written in the past about how a powerful SEO campaign is not sufficient to boost your sales and profitability. We broached the subject three years ago, but there’s more to say at this point. Too many people think that if they just do a good job of optimizing their site for prominent search visibility, the battle’s won.

Not true.

Years ago many small businesses suffered from the Field of Dreams delusion: “If you build it (a website) they will come (customers)”. It was a rude awakening when they discovered a great website can still be invisible on the web. Clearly, they needed search engine optimization so people searching for what they sold, whether a product or a service, could find them easily.

Improving sales graphAlas, driving lots of visitors to your website isn’t enough either. The web site has to close the deal and make the sale. That’s an entirely different process from SEO. It doesn’t help your bottom line if SEO gets you great rankings in the search engines and those rankings drive lots of visitors to your site who don’t become customers. If your visitors can’t find what they want to buy, all the preceding effort to design a website and optimize it is thrown away. If the website is confusing, if it reads awkwardly, if it has spelling or grammatical errors that make people think you don’t pay attention to details, or even if the website doesn’t have an effective progression from entering the site to closing the sale  — any of those problems can render all the other work on the website useless.

A good article by the folks at Level343 says

To be blunt: SEO alone will not sell your product. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 million visitors if no one wants to buy your custom-made banana peel high heels for $300. It can’t make your product look interesting. It can’t make your prices worth paying. It can’t make the shipping costs look attractive, your services needed or your site usable.

As a bottom line to their article, they said it well.

SEO brings traffic; it does not, necessarily, bring sales. Creating content that is buyer-value focused does. Creating calls to action that really mean something (buy now just means spend money) brings sales. SEO brings traffic so the sales are possible.

You don’t have to join the businesses suffering from too much traffic and not enough sales. Adjust your focus to included value-added content!

For professional help in optimizing your website so it brings in motivated customers and convinces them to buy from you, contact us at Rank Magic.