Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the web design Category

Do You Need an XML Sitemap?

Back in 2010 I said your probably don’t need an XML sitemap.

Well, it’s time to re-think that.

An XML sitemap may be one file or several.

An XML sitemap is a coded page or several pages that visitors to your site don’t see, but which search engines definitely do. It’s a list of every page on your website that can show search engines some extra information about your website. It indicates how recently each page has been changed or updated, how often each page changes, and how important each page is.

Technically, you shouldn’t need an XML sitemap if your website is set up properly with impeccable site structure and thorough, easy-to-follow navigation that covers every page on your site. But if you’ve overlooked anything at all, an XML sitemap will compensate for that by showing Google, Yahoo & Bing all of the pages on your site. Here’s a little more on that.

An XML sitemap doesn’t just cover your rear end in case your navigation is less than perfect. The additional information it provides allows search engines to crawl your site more intelligently.

Help is readily available.

Don’t worry that you need to laboriously code up an XML site map. There are a number of services that can create one for you. And if your website has been created in WordPress,  the Yoast SEO plug-in will do it for you automatically.

The Bottom Line

Just go ahead and do it.

Join the conversation – let us know your experience in the comments below.

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Need help with your company’s online visibility? Call us!

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 Yoast.com 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.

Date:
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Time:
8-10 am

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

Fee:
$25 per person

RSVP:
Online at http://conta.cc/2bCq1p0
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.

50 Things Every Small Business Website Should Have

Small businesses need to show up prominently in search at Google, Yahoo & Bing.

You need to show up in search

All small business owners want the same things: profitability, growth, and customer satisfaction. Regardless of the type of business you own or the current size of your company, you can probably agree on this. In today’s world, it’s not enough to have a local business with an office; you need to have an online presence and rank higher on Google, Yahoo & Bing.

Consider these issues for your small business web site

  • Creating a search engine friendly website for your business is the first and most essential way to accomplish that.
  • Choose a good domain name.
  • With the growing popularity of social media, it’s also a good idea to create business profiles on the most important outlets, link them to your website and maintain an active presence there.
  • You need compelling calls to action, proper heading tags, and contact forms to increase conversion, make it more search engine friendly, and make it easier for your potential customers to contact you.
  • Your website should have an appropriate sitemap and clean and easy main  navigation. These things are important because they’ll make it easier for the search engine to index your website’s pages and for your customers to easily find what they need on your site.
  • Contact and feedback forms are important to maintain customer satisfaction and often lead to return business or referrals.
  • There are several other aspects to consider; things that are not required but may still be a positive addition to your website. Features like a search function, FAQ page, and social media sharing buttons are just a few examples.

Here is a helpful infographic by 99MediaLab, on 50 features every small business website should have. This should help you create the most efficient, user-friendly, and appealing website possible.

small business website features

Having trouble with this or explaining things to your webmaster? Rank Magic can help.

Please add your thoughts or questions in the comment form below.

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Are Website Sliders Hurting Your Visibility and Conversions?

Sliders may be cool, but be careful.Sliders are cool.

Sliders are an increasingly popular technique on websites. You know, the rotating images with compelling marketing text that scroll across the top of a web page. Four or five seconds of one marketing message or feature promotion followed by four or five seconds of another, and so forth for anywhere from three to a half dozen or more before the rotation starts all over again. Many websites do this on their home page, but some sites repeat the same slider progression on just about every page.

But sliders can hurt your conversions

My cool sliders are bad for me? Who knew?Customers are impatient

For one thing, images contain a lot of bytes, and the more images on a page, the longer it takes for the page to appear on a customer’s browser. If your page takes two or three seconds to download, that’s not a problem. But if it takes five to ten seconds to download, impatient or time-stressed customers may well bail on you before the page finishes loading, and go back to the search results to find a better page. When that happens, you’ve lost the customer.

Customers only react to your first slide

Another concern is that customers almost never see anything past the first or second slide in your sliders. They may look at the first one for a few seconds, read it or even click on it for more information. But customers who are looking for what you promote on the second slide or the third may never see them. Why? Because they’re in a hurry and want to see if you provide what they need. So they scroll down your page quickly, moving the slider up and out of sight. They may never even realize it was a slider with more information than they absorbed in the first three or four seconds on your page. It’s no wonder that research demonstrates very few people ever click on any slide past the first one.

Subsequent slides don’t make your page any stickier

Research has shown that you have less than three seconds to convince someone they’re in the right place. That means most people are deciding whether to stay on your site before your second slide ever appears.

And sliders can hurt your SEO, too

Perhaps not this dramatically, but sliders can reduce your search visibility.Sad, but true: having sliders on your pages runs the risk of sabotaging your search engine visibility. One of the more recent and increasingly important ranking factors at Google is page speed: how quickly your page downloads into a visitor’s browser. This is so important that Google has published a page to help you understand your page speed and how to improve it.

Beyond that, when someone is looking for information you cover in later slides that they just don’t see, they are inclined to hit the back button to select something from the search results. When they do that, that’s called a bounce, and that, too, is a negative ranking factor.

How to fix it?

There are a number of alternatives to sliders that don’t carry problems for your rankings and conversions.

Hero image

This is a single large image at the top of your page that conveys the primary message of the page. You’ll find a good example of that on our own home page. Chances are each of your slider images links to a topical page within your website that focuses on the topic of the slide. Take those slides and turn each one into a hero image on the page it matches. Here’s an example of an excellent hero image on a website’s home page:

A hero image like this is a good replacement for sliders on your home page.

Collage or image array

This is like it sounds: one image made up of other images or pieces of them, or a number of separate, static images on your page.

This collage image is made up of separate photos, and is better than having a rotating slide show on your home page.

Call to action and/or request form

A static image with either a contact request form or a call to action can be very effective, too.

Calls to action to call and to click to learn more.

If you’ve got sliders on your site, consider replacing them with one of the alternatives above. It just may help both your search visibility and your conversion rate.

Questions? Opinions? Please share them in the comments below.

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Are you still struggling to get found on the web? Rank Magic can help.