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Five Tips to get you IN with Google

Getting on GoogleIt should come as no surprise that the most common question I field as a web designer is “How can improve my site’s placement on Google?” It’s universally known that Google is the main driver of traffic on the internet. The word “Google” has even been added to the Oxford Dictionary.

So what steps can you do as the website owner or manager to try and snag that front page of Google search results? Here’s five tips that will help you on the way:

Tip #1 – Use your Web Designer to get quick placement!

If your site was professionally designed, your developer should have added your site to their portfolio. Check that it has been added with a full URL link and a few key words in a description. As their site would be already in the Google index, your new web address will be “picked up” the next time the Google Bot sweeps by for its regular site check. Once the address has been indexed, you will start to see your site in the search results in a couple of weeks.

Alternatively you can use Google Webmaster Tools and manually add your site to the Google listing. Be though warned that this method does take longer than the one above – sometimes up to five weeks.

Tip #2: Use Keywords throughout your Content

While writing content for a particular page of your site, be sure to include a “smattering” of the page’s keywords throughout. For example, on the front page of a site containing fashion, you would include the keywords that your customers would type into Google to find you – words like “fashion, style, prada, guuchi, etc.). Use these words in the regular flow of your text content.

Don’t add them one after the other and most importantly, don’t overload the page with keywords. This is known as keyword stuffing and you can be penalised by Google for this tactic.

Tip #3: Utilise your Page Titles

Another great place to put your keywords is in the actual title for your site pages. Known as H1 titles, these are generally the first text titles you see on a web page and Google holds these in very high regard when calculating page ranking for search placement.

Note: To avoid being penalised, never use more than one on each page.

Tip #4: Share links with your Industry partners

Although not as popular with Google as it used to be, link sharing, also known as back linking, is the usage of links between various (separate) sites on the internet to promote search ranking. Put simply, your site links to another site and they link back to you. Depending on the popularity of the sites involved, you can boost your placement in the search results.

To do this, you must link from high quality sites – sites that Google likes within your industry. It doesn’t work to link from unrelated sites as this is detected by the search algorithm that the search engines use.

On this note, never subscribe to those spam emails / links you may receive asking for you to buy links. Just like buying lollies for others didn’t get you real friends at school, buying links won’t make you “friends” with Google.

Tip #5: Keep your site fresh with new content

Finally, Google loves sites that update regularly with fresh content. This can come in many forms – a blog, videos, new galleries, fresh products on an online store or, at a more extreme level, a site re-design. Unbeknownst to most website owners, the search giant does keep an eye on the age of your information and media and frowns upon content that is long in the tooth.”

Time to get that blog off the backburner and into action?

After applying the tips above to your website, you can watch for improvements in your site’s listing in two ways. You can watch the gradual climb through the Google search listings or, log onto your site’s statistics in your Control Panel (ask your website designer for access). Through the Control Panel, you can observe the usage of keywords, which search engines are sending you traffic and the overall site visits that your site is receiving.

If you need help with any of the above or just want more, keep reading the upcoming blogs from Rusty Mango Design. OR – skip the waiting and get in touch with us today.

Disaster! My site has disappeared from Google!

Disaster StrikesIt’s every website owner’s worst nightmare – sitting down at the computer one day, typing your business name into Google and – BAM – the site’s not there in the search results! Frantically, you scan through page after page to no avail, it has completely disappeared. What has happened?

Although this sounds like a worst-case scenario, unfortunately it does happen (very) occasionally. And as 63% of site traffic is driven through the Google portal, it can have a devastating effect on the businesses involved. Especially if those businesses are reliant on web traffic for survival.

If this does happen to you, before you even consider anything else in this article, make sure you go to google.com and try the site: prefix with your site name (for example site:rustymangodesign.com.au). This will allow you to determine whether your site is still on the Google Search index or if it has been removed altogether.

Causes

There are a myriad of reasons that a site can disappear from Google, ranging from very simple errors and problems right through to black-banning by the search giant for dubious SEO practices. Some of these reasons include:

  • Lack of SEO love from the site owner. They’ve created a site and done nothing else with it. No promotion, no linking and very little or no new content.
  • Article Spinning. This practice involves using regurgitated content from other websites and Google absolutely hates this – it only loves fresh, new content. Article spinning often involves automatic generators that simply change small sections of text so that the content does not look directly plagiarised from its source.
  • Link building cheats. This generally involves third-party businesses that “guarantee” rankings by creating links through a large network of internet sites called “Link Wheels” or a “Link Pyramids.”
  • Keyword Stuffing. A website is filled with content and the same keywords are repeated throughout that content over and over again. It reads terribly, makes your content look cheap and Google doesn’t like it. It nearly always raises a red flag and Google loves to take action against those flags.

Solutions

Luckily, unless you’ve been really naughty, all it takes is some time and effort to fix this “little” problem. Sit down at your computer and start “cranking” out some decent original content that is not stuffed to the gills with keywords. Write a blog like this one (topics are easier to come by than you think), announce new store arrivals or simply upgrade your imagery – don’t forget to tag those images!

Look at the results that are coming in on the first page of Google Search for your desired keywords. Normally, Yellow Pages and Local Search directories are up there in the #1 and #2 positions. If you are listed with them, contact each and make sure that your website address is on their listings too.

Contact your suppliers and customers that have web pages and set up reciprocal links – I’ll link to you and you link to me. Make sure that you are in similar industries as Google looks favourable on this.

Finally, after all is said and done, your site could simply go missing due to a change in the complex algorithm that controls our search results. Google is a private company and wants to remain at the top of its game, making money for its shareholders. To do this, they keep “fine-tuning” the way that search results are ranked and ordered. Your site may simply not “stack” up against the new algorithm, yet. In this case, keep working on that fresh content and the remainder should take care of itself.

#BeSmart when using #Hashtags

How to use a HashtagTwitter, the 140 word social media platform, has been with us since 2006 and one could excused for thinking that the #hashtag has been with us just as long. However the first tweets that featured a #hashtag actually appeared a year later when user Chris Messina decided to create a method of grouping like-minded tweets into the same clusters.

Nowadays, the #hashtag is an integral part of Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and even Facebook. It can be used as a powerful tool for online marketing and any business owner who wants to drive their social media marketing on to success need to master their usage.

Choosing the right #hashtag to engage with your target audience needs some thought and practice. They are very similar to the keywords that are used in conjunction with search engines to find a website, if the wrong words are chosen then the results won’t point towards your business and you risk losing potential clients.

Thankfully, it is not too hard to select #hashtags that will work for you. Here’s some simple items to consider when using #hashtags on your Social Media marketing:

  • Ensure that the #hashtag is relevant to the topic. Don’t be obtuse.
  • Take a look around the web and use #hashtags that are already in circulation. This doesn’t mean that you can’t create your own but commonly used tags have already got a “readership”.
  • When creating unique #hashtags, use words that will directly link back to your business. For example, if I were tagging marketing memes, I could start a “trend” with #rustysmarketingmemes. Watch that you don’t be too broad, as tags can be hijacked, leading to detrimental effects for your business.

The perfect mix for #hashtags in any single Social Media commentary is between one and two. Any more and research has shown there is a 17% drop in engagement. That said, #hashtags in your tweets, posts and pins increase the chances of your message being passed along to others.

At the end of the day, as with any Social Media, there is an inherent risk involved. Don’t share anything in your posts (along with those hashtags) that may have a negative effect on your business or personal life. Think before you post/tweet.

As already stated, the #hashtag is a powerful tool and can be made to work for your business. Smart companies like Black Milk Clothing have built themselves successfully through smart Social Media marketing and there is no reason other businesses can’t follow in their footsteps. Integrate a Social Media plan featuring the use of clever #hashtags with your regular business website and help your online traffic grow.

 

How to make your website #1 for your clients in 2015

How to make your website #1 for your clients in 2015The New Year has been ushered with a flash of fireworks and cheers of excitement. People around the world will be opening their bleary eyes with the hazy promises of New Year’s resolutions swimming in their heads. Most of these will be along the lines of losing weight, getting fit or maybe saving more money; all personally focused ideals.

So how about a couple of New Year’s resolutions for your business website?

Maybe the site hasn’t performed up to your expectations in 2014. Perhaps you didn’t get the bottom line via your site that you hoped for. Or is it sitting dormant and not doing a thing for the customers that it is supposed to attract?

There’s no time like New Years to take a good look at your site and resolve to make it into a site that your clients really need. Here’s three tips to make it their #1 choice when searching for anything in your industry.

Tip #1: Create helpful and informative content

Take a look at your site content and make sure that your site offers more to its visitors than just items or services for sale. Statistics have shown that a site that provides helpful and informative content has a lower bounce rate (people who bounce in and out) and a higher conversion of visits to sales.

Your content could include a blog (just like this one), how-to videos (embedded from your YouTube account) or downloadable fact sheets. There are a multitude of ways that you can help your clients – choose something that is suitable to your industry.

Tip #2: Make it easy to find your site in Google

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is no longer the realm of the experts. Sure, they may be able to squeeze out those last couple of places but with easy-to-use plugins such as Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO, page optimisation can be done quickly and easily. In most cases, it can be done when the new content is being created.

Just by adding a simple description of the content and a few carefully chosen keywords to every page, you increase the chances of the content being found on Google. And by improving your chances of your information being found, you are making it easier for people to actually find it.

And that, ultimately, is the whole purpose of SEO.

Tip #3: Get your Social Media happening

Here I go again – harping on about Social Media. I still firmly believe that the secret to success behind most websites is an integrated Social Media approach. If you can make people like your business through your Facebook posts or Twitter tweets (or whatever your poison), then the chances of them visiting your site increase tenfold.

You can use Social Media to help your clients find what they want with the implementation of a carefully planned approach. Whilst building a new ecommerce store recently, I came across a number of ways to use a social presence to make any site an essential visit to prospective customers.

  • Integrate a Wish List system into your ecommerce store. Customers visit the site and create a wish list which they then post to their Facebook page for others to purchase for them. Very helpful for prospective mothers and brides-to-be (as a couple of examples).
  • Utilise a Social Media login for regular customers (i.e. people can use their username and password from Facebook, Google+, etc. to login). Saves the needs to invent a new login for every site a person visits – no-one likes to do this!
  • Integrate Instagram tags into with product pages so that whenever a customer displays your product on their Instagram account (using the tag), it automatically appears on that product’s page. Great for clothing sites – your clothes can be seen on everyday people just like you and me as opposed to the models that may be used on the site. Check out Black Milk Clothing for a great example of this.

If you can get those three strategies under your belt early on in 2015, you have put yourself in good stead for the remainder of the year. As any seasoned website owner or manager will know from experience, running and maintaining a successful website is not a “cake walk”, you must constantly monitor a multitude of site components to ensure that your site is working as you want it to. Running a website is hard work.

With a New Year’s Resolution using the above tips, your website is on its way to becoming the site that your clients really need.

Five Essential SEO items that you can’t neglect

Five Basic SEO EssentialsAs you may be aware, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is crucial to the success of your website. Even if you have the most effective, well-designed and comprehensive website in the business, it won’t amount to anything if it can’t be found on major search engines. The statistics below support that if your site isn’t on that all important first page of results, your website could be practically invisible to most internet users.  In monopoly terms, the first page of Google is Mayfair and Park Lane, anything else is Old Kent Road.

Statistics courtesy of Chitika – Online Advertising Network

  • #1 in a Google search gets 32% of all the clicks.
  • #2 in a Google search gets 17% of all the clicks.
  • #3 in a Google search gets 11% of all the clicks.
  • 92 out of every 100 people who search on the internet do not go past the first page of their Google search.

Small business proprietors often hand over the reins of their SEO to outside agencies to take care of, some of which are expensive and over-rated. What these business owners don’t realise is that there is a lot that can be done without any outside help at all. In this post, we will look the essential items that must be attended to for successful Search Engine Optimisation.

Note #1: For the tips below, it is assumed that you have access to your site with a Content Management System. If you don’t, then you are already behind the times. Upgrade that site today!

Note#2: For WordPress owners, make sure you have Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO installed in your plug-in. For other CMS, do a Google search and find out the equivalent for your system. There are dozens of options.

#1 Page Content

As has been discussed in previous Rusty Mango blogs, you must fill your pages with useful, appropriate and high-quality content.  The whole purpose of your site is to provide a service to your clients and prospects. Don’t lose site of that goal! To boost your SEO, you need a number of inbound links (people linking to you) and this won’t happen without content that is helpful and valuable to your visitors.

#2 – Page URL

This is actually name of the page that is used in the address bar of the web browser. If at all possible, use a couple of keywords in the URL that globally describe the content of the page. Don’t use spaces or underscores as these can confuse the Google bots, instead use hyphens to separate words.

If you are a WordPress CMS user, check your permalinks in the Settings section of your dashboard for this item.

#3 – Title Tags

A title tag is the small snippet of information that gets displayed at the top of a web browser. For your site, use your SEO plug-in (see above) and ensure that each and every page (and post) that you create has a relevant title tag that includes keywords from the text on the page.

#4 – Image ALT Tags

In the “olden” days, ALT tags (the text that pops up when floating a cursor over an image) were used primarily to help visually impaired users of the web. These days, in additions to this important role they still play; ALT tags can be used to boost SEO by including keywords in them once again.

Are you starting to see a theme here? KEYWORDS are everything to SEO!!

#5 Keyword Overuse!

Despite what I have “pushed” throughout this post, Google will apply penalties if the keywords you use override your content. This is to prevent the brazen old practice of loading a page to the brim with visible and non-visible keywords. Nowadays, the content relevancy has been added into the Google page ranking algorithm and key-words must only make up between 5-7% of the overall page information.

Conclusion

Once you take care of the above, you’ll need to wait patiently for Google to re-index your site so that you can see the benefits of your efforts. If you don’t get the results that you want, look over the list again, check your site statistics and ensure that you are using the terminology of your potential clients. The question to ask is – What are they typing into Google to find you?

 

 

 

 

Week 7 of 52 – Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced BreadIn small towns across North Queensland (and elsewhere I’m sure), there is evidence of an economic downturn on every main street. Many small shop fronts are sitting empty with no real outlook to opening again anytime soon. The factors behind this situation are many and varied but one of the most common blames is put directly onto the rise of online shopping.

If your business sells products of any shape or form, whether they are toasters, cars or even houses, there is absolutely no reason why you should miss out on a cut of the market by not having your very own ecommerce store. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge conglomerate with hundreds of stores nationwide or the local dress shop marketing your own fashions, everyone can have a slice of the pie if they are clever and utilise the power of the web.

There is a huge recompense to having an online store that most business owners don’t recognise and these advantages can’t be achieved through a regular bricks and mortar store.

An online store has no landlord!

Not a single cent is paid in rent for your online store. The only costs you will incur, other than the original design of your site, is the monthly/yearly charge for your web server, the domain name and charges from outside agencies such as PayPal and/or your bank.

When you compare this to the cost of leasing a shop, you can guess who comes out in front. Talking to local business owners in my home town has shown me that the cost of a lease is one of the biggest factors forcing businesses to close. There’s not enough custom through the front door to warrant the outlay. No such problem with an online shop.

Playing level with the Big Guys

When you operate an online store, you can pretend to be as big or small as you want. Many small online operators like to push the “smaller” operation approach as this can help to give you that personal touch missing from one of the larger stores. However, stores like Harvey Norman are trying to cash in on this notion by utilising a chat system that pops up at the bottom of the shop screen. Once again, the small business owner can compete with this through the use of a very simple plug in like ClickDesk or LiveChat.

Open for Business 24/7

An online store means that you can make a sale – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when you are asleep, your site can be making for you. Imagine logging on at work each morning (during the business week, of course) and seeing a whole backlog of purchases that were made and paid for even while the physical offices of your business were shut! The advantages of this should be whole apparent – you can’t do this with a bricks and mortar store. Once again, you can compete with the big guys – on their level.

Customer Interaction

An Ecommerce store can also be integrated with a healthy Social Media campaign allowing the store to “converse” with customers and potential customers in a friendly environment. Any problems or questions about products and services can be solved with no awkward or sometimes aggravated face to face contact. Tips and tricks can be passed on almost immediately to patrons with no wait time (depending on the level of customer service available) – business owners can answer issues from the luxury of their armchairs at home if they want.

An ideal example of this customer interaction can be seen in full use by Blackmilk Clothing on both their Facebook pages and website. Happy customers can be seen happily conversing with the Blackmilk team and showing off their latest purchases on the pages of the site. In return, the Blackmilk team gets instant feedback and direction, straight from the people wearing their gear.

Final Note

An online store can add an extra line of revenue to a business and it doesn’t even have to be the end of the physical shop front. Caravans Plus in Queanbeyan operate both with an offer in their ecommerce checkout that allows customers to order online and pickup in person, a perfect setup for the grey nomad travelling through that part of the world. No freight!
If you are interested in creating an online store, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design and have a chat about what is possible for your business. We can create ecommerce stores for all types of businesses, large and small.

Five steps to help conquer the Google Beast

GoogleThere are literally hundreds of search engines on the internet. However, millions of users each day insist on using just one of them – Google – the “Big Kahuna” of web search with over one trillion indexed pages (according to their official blog).

There’s a fair chance that your site has been indexed already, somewhere in there. But are you getting noticed? Are you in the first few search returns when your potential customers come looking for you? Are you at least on page one of the search results?

You need to get your site recognised by Google, not just indexed. Read on for some helpful hints to give your site a boost in the rankings.

Step One – Be unique

Right from start of your business, ensure that you stand out from the crowd. Selecting a name for your business is difficult however avoid using a name that clashes with other businesses or popular phrases.  For example, a jeweller probably shouldn’t call himself “The Lord of the Rings” (copyright issues aside). Try typing that phrase into Google and see what happens. His site would never be found. Of course, searching isn’t just done by business name but you do need consider this factor as one method of search used by your clients.

Step Two – Use Keywords

When writing the copy for your site (the words that appear on screen), be sure to sprinkle some key words throughout the text. Keywords are the words that people type into a search engine. When looking for a restaurant in Innisfail, I might type “Eating Out in Innisfail”. Or if I am after a mechanic in Tully, I could type “Car Maintainence, Tully”. Sit down with friends / colleagues and brainstorm the type of searches your potential clients might make and add these into the copy for your site.

Step Three – Get Linked

Google loves your site more when it is well connected. The more sites that link to you, the more important your site becomes to Google. Ask your suppliers, friends and business partners for reciprocal links on their sites and you can provide them with a link on yours.

If a very important site links to you, you actually inherit some of that importance according to Google. Example – if you are a small motel, try to get links on the major travel websites. Not only will you gain exposure but your Google ranking will receive a boost as well.

Step Four – Don’t upset Google

Google can get cranky if you try to cheat the system. Even if you are using the above steps, you still need to be careful not to upset the “Gods of Search”.

Keywords need to be mixed with your content. Some sites have pages purely dedicated to keywords that have been hidden by making the font the same colour as the background – viola, invisible keywords. Not good according to Google.

In addition, add links to your site in a natural way. If Google notices a huge spike in the number of links to your site, once again, it can get cranky. You may not get blacklisted for these infringements, but do you really want to risk it?

Step Five – Get in the experts (SEO)

If the above steps have been done and you still languishing somewhere off the first page of search results, call in the Big Guns. Search Engine Optimisation has evolved into an entirely separate entity to web design. SEO experts know how to tweak every part of your site to gain ranking within Google. They also monitor your site over a period of time, checking search terms and changing content to ensure that you get a better result.

By taking note of the five steps here, your site is on its way to an improved ranking in search engines. Just remember that Google does change its search algorithm from time to time therefore you will need to check back and tweak your site continuously to ensure that you keep appearing  on page one.

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design